One of the greatest joys in life is knowing that there are brilliantly talented people out there, creating and building businesses based on their talents. Sitting down over a cup of coffee with one of these wonders is a delight that holds no parallel. The first time I had a conversation with Jess, I instantly knew that I had to know more about what she did. Her work is fascinating and having read her debut novel, her talent is as well. Please enjoy learning about Jess Hagemann and Cider Spoon Stories.
Sierra Bailey: I’m so happy to have a chance to be able to find out more about you and Cider Spoon Stories. Let’s begin with an overview of the business.
Jess Hagemann: Cider Spoon Stories is Austin’s premier ghostwriting and editing business. Ghostwriting means that anything a client needs written, I do the writing and s/he gets the credit! I specialize in helping seniors, veterans, and small business owners write their life stories as books, but I also ghostwrite self-help books, business books, blogs, and bios, in addition to memoirs. Editing is just what it sounds like: polishing a piece that’s already been written so that it shines!
SB: As with many entrepreneurs, the path to what you are doing now I’m sure has had twists and turns and was by no means straight. Share a bit about what careers you have had and projects you have worked on before Cider Spoon stories.
JH: I’ve never had a salaried job. Paid time off? What’s that? After graduate school, I became a contractor for the state of Illinois, and worked as a Collections Specialist at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library in Springfield. There, I catalogued new artifact acquisitions for the museum and helped create exhibits, including writing the caption copy. Simultaneously, I taught creative writing at Benedictine University. Only when that campus closed down did I move to Austin and start Cider Spoon Stories in 2014.
SB: You are a published author and write your own work in addition to Cider Spoon. How do those work together? Do you enjoy having tandem big projects?
JH: Yes, I love writing fiction as well! Specifically horror. I grew up on a steady diet of R. L. Stine, Stephen King, and my mom’s ghost stories (she was a master of the long-form ghost story during cross-country road trips to visit my grandparents). It’s hard sometimes finding the time and creative energy to work on my own fiction alongside the books I ghostwrite for Cider Spoon, but that’s why I founded Weeknight Wordsmiths: a weekly writing group to hold myself and others accountable to the production of new creative work every week.
SB: What is your favorite part about what you do now?
JH: It is the privilege of my life to get so up close and personal with my clients’ stories. My average client is 70+ years old. He’s seen so much more of the world than I have, including a lot of major historical events that if I didn’t get to learn about them straight from the source, I’d have to read about in books. Instead, I get to write the books myself, based on the interviews conducted as part of the ghostwriting process!
SB: What is the part you dread the most? Is it something you can outsource and plan to in the future?
JH: As every small business owner knows, there are a million other tasks that occupy the owner’s day-to-day. It’s not just ghostwriting and editing. I also do all my own record-keeping, all my own advertising and networking, maintain Cider Spoon’s web presence, handle billing, respond to emails, etc.—it never ends. All of that is made bearable and even enjoyable though when you’re working with clients you love. It’s the not-so-great clients, with salty egos, poor time-management/communication skills, or those who cut and run without paying (yep, it’s happened!) that make the job hard; but again, I imagine every small business owner deals with that.
SB: What are your goals for the next 1-3 years?
JH: To make my next novel a priority. I’ve really been prioritizing ghostwriting clients’ books this year, while I toured around with my debut novel Headcheese, but it’s time to get back to the laptop for Jess Hagemann’s second book.
SB: If we could do one thing to help you get to the next level, what would that be?
JH: Help me celebrate Cider Spoon’s fifth birthday on December 6, 2019 at Whichcraft (1900 Simond Ave.) from 9-11 a.m.!
Thank you, Jess, for taking the time to share behind the business of Cider Spoon Stories and your work!