What motivates women entrepreneurs to write books about their businesses and lives, and how do they manage to get their stories in print? We asked two business owners whose books hit the shelves this year.
Lisa Price, 42, is president of New York City-based Carol's Daughter , a manufacturing and retail company specializing in homemade body-care products, with revenues surpassing $2 million. Her new book, Success Never Smelled So Sweet: How I Followed My Nose and Found My Passion (One World/Ballantine), is an intimate look at her life and the business that grew out of her hobby. For years, Price's customers had told her they enjoyed reading the stories she wrote about her products. "I felt I was a good storyteller, but I didn't feel I was an author," admits Price. Her publisher paired her with a writer, Hilary Beard, and the two met for nine months compiling stories.
At the same time, Price began teaching classes for continuing education programs. She learned to speak about her experiences, and reactions from students were overwhelmingly positive. "By telling my experiences and answering their questions, I realized how much I did know [about business]," says Price.
Lisa Hammond, 37, founder and CEO of Las Vegas-based Femail Creations , a handcrafted-gift catalog and Web site featuring female-focused products created by women, was also motivated to write her book, Dream Big: Finding the Courage to Follow Your Dreams and Laugh at Your Nightmares (Conari Press), after receiving positive feedback. "I felt compelled to share my story after people told me it had inspired them," says Hammond, who projects 2004 revenues of $8 million. "It's rewarding to know I'm able to help others."
While Price was approached by an agent at William Morris who had heard her story, Hammond was approached by the owner and buyer at Conari Press. Writing took longer than anticipated, and Hammond often wrote in hotel rooms, where she could find the solitude she needed to focus.
Recently, Price has been traveling to promote her book, including a five-city tour organized by Random House. She began preparing her staff for her absence. "It's a juggling act," says Hammond, who tries to fit book signings in with the travel she does for her catalog or her QVC segments. She's also using radio as a promotional tool so she can fit phone interviews in from any location.
Having a book on the shelf has been a positive experience for both women. Hammond has heard from many new artists who would like to be included in her catalog, and she's getting more requests to speak in public.
Says Price, "When I promote the book, I'm also promoting the company, so it's a win-win situation." She enjoys meeting longtime customers face-to-face and hearing from other aspiring entrepreneurs.
Emotions are an integral part of both books, and the authors take a no-holds-barred attitude when revealing their fears, frustrations and failures along their roads to success. "I didn't feel it was my place to try to write a strict business book, because I just didn't come from that place," Price says. "Some people end up in business because they have a great idea. Many things led me to where I am."
Hammond also acknowledges a commitment to being honest about lessons learned the hard way. "Avoiding the topic of life's failures doesn't make them go away," she says. "It's that authentic voice people connect with. They are grateful to hear the truth and know they're not alone."