Margot Starbuck

In today’s episode, I have the pleasure of speaking with Margot Starbuck. Margot is the award-winning writer of more than thirty books. She’s touched over 200 major publishing projects as an author, writer, coach, and editor. She especially treasures the privilege of writing alongside athletes, entertainers, and overcomers.
Margot loves equipping writers who want to be published. She speaks at writing conferences around the country about what it takes to get published. Margot is the owner of Wordmelon. She reviews book proposals and manuscripts, showing writers what’s working well and what can be improved–as well as practical strategies to do it.

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  • Introduction to Margot Starbuck. 0:14
    • Introduction to Margot Starbuck, author, coach and editor.
    • Margot’s background and background.
  • What drives Margot’s passion to equip aspiring authors. 2:06
    • What drives Margot’s passion to equip aspiring authors.
    • 81% of Americans have a book in their heart.
    • Favorite type of authors she works with.
    • Passion for Publishing in Color.
  • The difference between traditional vs self-publishing. 6:34
    • The difference between traditional publishing and self-publishing.
    • The pros and cons of self-published books.
    • Why self-publishing is like investing in an editor.
    • The magic word is platform.
  • Building a platform for your book.11:25
    • Every single publisher is looking for authors with whom they can partner.
    • Platform is important.
    • Building a platform is key to success.
    • The importance of writing articles.
  • Why is it important to create a book proposal? 14:47
    • Why a book proposal is important.
    • The benefits of self-publishing a book.
    • Overcoming writer’s block.
    • Setting aside time to write and freestyle writing.
  • Characteristics to look for in a literary agent.20:28
    • What aspiring authors should look for in a literary agent.
    • The three characteristics of a literary agency.
    • The most difficult part of traditional publishing.
    • Getting a contract with a traditional publisher.
  • Traditional publishing and diversity.25:39
    • A blow to the soul of 81% of Americans.
    • People of color in the traditional publishing space.
  • It’s about the reader. 27:50
    • Good cop, bad cop. Good cop. Bad cop.
    • Conversational language is better in writing than academic language.
    • One word to represent goals for this year.
  • How to take your business to the next level.32:45
    • Investing in herself to take her business to the next level.
    • One of her most recent projects.
    • Advice for aspiring authors, take the next step.
    • Margot’s position on endorsements.
  • How to get in touch with Margot. 38:57
    • Connect with Margot at
    • Margot shares a funny story about editing.

Show Notes

Tosha Johnson 00:14
This podcast is dedicated to helping you find your trail to a happier, healthier you find discussing topics like self improvement, business, housing, beauty, and random thoughts about life from a Christian perspective. I’m your host Tosha Johnson. In today’s episode, I have the pleasure of speaking with Margo Starbuck, Margot is the award winning writer of more than 30 books. She’s touched over 200 major publishing projects as an author, writer, coach and editor. She especially treasures the privilege of writing alongside athletes, entertainers and overcomers. Margot loves equipping writers who want to be published, she speaks at writing conferences around the country about what it takes to get published. Margo is the owner of WordMelon, she reviews book proposals and manuscripts, showing writers what’s working well, and what can be improved, as well as practical strategies to do it. Welcome to the show, Margot.

Margot Starbuck 01:12
Thank you, Tosha. It’s real fun to be here,

Tosha Johnson 01:15
guys. Yes. Thank you so much for coming on. Well, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself.

Margot Starbuck 01:21
Okie dokie, I am a communicator. So writer, author, speaker editor, stand up comic, you’re saying I am the mom of three young adult, young adult humans, who by birth, one who was adopted from India and I’m also an adopted person. And I really love living in Durham, North Carolina. This is a lot of Durham behind me. I love Durham. And I also live in a neighborhood that’s built around friends with disabilities. And it’s delicious. It is like a slice of the kingdom of God. Living here. So I’m a happy camper. Here, downtown Durham.

Tosha Johnson 02:06
Fantastic, fantastic. So I want to just jump right in what drives your passion to equip aspiring authors with the knowledge they need to publish a book?

Margot Starbuck 02:17
Mm hmm. Um, oh, wait. I so I am like, I am a communication nerd. Yeah. And it’s book proposals. Boy, it’s is dating profiles on online dating apps. It’s college application essays? And maybe when I was how many years ago was it? Well, 1 million. When I was pitching my first book proposal, I didn’t know what it was the publishers needed to see an order to say yes. And I really know now I really know. And I want to help writers who are earlier in their publishing journey. Know what it is that publishers need to see.

Tosha Johnson 03:02
Yes, I can personally attest to the fact that Margot knows what she’s talking about. Because as an aspiring writer, myself, I went to one of my very first publishing conferences this year, and I did, I went through a lot of the content that you have provided, and I can attest to the fact that it was true, I was in great shape, got great feedback from the literary agents. And I look forward to learning even more from you.

Margot Starbuck 03:32
That’s awesome. And what I want to say to folks who have a book in their heart, I’m gonna say 81% of Americans believe they have a book in their heart. And if that’s you, I want you to hear that Tosha did exactly the right thing. And that was investing in herself. That’s time money energy to attend a writing conference. I just can’t tell you like how that can take you to the next level, because it’s honing your skills is meeting the right people. It’s networking, whether that’s with publishers, agents, other authors. So I do want folks who have a book in their heart to hear that you are worth investing in, and it really can take you to the next level.

Tosha Johnson 04:19
I wholeheartedly agree with you on that wholeheartedly. Now, I’m kind of curious, are there specific type of authors that you work with, that you’re most passionate about?

Margot Starbuck 04:28
Oh, good question. I’m just gonna say nonfiction. If you have written a fiction book, you do not want to send it my way. I will have nothing to offer you, but all different kinds of nonfiction. That’s my wheelhouse.

Tosha Johnson 04:43
Awesome, fantastic. Fantastic. So I’m just trying to figure out because again, we met at a particular writing conference, publishers publishing in color, and I was just curious, do you attend a lot of those type of conferences or where are you most passionate?

Margot Starbuck 05:00
Um, oh good question, so I do enjoy serving all different kinds of conferences. I’m not gonna lie, I’m really excited about publishing color. I’m trying to think I feel like, I feel like I’ve said this publicly before, so I’m just gonna let it out. But I don’t know, maybe seven or eight years ago, I get a call from this guy. His name’s Brian Allain. And he tells me he’s really excited. He’s starting this Publishing in Color conference. And all he, he notes. He’s an old white dude. And I thought, Oh, this is not a good idea at all. But I highly recommend Publishing in Color, because, well, its newest leader, her name is Joyce Dinkins, woman of color. But also ever from the beginning, Brian didn’t invite me to speak in publishing in color, she invited professionals within the Christian publishing industry, who are people of color to do all believing in teaching and faculty in. So yeah, I highly recommend publishing and, and I’m just going to say that one of the reasons I’m passionate about this is because Christian publishing has historically been male and white, no shade white dudes. But it can be so much richer. And I don’t mean just authors of color. Yes, authors of color, graphic designers, agents, publishers, we really were kind of historically a little bit of a ciated. And we really need that. And so that’s why I get particularly excited about writers of color, like Tosha and others, because it’s just going to make publishing better. And if there’s a way that I can show you like, ooh, here’s the entrance ramp, say for ghostwriting, or, for here’s how you open this door to get this, just just find me because that’s what I want to be about.

Tosha Johnson 07:00
Exactly. And honestly, you are about that i That’s why your content, I was drawn towards your content. And it definitely helped me out and honing in on exactly what I wanted to speak about, too. So yeah, mission accomplished. Good. So here’s another question that I get quite a bit, mainly, because when I’ve been sharing kind of my aspirations with some of my other friends that are aspiring to be authors, what do you feel the difference is between traditional versus self publishing?

Margot Starbuck 07:33
Yeah. Gather your follow up questions, because I love having this conversation. And it’s funny, this is just real recently that I’ve come to this summarization. And it’s very crass. But let’s say a writer contacts me they say, Margot, a publisher has pursued me and I want to get all my stuff together. And I’m wondering, is that a self publisher? Is it a traditional publisher? And the question I ask, are they going to pay you or are you going to pay them? That’s what that’s what’s telling me and whether it’s a traditional publisher is going to give you an advance, it might not be big, it might be small, they’re going to give you advance monies to write your book. When you hand it in to them, they’re going to have editors working on it, they might have marketing and publicity. If it does really well, you’ll get royalties, you don’t give them any money. And if it’s a self publisher, and I’m going to add hybrid publishers, somehow hybrid is sort of a combo. But if we just imagined self publishing, everything is on you. And I self published one book. And what that means is I put my own dollars into an editor into interior design, cover design, and I, I always tell writers who are self publishing, like, do not let your talented like graphic design college student neighbor, do your book cover, don’t do it. Get a professional to do your pickup. I wish I had the I’m not gonna run out to the living room. But if you can imagine Margot’s first book cover, I thought was awesome. It was like a blue that Doc Marten boot in front of the yellow brick wall. I thought it was fantastic. And then I hired a professional and it’s quite striking the difference? Oh, you can see them both on Amazon. It’s called the solid place. Back to the question at hand, self publishing, you’re putting all of your dollars in. And you have to have a plan how to sell books if you decide to Self Publish. So if right now you’re not reaching any readers, I would really caution you and maybe you’re like a marketing or business genius. Great. Go for it. But like I’m just gonna say Tosha is already reaching readers even though she’s probably thinking them as listeners right now. They will also be readers. And so maybe you have speaking gigs, maybe you have huge social media engagement, or people are sharing your podcasts, those are potential readers. But if you haven’t built that, the magic word is platform, if you haven’t built that platform, if you’re not already reaching readers, I would caution you about self publishing, unless there’s some folks, they just know, this is something I have to do. This is where I want to put my dollars, I’m just going to do it. And even if I sell two copies, honestly, that’s gonna be I’m not great at sales. But but just know that you are investing in self publishing and you’re the one who has to sell every copy.

Tosha Johnson 10:45
Interesting, interesting. And yes, I do have a couple follow ups to that. So comes to self publishing, you’re the one that’s investing in that correct. But however, it does seem like sometimes, it may be this, this may not be a fair assessment. But from what I’ve heard, at a couple of the conferences that I’ve gone to, it seems like a lot more of the publishing houses are relying on the author to have that platform as you talk about. So where is the, I guess, where’s the magic balance, if you will, and how much I have to bring to the table and how much the publishing person is, or the publishing house brings to the table in terms of marketing, so it’s fair?

Margot Starbuck 11:28
And what I’m going to say is, I feel like a lot of us kind of, back in the olden days, a writer could hold themselves up in a cabin, type on their typewriter, produce their manuscript handed to a publisher, and their work was done. And that just is not at all the case today, every single publisher is looking for authors with whom they can partner to market and sell the book, from small publishers to large publishers, that matters to all of them. And so when they’re reading your proposal, that’s what the in their mind, and they’re thinking, you know, is this writer going to be a good partner in selling this book. And that’s what that’s where platform is important. They’re looking for that in your proposal. And yes, they have, like their marketing and publicity people who are, you know, juggling a lot of other books, and they really do want to work with writers. And so an example is, in your proposal, there’s a personal marketing section, and a really bad one, if it’s a bad one, and your proposal would be like, I’m willing to go on a book tour that you pay for, that would be a bad one. That doesn’t happen. Yeah, but a good one would be maybe page after page of creative ideas that you have, you’re both showing them what you have done and what you will do, and what you have done. It’s what you’ve done. But what you will do, I will pursue publishing articles at my alma mater, at my church, denominational magazine, all these places, all the things that you will do to help publish the book. And that really will impress them. And while we’re one other thing, I would say, if you have not built a platform, what I want you to hear is that there are writers, although you know, we so want to wrap up that proposal make it excellent hits. And there are writers who will pause that journey to publication and take six months or one year or two years to build their platform. And there’s no magic to building a platform. And we all know like how hard it is to get followers on social media. But the one idea I just want one, one little seed I want to plant is the possibility of writing articles. Because when I got my first book contract with a small publisher, it’s not that I had a lot of followers, but what they could see is that I had taken a year and pitched a lot of articles so they could see okay, Margot has written for today’s Christian woman, mothers of preschoolers, like, hang gliding in America magazine, find home building. And what that signals to them is people care what Margot has to say. And I call it capitalizing off of other people’s platform, Christianity Today, they’ve built a platform, when you can write for one of their, you know, one of their divisions, then you’re reaching all of their readers, and that’s a big win. So you’re going to know kind of what those online and print magazines are that your reader is reading, and that’s where you want to be pitching articles.

Tosha Johnson 14:47
Okay, that makes sense. Okay, thank you for that. So, regardless of whether you decide to go the traditional or the self publishing route, why is Is it important to create a book proposal? I’m being honest, until I found your content, I wasn’t sure if that was something I really needed to do. Because in my head, I’m like, Oh, I got this. I’m like, like, I knew what I was passionate about and writing. But I wasn’t thoroughly convinced. And until I started going through the process. So I’d like to hear from you.

Margot Starbuck 15:25
You’re convincing me right now, because I don’t know if I’ve ever told anyone who’s self publishing, you must do this thing. But I can talk about the benefits. And that is, when you write your book proposal, you have to identify who’s my reader, what is my readers need? How am I meeting that need, and that’s kind of your unique premise. You have to structure your books and you don’t just start writing on the first page, you can see how your book unfolds, you can see maybe what the main idea or message of each chapter is. So it is very much a big win for the writer to go through that process. And I’m just going oh, this is my moment to say, I feel like I learned too late that it’s all about the reader ranks. As writers, we get all excited, I’m gonna write about adaption and body image and loving your neighbor. And that’s great. But in the end, like those could all be those, I could do all that in my journal. If I’m writing a book for other people, it’s all about the readers on every page, I’m asking myself, How can I make because I know who my reader is, maybe their picture is taped to my laptop, how can I meet that readers need, that’s going to be the big win. And I’m going to say that if a publisher sees in your proposal, that that’s what you care about. That’s what they care about. Publishers care about meeting the readers need. So you can demonstrate to a publisher that that’s what you care about. That’s going to be a big win.

Tosha Johnson 16:58
I don’t know, if I’m gonna do traditional or self publishing, we’d love to go traditional, but you know, whatever. But we’ll see where life takes us. But I, that whole exercise was very, very helpful. So yeah, I just wanted to thank you for that. Because then very, very helpful. Because again, as someone that was kind of just stepping into this arena, I was like, Ooh, proposal, I already kind of know what I want to do. And then someone also with a marketing background, I was like, Oh, it’s got to be kind of the same thing. But I still worked through the process. But yeah, there were a lot of blind spots that I had not thought about. So yes, I cannot stress enough that you need to do that. Good. Good. So do you believein writer’s block? And if so, how do you propose we overcome that?

Margot Starbuck 17:53
That’s good. I do hear it’s a thing. And you don’t know what to hear me say that. Like, I’m weird. And it’s not. It’s not something that oppresses me a lot. But what I do need you to hear is yes, it’s real. But it’s up to you whether you let it become the boss of you. So if you know that you’re a writer, you can’t wait to get inspired to write something you can’t wait till the words are, you know, just falling out of your fingers. You need to carve out the time and space, the way that you would put a coffee date on your calendar, you want to depending on your life, your schedule, set your art alarm an hour earlier on weekdays and get at the keyboard. And just Well, one little piece of advice is turn off your internal editor, that voice. And that’s a lot of writers like that voice that saying you don’t have anything to say, don’t say it like that. Be very careful with your words, don’t just turn that off, get the words on the page, whether it’s again, early in the morning, whether you carve out time on a weekend, whether you’re like can find time to take a retreat, and then show up for that, like that’s the thing that you can control. But then also Yeah, the other thing you can control is not listening to your internal editor. And just know that that first draft is all about getting words out of you onto the page. You can go back make them pretty later. But I think the magic is in showing up.

Tosha Johnson 19:34
Yeah, no, I wholeheartedly agree, especially about that point, about making time to actually set aside set aside time to actually write and just turn off your brain because I do that so much. Oh my goodness. I’ll just be like, okay, my goal is to at least get to a certain extent in one particular chapter and then I sit there and I’m like, okay, words come to me now. And then when they come out, I’m just like, okay, that’s not exactly what I was thinking. But you’re right, you just have to keep keep at it set that time aside, and just freestyle. So that’s what I’ve gotten into the habit of doing because I would love to write in a sequence. Like, here’s the chapter one, here’s chapter two. But the way my mind is set up, it’s like, okay, we oh, yeah, let’s jam on chapter 10. Yeah, that’s what I’m feeling today. Good. I’m going with the flow. So the yes, that that, that’s great advice, I wholeheartedly agree, wholeheartedly agree. Okay, so what characteristics should aspiring authors that are choosing to go the traditional route look for in a literary agent?

Margot Starbuck 20:46
Hmm. Okay. And for folks who may be really new to this journey, literary agent, well, I guess we all kind of know about like, agents in the entertainment industry. But a literary agent is someone who represents you and your project to a publisher, and they do not get paid until you get paid. So you do not give them any money. But I’m gonna say that, like, the proposal that you’re gonna send to a literary agent, is they’re looking for exactly the same things that a publisher is looking for, you know that three things, the fresh concept with a unique angle or edge, they’re looking for someone who’s got a large or a growing platform, and they’re looking for strong writing. So agents and publishers looking for exactly the same thing. And I would encourage you to start by doing your research. So you can google literary agencies, literary agents, you can talk to friends, who are writers to see who they know, you can look at conferences, like publishing in color to see who they’re bringing in. But in that research process, I want you to be noticing is this a literary agent or agency, who is already publishing, already supporting excited about promoting books like mine, authors like me, and so we could be talking like, even like on the political spectrum, if all of their books are really, let’s say, really liberal, and your message is really conservative, that might not be the agent for you. On the websites of literary agents and agencies, they are, they will tell you what it is that they’re looking to represent. So they might say, no poetry, no science fiction, we’re looking for this kind of self help. And that, that’s for them. And it’s for you. So if they’re really not looking for the type of writing that you’re doing. Yeah, it’s not going to do anybody any good for you to send it. Another place you can look is the books that you love and appreciate by your favorite authors. In the acknowledgement section, that author might mention their literary agent, and then you know, exactly who’s representing folks who are writing books like the book that you’re writing. So that’s also also a trick. And yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s the win. That’s the one you can find out who’s representing writers like you.

Tosha Johnson 23:30
Fantastic. Fantastic. So what do you consider to be the most difficult part of the book publishing process?

Margot Starbuck 23:43
So honestly, I’m going to say for traditional publishing, it is getting a contract with a traditional publisher, the math across the board. is brutal math is that publishers. Oh, I hate to say it out loud. Publishers can accept about 1% of the books that are pitched to them. I know Tosha, it’s a horrible number. It’s a horror. Oh, wow. But I already want to say that by listening to today’s podcasts, and by attending writers conferences, like you really put yourself at the at the top of the pile, who, but another thing is this, okay? If you if you scraped up an email address for an acquisitions editor at a publishing house, and they hear from you, they’re not going to give the exact same proposal as much attention as they would if they received that proposal from a literary agent. When they see their inbox and they see the name of a literary agent. What they know is that that proposal has already been vetted. And that agent doesn’t want to stick there. refutation on something that’s not ready to tap big. So they really know that if it’s coming from a literary agent, they’re going to give it their time and attention. And another win of going to writers conferences is that you have the opportunity to be face to face to get meetings with publishers, which is huge, because then you’re not a name and an inbox, then you’re a real person. And that can be a big way. So I do feel like if it’s traditional publishing, it can be, yeah, can be a challenge to get a contract. Yeah, boy, it sounds like a bummer. Now that I hear myself saying, Yeah,

Tosha Johnson 25:43
Wow, I did not know that part. That’s, that’s a blow to the soul right there.

Margot Starbuck 25:51
Even of 81% of Americans happy to book in them. How many of those 81% have learned anything about publishing? You know, we know 80% 80% aren’t going to write the book proposal. So I, Tosha, I know you and I feel like you’re doing all the right things, too. Yeah, yeah. So don’t, don’t be scared. Don’t be scared. Because I’m doing the right things.

Tosha Johnson 26:17
I was gonna like slow, okay, did not know that little piece of info. But you know, another thing that I that has kind of been on my mind, regarding traditional traditional publishing is, especially in terms of there aren’t that many, as we alluded to that many, like, people of color in the Christian publishing space, right. So when it comes to the whole editing process, we may use different vernacular or things of that nature. So how does an author especially when of color, kind of make sure that when it comes to the editing process, you’re not necessarily changing my voice? Just because the person that’s most likely reading it is not? You know, what I’m saying? Like, the person the publishing house is reading is not probably be intended reader, if you will. So they may think, Oh, wait, I need to change this, because this, but again, you may not be as familiar with that vocabulary. So how does one with or without a literary agent fighting on their behalf, advocate for certain changes that take place in the process? Sure.

Margot Starbuck 27:28
Can you tell how fast my heart is beating right now? One, I think about this a lot, too. I get to participate in a publishing and color event now. And they said, you know which of these things you want to chime in on? And I’m like, This is it. But before I forget, I’m really glad you said literary agent, because that’s their shot. And oh, wait, if somebody comes up with a joke, somebody comes up with the publisher. It’s kinda like good cop, bad cop. If they can be on top of that, that lets you say, Good cop, and they can be bad cop. But okay, so let’s imagine that I’m in. Let’s imagine, I’m in the middle of my fifth decade, there was a sitcom series early 2000s, called girlfriends. Tracee. Ellis Ross, it is on Netflix. Now, end of season four, beginning of season five, Maya gets a book contract. And they deal with all of these things, please, it’s on Netflix, end of season four, beginning of season five. And it’s delicious. Because she goes to the publisher, we don’t always end up in the publishers office. But they keep throwing around the word urban, like our urban readers. And finally, she’s just like, you know, a lot of Black folk or country like, you know, soccer with. But, but right, it’s a, it might be a new thing for publishers. And my hope is that these editors understand, like, if they know how to do their job, they will not water it down. And what I think is a publishing professional, it comes down to is, it’s not about the publisher, it’s not about the writer, it’s about the reader. And yeah, if there’s anything about that language that could be confusing or distracting to a reader, okay, let’s talk about it. But otherwise, please, please, please, like use your voice. And I’m gonna say I’ve coached writers, and just last month I was okay, so she published her first book, and I’m gonna say this is a Black writer, and a lot of her audience does happen to be white women because the speaking opportunities that she gets, and she publishes her first book, she’s working on book number two now and this we were on FaceTime. She was just speaking to Margot, in her regular voice, and first of all, I was very grateful and I did not take it for granted, I didn’t take it lightly. But I’m like, Oh friend, please, please, please let some of that just conversation and that’s, that’s a good word for anyone conversational language is so much better in writing than trying to sound smart trying to sound academic. Like, please, please, please let this spill over into book number two, because, boy, it’s hard to know what words are with our changing language? Am I? Am I allowed to say flavor?

Tosha Johnson 30:32
You can say that if you want to.

Margot Starbuck 30:37
No, no, don’t offer us something bland personally with all the flavor. So that’s hard. And yes, if you have a traditional publisher, and boy, if they want to water it down. Yes, that is your literary agents job. And and I hope if you didn’t have a literary agent, that there would be a way that you could, you know, make that argument yourself because it’s so important and it is worth it’s absolutely worth fighting for.

Tosha Johnson 31:03
Exactly, exactly. I just had to ask that question. Because, oh, so I could kind of see where this would come into play. Not for for me a little bit not, not that they would be completely filled with that. But again, you know, just some slang here and there. So I just want to make sure that, you know, that I’m advocating for myself, regardless of whether I have an agent or not. Does that make sense?

Margot Starbuck 31:29
Absolutely. Oh, okay. I’m sorry. I watched too much Girlfriends. But I what my so when she was advocating yourself to the publisher, what she said was, you know, what, if, if white women want to read this, if Asian women want to read this, like if Latina women want to read this great, but I wrote it for the sisters. And and we all know that’s pretty bold. That’s it? Yeah, that’s it. And because we live in this world, I’m gonna say what the publisher is thinking, of course, is audience dollars. Who’s buying books? Of course, of course, of course. But I’m glad we’re agreeing that it’s still worth fighting for. Exactly,

Tosha Johnson 32:09
Exactly. Well, you know, what, if I’m not mistaken, I think we are close to being exactly halfway through 2023. And then crazy, like, I just I’m pretty sure we’re almost exactly I think today is the day. So if you had to choose one word, to represent your goals for this year, what would it be? And why?

Margot Starbuck 32:31
Oh, I know. And maybe it’s because I’ve been thinking about hustle and faith, but the word is hustle. And,

Tosha Johnson 32:39
okay, we did not plan that we didn’t plan that

Margot Starbuck 32:43
Tosha had no idea. But let’s say for a number of years, I’ve kind of wanted to take my business to the next level. It’s called Word melon today, it might not be called Word melon next month, because I’m doing the thing that I encourage writers to do. I’m investing in myself. And what that has meant for me is I’m, I’m creating a video course on how to create a winning book proposal. And I mentioned I do not know how to sell. Like, before I was a writer, I was making cards and beads and puppets and magnets and I, you know, go to these fairs, and I would give off a vibe like, don’t look at me, don’t look at my wares do not buy my product. So I’m really bad. Right now. I’m doing this. So I’ve hired a marketing consultant. And she’s getting like the branding person involved the website person involved. And I’m really excited. So I’m investing in Margo to kind of take my business to the next level, and hopefully be able to reach and help more writers. So I didn’t I feel like I’m getting my hustle on. Quite frankly, that’s my word.

Tosha Johnson 33:48
Oh, my goodness. I love that so much! That’s so awesome. And by the way, I have had several guests on in the past six years, and I have yet to have a word repeat. Thank you for continuing that unofficial streak.

Margot Starbuck 34:00
Oh, I thought you were gonna say oh,

Tosha Johnson 34:04
no, no, I was so excited. I was like, I’m curious, because I really do remember the words that my guests say I know. It’s yeah. And over six years. Yeah. I haven’t had one repeat yet. That’s crazy. Oh, that’s

Margot Starbuck 34:17
good. That’s good. Yeah.

Tosha Johnson 34:19
Good, so much for you though. That’s fantastic. Thank you so much thing was and actually it’s a perfect segue to the next question. Are there any other projects or projects that you would like to share with us and that sounds like a major one.

Margot Starbuck 34:33
It is that’s my number one, and hopefully coming in the next six months. And the other thing so as we didn’t talk about ghostwriting, but as a ghost writer, as a writer for publishers, like a lot of times I’m writing for other people. And the thing that’s in Margot’s heart, and remember I mentioned the one book I have self published. I don’t have it. It is called the solid place. It’s a 365 day devotional and I’m just gonna say 11 years ago, my life kind of fell apart, there was a lot of healing were actually after childhood, there was also a lot of healing that had to happen in my heart. And as I listened to God, these were like a lot of the affirmations that God spoke to my heart about being beloved, about being grounded and what is most true. And where those live, besides the book called The solid place is both Facebook and Instagram. And I’m in the process right now of like, this week, moving them from the Margot Starbuck addresses to the solid place on Instagram and Facebook. So that’s where you can go to get inspired. And that’s like the personal thing when I speak at retreats when I speak to women’s groups. That’s the thing that I like. That’s the word. That’s the message that I’m bringing and love to talk about. So the solid place. That’s it.

Tosha Johnson 35:57
Awesome. Awesome. Well, Margot, I have thoroughly enjoyed this interview. One last question, what’s the best piece of advice that you have for aspiring authors?

Margot Starbuck 36:09
Okay, boy, it’s not warm and fuzzy. It’s not inspiring, but it is the most important thing. And that is, wherever you are today in terms of reaching readers, I want you to take that next step to build your platform. And, and you don’t have to be thinking 1 million followers on Instagram or tic TOCs. Just do the next thing. It might be pitching an article. If you’re at the very, very front end, it might be speaking to a group at your church. Just find that next step to be reaching readers in a way that makes sense for who you are and how you’re wired. Because I get it speaking in front of audiences, you know, makes you want to stick a fork in your eye, that’s not the one you know, then maybe write an article is for you. But just begin to be intentional about reaching readers. Because unfortunately, there can be really beautiful writing and beautiful ideas that won’t find a home with a publisher, if the writer isn’t reaching readers. So they’re just take your next step. Don’t do it all at once. But take your next step to reach readers.

Tosha Johnson 37:17
That’s awesome. And you know, you just sparked me to think of one last thing something about endorsements. What are you? What is your position on the whole endorsement thing? Because especially for aspiring authors, I forgot I should ask that earlier in the process. But endorsements for newbies could be kind of difficult. So so how would one go about doing something like that?

Margot Starbuck 37:38
How should you keep asking things out? I have a lot to say. Because Because yes, we need endorsers for book proposals. But I wouldn’t say even on your website. And first of all, don’t not have a website that’s dedicated to you as a communicator. It is your business card in this day and age. I want you to have endorsements there. And here’s the thing. At the beginning, it might be somebody emailing you, oh, this blog post, like, really hit me something I’m going with right now. Thank you so much. ask their permission to make that an endorsement. Or if you do write that article, it might be one of the comments that’s left. Or maybe the magazine editor that you wrote for said all this, this piece has been a real gift to our readers, I just want you to ask any of those sorts. They’re not meaning to be endorsers, but go ahead and just ask them for their permission. Because then when a visitor comes to your site, when a book publisher magazine editor is sort of like evidence that there are people who value what you’re saying, and it’s not that you have to get an ageless celeb or a megachurch pastor to endorse you just begin grabbing those ones that are right there. Just keep your ears open for them and start gathering them.

Tosha Johnson 38:56
That was a good question. Thank you. Fantastic. Fantastic. Margo, thank you so much for coming on to the show. In the event that folks want to connect with you, how can they go about doing so?

Margot Starbuck 39:07
It’s And Margo is Ma RG O T Margot And that’s where we can connect.

Tosha Johnson 39:13
Fantastic once again, Margot, thank you so much for coming on to the show. I really appreciate it. It’s a pleasure. Thank you Fred. Thanks so much for listening to today’s episode. If you enjoy listening to hustlin faith and would like to support the show, please consider sharing it with your friends. Rate or leave a review, donate or make a purchase that starring you through our fitness and girl shop. Remember, if you’re everything to everyone, then you risk being no one, you never know who you will inspire, see you in the next episode. I’m going to announce the fact that I’m writing a book on July 3, and then July 10, I’m going to read the intro and chapter one of my book. So then that week after is my reflection birthday episode, because I’m, my birthday is on July 19. And then I wanted to end the month with bringing you on. So I have a reason I, I did. Again, I got the marketing thing. It’s just I am like, I have the nine to five. And I’m trying to write this, and I still help other folks on the side too. So yeah. So that’s why I had this

Margot Starbuck 40:51
So marketing genius. Then when you read the intro and the first chapter, like what’s in that for you, because I can’t even tell you whether you’re going self publishing or traditional.

Tosha Johnson 41:03
I quite frankly, the reason why I’m doing this is because I’ve been having way too many conversations with friends and other folks that are kind of down. And I hadn’t really told anyone I was doing this project. So I figured, you know what, when I have these conversations, I have something like the scoreboard. Yeah, if very few folks know that I’m actually doing this project. And I’m writing this book. And so I figured, instead of me having all these separate conversations until my book is out. Let me just put this out there. And if you guys like it, let me know you got feedback. And that’s another way I thought to myself. Okay, while I’m still writing this, I could be still garnering some of those endorsements you were talking about.

Margot Starbuck 41:50
Good, good, good, good. So smart. I have so much to learn from you. That’s awesome.

Tosha Johnson 41:57
So that’s the only reason I was thinking about that. But I also thought your proposal kind of helped not kind of it really did spark a lot of other additional ideas. So I was like, You know what, this would be the perfect way to close this out. Because I’m announcing my book, you know, in the event that you want to do something similar to this, talk to Margo, look at her content, and go from there. So that’s, that’s why I came up with that. So that’s why

Margot Starbuck 42:24
I’m so proud of you. Good for you. Good for you. Because you edit I have to tell you the funniest thing. So I’m in the studio, and I filmed the 12 modules for my course, Tosha. So my friend is the videographer. And he’s only charging me for like rental space, but still he sets up his fancy camera. He gives me the best like the best sound but I’m on my own in one and originally I was gonna like look really appropriate. And like a black sweater. I’m a black glasses and then I’m like, Oh no, especially after I talked to this business consultant. She’s like, No, Margot, I think you are the I think you are the product. So 12 modules 12 outfits 12 bright colors. In one of the modules my pendant necklace right here is off to the side buying it now that’s happened for a still photo before but I could Photoshop can’t do it in video sites film this one all over and one of them. My hair is up and halfway through the module. A big chunk falls down. Have to refill that 101 hairs up and there’s like a weird like a packing peanut or four of them. I had to redo because of wardrobe malfunction. Oh, when I’m like, you know, okay. Okay, Mark, and this is a young man. He’s not looking at me. He’s not thinking about like, my chin angle and my Oh, okay. So fond of editing.

Tosha Johnson 43:56
Yes, yes. Yes. Yes. The joys of that. I’m gonna be honest, that would be the first thing I would probably outsource if I you know, making a big, I’m gonna outsource the editing because it can be a little tedious. Yeah.

Margot Starbuck 44:08
Okay, when you make it big, you and I are gonna remember that and laugh about it.

Tosha Johnson 44:12
All right.