The Janine Bolon Show with Susan Landers - 99 Authors Project, Season 5, Episode 3

The 99 Authors Project – Season 5 – Episode 3 with Susan Landers

Susan Landers

As a neonatologist for over thirty-five years & mother to three children, Dr. Susan Landers thrived in the incredibly demanding environment of the NICU & she managed to postpone burnout until the end of her career. While caring for sick newborns and critically ill premature babies, she often worked more than sixty hours per week. There were many ethically challenging cases that troubled her, and, at the end of her career, her physical and emotional exhaustion ballooned. Dr. Landers shares the signs of burnout, how it impacts our long-term health and relationships, and ways to recover from it.

Transcript of the Show

Bryan Hyde
Welcome to the Janine Bolon show, where we share tips from around the globe. As we guide practical people with their finances using money tips, increase their incomes through side businesses, and maintain their sanity by staying in their creative zone.

Janine Bolon
Hi! Janine Bolon here and welcome to today’s show where we bring you quality content on saving your time, saving your money, and how about staying sane during these continually changing phases of life that we seem to be going through these days? The Janine Bolon Show is a syndicated program of four different podcast shows that were combined and October of 2021. We had the Three Minute Money Tips, The Thriving Solopreneur, The Writers Hour Creative Conversations and The Practical Mystic Show. These programs had been running since 2017. We’ve produced over 300 episodes interviewed over 219 guests, and today we will be spotlighting one of our authors that is contributing to our 99 Authors Project. Dr. Susan Landers who just so happens to be a neonatologist. Dr. Susan landers is a neonatologist, who worked full-time in the NICU or the newborn intensive care unit for over 30 years and raised three children to young adulthood. She has achieved more academic and professional accomplishments with a lot of challenges along the way. And there was one particularly difficult event that during her midlife that prompted her to make a career change. She loves to tell stories that reassure younger mothers who are working full time that they too can be good enough, that’s in quotes that you can’t see good enough moms. She supports mothers through her social media and blog posts. She also advocates for physicians and nurses and their mental health, you know, because seriously, the topic of burnout tell me in the last couple of years, right, and how they need to treat these serious concerns. And a lot of this is all wrapped up in a nice little package of her new book. It’s called So Many Babies, My Life Balancing a Busy Medical Career and Motherhood. So thank you so much for being on the show Dr. Landers.

Susan Landers
Janine, you can call me Susan.

Janine Bolon
Okay. I just I know how hard it is. I worked as an analytical biochemist in the pharmaceutical industry for 15 years. And I always just got in the habit of calling doctors, doctors. Why? Because you guys went through crazy insanity to get that sheep skin. So I’ll be happy to call you Susan. But at the same time, I’m going to tip the hat to all that work you went through. So talk to us a little bit about So Many Babies, what on earth prompted you to write this book?

Susan Landers
Well, I retired at age 62. I was recovering from burnout, I suffered through burnout myself at the very end of my career. And I took a couple of years to recover. And part of that recovery period was writing and writing about my favorite NICU patients and their parents. And I had stories stored away from 30 years ago. And one of the kids was just finishing UT Austin. And he contacted me and said can we have supper? And it sort of prompted me to think about these amazing stories of tiny little babies or very sick newborns, who were in the NICU, the neonatal intensive care unit for weeks or months, who survived. And I wanted to tell the stories of what it was really like to be in a NICU, to work in a NICU, to be a parent in the NICU. Although I never had that experience. I was a high-risk pregnancy early in my life and my career. And so I started writing my book as the NICU stories, and picked out some good examples of the best, worst, and the ethical challenges and relationships with partners and other team members. And then one of my best friends, you tell me you really write about your own mothering experiences because you were going through that the same time you were caring for all these babies and getting them well. So that was kind of a good idea. So I wove together the two narratives. One was the doctor who interacts with parents who cared for babies and healed them. The other was the working mother who by the seat of her pants, learned how to do everything and raise three kids. I had a physician husband so I was very lucky that he helped, and we could afford a nanny, but I was gone a lot and I made mistakes, by the way, I got permission from every family to tell the story of their baby. And no one would guess their identity. I decided to tell the truth about my life too.

Susan Landers
Those two narratives became a true, I think raw and vulnerable story of how I matured as a physician, caring for all these sick babies, and how I matured as a mother, caring for three kids making mistakes along the way, but also having plenty of successes. And so I think the book is meant to portray this notion of the good enough mother works and raises her kids, and does the best she can. And she’s not perfect, but she really likes her job. And she finds her work fulfilling, and that’s a good thing. And that makes her a better mother. And that’s the joy of my book, that working mothers can do anything they want to do. But it does take them away from being a mom from being with their kids. And so that message, I think, right now, especially, it’s really crucial for young, professional women, even not professional women working because you can’t be two places at once. You weren’t two places at once, when you were raising your children, none of us can do that. And we all have to make tradeoffs. And I think my book just addresses that whole notion of how one makes the tradeoff.

Janine Bolon
Yep, I have to agree on that.

Janine Bolon
So one of the things that I like about our conversation is the fact that we’re both scientific women. And we were in the sciences during a period of time where there weren’t a lot of women. And so one of the things that is cool is that you’re then transitioned from this very scientific world, into the author world. And it’s not like you took a lot of marketing classes to figure out how to sell your book. What kind of marketing background did you have? Did you have any kind of marketing background?

Susan Landers
None at all, to me, I had no background as a writer for the most part. Well, that’s not true. I wrote a lot of clinical research papers and published paper and medical journals. Marketing, no, I knew nothing about it. I hired an editor to help me. Then I found a publisher and he said oh, don’t worry about it. Marketing comes later. Let’s just get the book published and launched. So I was very naive about the process of marketing and selling my book.

Janine Bolon
Yeah, most of the authors that I’ve been chatting with, it’s very rare, we actually come across anybody who has any kind of experience with that. So talk to us about what surprised you the most about marketing and publishing your book?

Susan Landers
Well, I hired a publicist, it was a recommendation from my publisher, and she read my book and thought that going with the NICU angle was the best way to market the book. And she found me episodes on lots of radio shows, some podcasts and lots of print media articles. But that didn’t help at all, it didn’t sell my book at all. People were interested, but it didn’t sell the book. And so I feel like paying money for a publicist was foolish, and the return very low, I mean, I didn’t sell 100 books.

Janine Bolon
Okay. So what would you change if you started marketing your book today? What would you do differently?

Susan Landers
I would have created a launch group. I was not told how to do that. And I’ve heard other authors since describe how to do that. So I would do that. I would probably hire somebody to tell me about marketing on social media, and how to use that as a way to sell books. I would also get somebody to help me decide who my audience was. You made a comment when we were talking before that you thought my audience was women over 50 who enjoyed reading memoirs. And of the reviewers of my book, many have been in that category. But younger nurses and younger working mothers and young nurse practitioners have also enjoyed it. So I have mixed feelings about who I should be marketing to. And I would hire somebody to help me figure out who my audience should be. I’m glad that I chose a hybrid publisher. And I thought that was a wise decision, instead of going with a traditional publisher, and I did not want to do self-publishing, I thought that was a way to really spend a lot of money and time doing something I didn’t know how to do.

Susan Landers
I understand.

Susan Landers
I guess the answer to your question is I would hire someone in marketing that knew how to market books to certain audiences.

Janine Bolon
And so this book that we’re building, you know, with these interviews, and that sort of thing is going to be gifted to debut authors. So others that are like us, when we first started, you know, no clue what we’re doing that kind of thing. What worked best for you when it came to the marketing of your book?

Susan Landers
What worked best, I thought podcasting, and interviews by podcasters worked well. But not until I had developed a landing page that drew them to my website with more information. And I didn’t have a clue about that when I began. I thought I could just talk about my book and talk about my career on podcasts and that people would be interested and go buy my book. But that is, in fact, not the case. It has been enjoyable for me to meet other people and talk to podcasters. But I’m not sure that has sold very many books.

Janine Bolon
I get you. And so what process did you try that was an epic failure at selling your books? Other than the yeah, the publicists did you have anything else that happened?

Susan Landers
Well, the publicist thought that print media campaign, having an article about me and about my book, and certain publications around the country would be a great idea. And it cost some money. And I don’t think it, it was worth it. I don’t think people read digital or print media anymore. So I’m still uncertain as to how to best market my book.

Janine Bolon
I get it. And honestly, a lot of authors say that it that it takes them a while. And once they hone in on how to market their book that it will work for quite some time. And then they’ll end up having to change it anyway because the market will change. So I think it’s one of those things that we will always be learning, we will always be learning. But there is a process and look at how much you’ve already built out like you didn’t know about landing pages. And there’s ways to leverage people as they come to your website and stuff. And that stuff that you are definitely learning. So if you don’t mind, what kind of story do you tell about yourself that gets the most laughs from your audience?

Susan Landers
Well, when I visit with the moms in the NICU, those are mothers whose babies, our patients in the NICU and things are going well, and I get to know the mothers and we talk, they invariably will tell me stories about their other children. And I’ll say, oh, gosh, mine the same way. And they’ll go, you gotta be kidding. You’re a pediatrician. Your children are probably fine. Probably normal. I said, are you kidding? No, nobody’s children are normal. And when I tell that story, people always think that’s funny. That a physician, a high-level specialized physician can talk to their patients mother and share similar maternal challenges. And that always gets a good laugh.

Janine Bolon
I love it. I love it when we get to humanize ourselves as opposed to being aloof, you know, like a lot of times was required in the academic worlds that we were operating in. So what is the biggest change that you’ve seen in yourself since you started marketing your book?

Susan Landers
I have become more able to talk about myself and to promote my ideas. I am very proud of writing a blog and writing a newsletter. But I’m not confident yet in my ability to market my book. And so I’ve been a bit frustrated because in Madison, I was always in my career and I was always able to accomplish whatever I wanted to do, whether it was in academics and write papers, or whether it was in private practice taking care of patients. And so this whole process of publishing a book, and then marketing it has been more elusive to me than anything else I’ve done in my life. That may surprise some people, but it’s true.

Janine Bolon
Well, and I can talk to that specifically in the pharmaceutical way of there is no silver bullet yet, for authors. And the silver bullet is that one broad spectrum antibiotic, or that one sort of medicine that I knew Susan would be interested in is that there, they haven’t found that for authors yet. There is no one right way to market your books, what works for one author may not work for another. And so that’s when that’s one of the reasons I am setting up doing this book and writing this book in this way is because this all works well for me, right? But I also know that for debut authors, they’re going to need the perspective of you know, I called it the 99 Author Project, but they’re going to need a diverse range of authors to decide which, which one or which prospect or process works best for them. And it’s going to take some time, it’s a little bit of trial and error. And so basically, just to let you know, you’re in R&D. You’re in research and development. So what is the primary thing that you think has been the biggest reward to being an author?

Susan Landers
Being able to put my story in print, and to affect some of my friends and people who didn’t previously know me who read the book and go, wow, this is amazing. I didn’t know all that came in the NICU. For example, Steven Harrigan is a well-known Texas author, he wrote Gates of The Alamo and a Big Wonderful Thing. It’s a complete history of Texas. And he read my book, and he gave me a one sentence quote, that just really impressed me. And I want to tell you what he said, he said, not only is this book a peek behind the curtain of care in the NICU, but also it is a meditation on the human cause, endured by the caregivers of these very fragile babies. And I was so touched. His quote, and his interpretation. And he told me, you wrote a really good book. And so I’m like, going, okay, if I wrote a really good book, and he’s a very well-known author, and has sold many books, and has written probably 10 or 11 books, why is my book not selling? So that frustration is still there for me.

Janine Bolon
My hope is that as you continue to market your book, as you continue to, to step out and work with professionals, you will eventually that frustration will won’t be quite as in your face as it is right now. So how long ago did you publish your book?

Susan Landers
Fall of 2021. Not quite a year.

Janine Bolon
And one of the there’s two pieces of advice that I’ll give you. The first one is the second book sells more of the first book.

Susan Landers
I’ve heard that before.

Janine Bolon
It is quite true. I sold more copies of my first book when I wrote my third book, and I sold 7,000 copies that year. Now, please realize I was also an adjunct professor at a institution. The year was 2005. And I had four small children. So marketing, my book was not at the top of my priority list. So but I still was able to sell 7,000 copies in that period of time because of the organic nature of having that third book out and doing that third book’s launch. So that’s one aspect. The second one is making sure that you’re doing speaking gigs at least once a week and that is something that you’re already doing. So you just keep getting on podcasts, you keep talking to your readers, that sort of thing, and that will help you sell more books, but it really is. Start working on book number two and then bring your readers along for the ride. Like side up an online course or something like that, where you have the measure BETA readers and talk to them pretty frequently about what they want to see and what they want to read that sort of thing. You have so much information in your head, between your ears, that I know there’s a lot there. And that sometimes will cause us to have analysis paralysis, as you and I are very well aware,

Susan Landers
Right? I did an idea for a second book, and I just haven’t moved forward with it. But that’s a great idea to ask my readers, my newsletter subscribers, what they want to hear and what they would like to hear more of.

Janine Bolon
Correct. And it’s ever so helpful if you’ll put down two or three ideas. And you will always have, as I like to call them, my little rebel readers, they’re the ones that they don’t like anything you put down as far as an idea, they have a better idea. And those usually end up being whole chapters in the book, my little rebel reader, so the ones that will give me ideas ended up being sometimes in one book, two thirds of the book was based on the ideas they came up with. And so I always look for those readers of dissension.

Susan Landers
Nice.

Janine Bolon
So just an idea. Those are just some ideas that because I understand the frustration, and is there anything else you any closing comments you would like to have on your book writing and the experiences you’ve had thus far?

Susan Landers
No, other than to follow up a question for you. You mentioned, who you thought my audience should be. And I would like to know how you came to that conclusion. Did you just decide memoirs are read by women over 50, categorically? Or was there another way you made that decision?

Janine Bolon
I made the decision based on several focus groups that I’ve been a part of, when I asked them why people liked reading my metaphysical books, the books where I talk about my spiritual journey. And the reason I mentioned the women over age 50, that like biographies is that’s what I kept getting over and over again, and since your book was based on your personal experiences, biographies sell very well to that demographic. However, one of the points that I also like to bring up is there is a software, not a software package, but a service software service that is called PickFu, it’s Pickfu.com. And you can go there, and it will help you determine where to move forward with your audience. Because there’s hundreds of 1,000s of people that this particular service uses. And you can write out, would you be interested in this book, or would you be interested in that book? and I use that as an A-B split test for a lot of my book covers and the way I wrote up my book abstracts was I used PickFu. So I just throw that out there and that way, you’re actually getting hard scientific data points, as opposed to just different people’s opinions based on their personal experience. It’s always better to go with A-B split testing, because you may be surprised by what the data brings up, as you know.

Susan Landers
Yeah, yeah. Well, thank you for that tip. I appreciate you bet.

Janine Bolon
You bet. Anything I could do to help out a fellow author, any last thoughts?

Susan Landers
No, I just want people to be kind to their health care providers, given what we’ve been through the last couple of years in the pandemic, whether they’re authors or whether they’re just still in the trenches, taking care of patients. They’re really tired. Many of them are really burned out. And I want people listening to this, to take a deep breath and think about how much of a challenge it’s been to take care of patients for the last two years.

Janine Bolon
Exactly. Well, thank you so much for being one of our spotlighted authors, Susan, I appreciate you very much.

Susan Landers
Thank you, Janine.

Janine Bolon
And that’s it. Dr. Landers has answered all our questions, and we have more information for you. All you have to do is go to her website. And you can find that at susanlandersmd.com, where you’ll be able to get more information on her and the books that she will be writing and we hope we get to see hear a lot more stories from her. Now, if you are an author, or you know of an author that you would like us to spotlight, please visit our website at Author Podcasting.com where you will find the 99 Author Project listed. Now we talk to authors from all walks of life, fiction, nonfiction, doesn’t matter the genre, as we build out books number 12, which is Advice from Authors to Authors. And we’re publishing it in 2023. And this is Janine Bolon signing off with you today and all of us here at the 8 Gates that produces The Janine Bolon Show. We wish you a wonderful week and we encourage you to get your message, your story or your knowledge out into the world and make it a better place just like these authors are that we’re interviewing this year. We’ll see you again next week. And until then, keep sharing what you know with others, keep shining that light that’s just you. And don’t forget to go out today and just do something that’s plain fun for yourself. We’ll talk with you later and see you next week.

Bryan Hyde
Thank you for listening to the Janine Bolon show. Be sure to subscribe to our show notes by going to www.theJanineBolonshow.com, where you’ll find additional resources as well as the opportunity to sign up to receive our program in your email each week. Be sure to visit our sponsor at www.the8gates.com.

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