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Updated: Oct 29, 2020

One of the absolute best things that my wife and I have done during this period of isolation caused by the Covid-19 virus is attend Lit Youngstown’s 4th Annual Fall Literary Festival, which was held via videoconference on September 24-26th. The entire Conference was extremely well-managed and seemed to be presented flawlessly. There were a wide variety of workshops, readings, and presentations that admirably served all facets of the writing community.

However, in perusing the schedule and as a writer whose first collection of poetry was published in May, I was particularly drawn to the workshop entitled “Shameless Self-Promotion” presented by Ken Schneck. I found Ken to be an engaging, entertaining, funny, and informative speaker even through the computer screen.

And, yes, this article is not only a review of Ken’s workshop, but also a shameless self-promotion for my own book of poetry.

Ken Schneck is the Editor for The Buckeye Flame, Ohio’s LGBTQ+ digital platform, and writes regular features for Cleveland Magazine, PRIZM, and FreshWater Cleveland. Ken also is a tenured professor of Education at Baldwin Wallace University. For 10 years, Ken was the producer and host of “This Show is So Gay,” the award-winning, long-running, nationally syndicated radio show/podcast focused on people using their voices in a unique way to create dialogue around LGBTQ topics. Finally, Ken has published four books, and was recently named a finalist in Cleveland Scene Magazine’s “Best of Cleveland” awards in the category of Best Local Author/Writer-Nonfiction Journalist/Journalism.

I do not want to give away all that Ken talked about during his workshop, but I will say if you ever have the opportunity to hear Ken speak on this topic or any other topic for that matter, it would be well worth your time and effort. However, I do want to focus on two things that he discussed that had a significant impact on me and how I viewed self-promotion.

Ken began by discussing the emotional barriers that prevent us from promoting ourselves and our work and how we need to surpass those barriers. Some of the emotional barriers that immediately came to mind that tend to hold me back include such things as guilt, lack of confidence, low self-esteem, anxiety, fear of rejection, and just a general reluctance to directly ask people to buy my book. Ken’s discussion of the emotional barriers was extremely liberating to me in the sense that it was as if he was giving me permission to just ignore those things and just go for it without any regard to what others might think. During his presentation, I was also wearing a shirt promoting my book, which was a huge step for me in and of itself.

The second significant thing that impacted me was Ken’s discussion of an elevator pitch. I had never heard that term before, and at first, I thought that he was talking about something to say to people when you are riding in an elevator with then, which frightened me. I just could not see myself talking about me or my book to complete strangers in an elevator. Besides, with the virus raging, I do not ride elevators right now anyway.

However, that is not it at all. An elevator pitch, as I subsequently learned, is a statement that describes yourself and your background that is short and concise enough (75-90 words) to present during a brief elevator ride, hence the term elevator pitch or speech. The elevator pitch can take many forms, but in essence, it should identify who you are, what you do, and what you want the listener to do, such as buy your book or schedule you for a reading, book signing, artist talk, or workshop.

As I said before, I would highly recommend any workshop presented by Ken. I would also highly recommend any event that is presented by Lit Youngstown, and I hope to become more involved with that organization in the future.

Ken also graciously offered to review and make suggestions on an elevator pitch that we wrote for ourselves. I gladly took Ken up on his offer. So, here is my elevator pitch written with Ken’s help:

My name is Barbara Marie Minney, and I am a writer and public speaker.

I write personal and emotional poetry that chronicles my struggles and triumphs in living my truth as a transgender woman. I have a unique perspective, because I began my transition 4 yeas ago at the age of 63 after repressing my true gender for over 60 years.

My first collection of poetry, “If There’s No Heaven,” was the winner of the 2020 Poetry Is Life Book Award. The poetry is raw, accessible, and authentic and displays my strength, honesty, vulnerability, and hope.

Buy your copy today at

Barbara Marie Minney is a transgender woman, poet, writer, and speaker. She is a retired attorney and originally from West Virginia. Now based in Tallmadge, Ohio, her first collection of poetry entitled “If There’s No Heaven” was the winner of the 2020 Poetry Is Life Book Award. Follow her at

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