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The Evolution of an Entrepreneurial Author

By Judith Briles

Little did I know that elementary school would be the seed of the profession that has intrigued me the most. My Report Cards routinely footnoted that I talked too much; that I sent too many notes to classmates during class; and that I was just too disruptive with all my questions and challenges to the classroom routine. I was just too, too, too for my teachers.

If I had known then what I know now, I would have merely told my parents that I was preparing for what I would be doing the rest of my life!

Speaking and writing. Writing and speaking. Questioning ideas and beliefs.

I don’t know which came first—speaking or writing. Both were always there, lurking in the background. I had never planned on writing a book, which came much later. And to be paid to speak; it never occurred to me that people got paid to speak. It wasn’t until the mid-seventies that I discovered that people would pay to hear me. That same decade, I discovered that a celebrated author had taken the words from our dinner discussion and published them in his column as his own. He got paid, I didn’t.

It was then that I told myself, “If you don’t start publishing your words, your work, others will.” The year was 1979.

In 1981, my first book was published by St. Martin’s Press. It was all quite exciting—Good Morning America, the book tours, tons of media coverage, three printings in three weeks, serial rights, a very successful book indeed. Then being courted by other publishers, and agents, to represent my work, another book deal—all very heady and all the things a novice author yearns to experience.

That first book, The Woman’s Guide to Financial Savvy, was birthed from workshops I gave to women in the community that I lived in. At that time, I was EF Hutton’s first woman stock broker on the West Coast. I stayed with Hutton for seven years and eventually started my own firm. Teaching and showing women about money was my passion. If there had been the windows for media opportunity back then that there is now, I would have probably gone the Suze Orman route. But there wasn’t, and I didn’t. Women? Money? On TV? Not in the early eighties.

An 180 degree shift happened—leaving the financial field, I found myself in the depths of a financial fiasco when a partner embezzled a significant amount of money that I had guaranteed via a loan… I had to “fix” the mess she made for so many—that fixing opened a new window in the behavioral field for my speaking and writing skills. A new passion was born.

The embezzlement led me back to school where I completed my doctorate in business administration. Dissertation writing wasn’t my cup of tea, but the topic was—Ethics: Do Women Undermine Other Women?  That led to my third book, Woman to Woman: From Sabotage to Support. Landing on several best-sellers lists, a cover story in People magazine, Oprah, Donahue, Sally, Geraldo, the Wall Street Journal, the National Enquirer, and even the Chicago Tribune’s Business Book of the Year, it was contrarian and controversial.

Who would have known that shift from the financial to business worlds would morph again? Speaking on women and sabotage in New York one evening, a group of nurse executives approached me. They wanted me to do a new study, similar to the national one I had done for Woman to Woman on the health care industry, specifically nursing. They kept in touch and eventually, I did.

The results were intriguing and a tad shocking. A new book birthed, The Briles Report on Women in Health Care via Jossey Bass and resulted in being selected as the main feature for a health care book club and landing on its best-seller list. It transitioned my speaking to women’s groups and associations to the health care industry—a niche market that was huge. That book created more books that forced me to drill into the layers of nursing, the health care workplace and the toxicity that is commonplace.

Each time, I thought each book was the only book I would do on the topic. Each time I was wrong. Books have an interesting way of breeding new work, leading an author through another window or door. Each book created a spin-off that expanded my audiences both for speaking and additional book-buying.

Books have guided me through a variety of adventures—some that I opened and fell into, enjoying the words and work of another author; some that I’ve tapped dance with on a traditional basis via the publishing route out of New York; and one where I created my own imprint that has national distribution and is now publishing other authors. Through the years, I’ve learned a lot about authoring and publishing, the hiccups and the glory.

Another window has now opened. Last year, I created Author U, the forerunner of a new international association that will formally rollout later this year. The Book Shepherd is a partnership where authors are project managed in creating a financially successful book. And, I’m finishing book #27—Show Me About Publishing which will be published later this year.

Being an author and speaker has been my bread and butter for over 30 years. I’ve raised three kids, had grandkids and foster kids under my roof for extended periods as well as a gaggle of four-legged critters. Without books, I would never have had the speaking career that I’ve enjoyed for so long; without speaking, I would never have had the reading audience that I’ve had that expanded the speaking career.

Talking too much; passing notes and challenging authority and ideas can be a very good thing.


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