Ypulse Interview: Deborah Reber, Author of In Their Shoes
- April 13th, 2007
- 6 Comments
Deborah Reber has been a long time Ypulse reader and is a fellow author with a new non-fiction book out for teen girls called In Their Shoes: Extraordinary Women Describe Their Amazing Careers. I did an email Q&A with her and want to give away three books to the first three commenters who write about someone who inspired you professionally in what you do—it can be anyone, even Oprah…
Ypulse: Why did you write In Their Shoes and who is your target audience?
Deborah Reber: It took me a long time to figure what I wanted to do with my life, in large part because I was obsessed with the movie “Broadcast News” and just knew I was destined to live the life portrayed so well by Holly Hunter. But when I graduated from college and got a firsthand look at the world of network news, I realized that making career decisions based on a Hollywood movie probably wasn’t the smartest move. TV news wasn’t what I expected, and it definitely wasn’t the right fit for me. Now that I’ve finally found my perfect career in writing for teens, I feel a sense of responsibility to provide the next generation of career women access to the kind of information and inspiration I didn’t have.
I wrote In Their Shoes with a primarily teen audience in mind…girls who are exploring their interests and who are in desperate need of role models to show them what it’s really like to do what they do. The idea isn’t necessarily to help girls narrow down their future career choice as much as expose them to the cool careers that exist and encourage them to discover what resonates with them. That being said, In Their Shoes wasn’t “written down” in terms of tone, and it will also definitely inspire any woman looking to make a career change and in search of some insight from the trenches.
Since we both know most book promotion if very DIY, what is your plan for getting the word out to young women? How are you using social media to do this?
I’m doing my best to cover all of the bases. I’ve been building up my “brand” of smart content for smart girls for the past year or so, and in doing that, created the blog Smart Girls Know, where I communicate directly with teen girls about the issues important in their lives and send out weekly “smart girls know affirmations” to a subscriber base of girls made up primarily of teens who know me through my Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul series, The Real Deal. I’ve tried to build up my MySpace presence as well, duplicating my Smart Girls Know blog there and reaching out to YA librarians and other decision-makers in the YA arena. You’ll also find relevant blog entries paired up with my teen books on Amazon, with a link back to my website on each one.
Lastly, I just re-launched my author’s website to include a huge section on In Their Shoes, where I’m offering a limited number of original audio interviews recorded for the book as downloads, a limited number of “uncut” interview transcripts, a PDF of a profile from the book, and an author’s diary about the writing process of the book. I am going to be cross-promoting this bonus content with websites of organizations featured in the book as well as those with similar goals for girls.
Newsletter readers: Visit Ypulse for the rest of the interview.
YP: What was the most challenging aspect of the whole book process for you?
DR: Logistically, In Their Shoes was a beast to write. I had to juggle researching, contacting and interviewing fifty different women (not including the ones who passed on the project), each with their own busy schedules, parameters for participating and, in some cases, “people” that I had to communicate through. Transcriptions, approvals, release forms, photos… I could take out a small storage place just to hold all of my files from the past year. It was also challenging to narrow down the careers and women that I would ultimately profile because I wanted to make sure the book did a good job of highlighting underrepresented career fields for women in math, science and technology, as well as interview women whose inclusion provided geographic and ethnic diversity to the project.
YP: Who is your favorite “extraordinary” woman in your book and why?
DR: They were all extraordinary in their own way, and they each had such a unique perspective…I had at least one “aha moment” during every interview. That said, I’ll give you my three favorites (I couldn’t narrow down to one). Shonda Rhimes (creator of Grey’s Anatomy) because she is breaking so many barriers and is simply a phenomenal writer and powerhouse in Hollywood, Melissa Block (co-host of NPR’s All Things Considered) because I’m still a news geek at heart and greatly admire the work she does, and entrepreneur Missy Park (founder of Title 9 Sports) because she created such a cool company out of nothing and has never lost sight of her passion and original vision.
YP: What advice would you give young women thinking about their future, especially with the “amazing girls” syndrome of stress and perfectionism happening with more affluent college bound girls?
DR: It’s funny…I started out writing this book so girls could have the information they needed to make smarter choices about their career futures, but what I learned along the way is that you can’t make a wrong move as long as you’re always looking for what you can gain from each experience. I think it’s important that young women stay open and not put too much pressure on themselves to get on the fast track or be concerned if their career sidetracks in an unexpected direction, because sometimes those sidetracks end up being the best career move of all. There is a ton of pressure to go to the right school, graduate with the right GPA and get the perfect entry-level job, and the reality is, you don’t need the perfect resume to find happiness and make your mark. Passion and staying open to the possibilities can take you just as far.