Erika Andersen

Erika Andersen is the founding partner of Proteus, a firm dedicated to assisting leaders and their organizations navigate change. Change from the Inside Out is her latest book. She wrote it to help people to demystify the process of change, highlight its challenges, and provide guidance on how to traverse it with minimal upheaval, whether on a personal or organizational level.

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

My latest book, Change from the Inside Out, was published in the fall of 2021. I wrote it to help people understand how change works, what’s hard about it, and how to move through it – either personally or organizationally – more easily and with less disruption. At our company, Proteus International, we’ve been helping leaders and organizations move through change for many years, and I wanted to make our approach available to more people.

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?

I’ve had the good fortune of being able to find publishers who were interested in each of my books (Change from the Inside Out was my fifth). My process is unusual, though, in that each time I’ve taken a completed manuscript to publishers, rather than the more normal approach, which is to submit a proposal with one or more sample chapters. I always felt as though my way of doing it was less risky for the publisher: they knew exactly what they were getting, rather than investing in a not-very-fleshed-out idea. The benefit to me was that I was able to write the books that I thought would be most engaging and useful for my audience. (From talking to other authors, it sounds as though when a book is bought by a publisher earlier in its life cycle, the publisher tends to have a lot more impact on the finished product.)

The process for each of my books has been very similar: once the publisher buys the manuscript, there is an editing pass, where an editor or panel of editors reads it and proposes any significant revisions. I have always found this step helpful – perhaps because none of my publishers proposed anything major. For this most recent book, they only suggested reorganizing one chapter, and making the footnotes more rigorous (I’d been pretty loosy-goosy about them).

At this point, you’ll also gather testimonials, if you haven’t already done so, that can be used both on the book cover and in marketing. The publisher will want noted people in your field, or (in the case of business books) very senior executives from companies that have used your services.

During this phase, you also nail down any illustrations or images in the book: what they will be, and where they will be – for instance, does an illustration or image need to be on the same page as some related text; should it take up a whole page; do related images need to be on facing pages; etc.

The next step is copy-editing – which is hugely helpful; a copyeditor reviews every single word of the manuscript and makes copy-editing suggestions for correctness, clarity, and/or simplicity. Most publishers give the author the right to accept or reject each copy-editing suggestion. I’d say historically I’ve accepted about 80-90% of them. The ones I’ve rejected are generally either because the copyeditor had unintentionally changed the meaning of a sentence or paragraph with a suggestion, or because I was using something incorrect grammatically for emphasis or to make my communication with the reader more informative. (For instance, there’s a passage in my new book that says, “You’re gonna die. Me too” I’m sure the eventual copyeditor will flag it.)

While the copy-editing is happening, or sometimes earlier, you work with designers to create the cover art and fonts, and to agree on the fonts and page layout for the interior of the book as well. During this process, you also write (or respond to others’ drafts of) the copy for the flaps of the dust jacket.

Once all this has happened, you review and sign off on everything, and then (whew!) you’re ready to go to press.

Describe your writing routine. How many hours a day/days a week do you write?

My writing routine has never really been a routine – since all my books were written while I was working full-time, I tended to write in chunks of found time. I often say that if it weren’t for trains, planes, and automobiles, I wouldn’t have written any books!

However, once I do sit down to write, I have a very consistent routine. I have always written from an outline so that I’m pretty clear about what I’m trying to accomplish in any section/chapter. I also think through the chapter or section I’m going to write before I start writing it (most often while exercising) so that when I sit down to write, I’m ready to go.

Then, I always begin a writing session by reviewing and editing what I wrote during my last session, and then I keep going to start writing the new material. And I write until I run out of time, or clarity – that is, until I’m no longer as clear as I need to be about what comes next.

Doing this helps me create momentum of writing before I get to the new section, so it’s easy to just keep going.

What is the most difficult part of your creative process?

I feel extremely fortunate that I’ve never experienced writer’s block, nor have I come to a point where I didn’t know how to get across what I wanted to communicate. All in all, I’ve never found the creative process difficult. Over the years I’ve spoken to many writers who don’t really like to write – and to be honest, if that were true for me, I doubt I would have produced books. I love to write.

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

As I noted above, it’s been a collaborative process with the publishers’ designers, and one that I’ve generally enjoyed. When I’ve had a clear idea, they’ve been great about bringing it to life, and when I haven’t had an idea, they’ve offered really creative options.

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

I have a completed historical novel and a partially written science fiction book that have been sitting on my computer for years, that I may or may not finish. We’ll see…

My next book, which I began writing in December and intend to finish toward the end of this year, is called (working title) The New Old Age: Crafting Your Best Later Life. I’m very excited about it: As someone in my early 70s, it’s personally very important to me, but I hope that many, many people in the second half of their lives will find it helpful.

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.

For my second, third, and fourth books, I hired a publicist, which was moderately helpful – they got our articles and reviews in several magazines, and interviews online and in podcasts.

For this last book, the publisher hired a publicity firm, and they were also moderately helpful in the same ways. They were particularly good at getting me on podcasts; I probably did 25 podcasts about Change from the Inside Out.

Fortunately, I have had a blog on Forbes since 2010, and although they’re very touchy about me using it for marketing, they do let me mention my book titles in my bio, and I can link to any of my books if it’s germane to the topic of a post.

Our most effective book marketing, however, is through email newsletters to our followers, mentions on social media, and word-of-mouth among our clients.

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

I don’t really worry or think about book reviews very much; our publicists have gotten a few well-placed reviews, and we also have pretty positive reviews on Goodreads. And we’ve always worked to get reviews on Amazon (asking friends, readers, and clients to write reviews), and we have been fairly successful: all the books have many positive reviews and very few negative ones. That seems to lend credibility.

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

I very much prefer reading ebooks – mostly because I read more than one book at once, and it’s great not having to schlep them around with me. Also, these days I very often knit while reading, and it’s a lot easier to use my iPad when I’m knitting rather than deal with a physical book!

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

Those are impossible questions to answer. I love many authors in a wide variety of different genres. I read history, business books, regency romances, science fiction, contemporary fiction, historical fiction, well-known literature (like Shakespeare, Pope, or Emerson), and how-to books.

At the moment, I’m rereading the Harry Potter series in Spanish (my husband and I live part-time in the north of Spain, and it’s one of the many ways I’m working to become fluent).

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?

I think many traditional publishers, in order to survive, will move toward a more shared-revenue model, where they pay fewer advances, but give authors a higher percentage of revenues, and where they work in a more collaborative way with authors, making more shared decisions and giving authors more legal rights to their materials. Both of my last two publishers have worked more in these ways.

I’ve also seen more “hybrid” publishers pop up: a model in between self-publishing and traditional publishing, where authors assume some of the upfront costs, and the publisher offers an even higher share of sales revenue. These hybrid publishers seem to be focused more on marketing – at which most traditional publishers are not good.

Now that you have published a book/new book, what would you do differently this time?

I’ve been considering going with one of these hybrid publishers for my new book; having established credibility with my traditionally published books over the past fifteen years, I feel like I have the freedom to explore a different model. One of these publishers reached out to me last year – their CEO asked me to be on his podcast that he does for authors – and I was very impressed with him. Other than that, I seem to have evolved a process that works well for me – so I’m pretty much staying with it.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

First, write every day, and write about things that you find personally intriguing. Regularly ask people you trust, who know good writing and who will be honest with you, for feedback. Pay attention to what they say and look for ways to integrate their observations into your writing.

Writing is a skill and, like any skill, needs to be developed and honed with practice and feedback.

Second, read a lot, and read with discrimination. Notice what moves you or connects with you or clarifies something for you and try to figure out why it had that impact. Also, notice when you think something is badly written, and figure out why you think that.

Third, remember that writing is communication – you’re not writing for yourself, you’re writing for your reader. Think about who you’re writing to (I always set up an imaginary small group to whom I am writing) and do your best to speak to them in ways that will do whatever you’re trying to accomplish: touch, help or astonish them, make them think, change their minds, bring them comfort or joy, support their success.

And really, have fun.

Erika’s Bio

Erika Andersen is the founding partner of Proteus, where she and her colleagues support leaders at all levels to get ready and stay ready to meet the future. Erika advises senior executives and shares her insights through her books, speaking engagements, and social media. In addition to her latest book, Change from the Inside Out, she is the author of four previous best-selling books: Be Bad First, Leading So People Will Follow, Being Strategic , and Growing Great Employees. Erika is also a popular leadership blogger at and the creator and host of the Proteus Leader Show podcast.

More Information

LinkedIn: andersenerika
Twitter X: @erikaandersen
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