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Ask Me Anything: Writing + Book Publishing Edition.



I'm a writer, author, and online educator who loves helping others build intentional lives through the power of habit and meaningful routines.







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How did you start, and any tips on writing a book?

Honestly, the best thing you can do is just thrust yourself into the writing process- no holding back. Forget the book. Forget how to market the book. Forget about finishing the book. Just allow yourself to sit down, write, and see what comes out.

I think we place so much pressure on ourselves from the start of a book-writing project that we forget to enjoy the making or just be exhilarated for a moment or two that we are writing.

At long last, we are writing.

Let that sink in.

Let that be enough.

Yes, there are a lot of hoops and hurdles for book-writing, but I can promise you this: writing a book is one of the most transformative, cathartic processes you will ever experience if you give yourself entirely to it.

I’d say:

  • Just write for a season.

  • Don’t edit.

  • Please don’t throw out every word you write after writing it; as I say in my writing classes: no chainsaws in the writing room.

  • Just start writing and see what shows up on the page.

I’m currently writing my first book! Any tips on marketing it when that time comes?

Marketing feels like the most challenging part for me because I wouldn’t say I like promotion, but I’ve had to reframe the idea in my mind. I’m not promoting; I’m sharing a huge part of my heart.

You can do all sorts of things to market a book: giveaways, Instagram Lives, sending copies to other writers, etc. But I would encourage you to stick to the things that feel right to you— the things that feel natural and organic.

A few things I keep myself focused on in the marketing process:

  • Always make it about the readers. They’re your tribe.

  • Don’t stress yourself out trying to control what you can’t control. You can only control how you show up— so figure out what it means to show up well in this marketing season and go at it.

  • Ask for help. You do not need to do it all on your own. I hired someone this last book to manage my launch team and it saved me a lot of hours and sanity!

  • Handwritten notes. Wherever you can, however you can— those personal touches matter.

How do you decide what is worthy of writing about?

I’m not sure if I ever really know if an idea is worthy or not. Until you start sharing a concept, you don’t fully know yet if it will strike a nerve or not.

But I can confidently say this: some things when you are sitting with your computer and tapping away feel different. There’s no other way to explain. They feel important. And weighty. And when you are writing in your corner, you feel like the words you are tapping out matter. Follow that feeling. Keep note of that feeling on days you show up and you can’t muster any inspiration.

I often leave notes in the margins— reminders to myself that I must keep going. That this work matters. Maybe I’ve worked with these words for what feels like a thousand years, but they will be brand new to each reader.

How do you deal with negative comments or reviews?

I don’t know if I ever have gotten to a point where the negative comments or reviews don’t sting. Honestly, I’ve just stopped reading them. I don’t seek them out. I know they will ruin my day or make me feel awful, yet they’re inevitable. The negative reviews are going to happen.

I always tell myself: you can’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Some people don’t even like tea. So don’t try to become a cup of coffee just because you want to please someone else.

You can’t please everyone. It’s a fruitless effort. Focus on the good and positive reviews.

I hesitate to blog because it seems like people don’t read them anymore. How do you reach the demographic that still reads blogs?

Repeat after me: Blogs. Are. Not. Dead.

People. Read. Blogs.

You. Are. Reading. A. Blog. Right. Now.

We’ve swallowed this idea that people are now on the podcast train but there will always be people who like to listen and people who like to watch and people who like to read. I am in the reading pile and, as it turns out, 77% of Internet users consume blogs. That’s a HIGH number.

If you want to write in the online space then I don’t know where else you will find a better place to do so than a blog of your own. It will be your digital footprint. It will allow people to find you and fall in love with your words. It will be your hub and you will own it— unlike other social media platforms that can change or push you from the platform at any moment.

Would you suggest self-publishing or traditional publishing for a first-time writer?

There are significant differences in each type of publishing, so it all depends on which road you want to go!

I publish my books through a traditional publisher, so I don’t have experience with self-publishing. In the case of conventional publishing, you typically have to find an agent who will represent you to the publisher. This agent is the advocate for your writing. They negotiate the publishing deal with the publisher. When it comes to traditional publishing, I am hands-off in getting the book to print. They do all the line-by-line editing, printing, binding, shipping, etc. I’ve also been lucky to work with an amazing publicist for all of my books who handles scheduling podcast interviews, magazine interviews, TV appearances, etc.

In the self-publishing world, most of this will fall on you. You have to find a way to print the books, edit the text, and market the book. However, you control the process more. It takes a long time to print books through the traditional path. Self-publishing means you own the timeline, the cover, the format and layout of the books, etc.

When it comes to traditional publishing, you are typically offered an “advance” to write the book. You then must earn out that advance in book sales before you ever see a return on the books. Some authors earn out their advances. Some do not.

In self-publishing, every book sale goes to you. You are responsible for creating the book to earn that money back— book sale by book sale.

How do you start the writing rhythm again after four years away with four kids…?

I recommend picking a rhythm that works for you and your chaotic schedule. It is probably not realistic to wake up and write every morning without interruptions. What if you picked one morning a week to go to a coffee shop to write away from your home? Sitting for 2-3 hours (like I am doing right now) will get the writing rhythm back into your bones. It will start you dreaming again. Start small and build from there.

What software do you use for writing?

I use Google Docs and, more recently, Notion. I’ve built out a pretty robust system in Notion, and I love that it’s free. Don’t pay extra money for some fancy software— you have free tools at your disposal that are perfect for starting right now.

Does it cost money to get an agent? Where do you start?

No. And never pay an agent up front to work with you. Agents make money when your book sells. Typically, agents will take 15% of every deal. I know this may feel like a big chunk but trust me when I say: I would give my agent way more for all the fantastic work she does when it comes to making the deals happen. She thinks through things and opportunities in ways I can’t. She asks the questions. She advocates fiercely for me and my work. She is truly my middle woman, and I love her for that.

How do I help people find my blog? Should I start sharing it with my friends?

Yes, absolutely. Start sharing your work. Be proud of what you are writing and actively believe that it can help someone. If you don’t believe in your words, why should someone else?

I know it probably feels scary to think about sharing your words with others. But friend, if the words impact, your friends will share with their people. And the spiral will begin.

I started by sharing my blog on Facebook and quickly watched as my reach expanded beyond friends and family.

When you launch your blog, or if you have one now, I recommend having an email list that people can easily find on your blog site. This will be a way to reach out to people and let them know when new writing is published! You can never guarantee that someone will return to your blog after that first time, so create a way to connect with them in their email!

Are proposals for fiction as intense as nonfiction?

No, and yes. No, because you often don’t need a proposal for fiction. Yes, because you want to have the entire book written (in most cases) before querying. If you’re going to write a novel, get your booty in the chair and start working that story out.

How do you know what content belongs in a book or a blog?

My advice would be to write yourself full– as much as possible. If you have a consistent writing process, you will slowly build an arsenal of words. As you write, you will notice that some pieces feel more critical than others. Pay attention to those. Those pieces may be the start of your book whispering to you.

However, I encourage you to use your blog to practice, practice, practice. When you publish pieces, you will gather feedback from your readers. Often, you won’t know you struck a chord until it is out there in the world. It’s okay if a blog piece ends up in a book. You will find blogs of mine in all of my books.

When you decide to include a blog post in a book, I’d recommend sitting down to rewrite it so that it carries new words and thoughts beyond what you originally published. That keeps the writing fresh and new— even if you’ve posted something similar before.

Any cost-effective resources you recommend to help me grow as a writer?

I think, at some point, you just have to sit down and start writing more than anything else. I don’t just see this in writing but in many other facets of life— we convince ourselves we need x, y, and z to start. We need fancy sneakers. We need new equipment. We need software. We need that new app. In actuality, you have everything you need to begin today. It may feel scary and challenging, but I promise you, it’s worth the risk and the journey.

Every summer, I offer a Summer Writing Intensive that focuses on helping writers develop discipline in their craft. The course isn’t a magic bullet, but it can lead to some beautiful results and a summer of writing if you follow through. I want that for you. But again, don’t believe the lies that you need something beyond your reach to just start.

  1. Sit down.

  2. Make a plan.

  3. Get to work.

  4. Write through the good and the rough patches.

  5. Just keep being faithful to the craft.

I’ve heard publishers want writers to already have an audience. How do you build that?

This is the biggest question— often framed as a discouraging statement— that I get from aspiring writers. And I get it— the social media landscape these days feels exhausting sometimes. But let’s talk about it.

Even people with the BIGGEST platforms started with one follower. Every single writer starts with one reader. And then two. And then a dozen. And then beyond. The writers you love started from square one, just like you. No one is above the work of building a consistent readership. And I promise you: that work is rich and full.

I’ll never forget the first blog reader who wasn’t a friend from college or a family member. Stephen from the UK. Someone I’d never met before who found my work. I celebrated that one reader. I showered that one reader. I cultivated that one relationship because I had the time and space to do it. Do for one what you wish you could do for all.

First things first, write yourself full. Write as much as you can, whenever you can and however you can, and then use social media to share those words. If you want to be known for writing, let the words speak for themselves. Stay consistent. Publish, publish, publish. Don’t worry about the trendy audio or the latest fad— post words that penetrate and make people think. Invite people into your process. Enjoy the making. And little by little, you’ll build a community. Stoke that little fire and enjoy getting to know the people who read you. They are a treasure.

Building an audience may make you weary, but darling, it’s beautiful to have people rally for your powerful little words. Don’t be afraid to share them and cultivate a space online where others can find them. Talk to your readers. Get to know. Learn what makes them tick. Write love letters to them. Enjoy the audience, no matter how small it is, because as you grow, that opportunity to meet people will start to slip away.

How do you know if you have a good team when it’s your first book?

I’m not sure you really can know that until you go through the process with the team. Hopefully, you will experience an attentive team that is excited about your ideas. You know your writing and your readers best, so don’t be afraid to speak up if a marketing idea doesn’t feel right or if you have an idea they haven’t previously pitched.

I’d love to hear from you:

In moving my blog to a newer platform, I sadly had to let go of the thousands of comments and conversations that came from readers over the last 10+ years. This grieves me deeply but I know there will new conversations, fresh words of wisdom, and opportunities to create close community once again. I’d love to hear from you in the comments section. I’ll be reading + replying on a regular basis.


  1. Alicia says:

    This is gold. I so appreciate your transparency and honesty. Thanks for being you and sharing your gift with the world!

  2. Kayla says:

    Thank you for sharing, Hannah! There’s so much generous wisdom here.

  3. Wendy says:

    Love this! Thank you so much for sharing all that you do. This was really just what I needed to keep going on my first book!

  4. Lauren Ashleigh Brook says:

    This was SO helpful!! I was just sitting here realizing I essentially abandoned my book project…and began wondering if The Lord has really said to do it back I’m January…and minutes later this popped up into my inbox. THANK YOU for writing this!! All of these questions you have detailed have served as barriers in my mind in this process. Thank you for addressing the things that people rarely do…you make it feel simple, filled with the hard work, yet at the same time possible. This is exactly what I, your blog reader, needed to hear:)

  5. Maria says:

    Thank you for sharing your process! Writers are a rare gem

  6. Delora says:

    Thank you for this. I’m still terrified to begin so not sure what I’m going to do with this yet?? But thank you for your thoughtful responses and encouragement on how to begin.

  7. Kristalyn Gill says:

    So helpful! I’m about to release my first poetry collection “The Shape of You” through a traditional publisher rather than my self published collections in the past. Thanks Hannah for the insight!

  8. April says:

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom from firsthand experience. These tips are very helpful and encouraging!

  9. Amanda says:

    I have my own blog, but I currently can’t afford to pay for websites that have really cool features. How do I create an email list?

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Hi, I'm Hannah

I love writing about all things faith, mental health, discipline + and motherhood. Let's be penpals!


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