Episode 49:

Dr. Anthony Paustian was given a rare opportunity in life to create and design a technology-focused college campus from scratch. That was fifteen years ago. Since then the campus and its innovative advances in technology-based instruction have appeared on CNN, CNBC, Wired, USA Today, NPR and other national media and won numerous awards for leadership in innovation including being featured on the InfoWorld 100 List (#51) of the nation’s most innovative organizations.

In 2006, Anthony created the Celebrate! Innovation Exhibition; a new type of campus learning environment where students are surrounded by the stories of great innovators through larger-than-life visuals, technology-focused exhibits, and through an annual Celebrate! Innovation Week (ciWeek) where the people behind the stories come from all over the world to tell those stories firsthand. The Celebrate! Innovation Exhibition is currently on the Iowa Department of Tourism’s list of places to visit.

From his Air Force days on F-111s to building national brands to coaching a very talented group of educators, Anthony has developed a unique skill set that is quickly apparent in every aspect of his life as a leader, educator, entrepreneur, inventor, designer, author and speaker.

 

 

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Why Anthony decided to become an author and a coach
  • What keeps someone that wants to write a book from actually doing it
  • How to get past the thought that your book won’t be valuable enough
  • The process for getting a book from your head and into an actual book
  • How to turn your blog into a book
  • How to successfully proof your writing
  • Why you need to speak about the topics you write about
  • What the editing process is like once your book is in the hands of an editor
  • What you need to have for your book to appear in a library
  • Why you don’t need (or even necessarily want) your book to be on shelves at Barnes and Noble
  • The best way to sell your book
  • What kinds of e-books you should sell
  • First steps people can take right now to get going

 

The Golden Nugget:

“Read your book out loud to hear mistakes you don’t hear in your head.” – @anthonypaustian Click To Tweet

 

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Speaker 3:

If you’re going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn’t you get the benefits, too? Welcome to Build A Better Agency, where we show you how to build an agency that can scale and grow, with better clients, invested employees, and best of all, more money to the bottom line. Bringing his 25 plus years of expertise as both an agency owner and agency consultant to you, please welcome your host, Drew McLellan.

Drew McLellan:

Welcome back to another episode of Build A Better Agency. I am your host, Drew McLellan. Today I’m excited because we are going to talk about a topic that I discuss with many agency owners. Many of you hunger to be authors and to write a book. Today’s guest is going to talk to us about how he coaches and helps busy professionals produce a great book, so let me tell you a little bit about him.

15 years ago, Dr. Anthony Paustian had an opportunity in life. He was asked to create and design a technology focused college campus from scratch. Since then, the campus and its innovative advances in technology based instruction have appeared on CNN, CNBC, Wired, USA Today, NPR, and all kinds of other national media.

They have also won numerous awards for leadership and innovation, including being featured on The Info World 100 List of the nation’s most innovative organizations. In 2006, Tony created the Celebrate Innovation Exhibition, a new type of campus learning environment, where students are surrounded by stories of great innovators through larger than life visuals, technology focused exhibits, and through an annual Celebrate Innovation week, where people behind the stories come from all over the world to tell those stories first hand. This event is currently on the Iowa Department of Tourism’s list of places to visit, and is well known throughout the land.

From his Air Force days on F-111’s, to building national brands, to coaching a very talented group of educators, Tony has developed a unique skill set that is quickly apparent in every aspect of his life as a leader, educator, entrepreneur, inventor, designer, author, and speaker. He has written a number of books including Imagine!, Bridging the Gap, and his most recent book, Beware the Purple People Eaters: A Personal Look at Leadership.

On top of all of that, Tony has built a business around helping entrepreneurs become authors. That’s really where we are going to focus our time and attention today.

Tony, welcome to the podcast.

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

Thank you, Drew. I appreciate being here.

Drew McLellan:

What made you decide to shift? It sounds like you have plenty to do, so what made you decide that you wanted to add author coach to your list of accomplishments?

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

Let me tell you how this transpired. I have a number of books that were published by Simon & Schuster, which is a big, traditional publisher. The publishing model has changed a lot over the years. It’s kind of like the music industry, how that industry went away from the big music producers towards small, indie albums.

That’s how the publishing business is looking, as well. I had my books published through Simon & Schuster, although Simon & Schuster did a great job. The problem I had with Simon & Schuster was a lack of control. I had no control anymore. Once you sign over the copyright to your manuscript, you lose all control.

So, I wrote a book on creativity. It was the least creative cover I’ve ever seen in my life. It was boring. It didn’t inspire somebody to want to read it to be more creative. I had a predetermined page count that was created for the book that nobody told me about until after the fact, when I read the book and I’m like, “There’s big chunks of this missing.” So instead of working with me to get the page count to where it needed to be, they just started chopping stuff out of the manuscript.

The part that sent me over the edge was, I wanted to donate 50 copies to a charity fundraiser where I was speaking and I had to buy my own book, even though it was donated. So that sent me over the edge.

As a result of those experiences, I started to research the publishing industry at length. I spent probably a good 18 months reading everything I could get my hands on related to the industry. You know what they say. You’ve got to read 10, 12 books on any topic and you become somewhat of an expert on that topic.

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

I probably read about 30 books and materials in this area and I learned a lot about the industry.

So, I decided to build a company really around my next book. It was actually meant to be a publisher of my stuff, so I did that. And a side note, ironically enough, having full control of this book, I had far more success with this book. I’ve made more money on this book than I’ve made with all my other books printed through Simon & Schuster combined. It’s been a great experience.

Well, I never intended to move into the publisher mode for the world originally. But what happened over time was, people started saying to me, “Tell me about Bookpress.” So I’d tell them about Bookpress. These are usually young aspiring authors. They wanted to write a book, so I started working with them on a one-on-one basis, coaching them, helping them go from the concept to a final product. Next thing you know, we’ve got about 20 books into the can and we’ve got five more we’re working on currently.

It’s kind of become a business despite itself. I never intended to do this. I had no long-term business plan for this. It just happened and it’s growing fast. I realized, the more I got into this, that there were a lot of hungry people out there who wanted to write, but really had no idea where to start, where to go, how to do it, anything.

So basically, as a coach, I help an author literally go from Point A to Point B. It’s a huge difference between wanting to write a book and actually writing a book, to start with. I work with a lot of writers, or aspiring writers I should say, who have ideas and concepts, but they’re not sure where to go with them.

So, we literally go from concept to final product. I always promise all my authors that by the time we are done with this process, I promise them that they will be very, very proud of the end result and the book they actually hold in their hand.

We are a partnership publisher, meaning that we don’t [inaudible 00:06:45] the traditional model where we take the rights; we do everything; we pay you a measly 10% off wholesale price, which is diddly, and we take all control. We work with authors, hand-in-hand, side by side, literally babysitting the process, as well as helping the writer or aspiring author become a better writer.

Drew McLellan:

So, I can say from my own personal experience, having my first book published by a traditional publisher. Then after that, publishing the next couple books that I co-edited, it’s a very different process in terms of control, no doubt about that.

So as you’re working with authors, I’m just thinking in my head, clearly part of your innovation is, necessity is the mother of invention, right?

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

Oh, yeah.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. As you’re working with authors, and again, a lot of the listeners, I suspect, are the people who have said, “I want to write a book.” They may already have the idea for the book, or the book may be in some way aligned with the way they position their business or their agency. What do you believe is the biggest stumbling block for people? Because I think you’re right. I think there’s a huge difference between people who want to write a book and people who are actually authors. What’s the biggest stumbling block that keeps someone who wants to write a book from becoming an author?

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

Lack of focus and dedication, honestly. One thing I realized is, people have all these aspirations and dreams, but the reality is, we have to start doing it. This is where people get into the swimming part. They’re not disciplined about taking time, setting aside time, planning to write, going to a spot where they feel the most comfortable, the most energized, the most motivated, the most creative. Going there, unplugging, disconnecting from the world, and basically just start to put their thoughts on paper.

This is the biggest challenge to get most people past. Because they think they have to start writing like a Hemingway right out of the box, so they struggle over form and structure. It’s like, “No, no, no, no. Just start writing.” Just write. Whatever comes to mind, just start flowing on paper. It will start to flow, and then you go back and you edit it later. Once I get people down that road, and they actually can get past chapter one.

But I’ll tell you, even before that, just having a good outline is necessary. I’ll sit with people who have great ideas, concepts, a great shell for a book, but they’ve never put it in a structured form. They never sat down and said, “Hey, this is how this book’s going to look. These are the seven topics, 10 topics I want to cover.” These 10, seven topics, I’m going to break into these sub-topics, and start to put some flesh on the bones, and start to outline this book and what it’s going to look like.

I will tell you, if you have a very well thought through outline of what you want to cover in the book, going back and filling in the blanks, just writing the pieces of it becomes a whole lot easier than just starting to think, “Okay, I’m writing this book,” and start writing.

Once you’ve got the pieces and the structure built into place, then you just pick a topic; a topic that you probably know a ton about. Then you start writing about that topic. Then you go back and you start editing the formation, all the structure related stuff later.

That’s the biggest challenge, people staring the process.

Drew McLellan:

Well, I think for a lot of authors, or for a lot of agency owners, one of the experiences I have is that the greatest thing about owning your business is that you’re not accountable to anyone. But the worst thing about owning your own business is, you’re not accountable to anyone.

I think that in an endeavor like this, that’s not mandatory, it really does help to be accountable to someone, to accomplish something, to get five pages written, or an outline done, or a chapter reviewed. Whatever it may be, it does help to have a coach in something like this that you want to do, but it is not mandatory to your business.

What agency owners spend their lives doing is running from fire, to fire, to fire. Well, the book is never going to be on fire.

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

I’ve been accused of being the world’s worst mother because I think I’m a real nag. One of the things that I have found, when people sign with me, I tell them right out of the box, “I’m going to hold you accountable and I’m going to nag you to death to get stuff to me on deadlines, so on, so forth.”

They don’t believe me. Sure enough, I start making the calls, sending the e-mails. They’ll try to avoid me a while at times, and then I’ll just keep nagging and harping on them. It does force the issue at times.

I will tell you, every author I’ve ever worked with to this day has been very appreciative of that fact. Even when they hated it during the process, they’ve whined and complained about it, and bellyached, and thought I was a real harp. They actually, when it was all said and done, realized that, had I not done that and held them accountable for it, they wouldn’t have done it.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. I have been called The Nag more than once myself, in my role as coach and consultant. So, I understand it.

I think that when done respectfully and a little bit of a sense of humor, but also, “I’m trying to help you be your best,” I think you’re right. It may not be welcomed the day of, but it’s probably welcomed the day after.

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

Drew McLellan:

Let me back up. Before we jumped online, or before we hit the record button, you and I were talking about the difference between writing a piece of crap versus a good book. In the authors you’ve worked with that, and I know you well enough to know that you would only end up with an end product that was of value.

How does someone get from a mediocre idea to an idea that is meaty enough and valuable enough that it belongs in a book? Without being so intimidated that they don’t have anything to say. Quite honestly, most of the agency owners that I know that want to write a book, it’s not that they’re so arrogant that they think their book is going to be the next Mona Lisa. It’s that they’re a little concerned that their book won’t be valuable enough.

So how does someone asses that? How do you move along that continuum?

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

The first thing I have to always ask authors is, “Why are you doing this? What is the purpose?”

If a person comes to me and says, “Because of arrogance, I think I’ve an idea for a national bestseller. I’m going to make millions on this and be famous.” I will tell them point blank that the odds of that are awesome to none. You could also become President of the United States, but according to the Book of Odds, that’s a one to a million shot. So, go for it, but the chances are, it’s not going to happen.

You’ve got to be realistic in your goals. So when people come to me and say, “Hey, listen. I need a book for this purpose.” For instance, in case of an agency, maybe they want their agency to be perceived as more credible, or to be perceived as an expert in what they do in a certain area, or specialty, or whatever the case might be. Or an author wants to do speaking, and in order to do speaking, they have to be perceived as a credible person. A book will give them that credibility, whatever the goals might be.

We will actually go through those goals first so we’re all on the same page in terms of knowing exactly what the outcome of this should be. That helps a lot because knowing the outcome helps then to define the project. Once we define the project, the reality is, there was a lot of steps along this way.

The first step with working with me is getting past me. I’ve got fantastic editors. I’ve got editors that, they write for the Harvard Business Review. They teach college composition, and creative writing, and all kinds of things. They’re fantastic people who do a fantastic job. They can make any mediocre writer sound absolutely wonderful.

But before we even get to that step, it’s got to get past me. In other words, I have to be able to read this thing and feel like it’s worthy of going to an editor. So, we will work back and forth for a long time. I had an author here recently who wrote a book that was targeted at 20-somethings to help them get past their 20s effectively. In other words, don’t waste that entire decade of your life putzing around like a lot of them do.

So, he wrote this book. Well, he started writing by just spewing stuff on paper, which is just fine. He tried to write edgy, thinking this is how a 20 year old talks, and so on and so forth. The reality is, that book, great content, terrible everything else.

So, I made him rewrite that thing with me. He and I went back and forth. We met at length. We talked about it. We went through a number of conversations to get to the point where the content and the worthiness of the material, I felt good enough giving it to an editor at that point.

So that book really became 180 degrees from the time it started to the time it ended. It’s a fantastic product now, but because we had to spend a lot of time structuring and defining, what is the purpose of this book? Who are we trying to reach, audience wise? What needs do they have that they haven’t met? How does your idea or how does your concept meet those needs?

Until we get to that point, the book goes nowhere. That helps to ensure that when the book is all said and done, and you have an end, you have a purpose for it, and it has a legitimate need out there that people will actually gravitate towards because it’s important for me, personally, that when an author has a final product, that, that product can be successful.

There’s a lot that the author has to do, yet. Are you a marketing person? Your audience is all marketing people and [inaudible 00:16:43] people. They understand that having a product is step one. You have to do something with it ultimately after that, and you have to get it out in the hand of the consumer. That’s a whole different discussion after that.

Drew McLellan:

So, in terms of, and you’re right that marketing is a whole different ball of wax. In theory, agency owners are uniquely positioned to do that well because they have all the resources, and the skills, and the knowledge that most authors don’t have. I will say from personal experience what happens is, often, that also gets lost in the shuffle of the fires. But in theory, they should be great at it, no doubt.

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

In theory. But I’ll tell you, it’s kind of like anything else. It’s kind of like healthcare. I know tons of healthcare professionals who are absolutely horrible when it comes to their own health. I know people who are great marketers, who just can’t market themselves worth crap because they’re so focused on the external that they have a tough time gravitating and putting it onto themselves.

Drew McLellan:

Yup. I think it’s an ongoing challenge for a lot of professionals.

Let’s talk about the practical process. If somebody who’s listening to us is gung ho that 2016 is the year that they’re going to write a book. Walk me through the process that, and give me step by step, and then I’m sure I’ll have questions about each step. So, walk me through the process of actually getting a book from my brain to having it printed and ready to share with family and friends, and sell, or use as a giveaway when I speak, or whatever my purpose for having the book is.

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

If you want to write a book on your own, without a whole lot of guidance, so to speak, or hand holding, here’s how I would go about it. Like I said before, you’ve got to flesh that concept out. Having an idea for a book, “I want to write a book on this,” is one thing. But that overreaching topic makes it very, very hard to actually write then because it’s too big.

As a strategy for instance, the [inaudible 00:18:50] they do is, when I want to write a book, I force myself to write on a deadline. In order to do that, I frequently will take my book concept; let’s say I want to write a book on personal leadership, personal [inaudible 00:19:03].

I will then basically stretch out that book concept into an outline. Whereas I’ll say, to create personal leadership requires understanding of this, this, this, this, and this. I’ll create that basic outline, which becomes a chapter outline in a way. Then I’ll break those sub-topics into even further topics. I’ll flesh it out. It should be fine.

The tool I use, the strategy I used to actually write is, I do my blogging around my book writing. So if I want to write a book on a topic, I will then break it out into, literally, I’m going to write 52 blogs, one each week, I’m going to break my outline into 52 pieces. I’m going to schedule that out over the course of, say a year or whatever. I’m going to say, “I’m going to write this book this next year.” Chapter one, or subsection one, or whatever, on this topic. This is my blog topic for this week. I will only write about that topic, that’s it. I’m going to focus on that one topic. I will do this each week for a period of time, until it’s obviously done.

But over the course of doing this, you’re actually building your book one piece at a time.

Drew McLellan:

So that’s a great point that I think a lot of people don’t think about is, you just talked about writing a book over the course of a year, in tiny, little weekly increments. I think a lot of people, one of the reasons why they talk about writing a book but they never actually do it is because it’s a big chunk of time and task. They don’t give themselves permission to do it over that long of a period of time.

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

Oh, yeah. But the ideal part of the strategy is, what works for me is that I then take this blog, and when I put it out there, I ask for feedback.

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

So you get immediate feedback from people saying, “I liked this. I didn’t like this. This concept, I struggled with.”

Drew McLellan:

Or they tell you stories that you could incorporate into the book.

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

Absolutely. But people are afraid to use this approach because they feel like, “I’m giving away everything in the blog. Why would they buy a book?”

Well, you have to understand and most people don’t. Most people assume that if you have a blog, A, everybody reads that blog; B-

Drew McLellan:

Wouldn’t that be awesome?

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

Right. B, they’re going to read it on a consistent basis every week, which they won’t. You get some will, some won’t. Some will read it once a month or whatever the case might be. Even if they have read every blog that you’ve written, once you repackage all those into a book, it’s a whole different reading experience then.

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

They’ll still enjoy it the second time around.

So, it’s okay to give it away. It’s okay to get feedback immediately from your writing, so you can get inspired to keep writing and keep doing this. But the biggest thing to this is, by putting it in blog form, if you commit to writing a blog, a simple blog, I’m saying maybe 800,000 words, tops, which is not a ton of writing.

If you can commit doing that on a weekly basis, first, your book will grow and prosper over the course of that time period. But it forces you to write on a deadline. This is the key is, I know, for instance, I’ve got a blog due every week at a certain time. So, I have to literally schedule time out of my life, say, “Okay, this is my writing time,” and I will block off my calendar. I will write just during that time.

That’s the discipline that’s required to do this is, unless you can commit to writing time, and not have to deal with fires, and all the different stuff that comes up in your life, and disconnect, it’s never going to get done. That’s true of anything out there. You’ve got to schedule time for it. That, to me, is a huge key in writing anything; blog, or regardless of what it is; is actually block off enough time that you can actually sit, and relax, and write without distraction on those topics.

But for me, the easiest way to start a process, like I said, is break it up into a very detailed, comprehensive outline, and just start to write on little pieces over time.

Drew McLellan:

Okay. So, let’s assume that somebody has followed that advice and they have blogged out their book over the course of a year or a year and a half. What’s the step of knitting all of those disparate pieces together to put a cohesive book together?

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

The easiest way to start with that is to get all the blogs, put them together in the proper order as per your outline in one document. Then start to read it. You’ll see where the massive transition problems are. You’ll see where, I’m actually now missing a piece in between this step and this step, or this section and this section, because it didn’t flow right. I can see myself jumping ahead.

You start to see it holistically by putting it all together in one document. When you start doing that, then you basically pull it out a section at a time. Instead of a sub-section of blogging time, you’re pulling out a chapter at a time. You’re putting it all together. You’re reading it.

I have found personally, and this sounds very almost juvenile like, but I have found when you take something you have written, and you sit there and you read it out loud to yourself versus just reading it with your mouth closed, but really read it out loud to yourself, you will hear a lot of things that you probably wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.

Drew McLellan:

That’s an old agency proofreading trick, too, that there’s something magical about hearing the words out loud. I think you’re right.

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

Out loud, yup. So, you read it out loud. You sit there and make notes on paper. I will suggest this, too. Print the thing off. Read it out loud. Write on paper.

There’s nothing wrong with writing on a laptop, but there’s something magical about having it on paper, in your hand when you’re reading it out loud. You can actually make the notes on the paper.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah.

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

You can make it faster that way, as you’re reading through it. You can make changes quicker. Then you go back and make them on the computer. Then you print it off again, and you read out loud again. You keep doing this over, and over, and over again. You’ll find this thing will magically start to flow and come together much better than it would otherwise.

Now, I understand this is all pre-editing, but this will help you feel comfortable about giving it to somebody at this point because you’ve read it so many times, out loud, on paper, that you’ll start to see the piece start to stitch itself together. After you finish in one chapter, you pick up the next group of blogs that all go together, and you start the process all over again.

Drew McLellan:

I think, too, I think you also notice where things that you thought were in order are actually out of order, or they need some context, or a story, or “Boy, this is getting a little dry. I need to pep this up a little bit.”

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

Drew, you mentioned storytelling. I would suggest to any author, “I don’t care what topic you’re writing about.” I would suggest that, that topic be presented in 80% stories, if not more. People gravitate towards stories. If you’ve got stories, experiences, that makes a much better read for people.

Drew McLellan:

When you think about how we are taught in school, with the exception of maybe a math, most of the courses that we took, especially in grade and high school, were really conveyed to us in stories; whether it was history or social studies, it was stories about people, even English. I think we’re hardwired to learn from stories, so I agree with you. Plus I think it allows people to connect to the concepts you’re writing about because they can connect to the people in the stories.

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

Another strategy I might suggest, too. This is [inaudible 00:26:31] is, commit yourself to speaking about a topic in some location before you’ve even written about it. I say this because I have found that, I do a number of keynote addresses all around the country. If I’m going to do a keynote on a topic that I maybe have not written on yet, I will literally write all my notes out for this presentation.

You find that by doing all the preparation for a presentation, you literally do all the preparation for writing a chapter, or a piece on that topic. It forces you to engage yourself so much in that topic that, by the time you’ve written your speaking outline or your presentation outline, you’ve actually outlined that piece you’re going to write, too. It’s a lot easier to write it once you talk about it, as well.

So they kind of work hand in hand. Commit yourself to actually agree to go speak some place, or do some conference, or whatever. Put yourself out there and say, “Okay, I’m going to suggest that I speak at this thing,” or, “I’m going to volunteer my time to speak at this event on this topic,” even before you’re prepared for it. That forces you into preparing for it, once you’re committed to having to speak on it.

Drew McLellan:

I think the other thing it does, much like the blog posts is, you get instant reaction to the different content. You can see what resonates with your audience and what doesn’t.

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

Absolutely.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. Okay. I have done my self editing. I believe, no matter how many rounds that is, I believe that my book is good. I’m happy with it. I’m proud of it. At that point, I’m assuming I need to have someone else read and edit the book. Yes?

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

Oh, yeah. At this point, once we get to that point, it does get in the hands of the editor. The way that the editing process works for us, by the time a book gets in the hands of the actual editor, I feel good as a coach and guiding this process, that the book is now worthy of editing.

Once it gets to the hands of the editor, the way this process works is as follows. The editor will take the book. The editor will go through the book with a fine toothed comb, obviously. They’ll fix any grammatical problems that even exist, but any ideas they have, “This section’s okay. Here’s a different way of writing it,” for example. “Perhaps think about it this way,” or-

Drew McLellan:

Boy, it takes you a while to get to your point here, that sort of thing.

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

Right, right. Or, “I’m not really sure what you meant by this. I’m a little confused by this.” Or, “Perhaps this section would be better located over here because it makes more sense over here.” My editors are brutally honest. They basically will mark this document up, big time, in Word, using Markup, pack tons of notes, tons of ideas and things that the author has to think about.

After it’s gone through that process, that whole thing goes back to the author again. The author then has to take to heart all those notes, all those ideas, all those thoughts. But again, in my world, the author has total control. I’m not going to dictate, “And you have to do this,” because it’s still yours. You have to feel like it’s yours all the way to the bitter end on this.

So, the author makes the decision what they’re going to accept, what they’re not going accept, what they’re going to change, not going to change, or agree, “That is a better way of saying that.” Because a lot of times, you can say the same thing 16 different ways. Although all 16 are correct, there’s always a better way of saying it.

So, the editor helps them with all that. The author makes their own changes to their manuscript, however long that takes, and then it goes back to the editor again. The editor starts from scratch, all over again, and does the same exact thing; fixes any minor errors, makes all the notes, all the ideas; throws all that stuff back to the author again, and then it goes back to the author again.

This process continues. I’ve found that usually twice is enough, but sometimes it takes three or four times, but not very often. Usually by the time the editor gets it, it’s good enough where two complete full edits will get you there. But then I find that, okay, even if it’s gone through the editing phase and the editor’s done, it’s like anything else. When you stare at something long enough, and you are so deeply invested in it mentally, you’re not going to see things that are there and you’re going to see things that aren’t there.

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

That’s true of the editors. The same editor’s looking at this book numerous times. By that point, they’re not seeing everything, either. Once that is completely done and the book is formatted for print, it goes in the hands of at least six, usually up to 10, 12 proofers. These proofers that I use are intelligent people.

Depending upon the context, if it’s a book on leadership, I’ll put the book in the hands of a lot of intelligent, educated business leaders, managers. If it’s a children’s book, I’ll put it in the hands of schoolteachers and all kinds of people, and have them read the book. Just read it and say, “If you see something that’s not correct, please make note of that for me.”

You’d be shocked. I’ll put this manuscript, this book, form of a book now in the hands of a dozen people. I’m getting a dozen different views on this book that are all different. In other words, people will see things that nobody else saw. Nobody’s way of seeing this book is the same, so I’ll get 12 different versions of proofing that’s like, “Wow. I would have never picked this stuff up when I saw it,” because you have all these fresh eyes on it.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah.

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

Having said that, the reason why I say this is, even going through all of that, it is very, very, very difficult for a book when it comes out the first time to be error free. National bestsellers through major publishers still have errors.

That’s just, you have to understand that, that’s just part of the process. My wife is a hawk when it comes to this stuff. She’s one of my proofers every time I do a book because I know she’ll find most of the errors in the book. She reads constantly, and she reads bestsellers that have sold millions of copies [inaudible 00:32:32] bestseller. She’ll read this and say, “Read this sentence for me,” and it’s wrong. It’s missing a word, or it’s got two different words repeated; major errors.

You think, “Wow, that’s a major book.” It happens.

Drew McLellan:

Still human beings.

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

Still human beings. When we [inaudible 00:32:52] you’re not going to see everything. So, you have to understand going in, it won’t necessarily be perfect, but no book is.

So, to go on from that, basically once we get through all that, and the book is in design, and cover, and laid out, and everything else, it’s all signed off, ready to go, then it actually goes to press at that point.

Drew McLellan:

Even though the listeners are expert marketers and they help other businesses grow, and sell, and do all the things that agencies do, I suspect the listeners are a little fuzzy about what it actually takes to promote a book.

My assumption is, and I know for me personally, it also depends on why you wrote the book in the first place. If you’re writing the book as a credibility proof point so you can kick off your speaking tour, that’s one thing. If you wrote it to be a thought leader in your space to attract clients, that’s another thing. If you wrote it because you want people to hear the story or to learn, that’s a different thing.

But are there some book marketing basics that are true regardless of what your end goal is?

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

Absolutely. Before I get into that, I’m going to backtrack one step. We’ve got a major thing in this whole process. That is, there are a lot of little things about books that the average person wouldn’t know. This is where the research came into play.

For instance, you’ve got to have a catalog and publication data block inside the book in order for the librarian to re-shelf this thing. So, if you want your book to actually appear in a library someplace, or be shelved in the bookcase in the library someplace, you’ve got to have this block. Well, this block requires a librarian to view the block.

We have librarians [inaudible 00:34:37] for us. This is a massively important step in any book because even though there are a lot of books out there that don’t have this. But again, you want your book to be really biddable in a lot of different contexts. Libraries, while marketing effective, buy a ton of books in this country.

They all have annual budgets. They all buy books for a massive library, conferences, and book expos for librarians. This is how they get their archives, or their collections current and up to date is, they go and buy these books at these shows. But if you want your book to actually be in a library; be it a university library, school library, public library, whatever the case may be; you’ve got to have this block.

That block also requires the Library of Congress control number aspect to it, as well as the ISB number, which is also part of the book process as well.

Well, marketing perspective, I will tell you that books are in a funny space right now. Most recently, I get the updated sales breakdowns of what books are being sold, for the most part. Right now, about six out of 10 of every book out there are being sold through Amazon.

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

Of course, being at Amazon [inaudible 00:35:50] pretty straightforward and easy. Every author could do it themselves, sell their own books at Amazon. It’s pretty brainless, and mindless, and very simple.

The only major bookstore that’s actually in existence around the country as far as a national chain is Barnes & Noble. Books-A-Million is out there. That’s actually owned by Barnes & Noble. Barnes & Noble, from a traditional book sales perspective, is actually not doing very well. They’re suffering badly. The only part of Barnes & Noble that’s doing well economically or financially for them is their college textbook and college book division.

Otherwise, their stores aren’t doing well. They’re suffering badly because of Amazon and other means of getting books.

Drew McLellan:

That makes me sad. I love being in a bookstore, but I see it. I see how many Barnes & Noble’s, and some of the other chains that have already closed down, I see them fading away.

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

I reckon what happens with Barnes & Noble, people will go to Barnes & Noble to go look at a book, and then not buy it there. They’ll sit there and look at it, read it for awhile, and then they’ll buy it on Amazon.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah.

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

That happens a lot.

That’s okay, because here’s the problem. This is what I try to tell people a lot is the fact that Barnes & Noble will only buy their books through a national distributor. Only two or three of these are big enough for them to buy through. Ingram’s is one of those, for instance.

The problem with Ingram, and I try to steer my authors away from all of this, because it is a real headache. The reason why Walmart’s prices are so cheap is because Walmart really strong arms their distributors in a big way, and their manufacturers. So when you want to sell a product at Walmart, you really did a lot to sell your product at Walmart. You’re hoping to make up any losses that you’ve done.

So, Walmart will require you to take back all product returns, regardless of condition. So literally, you could go buy something at Walmart, use it for a month and a half, beat the crap out of it, take it to Walmart, return it. Walmart’s going to return it back to you and you have to return Walmart the money for that product, regardless of condition.

That’s how the book business is, as well. So, Ingram will buy, I’ll say 100,000 copies of your book to send to Barnes & Nobles around the country. Well, people are at Barnes & Noble and do like I said. They’ll sit there. They’ll look at a book. They’ll read it. Kids will chew on these books, whatever the case might be. They will literally beat the crud out of this book on the shelf.

Then, when it doesn’t sell in a certain period of time, they ship them back, and you have to fully refund these books, regardless of condition. Not to mention the fact that they strong arm you so bad on a price, you’re really not making much in the first place.

So, I really try, as far as all the equations go, about 20% of book sales in this country right now, I really try to steer authors away from thinking, “My book’s a success only if it’s in Barnes & Noble.” That is so not true. They’re such a pain to work with, it’s not even worth it, having the hassle.

The other aspect about Barnes & Noble, too, that I want to throw out there is the fact that, like any seller of anything, they’ve got limited shelf space. There are literally hundreds of thousands of books that come out every year. There’s no way that Barnes & Noble is going to put them all on the shelf.

Even if you get your book on a shelf in Barnes & Noble, if it’s not moving off the shelf pretty rapid over the course of four weeks, it’s gone, regardless. So, even if you get there, there’s no guarantee it’s going to stay there.

Most people who write books are niche books anyway, and niche books don’t typically sell well in bookstores. It’s actually a lot easier to get your book into a Target, or a Costco, or a store like that, than it is a Barnes & Noble anyway.

But from a marketing perspective, I keep telling people that the best way to sell a book, in all honesty, is through your own means; your own website, your own avenues that you control. Because everybody already has a network. If you’re on social media at all and doing it the slightest bit correctly, you’ve already got a network out there to sell to.

Most of them will go to your own website and buy [inaudible 00:39:54] from your own website. If your book is a specialized niche book where, I’ll do a case in point here. I have an author that, he was worried about stepping into this process, and this model, and making the investment, so on and so forth. He was worried about selling his books. I said, “Listen, we’ll get there. Don’t worry about that. It will happen. I know you. I know your network. I know how well you’re connected.”

So sure enough, we worked together, and we created all the promotional stuff for his book through social media so he could pre-sell books even before it came out. He sold a couple, 200, 300 copies of his book even before it came out in press, long before that. He donates a portion of every book to a charity that he’s passionate about. Of course, he’s got margin room to do that.

So, the beauty about that is, people love knowing that they’re giving money towards not only something that they’re buying, but part of that goes towards a cause they support. That’s a win/win for everybody. But it’s through your own means, your own avenues of distribution is probably the best way to sell a book.

I’ve had authors that have gone through thousands of copies in two months, just because of their own personal marketing approaches, social media. Amazon is a viable way of selling books, obviously, because Amazon is where the bulk of books are sold. There are strategies related to doing a Kindle version.

By the way, speaking of Kindle versions, I will tell you that having done basically the iBooks, the Nook, and the Kindle are three distinct formats of books. The iBook and the Nook are pretty close, but they’re all different formats amongst the three distributors. I have found, since doing this for the last few years, that literally 99% of all books, eBooks sold, are sold through Kindle.

That’s because they have an iPad, you’re more likely to buy a Kindle book through the Kindle app than you are an iBook off the iTunes. It’s just where the sales [crosstalk 00:41:53].

Drew McLellan:

Everyone just gravitates to Amazon.

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

Right, right. So we always suggest just doing Kindle version only, but there are strategies where you can give away your Kindle book as a free promotion. Many of my authors have done that where they basically start off by saying, “Hey,” through social media, et cetera, saying, “My Kindle version of this book is available free for the next two weeks.” Then at the end, maybe jack the price up to 50 cents, and then 99 cents over the course of time.

People will say, “Why would you give the book away for free?” Well, you’d be shocked at how many people who get a free Kindle version of a book, they go to Amazon and buy the actual hard backed version of it, or paperback version of that same book. It happens a lot.

It also gets word of mouth going about the book. People talk about it. If they give you a review on Amazon about it, the reviews translate into book sales as well. Many of my authors who have written books in the business context, via networking, or leadership, or whatever the case might be, find that because of their strategies that they use to sell books, through free eBook use, or through the social media promotional aspects, colleges and universities take notice.

Drew McLellan:

Well, from a marketing world, we know the power of sampling, so it makes perfect sense that, that would be a formidable strategy in getting your book out there.

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

Absolutely. I have one author that literally, his book’s targeted to 20 year olds. I mentioned this story before.

He basically data mined all the e-mail addresses from every college professor in the country, at every university, sent them all an e-mail promotion himself for his book. He’s got, to date, he started this process two weeks ago. He’s gotten 400 inquires back from college professors. Already, in the last two weeks, he’s got 10 universities in the country to adopt his book as part of the required reading for classes. That was just from an e-mail that he did himself.

So it’s very, very easy to sell books yourself. I say that because so many people think that, “Oh, my gosh. My book’s got to be in Barnes & Noble. Otherwise, it’ll be a failure.” That is so not true.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. Yeah. As you said in the beginning of our conversation, this is a world that has been completely turned upside down. How everybody used to do it is how very few people are doing it. Unless you’re a John Grisham or somebody like that, I think a lot of authors, particularly the kind of authors we’re talking about, with niche books that are more business based in most cases, I think there’s a whole new way of doing it.

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

You mentioned John Grisham. Ironically enough, Grisham and Stephen King now do their own thing.

Drew McLellan:

Really?

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

Yeah. They don’t use a big publisher anymore. They realized that they don’t need that stuff, regardless, anymore. In fact, Stephen King as a side bar, did something genius from a marketing perspective. Stephen King came out with an eBook version of a new book he was writing. He said to the public that this is going to be an honor system book. He’d throw a chapter at a time out there, but it was 99 cents a chapter. As long as people were still paying 99 cents, as for an honor system. You could take it free. But he said as long as people were paying for it, he’d keep putting chapters of the book out there.

Sure enough, what happened was, everybody at first started paying the 99 cents per chapter. Then by about chapter four and five, people were just starting to take it. They weren’t paying for it anymore. The sales, all the downloads were the same, were stable. Sales were declining rapidly. So, he basically threw an e-mail out there, a note saying, “I’m done with this book. People aren’t paying for it [inaudible 00:45:35].”

Next thing you know, the people who were really hooked on this book now were out there paying more than 99 cents a chapter. They were paying $5.00 a chapter to keep the book flowing. It cost him nothing to do this and he made millions.

Drew McLellan:

Plus, he probably got a ton of publicity. Of course, let’s keep in mind he is who he is.

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

He is Stephen King.

Drew McLellan:

Right. Right. Yeah, that probably helps. So most of the listeners probably, that may not be a strategy.

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

No, that’s not a strategy for the listeners. But it does show, in today’s world, that it’s all upside down and different today. You can do different things like that, unique strategies to get yourself out there, that you couldn’t have done 10 years ago.

Drew McLellan:

One of the things that I do think plays into this from the listeners of this podcast is, I think book marketing has gotten much more personal. I think, given that most of you are probably thinking about writing a book because it’ll help build your business, or your speaking career, or whatever it is, that bodes well for you. Because then people have a connection to you, the author. They feel like you’re accessible. I think not only does that improve book sales, but I think it also moves you further along the spectrum of why you’re writing the book in the first place.

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

Right. Of course, I would encourage any author or aspiring author out there who’s going to write a book for those reasons, to help support your business, or speaking, whatever the case might be, that you also have a website that you pre-dedicated to that book. You put continued information out there on that website that relates to the book; blog, or some other additional information that people can go to.

Once you start to develop a dry run, and build a following related to the fact that the people who read your book and liked your book, they thirst for information. They want more. As long as you keep providing them more of that, you definitely will start building a following for your writing. Next thing you know, next book you come out with sells even faster and easier.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. This is a complicated and fascinating topic, but I want to be mindful of both the listeners’ time and yours. As we wrap this up for today, if people are fired up and you’ve broken it down into some really bite sized pieces. So maybe somebody who had always thought they wanted to be an author but it felt too daunting, is now re-energized around the idea of doing that, and that this is the year they’re going to at least start it, even if they don’t finish it.

What are one or two first steps that they should take after they’re done listening to this podcast, to actually get going?

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

Our lives are busy. If you don’t control your life, it’s going to control you. I can’t over stress the importance of managing time. I say this because I know how entrepreneurs are. People that work for themselves, especially I’m the worst at this, it’s easy to let what happens at home over the course of your day control your day.

You’ve got to, first of all, commit to setting aside time for this. You’ve got to say, “Okay, if I’m going to do this, I’m going to commit to spending this much time every week,” or, “this much time on this given day. This is writing time. I’m doing nothing else but that.”

That’s the first step. You have to do that. You have to. I had a friend of mine, friends that you and I both know, that are working on books now that struggle with this, because things just happen in life. You’ve got to commit yourself to setting aside a time to write. That’s step one, and then actually do it. It’s kind of like a New Year’s resolution. The reason why they never actually work out for most people is, people aren’t disciplined enough to keep them going.

That’s why if you’re in a health club in January, it’s jammed pack. If you go by March and it’s a ghost town. People just aren’t committed enough to continue the process. You’ve got to make a commitment to the process. Until you’ve done that, you won’t be successful in writing a book.

That’s step one and the most important step. Then just start writing. Just start banging out stuff. I go back to the outline aspect. This might be something where you need to flesh it out with somebody else. Talk through it verbally with somebody. Sit down with a person you trust, or an expert that you’ve worked with in the past, or somebody who understands what you do, and just flesh it out together.

It’s always a lot easier to do stuff like that with somebody else, and this is you on your own. Talk through outline. Talk through the structure, the shell of the book. Once you’ve got that, I’m telling you, I believe this whole heartedly. Once you’ve got the detailed structure and shell outline of the book, you commit the time to writing this book, and actually sitting down and doing it.

Once you get past that very first section, if you can get that first little piece written, it becomes easier as you go. The second piece is even easier. The third piece is easier than that. As you go, it just naturally builds upon itself. It’s an incremental goal. Once you’ve chopped a couple small pieces of it, then it motivates you to do the next piece, and so on, and so forth.

Those are the keys. It’s pretty simple. It’s not rocket science, quite literally. You have to commit time, build structure, and start writing.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. A lot of it, I think, boils down to the commitment. So, to your point earlier in the conversation, whether you hire someone like Tony, or you buddy up with another agency owner who also wants to write a book, I would also suggest, and I just know this from all my work with agency owners, that you create some sort of accountability outside of yourself, so that you actually honor what matters to you, because it’s easy to allow the fires to get in the way.

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

Absolutely. Oh, absolutely.

Drew McLellan:

This has been fascinating and really helpful, Tony. Thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it. If folks want to track you down, want to learn more about the work you do with authors, or any of the other things that you do because you do fascinating work across so many facets, what’s the easiest way for them to find you?

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

Just go to the website, bookpresspublishing.com. I will tell you that at the Bookpress Publishing website, there is a very nice outline comparison between the traditional publishing model and the partnership publishing model, to show you what the differences are both from the structure, and economic aspect. We can learn a lot from just looking at some of that information.

Drew McLellan:

Awesome. Thank you so much for your time. Thanks for sharing your expertise. I appreciate it very much.

Dr. Anthony Paustian:

Anytime. Thank you, Drew.

Drew McLellan:

You bet.

Listeners, thank you for joining us again for another episode. Hopefully this was really helpful to you. I would love to hear about your book project, or anything else that you would like to chat about around agency life. So as you know, you can reach me at [email protected]

Hopefully you’ve subscribed so you don’t miss an episode. I will be back next week with another guest who will help you build a better agency. I will talk to you soon.

Speaker 3:

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