Episode 377:

With agency ownership comes big ideas, a lot of creative energy, and infinite passion for your work. Chances are you have a million ideas floating around your head with nowhere to put them. Why not compile them into a book?

We’ve talked about why creative thought leadership matters for finding right-fit clients and aids in biz dev for your agency. This week, I’m bringing back Henry DeVries to discuss finally putting all those ideas into action and writing your book.

We have a fun episode planned today with tons of advice for creating the blueprint for your book, how to finally get started with writing (and get help doing it), and some of the common roadblocks we create for ourselves when it’s time to finally go to the printer.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.
creative thought leadership

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Building the blueprint of your book
  • 7 questions to answer when creating the book outline
  • Why writing is a team sport
  • How to solo write a book in a way that’s manageable (if you choose to go it alone)
  • The best approach to co-authoring a book
  • Discovering your hidden assets and turning them into content
  • The roadblocks we create for ourselves in the final stages of publishing

“Writing's a team sport and you need somebody on your team to help you through the process.” @indiebooksintl Click To Tweet “Any business book worth writing is worth writing a first draft that sucks.” @indiebooksintl Click To Tweet “What makes your book different than any other book out there are your defining stories — and your stories matter. It's what people remember.” @indiebooksintl Click To Tweet “When working with agency owner authors, I help them find their hidden assets. I'm talking about intellectual property. Some don't realize the workshop or seminar they taught and recorded is an asset.” @indiebooksintl Click To Tweet “Your stories matter. Human brains are hardwired for stories. Your stories are what differentiates you from everyone else.” @indiebooksintl Click To Tweet

Ways to contact Henry:

Resources:



Speaker 1:

If you’re going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn’t you get the benefits too? Welcome to Agency Management Institute’s Build a Better Agency podcast, presented by White Label IQ. Tune in every week for insights on how small to mid-size agencies are surviving and thriving in today’s market. We’ll show you how to make more money and keep more of what you make. We want to help you build an agency that is sustainable, scalable, and if you want down the road, sellable. With 25 plus years of experience as both an agency owner and agency consultant, please welcome your host, Drew McClellan.

Drew McClellan:

Hey everybody, Drew McClellan here from Agency Management Institute. Welcome back to another episode of Build a Better Agency. If you are a regular, it’s nice to see you again. If this is new for you, welcome to the podcast. Our goal is to help you think about how you run the business, how you think about the business of your business, how you can make more money and keep more of the money you make. That’s that’s where we focus our attention. So today’s guest is a repeat guest who’s going to follow up on a conversation we just had about a month or a month and a half ago, but it’s kind of the part two to that conversation.

Before I tell you about him and what we’re going to talk about today, I do want to remind you that we have a great workshop coming up for agency owners and leaders. You are welcome to bring leaders with you, so COOs, CFOs, director of account service, folks like that. But the owner has to be present. So owners and team members are more than welcome. It’s called Running Your Agency for Growth and Profit. It is one of the precursors, so we have two workshops that qualify you for live peer group membership. So if you’re thinking about that, this might be a good one to get into. It is March 9th and 10th in Denver. And Running Your Agency for Growth and Profit looks at all of the ecosystem of behind the scenes. So HR people, money, biz dev, operations, systems, all those sorts of things. And we just teach you the best practices for agencies in all of those areas over the course of two days.

It’s a bit of a whirlwind of a workshop. Somebody called it drinking from a fire hose. We’re going to have a lot of content for you, lots of ways for you to improve, tweak, maybe change, maybe stop doing things inside your shop. But it’s a fun one to teach and the attendees always seem to enjoy it. So we would love to have you join us. Again, that’s Running Your Agency for Growth and Profit, March 9th and 10th in Denver, and you can read more about it and register on the AMI website. So just head over to agencymanagementinstitute.com, and under How We Help, you’ll find all the workshops and you can register for it there.

Okay, so about a month, maybe six weeks ago, we had Henry DeVries on the show, and Henry is a independent book publisher and he works with authors to help them write their books, particularly business owners, agency owners writing a nonprofit book. So at the last episode Henry and I just talked about the importance, the value of having a book published and all the ways you can use it and all the ways that it creates a position of authority for you and how valuable it can be for your agency. So I said to him during that episode, “I really want you to come back and talk about how people get the book written,” because that’s a daunting task for a lot of people. Many of you probably want to be an author. You’ve maybe aspired to that for a long time, but you can’t figure out how to carve out the time and get it done.

So I asked him if you would come back and luckily for us today is the day. So we’re really just going to talk about the methodology of creating books and all the different ways you can get that done because there are quite a few ways, speaking from personal experience. I’ve done it many different ways over the course of my years as an author. So we’re going to talk through that and give you some best practices and also some things that get in the way and keep you from being successful at completing the book. So with that, I just want to welcome Henry back to the show and jump in. Henry, welcome back to the podcast. I don’t think I’ve ever had a repeat guest come back quite so quickly.

Henry DeVries:

Thank you for the opportunity, Drew. I’m so excited to tell people how, the tricks of the trade on how to get a book written. It’s not as hard as you think.

Drew McClellan:

Last time you were here, we talked about the power of having a book as that three-dimensional business card and establishing yourself as a subject matter expert or an authority. And at the time I said, “Hey, let’s have you come back and let’s talk about the different ways people actually tackle the challenge of writing a book.” It was funny, I was thinking over the books that I’ve written, I have never written two books in the same way. So I’ll be curious how many of my ways you come up with and then we’ll see if I’ve done something even more aberrant than that.

Henry DeVries:

I’m ready to go when you are.

Drew McClellan:

All right. So as you coach people into writing a book, what are some of the ways that you talk about… So I want to identify what they are and then I want to drill down a little deeper into the nitty gritty of how each methodology gets done. So what are some of the ways that people can get a book written and done?

Henry DeVries:

Okay, well let’s reject the first way, which is called the seat of the Pants approach. I’m going to sit down and inspiration is going to guide me and I will write out this book. That is just silly. If you were going to build a house, would you just start building a house, and I’m sure the materials and the plan will appear. No. So you go into it like building a house, you’re going to have a blueprint. Now there are different ways, though. You can hire a ghost writer, which I do not recommend for agency owners. It’s typically more expensive and they’re turning it over to somebody who doesn’t get their voice or wants their voice to come through. So there are better ways.

One’s called the developmental editor. So that’s someone who co-writes with you, does a lot of the heavy lifting, but they’re interviewing you, they’re pulling the insights and knowledge out of you, and they’re making the tone come through. There is another rejected way, you go up to that mountain cabin near Aspen and don’t come out until the book’s done. I call that the Misery approach, after the Stephen King novel and movie. Kathy Bates with a sledgehammer in the cabin is optional, but don’t do that. Writing’s a team sport. Get somebody on your team to help you through the process.

Drew McClellan:

So if I am going to write it with that editor at my side, I still have to have a blueprint. I still have to have an outline. I still have to know what I want to say. So no matter how I’m going to write the book, is the first step putting together the plan?

Henry DeVries:

I say the first step is there are seven questions you have to answer to put together the plan. So I walk people through the seven questions, in conversation, we come up with the answers for them, and then from there an outline. So what’s the working title, what’s the working subtitle, what type of story? There are eight types of stories that you can tell what type of story is your book telling, from monster problem to rags to riches to a mystery, a quest. So you pick one of the eight stories, then-

Drew McClellan:

And you do that even for a non-fiction book?

Henry DeVries:

Oh, well, yeah, I studied this and there are eight great stories that are in all works of literature and films. Hollywood only makes eight movies, by the way. And then I studied non-fiction, and the hundred greatest business books all followed these eight story patterns also. So you pick a story pattern and then you get clear on why this is important. Like Simon Sinek says, start with why. How to solve the problem in general. Then specifically how to solve the problem. Sell With Authority did this, you followed this format in your book, Sell With Authority. And then what’s next? Okay, after you’ve done all this, what’s next in your life? So we tell people the why, the how, and the what’s next. And then we give them end notes and we give them an index and we talk about the author and give acknowledgements. And altogether that’s a book. We start then writing the sloppy first copy. Any business book worth writing is worth writing a first draft that sucks. Now my on forbes.com column they don’t let me use that word, so sorry for using it on the podcast.

Drew McClellan:

It’s all right, podcast.

Henry DeVries:

So the magic is in the second draft. When you pull that together and you polish the stories. Oh, that’s the hidden asset that every agency owner has that they don’t know, I help them discover it, is their client mess to success stories. They’ve done great things for clients and we’re never going to be so boring as to call these things case studies. We’re going to tell a story about a real person, though we might need to disguise their name and industry and business for confidentiality reasons, but we tell that gripping emotional story, and by emotion I don’t mean tears and all that. I mean you feel noble when you hear the story, you laugh a little, maybe it brings a tear to the eye, and it makes you think. You hit those notes in your stories and that’s what makes your book different than any other book out there for your defining stories. And your stories matter. It’s what people remember.

Drew McClellan:

I know that even when I’m writing a presentation, or at the summit I always have to give a keynote. I figure out what I want to say, but it really doesn’t come together until I figure out the story arc of the presentation and what stories I’m going to tell at certain moments in time. At last year’s summit it was all… Really, the whole presentation was baked around the trip that my daughter and I took to Antarctica, and that story and parts of that story, and we were in a bad storm there. That story got woven through the book, if you will, and really did define the story. So I think you’re right. I think in a book it’s the same way. It’s the tales that we tell.

Henry DeVries:

Drew, you have a lot of great content, but after I met you and went away, I didn’t tell anyone about your great content. I told them the Antarctica story and the packet ice forming, and then your message to all of us there that you found a safe harbor, you saved the agency, but now you’ve got to go into the storm. We’re coming into a renaissance, like the renaissance after World War II or the Bubonic Plague. I mean, it’s just so memorable. I can tell your story because my brain is hardwired for the story, and as I’ve told it to people, I see them leaning in and they want to know what happens next. So that was great storytelling you did at the BaBA Summit back in May.

Drew McClellan:

And we can do it in books too, as I think your point is, that when we tell our stories… And I also think the stories that agency owners have to tell in their book are personal, their personal triumphs for them, their personal triumphs for their team, for their clients, or their horror stories. It’s when something didn’t go well or right. But they’re very personal and I think that’s part of what makes a great book, is that you get a sense of the author and what matters to them in the book that they write.

Henry DeVries:

It has to come through that when I read the book and then I meet the agency owner, I’m meeting the same person. They’re not this academic serious person here, and then they’re this gregarious storyteller over here. Those are two different people. I want to have congruity between the two.

Drew McClellan:

Okay, so I answer the seven questions, which are basically title, subtitle, core message of the book, why are you writing the book, what’s the problem you’re solving, an overview of the problem, and then what’s the problem you’re solving in detail, how do you solve the problem, and then what are the stories you’re going to pepper through the book to illustrate your points along the way, right?

Henry DeVries:

Exactly. You want to have hook leads into your chapters. So I’ve been a magazine writer and won some awards for it and teach people to do it, and what I teach is you need to have a hook. You need to have, it’s a story or it’s an anecdote, it’s an observation, a historical note, something that intrigues the reader to get into the chapter. Best book, and this is where you think I’m going to shill my book or one of my 17 books, and if somebody buys my book, Drew, I’m happy to sign it and if they buy two, I’ll come to their house and read it to them. The book, though, I’m going to promote here, is On Writing Well by William Zinzer. He taught writing at Yale University. It’s the best book I’ve ever read on non-fiction, and he really taught me the importance of the hook lead to get the reader into the story. And I recommend On Writing Well to everyone.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah, it’s a great book. I’ve answered the questions, I have this sense of what the book might develop out to be, but most people don’t just sit down. I get that there’s the first bad draft and then the second draft is really where it starts to come together, but most people don’t just sit down and write the first draft. They don’t sit down in one fell swoop and write the draft. So what are some of the ways busy agency owners who are already working 50 or 60 hours a week and have a family and all the things, what are some of the ways that they can tackle this project?

Henry DeVries:

Well, let me tell you how I helped Bob, not his real name-

Drew McClellan:

I was going to say that’s for confidentiality reasons we’re now calling him Bob.

Henry DeVries:

Bob, but Bob is the president of one of the top 10 pharmas in the United States, and he came to me during the middle of COVID. Bob was a little busy during that period working on anecdotes and… Antidotes. I work on anecdotes. He worked on antidotes.

Drew McClellan:

I was going to say he might have had some antidotes as well, yeah. Great.

Henry DeVries:

So what I did with him is we did this outline and we named each chapter, we described the work that chapter had to do, and we put together 15 insights that he had. And he had a purpose for writing the book because it was to build the culture at his firm and also be a thought leader, an authority, if you will, authority in his industry. But he doesn’t have time to write a book, and the board of directors would’ve fired him if they heard he was writing a book. He gave me an hour a week. And the first 45 minutes we outlined the chapter. The next 15 minutes I sent him off on a walk with his smartphone and he, just from that outline, talked the chapter. I transcribed it, cleaned it up, and that’s how we created the sloppy first copy of a 16 chapter book in 16 weeks.

He polished it, decided not to publish it. He though, what do you call it, the content strategy, he sliced and diced it in emails to his people, in speeches he gave, articles out to the industry. It’s like the author Joan Didion said, “I don’t know what I’m thinking until I write it down.” So the process clarified his thinking and his ability to deliver the message. So that’s how you go and talk a book into existence. So a busy agency owner, I’m doing two chapters a week with people now, and in 10 weeks we can get that sloppy first copy draft done, and in the next four weeks we can polish it and have a manuscript that can be submitted to a publisher. That’s the first milestone, is it’s publisher ready. And whether you do it with a traditional publisher, like I’ve done McGraw Hill, or you do it with an indie publisher, I run an indie publishing company, or the S word, the dreaded S word.

Drew McClellan:

Right, you self-publish.

Henry DeVries:

Self-published. Don’t ever say your book is self-published. There’s a stigma. So I’ve helped agency owners indie publish the book themselves, because they had had the talent at their disposal and it was just somebody to marshal the talent and tell them, “This is working, this is not working. Here’s the shortcut we use in the publishing industry.”

Drew McClellan:

So if I don’t want to write the book that way… Let’s say I want to write it by myself, what are some of the ways that I would write the book by myself that is bite-sized or manageable enough that a busy professional could do it?

Henry DeVries:

Well, the same tactic could be done where you do the outline and then you talk the book and use a service like rev.com to transcribe it at 25 cents a minute with their automated robot that’ll do it.

Drew McClellan:

I think Rev actually uses people. I think Temi is the one that uses the AI and there’s a lot more cleanup, but it’s only 10 cents a minute.

Henry DeVries:

Oh, nice.

Drew McClellan:

But a lot of cleanup.

Henry DeVries:

That could reduce my expenses by 40%.

Drew McClellan:

There you go. You could basically talk into your phone and just talk out the chapter, and then in the editing of each chapter you would clean it up, you might add a story, you might move things around, because I think sometimes the way we talk, and sometimes as you’re talking you’re like, “Oh shoot, I want to include that, but that has to be up further in the chapter or whatever.” I’m sure there’s lots of self-talking as someone’s talking out a chapter of a book.

Henry DeVries:

Yeah, I am so old I remember doing this on an IBM Selectric. And one very popular filmmaker I know, he writes his scripts out on yellow legal pads and then cuts and paste and with tape, tapes that together and then hands it to a typist. We’re beyond that.

Drew McClellan:

That’s insane.

Henry DeVries:

With Microsoft Word we’ve got the power to rearrange paragraphs. I do it all the time that. And when I’m coaching people, sometimes I’ll say the journalism expression, you buried the lede. Your content was ho hum, like an airplane that couldn’t get off the runway through these first three pages, and then it’s soared. Move that to the front of the chapter. You buried the lede, let’s get the lede up there. So they still are working off an outline, but you can talk 250 words a minute. You type 25 words a minute when you’re writing, if you’re going at a good clip, and if we count the time you get up to get a sandwich, clean the desk, all the time wasted [inaudible 00:20:33]-

Drew McClellan:

All the procrastinating things we do, right?

Henry DeVries:

So it’s a lot less. But Bill Gates didn’t sit down at his word processor to write his books, and Jack Welch didn’t do that. And when I was a very young man, my client was Ray Crock of McDonald’s and the Padres, and he handed me his book, Grinding It Out. Well, he didn’t grind it out. He had a developmental editor with him to write that book because it’s malpractice to sit down and do all that time or to go to the mountain cabin and don’t come out. Now I’ve done that for clients several times. I’ve done the Misery approach. My record is-

Drew McClellan:

You were Kathy Bates?

Henry DeVries:

Six days and then coming out with the work. I don’t recommend it.

Drew McClellan:

You played Kathy Bates in that movie.

Henry DeVries:

And also James Caan, because I had to write. So you talked about college earlier when we were talking about college. Well, I don’t think I shaved or showered much for six days.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah, I bet.

Henry DeVries:

I don’t know if you remember Quinn Martin of Quinn Martin Productions, the Fugitive, the FBI, and all that. So as a young writer I got to spend time with Quinn Martin and he taught me the Misery approach. He said his big break in Hollywood was on a Friday Desilu Productions said, “We need a script for a show on Monday. Can you do that?” And he said, “Sure, I can do it.” Called his wife and said, “I won’t see you for three days.” Checked into a hotel and came out, took the shower Monday morning and brought the script over, and they hired him as the associate producer and he realized the money was in producing, but he said that’s the trick, and he gave it to me.

Drew McClellan:

So if somebody’s going to write it in bite size pieces. So I think about one of the books I wrote, I literally blogged the book into existence. So again, I had an outline, I knew where I wanted to go, and I just wrote blog post after blog post after blog post and then knitted them together to create a book. So, feasible?

Henry DeVries:

That’s the blog to book strategy. I use it all the time. I’m paid to write 60 columns a year for forbes.com. I strategically pick which columns, because half of them I’m going to turn into next year’s book.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah, makes perfect sense. What about collaborating with other people, where other people are each… So many years ago, we probably should do it again, many years ago we invited AMI members, we gave them a topic and then we invited them to each write a chapter because they all want to be authors, but nobody had time to be an author, so we all gave them each a chapter, which they wrote and then they got author credit on the book, but it was really 40 or 50 authors in the book. And we did use the S word, we did self-publish those because what they-

Henry DeVries:

You published it through-

Drew McClellan:

We indie published it, that’s right. What they wanted was they wanted to be able to do what you talk about all the time, which is to hand somebody a book with a post-it note in it and say, “Oh, I was invited to write a chapter on this topic, and here’s my chapter of the book.”

Henry DeVries:

There’s a lot of mistakes you can make, so I just wanted to give you this gift of this book because it outlines how to avoid the four biggest mistakes blank make when doing blank.

Drew McClellan:

I think one of them was the biggest marketing mistakes I’ve ever seen. So they all told stories of things clients or non-clients had done and then of course cured the problem in their chapter.

Henry DeVries:

We’ve helped with that anthology approach for several organizations that have people under them, maybe financial advisors or something. They either contribute the chapter or some… I’ve interviewed them and wrote the chapter for them and then they approved it. The other co-authoring strategy is the one you used with Steven Westner, where you get two people to collaborate. One of my mentors is Ken Blanchard, the man who wrote the One Minute Manager. Actually he’s Amazon Hall of Fame. He’s sold 25 million business books. But he said to me in one of our get togethers, and I’d done some writing for him, he said, “Henry, I’ve never written a book.”

I said, “Ken, you’re pulling my leg. You have 50 best sellers.” And he says, “No, I co-authored 50 best sellers. I know what I know. I get together with some person.” So I have a monograph, if anybody wants it, if they email me with the show information and just put down co-author monograph, I’ll send them all the steps you do to co-author a book. You’re splitting the workload, you’re doubling the promotion power, any costs associated, you’re splitting the costs in half, and you both have the power of being the author of this book when you give it away, when you get publicity, when you use it to get booked on podcasts and all these things. So half the work and cost.

Drew McClellan:

All right, so I’m going to tell you the secret of how we actually wrote that book. But first, let’s take a quick break because I think it’s another way to write a book. So all right, we’ll be back in a minute and we’ll talk about yet another way for you to get your book done.

Hey there, just a quick interruption. I want to make sure that you are aware that you are cordially invited, not just invited, but cordially invited to join our Facebook group, our private Facebook group. All you have to do is go to Facebook and search for Build a Better agency and you’ll find the Facebook group. You have to answer three quick questions. You have to put in the agency URL, you have to talk about what you want to learn from the group, and you have to promise to behave yourself. And that’s it. And then we’ll let you in and you can jump into the conversation with over a thousand other agency owners and leaders, and there’s a robust conversation happening every day. People are sharing resources and best practices and discussing everything from work from home policies to maternity and paternity policies, to biz dev strategies. So come join us and jump into the conversation. Speaking of conversations. Let’s head back.

All right, we are back, and I teased the break with the fact that I would tell the story of how Steven and I wrote that book together. So we were actually going to do a workshop together and we outlined the workshop, two day workshop, and as we were outlining the workshop, we were like, “You know what? This would be a great book.” So we videotaped the entire workshop, every word we said, and then we transcribed the entire two days and then we took it, and after we had delivered it, we rethought about the chapter orders. In what order should this be in a book? We rejiggered the chapters or the order of the chapters, we divided the chapters, and then we each wrote our chapters.

But anybody who knows Steven, my co-author with that book, we talk very differently, our communication style is super different. So what we then had to do was we had to take the book and knit it together. And then I’m a writer by trade and Steven is not. So I took the knitted together book and then I went through and edited it so that it sounded much more the same, that our chapters were not so diverse in… So it wasn’t so disruptive, even though we identified in the book who wrote each chapter. And you certainly can tell based on some of the phraseology and some of the things in the chapters who is truly the author of the book or of the chapter. But I just smoothed it out so that it sounded more consistent through the entire book. And then we gave it to an editor who continued to do the fine tuning and the editing of that. And we went through several rounds of editing with it before it was really ready to go to the publisher.

Henry DeVries:

I liked in that book that you identified whose voice it was, because if you know Steven, holy bananas, he’s got expressions like that, and your expressions are different. So you identified who was coming from. My first book, a modest bestseller, we said it went to a second printing and not because the first one was blurred. I co-wrote it with another agency owner and it took us a year to sell it to a publisher. And then the publisher said, “Great, we need it in 90 days.” So we’re both doing all this work. So we divided and conquered and said, “You write these chapters, I’ll write these chapters. We’ll trade and edit.” The problem was we wanted to smooth it and make it one voice, but my sister read it and said, “I know which chapters you wrote, and I know which chapters she wrote.” There were two different voices in that book. We should have identified them by chapter. It solves the problem.

Drew McClellan:

Well, and for us, the stories were very unique to us in the chapters, and you’re right, we talk differently, and my goal was not to lose that in any chapter. I just wanted the cadence of the book and the style of the book to smooth out. And actually it’s funny because the editors who didn’t know us from Adam, there are several phrases that both of us used that they were like, “Oh yeah, you got to take that out.” And I was like, “Actually no, we’re not taking that out.” And we made reference to specific people and they’re like, “Oh, you can’t leave that in there.” And I was like, “Actually, yeah, we’re going to leave that in there.” So that was one of the powers I think you have as an author is an editor is about making good suggestions, but you don’t actually have to embrace them all.

Henry DeVries:

So I call that strategy the workshop to book strategy, and I’ve used it for several people and it’s recording their workshop. And as you say, you did the Money Matters workshop. That could be a book, not in the order that you and Danielle, your president, delivered it. There’d just be some reordering, but that’s the power of Microsoft Word, baby. We can change those paragraphs and chapters around.

Drew McClellan:

Well, and even with Steven’s and my book, there were things… After we taught the workshop, there were things, as we mapped out the chapters of the book that we didn’t teach in the workshop that needed to be in the book. So it wasn’t a verbatim of just what we taught in the workshop. And there were some things we did in the workshop that just didn’t play well in the book. So we lost some of the content from the workshop to book, and then we added content to the book that wasn’t in the workshop. But I would say it was probably two-thirds or three-fourths of the way, when I say done, it was your crappy first draft done. But it certainly helped us expedite the book.

Henry DeVries:

When I work with agency owner authors, I help them find their hidden assets, and I’m not talking about gold and silver and stocks and bonds, I’m talking about intellectual property. Some don’t realize that workshop or seminar that they give and was recorded is an asset. If they write the blogs, it’s an asset. If they’ve been writing articles, those are assets. And those are all assets that can be used to get a book done easier and faster than they thought.

Drew McClellan:

So we’ve talked about blog to book, we’ve talked about workshop to book, we’ve talked about the Misery model, we’ve talked about basically having editor walk alongside you and help you chapter by chapter. What are other ways you’ve seen people create the core content for a book?

Henry DeVries:

Well, one thing we’re missing is doing some proprietary research, like you’ve done with Audience Audit and Susan Bayner, and that you have something to tell that’s different than other people’s books. So that’s good. Also doing secondary research on the topic. I always say, if you need to hide a body, the best place is on the second page of a Google search. Nobody looks there. I’ve gone to 80 pages on a Google search to find information for content for the book. Buying competitive books, not to steal from them, but occasionally to cite them, say it’s a great book and point that out. And we see what Isaac Newton said, if you want to see farther, you need to stand on the shoulders of giants. So who came before you in this thought leader? So you can pull all that content in?

When McGraw Hill gave me the contract to write the book How to Close a Deal like Warren Buffett, they also gave me 90 days. So on day one I bought 11 books about Warren Buffett. And then went and got every article from Bloomberg’s Business Week and Wall Street Journal and New York Times on Warren Buffet. So I would have fodder. So you need to have the fodder. When you know the chapters. I divide the content into chapters. So, “Oh, this article belongs in chapter four and this book chapter belongs in two,” and then you divide and conquer by writing the book, as you said, in chunks.

Drew some people can do the Deepak Chopra get up early before the hustle and bustle and write for two hours and then go on to their day. Other people like me, that doesn’t work for me. I might do not quite the Misery approach, but I have checked into hotels for two days and just put myself on assignment and write and put them together. The other things we’ve talked about, talking and typing and doing all these strategies to a co-authoring as a strategy, the anthology strategy. So there are many ways to tackle this. You just need to find what’s the right rhythm for you.

Drew McClellan:

When Steven, speaking of my co-author, Steven Westner, when Steven wrote his book basically giving you all the nuts and bolts of how to launch and run a podcast, the way he did it was he literally did podcast episodes and then transcribed that. So he wrote his whole book and delivered it as podcast episodes first, and then that became the chapters of his book. And he did some interviews and some other things to augment that. But the lion’s share of what he wrote was he just took podcast episodes. So again, kind of a variation of your talking to your phone methodology, but for him was… We are huge proponents of reusing content, and for him that was a brilliant strategy of how to create content for his podcast audience, and then turn around and turn it into a book for not only his podcast audience, but his audience at large.

Henry DeVries:

So I do a weekly podcast, I’m renaming it Agency Rainmaker in January, and it’s also on video, and I’ve lined up six months of interviews. I’m going to invite you. I’d love to have you come on sometime. And we are recording all of those. We are transcribing it. I know Predictive ROI, Steven’s company, big proponent of start with video and transcribe it, and there’s your asset, another hidden asset that you have for content. So the podcast to book strategy is a good one.

Drew McClellan:

And I’ve done what you’ve done, the cabin and motel, I did it. So before Kelsey finished college, our goal was to visit all the continents. So we had a lot of really long flights, and she was going to zone out on movies and sleep, and I don’t sleep well on planes. So when we went to Asia, that was a 16 hour book writing fest for me. So no one’s interrupting you other than the flight attendant every once in a while asking you if you want a bottle of water. But other than that, there’s no phone, there’s no anything. So I just cranked out most of a book on the forward and back trip, on that trip. So I had 32 hours to write.

Henry DeVries:

So I’m going to give a sick confession, and this is sick… I don’t recommend this strategy, but I knew I had to write a book on marketing with a book for agency owners, and it was a big to-do on my to-do list, and I didn’t know how I was going to do it. In August, I was hired to deliver five workshops in Memphis, Tennessee to CEOs on how to persuade with a story. And after I did four, I got COVID, and they said, “You’re not leaving Memphis, you’re going to have to quarantine.” So I quarantined in this cheap motel by the airport and luckily I was given the drug Paxlovid, a five day protocol. And in day one I said, “Well, I don’t like TV. Why don’t I just start to write the book and get something done?” And I got obsessed and I wrote that book in five days with COVID, and now it came out in November. So I don’t recommend you do this at home, but that’s the equivalent of the airplane trips to Europe.

Drew McClellan:

Do not get COVID to write your book. Yeah. It was great. And I have a couple colleagues, not in the agency space, but that are frequent authors of books. And I have a guy who literally, he will literally fly, he lives in New York, he’ll fly from New York to Singapore, stay overnight, and then get back on the plane and fly back just to write the book.

Henry DeVries:

So he probably get points. Some of my friends and relatives in the corporate world travel a lot that last week of December.

Drew McClellan:

That’s right, to get the next status.

Henry DeVries:

The next status and all that. That’s for sure. Drew, I’d be remiss… If we have some time, I’d be remiss in not talking about what gets in the way and-

Drew McClellan:

Yes, let’s do that.

Henry DeVries:

Mistakes I’ve seen people make in this.

Drew McClellan:

Yes, let’s do that.

Henry DeVries:

Three traps people fall into. I warn about the traps before, it doesn’t matter because once you get into them, you’re going through an emotional struggle. The one is the perfection trap. They’re writing the book and it’s not the perfect book. No author ever felt that their book was perfect, but sometimes this perfection trap stops them. I’ve had people, we write the whole book, we’ve gone through publishing. All I need is their okay to say push the button and they won’t push the button to print.

Drew McClellan:

Because it’s not quite perfect.

Henry DeVries:

It’s not perfect. So then the second thing is comparison trap. They read it and they go, “This isn’t as good as Good to Great, or Eat, Pray, Love.” I’ve heard that too. “It’s not as good as Eat, Pray, Love.” And I said, “Really? That’s what we’re comparing ourselves to?” It’s like my son’s a journalist-

Drew McClellan:

That’s a lofty comparison.

Henry DeVries:

My son the journalist, I found out he has 80,000 followers, and I said, “Wow.” I said, “I’ve got 20,000 followers.” And he said, “Dad, Taylor Swift has 3 million followers.” And I said, “Really, Jack? That’s who we’re comparing ourselves to now, Taylor Swift?” So don’t compare yourself. Is it your great book? Is it your great message? Is it your truth? So the third one is the belief trap, and that’s why they’re writing it. Somehow that little five year old voice, the Buddhist monks call it the monkey mind, keeps saying, “You know this is not good enough. Who are you to write a book? Who are you to be up there on stage and say this-”

Drew McClellan:

Right, the imposter syndrome.

Henry DeVries:

“You’re just an ordinary agency owner. You’re an accidental business owner. You didn’t even plan to open a business in an agency and now you’re going to give advice to people/” so you have to thank that voice. “Thank you. You’re trying to protect me.” And then move on. But it’s all about fear. Fear never sleeps. We have to get past the fear. And a lot of people are frozen in fear even after they’ve written the book, and I’ve published 150, but I could say I published 300 if everybody who didn’t get fearful kept going with the whole process.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah, I think the imposter syndrome, which I think is part of the lack of perfection, and again… I think that’s the overarching thing, which is do I have any business writing a book? And I think most people in my world, most agency owners, they have successfully built and led a company. They solve sticky, gnarly problems for clients all the time. They have great stories to tell. And again, for most of us, the reason we’re writing the book is not to win a Pulitzer Prize and become a bestselling author. People always ask me, “Do you make a lot of money from your book?” And I’m like, “Yes, but not from book sales.” Make a lot of money from my book, but it is the conduit that leads to making money opportunities. It’s not that 3 million people have bought the book. In fact, that was a big discussion Steven and I had.

Steven had come off of a traditional publisher with his podcast book to write the book that we were going to do together with an indie publisher, and he was obsessed with how many copies of books we were going to sell because he was held to that by his traditional publisher. And I was like, “I don’t really care if nobody but our parents buy the book, and I could care less how many people buy the book. That’s not why I’m writing it. I get that it’s a need for you,” and this gets to having some good conversations if you are going to co-author a book with someone or you’re going to do the anthology version, what you’re trying to get out of it. Because we had to come to a reconciliation about that of here’s what we are and aren’t going to do to sell the books. Because I knew for me, and I knew for him too, that the opportunities that the book would open, the doors that would open for us were where the money was. It wasn’t really in the book sales.

Henry DeVries:

I have agency owners tell me that the book has helped them make a million dollars, but it probably hasn’t sold a thousand copies. But they didn’t wait to be discovered. They gave the book away. You gave the book away, I give my books away. It’s about getting them in the right hands and what happens as a result of that book. And that’s key.

Drew McClellan:

Agreed. One of the very first books I ever wrote was the anthology model, but it was way back in 2005, 2006, a bunch of us marketers were starting to blog when nobody was blogging. And we just had this idea that wouldn’t it be interesting to see if we could publish a book together? So we did the same thing. Everybody wrote a chapter and we had to come to an agreement of what we were going to do with the money. So in our case, we decided… We had authors from 10 or 15 countries. So I was like… And I was one of the editors gathering all this stuff and putting it together and I was like, “Yeah, we’re not doing anything with the…” We’re picking a charity as a group and we are donating all the proceeds of the book to a charity because I’m not screwing around with royalties and who gets what and currency changes. So again, we had to have a shared vision of what we wanted to accomplish with the book.

Henry DeVries:

And the real money is what happens as a result of the book.

Drew McClellan:

That’s right.

Henry DeVries:

That was wise. Also, it was a nice marketing touch to say all proceeds from this book will go to XYZ charity. That’s a great strategy.

Drew McClellan:

Charity Water was what we picked, because it they serve the world and we had a very global author set. All right, so somebody has listened to us, they listened to your earlier podcast, they believe that there is power in being an author, which you and I both know that is true. And now they are hearing that there is 80 million ways for them to get the book done. So it starts, I believe what you said was, by answering those seven questions that we talked about, title, subtitle, probably who’s the audience, why would they care? Why are you writing the book? What’s in it for you as the author to write the book? What problem do you solve in the broad sense? What problem do you solve in a specific sense? And then beginning to outline that book, yes?

Henry DeVries:

This is all true. So Drew, I’d like to make an offer to your listeners and okay if I give $365 away?

Drew McClellan:

You bet.

Henry DeVries:

Okay. So I teach a workshop almost monthly, and it’s three hours. I do just a handful of maybe 12 authors, and we talk through those seven questions over three hours. It’s 365. Anybody who mentions AMI or Drew, I will comp them into that class and all they have to do is send me an email and mention book workshop and Drew, AMI, something like that, and I will comp them in.

Drew McClellan:

Okay. That’s awesome. Thank you for for being willing to do that. We’ll put it in the show notes too, guys, so you can find it there. Any last words of wisdom, Henry, as we wrap this up?

Henry DeVries:

Just a couple. One, the book needs to be help, not hype. So you really need to be helping people with valuable information. The next thing is it has to be based on research, not rehash. So you need to have some insights that have come out of your research. And then the last thing is your stories matter. Human brains are hardwired for stories. Your stories are what makes it sticky, and your stories are what differentiates you from everyone else.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah, good advice. Thank you, my friend. Thanks for coming back on the show. This is such an important part of agency self-promotion, agency biz dev these days. And if it’s not a book, there are lots of other things to do, but many, many of you have aspired for a long time to be an author, and this is the opportunity for you to do that. And you’re absolutely equipped and capable. You absolutely have a story to tell that someone else will resonate with and be valuable, and you can be helpful and teach while you demonstrate your expertise. Hard to argue with all that.

Henry DeVries:

Great. Thank you for the opportunity to share the message. Thank you for shining a spotlight on my work, Drew.

Drew McClellan:

You bet. My pleasure. Thanks for being here. All right guys, this wraps up another episode. So again, I am on a roll. I am on a roll with action packed episodes that give you lots of to-dos and homework to consider. So if you have always wanted to write a book, there is no better time than right now. And whether it takes you 10 weeks or 16 weeks or a day or a year, it doesn’t matter. You can get started and you can get excited about it, you can start talking about it. And I will tell you it is a great sense of accomplishment when you send it off to the printer finally and you know that your work is done and you’re about to hold your book in your hands. It is very gratifying. So I really strongly encourage you to consider this as an option for part of the biz dev strategy of your shop, and that you think about what is it that you know that your prospects and clients need to know?

Because I guarantee you stuff they need to know. And it’s just a matter of how you’re going to package it, how are you’re going to put it together, how you’re going to make it compelling and interesting. And most of you are natural storytellers. You do it all day, every day. That’s what we do, what we tell our clients stories. We tell stories that illustrate things to clients. We tell stories that illustrate things to employees. All you have to do is put it on paper. It really is that simple and that hard. But it starts with deciding to do it. So I hope that you at least give it some consideration and follow Henry’s advice. Take advantage of the free course. Start thinking about your answers to those questions and just let it soak for a little bit and then sit down and get started.

Whichever methodology we talked about sounds best to you or sounds most feasible or easiest to you, because for some of you, you’re a better talker than you are a writer, then great, use the transcription model. Some of you are great at getting up at 4:00 in the morning and getting a bunch of work done before anybody else does. I think it’s sick and wrong, but some of you’re good at it. So you know what, do that. Or hop on a plane or do the anthology model. Partner with some other people to get it done. But if it’s something that matters to you and you think that it would be beneficial to your business, but it also, and even maybe more importantly, would make you feel good and proud, then why are you waiting? Just get it done.

All right, that wraps up this episode. I will see you next week. I’ll be back with another guest to help you think a little differently about your business. In the meantime, of course, want to thank our friends at White Label IQ, They are the presenting sponsor of the podcast, have been for several years, super grateful to them. You can check them out whitelabeliq.com/ami. As you know, they do white label design, dev, and PPC, and when I say dev, they’re doing apps, they’re doing websites, they’re doing database builds, they’re helping a friend of mine who actually is not an agency owner. They’re helping a friend of mine who has a software platform reformat and freshen up that platform. So if it’s happening on the web, they can probably help you with it. Great people, great prices, great work. So a pretty good combination.

So anyway, check out White Label IQ when you have a chance. In the meantime, thank you very much. I hope you know that I am really grateful that you come back every week. Would be horrible just to talk to myself. So I’m glad you’re here. I’m glad that this is meaningful content for you and I’ll see you next week. Thanks for listening. That’s all for this episode of AMI’s Build a Better Agency podcast. Be sure to visit agencymanagementinstitute.com to learn more about our workshops, online courses, and other ways we serve small to mid-sized agencies. Don’t forget to subscribe today so you don’t miss an episode.