Stuart Watson hasn’t always been an empathic listener. He still might not be, but he’s certainly trying as evidenced by his book What She Said & What I Heard: How One Man Shut Up and Started Listening. A mix of personal journalism, gender studies, trauma and addiction recovery, and comedy, this book is just irreverent enough to be a great introductory feminism book for men just in time for holiday gift-giving. In it, he shares powerful conversations he’s had with the women in his life—including one that was mostly just a slap across his face—and what he took away from it.
We caught up with Stuart just before his book launch to ask a few questions about his publishing journey.
Stuart on working with SPARK Publications
The team at SPARK Publications encouraged me, guided me, coached me, critiqued me, and held my hand at every step. They saw me through to publishing my first-ever book!
Is there a particular moment that SPARKed your interest in writing a book?
My friend Yolanda said, “Cain’t nobody tell your story BUT you!” Then I went to enough funerals and read enough obits to realize that’s really true! Either I tell my story, or I leave it for my kids to get wrong, or it never gets told. I’m the only one who lived it. Cain’t nobody tell it BUT me!
Now that your book is published, are there any goals or experiences you’re looking forward to?
I actually enjoy marketing and promotion, and I’m super proud of the finished product! Since I already have a podcast and a vibrant social media presence along with a thirty-plus year history as an Emmy award-winning reporter, I can do a “Zoom book tour” in my jammies! (Well, the bottoms anyway.)
What surprises did you encounter on the road to writing and publishing the book?
There are just a bazillion little details I never thought about especially since I have audio and video! I’m sending out a bunch of copies for my closest friends to spread the word, and that has meant schlepping boxes of books to Kathryn over at Dilworth Packing. It’s simple enough. I just thought I’d avoid manual labor!
How did SPARK Publications help in championing and publishing your book?
The team took my comps and my vague concept and made it really stand out. I’m so grateful! Melisa and the editorial team worked with my manuscript and behind the scenes, but what has grabbed eyeballs is the creative team and Jaclyn’s superb cover design. She heard what I said and made it so much better than I ever imagined. She nailed it!
What advice do you have for other authorpreneurs and aspiring writers?
Get really clear on why you are writing. Once the “why” is big enough, it’ll happen. I had a secret mission to write the opposite of a suicide note. A suicide note tells why a desperate person gave up. In retrospect, after surviving and healing from the darkest times, I felt an obligation to say what happened to the boy on the ledge once he climbed back in.
Tell us about your future plans—what’s next for you?
Selling the book! Keep podcasting @ManListening. Speaking. Coaching. Training. Already writing a children’s book!
If you could broadcast two sentences to the entire world, what would they be?
Your life matters. Your contribution is unique in the history of the universe.
Are you ready to publish your book? Learn more here.