Olivia Shaw-Reel is like a field of bright and bold sunflowers. She radiates confidence, strength, warmth, and joy. No matter where you encounter her, whether in person at a book signing, or on social media, prepare for a pleasant experience with laughter, love, and encouragement. Her brand is one of positivity, purpose, and passion.
This talented storyteller began writing short stories at the tender age of seven, completed her first full-length novel at nine, and was published by 10 years old in a young authors’ compilation. In 2015, she released her first novel, Soul Cry, which sat at #1 for 16 consecutive weeks on the Amazon Top 100 charts. Since then, Olivia has written and published more than 25 novels and garnered two additional #1 bestselling books, Matters of the Hart: A Tale of the Dysfunctional Hart Sisters and What God Has Joined Together.
Olivia wants her readers to understand that "we all go through hardships, but it doesn’t define us. There is always hope and a second chance waiting, as long as we have breath in our bodies.” Her characters overcome their unique situations, and she hopes that her readers know that they can too.
Furthermore, Olivia enjoys helping others accomplish their literary dreams through her faith-based consulting company. To date, this 31-year-old has published, edited, and ghostwritten more than 200 books for authors across the nation. She resides in Milwaukee with her husband and together, they host The Reel Love Podcast.
We sat down with Olivia to talk about her craft, her secret to staying organized, and why it is important for authors to have a publishing coach. Here are some of the best insights that she had to offer.
VBD: What affirmed your calling as an author?
OLIVIA: God saw it fit that I would become a writer. For as long as I can remember, I have always enjoyed painting a picture with words. If I close my eyes, I can go back to my childhood room and feel so much comfort in the innocence of it all. Hundreds of notebooks with my scribbles filled my bedroom, and for hours I would get lost in each page, creating, writing, crossing out, and rewriting. It didn’t dawn on me until I became an adult that I had a gift. I’m blessed to be able to do what I love every day of my life.
VBD: Who has been your greatest cheerleader?
OLIVIA: My husband and family have been my rocks and biggest supporters, and I am so blessed to have them in my life.
VBD: As an author of 27 books, what’s your secret to staying organized?
OLIVIA: Believe it or not, I don’t use any sort of outlines when I write, and I have no special formula. Whenever an idea, thought, or scene pops into my mind, I simply grab my laptop or a notepad, or use the Notes app in my phone, and just let the words flow. Consistency has been the driving force behind my 27 books and counting, and knowing that someone, somewhere can be touched or moved by my words is inspiring. Because of this, I strive to release a new project every few months.
VBD: Is there a central message that runs through all your books?
OLIVIA: In every novel, beyond the juicy storylines, developed characters, and spicy titles, there is an infusion of faith, redemption, and hope. These books are more than just words; they’re a form of ministry for those who read. I always say the three Es—encourage, empower, and entertain—are what I endeavor to accomplish. If I can help someone escape to an alternate reality, where they can leave their problems behind, even for just a few hours, then I’ve done my job.
VBD: What are some ways that introverted authors can be successful in the industry?
OLIVIA: People would be shocked to know that I am super shy, but introverted authors should be their authentic, genuine selves, and allow their natural, beautiful personalities to shine through. It may be tough getting out there and speaking about your work, but if I can do it, you certainly can. The next advice I would give is that you must always remember your ‘why.’ Set up mailing lists so you can interact with your audience without the intimidation of a public setting. Establish relationships with readers through book clubs and social media fan pages and allow them to be your street team or outreach team—let their reviews, word of mouth, and posts do the “hard” part for you. As I said, it may be scary to unveil yourself to the world, but you must show up and believe in your craft, even if you must do it afraid.
VBD: Why is it important for authors to have a publishing coach?
OLIVIA: I wish I had someone to show me the ropes early on in my writing career. I could have avoided many mistakes—from signing bad contracts, to learning the importance of marketing and branding, to simply publishing a high-quality book. Publishing coaches offer solutions to problems you may run into while learning the industry and should be relied on for their expertise. That is where I come in. I desire to be that helping hand to new and aspiring authors by sharing my experiences and professional opinion where needed.
VBD: What is your most rewarding experience as a publishing coach?
OLIVIA: Seeing authors hold their book baby for the first time, after implementing my tools and resources, is the most rewarding experience for me. Every writer deserves to see his or her work come to life, and I love being part of that process as a publishing coach.
VBD: What is something about you that your readers would be surprised to know?
OLIVIA: Readers may be surprised to know that I am good with my hands beyond writing. I love painting, drawing, and making jewelry.
Book Link: Amazon