Judy Ringer

Judy Ringer is the author of Turn Enemies Into Allies: The Art of Peace in the Workplace—a systematic guide to help managers resolve conflict between clashing employees, and Unlikely Teachers: Finding the Hidden Gifts in Daily Conflict—a book of stories and practices on turning life’s challenges into life teachers.

Tell me about your latest book and what inspired you to write/create it?

Turn Enemies Into Allies: The Art of Peace in the Workplace was inspired by a series of five blog posts I wrote five years prior to the book being published. The posts offered tips and skills for managing conflict between co-workers, and is the primary content of Turn Enemies Into Allies.

I was inspired by the idea that the work I do with individuals and groups in conflict could (and should) be part of the manager’s skillset.

I’m an Aikido instructor, black belt, and founder of Portsmouth Aikido, in Portsmouth, NH. What differentiates the book is my application of Aikido principles to skills such as centering, curiosity, collaboration, and managing self in order to manage others. The illustrations by Adam Richardson also create a unique look.

Share your personal publishing story. Did you choose self or traditional? How did you go from book manuscript draft to finished book available for purchase?

How Turn Enemies Into Allies found a publisher is an interesting story. I self-published my first book in 2006—Unlikely Teachers: Finding the Hidden Gifts in Daily Conflict. While I was happy with that experience (Unlikely Teachers sold 2000 its first year), I wanted, if possible, to find a traditional publisher for Turn Enemies Into Allies.

I sent out what felt like a gazillion query letters and proposals and, after many rejections and non-responses, I’d pretty much decided to self-publish again.

About that time, I received an unexpected email from Career Press, an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser, asking if I’d consider writing a book for them on conflict in the workplace. Was I shocked, surprised, skeptical, excited? A big yes to all of these. Their sales director said he’d found me through my blog posts and liked my writing. I told him I’d just written such a book, and would he like to see it.

Fast forward: after researching the company and following up with the sales director, I submitted a proposal that was accepted by the Career Press board. The manuscript as written was a go, and that was just the beginning. There were many more steps, such as contracting, editing, illustrations, copyright permissions, etc.—all of which the Career Press team and I did together. They are a wonderful company to work with, and they supported me throughout the process.

How do you come up with your illustrations/images/graphics?

I was very fortunate with Adam Richardson, a talented illustrator, graphic designer, and storyboard creator. I gave Adam photos of me practicing Aikido, and he turned them into beautiful illustrations, which are an essential component to understanding the book’s premise. They were part of the completed manuscript I submitted with my proposal, and they were kept intact.

How many unpublished or unfinished books have you written and set aside? What are your plans for them?

Some years ago, I had an idea for a “Quote-A-Day” book, and occasionally I think about a second edition of Unlikely Teachers. I have no plans for them at the moment.

Both of my books developed from short stories and articles I’d already written, so the material was there. All I did (and I smile at the word “all”) was flesh them out and create the narrative that knit them together into a cohesive written work.

What do you do for book marketing? Describe your plan, how it is working, and what you want to add or change to that plan, if anything.

I believe one of the benefits the publisher saw in my proposal was a strong blog subscriber base and social media presence. I have a virtual assistant who creates daily posts for me on LinkedIn, Twitter, and my Facebook business page. She uses segments from my blog and books, and links the posts to my books on Amazon, my blog, and to downloadable articles on my website.

A huge marketing boost came from interviews set up by Career Press, both virtual and in person, and articles in online journals and magazines, like trainingindustry.com.

Even before the book was finished, I asked for help with the title on social media. This generated a lot of feedback, and kept the book top-of-mind for those who follow my work.

Most of my current marketing is done through my writing—blog and newsletter posts that offer the reader support for managing difficult people and conversations, and ways to practice staying present under pressure. I consider the blog my primary marketing vehicle—everything flows from there.

How do you go about obtaining book reviews? Do you read them? How do you deal with the good and the bad ones?

I ask everyone I know who has read the book to write a review. I’m clear with my request, saying something like, “If you like the book, please write a 5-star review on Amazon.” Many people do. I read them all, and I learn from the ones that have serious constructive criticism to offer. I don’t pay attention to the ones that sound like they might have an axe to grind for some reason. The book has a specific audience, and I know that.

Do you prefer reading print, audio or ebooks? Why?

Definitely print and audio. I try to limit screen time, so I much prefer reading a “real” book. I also enjoy listening to a good audiobook on daily walks.

Who is your favorite author, book? The last book you read?

I have so many favorites. I often have two books going simultaneously. Right now I’m listening to The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner and reading one of Anne Perry’s William Monk novels. When I finish the Anne Perry, I’m going to go back and re-read all of Jane Austen. Natalie Jenner has inspired me!

There are many trends in self publishing that have come and gone. What do you think is going to change next in the self or traditional publishing landscape?

My illustrator for Turn Enemies Into Allies, Adam Richardson, recently published his own very clever illustrated game book, Famous Things, on Amazon. It is all illustration, and the quality is great. I was surprised when I asked him who had done the printing, and he told me Amazon. I think there is a strong future for self-publishing on that platform, because they make it so easy.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Write. Create. Find what makes it fun. Take breaks. Keep writing.

Judy’s Bio

Judy Ringer is the author of Turn Enemies Into Allies: The Art of Peace in the Workplace—a systematic guide to help managers resolve conflict between clashing employees, and Unlikely Teachers: Finding the Hidden Gifts in Daily Conflict—a book of stories and practices on turning life’s challenges into life teachers.

She is also the author and narrator of Managing Conflict in the Workplace: An Aiki Approach, a CD in which she answers frequently asked questions and offers practical advice about transforming conflict in the workplace.

A trained vocalist and National Anthem singer, Judy has sung The Start-Spangled Banner at numerous professional games, including for the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. She has produced two other CDs in which she narrates her own stories accompanied by song: Simple Gifts: Making the Most of Life’s Ki Moments and This Little Light: The Gift of Christmas.

The owner of Power & Presence Training and founder of Portsmouth Aikido, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Judy provides conflict, communication, and presentation skills training internationally using principles from the martial art Aikido, in which she holds a third-degree black belt.

She’s written numerous articles on the relevance and application of the Aikido metaphor, including pieces in The Systems Thinker, The SOL Journal Reflections, and Aikido Today Magazine. She publishes widely on the Internet and through her blog/newsletter, Ki Moments. She lives with her husband Jim in Portsmouth, NH, USA.

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