Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in freelancing but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kirsten Schuder, Writer, Author, and Editor based in Johnson City, TN, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am an author, a literary agency owner, an editor, and an academic tutor. As a fiction author, my customers are people who love reading about the supernatural. They are superfans like me who love to read or watch anything with ghosts, angels, demons, bigfoot, dimensional portals, strange lights, and objects in the sky... anything supernatural. However, I have a fruitful nonfiction career as well, so my readers would be people who are interested in the following categories: parenting, mental health, industrial hemp, writing, and social issues.
As a literary agent, aspiring and established writers send me queries to represent them and their works. As an editor, I provide editing for authors, business owners, and anyone else who needs help. As a tutor, my customers are anyone who wants to learn to read and write well in and out of school, from kindergarteners learning how to read all the way through students working on their dissertations.
Tell us about yourself
I love writing about social issues and making an impact where I can. I have written hundreds of parenting and mental health articles, doing a freelance stint with wikiHow.com and Lovetoknow.com. I have a Medium publication, Kirsten's Short Attention Span, where I discuss whimsical and sometimes deadly serious matters. Here is an essay on a more serious side: I Friended My Middle School Bullies on Facebook.
In terms of nonfiction books, my coauthors and I were lucky enough to fetch an international award with our first book, Farming Industrial Hemp: Not Your Daddy's Tobacco where our book was instrumental in raising awareness of the dangers of growing industrial hemp in unsafe conditions and influencing Congress in growing guidelines for the budding industry. My second book, Schooling Your Kids Through a Pandemic: Your Step-by-step, Guilt-free Guide to Remote Learning, Homeschooling, or Somewhere in Between, helps parents navigate the difficulties of remote learning.
I also authored a fiction series, Inside Dweller, the first Book I, Genesis, set for publication by Black Rose, Writing September 14, 2023.
Last, I serve as the Vice President of Apex Literary Management, a growing boutique literary agency.
I am also a wife and a mother of two beautiful kids, part owner in a budding greenhouse farm, and pet owner of a menagerie of an old goat, a mouthy southern belle cat, a precocious snuggle dog, and Durtle, the turtle.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Before COVID barrelled through the world, my agency was celebrating nearly publishing all its authors. When COVID struck, the publishers we placed them with evoked the force majeure clause in the contracts, and the contracts were all rescinded.
My resilient authors, though devastated, picked themselves right back up, wrote other books, and stayed positive.
I am happy to report that we have succeeded in placing most of them with another growing publisher. Not only did we recover from the pandemic, but we prospered after it nearly wiped us out.
We have three authors who were published in the past several months, and these are among the best books I have ever read. If you're looking for a great read, any or all of these books will scratch that itch:
Robert Joswick: Mass Transit
Jeff Ulin: The Lord's Tusks
David Philips: The Judas Conspiracy
Check out the covers! They are gorgeous, aren't they?
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Everyone's challenges are different. One of my biggest challenges is having realistic expectations. As a business owner, you quickly learn that the list is a mile long, and every day you accomplish something and cross that item off your list, you have to add on five more things to replace that one!
For me, I just want to get everything done in one sitting, but that is never possible or realistic. It was the hardest thing for me to adjust my expectations and be realistic about what I could do every day in the absence of a boss telling me what he or she expected. I am a lot harder on myself than any of my past bosses were!
The other thing I had to learn was to be satisfied with my accomplishments. Like a lot of business owners, I am always looking at things I can improve. I drive myself hard, but this can backfire and burn a person out. Instead of always looking at how much farther I had to go, I have learned to look at what I accomplished in my days and be happy with my progress.
I believe these tendencies came from not being great at taking big tasks and breaking them down into smaller steps and not being able to delay gratification. I have since learned how to organize better and work daily toward a larger goal.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Look to start slowly: Put another way, keep your day job. This probably seems the opposite of what others say, but I found that financial stability is an important aspect of, well, everything. I have done it both ways, devoting myself completely to a business and starting one part-time, and I have to say, I am much happier earning money while I am finding my way with a business. If you have a steady income, keep it, get your experience, and get your feet wet in your dream business. Mistakes are bound to happen or circumstances beyond your control (like COVID), and if you lose one, you have the other. At least no one thing will wipe out your entire savings or earnings.
- Do what you love. This might seem too obvious, and a lot of people have said this, but I have a different reason why. If you are going to own your own business, you are most likely going to have to do it all, especially at first. For example, for me, doing bookkeeping is a huge drag. You will need your passions and love to get you through those days when you have to list all your expenses.
- Develop a problem-solving mentality. Hey, listen, not everything in life is going to be ideal or go perfectly. However, if you develop a problem-solving mentality, even when life gets rough, it will help your resilience. You won't get bummed out as much. Instead, you'll be too busy becoming the solution to the curve balls life throws at you.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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