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Get Out Of Your Head And Get Your Story On Paper ‒ Exclusive Interview With Cori Wamsley

Cori Wamsley, CEO of Aurora Corialis Publishing, works with business owners who have a transformational story to share. She helps them quickly and easily write and publish a book for their brand that helps them create a legacy and be seen as an expert while building a relationship with the reader. Cori has 17 years of experience as a professional writer and editor, including 10 years with the Departments of Energy and Justice and 4 years as the executive editor of Inspiring Lives Magazine. She also wrote eight fiction books and one nonfiction book, The SPARK Method: How to Write a Book for Your Business Fast, and contributed to two anthologies. Her newest book, Braving the Shore, was released in June 2022.

Cori Wamsley, CEO, Writing Coach, Author

What was your career path to becoming a publisher?

It definitely wasn’t a direct path! I started out as a biology major and then picked up a major in English, too, when I realized that I only needed to stay one more year and take eight English classes. My fifth year of college, I basically read books constantly, which I loved! I went on to get a master’s in English with a focus on Victorian literature.

My goal with my degree was to become a science writer, and I did that for a while. I worked for the government as a scientific and technical writer and editor for a couple of different agencies, totaling 10 years, and then I started my own business as a freelance writer.

Things took a turn at that point! In my spare time, I had been writing novels, and when I started my business, people were more interested in how to write a book than in hiring me to write press releases and web copy.

I started editing books for other business owners pretty soon after I started my business, and that morphed into a combination of book coaching and editing services because I realized that I could help circumvent some of the problems I saw in the editing process if I helped people with their book structure, storytelling, and writing from the beginning.

After a few years, I started Aurora Corialis Publishing because I knew the process for book writing and publishing inside and out … but my clients were busy in their zone of genius and didn’t want to take on that huge amount of work themselves. Nor should they have to! It was a way to ease the burden and help them get their work out faster.

You mentioned that you are also an author. Are your books the same genre as the ones your authors write?

I actually write fiction and mostly coach nonfiction. However, we have a couple of fiction authors we work with, including children’s books with big messages. I don’t have any big stories in my personal life, but I’m constantly inspired to write fiction about people overcoming big challenges, especially mindset stuff so they can live the life they want to live. It’s a theme in many of my clients’ books, so there are some similarities.

What type of people do you like to work with?

I love helping people who have a really inspiring story, things that you hear and say, “Wow, that’s so amazing!” or “I can’t believe that happened and here you are today!” These people have been through a transformation of some sort, simple or complex, personal or business, and they want to tell the story to help others get through their challenges easier too.

You can always tell when someone is really ignited by their story because you hear it when you start talking to them about it. I love to ask, “Who is it you really want to help with this book?” That’s when you know. If I hear that spark and feel their energy, that’s someone I want to sign. I know they are inspired to get out there and make change.

Fiction and nonfiction writing seem like they would be really different. Is that true?

There are obvious differences, but a story is a story. Unless you’re giving a lot of very technical information (and that’s fine is that’s what your audience needs), then you’ll likely want to include storytelling techniques to illustrate your points. You can tell stories from your own life or your clients’ or friends’ lives in a similar way to telling stories about a made up character.

There is still a flow to the story that works for both types. You still want to hook the reader, show them that you understand their journey, and let them know that you got through ok.

When your goal is to make an impact, help people through their challenges, etc., then you need to brush up your storytelling skills to connect, sell books, and give the reader a win.

Your business, Aurora Corialis Publishing, is considered a “hybrid publisher.” What is that, and how is it different from what people refer to as “vanity publishing”?

I get this question a lot! So, a hybrid publisher is a blend between traditional publishing (like the big houses in New York) and self-publishing. Hybrids offer the convenience of a group of professionals who work together on your book, just like a traditional house, but it caters more to the author’s timeline and gives them more control over the look and feel of their book than a traditional house. It’s a nice option for those who want to do self-publishing but don’t want to actually do it all themselves because they would have to hunt down all the professionals and hope that the end product meets the quality that they want.

Leaders and change-makers usually have a standard for their brands. They want to make sure that the interior is clean and as free of error as possible and that the cover is beautiful, well designed, and fits into the marketplace. You don’t want to go to all the trouble of creating something that looks like chick lit when it’s a business book or has the pages numbered wrong. Yes, I’ve seen those things happen.

If you’re working with a hybrid, in many cases, you have someone at the helm who shares your vision for the book and helps you get there.

As for “vanity publishing,” this is very different. The vanity publishers of the past would accept payment to simply print whatever book you gave them. Often they didn’t edit, do any quality control, or have a professional designer who worked on the cover. (There are always exceptions, but this is the general idea.) It was considered “vanity” because literally anyone could put anything together and pay to make it into a book. The standards for hybrid publishers today are generally much higher and create a more professional product.

So do you ever turn authors away?

I do. Sometimes I receive a pitch for a book that doesn’t fit with the standard that I’ve developed for Aurora Corialis. I want to work with people who are caring storytellers who want to help others. If a book feels like fluff or doesn’t have much substance or has a negative or disempowering slant, then I respectfully decline working with the author. Just like the authors we work with, we have brand standards that I want to maintain.

What is one element you look for in a book when talking to an author?

Hope. Plain and simple. If a story drags you down into the trenches and doesn’t let the sun come out, then that’s not something that I want to work on. You want your readers to feel better, to have hope, when they read a story, so you need to show them that, yes, there is a messy middle, but there is definitely a brighter day ahead.

Sometimes, depending on the purpose of the book, I’ve actually talked to authors about lightening up on the talk about the challenges they went through. There is a super fine line between sharing your story and triggering others who have been through trauma, so that’s something that I like to watch. It’s not all rainbows, but you definitely don’t want people reliving their struggles through your story.

The structure is important to help people through their journey. When you’re reading a book about something that you’ve been through, you want to see that the author gets you and has been through it too. So the challenges are important. But as the author, you don’t want pity. It’s like the change in the atmosphere of a room when a speaker starts crying on stage. You no longer see them as a powerful person who has been through huge challenges and come out on top. Your immediate response is to want to hug them and tell them it will be ok. You don’t want that from your reader. You have to maintain an educated perspective on your story. You’re looking back and talking about it in an empowered way. And that makes all the difference because it lets you give that reader hope.

What piece of advice would you leave new authors with?

Get out of your head and get your story on paper. You can’t work with anything that is stuck in your head, and “someday I’ll write my book” doesn’t become today unless you purposely make it happen.

You don’t have to write perfectly, but you do need to get it out so you can start the editing process. Take out less effective stories; add in ones that connect better. Tweak your perspective or your tone.

You don’t know what you have until you can see it in front of you and start working with others to get closer and closer to publication.

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!



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