Tenita C. Johnson is an editorial guru and authorpreneur. As founder and CEO of So It Is Written, LLC, Tenita collaborates with industry professionals to take manuscripts to the marketplace, positioning authors for success. Well known by many as a human spell check, noun nerd and grammar police, a badge she proudly wears, Tenita hosts the annual Red Ink Conference to empower aspiring authors to save time and money in the self-publishing process. She positions and empowers writers as experts to create their own writing/editorial business and develop multiple streams of income. To connect with Tenita, visit SoItIsWritten.net or email firstname.lastname@example.org
They say everyone has a book in them. Do you believe that and if so how does one tell what kind of book to write?
I do wholeheartedly believe that everyone has at least two books in them actually. I always ask people, “What are you an expert at? What do people know you for?” And I encourage them to write a book about just that. Whether it’s seven tips to putting on an event on a budget, or 21 ways to milk a cow, write it! Someone needs that book! The trick is to find your target market. The second book I tell people to write is about themselves. We’ve all overcome obstacles in life, some greater than others. Many times, we think we’re the only one going through challenging issues. But when we write the book about the bad divorce, the miscarriage, the abusive relationship or the period of unemployment when we thought we would lose our minds, we not only free ourselves, but we unlock others to freedom!
You’ve risen from the deep ashes of some really bad personal experiences. What kept you going and once you survived, what did you do to thrive this much?
Without a solid foundational relationship with Christ, I would probably be dead. I’ve considered suicide and have had many bouts of depression. But once I learned that I am in the earth for greater purpose—to advance hope in the earth—I understand that the attacks that come are not about me. They’re about what God wants to do through me. I’m big on vision boards, daily affirmations, prayer and meditation, and small group discussions. It’s a combination of those things that caused me to push past what I felt like was the end.
It looks like although getting into the book business was plan B after you were unable to secure a job, you took it very seriously and here you are doing so well. What’s the key lesson you draw from that experience that others could learn from?
Keep your options open. I went to school for journalism and thought I’d work for The New York Times and retire from a newspaper copy desk. Far from it. My journey led to corporate communications, technical editing, then into magazine and book editorial and writing. It sounds good to run your own business. But I probably work harder now than when I worked for Mercedes-Benz or Audi in Corporate Communications. I still wouldn’t trade it for the world.
You’ve written best sellers and help people do the same because you believe that no writer should be broke. What are some of the most profitable of the 15 or so income streams you say an author can create?
As an author, you become an expert, almost a celebrity. The most profitable streams of income for authors actually don’t come from the books at all. We live in such a fast-paced society, not everyone is going to sit still long enough to read a physical book. They come from hosting workshops or conferences centred around your book, getting paid speaking engagements, creating online courses centred around the book and maybe even podcasts/webinars.
Self love is a big thing for you. How do you define it and how do you know you are giving yourself enough of it?
I’m actually redefining self love. In my opinion, it means taking care of the well-being of your mental, spiritual, physical and emotional health. I still lack in the area of physical health. I haven’t been big on eating healthy or working out to maintain physical health. I know that’s an area I need to master. I’ve been intentional about getting counseling, leading and participating in small group discussions, reading my Bible almost daily and praying. It’s the physical side of things I still need to work on.
I love your saying ‘if you can’t find it, create it’ and you did this with the creation of your Red Ink conference. How do you determine a service is needed but is non-existent and what’s your process of creating this missing solution/service?
When I was getting deeper into the book business, I was searching for a conference that catered to editors who just edit books, not newspaper or journals. There’s a difference. I couldn’t find one. So I made myself a committee of one, and I bring in 2-3 speakers per city, to position authors to write their bestseller and also publish others if they want to. VIP attendees leave with new professional headshots, which we can never have too many of, and most will leave with some sort of short bio and/or synopsis for their next project. It’s truly a working conference. It’s not just an information grab. I like to keep people engaged and awake!
Women leaders are still not as many as could be. How else are you getting to show leadership in your world beyond this niche you’ve carved for yourself?
Besides 2018, I’ve had all women present at my conferences. I have a female event planner, photographer and makeup artist. I think The Red Ink Conference serves as an example that women truly can work together to make magic happen—minus the drama. I also consider myself to be a leader in literacy and creative writing. My goal is to work with more students to enhance their creative skill sets.
Based on your experience, what would be your topmost “Tenita Advice 101” to not just those aspiring to run their own business but to anyone wanting to bring into being what’s important to them?
Figure out your “why” and don’t lose sight of it. When clients get on your nerves, when money isn’t coming in, when you don’t know what the next project looks like or even where it’s coming from, go back to your why. At the end of the day, I’m a writer. When I’m not writing for pay for someone else, there is always something for me to pen. I’m never bored with nothing to do! My hands stay full.
What have you learnt about yourself over all these years as you’ve come into your own that has surprised you?
I remember making $20/hr, $40,000 a year when I graduated college and was a proofreader for The Yellow Pages ad division. Today, I have clients pay me anywhere from $7500-$10,000 to ghostwrite a book. I’ve learned that I’m worth that and more, and I shouldn’t be afraid to ask for that. Every client isn’t my client. And I’m okay with that. Many times, clients think they’re interviewing me. In reality, I’m interviewing them. Know your worth, and don’t be afraid to add tax, shipping and handling, and ask for that amount loud and clear!
If you were writing a book that would help as many women as possible whatever their dreams or situation, what would the title be?
“The Wealth vs. Poverty Mentality”. I’m a firm believer in as a man thinks, so shall he be or become. Many people don’t achieve abundance and wealth because their minds can’t fathom what to do with wealth. They only think about, live, eat, drink and buy for today. Many people want to be millionaires, but don’t have the mentality to keep millions. In order to be successful, one must truly change their mindset before they change their bank account balance.