An Interview with Ann Steiner

Blogger’s Note:  Please join Dr.  Ann Steiner at the December 12, 2015 Mt. Diablo California Writer’s Club Holiday meeting.  Ann will be speaking on the Platform aspect of the Three Ps of Publishing.  We have a seated meal for this event and you can choose from: pasta primavera, salmon, chicken parmesan, or NY steak.  Costs are $20 members and $25 nonmembers. Reservations required, contact Robin Gigoux at , leave a message at 925-933-9670, or sign up via PayPal: Click “buy now” on the Mt. Diablo website, . Add the $2 transaction fee.  In all cases, please let Robin know your meal choice so the restaurant can plan. Sign-in starts at 11:15 am. Luncheon 12 – 12:45 pm. Speakers 1- 2 pm at Zio Fraedo’s Restaurant: 611 Gregory Lane, Pleasant Hill. $25 members, $30 guests Reservation deadline: noon, Thursday, December 10th.  If you need to cancel, you must do so before noon on Friday, Dec 11 to avoid forfeiting the cost of the meeting.

  1. Do you think a social media presence is necessary for authors?              

Sadly, these days, yes. That is, IF you want people outside of your immediate circle of friends and family to hear about, buy, read and talk about your book. Visibility and Name Recognition plus a good, value-packed website are truly the name of the game! Having a platform is another major tool for getting your book known. Social media can open doors across the world, and give you access to communities you would never have known about in years gone by.

2. Can you give us some highlights from your new book: The Group Leader’s Workbook and Planning Guide?

As those of you who know me can attest, I am a big fan of Group Agreements – written agreements about expectations and ground rules for groups. Part of the joy of writing my current book has been finding and getting permission to include over 10 sample group agreements from writer’s group leaders, the restorative justice community, Toasmasters, and a hip, humorous, online forum for young women living with chronic illness. One of the unique features of my manual is making these and online agreements available as templates that can be modified to fit each leaders’ needs.

So many work groups, service or volunteer organization leaders don’t think of themselves as group leaders. Each of these groups, and all the clubs and writer’s organizations we belong to, are actually groups. Our elected officers are in fact leaders. Rather than being mentored by their predecessors, or given leadership training, most leaders learn from the “seat of my pants” school. My hope is that the tools and resources I’ve created will help leaders in a wide range of settings serve as stewards for their group’s mission.

  1. Describe your most memorable moment as an author.

My most memorable moment was a few weeks ago when I was the discussant for a paper published by a renowned group psychotherapist and analyst at The Psychotherapy Institute.  This was the first time I was to give this kind of formal presentation to this sophisticated audience. Part way through reading my hastily written paper I looked at the audience and had a moment of panic. Maybe I should have stayed up later and rewritten it yet again. A few minutes later I registered a few friendly smiles and nods. It wasn’t until I ended my presentation, after the applause died down and the author spoke, that I realized I had done okay. It was amazing to hear the author’s “This was the best discussion of any of my papers I have ever heard! Thank you! Thank you!”

  1. What is your worst nightmare when public speaking?

Oh boy! Let me count the ways! All the professional speakers I know have tales of keynotes gone horribly awry. We can all conjure up worst-case scenarios. Nightmares that I’ve been able to do salvage jobs for include: losing my voice the night before an engagement, and the countless technology and organizational glitches that happen when humans and machines try to collaborate. My worst nightmare would be losing my voice in a large venue that doesn’t have a microphone.

The list of Nightmares That Haven’t Happened to Me includes: Missing the last connecting flight for the day of an early morning keynote address in New York. Realizing that everyone in the audience is playing Words with Friends on their phones and under the heading of Irrational, Yet Not Rare Fears: giving a presentation on The Rollercoaster of Chronic Illness: How to Add Joy to the Ride and finding out that the talk was billed as How to Maximize your Return on Investment or How to Train Your Ferret in 5 Easy Steps.

5.  What is your greatest writing strength?

I was once described as being like a dog with a bone when I commit to a project and run into obstacles. So I guess my dogged perseverance, no pun intended, is my greatest strength. While I have my share of times when I allow distractions to lure me away from the keyboard, and I too tend to linger too long in the rabbit holes I fall into, I’ve gotten better at scheduling time to keep my butt in my computer chair and doing the hard work. Being part of our weekly Shut Up and Write! group also helps keeps me on track.. One of my first writing instructors at the California Writers Conference years ago, Bonnie Hearn, had a tip that I still use to comfort and prod myself. She suggested that we have a note taped to the computer monitor, saying Rewrite! Rewrite! Rewrite! Good words to write by!

  1. What are your top tips for establishing an author platform?

Hmm.. How can I put this in the form of Coming Attractions for our workshop this Saturday? OK I’ll try not to give away the store…Here is a subset…

  •  Decide whether you want your book to be read, talked about, recommended, and fly off the bookshelves.
  • If you want a platform, it won’t happen with you staying at home in your flannel PJs. You have to put yourself out there. Most of us worry about been seen as arrogant and stuck up if we shine, stand out or draw attention to our work. Especially for my women friends and the women that I see in therapy, the issue of standing out. Letting your light shine is a big challenge. It’s as though we were all told not to draw attention to ourselves, ever! Were you told: “That’s not lady-like! Don’t make a spectacle of yourself!” – or “Nice girls don’t let themselves be the center of attention.?” You probably don’t have to create a spectacle, but getting comfortable with being visible is essential for promoting your book in public. Find your own balance of pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone and not scaring yourself too much.
  • Having a good professional photo on the directory of every organization you belong to is one of the many tips I will be sharing this Saturday. Jill Lublin refers to this as the “Don’t I know you from somewhere” phenomenon.

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about Ann Steiner. To learn more feel free to email her at, call (925) 962-0060 or visit her website: Her book, Groups that Thrive: Workbook and Planning Guide will be available on Amazon in January 2016.



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