THE INSPIRATION PLACE PODCAST
Emily Silva Hockstra: I, on my end, am always talking about my books: I’m reading, I’m showing up, and I’m posting about them in my newsletter. I talk about my books; I’m always plugging. And I’m also asking—asking friends, family, and people who write to me and say, “I love your book”—to please leave a review so that other people know. Because Amazon, as much as I love-hate it, is there; they push books out there. So, I think Moonlight Gratitude has over 250 great reviews, and it’s because I’m asking people, “Please give me a five-star review, and tell people about the book.” Don’t just give stars; tell people what to expect, because they think we, in our heads, know what our books are about. And it’s really easy to just be like, “Buy my book, it’s really going to help you.” But if there are 250 people saying, “Oh my God, this book has really helped me calm down,” then there’s social proof there.
Speaker 2: It’s the Inspiration Place podcast with Artist Miriam Schulman. Welcome to the Inspiration Place Podcast, an Art World Insider podcast for artists by an artist where each week we go behind the scenes to uncover the perspiration and inspiration behind the art. And now your host, Miriam Schulman.
Miriam Schulman: Well, hey there! It’s Miriam Schulman here, your curator of inspiration, and you’re listening to episode number 259 of The Inspiration Place podcast. I am so glad that you’re here. I have a very special guest with me today, and I can’t wait to bring her on, so I’m just going to go ahead and introduce her.
She quit her job in 2014 to pursue her dreams of becoming an author and starting her own business. She launched a coaching company that specializes in helping women harness their bravery to bring their gifts into the world. Her signature program, “From Writer to Author,” helps aspiring authors navigate the publishing industry with clarity and confidence. She’s also the author of four books: “Moonlight Gratitude,” “Moonlight Gratitude Journal,” “Find Your Glow, Feed Your Soul,” and “Sunrise Gratitude,” which was named in ‘Ten Books that Might Change Your Life Right Now’.
Please welcome to the Inspiration Place, Emily Silva. Well, hey there, Emily. Welcome to the show.
Emily Silva: Hi, Miriam. Thanks for having me.
Miriam Schulman: Alright, so I’m so excited to have you here, which is why I couldn’t wait to just bring you on. I didn’t want to do any of that chit-chat. So, Emily and I met at this conference called Alt Summit, which is for women—or, I don’t know, they say they’re for women, but the closing keynote was a dude. I don’t know if you knew about that controversy.
Emily Silva: No, I didn’t know the controversy.
Miriam Schulman: Well, I don’t know if everyone felt as controversial about it as I did, but anyway, let’s not be negative. It’s a lovely, lovely conference, and it’s really, really good for creatives like us.
So, Emily and I happened to be at the book signing table at the same time, and I picked up her book, and I had to have it. So, I picked up “Moonlight Gratitude: 365 Nighttime Meditations for Deep, Tranquil Sleep.” It’s like, holy cow, this is good. And I have been reading it. It’s so beautiful.
Emily Silva: Thank you. And I picked up your book, and it’s been really inspirational.
Miriam Schulman: Thank you. And we’re just gonna talk about how great we are the rest of the hour. It’s just gonna be an hour-long infomercial for our books. No, just kidding. But one thing you said when we were just sitting there, and you just kind of tossed it out like, I don’t know if you were slipping in this credential or you just don’t realize how huge this is. You said it sold 100,000 copies.
Emily Silva: Yeah, I think I’m shocked. So, I found out because I get a statement twice a year to see how my books are doing. And my publisher is really good at putting books in large places like Target, Barnes and Noble, and Staples. And then I’ve also done a lot of promotion on “Moonlight Gratitude,” which is my first book baby, and it’s very special to me. I feel that I’ve consistently put it out there and consistently heard from readers on how this book has helped them.
So, I think it’s been a slow growth, but it’s kind of like what Anne Lamott says, “Bird by bird.” It’s just book by book, and it’s made its way in six years to this number. And it’s kind of shocking to me because when I wrote it, I kind of didn’t know what I was doing since it was a different format than what I’m used to. But it was supposed to be written, and it was supposed to be my first book, for sure.
Miriam Schulman: Okay. So first of all, I’m glad you answered that question. I wanted to know, like what period of time did this 100,000 happen? So this is six years ago. So you wrote this in 2017 was the publication date?
Emily Silva: Publication was March 15th, 2017.
Miriam Schulman: Wow. And how did this come about? Did you get an agent? Did they approach you? Because that’s what my listeners always want to know.
Emily Silva: So I did not get an agent. I tried to get an agent. I wrote a different book right after I quit my job. I went to Bali on a one-way ticket to write the next “Eat, Pray, Love.” I told you this story at Alt Summit, and I didn’t, of course, write that next one, but I tried to get it published. I tried to do all the things you’re supposed to do to find an agent. And I just got rejection after rejection after rejection. It kind of felt–it was horrible, actually. I just wanted to quit writing. I’m like, ‘You know what? Nobody likes my writing. I’m done with this’. I’m putting it away.
So, I actually put it away. January 1st of 2016, one of my resolutions was, I’m not even going to try. I’m just going to build my business. My resolution was to stop trying to push this book out into the world and just build my business. And then, 27 days later, I heard from my publisher who had found me on Instagram. I had 117 followers. I believe she went to my blog.
Miriam Schulman: Wait, wait, let’s clarify. 117, full stop. Not 117,000. 117 people.
Emily Silva: Yeah, like my mom and my cousins, you know, my best friends. So it was a very small following. But it wasn’t Instagram that really sold her on me. She went to my link, which was my website, and she started reading my blog. On my blog, I talked a lot about how gratitude had changed my life. And so she pitched to me writing a gratitude meditation journal based on all these things that I had been writing.
I’m going to say my blog was probably two years old at that time, and I was just writing into the ether. I didn’t really have a way. I kind of had a small mailing list, but I hadn’t really dialed it in yet. I was just kind of throwing spaghetti at the wall, so to speak, trying everything because I was new and building a business. And so she found that. At first, I actually thought it was a joke because, you know, there’s a lot of spam out there. So I looked her up to make sure she was legit. I stalked her on LinkedIn and saw that she really had publishing chops and responded. And that’s how the book came to be. I’ve been writing with that publisher since 2016 when they signed me.
Miriam Schulman: Okay, and this is the division of Quarto, and they publish a lot of art books, actually. Is that correct? Yes. So many of the artists we know and love have their books published with them. They are really good at putting out these full-color books. I mean this one is gorgeous. There are beautiful illustrations throughout. Do you happen to know what medium the artist used in here?
Emily Silva: I do not know the medium, but it’s probably using ink because when the book was published, my husband contacted her and we got the original cover art. And I believe it’s ink.
Miriam Schulman: What a wonderful husband.
Emily Silva: He’s pretty awesome, and he also secretly contacted the artist of the journal. It’s a different artist and he managed to get me the cover art of that as well. So he’s just secret and sneaky, but loving, and I love it. Now I have these beautiful pieces of artwork that I didn’t think of gifting myself. But art really is a gift, especially if it has something to do with something you care so deeply about. Okay, I…
Miriam Schulman: Okay, I just want to put a highlighter through that. “Art is a gift.” Okay. Note to team: turn that into quote gram, or whatever those things are called. Okay, right. [inaudible] make sure. Now, there are a couple of things you said that I’m a little confused about, and I’m sure my audience might be as well. So your agent wanted you to do a journal, but this book was the first book. The journal came later. Is that correct?
Emily Silva: Yes. I don’t have an agent, so I pitched the journal myself.
Miriam Schulman: All right. So the publisher. It was the publisher, not an agent. Okay. I’m so confused because I’m–You did say that. And I’m just so mixed up. Like, how does this even happen without an agent? Okay, so the publisher, she originally wanted a journal or the type of writing you’re doing now?
Emily Silva: So she originally wanted a meditation book, so “Moonlight Gratitude” was the original idea. I was given the construct of 85 words or less. I had to write these passages, and I’m used to writing long-form in essay format or narrative. It was a real challenge for me. But I actually loved it because it pushed me as a writer, and I think it made me a better writer because I had to push a thought out in 85 words. I had to push a full idea into this short little paragraph to help people calm their minds. And so last year, I pitched the journal idea because something that I do for my coaching clients at the end of every call is they have homework. And I always do personalized journal questions, things to think about until our next call. And my clients really love that. And I thought, “What if I made a journal off this book that people love that they could use once a month with the full moon, have these reflective questions and just stop and pause and have a theme for each month?” And so I pitched that last year and she liked it. And so I have the journal out too. And something I love about my publisher is everybody on my publishing team is a woman, and I love that.
Miriam Schulman: Girl power. I love that, too. Yes. My team is mostly women also. Now the editor, who’s listening to this podcast, it’s a husband-wife team, but technically I think it’s owned by her. Right. But I think whoever’s editing this right now might be a dude.
Emily Silva: That’s fine. I mean, I love men. I love my husband.
Miriam Schulman: I do too. But most of my team, I like empowering women. Like my video editor is a woman, My VA’s a woman. And I have a full-time person who is also a woman. Okay. So let us read from the book. Are these–so these pages are 85 words? I know that was your original like what they asked you to do. Is that what ended up happening?
Emily Silva: Yeah, it’s around 85 words. So some are like 90 something, some are 77. But that was the framework that was given. And I had creative license so I could write about anything I wanted as long as it was something that could calm people down.
Miriam Schulman: Beautiful. Okay, so we are in listener. We’re in your past, but we are traveling to your future so we can read you today’s journal. Which–what day did we say this was coming out, May 23rd?
Emily Silva: May 23rd.
Miriam Schulman: Okay, here we go. Go ahead.
Emily Silva: Feelings of defeat create despair, which can be difficult to let go of. To overcome self-defeat. Be your own inner hero. Write down the thoughts that are cultivating defeats and then rewrite the narrative from a more compassionate point of view. Stop the negative thought loop by creating a positive spin. Reroute the thought and tell fear to move aside. When fear and defeat speak. Respond with compassion and love. The.
Miriam Schulman: It’s so good.
Emily Silva: Thank you.
Miriam Schulman: It’s so good, and I love what the artist did throughout here. That’s also the part that, like, calms me down—like seeing the starry nights. How much input did you have with the art direction, if any?
Emily Silva: On this book? Zero. So I didn’t know what the art was going to look like. I knew it was going to be illustrated because Cordeaux does illustrated books. When I got the proofs, it was honestly a dream come true because I’m obsessed with the ocean and whales. They had already found the artist before they matched me with her. So she was doing her art, and I was doing my writing. Then we saw our artworks together. Having my words next to her beautiful pictures really warms my heart because knowing that I didn’t have any say and how perfectly it turned out was serendipitous, I think.
Miriam Schulman: I’m flipping open to see if we can find what her name is.
Emily Silva: Her name is Snow Satchel, and she lives up in the Salish Sea in the Pacific Northwest. Her Instagram handle is @swimminginmoonlight and she also does a lot of photography there too. She’s like this magical mermaid.
Miriam Schulman: Oh, that’s so beautiful. Okay, we’ll make sure to tag her in the show notes and give her a shout-out because we always want to support those artists. And do you know who the artist is for your journal? The journal version. You said it was a different artist.
Emily Silva: Yes. So she’s in the copyright. Let me see. Her name is Amelia LeBaron, and she’s a graphic artist.
Miriam Schulman: Okay. All right. So we will try to find her as well. I’m not seeing that they gave her credit in this book, though.
Emily Silva: [inaudible] is on the very last page. She’s cover and internal illustrations. Her copyright is Snow Sachel.
Miriam Schulman: Okay. There she is. We always want to make sure.
Emily Silva: Oh, yeah. It’s one of the first things I do before I sign my contracts is like, how does the copyright look–Now that I know to look for those things. When I first got my first book deal, I really didn’t know what I was doing. I was just so excited.
Miriam Schulman: I mean, I’m really glad you said that now more than once, is that we’re all kind of making it up as we go along because who even knows what it’s supposed to be anyway? And why should it all be the same? So it’s you know.
Emily Silva: And I learned something new with each contract, so I don’t have an agent, so I don’t have somebody that like, looks it over and protects me. And I think that’s what’s so great about agents. So I’m learning and I do do have a very empathic and compassionate publisher, which I’m really grateful for. It could be, I think, a lot worse. So I do have time to look it over. I have a friend who’s a lawyer and I’m like, ‘Look at this. Am I being screwed anywhere? You know, what should I look out for?’ And I also know from my corporate experience, never take the first offer. So I have negotiated on several of these contracts, especially the first one. I was like, can I get more money? Because I know not to take the first offer.
Miriam Schulman: That’s interesting. I didn’t take the first offer just out of vanity.
Emily Silva: Yeah. I mean, it’s also your art, right?
Miriam Schulman: You offered me something for the book, and I went about to my agent, and I asked her to ask for, I think, 25% more than the original offer. It was like it was ballsy, but I got it. So.
Miriam Schulman: Now, it’s six years later. You’ve sold 100,000 copies. What was it like in those first two months? Because that’s where I’m sitting right now, and I’m looking at you, hoping that this is my future self. Currently, I’ve only sold 3,000 copies. What was it like for you in the beginning? Did you know what to expect as things progressed? Is that right?
Emily Silva: Yeah, in the beginning, I was telling everyone I could, going to any place that would let me sign books and talking about it. But a turning point came when a friend spotted it in Target, in the $8 section, and said, “Oh my God, there are a bunch of your books here!” Another friend found them in Staples during their Christmas display, exclaiming, “Staples has a ton of your books!” Barnes and Noble also had a substantial number of my books on a table. I didn’t know how to make those kinds of arrangements. That’s the great thing about being published with a traditional publisher—they have a sales force that knows how to get into these channels and sell a significant number of copies. If it were up to me alone, I probably wouldn’t even reach tens of thousands. They know how to push the copies and even showcase them at events like the one at the Javits Center every January, where I know my book is displayed.
People who come in to buy books for their stores and gifts also see my books there. These are things that my publisher is doing. On my end, I’m constantly talking about my books, reading them, showing up, and posting about them in my newsletter. I talk about my books and constantly promote them. I also ask friends, family, and people who reach out to me and say, “I love your book,” to leave a review. It’s important for others to know because, as much as we love-hate Amazon, they have a significant reach and can push books out there. Moonlight Gratitude has received over 250 great reviews because I ask people, “Please give me a five-star review and tell others about the book. Don’t just give stars, but also share what they can expect.” Sometimes we assume that people already know what our books are about, but it’s crucial to have 250 individuals saying, “Oh my God, this book has truly helped me calm down.” That’s social proof.
Miriam Schulman: Yeah, okay. I’m making a note on my list to leave you a review today.
Emily Silva: Thank you.
Miriam Schulman: To make it 251 and I will do it with my picture. So, artist, I want you to know, who are listening. You can take a picture of the book in front of your easel. If with your art, you can use your real name. I don’t know about you, Emily, but I give shout-outs to people on both on my blog, on social media, when they’re when I know who it is. If I you know, if it’s Mama03, I don’t know who to give credit to. But if you use your real name, I try to give you a shout-out. And one thing that I found, I know that the publisher really helps push out the books. But one thing that I found that really has surprised me is that as large as my audience is and as large as my email list is, selling books still really is a 1 to 1 transaction. Do you know what I mean by that?
Emily Silva: Yeah, I think, especially at Alt Summit, it was such a great example. Speaking to people, hearing their stories—you’re a great listener. I watched you as people were sharing their stories at the table. It’s more than just buying the book; it’s also connecting with you as a brand. You offer coaching and art as well. But this book becomes another piece of connection they have with you. That’s why I believe the book has done so well. When someone posts or tags me, I make sure to go in and thank them in the DMs. I’m genuinely grateful. Gratitude is my thing, so I practice what I preach, and I think that’s how it grows. It’s a personal connection, like one-on-one. If one person says, “Hey, I loved this book,” their friend might be interested. When someone posts about it, I express my gratitude and let people know how thankful I am that they’re still reading a book I wrote six years ago.
Miriam Schulman: That’s beautiful. And I think this is a lesson for everyone listening, not just authors but visual artists as well because the connection to you is what made me buy the book. It’s a great book, but there were a lot of great books sitting on that table, and I didn’t even really notice your book until we had our conversation. I know the same thing was true of my book as well. It was sitting on the table, and I went there in the morning after the first round of book signings. I said, “Did you sell any?” They said, “No. Only the people who were signing books sold so far.” I was like, “Oh, okay.” And then I sold a bunch when we were sitting there, as did you. I don’t know how many sold after that, but it was mostly because of their connection with us. And that is also true for the visual artists. The art does not sell itself, no matter what it is. It really is the human connection, whether it’s the human connection to us as the author, the human connection to us as the artist, or the human connection that you said you’re somebody else who reads the book, who might recommend it to somebody. So those human connections are really what sells our books and our art.
Emily Silva: Yeah, I think the influencer idea is kind of oversold because, you know, maybe you have 90 million followers and you say, “Buy this thing,” but that lasts maybe ten seconds because then the next influencer is going to come in and tell me to buy another thing. And so we’re just bombarded these days with information overload. But if my friend says, “Oh my God, this book really affected me,” I’m probably going to read it. You know, I will pick it up and give it at least a hundred pages. I’ll probably read the whole thing. The same thing goes for artists, TV shows, or anything else. Because there’s just so much that we can consume, if someone tells me it’s good and they know me, I’m probably going to like it.
Miriam Schulman: Okay, all right. So we’re going to wrap up. If you want to get her book, it is “Moonlight, Gratitude, and All the Places.” And Emily’s website is souladventures.com. And if you like it, the theme is gratitude. The best way to show her your gratitude is to leave a review on Amazon. It costs you nothing to leave the review, by the way. So it’s just a little bit of your time. All right. Emily, do you have any last words for our listeners before we call this podcast complete?
Emily Silva: Yes, I think because we’re speaking to artists, writers, and creatives, it’s, you know, just put yourself out there. I know that it’s really scary to show your art, to show your writing, but we don’t know the magic that you have. So I just want to encourage everyone to harness their bravery and share one thing today that they are creating. And who knows who you’re going to affect? If you affect one person and bring beauty into their day, that’s enough.
Miriam Schulman: Thank you so much. I love that. I just want to add one thing to that. I was on a podcast earlier today, Dr. Wayne Powell, and he was talking about how as we age, we want to know that what we do matters. And your art matters to people, and it can’t help people if they don’t know about it. So whether it’s a poem or a painting, put it out there, market it not just to make money, but so people can see it. Because no one can enjoy it if it’s just hidden away in a drawer. All right, Emily, thank you so much for being with me here today. All right, everyone, I will see you the same time, same place next week. New episode drops every Tuesday. Until then, stay inspired.
Speaker 2: Thank you for listening to The Inspiration Place podcast. Connect with us on Facebook at facebook.com/schulmanart on Instagram @schulmanart and of course, on SchulmanArt.com.
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