Today, we’re giving you a peek behind the curtains of the WCWW stage, to get an insider’s look at why we did it, how we did it, and what we did.
Why do a World-Changing Writing Workshop?
We chose to do the World-Changing Writing Workshop based on some very good advice from our internet mentors: ask your people what they want. We did several polls on the Freak Revolution Coffee House, on the newsletter, and here on the blog – and listened to the voices of our people.
A surprisingly large amount of freaks are also writers – and our freaky writers are, unsurprisingly, interested in changing the world with their writing.
I still get starstruck, myself.
We chose our speakers the same way we chose our project: asking our people. We did another poll, asking who you would want to hear from on writing, and then we invited every single one of the top ten requested people. A couple of them politely declined, the rest accepted – and here we are!
We also asked you to send us your questions – what do you want to know about world-changing writing? Then we put those same questions to our speakers – and we made sure we had people to cover all the bases.
The Bonus Peeps
After we lined up our speakers, we started thinking about who else we could ask to join in. We met Deb, Kelly, and Ali at SXSW and totally loved them, Nathalie is a long-time darling, Becky rocks our socks, and we were hysterically excited about Elizabeth after hearing her interview with Johnny and Lee in their program, Question the Rules.
We went over what the speakers would be covering and looked for anything not touched on – adding anything Pace and I felt was being left out – and then made a list of people who could hit those topics.
Approaching the Speakers and Bonus Peeps
Once we’d decided on who to invite, we stepped out of our comfort zone. We knew most of the people requested – but not all of them – and we’d never done anything like this before. We also knew how very busy all these people are, and we wanted to be sure not to be spammy or irritating.
We wanted the entire experience to be pleasant and happy-making for all of our people, speakers and bonus peeps alike.
We, therefore, spent about sixteen hours planning and discussing, then another four composing our offer email.
The email told each person our plans for the workshop. We gave great detail on the structure, the pricing, the launch plans. We told them exactly what we wanted from them, including how much time we would need from them and how much responsibility they would have. We offered each speaker an honorarium (a lovely word Pace learned from Havi), and we made sure all of our speakers and bonus peeps were Ambassadors, so they would get a share of the profits.
We were unambiguous, concise, and precise; these people are all very busy, and a wishy-washy offer that was unclear would be disrespectful. We were open and honest. On a few occasions, (when it was relevant and true), we told the person that we knew they don’t normally do such things, and explained our intrusion carefully and clearly.
Most importantly, we wrote it all from our hearts, from a place of deep gratitude and respect for each person we contacted.
And when we did get rejected (and we did, a few times), we remained respectful, grateful, and understanding.
Why Q&A – and why not live?
We discussed Q&A for what felt like endless hours. (Given that we’re not still discussing it, obviously it wasn’t quite endless. But wow.) Q&A is complicated, but we were fierce about answering every question, so we needed a way to make sure people (that’s you!) could ask questions during the calls – because that’s likely where questions will come up.
So, eventually, we decided to do Q&A to make sure all the questions got heard.
But we were equally fierce against on-call live Q&A. It’s additionally complicated and throws off the flow of a call. Often, the speaker winds up sitting for two minutes of silence while the audience works up the courage to speak up – and then ten people all speak up at once and no one gets heard. And there’s also the danger of a listener being somewhere loud, having barking dogs or crying kids in the background, and the volume of the call can be wildly thrown off. Since we’re providing recordings, this is a big issue.
So, we compromised. We settled on doing real-time Q&A – but not on-call live. Listeners can email me (Kyeli) or tweet at me, and I’ll keep a running list of questions received. Then, during the last 15 minutes of the calls, I’ll ask the speaker as many questions as we have time for.
Any questions asked that we don’t get to with particular speakers will get answered in the Workbook.
Why a Workbook?
We asked each speaker for one warm-up and one wrap-up exercise and compiled them into a workbook. We want our audience to be engaged – not just consuming, but actively participating with the workshop, with the speakers, and with their own writing.
After all, the best way to learn anything is to practice, and we feel that having exercises on hand to give you a point from which to start will encourage you to do just that.
The Titillating Transcription Trials
We had a huge curfluffle with our transcription for the bonuses. We hired someone who did a fair job on the first call, but an abysmal job on the second and third.
For example, in Kelly’s call, we said the name of her eBook (The Sticky eBook Formula) no less than four times. Having actually gotten it correct the first time, the transcriptionist failed to get it right every successive time – and in fact, got it more and more wrong as she went. The final time we said it, she typed, “Sticky Evil Fuck Book.” Which, admittedly, is hilarious – but not quite accurate.
Pace sent her an email letting her know that there’d been a lot of errors and asking her to please do a more careful job. We thought we were being reasonable, but apparently she disagreed – because, with 48 hours to go before we launched, she quit. She very quit.
We blinked a lot, then started the frantic search for a replacement.
Chris jumped in first and really saved our butts. This dood has it down – he can really rock the transcription, people. We were both floored by the awesomeness of his work. (Honestly, by that point, we figured monkeys would do a better job – but Chris is far sweeter and easier to work with than monkeys would be.) The only thing I had to do to the ones he did were minor tweaks that boiled down to my fussiness – which was a wonderful thing.
We paid him double his invoice as “Hazard Pay”. (;
The Awesome Logo
Sparky Firepants, (aka Mr. Pants or Señor Pantalones), created our incredibly gorgeous logo. We’re beyond thrilled with it! He was a total joy to work with; we showed him the super-secret sales page and told him to create something awesome, and he totally did – in a ridiculously short amount of time with a ridiculously small amount of fuss.
¡Muchas gracias, Señor Pantalones! ¡Es muy bueno!
Taking the weekend off in the middle of launch.
Launching a product is like having a baby. You spend weeks – sometimes months – preparing, getting everything ready, cleaning up, writing things out, discussing, building excitement, making sure everyone knows something big and important is about to happen – and then, in the few days before birth, you frantically run around like a crazy person making sure nothing got missed.
We’re big fans of not running around like crazy people. We like to call ourselves “comfortable entrepreneurs,” so the idea of getting more and more frantic til our hearts burst and we weren’t sleeping at all sounded like a pretty bad idea.
So we didn’t.
We spent months planning the workshop. We prepared, got everything ready, cleaned up, wrote things out, discussed, built excitement, made sure everyone knew something big and important was about to happen – and then we took the weekend off. We accounted for it, too – we set up a schedule, built structure around our launch, and then carefully maintained it, tweaking and adjusting when needed.
When Friday night came along, we worked until we were spent. We went to bed and slept well, knowing we had everything ready for Monday – and then we didn’t work for the rest of the weekend. (Except for about half an hour of transcriptionist drama, which we didn’t flip out about – we just took care of it, and then it was done.)
This break rejuvenated us enough to work until the wee hours the day before launch – by choice, and interspersed with playing video games and leisurely breaks for meals and coffees.
And then we launched Tuesday morning, happy and excited for the world to meet our baby.
Into Every Launch a Little Rain Must Fall
In addition to our Transcriptionist Trials, we had a few hiccups. Pace uploaded the entire bonus package (which is huge and takes over an hour to upload), only to discover errors that needed fixing.
So we fixed all the errors, replaced the picture, and re-uploaded it.
The key to a perfect launch doesn’t exist. Launches, like births, are messy and stressful and scary. Launching is exhilarating, exasperating, and exciting all at once. There will be hiccups – probably a range of them, from minor to major. There’ll be people who think you charge too much and people who can’t believe it’s so cheap – no matter what you charge.
There will be people who hate your stuff – and people who love it more than anything ever.
In the end, the only person you have to please is yourself. Do your best. Put your heart into your work, launch it, then release it to the universe – because it’s out of your hands at that point, anyway.
Take a deep breath, and go.