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Erica Austin: “Be Consistent”

Be Consistent- Find meaningful ways to affirm your work by being consistent as a content creator. I publish blogs on my website and produce empowerment newsletters to encourage others as examples. When you are consistent, you are promoting your role as a content creator and are finding intentional ways to share your message as an […]

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Be Consistent- Find meaningful ways to affirm your work by being consistent as a content creator. I publish blogs on my website and produce empowerment newsletters to encourage others as examples. When you are consistent, you are promoting your role as a content creator and are finding intentional ways to share your message as an author regularly.


As a part of our series about “How You Can Grow Your Business or Brand By Writing A Book”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Erica Austin.

Erica Austin is a powerhouse public speaker with a leading and recognized philosophy of building up our youth to harness their power and design fulfilling, healthy, and positive lives for themselves every day. Having published her first book at the age of nine, Erica Austin has dedicated her life to youth development through empowerment and faith. Her award-winning book, “What Every Child Should Know About Prayer: From a Child’s Point of View,” was the beginning of a legacy to motivate and empower youth with practical self-empowerment strategies through education, building on life, and leadership skills.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share a story about what motivated you to become an expert in the particular area that you are writing about?

Firstly, thank you for the opportunity to share my story with your readers. My journey as a child author began at the age of nine after going to the movies with my dad to see a movie titled, “Harriet the Spy.” (Some of your readers may be old enough to recall the film) but the movie was about a young girl who loved to spy and write about her discoveries. I was very inspired by the young girl {Harriet’s] passion for writing; and on our ride home from the movie theater, I turned to my dad and shared with him that I wanted to write a book. He looked at me (the way any parent would probably look at their 9-year-old who declared they wanted to write a book), and asked me what I wanted to write about. I took a long pause and responded that I wanted to write a book. A children’s book about prayer. On the commute home, we stopped by a local pharmacy where my dad bought me a journal and a pack of pencils ( old school writing days- no fancy laptop-:) As soon I reached home, (filled with excitement) immediately began writing my book — After reading my manuscript, my father felt that it was a product worth getting published, and so we set out to find publishers that would publish my book. Now at the time, (because this was back in the early 90s), publishers were simply not accustomed to publishing books written by child authors. It was simply unheard of. It took over a year to find a publisher who believed in the message that I wanted to share with other youth (just like me at the time) but we finally did it- this moment in time is what launched my journey as a child author and motivational speaker for youth.

Can you share a pivotal story that shaped the course of your career? What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Are you working on any new writing projects?

Well, my lifelong passion is -and will be — helping our young people recognize their value. And I’d like many more opportunities to do just that. Over the years, as a motivational speaker, I’ve shared my personal story to inspire our youth to tap into their innate gifts and talents to reach their highest potential, which is meaningful work that I find to be very important- helping our young people recognize their greatness and their ability to make a difference in our world.

I’ve recently launched a Youth Entrepreneurship Academy as an educational effort that immerses youth and teens through the process of starting and running a business enterprise throughout a 4-week session. During the program, youth are exposed to the fundamentals of brainstorming a business idea, pitching their business plan in close cooperation with entrepreneurs and local business leaders to start their business, build a brand identity, and much more.

In addition, I’m also really excited to share that I will be releasing my next book, “Poised for Greatness” later this summer. This project has truly been a labor of love and I’m excited to add my voice to the mix in writing a book that serves as a life skills and leadership guide dedicated to a set of foundational principles of leadership, self-awareness, confidence, voice, and realizing your vision.

For all of the girls and young women aspiring, striving, and climbing- I write this book for you.

Thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. Can you please tell us a bit about your book? Can you please share a specific passage or story that illustrates the main theme of your book?

My first book “What Every Child Should Know About Prayer” is a children’s spiritual book that is designed to encourage other youth to pray and to establish a personal relationship with God. As background, I grew up in the church having been raised with a strong spiritual foundation. I was inspired to share what I knew about faith and God with other young children to hopefully inspire them to forge their own and/or deeper connections with our creator. One of the chapters discusses the concept of “Forgiving” — such a basic action but can be very hard to do in practice even as adults” due to perceived or actual wrongs, feelings of resentment, anger, etc. My [1st] book simply highlights some of the spiritual teachings of Christianity packaged for a younger audience. I’ve had adults purchase my book for themselves because it gets us all back to the spiritual basics that we can leverage to elevate our faith.

“Poised for Greatness” (set to release later this summer) is oriented to girls and young women as a guide focused on life skills and leadership- a lot of core topics that I wished I had access to in a consolidated product growing up as a teenage girl. The book covers a range of foundational topics such as faith, leadership, resilience in the face of adversity; but equally important, I share a lot about the importance of voice in defining what you stand for as a [young] woman and owning up to your authentic true self. Girl and women have had to overcome so many systemic barriers because of gender and at every opportunity we can and must reshape the narrative and recognize our immeasurable potential to contribute to society and live a life of meaning that we love.

You are a successful author and thought leader. Which three character traits do you feel were most instrumental to your success when launching your book? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Consistent- I was able to define my life’s work around youth empowerment because those words embody my passion areas and where my focus lies. You’re able to shift from the “idea stage” to becoming a recognized authority and influencer because the community has access to your ideas.

Risk Taker- I published at a time where[mainstream] publishers were not accustomed to publishing books written by child authors. As I mentioned earlier, it was simply unheard of. but you have to believe in your cause, belief in your story despite the challenges, despite the obstacles, that is how you win!

Transparency– My first book [ “What Every Child Should Know About Prayer “] was written from a child’s point of view and reflected my views on faith from a young person’s perspective. My second book [“Poised for Greatness”] is no different as the manuscript was crafted from my perspective as a young woman. When you are transparent and authentic with your readers, it builds trust and loyalty with your supporters. People want to know what inspires you, motivates you, the source of your ideas. Tell them!

In my work, I have found that writing a book can be a great way to grow a brand. Can you share some stories or examples from your own experience about how you helped your own business or brand grow by writing a book? What was the “before and after picture?” What were things like before, and how did things change after the book?

Well, recall, I never actually wanted to become a writer. As a child, I was simply inspired by a film and decided to translate my inspiration into the birth of my first book, “What Every Child Should Know About Prayer” as a way to inspire other young children to embrace prayer and develop a personal relationship with God as I had during my formative years. I genuinely believe that writers should write with feeling as your authentic voice lies within your innermost thoughts and feelings. When you truly believe in your message, the words will flow quite naturally. I don’t necessarily view publishing a book as a genuine way to grow a brand. I believe adding your voice to a topic that you are passionate about is.

If a friend came to you and said “I’m considering writing a book but I’m on the fence if it is worth the effort and expense” what would you answer? Can you explain how writing a book in particular, and thought leadership in general, can create lucrative opportunities and help a business or brand grow?

I would share with that friend if you truly believe in your message and want to share your story with the world, then publishing a book is a proven strategy for doing so. So many people are using their personal stories- their tragedies, triumphs, victories, and general views on a topic to share what they have learned with others. I believe this is the power of storytelling and the foundation for what we do as writers. As your story reaches the masses, the outcome naturally unlocks opportunities to elevate your brand as you have delivered value to your readers where they are attracted to your message and associated brand products.

What are the things that you wish you knew about promoting a book before you started? What did you learn the hard way? Can you share some stories about that which other aspiring writers can learn from?

Based on your experience, which promotional elements would you recommend to an author to cover on their own and when would you recommend engaging a book publicist or marketing expert?

No one can tell your story better than you. Own the power in your story and be proactive in managing the narrative. Your publicist or PR professional is a compliment in helping you expand your reach as an author but you also have to heavily invest in your success by looking for direct opportunities to share your story, connect with your audience in authentic ways, and find ways to deliver value that keeps your readers engaged and supportive of your work.

Wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your own experience and success, what are the “five things an author needs to know to successfully promote and market a book?” If you can, please share a story or example for each.

  1. Know Your Audience- This is where your “tribe” lies and will be the primary audience that will support your work. When I first got started in my journey as an author, I immediately noticed that my primary audiences were/are parents, guardians, organizations that work with you, and of course, youth themselves. Hone in on your audience segment(s) and develop a tailored strategy to connect.
  2. Tell Your Author Brand Story- Oftentimes in the industry we hear a lot about honing in on our big WHY… The concept of being grounded in what you do and why you do it couldn’t be more true for authors. The reality is- the market is saturated with people writing books on virtually every topic. What helps you build your audience base is telling your story in a compelling way that will resonate with your readers. Show your personality and give people a reason to care. I take a more balanced approach in connecting with my audience by providing glimpses into my inner world as a person and the causes that I truly care about (youth empowerment). Authentically connect with readers without being too sale-sy.
  3. Be Consistent- Find meaningful ways to affirm your work by being consistent as a content creator. I publish blogs on my website and produce empowerment newsletters to encourage others as examples. When you are consistent, you are promoting your role as a content creator and are finding intentional ways to share your message as an author regularly.
  4. Create Your Own Speaking Opportunities- When you’re a writer without the draw of a celebrity name, it may seem difficult to secure opportunities to share your message. I once met with a branding consultant who shared with me this sage advice — “Don’t wait for an opportunity to knock. Create your own opportunities to share your story with the world. In the digital age, this is super easy to do. You can host virtual book signings/talks via Facebook live, start your own podcast, brand yourself as a subject matter expert where you create a space where people are excited to hear what you have to say. If you have the budget to comfortably hire a PR professional, consider doing so. But remember, this is not the only way- you can also secure speaking opportunities by creating your own opportunities to get your message out there to the world.
  5. Build Your Media Kit- Your press kit is the ready-made informational package that you can make available to media outlets, indie bookstores, or other interested parties that want to know more about you and your brand. It should contain a succinct author bio, professional headshot, a short description of you and your work. Over time I’ve built my media kit that portrays who I am and my life’s work. The biggest takeaway here is for your media kit to be clear and consistent in promoting what you do and how you show up as an author in the world.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

That’s a BIG question because there are so many amazing people I admire up to incredible work. I’m in the fan club of Oprah, Michelle Obama, Amanda Gorman, and many others- but I’m a HUGE supporter of everyday people doing extraordinary things. Would love to connect to make a difference together.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Absolutely! If you’re interested in checking out my efforts and being part of the collective movement to empower our youth, please connect me with me on my website- ericaaustin.com, social media- @EricaforYouth, and LinkedIn.

I also have an empowerment newsletter where you can subscribe for daily encouragement delivered right to your inbox. So many ways we can connect- looking forward to it!

Thank you for these excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent. We wish you continued success with your book promotion and growing your brand.

Thank you for the opportunity. It is my pleasure.

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