Milda De Voe is the Founder and Executive Director of Pen Parentis, a non-profit organization for writers who are parents. Like any business owner, she was aware of the many benefits that come from writing a business book (new income streams and increased revenue, personal satisfaction, a broader audience base, and boosted credibility).
However, her primary motivation was to create a compendium of an over decade’s worth of insights and wisdom shared by prominent visiting writers who have attended the Pen Parentis monthly salons, resources, and hands-on practical strategies to support parent writers during this very challenging time in their lives and careers.
Being able to support, supplement, and grow her non-profit with this business book has already been highly rewarding.
Book and Baby, The Complete Guide to Managing Chaos and Becoming A Wildly Successful Writer-Parent, published in January 2021, is a distillation of the last decade of Pen Parentis’ programming, serving as a guide, a resource, and a reassurance to parent writers.
Milda shared her thoughts on what it was like to write her business book as the owner of a non-profit and the insights she gleaned along the way.
I wrote the book partly because I found myself answering the same questions over and over again in ever-longer emails! In email, though, I always left something out — so the book is a way to make sure I get all the information across. It’s become a great reference – even for me!
It has also led to my being asked to speak on topics dear to my heart—instead of just reading all about productivity and parenting in my book, people now want me to talk to their writing groups about the topics I cover. It’s a win-win in terms of spreading the message for parent writers.
What did you learn about yourself from writing it?
I realized how much I hate talking about myself, but when I was concentrating on the stages of parenting and how they affect a writer’s productivity, the writing flew! I am definitely not shy, but writing about myself was hard, so that was very strange.
I also enjoyed reaching out to dozens of authors who are parents. Everyone was eager to contribute their stories to the book—that was magical.
Did you have a mentor or colleagues to lean on for support? How did that help you/enhance the process for you personally and with the writing itself?
You’re going to laugh, but I never would have started this book without the One Lit Place blog series on How to Write a Book for Your Business. As each blog went up, I started messing around with ideas … by the third blog, I had convinced myself that not only did I have enough material for a business book, but that there was a market for it! (And this has proved true!)
Once I made the decision, I told my Board I was working on the book, and they supported me wholeheartedly. I also have an accountability group I lead through the non-profit, and when I told them I was working on a business book, they made me set my own goals and milestones. I might not have finished without all the eyes on me!
Your book was just released this January- what opportunities do you already have lined up for promoting the book or engaging with audiences?
I’m a keynote speaker (along with Writer Rebecca Walker and Writer and Associate Director of the Johns Hopkins University MA in Writing Program, Karen Houppert) on one of four consecutive Saturdays of a remote residency for writers who are mothers called Scribente Maternum.
They found me from an Instagram post and are giving away copies of the book at the residency. The residency is geared to moms who have lost their mojo – to help them shake off the guilt or face whatever other issues are blocking them from their creative careers.
What early praise has the book gotten?
People are delighted by the look of the book (whose credit belongs 100% to my publisher Brooklyn Writers Press), and people who have already read the book say it sounds like they’re talking to me.
Do you have any insight or advice for someone just starting out on their business book writing journey?
No one knows your business better than you. All you have to know is what makes your angle special!
In my case, no one has the experience I do with ten years of interviewing writers who are also parents and figuring out methods to inspire other parent writers. If anyone is writing about this subject at all, it would be someone sharing what worked for them alone. In my case, I was able to collect anecdotes and advice from hundreds of writers who are parents.
I would tell you to ask yourself: what makes your knowledge special? What do you know that no one else does? That’s the heart of your book. After that, you just write it down!
On a practical note: I’m a fiction writer and was terrified of writing nonfiction, but I approached it like I would any other project: I broke it down into manageable pieces.
The brilliant thing about nonfiction, and this business book, is that it lends itself to outline. I never wrote using an outline in school or in my fiction writing, but it was so comforting to know that there is a pattern to the business book – and that it would be simple for others to find the information they needed if I could just keep my thoughts organized!
Scrivener was a big help with putting the book into outline format—although word to the wise—I needed help understanding that program!
Book and Baby, The Complete Guide to Managing Chaos and Becoming A Wildly Successful Writer-Parent is available on Amazon.com.
Are you a parent writer? Join Pen Parentis on a free or paid membership (paid memberships receive substantial discounts on One Lit Place writing coaching and editing as well as our novel, memoir, and business book writing programs).
When you’re ready to get your own business book off the ground and would like to do it with mentorship support and a framework around your writing process, check out our Write Your Business Book in 4 Months Program or contact us to find out how we can best support you with your work!
Milda Motekaitis De Voe (aka M. M. De Voe) is the founder and executive director of Pen Parentis, Ltd. Her experience co-hosting the monthly Pen Parentis Literary Salons for more than ten years with its various curators and guest-hosts is detailed in the new guide Book & Baby: The Complete Guide to Managing Chaos and Becoming a Wildly Successful Writer-parent which also includes many stories from the Salons and tricks and tips for productivity alongside every-age child, learned from writers featured there. Five Pushcart nominations, two Editor’s Prizes, a Shirley Jackson Award, a distinguished alumna award, a few arts grants, two children, and several publications later, De Voe continues to seek balance between family and a successful writing career. See www.mmdevoe.com for links to DeVoe’s writing and recent author news.