We had the good fortune of connecting with Corinna Cooke and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Corinna, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I saw a big hole in the market where people’s fears and stress points were stopping them from having the type of Italy travel experience they dreamed about. Instead of exploring little towns and whiling away mornings drinking coffee in beautiful piazzas they felt their only option was to take a cruise or a big bus tour. I understood their fears and what intimidated and overwhelmed them, and I knew the answers to their questions. I knew the easy way to go about building an absolute dream trip, so I wrote a series of books to specifically meet that need. I approach each book from the perspective of if this were me going to a city I’d never been to before, in a country where I didn’t speak the language, what would I want to know? What worries would I have, what basic questions would I need answered, and then what exciting, fascinating, fabulous things would I love to know about?
I hate the way regular travel guides talk at you in corporate speak, as if you don’t exist. I wanted to create an environment where it feels like it’s just you and me chatting. My books read that way – you and I are just chatting and I’m helping you figure it all out as we go. I didn’t want to go the route of trying to find a publisher and having to wait 2 years for my books to get into the hands of the people who need them, assuming a publisher would even sign me. I also didn’t want to give up the rights to my books or the control of how they are marketed and priced. So I opened my own publishing house with just one client – me. This meant that within just a few months I was able to reach thousands and thousands of people all around the world, and make a difference in their lives and the memories they will have forever. It also meant I was able to live off the income from my writing in the first year.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I have always loved to write and have always been a voracious reader. I started writing a blog years ago, initially about beauty – I’m a makeup artist, but noticed that the posts I would write about my travels, especially my travels in Italy, were by far the most popular. These posts would also get loads of interaction from my readers. It wasn’t unusual to get emails from readers saying they were in Florence and were up to number 7 of the 10 things I had said you must do and were loving it. Or readers who had arrived back from an Italian vacation and were so glad I had written about some random town or food or experience to chase while there. I realized that people love the language of blog writing, the way it’s so chatty and friendly and relaxed. That style of writing makes it easy to take in information and makes researching a trip fun. So when I decided to write books I wanted them to flow that way. I think that is a big part of what makes my books stand out, they’re not corporate speak, they’re real person speak.
You can hear how excited I am to share stories and secret places with you when you read my books and you can smell that my excitement is genuine. I had never written books before and had never self-published anything other than blogs, so everything was a massive learning curve. I figured the first step was to write really amazing books that travelers would love and that would have a massive impact on their trip to Italy. I was told there was no market for my books but I never believed it. I knew I had something valuable to contribute and that readers would love what I had to say. While I was writing my first book I started learning about publishing and about what I had to do if I wanted to publish books that were of the same standard as traditionally published books. My books are normally positioned in the top 5 or top 10 Italy travel guides, completing with the big corporate books and often beating them to the #1 spot. The total picture was overwhelming so I decided to just focus on the next thing I needed to do. Once that was accomplished I would learn the next thing. I believe in the law of attraction and figured the people and the information I needed would show up when it was time, and funnily enough they all did. The more I learned about the publishing business the less sense it made to go the traditional route. Instead of making 10% of the royalties on my books I make 100%. This meant that I was able to live off the income from my writing within the first year. This whole process has really shown me that if you believe in yourself, create a quality product that meets a market need, and then just keep pushing forward relentlessly, there is no end to what you can achieve. You shouldn’t look at where the market is now but instead envision where it is going and where it will be, and design your business accordingly.
The Brand: The Glam Italia brand is about avoiding the mass tourism model and becoming a traveler rather than a tourist. We travel to experience something different, something we don’t have at home. The Glam Italia books help you to get away from the tourist traps and discover the magic of life in Italy. I show you amazing historical sites that have no crowds, walk you through beautiful neighborhoods where the tour buses don’t go, share with you foods specific to the region you’re in and guide you to local eateries. You learn fascinating and funny stories behind the cast of characters that built the cities we travel to and can layer this new knowledge onto the buildings and the art they left behind. The Glam Italia books get you away from the tourist crowds, show you something different and fabulous and exciting, and will make you fall in love with Italy.
My Story: I have been traveling my entire life. My favorite country has always been Italy, so several years ago I started devoting all my travel time and dollars to exploring more and more of this beautiful country. One day a lady reached out to me on social media saying she had always wanted to go to Italy but her husband didn’t like to travel. She didn’t want to be on a big bus tour or a cruise, instead she wanted to have the types of experiences she saw in my photos. Mornings drinking coffee in a beautiful piazza, long lunches in medieval hilltop towns, hours spent wandering in picturesque little villages, hot summer days swimming off the coast of Capri and afternoon glasses of wine with views stretching out across the vineyards of Tuscany. She said her husband had a great idea, why not pay me to take her on a trip to Italy? This became my first Glam Italia tour. When others saw the photos she was posting all over social media they too wanted an experience like this, so out of nowhere my boutique private tour business was born.
Over the years I found that people always asked the same questions about how to plan trips and what things to see in the various cities in Italy. They all had the same fears about building a trip of their own, all had the same stress points, and these were all issues that I not only knew the answers too, but also knew the simple way to get around. So I wrote Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy to address all of these concerns. It immediately became hugely successful. I have since published the best selling Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things To Do In Rome along with Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things To Do In Florence, and am working on the rest of the series at the moment. The goal is to have 11 books total. My Glam Italia books sell world wide.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
When I was growing up my mother was constantly playing Dennis Waitley’s Psychology of Winning tapes. In those days no one was doing anything like that, but she got it and she instilled in me that I could do anything I want, be anything I want and that I had just one shot at life so I needed to make it fantastic. Later on I got into Tony Robbins then the Law of Attraction. I’m a firm believer that you have to fill your head with the voices that are moving things forward and allowing you endless possibilities. You don’t necessarily have to know the whole picture or exactly what it is that you want to do, but if you keep moving forward and have faith that the universe will put the right people and the right opportunities in front of you, they do tend to show up.
Facebook: Corinna Cooke Author
Other: Blog: https://corinnabsworld.com
Karianne Munstedt Photography Melissa and Keith Photographers