We had the good fortune of connecting with Loren Stephens and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Loren, what do you attribute your success to?
Hard to limit to one factor. Probably hiring a pr firm to strategize public awareness through social media and traditional print. I am also a strong believer in networking. My initial clients were people I knew from my position as development director of a nonprofit — generous donors who were interested in telling their life stories. When the word got out that I was starting Write Wisdom I had a number of people approach me to help with their memoirs and inspirational books. Most of my clients over the fifteen plus years I have been in business have heard of me through word of mouth or through my website. There is no substitute for an attractive website that is highly ranked through the use of site optimization. Find a company that knows all the ins and outs of algorithms, back channel links, etc. so that your company shows up on the first page of a search. In my case the most common search words are “writer, Los Angeles,” and ghostwriter. And one final tip, in my business, having an aggressive agent to send projects my way is invaluable. I may not get the assignment, but at least I get the opportunity to submit my credentials.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Ghostwriting is first and foremost being a good listener. And as Terry Gross of NPR says, “All I did was ask.” Being inquisitive and fascinated in other people are both essential qualities to being a ghostwriter. My first “assignment” was to write my mother’s memoir, “I Turned a Key and the Birds Began to Sing.” The success of the memoir and the pleasure she derived convinced me that there was a business and that other people might be interested in telling their stories for different reasons: to leave a legacy, to inspire and teach others, to promote their own corporate brand. Write Wisdom and Bright Star Memoirs are responsible for more than thirty plus titles in various genres. The greatest challenge I have faced is in finding talented writers to work with me since I cannot do each and every assignment that comes my way. I also have to balance the time I spend on company business with my own writing. My debut novel, “All Sorrows Can Be Borne,” published by Rare Bird, came out on May 11. Diesel Books in Brentwood sponsored the launch via zoom. Early on, I used to publish the books we wrote for our author/clients but the time it takes to do that became all-consuming, and I discovered that it was far better to outsource this service. We still assist our author/clients in choosing the best publishing company for their needs, but we no longer publish books. It’s better to do one thing really well than a lot of things in a mediocre fashion. Focus is essential. What is true about me is that I don’t consider what I do a job but rather a passion and a calling, and I am thrilled when I can help to make someone else’s dream of becoming a published author come true.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I am a culture maven so my itinerary would include the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Broad, the Getty — both new and old — LACMA and the Huntington Library as well as a few of the museums north and south of the city such as the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, and The Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach. I’d be sure and include several concerts (once the doors are open again): Disney Hall for sure and the private concerts sponsored by the Ermitage Foundation in Brentwood at the Luxe Summit Hotel on Sunset. We are members and the foundation presents monthly events with world class musicians in an intimate setting. I love anything with a literary bent: Live Talks LA is fabulous. You never know who is going to be a guest and a host. We have heard Mary Karr, Walter Isaacson, and many others over the years that we have attended their events at various venues. And of course, I love the book launches sponsored by Diesel Books in Brentwood. Can’t wait until we can get away from zoom and back in the store to meet the authors in person.
I’m a big foodie and LA is a mecca for international cuisine. I’m always looking for a new restaurant to try. Most recently we discovered Socalo in Santa Monica — terrific Mexican food. And probably my favorite restaurants are local: Vincente; Palmieri; Amici Brentwood. Looking forward to AOC opening up in the old Tavern, which was my go-to place for brunch/lunch.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Two of my past author/clients have been instrumental in encouraging me. When I was approached to work on a book about Shanghai and Vienna during World War II, my client Effy Pfeffermann told me, “This project has your name written all over it.” I was reluctant to put my hat in the ring — size of the project and research; physical distance from the client, and other imagined hurdles. He assured me that those obstacles were meaningless. I was chosen from among thirty plus candidates.
And then George Kolber, the author/client of the aforementioned book, encouraged me to apply for another assignment. He offered to serve as a reference and to speak directly with the prospective client, a well-known attorney and politician from the South. I was so grateful for his support and I am now working on a fascinating book which will be published in 2022, “if the creek don’t rise.”
Other: Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or through the contact page on my website. You can also google me to read some of my short stories and essays, and go to Amazon to check out “All Sorrows Can Be Borne,” which is available there and at all the other book ordering websites such as Barnes & Noble.