Episode 6

Feminist Fiction and Why So Little Women's Fiction is Set in the Work World w/ Lainey Cameron

Lainey Cameron is an author of women's fiction and a recovering tech industry executive. Her award-winning novel, The Exit Strategy, an Amazon #1 bestseller, was inspired by a decade of being the only woman in the corporate boardroom. It's been called a "rallying call for women to believe in themselves and join together" and tells the story of a Silicon Valley investor who first meets her husband's mistress across the negotiating table.

She’s the founder and host of the popular Best of Women’s Fiction podcast, a proud member of Women’s Fiction Writers Association, believes community makes the author's life worthwhile, and is on a mission to obliterate the term aspiring writer.

A digital nomad—meaning she picks locations around the world to live (and write) for months at a time—Lainey is an avid instagrammer, and loves to share her book and travel insights.

Originally from Scotland, she has a soft spot for kilts and good malt whisky.

Connect with Lainey and join her mailing list on her website https://www.laineycameron.com/

and follow her on Instagram @lainey_cameron

Best of Women's Fiction Podcast: https://www.bestofwomensfiction.com/


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Shawna Rodrigues 0:00

Welcome to author Express, where we discover the voice behind the pages of your favorite book. I'm your host, Shawna Rodrigues, and I'm so glad to be here with you today. Lanie Cameron is a digital nomad and author and host of the best women's fiction podcast are covering tech industry executive, her 14 Time award winning novel, the exit strategy has been called a rallying call for women to believe in themselves and join together. Thank you so much for being here, lady.

Lainey 0:29

Oh, it's so exciting to chat with you.

Shawna Rodrigues 0:31

Yes, I'm glad it worked out. So tell me the most interesting thing about where you are from?

Lainey 0:36

Well, actually, I'm at a conference right now. And my badge says it depends on the day. I like that. I like that. So I'm originally from Scotland. But after 20 years in the Bay Area, for the last seven years, my hubby and I have been nomadic, meaning we pick places for six months at a time to live and work. And so right now we're in Puerto Escondido and Mexico, in what Hakka on the coast. Before that we were in San Miguel de Allende, we've spent time in Europe, we've spent time in Cortina Colombia, we're always looking for suggestions. Sometimes readers give me ideas of where we should go next. It's wonderful. So basically, we just move around and get to experience different cultures and make friends all around the world. And it's a pretty neat lifestyle.

Shawna Rodrigues 1:19

That's wonderful. So you're from everywhere. Yeah, so you can tell us all about those things. You'd be here for two hours Exactly. Today,

Lainey 1:25

if anyone has any questions for me about what it's like to live as a digital nomad, hit me up, just send me a message afterwards, I'm always happy to answer questions

Shawna Rodrigues 1:33

back through wonder five that a lot of expertise there. So what is the best piece of advice that anyone has ever given to you?

Lainey 1:42

I'm working a lot on self compassion and being happy with where I am. In my journey in my life. I think I grew up in a an environment where I learned to be very harsh on myself and very self critical. And I think when people have given me advice around acceptance, and like, treat yourself like you would treat your best friend. And you know, for at least for me, the voices in my head don't tend to be something I would ever say to another person to have a devastating shot like, this is worth more, and I can't write more words today. You know, you sighs more and gosh, you're lazy. Or say that to your best friend. And yet we have these conversations in our heads sometimes. But it's not unrelated that my one of my main characters in my novel has impostor syndrome. And this is all around her, those voices in our head sometimes don't help us. And so I think a lot of the best advice people have given me is about how to be more an acceptance mode and how to work on my own thoughts in a way that makes me more graceful and moving through life.

Shawna Rodrigues 2:45

I love it. That is wonderful. So speaking about exit strategy, can you tell me about like, what was the part of the book that was hardest for you to write?

Lainey 2:54

It's so gosh, that's such a great question. Because it took me five years to read the book. And I think the hardest piece is changed as I went through it, because I was learning the process of writing a book and being an author at the same time is writing the book. So you go through such a steep learning curve, learning how to keep readers really gripped, and how to make them turn pages, learning how to write characters that they're really engaged with. Yeah, at one point, I'll give you two examples. I think at one point on the character is one of the things that was hard for me was because it came from a background of being in Silicon Valley and being a female executive there. Some things to me were perfectly obvious, and I didn't explain them in the book, and I didn't need to explain them. And I almost felt like it'd be insulting the reader if I explained them. So I'll give you an example, is on character, my main character Ren is a venture capitalist, and she's about to close this huge deal. Her whole career is based basically going to take off based on this deal. So it's something she's been working toward for a decade. And she faces her husband's mistress across the negotiating table, learns about it five minutes before she walks into the meeting. Oh, wow. And a lot of readers of my early copy said, How did she not break down into tears in that meeting? A woman who has been an executive and still Yeah, I have cried in restaurants I have cried in the car. But I would never ever meeting surrounded by other people where people would see it. Yeah, if you haven't lived in that environment, which is incredibly sexist and harsh. If you've had a different career experience that was not obvious at all, to people, this first version. And so they were concluding that she was this really hard person with no emotions, because she didn't break down in tears. And so I actually have to go back and put these into the book where I talked about what it's like to live in that environment where you're constantly being judged as a woman, or you're constantly being viewed as like, Oh, she's weaker and not as good and she's not as successful or she got given the token woman's job in the company, she doesn't really deserve the job she's in and so you're dealing with all these messages that are around that are real things that people are thinking. And so you learn to modify your behavior in that environment. And one thing you know do is cry. Another is get angry like, yeah, it's angry in a meeting, it's taken very different very differently.

Shawna Rodrigues 5:06

Yes, exactly.

Lainey 5:07

So these are things that I had to go back and learn how to write into the book. They weren't obvious for me. And then the other thing that was really interesting is the pieces that I found the hardest, I actually worked with a developmental editor. And she pointed out to me that what I had done is skipped pieces that I thought would be boring. And so book is about the two women working through it and learning to work together. And it's really a girl power grown up. It's a female friendship book at the end of the day, but I kind of skipped over the whole then becoming friends part of it, because I just felt like, even though I love becoming friends with someone in real life, like on chapter if someone else seemed like, it would be really boring. And my developmental editor was like, No, you're, you're like skipping over all the good, juicy stuff that the experience variants. So I went back and wrote like five chapters that weren't there. It wasn't that it wasn't good stuff. It was just that I didn't think it would interest the reader. Yeah. And the really interesting thing is probably the top thing that people say about this book, other than the fact that they can really relate to the characters and they loved the idea that is based in this like sexist environment, is they loved what she did to women become friends like her and which is so funny, because I was so afraid. And I worked so hard, because I thought it would be boring and no one want to keep reading. One thing that people say about the book is that it's a page turner. So it's yes, every time I see that in a review, when I do a little fist bump, well, yes,

Shawna Rodrigues 6:31

yes. Not only did you do the parts you weren't sure will be be made them that engaged and made them really enjoy work. And it was not obvious to me. And that was something I had to learn how to do. Yeah, yes, that's great. So where do you see yourself in 10 years and your writing career?

Lainey 6:46

Oh, you know, I do a couple of things in the writing more than two things in the writing world. So I read books, and this book has done great, I'm very happy with how it's done. It's 14 Awards, which are a debut novel is phenomenal Are you happy with. And it also became like number one and feminist books for a while on Amazon, because a lot of fun. So like, I'm really happy with how it's gone. I'm with a small publisher. So my book is not a book, you're gonna see like on the front table of Barnes and Noble right now, it's just not the track I chose for the book. For those who don't know about the industry, there are bigger publishers, and they tend to get those kinds of opportunities like the front tables bookstore, and

Shawna Rodrigues 7:20

they pay for those Exactly, yeah.

Lainey 7:23

So if you're a small publisher in the bookstores, who doesn't take returns a few other things, you're not gonna see your book in broad bookstore distribution. So, you know, 10 years from now, for my own books, I'd love to see the book a bit more broad. Not that. But my next few books, more broadly distributed. I'd like to see it in bookstores, I'd like to do more bookstore events where it can meet more readers. My book has primarily been sold online, it's done great for a book that sold online, but it's a little bit less distributed than let's say a book that you might see come out of HarperCollins or somewhere, not to say that I necessarily want to be with a big publisher, I might even indeed distribute my next book, I'm not sure I haven't decided, but a more broad, more broad distribution. And then I do a lot of things to uplift other authors. And I get huge personal power. And I love doing this. I just really enjoy helping make MC authors and books that my following may not be aware of introduce them into Yeah, so that makes it. So to do that I have a podcast, it's called The Best of women's fiction you right? Yes to the beginning. And I pick authors I admire and books I have really enjoyed. And I bring them forward and I showcase them and the podcast is doing great. It's really fun. I encourage folks to check it out if they haven't yet the best of women's fiction. So I think that'll keep growing as well. And I can see that I'll be maybe broadening the ways in which I help other authors. I'm asked all the time to help authors with marketing things. And I'll do a lot of different consults over the course of a few years. It would be nice to package that in a way that I could help more authors with it. So I don't know if it's a class or a coaching program or a mastermind, but that I think there's something I could do to help other authors with how to build a platform how to get out to readers. I think that would be a lot of fun. And I'm gonna keep traveling I really love experiencing new cultures. I don't see us you can never say never because personal circumstances can change. You know, my mom's in California she might need us at some point. But ideally, we would keep traveling and experiencing new locations and I really enjoy that we then me and my hubby. Yeah,

Shawna Rodrigues 9:22

no, it sounds like that. And this idea of finding ways to kind of do more with the marketing I know a lot of people that are listening if they are authors are like oh yes, that's what I need help but because their skills for creativity and writing in the skills for marketing is usually something that is something authors need even if they are with a big publishing house, and yet something that they aren't taught and doesn't come easily. They need supports around that. Exactly. And it's

Lainey 9:46

overwhelming the number of different things authors are told they should do to market their books. Oh, you shouldn't do this. You shouldn't be on Tik Tok. You shouldn't be on social media. You should go do these events. You should do this. You should do that. And it's really strange because I come from a world of marketing for tech companies. Yeah, I used to do, and it's fine to experiment. And especially when you have a new product, you don't know where it fits in the world and who's really going to benefit from it. It's very normal to set up a marketing approach, where you experiment and you do five different things, maybe five different target markets, and you find out which works and then you double down on that. Yeah, and book marketing, we don't really know the formula for what works. So rather than see it as an experiment, we just tell people to do everything, wow, we'll go do 100 things. And we don't even think like most of those 100 things won't work. So why are we telling people to go do all of this stuff that mostly doesn't work anyway, so it frustrates me because every minute that an author takes to go do something that probably won't work anyway, is a minute that could have spent writing and putting more books into the world,

Shawna Rodrigues:

yes, and taking care of their creativity. And that's one of the challenges too, for people listening that aren't authors is that when you do work with a publisher, you don't have access to the data in a real time, why when things are happening, and what the results are to be able to look at the data and see, oh, this was beneficial. This wasn't


with my space, which is the women's fiction genre, they are not that good at picking which books are going to do well, they're actually not that good at like, when you look at the big breakout books, they're actually not books that look exactly like something that came before. So publishers aren't necessarily generalizing here, that good at picking the right books that readers are going to love. But also, they're not that good at being really in depth and knowing what readers like which books and there are some exceptions, like Lake Union, Amazon publishing has very good analytics. Yes, some of the other big publishers. And the reason I feel very confident in saying this is my debut novel, the exit strategy came at the pandemic year of 2020. And I was part of a debut class with a lot of other authors who were with different types of publishers. And what I saw was that the big publisher authors, suddenly the publishers when the bookstore is more open, and the bookstores weren't the ones pushing the books, did not have a clue how to market their own books, yeah, totally threw their hands in the air and said, well, we don't know how to get to the consumers and tell them about these books if we can't just push it through the bookstores. And so it was very interesting to me, it was kind of an alarm bell in my head. That said, I think we give the big publishers a lot more credit for marketing capabilities than they actually have.

Shawna Rodrigues:

Yeah. And so it does make a difference to have to go, Okay, let's go back to the grassroots in some other ways. Whereas like, like Union and Amazon, they've always done things online. And they've always been connected to that kind of heartbeat. And those analytics that are more immediate, to be able to see where things are happening, I


would guess that they have profiles of different types of readers, and by different types of readers. I do not mean, this person likes mystery books, okay. I mean, this person likes mystery books with dogs in them that are fast paced, as opposed to mystery books that are cozy mysteries that maybe move a little slower and don't have a dog in it. Like I think they have their domestic suspense but their domestic suspense with a hard edge versus with a soft edge. Right, not just category labels. Yeah, like romance, you know, think yeah, robins world is right, how many 1000s of types of books, I suspect that the Amazon imprints have very good customer profiles, just the way you see them behaving. They must be using pretty good data profiles of their potential readers.

Shawna Rodrigues:

Yes, no, that makes a lot of sense. So as we talked about, where is the best place for people to find you?


I think the simplest is my website and you can get to everything else from there. So I'm leaning Cameron l ai, n EY, Cameron att.com, sorry, my email address cameron.com and I'm in terms of where I hang out, I spend the most time on Instagram is really where you're more likely to find me on a daily basis. And you can find that on my website. Wonderful. You can get your podcasts from your website as well podcasts from the website and I am piddling around on tick tock, I won't say I'm very good at it yet, but I have some fun over there every

Shawna Rodrigues:

so often. Oh, nice. That's a wonderful so we'll have all those links in the show notes so that people can be able to find you and get to figure out where at so what book or story inspires you the most. I love


books that like pull the emotion in me that really get me experiencing living inside a character that get me feeling the emotions that the character went through. So there I'm gonna think of two authors here that I particularly like in the women's fiction space. I'm a big fan of Camille pay again, and Camille's books in particular life and other near death experiences, is probably one of the books that drew me into writing in the women's fiction genre, one of those books that I read and I was like, Oh, if I could write something like that some Yeah. And Carolyn sail was very similar for me, and that these are both authors who've become very big best sellers, both in the women's fiction space. Harry writes women's fiction, but with more of a suspense, see element through the plot. It's not suspense books, but there's normally a mystery of what's happening. And as a reader, you're learning the mystery and finding out what happens to the character as you go through the book. And she's done. A number of series No, I think one of my favorites of hers is actually a standalone, it's called sidetrip. And I thought it was just really clever. The plot was really clever, and it has a twist toward the ending that left me just breathtaking. Like, whoa, oh, nice.

Shawna Rodrigues:

Well, good. That's very nice. We have some good things to check out as well. So thank you so much and everyone go check out Leaney and her podcast too. If you listen to podcasts, you're here, so that's a good fit. Yeah. So thank you so much for being here. Thanks so much for joining us. Don't forget to follow us on Instagram at authors Express podcast, so you can be up to date with what's coming out next. Don't forget, you could express it keep it interesting.

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Shawna Rodrigues

Shawna Rodrigues, Founder and Director of Impact at Authentic Connections Podcast Network, Host of The Grit Show (https://podcast.thegritshow.com) and Author Express (https://bit.ly/AuthorExpressPod) and coming in 2024- Authenticity Amplified. Shawna is a Podcast Mentor, Internationally Best-Selling Author (www.shawnarodrigues.com) and consultant.
Find her on Instagram @ShawnaPodcasts.