I think I have done it. The final round of edits on my book is officially turned in to my editor. It has been a crazy process, from getting the book deal to finding the time to write. For those of you that have been along for the whole ride, I want to answer some of your questions. My team and I put out the call on social media and you guys responded with a bunch of great questions.
In this podcast episode, I go through all of these questions and give you the answers that will hopefully result in me reading your bestselling book this time next year. I want to demystify the publishing process using some of my own experiences, from getting into the right mindset to making the connections that will take you through this process successfully. I cover the process from A to B, using your questions to lead the way.
If you have been wanting to write your own book about something you are passionate about, this is a great time to get started. Use your own genius and get ready to put the work in to take it all the way. Because if you want it, trust me, you can have it.
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What You'll Learn from this Episode:
- How to choose the ONE topic you want to write about.
- How to get into the right mindset and rid yourself of imposter syndrome.
- The best ways to start writing a book and stay focused throughout the process.
- How to write a persuasive book proposal that shows you are the only one that should write this book.
- Why forming connections is essential for success and how to do exactly that.
- What to do to find the right publisher for your journey.
- How to snag some amazing bonuses with the preorder of my book.
Listen to the Full Episode:
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I think I've done it. I think I've finally turned in my final round of edits of my first book, We Should All Be Millionaires, to my editor. This is really happening y’all. If you're new here, my book will be released later this spring. But you can pre-order it right now at weshouldallbemillionaires.com and snag some amazing bonuses. And I'll share more on that later.
If you've been a listener for a while you've been with me for this whole process. From getting the book deal to finding time to write and the whole crazy process in between. And since you've been with me for this journey, I wanted to make sure I answered your questions so next year I can buy your bestselling book. My team, and I put out the call on social media, and you asked some fantastic questions about writing, publishing, and marketing a book. And so I am going to dig into it right now and answer all of your questions. Let's do it.
Welcome to the Hello Seven Podcast. I'm your host, Rachel Rodgers, wife, mother of four children, a lover of Beyoncé, coffee drinker, and afro-wearer, and I just happen to be the CEO of a seven-figure business. I am on a mission to help every woman I meet become a millionaire. If you want to make more money, you are in the right place. Let's get it going.
You all have sent in 10 questions about the publishing process and I am going to answer them for you right now, right here, on the podcast. I want to spread my genius. Now that I've been through this experience, I want to share with you and demystify the publishing process. Because I know for me, I had no idea what to expect. I did not know how this process worked. And it wasn't until I was going through it that I started to see how all the pieces line up. How this actually works.
And of course, how it worked for me is not necessarily how it will work for you. But I do want to share some of my experiences and my story. And some of this information that I'll be sharing is kind of data gathered from other friends of mine who are published authors. So let us dive right in y'all.
Okay, so the first question is, how to choose the one topic you would like to write about? This is a great question. And obviously this is where the book process starts, right? Once you decide you want to write a book the next question is, what do you want to write it about? And I think like many of us, right, I always knew I wanted to be a published author. Even as a child, I had dreams of having a book in Barnes and Noble. And that was always clear to me.
However, I didn't know necessarily what I wanted to write about. I actually got approached by Wiley, which is a publishing company, years ago after I published my digital product, Small Business Bodyguard back in 2013. And they wanted to turn Small Business Bodyguard into a published book. And I said, no. Because first of all, I was making a lot more money from Small Business bodyguard as a digital product, rather than as a book. And it's just that's not what I wanted to be known for. Right?
When you write a book on something, it's something that you are saying, “I want to be known for this. I want to talk about this for the next several years, right? I want to speak about this on stages, I want to work with clients on this. This is something that I'm passionate about, I want to be talking to the media about this.” Right? Like you want to write a book about something that you want to be your calling card, right? Something that you want to be known for.
There was another time where I worked with an editor, he was actually a legal client of mine. And we had some conversations about me publishing a book, and he had some early… You know, we worked together a little bit to start to develop what my book would be about. And what he wanted me to write about was being a side hustler, right? Like having a side hustle, having a side business.
And I started to put together the outline and the book proposal, and I just couldn't get momentum going. And the reason was, I discovered when I was finally ready to admit it to myself, is that I don't want to be known as a side hustle lady, right? Like, there's nothing wrong with side hustles. I think side hustles are amazing. It's definitely something that I talk about and teach about. But it is not my thing. It is not my main thing. And it's not the thing that I want to talk about for years and years. And it's not the thing that I want to be known for.
When you put a book out into the world it is going to be spread far and wide, hopefully, right? There are going to be people in other countries, and all over the world, and who have completely different lifestyles and life experiences that are going to read this book for years. Like they will discover in their library five years after you write it. And do you want to be known for that thing? So side hustles wasn't it for me.
And, you know, what my thing has been, and what I have been passionate about for the last decade is money. Is women making money, a lot more of it. Particularly women entrepreneurs, and particularly when it comes to business as well, I want to see women have a lot more economic power. And so that is what I'm excited to write about. That is my big idea. That's what I want to share with the world. And that's what I want to talk about for years to come and I feel passionate about. And that I do every day in my business, right? Like, this is the work that I'm doing every day. And so it just made sense.
So all of that to say, a lot of times you're going to entertain different topics for your book, but maybe your topic will find you over time. And I think if you don't know what that topic is, one of the best things that you could do is be working with clients, be out in the world working with people. And that work is going to inspire you and start to shape your ideas and start to show you how you can add value to other people's lives. And that will start to point you to what that book idea is, right?
And if you have several book ideas, you know, for my second book, I have several book ideas already. And I've talked to my agent about them. And out of the two ideas there's one idea that I think is super fun, that I'm excited about, that I think is a great idea, that I think is going to add a lot of value to people's lives. And then there's another idea that I think is a big, powerful, impactful book that will potentially change the world, right? And so I'm more excited about the big idea book, even though the other book idea is great. And I love it, and I would be excited to write it. The big idea is the one that's really moving me and the one that gets the potential of that, right?
And so that's what you have to see. Really check in with yourself and see what you're drawn to. Because you have to live with this book for a very long time. You have to write the book proposal, you have to pitch it to all the people. Then you actually have to, after you get a book deal, you have to actually write the book itself. Then you have to edit the book 50 more million times than you will want to, right? Then you need to record the audio version of the book. And then you're going to do umpteen media interviews about the book, right? And you're going to be talking about the book for years to come.
So it might as well be something that you absolutely love to talk about. That you absolutely love to write about. That you can't wait to share with the world, right? So I think your one topic is the one that you have passion for. And the one that you have passion for is naturally going to be the one that sells the best, in my opinion. I think when you are sold, and when you are moved by your idea, the likelihood that other people will be moved by it is high.
So I would go with the topic that you feel passionate about. And if you're like, “I know I want to write a book someday, I have no idea what about.” Cool, that's fine. That book idea will find you, there is no rush. I am almost 11 years into my entrepreneurial journey and just now coming out with my first book, right? I hit the 10-year mark in entrepreneurship September 1st, 2020. And so I've been very successful over the last decade without having a book. So there's no rush, take your time.
I will say too, a book will take you away from building your business. And so it's my personal advice that you should grow your business and focus on getting that to seven figures and then write a book. That's what I think.
I have also seen clients or friends of mine write books because they were pitched by a publisher or someone suggested to them that they write a book. And so they wrote it. And then they didn't really market it, they didn't really push it. They didn't really sell it because it wasn't something, they were super proud of. It wasn't something they were super passionate about.
They kind of just did it because they had the opportunity and went through the motions. And then, you know, the book didn't do as well as it could have had they felt really passionate about it. So I say go with the topic that you really like can't not write about, right? Can't not talk about, that's the book for you, in my opinion.
Okay, question number two, what is the mindset needed for writing a book? And this person is saying, “I'm feeling like I don't know enough yet to write a book.” Here's the deal, all of us feel that way. I have experienced imposter syndrome throughout this entire book process. And, you know, you are writing for a long time, you are doing a lot of work on the book before those ideas get shared on a wider stage, right? You might share them with your editor, which really matters. You might share them with a couple of friends, you know, who can give you feedback. But it's not till you really get it out there in the world.
And one of the things that's happened recently is we recently released the first chapter of the book for those who are listeners of this podcast. And starting to get emails from people who are like, “Wow, I just read the first chapter. Here's the moves I'm about to make. I'm so fired up. I feel seen, I feel empowered, I feel excited.” Just, you know, people sharing their stories with me and how they feel like, you know, if they can see someone who looks like me who's had a similar experience like I have being successful, then they can be successful too.
And so starting to get that feedback, just now only recently, has been epic, and amazing, and moving, and I've cried. So all that to say, it's a long time before you get there. So I do think that writing a book is a growth process, right? You are going to grow as a leader. You are going to grow as an expert, as a professional. Because you're going to have to be consistent, you're going to have to show up, you're going to have to overcome that negative voice that tells you you're not good enough, you don't know enough. And so I really appreciate the fact that the book writing process is a process for growth, like really personal growth.
And in terms of mindset, I think what it is, is that you just need to get yourself into a space, well, first of all, it's about choosing the right topic, as we talked about, right? If you've chosen the right topic, it's probably something that you have a lot to say about.
And so here's the advice that I heard from a novelist who's a bestselling author. And what she said was, “Write like nobody is ever going to read it.” Right? Write what you feel. Write what you just feel pouring out of yourself and write that and put it out there. And pretend to yourself that no one will ever read it. Because it's possible, right? Like you can write things and never share them. So you don't have to share what you write, you can always edit yourself later. But just write like no one else is ever going to read it.
And there's a freedom in that. And I practiced that a ton as I was writing this book. And it prevented me from filtering myself and filtering what I really wanted to say and stifling my true voice. Because voice, and then the content itself, and the stories, that's what makes a book powerful and you don't want to edit yourself as you go. So just allow yourself to be free. I like to set myself up so that I feel like I'm at a fabulous coffee shop. I have a great background music playlist. And I've got coffee going, and I've lit a candle, and I'm cozy, and I've got a blankie. And I just find the perfect spot and I sit there with my laptop and I write.
And, you know, a lot of people talk about writing as if it's torture, and I get that. And I think there are times where you feel like you have to hit that deadline when you start to feel the pressure. But I think when you can get yourself into your zone, when you can drop into your zone, it's fun. It's really enjoyable. It's empowering and exciting. So I don't think that writing has to be painful. And I think, you know, in terms of mindset you will grow as you go.
The other thing I will say is I want you to think about the people in the world that you have seen who have written bestselling books, right? Some of the people who have written bestselling books are not necessarily impressive people. And I know that's not a nice thing to say.
But this helped me a lot when I was studying for the bar. There were people who would come into the court, I was a law clerk at the time working for my judge. And there were lawyers who would come into the court and they never had it together. And they didn't make the best argument. And they didn't seem like great lawyers, frankly. Maybe they were really meant to be doing something else. And yet they passed the bar, right? And so I would tell myself that and that would help me to recognize that I could pass the bar too.
I think it's the same with a book, I want you to think about some of the people out there who have written books and recognize that you have just as much skill if not more. Just as much voice if not more. Just as many powerful and impactful stories if not more, right? And the world needs more authors who are Black women, who are people of color, who are non-binary, who are women, right?
And so you, if you’re a listener to this podcast, probably have some things in your identity and in your experience that the world needs to hear more about, because so many of our books have been written by white men. And so just know that you are enough, that the world is waiting for your book, that you have something powerful to contribute And the more you lean on your voice, your experience, your expertise, your personal genius, that's what's going to be powerful about the book.
There's no external thing, there's no external thing that's going to tell you how to write a really great book. It's going to all come from within. And it's all based on your uniqueness, right? So the more you can go internal, and really just tap into your own genius and ideas, the more powerful this book is going to be. Try not to be influenced by what everybody else has done. Do your own thing and that's what's going to make your book great. Okay? So hopefully that answered that question.
Okay, so the next question is, what's the best way to start writing a book if you want to? Should you have an outline, or should you just get to it and start writing? I'm sure people have differing methods for this.
I'm a very linear thinker. I'm a very analytical person and so I like an outline. I need to see sort of the visual, I need to sort of map out the flow and know where we're going, and then I can start to get us there, you know? It's almost like I feel more free to write whatever I want if I know I have an outline that can take me back to the path, right? So I can meander off the path as long as I know I can get back to the path if I get lost, right? And so I think that's what an outline does for you. And so I would outline it.
And if you want to have a published book, you know, if you want to be published by a traditional publisher, then you are going to need an outline, right? It's required, and it's part of your book proposal. So, I think an outline is a great place to start.
One of the first things that I actually did, before I even started working on the book proposal is I just opened a Google doc and started jotting down ideas. Chapter ideas, stories I want to tell, experiences that I've had, pieces of advice that I want to give. I just started putting it together into a document. And that turned into like a three-page sort of messy document that eventually I culled down into like a one-page explanation of the book.
And once I did that, I'll tell you more about the process from there. But from there, you know, my outline was born from that one pager, right? And I played with it, I wrote down an outline and then there were chapters that got added after the fact, there were chapters that got cut, right? And that's a normal part of the process.
But writing a book is messy. And you really got to go with how do you get projects done? How do you like to work? And just use that same process. If you're a very visual person, and you like to have like, you know, a bunch of post it notes and stick them on the floor, or stick them on the wall and start rearranging things? You can do that too if that feels good to you.
I think you want to think about how do you go about tackling big projects? What's your natural inclination for getting big projects done? And then use that same strategy to start tackling your book.
Okay, question number four. How to stay focused when you are in the book writing process? Okay, so I did actually a whole podcast episode on how to stay focused. So you should definitely go check that out.
But when you're writing a book, I actually like to have accountability. I think the accountability is key. I mean, that's one of the benefits of having a traditional publisher is that you have a deadline that you need to meet. And so that was built in accountability there because there's an editor who's going to check in with you and say, “Where are you at with the book? Can we see something? Are you making progress? What's going on?”
So again, even when it comes to staying focused, I like to think about how I like to tackle projects in general. And I like batching. I like to get things done. I'm a quick and dirty, like let's get in there, let's get her done and let's move on. Right? On the Kolbe I have, what is it? I think they call it a quick start. I also have activator as one of my top five strengths. So like I lose interest and get bored if something is going on for too long. And knowing this about myself, that is why I tackled my book writing the way that I did.
And the way that I did it is I went on a book writing retreat. So I flew to Hawaii, I went to see my friend Alexandra Franzen, who is a writing coach, and spent the week in Hawaii. This was pre-Covid, this was literally two weeks before Covid started to develop, or at least before we really knew about it. In February of 2020 is when I went to Hawaii for a week and I wrote the first half of my book in Hawaii.
And so I batched it, right? Because I knew that that's how I get things done. It’s like I get in there, I make a lot of progress, and then I just give it a rest, right? So I went to Hawaii, I wrote the first half of the book, came home and putzed around for a couple more weeks and probably didn't write anything for a few weeks.
Then realized, “Hey, I need to keep up this momentum so that I can get the second half of the book done.” And so I hired Alex to essentially babysit me every Wednesday. And I would write every Wednesday and on Fridays as well. And so, you know, we would talk about what I was going to write that day. I would go write it, and then I would hand it to her. And she would give me feedback, right? And so that was the process that I used so that I was making bits of progress week after week after week, right?
And so I wrote a couple more chapters like that. And then it was getting really close to time for this book to get in front of my publisher. And so I had to finish. I probably had three, maybe even four chapters left, and I was like, “Oh, getting this to the finish line, this is going to get hard.”
And you start to lose momentum, right? Because I'm also running a business, I've got kids, I’ve got a lot going on. I’m buying a ranch, doing all the things while also trying to get this book done.
And so I did another essentially writing retreat, and I booked an Airbnb super close to my house. And I didn't sleep there at night, I would go home every night. But I went there during the day and I'd be there from like nine in the morning until like 6pm for a week. And I just blocked the week, took a week away from work, and focused on getting those last four chapters done. And I got them done.
And then I delivered it all to my editor, she edited for me. And then I kept that same cadence up, right? So when I had big edits due, I'd go lock myself in a hotel room for a weekend. I would get all my edits done, then I'd go home, deliver it to my publisher, and take a break from the book for a couple of weeks. And then I'd have another round of edits, go back to the hotel for two days.
So this is how I work. And this is how I stayed focused. That might not work for you. Maybe you really enjoy, like my friend Susan Hyatt has talked about her book writing process. And what she does is she would write for half an hour every morning. So it'd be like the first thing she did every day as part of her workday. And she'd be like, “I have to write for at least 30 minutes every single day.” And that's how she started to get momentum and started to get chapters done.
And so there are a lot of different ways to go about it. That was my process for staying focused. But I think accountability is key. If you have someone to help hold you accountable, you're more likely to make progress.
Okay, question number five. How to know which route of publishing is best? Self-publishing versus, you know, going to a traditional publisher. So there's no route that's best. It's basically what you want to do.
I have friends who have self-published their books. And Denise Duffield-Thomas is one of the people who has done that, Gala Darling also did this, where they published the book themselves, and put it out in the world and, you know, hired an editor and hired designers to help them lay out the book and really made it really high quality. And put it out into the world. Sold so many of the books that they were able to then parlay that into a traditionally published book. And that same book wound up getting, you know, edited by the publisher, and then another, you know, version or edition was published by a publisher.
So, self-publishing can be a route to a book deal, right? Some people have done that. But you can have it, you know, self-publishing also if you have a very large audience that you can sell your book to, for sure, get that book out into the world and sell it, right? If you want to have a product that is low cost that really introduces people to your work, you can absolutely produce a book yourself and sell it yourself on your website, and to your mailing list, and to your audience, the same way you'd sell any other thing that you were putting out there.
So I think that that's great and there's nothing wrong with that. And especially, you know, if your goal is for it to be a marketing tool, for it to be an introduction to your work for people who might want to hire you, and you want to get that out into the world and you want to do it right away and don't want to wait. Because the traditional publishing process takes a very long time.
Like from book proposal to actually publishing the book was a solid two years. I think I got my book proposal done and delivered, I want to say it was May 2018, no, actually I think it was May 2019. So two years, right. And we're going to be in May 2021 before my book comes out, right? So from May 2019, I started working on the book proposal long before that. So probably it was an all told, from very start to like starting with that first Google Doc to published book is probably a three-year process. Which, you know, it takes a while. So if that sounds like hell to you, then self-publishing is a totally legit option that can work really well.
And then traditional publishing, right, there's a lot more gate keeping involved. But there's also a lot of street cred that can come with it because of the gate keeping, right? Because so few people get to traditionally publish a book. I think that's what causes that.
But there's also lots of negatives to that process. Like, the distribution is amazing, but you also have to answer to a publisher and editors. They may not market the book the way that you want. They may make you change the title or certain aspects of the book that you really don't want to. So you could lose a little bit of autonomy.
I actually didn't find that in the process. My editor did not do heavy editing of this book. She definitely gave me feedback and showed me places that I could improve. But I don't feel like she was taking a heavy hand to my voice or my style of writing. I was able to choose my book title. I was able to choose my book cover. So yeah, I mean, I felt that I did get a lot of autonomy in the publishing process. But yeah, I mean, some people find it incredibly frustrating. And it depends on if you wind up with a publisher that really works for you, and you have a great relationship with your editor and all of that.
So I don't think there is one route that is best. I think you just have to look at the pluses and minuses of both. The other thing, of course, too, is money, right? If you self-publish the book, then all of the proceeds are yours. Versus if you do a traditionally published book, it may go farther, you may get access to bigger distribution, but you're making cents, you know, for every book sold. I don't even know how much I make for each book sold but it's not a huge amount of money.
So a traditionally published book is not going to be a massive moneymaker. Most of the people see the money from a traditionally published book to be getting speaking gigs, getting clients, getting consulting opportunities, getting brand partnerships, right? It's really about the platform that a traditionally published book can give you that you can make a lot of money from on the back end.
So those are just some pluses and minuses. I don't think one is better than the other. I think it's just about choosing the one that's right for you based on the goals that you have for your book.
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Okay, question number six. How large of a platform do you need? And what influences advances? Is the 50k deal I have on my vision board reasonable? I think getting 50k for writing your first book is totally doable. And in fact, personally, I wouldn't take anything less than that. That's my personal opinion.
I have heard of advances that are 8k or advances that are 30k. And that happens. And sometimes for people, it's still worth it to do because the distribution and the platform that they get on the back end. And the money that they make on the back end of publishing that book is worth it. But me personally, I'm running a super successful business, if I'm going to take a lot of time away from my business, I want to be paid for it. Okay? And I want to be paid well. So I think 50k is completely reasonable as a book advance.
The other thing I would say too, is absolutely check out the hashtag publishing paid me, because there were lots of authors who were disclosing how much they got paid for their book, what kind of book they wrote, the platform that they had, whether they were a Black person, white, whatever. But it really was a place where a lot of transparency happened. Because the publishing world is very not transparent, right? Usually you have no idea how much other people are getting paid. You have no idea whether it's reasonable for you.
I wanted a six-figure book deal, and I definitely had people tell me that that was ambitious. And I'm like, “Well, yeah, welcome to my world. I'm an ambitious mofo.” You know? That's what I want. And that's what I'm going to go for. And let's see if we can get it. And we got it. So I think if you want something, you just got to go for it and be committed to it and be committed to making it happen.
Now, in terms of the question of platform, here's what I experienced. Everyone will make you feel like your platform is too small, no matter the size of your platform, they will be like, “Too small, too small, too small.” Right? And so that is not a reason to not shop around your book proposal and try to get a traditional book deal. Okay?
My platform, what was the size of it? I would probably say that I had, I don't know, let's say I had 30,000 people on my mailing list. I had like 10,000 people following me on Instagram. I had a Facebook group with, I don't know, probably 25,000 people in it. So, you know, I had a decent sized platform. And I didn't get a lot of press, I hadn't ever hired a publicist before that. I had done some media but not a ton, that was just organic, that naturally happened. I had done some speaking, but not a ton. And I definitely have some connected friends.
You know, some of my friends are published authors or super successful entrepreneurs that do have large platforms. And those are some of the folks who, you know, publishers know that if you are friends with a bunch of influencers, or a bunch of businesspeople who have larger platforms that some of those folks are going to help you promote your book, right? And so they think about that, and they consider that and that's part of the information that you put into your book proposal. Okay?
So your platform is not just who is on your mailing list, or who's following you on Instagram. But it's also who are you connected to, right? What are your spheres of influence where you can get your book out into the world through those communities and those spheres? So those are the things to think about when you think about platform. I absolutely do think it's worth putting a lot of effort into growing your mailing list, growing your following as you begin to approach the book writing process. I do think that the size of platform does influence your advance.
But something else that I think that influences your advance even more is the idea itself. If your book idea is something that has the potential to be a best seller that can be read, and experienced, and absorbed by, you know, thousands if not millions of people, right? If the target market for your book is large, that also is likely to, you know, create a larger advance. In my opinion, that was my experience.
I think the big idea that I was sharing in this book, and the broad appeal of this big idea did a lot to make that six-figure book deal possible. And I definitely had people tell me my platform was too small. So just know that that is typical. And yes, you do want to raise your platform. I think this is one of the benefits, right? If you are building a seven-figure business and you wait to write your book until you are further along in your business. Until you have a team and all of that, the chances that your audience has grown is significant. And so now you have more people to sell to. So that's one of the benefits of waiting.
However, if it's your dream to make it happen right away, then like go for it. I'm not telling you not to, I'm just saying this was my story and my experience. So hopefully, that is helpful.
Okay, number seven. How to explain that you're the right person to write a particular book on a topic you've studied extensively and are passionate about without having a degree on the topic or a huge audience yet?
Okay, so here's the deal, I mean, this was a big part of my book proposal. I really explained to people like, “I am the person to write this book and there's nobody else who can write this book but me.” Especially a book called We Should All Be Millionaires, that is about women gaining, you know, economic power and building wealth. That is a topic that white men have written about for a long time. I have not seen a black woman write about that topic. I have not seen a woman of color, or a person of color write about that topic, you know.
And so that was part of my selling point. I was like, “Hey, there's a large audience of people of color, of Black women, of entrepreneurs who are from marginalized communities who want to hear from someone who is also from a marginalized community. Who wants to hear from someone who grew up poor or low income? Right? Who wants to hear from someone who had to do it themselves and did not get help from family members or did not inherit money? Or did not have the advantages of, you know, white supremacy on their side, right, because they’re a white person.
And so that is what I used as a huge selling point for my book, and I think it killed. I think it impacted the publishers and my agent who read about it. And that's what made them excited to take me on as a client for my agent, and to give me a book deal for my publisher.
So I do think that you want to see your book proposal as a persuasive document where you are making the argument as to why you and only you are the right person to write this book, right? How does your personal experience, your personal stories, the expertise that you have, how does that all culminate together to make you the perfect person to share about this topic? So I would get real persuasive with it.
And also this whole degree thing, I have said this before but so many of the entrepreneurs that I have worked with, you know, mostly women always are looking for more letters to put after their name. I need another degree; I need another certification. And let me just get this one more license, and then I'll be worthy. I want you to let that shit go. It's bullshit. You don't need another degree. You don't need to even have studied extensively, right? Like, I mean, obviously, if you're writing on a topic that's nonfiction that you are writing as an expert, then yes, you should be an expert on the topic.
But I think we put so much more pressure on ourselves on what we have to know before we're worthy to write a book that men clearly do not do. Okay? So let's let that shit go and just persuade yourself, right? If you had to write down, what are the 10 reasons why I am the perfect person to write this book? And write that down and persuade yourself first. And then persuade your agent and your publisher with your book proposal. Okay?
All right, question number eight. How to find the right agent, editor, and publisher for you? How to position yourself to find an agent or a publisher.
Okay, so what I'm going to share here is my personal story. I started working on putting together my book plans and, you know, bringing together different ideas in a random Google Doc. And my friend, Emma Pattee, who has been on the podcast was helping me.
She's a copywriter. She's also a ghost writer, she's helped different authors write their book, right? And so she definitely knew more about the book world than me. And we were talking about it, we were having conversations. And she was helping me like sort of pull together this list and giving me ideas, and pointing out the areas of my work that she thinks would make a lot of sense in my book, right?
And then one of the things she told me is that, you know, she highly recommended Farnoosh Torabi’s event, Book to Brand. And Farnoosh is a friend of mine, she's also been on the podcast. She used to do an event called Book to Brand every year, sometimes twice a year. Where she really helped you understand how to get a book deal and put you in the same room as agents, and editors, and publicists, and all the people who help books happen.
And so those connections, you know, Emma pointing out that a couple of her friends had been to Farnoosh’s workshop and that they had gotten booked deals following that. So I was like, “Say no more.” So I actually sold a VIP day or two so that I could raise the money that I needed to go to the Book to Brand workshop because it was a $15,000 workshop, right? So I lined up a VIP day with a client to cover the cost of the trip and the expense.
And there I got connected with all of these people. And one of the people I got connected with is Meghan Stevenson. Who used to be an editor at Penguin, and is now a, what's the word I'm looking for? She's a writer that helps you to write your book proposal. Also she’ll ghost write books, and so she helps you to birth your book. And so I met Meghan there, we got connected, we talked, and I decided to hire her to help me write my book proposal. And so, you know, she basically interviewed me, did the first draft of the book proposal, I edited, we pulled together, I had to write certain sections, and we pulled it all together.
And part of the benefit of working with Meghan is that she is also well connected, right? There were some editors that I met through Farnoosh’s Book to Brand event. But there were also, you know, editors and agents that Meghan knew, because she was embedded in that world, right, in the publishing world. And so I worked with her to write my book proposal. And she introduced me to a variety of agents and we sent my book proposal out.
We created a deadline and we sent it out to a bunch of agents. I had a couple of agents respond and want calls with me and be interested in the book. Talked to a few of them and decided on the agent that I have, which is Steve Troha at Folio. And so Steve became my agent. And then, you know, we worked on the book, we edited the book proposal together, and then he pitched it. And the first publisher he pitched it to, which is HarperCollins Leadership decided to buy it.
So that was the process for me. And so notice that one of the key things about this process is connection, right? If you can get connected with people in the publishing world, if you can get in front of those people. And sometimes you got to pay to play, right? Like that is the reality, is, you know, I spent money to go to a Farnoosh’s event to meet people and to connect and to learn more about how this process worked. And then I spent money to work with Meghan on my book proposal and get her expertise and advice on it. And then that's how I got introduced to my agent. And so that was all she wrote, it went from there.
So I think the connections are key. For sure you can do cold pitching and, you know, cold pitching to agents. And if you've got a great idea and it's something that they're excited about, you will catch the attention potentially of an agent. And then that agent can introduce you to different editors and can help you get your book sold.
So that's kind of how the process works. Cold pitching is totally doable. And it's something that you can totally try if you don't have the connections or if you don't have the resources to get yourself in the right room. But being connected is better.
This is exactly why the club exists. Because this is what happens, in the club there are so many people who are connected. In fact, Meghan Stevenson is in the club, right? And various other folks who are part of the publishing world. We have New York Times bestselling authors that are in the club. So this is the whole point to connect women with networks that are going to help you accomplish your goals and get your projects done and get your book or other things that you want to do out into the world. So, a little quick plug for the club.
Okay. Question number nine. How do I know which publisher to go with and where to find one?
Again, you need an agent. I highly recommend that you hire an agent. I would not approach publishers without an agent. If you do, you will potentially get a book deal, but it may not be a good one. The agent’s job is to almost act like your lawyer, right, and to negotiate a really good deal for you. And they have the benefit of knowing the industry. They know what people are getting paid. They know what these publishers are willing to pay for certain types of books. And they can really guide you through the process and pitch your book and help you to get the best deal.
And the best deal is sometimes not the most money, right? Sometimes there's a publisher who's willing to pay more, but it's not the right publisher for you because of the way they want to position your book or just other things about who that publisher is. And so your agent can guide you and help you understand all of that knowledge. And help you get connected with a publisher that's going to be best for you and what your goals are and how you'd like to work. Okay?
The other thing that you can do is, there is a website called Publishers Marketplace. And you can become a member for $25 a month. And you can go on Publishers Marketplace and check out different literary agents, you can check out different book deals that are happening. Like one of the things you could do is go in there and look up different people's book deals. You could put my name in there and you'll see my book deal in there. And in there you will see which agents and which editors are working with which authors, right, and what kind of books are certain editors buying.
So you can really educate yourself about the industry and what kind of books are being bought and all of that on Publishers Marketplace. So I do recommend it. It's one of the things that I did to start to research things and just understand how it works a little bit more. And learn more about which agent would be good for me, and which publisher would be good for me.
Okay, final question y'all. How to create an aligned, inspiring, and strategic book launch plan, especially when you don't have a traditional publisher managing the process?
Okay. Here's the deal, an aligned, inspiring, and strategic book launch plan will be as varied as we all are, right? And it depends on what the book is and you know, who it's for, and how you like to work, how big your platform is, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, right?
So I want you to think about selling your book the same way you sell anything else. What works for you to sell your services in your business? What works for you to sell the products that you create? Whatever that strategy is, how can you translate that into selling your book as well? Okay?
So let me tell you some of the bits and pieces of our book marketing strategy. And sometimes I'm really doing my own thing and not doing what is considered traditional book marketing. And sometimes I'm departing from what other people suggest I should do for selling my book. And it, so far, has worked really well for me. We'll see how it all turns out in the end, right? But so far, it's been great.
So, again, going back to, how do I sell my services? Well, one of the things that I always do to sell my services or products over the years has been live events of some kind. Whether it's webinars, whether it's an in-person event, or you know, in Covid times a virtual event to promote the thing that I want to sell. And of course to teach as well. And so that is how I show up best. That is one of the best ways to utilize my natural skills to show people what I have to offer, right?
And so that's what I decided to do when I was marketing my book as well. And so we decided to do our event called PYLAM, Plan Your Year Like A Millionaire. And you can get the recordings from that event that we did in January on my website, weshouldallbemillionaires.com. So if you still want to get that you can.
And so what we did is we decided last year to plan that event, to put together an event that was complimentary to the content of the book to really take advantage of the top of the year when folks are planning. And to give people a little taste of some of the genius that is in the book before it comes out in May.
And so, you know, the tickets to that event were sold based on buying four books. So in order to come to that event, you had to buy four copies, or you had to pre-order I should say, four copies of my book. And so that's what we did. And we sold a lot of tickets, and therefore sold a lot of books. And because of that we were able to get a brand deal for the book that was huge, right? Because we had all of those really early, pre-order sales. So that really worked well for us.
The other things that we are doing is recruiting a street team. And we are asking folks to help us promote the book, and asking them to leave reviews, asking them to share the book with their audience. And in exchange, they're getting early access to the book content. So they're getting access to the galley of the book, and they get some other bonuses and prizes as well. So really utilizing our community, asking our community for help, asking them to help us promote the book. So that's one of the other things that we're doing.
We're also doing a lot of publicity and media that's helping us grow the audience and get in front of as many people as possible. We are doing a podcast tour; we're going to be on 50,000 podcasts over the next couple of months as we approach publication day.
We are also relying on other influencers and entrepreneurs. Friends and colleagues who have influence and have an audience and who are willing to partner with me in some way. Whether that's emailing their list or doing an Instagram Live with me, or having me on their podcast, or hosting an event together. And so that's one of the other things that we're doing as well.
So those are the different pieces. We also are doing some advertising as well. We're going to be doing some Facebook ads, we're doing a little bit of media buying to promote the book as well. So that is sort of the strategy that we're using to market the book. But again, I think that your book launch plan should be really focused on how you show up best and how you tend to market your services and products in general. So that is my recommendation there.
All right y'all, so lots of questions answered. I hope this helped to demystify the writing and publishing book process. And, yeah, I hope you were inspired and moved, and you know, feel like this is totally doable, because it is. I am not special. I mean, I am special, just the same way that we are all special. But I don't have a unique ability to get a book deal that you don't. I just have ambition and I'm willing to do the work. So you have to ask yourself that. If I want to write a book, am I willing to put that work in to make it happen?
And the work includes coming up with the idea, meeting the right people, growing your platform, right? Selling yourself, putting together the book proposal, writing the book itself, marketing it, all of it, right? So you got to just be willing to put that work in. And if you want it trust me, you can have it.
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