Welcome to our blog series profiling the winners of the 2021-2022 Beautiful You Coaching Academy Awards. The awards aim to uplift and honour our worldwide community of coaches and the incredible work they are doing through their coaching, events, programs, books, products, podcasts and more. Get ready to have your mind and heart blown wide open and be inspired by an incredible round-up of coaches.
Today we’d love to introduce you to our 2021-2022 Podcast of the Year Award winner, Caroline.
Caroline Donahue is an American writer, podcaster, and writing coach living in Berlin. The host of The Secret Library podcast since 2016, she is also the author of Story Arcana: Tarot for Writers.
‘The Secret Library’ podcast is amazing. What made you decide to create it?
When I began coaching after training with BYCA, I knew I wanted to focus on writers. There are a lot of myths about writing and what it takes to finish a book. I knew that it wouldn’t be enough to hear from me that there was another way to look at writing. My hope, in creating an interview-based show beginning with the connections I’d made working in marketing at a bookshop, was that I could share the real experiences of writing and publishing books as a resource for my clients.
In the end, it’s become a giant library of conversations about writing that dispel the belief that you have to be gifted or someone who abandons their life to go hide in a cabin in the woods somewhere and then magically has a book appear at the other end.
What surprised you most about starting a podcast and getting it heard by people?
I had run two podcasts before this one, but they fizzled. When I started this one, I wondered if I’d run out of things to ask. I worried that after 20 or 30 episodes we’d be repeating ourselves and then the show would end. But now, six years later, the conversation continues to surprise me nearly 300 episodes in. Writing is as unique as everyone who writes. It has been such a gift to talk about books with so many incredible people and for it to be part of my job.
Tell us more about your desire to share the journey of authors and book professionals to writing and publishing books?
Writing is seen as something people have to have talent for, and there has historically been a real limit to whose stories are included in the books that come out. But these days, the only ones who can stop someone from publishing a book is them. No, it doesn’t always work out to publish traditionally, but anyone can share their work by publishing independently. It’s always been a priority to share a balance of independent and traditionally published work, and to show that equally exciting stories are being told in both arenas.
The publishing world has been flawed in that it hasn’t included stories that represent huge numbers of people in the world. My hope is that by telling stories about writing and publishing books, that more people will feel inspired to share those. If people are too scared or inhibited to finish and share their stories, the world doesn’t get to benefit from them. My hope is to help widen the scope of books we can read through the shows.
Do you have any tips for other coaches who are looking to create an inspiring podcast?
Make your topic broad enough that you can approach it from many angles, but narrow enough that people connect with it. Doing an interview show is wonderful as people like to share when they appear on podcasts, and it helps your audience grow. I find following my curiosity is key- I prepare questions in advance for each guest and read what they’ve written whenever possible, but I’m also prepared to go with the flow and abandon what I’ve planned if we strike on something exciting in the conversation.
Make sure the topic is fascinating to you. It’s really hard to inspire listeners unless the topic is one you’re passionate about as well.
What does it mean to win this award from the Beautiful You Coaching Academy?
It’s such an honor, as I created the show as I was completing my training with BYCA six years ago, which seems incredible to me. It’s been a gift to count Julie Parker as a guest, and to have BYCA trainees as clients. To be honored by an institution whose work I admire so much means the world.
Often, we create content and put it out in the world and, for a long time, there’s silence on the other end. To feel a sense of impact for what I do as a podcaster is the greatest gift I could imagine. Thank you.
What’s on the horizon for Caroline Donahue?
I am working on a new novel these days, and am continuing to run my novel courses and work with private clients. In the next year or two, I’m hoping to make my students’ frequent request to offer an in-person writing retreat a reality, possibly somewhere mystical like Ireland or Scotland. That would be such a dream!
Beyond that, we just wrapped another season of the podcast, and are already dreaming up ideas for the next season later this year. I can’t wait to see what comes next.
Find out more about Caroline’s work at Caroline Donahue
Photographer: Danielle Cohen