Sonja Hegman was born and raised in what she lovingly calls “Minnesconsin.” A graduate of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, she received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism with a minor in psychology in 2001. After the newspaper world all but imploded, she started Hegman Editorial, a consulting company focused on the writing needs of small businesses and the promotional needs of authors.
Trials of an Entrepreneurial Virgin Book Blurb
In Trials of an Entrepreneurial Virgin, business writer and social media consultant Sonja Hegman reveals her roadmap for turning a creative passion into a career. Drawing on personal experience, Hegman provides essential resources for any budding creative entrepreneur, including: how to chose a business structure, write a client contract, handle those “clients from hell,” develop marketing materials, and the ins and outs of networking both online and in-person. Hegman’s own story, which includes her start at a small-town Minnesota newspaper, a stint in the New York City publishing scene and finally finding her niche in consulting, is an inspiration for anyone trying to earn a living based on a creative craft. With an unapologetic honesty and personal charm, Hegman tells the real story behind working for oneself — so readers can start realizing their dreams today.
What motivated you to write this book?
Plenty of books exist about the act of writing or how to get published, but nothing really existed that taught about the business side of writing. I’d pick up general books on business and practically fall asleep every time I tired to read one. None of it was relatable. As I began learning what it meant to be in business, it occurred to me that others writers were probably as lost as I was. The whole goal of the book is to teach other writers about my mistakes so they don’t make the same ones.
What inspired the title?
Well, I’m still a relative newbie to the business side of things. I’ve figured out most things in life by trial and error. Nothing scientific, it just sort of came to me one day. Plus, it grabs attention.
Any difficulties or “trials” while writing the book?
I wrote Trials while in the throes of relocating from New Jersey to Minnesota at the beginning of 2012. Moving in itself is a story, but I won’t go into that. I was a bit of a nomad when I first arrived back in Minnesota. Much of the book was written at a coffeehouse and at a relative’s kitchen table. My back is still paying the price from those awful chairs. You have no idea how excited I was to have an office again.
Did you approach writing Trials, your first memoir- esque book, differently from your work as a reporter?
A little bit. At my first newspaper job, I was able write a personal column once a month about anything I chose. I mostly wrote about whatever was happening in my life — a spider invasion in my apartment, my cat’s need for ADD meds, impulse buys in the checkout line. While that came quite easy for me, finding my voice in Trials took some finessing. It’s easy to write about the struggles or conflicts of others, but writing about your own makes them real. I kept reminding myself that what I wrote would help others. I didn’t hold back.
People have said your book is the first business book that didn’t cause their brains to “flat-line.” Have you found a way to make business interesting to those who run away from numbers?
That might be the best compliment I’ve ever received. When I started my own business (Hegman Editorial) I had no idea what I was doing. The first thing I did was go to Barnes & Noble. I scoured the business section and found that those who were already business-minded wrote most books, which, obviously, makes sense. I couldn’t find anything relatable to me or to writers in general about the actual business of writing and how to make money doing so. In Trials I use my own story as a teaching tool. It’s much easier for others to relate to material with concrete, real-life examples. Plus, I add a bit of humor to it. Business should be fun, but has this boring stigma about it.
In the book, you discuss the importance of “finding your path.” How did you find your own path?
It took a long time. From my early teens I wanted to be an author. I thought it would be easy to write a book, get published and make millions. I learned very quickly that this wasn’t the case. So, I became a newspaper reporter shortly before that world began to completely implode. I spent the remainder of my 20s floundering from one thing to the next. I also numbed myself with alcohol quite a bit. Alcohol is not a known motivator. I went through of bout of doubt. Do I still want to be writer? Should I try a different career? When I hit the ripe old age of 28, I decided it was time to shit or get off the pot. That’s when I moved from Minnesota to New York City. I figured if I could make it there, I could make it anywhere. Still, I struggled a bit more but finally realized that if I couldn’t find the right job, it was time to create one for myself. And so, Hegman Editorial was born.
Any advice to aspiring writers?
Always dream. People will tell you that writing isn’t a solid career, that you’re a fool if you think you’ll ever make it. Don’t listen. I had to walk away from the negativity in my life to realize my dream. It wasn’t easy, but I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t said good-bye to it and the people causing it. Always believe in yourself.
Are you working on any other books now?
Yes! My next book, Moving at the Speed of Twitter, will be out in the first half of 2013. The title speaks for itself.
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