Welcome to my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, scriptwriters, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with non-fiction self-help author Jonathan Bennett who co-authors with his brother David Bennett. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Jonathan. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Jonathan: I’m 34 years old and live in Ohio in the United States. I’ve always been the creative type and tried to write a book even as a teen. But, it just never happened. However, when I was in my early thirties, I got into a big rut and was basically “settling” in life. I decided I couldn’t take it anymore and researched ways to improve myself and bring some meaning to my life. The principles I learned and applied transformed me in so many ways that I consider it a real “awakening,” for lack of a better term. Once I became this new person, the words just seemed to flow. I was “in the zone” and writing became very natural.
Morgen: What genre do you generally write and what have you had published to-date? What do you think of eBooks?
Jonathan: I have two unpublished fiction novels taking up bytes on my computer, but my published books are in the self-help genre. I’ve written, with my twin brother David, “Say It Like You Mean It,” a book on crafting positive affirmations and “Be Popular Now: How Any Man Can Become Confident, Attractive and Successful (And Have Fun Doing It).” The latter is a handbook of popularity for guys. As far as eBooks go, I must admit, I like traditional paper books. But, I own a Kindle and I see the writing on the wall. I hold to many ideals, but I’m at heart a realist.
Morgen: I think paper and electronic will go hand-in-hand but as eBooks are cheaper and instant to obtain they will undoubtedly hog the market. You self-published – what lead to you going your own way?
Jonathan: It was largely because of my research of the industry. I know that as a new author I would be largely responsible for promoting my book. And, I’d have to give away most of the profits, the rights, and the control. So, if I was going to do most of the work and lose control, I might as well just do all the work and keep the control (and more of the money). So, my brother and I decided that self-publishing was the best route, especially since we already own a business and could build off what already existed.
Morgen: Do you have a favourite of your stories?
Jonathan: We tell a lot of stories throughout the book because, as teachers, we know that people learn best through stories. So, each chapter has tips to be popular that are illustrated through a story. I love a story we tell about Spud Webb, a 5’6” professional basketball player who won the NBA slam dunk contest in 1986. We use it to teach that you can be born with all sorts of disadvantages, but through hard work and determination you can succeed in spite of your alleged shortcomings.
Morgen: I loved basketball at school. I’m 5’10” – maybe I should have kept it up. 🙂 Which authors shaped you as a writer?
Jonathan: I was highly influenced by authors who emphasized that we can create our own reality. Up until I was thirty-two, I believed that my life was outside of my control. I deferred to others and let them determine my dreams, which didn’t work very well. However, as I read writers like Richard Bandler, Lynne McTaggart, and others, I internalized the concept that I determined my own reality. Even if I couldn’t change events, my mindset towards the event is totally determined by one person: me. My current writing has been shaped by my newfound love of Hermann Hesse. I think he really “gets” human nature.
Morgen: Do you manage to write every day, and do you plan your books or just get an idea and run with it?
Jonathan: I write each day, both for future books and my self-help websites. I probably write around a thousand words a day in some capacity. Once I found my core purpose in life, I felt very inspired. It’s been going strong for over two years. I’m not over-thinking it or jinxing it. I’m just going with it and enjoying the ride.
Morgen: That’s why we do it. Do you do a lot of research for your topic?
Jonathan: David and I are constantly researching new ways to be popular. There is a real science behind attractiveness. It’s not just psychology either. Humans are animals and social interaction is grounded in evolutionary biology and brain science. There are patterns and rules to human attraction (both friendship and dating). We research those rules and create real world advice based on them. We test these techniques personally in social settings (and with our clients). And, they really work.
Morgen: What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?
Jonathan: I love how I can take an abstract concept from science and put it in a way that can actually help make the lives of people better. Our techniques need to be explained in a lucid way. That’s where my writing ability is a real asset. My least favourite aspect is probably the proofreading and formatting. I know the rules of grammar and syntax, as well as how to format a book, but I prefer the actual creative process. But, I take the time to proofread and format because I value quality.
Morgen: Your readers will appreciate it. If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Jonathan: I think it would have to be Alexander the Great, Jesus, and Casanova. All three were very popular and attractive, but took very different paths to their popularity. I’d like to pick their brains for ideas! We would definitely eat Chinese since I’m a fan and it would be new to all three.
Morgen: What a great idea. Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Jonathan: I’m active in local networking groups and some of the people involved are writers. Admittedly, David and I are primarily speakers and business owners who love to write and, through our liberal arts backgrounds, have the skills to do if effectively. We find social media to be very valuable. We have a strong presence on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. We get a lot of exposure and website visits because of it. It’s helped us sell books too.
Morgen: What are you working on at the moment / next?
Jonathan: David and I are currently growing our popularity brand by speaking and consulting, which is awesome. We have a new book coming around June. It’s a popularity book for teens. As teachers, we know that teens have a very rough time these days. Low self-confidence and bullying are rampant. We apply our research and tips to the teen environment, which we know intimately through our professional relationships with teens. We truly believe this book will be a blessing to frustrated teens and their parents. We are also in the early stages of producing a book about romantic attraction and dating.
Morgen: Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Jonathan: I’d like to add why we write about popularity. David and I, once we had our awakening and started reading on popularity, totally transformed the way we interacted with others. Instead of being in our closed world, we opened up. Literally everywhere we went, we talked to people. We made them laugh. We listened to them. We became their friends. We’d walk into a coffee shop and walk out five minutes later with two new friends.
We found that our attractiveness and popularity didn’t just benefit us. It benefitted everyone. We made the days of other people better. And, we received popularity in return. So, we offer tips to guys (and soon teens of both sexes) to go out and make their lives more popular and fun. And, we hope they pay it forward by going out and blessing others. Popularity is ultimately about meeting the needs of others and having them love you in return.
Morgen: Being confident and good-natured definitely helps. Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
Jonathan: Yes! My name is also misspelled constantly. How do you correct people in public? Consider it social skills research!
Morgen: <laughs> Morgan is the more usually spelling so I’m used to it but I’ve become a ‘Morgen with an e’ brand so sign off emails with that. I don’t usually make a big deal of it but http://morganbailey.wordpress.com is a shell of a site (which is such a waste of a domain) and the email email@example.com disappears into a black hole so I don’t want people getting lost. One of the many Morgan Baileys (in the US, I think) is a transsexual porn star so some will at least have an interesting time getting to me. 🙂 Thank you, Jonathan.
I then invited Jonathan to include a synopsis of his book…
Using cutting edge research in psychology, brain science, and other fields, combined with advanced modelling strategies and personal experience, Jonathan and David Bennett have written the authoritative handbook of male popularity. Every chapter of Be Popular Now is entertaining and informative, with concrete examples and practice exercises. Learn how to increase confidence, approach women without fear, become the center of attention anywhere you are (even online), and much more! No matter how unpopular you are, with these secrets, becoming more popular is fun and easy. What are you waiting for? Start reading and be popular now!
Jonathan Bennett is a self -help writer and speaker who co-owns and operates several informational websites that receive over a million visitors a year. He writes about such topics as popularity, health, spirituality, and success.
Although he spent most of his life in school and was naturally popular, he realized he (or anyone else) was never taught the social skills that lead to genuine success. Working with his brother and friend Joshua Wagner, he decided to study (and model) the ways that successful people think and act. His study of cutting-edge social research, along with his natural popularity and personality, led him to consult, speak, and write about popularity and other topics related to success.
In his spare time, he enjoys reading and writing. He drinks a lot of coffee and has a passion for health and fitness. He enjoys spending time with his friends and family, especially his wife and children. He enjoys going to concerts (modern adult alternative acts primarily) and running extreme races like the Tough Mudder and Warrior Dash.
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