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Makaila Nichols: “Your story matters”

I was able to start a nonprofit called the Blatantly Honest Foundation, and now I am so privileged to be able to travel the country and speak to kids about the importance of inclusion, self-love and how to be a upstander to social issues. Before writing my book, I planned to continue down the path […]

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I was able to start a nonprofit called the Blatantly Honest Foundation, and now I am so privileged to be able to travel the country and speak to kids about the importance of inclusion, self-love and how to be a upstander to social issues. Before writing my book, I planned to continue down the path of fashion and modeling. However, writing my book helped me find my purpose in my life and now it has allowed me to find the path that I was meant to be on. Had I not written the book I never would have become charity a national speaker, or a founder of a charity.


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 Makaila Nichols.

At age 23, Makaila Nichols is a best-selling author, speaker, podcaster, model, spokeswoman and founder of the Blatantly Honest Foundation. Her career began in the fashion industry at age 14. Since then, has walked the runways of New York Fashion Week, appeared several international campaigns, been featured on billboards in Times Square, graced four magazine covers and more.

Makaila wanted to be more than just a pretty face so at 18 years old, she became a best-selling author. Her book “Blatantly Honest: Normal Teen, Abnormal Life” highlights the adversity that our youth are facing and what Makaila experienced firsthand including her personal struggles with issues teens may encounter such as: bullying, body image, eating disorders, sexual assault, peer pressure and more.

To reach an even broader audience, she also created two children’s coloring books focused on anti-bullying and positive body image: “Buddies Don’t Bully” and “Every Body is Beautiful.” She has been able to donate over 11,000 coloring books to over 18 elementary school and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Makaila is a highly sought after speaker. She travels the country to present to elementary, middle and high school students about bullying, body image, sexual assault, mental health and suicide prevention. Aside from working with the youth, educates parents, teachers and organizations about warning signs and the ever changing teen.

To reach an international market, Makaila has built a successful podcast series called “Blatantly Honest with Makaila Nichols” that is listened to in over 35 countries. The show aims to change the stigmas behind social issues by highlighting celebrities, influencers, experts and everyday people who wish to share their own story of struggles and triumphs.

In 2020, Makaila founded a 501c3 called the Blatantly Honest Foundation. The foundation provides educational resources and eye-opening talks on issues such as: bullying, body image, mental health and more. Makaila also has two space contracts where the foundation is sending photos of bullied kids to the moon in 2021 so no one can look down at them again.


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?

I never wanted to be a “bullying expert”, but life happened and here I am. My expertise lies within my own experience and more importantly, surviving it. My book is focused on taking the experiences that I had gone through and shaping it into something positive, think “big-sister” advice. As an only child I truly felt like I was alone because I did not have a brother or sister to confide in, so I decided to become the nation’s big sister by sharing my story. Most teenagers have a difficult time opening up to mom or dad, so I wanted to be able to give young people a story that they could relate to and hopefully be inspired enough to get help.

Can you share a pivotal story that shaped the course of your career?

I started writing the book when I was 16 years old, I didn’t think anyone was going to take me seriously because of my age or the fact I was a model. To my own shock, as soon as the book came out people wanted to hear my story and encouraged me to share it in different formats. I began speaking all across the country, I developed a podcast series “Blatantly Honest with Makaila Nichols” that’s downloaded in over 35 countries and ultimately created the Blatantly Honest Foundation. Writing the book changed my life.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Are you working on any new writing projects?

Later on, this year my foundation is sending photos of bullied kids to the moon, yep, you read that right, the MOON. My foundation was able to secure a contract with the space company and now we are sending photos that will be landing on the moon via microSD card placed inside a lander. Now, no one can look down at victims of bullying again. Since it has been a hot minute since my first book came out, I started writing a second book, because yet again, life happened, and I have so much more to say.

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 book is called “Blatantly Honest: Normal Teen, Abnormal Life.” I get blatantly honest about topics such as bullying, body image, mental health, sexual assault and other topics that I experienced and survived. The book sheds light on the no-so-pretty themes that our young people are facing and has the power to remind them that they are not alone by providing peer-to-peer advice to navigate those situations.

What makes one person superior to another? Nothing. We’re all equal, yet we choose to tear each other apart. I’ve been bullied. I’m not asking for your sympathy; I’m just letting those of you who’ve also been picked on know that I understand. I know how it feels.

“I am glad Makaila doesn’t come to school anymore. Life is better with her gone.”

“Makaila Nichols is the biggest slut. I bet anyone could get it from her.”

“I hope you die alone.”

“Who do you think you are?”

These are some of the insults I’ve recorded from social media. Some of them were said by close friends, others by people I’ve never spoken to. Yet all of these words formed a false projection of who I am as a person.

Sometimes, the words will get to you. There was a point in time when I thought to do the worst. I thought that maybe the world would be better with me out of the way. Yet the more I thought about it, the more strength it gave me to push on. Cowards quit. Real courage is gained through withstanding difficulties. We all have families who love us, whether we realize it or not. After all the abuse and cowardly attacks, I found myself becoming a more forgiving person because people deserve second chances. We’re all human, and we all make mistakes.

Excerpted from Chapter 2, “Blatantly Honest: Normal Teen, Abnormal Life”

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?

Honesty, compassion, and resilience. Those were words I would have never used to describe myself before I wrote the book. At one point in my life, I was afraid to speak up, let alone write a book. Through finding my voice, I was able to rewrite my story. I was no longer defined by the trauma that had happened to me, instead, I became the things I never thought I could, I became honest about literally everything, my compassion for others was always there but never for myself and last but not least, resilience, if I had not have written my book, I do not think I would be here today.

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?

I was able to start a nonprofit called the Blatantly Honest Foundation, and now I am so privileged to be able to travel the country and speak to kids about the importance of inclusion, self-love and how to be a upstander to social issues. Before writing my book, I planned to continue down the path of fashion and modeling. However, writing my book helped me find my purpose in my life and now it has allowed me to find the path that I was meant to be on. Had I not written the book I never would have become charity a national speaker, or a founder of a charity.

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?

If anyone, or a friend came to me and told me that they wanted to write a book I would say, “Please do it.” I believe that everyone has a story to tell and that every voice deserves to be heard. Writing a book was the best thing that ever happened to me but was also one of the most difficult things I have ever done in my life. Writing a book not only gives you more credibility in your perspective field, but it is such a therapeutic and fulfilling journey to take on. I had not read my book when it first came out, it took me three years to finally read it. It is so interesting to go back into my mind when I was younger because I can see how much I have grown and realize I have so much more to accomplish.

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 a story about that which other aspiring writers can learn from?

You are your own greatest advocate. Public relations and pitching are no joke, look into different journalists and outlets who are covering similar topics. I would suggest reaching out to the media and letting them know what you are up to and why it can benefit them. Unfortunately, the media operates in a way that is often out of our (authors) control. If you are having no luck with getting ahold of the media, find other platforms to share your voice on be a guest on different podcast series or get on the app Clubhouse. Share what you are doing with others because people love a good success story and more importantly one they can follow along with.

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?

It can feel extremely overwhelming to think that you are carrying the promotional elements of your book on your back. I was fortunate enough to have a great team that was dedicated to working diligently to make sure my book received the media attention it deserved, however, sometimes the media is fickle. The squeaky wheel does get the grease, form relationships with different media contacts and be sure to remind them why your book will benefit not only them but the audience that they are trying to reach. As I mentioned earlier, people love a story that they can get behind, give them the behind the scenes that they want to see, allow for their input and more importantly allow for growth. It is not always smart to invest in a marketing expert, I have sometimes found that I have had better results myself because I know how much a project means to me, it might not always mean as much to the people you pay.

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. Your story matters. There is a reason you wrote this book, hold onto that and let that be the driving force.
  2. You are your own biggest advocate. At the end of the day, you are your own biggest cheerleader and the one person who can tell if things are not going according to plan. If that happens, guess what? Admit it, figure out what the problem is, address it, and press on.
  3. Share your story on different platforms. Let people know what you are up to, people want to feel like they are part of something, allow them into your life because doing so will create so much hype around what you are trying to accomplish.
  4. Assemble your own A-Team. Every A-team can look different, make sure to bring on people who want to see you succeed and more importantly want to see your story succeed for the right reasons.
  5. The squeaky wheel does get the grease. Again, find the media outlets, find the contacts who are covering stories related to what your book is about, whether it’s a website, a Podcast, or YouTube show, know your demographics and go after the right people because contacts are king.

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 in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

Elon Musk. I want our next chip to be on a Space-X rocket.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

To learn more about the Blatantly Honest Foundation visit: www.blatantlyhonest.org

To keep up to date with me please follow me on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and Clubhouse with the handle @makailanichols or visit my official website: www.makailanichols.com

The podcast “Blatantly Honest with Makaila Nichols” airs every Monday at 7:30 pm est on Apple podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, Soundcloud, i-heart radio and all other streaming platforms.

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.

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