Episode 294

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You have a simple choice when it comes to biz dev. You can chase after strangers or you can attract people who are drawn to you because of your expertise. They’ll come to know, like and trust you and when they’re ready to hire an agency, they’ll reach out. One of the best ways to position yourself as an expert is to be a published author. Many agency owners want to position themselves as an expert but can’t imagine how they’d actually write a book.

Returning guest Dr. Anthony Paustian owns a hybrid publishing company called BookPress Publishing. Stephen Woessner and I worked with Tony as we wrote and published Sell With Authority and he brings with him a wealth of knowledge for those of you wanting to write your book.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Tony and I tackle the many questions that first-time authors need to consider when developing their book projects. We discuss what authors should look for in publishers, writing coaches, and editors, as well as what to expect from distribution, the financial model of hybrid publishing versus traditional, and how to define the goals of your book.

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.

Position yourself as an expert

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • What goes into a book being good
  • The spectrum of getting your book published
  • Understanding hybrid publishing
  • What to expect from distribution
  • How to select a writing coach
  • A reasonable timeframe for completing a book
  • Working with an editor
  • Defining the goals of your book and how to leverage it to position yourself as an expert
  • How much to prepare before reaching out to potential publishing partners
“You’ve got to have something unique. Something that’s different from everybody else, or a different way to position something that’s common. This can’t be the same old thing that you’ve always read or always heard.” @AnthonyPaustian Click To Tweet “There is zero difference between a hybrid publisher and a traditional publisher other than the business model. They do exactly the same thing. The only difference is who’s taking the financial risk for that book.” @AnthonyPaustian Click To Tweet “You can go the self-publishing road but I would still invest in a good author coach before you do it.” @AnthonyPaustian Click To Tweet “You want a book done well. You get one shot at doing this right.” @AnthonyPaustian Click To Tweet “The first goal we set up with an author who does hybrid publishing is, ‘How do you get your money back?’” @AnthonyPaustian Click To Tweet “If you can take criticism and have the tenacity to do the job and meet goals, then anybody can write a book.” @AnthonyPaustian Click To Tweet

Ways to contact Tony Paustian:

Additional Resources:

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Agency Management Institute community, where you’ll learn how to grow and scale your business, attract and retain the best talent, make more money and keep more of what you make. The Build a Better Agency Podcast presented by White Label IQ is packed with insights on how small to mid-sized agencies survive and thrive in today’s market. Bringing his 25 plus years of experience as both an agency owner and agency consultant, please welcome your host, Drew McLellan.

Drew McLellan:

Hey, everybody. Drew McLellan here from Agency Management Institute. Welcome back to another episode of Build a Better Agency. Super grateful that we get to hang out today and talk about a topic that I know a lot of you are hungry to explore. But as always, before I tell you a little bit about our guest and what we’re going to talk about, I have a couple quick announcements. Number one, I have talked to you a lot about the Build a Better Agency Summit. It is around the corner. In August, we are getting close to selling out, would love to have you join us. If you head over to the Agency Management Institute website and you look at the very first navigation button on the left side, it’s the BABA Summit, or the Build a Better Agency Summit, and it will tell you all about that event that is coming up on August 10th and 11th.

If you are an AMI, gold or platinum member or a virtual peer group or live peer group member, we have a special day for you on August 9th, which is AMI member family day. So email me if you need more information about that, or go to the website, you can read more about it, but we would love to have you join us. If you’re not going to come join us in August, I would love for you to think about joining us at one of our two workshops in January of 2022. I know that seems super far away, but both of these workshops will sell out. I want to tell you a little bit about them and what makes them really awesome. The first one is Build and Nurture your Agency’s Sales Funnel. That’s January 20th and 21st, and that is the embodiment.

That is the workshop born out of the book that Stephen Woessner and I wrote, Sell with Authority, and what we’re going to do in that workshop is a little different than most of our workshops. It is a hands-on. You’re going to leave there with a built out sales funnel. You’re going to know exactly what you’re going to do for a sales funnel. You’re going to have a timetable. You’re going to know who on your team is doing what, when. You’re going to know how you’re going to market that funnel all the way through, from people who don’t know you from Adam to your current customers. You’re going to have all of that worked out before you leave the workshop.

And the reason why we did that for this workshop is quite honestly, when we teach a workshop that is us doing a lot of teaching and not you doing a lot of doing, one of the things I worry about is that you’re actually going to go back to the office and things are going to get crazy and you’re not going to implement. And I think because this is a particularly heavy lift, the whole idea of building a sales funnel for your agency, we have found, we’ve now taught this several times. We get rave reviews and the rave reviews are around. It’s not about our brilliance. It’s not about how articulate we are. It’s that, oh my God, I left the workshop knowing what we had to do that very next week. And I finally feel like I have a handle on this and I’ve got it all baked out for the year and we are ready to rock and roll.

A lot of people are texting and emailing their team during the workshop, kind of getting them ready for when they come back to the office and what they’re going to be doing. That workshop again is January 20th and 21st of 2022. And the very next week we have probably one of our more popular workshops is called Sell with Strategic Insights. And that workshop is taught by the folks at the Mercer Island Group. If you’re a regular podcast listener, you have heard both Robin and Steve and Lindsay on the podcast before. All three of them, they come down and what they teach us is how to build a strategic framework in your agency.

For a lot of you, what I hear is I’m the strategic bottleneck. Maybe me and one other person on my team can really think through sort of the gnarly strategy for some of our more sophisticated clients. But the rest of my team doesn’t know how to do it. And that’s showing up in your new business pitches, by the way. What Mercer Island Group will tell you is that when they sit in a room and they watch pitch after pitch after pitch, that what’s missing is not only the strategy but the explaining of how you got to the strategy.

So they have built a brilliant strategic framework for you to be able to weave strategy into everything you do for existing clients and for your new business pitches and prospects. We’ve taught this workshop twice and we have had about, because some agencies will have more than one person attend. So we cap it at 50 people. So we’ve probably had 70 people go through the workshop. We are at, for those 70 people, those 70 agencies let’s call it ballpark, $50 million in new AGI when they have applied what they learned at the Mercer Island Group workshop. I’m telling you, this is absolutely game-changing for your agencies. So that workshop again is January 25th and 26th.

Both of these workshops are taking place at Disney’s Beach and Yacht Resort, one of Disney’s highest ranked, most expensive hotels. A room there is typically 8 or $900. We’re getting them for $299. And it is Disney world’s, the Magic Kingdom specifically, Disney world’s 50th anniversary. So there’s going to be all kinds of amazing things happening. Come stay for a couple extra days, come to the workshop. A lot of people are thinking of going to both workshops. They’re going to attend the first one, January 20th and 21st. They’re going to play in the parks through the weekend and then be back to learn on the 25th and 26th. I’m telling you, these workshops are top of the line.

As always, we have a money-back guarantee, but I’ve never had to pay it out because we only invite the best of the best to teach if I’m not the one teaching, and I try and pour as much as I can into our workshops to give you so much value that you just don’t know what to do with everything that you’ve learned. That’s our goal. We’d love to see you in Orlando, Florida, again on Disney property at the Beach and Yacht for these two amazing learning opportunities, and a little Disney on the weekend is not going to hurt anybody.

If you want more information about that, head over to the AMI website. Under the how we help tab, scroll down to the workshops tab and you will see those workshops and you can register for them now, because, again, both of them are capped at 50 people. And so I know that we’ll sell them out. So I’d love to have you there.

All right. Let’s talk about today’s topic and today’s guest. As those of you who have read the Sell with Authority book know, or you’ve heard me speak anywhere, or you’ve listened to the podcast for awhile, you know that I am a firm believer that the way agencies have to sell is different today. That instead of us going and hunting down clients, what we really want to do is hold ourselves out as an authority, a subject matter expert, a thought leader, and have our prospects come to us, find us, because we do have the expertise that they’re looking for.

I see that happen over and over and over again with the AMI agencies that are sort of following that methodology. One of the ways you establish yourself as an authority or a subject matter expert or a thought leader, or whenever you want to call it, is by creating really big, juicy pieces of content. One of those options, of course, is writing a book. Many agency owners covet the idea, want to write a book, but are not sure how to go about it and they’re not sure how to get it published. So I’ve invited Tony Paustian to be on the show. Tony owns a company called Bookpress, which is a hybrid publishing company.

So they work with a lot of authors who aren’t interested in trying to cut a deal with one of the big five publishers or aren’t going to be able to cut a deal with that kind of a publisher because this is their first book. They don’t have the sort of fame, if you will, to get a major book publisher to pay attention. But they want to write a book. They want the book to be helpful and useful, quality product and they’re not sure where to go. There’s tons of hybrid publishers out there, but Tony runs a great one called Bookpress. Bookpress is who Stephen and I worked with to get Sell with Authority published.

I will tell you the experience was seamless and easy. Not easy in terms of the work. You still got to write a book. But in terms of like the process and having Tony sort of walk us through what we had to do, when we had to do it, and honestly take a lot of that stuff off of our hands. We certainly considered self publishing and just going through Amazon or something like that. But that means a lot more of the work is on our shoulders.

Tony is a repeat guest. For the first time he was on episode 49 back in 2016. So I wanted to bring him back and just talk about the ways that a publisher can help an author and what we should be thinking about as authors when we look for who we’re going to partner with, again, whether that’s a traditional publisher like Simon & Schuster to a hybrid publisher like Tony’s company or doing it ourselves. There’s still considerations in all of those subsets that we need to take into account. So, my goal for today is to maybe reignite the flame. If you’ve sort of thought about writing a book but you just never have gotten it off the ground, I’m kind of hoping I fan that flame a little bit and get it fired up and that you get working on the book.

I want to give you this resource of thinking about how you want to publish your book. And we’re going to talk about everything from how you get some coaching as an author. If you’ve never written a book before, who can help you make sure that your book is high quality. The editing process, all of those sort of things. I have a ton of questions for Tony and I want to get right to it. So I’m going to welcome him to the show and buckle in and let’s talk about writing a book.

Tony, welcome back to the podcast.

Tony Paustian:

Well, thanks for having me Drew. I appreciate it. Good time.

Drew McLellan:

In case anybody didn’t catch the first episode that you were on, which I mentioned in the introduction, tell everybody a little bit about your background and Bookpress and the work that you do every day with working with authors.

Tony Paustian:

Well, I mean, my background is pretty broad, so we won’t bore people with all my history. But needless to say, I come from a business/education background where I worked in a lot of corporate roles, head of marketing, et cetera, at big companies, most recently in education as a college administrator. Bookpress came about because my first two books I wrote were published by Simon & Schuster, one of the big five publishers. I had a lot of terrible experiences with working with Simon & Schuster for a variety of reasons that I won’t go into now. But suffice it to say I decided to go to lone. In other words, I wanted to create my own brand, my own books. I didn’t want to be constrained by the rules and all the guidelines of the big publishers.

So I spent about a year and a half, two years researching publishing. I went to conferences, workshops, seminars, you name it. Pretty much launched Bookpress just for me originally and I was just going to publish my content. Well, that didn’t last very long and within about six months of doing that, I started getting calls from people I knew around the country that had similar bad experiences with big publishers who asked me to help them. And next thing you know, Bookpress 15 years later, it’s alive and growing fast and we’ve published hundreds and hundreds of titles. Now we’re doing, like I said, a lot of work with a lot of people who were like me many, many years ago.

Drew McLellan:

But you’re also not just publishing. You’re also coaching authors and helping them actually get the book written and all of that too, right?

Tony Paustian:

Right. Oh yeah. A big part of what we do is coaching authors or people who want to be an author. A lot of times we have people that will reach out to us that have content, they’ve never written a book in their life or they’ve never written anything in their life beyond maybe an article and they need help to get from start to finish, point A to point B. So we spend a lot of time working with potential authors to help them become authors with the publishing piece happening way later in the process.

Drew McLellan:

Right. As you know in the book that Stephen and I wrote, Sell with Authority, one of the things we talk about is this idea of having cornerstone content. One of the examples when we list options for cornerstone content is obviously authoring a book. I have a lot of agency owners who say they have a book inside them. That they want to write a book. Many of them want to write a book, not because they want to be a best-selling author but because they know it’s a credibility tool that opens doors for them, that creates opportunities to speak at conferences and things like that. But the one thing that is universal regardless of why they want to write a book, and we’re going to talk about some of the goals that authors have in a little bit. But the one thing I believe that they all have in common is they don’t want the book to be crappy, right? They want to write a good book. Help the listeners understand what goes into a book being good from your perspective.

Tony Paustian:

Well, a good book is a very subjective thing. It all depends upon who’s reading it. I will tell you, however, aside from a lot of perceptions out there that if a book is a bestseller, it’s considered good. Well, that’s not necessarily true since that whole process can be very game today very easily, especially the Amazon. So that really doesn’t have a lot of meaning. I put a lot more credibility and stock into third-party credibility. In other words, we submit a lot of our books that we feel are really good to Book of War competitions. All these books went awards from third party reviewers, third party readers that also say it’s a good book, which to me it holds a lot more credibility than anything else.

We coached an author that has worked with you Drew in the past who came to us very similarly. He had a lifetime of experience; years and years and years, decades of experience. He came to a conclusion that he had that there were a number of questions that people should be asking of their marketing people that the leader should be asking that they never do. So he wanted to write a book about it. He hadn’t picked up a paper or a pencil ever. So we started from point A and go all the way to point B, which is the end of the book. Ultimately his book won the gold medal for the Best Marketing Book of the Year last year in 2020 and he beat out a lot of the big names and all the big publishers.

That process took a while. It was like an 18 month process to write that book. And typically the way we do this, for example, if somebody happens to be working with me, and I’m not saying by any stretch I’m an all-knowing guy or a seer of any kind, but I pretty much when it comes to business books, I can tell if somebody is good or not. I mean, I’ve read enough of them in my life and I’ve seen enough of them and worked with enough people to know when somebody is worthy of readership or not.

So typically when I coach an author, the first step is he’s get pass me. I’m not going to edit for punctuation and stuff, but I’m going to look at a content standpoint. In working going back and forth, we take one bite at a time. Once that bite’s sufficient, we go on to the next bite, like eating an elephant one bite at a time until the elephant’s consumed. And then once that’s process is done, then we actually send it to a real editor who does business books for a living.

Drew McLellan:

But there are some core elements though like the idea has to be good, and then the writing has to be good and the editing has to be good. I think for a lot of agency owners, they see the path of either I’m going to publish with one of the big five or I’m going to self publish through Amazon or somewhere else. And I think the step that they miss in that process is that outside perspective. So like you were saying, whether you’re reading the book or you are using a cadre of editors to run through the book and clean it up not just from a punctuation point of view but also is there clarity, do I understand this, if the sentence makes sense, that sort of thing. So talk about the elements that make those parts of the book good or not good.

Tony Paustian:

Okay. Well, again, I go back to what I said before is to get it past myself or another person, it has to be good from a content perspective. At the beginning of the process, I’m not concerned at all about the writing style or the writing skill. That will come later. I mean, we have editors to make you sound articulate. It’s the content that’s king on this. Honestly, if somebody wants to write a book but their content isn’t good or if it’s overused, overstated, in other words, there are 10 million books on that content and it’s been pretty much stated in every way there is possibly a way to state. You got to have something unique, right? Something that’s different from everybody else or a different way to position something that’s common in a way that’s unique.

In other words, it just can’t be the same old thing that you’ve always read or always heard. So that’s the first thing we look for. We look for something that is different, that will stand out within the market and it has some possible sellability to it. Because again, if it’s same old, same old, no one’s going to buy it. Ultimately you want to sell one of these or some of these to develop that credibility if that’s your goal. So it’s got to get past the content layer first, that’s step one.

Drew McLellan:

Well, and especially you are commenting to me that there are over 4 million books published a year now, so it’s not like you’re one of 10 books somebody’s going to stumble upon. For your book to be of value, you’ve got a lot of competition out there.

Tony Paustian:

Oh yeah. A lot of competition. And you have to understand that out of 4 million books, and that includes ebooks obviously and audio books, but they’re only about 65,000 audio books coming out a year. So it’s a pretty small number. It’s mostly ebooks because ebooks can be self-published. And I’m going to tell you Drew in all honesty, for the very reasons we’ve been talking about, the general rule of thumb is probably, I’m being nice here, probably 75% or more of all self-published books are not good. And they’re not good because the idea isn’t necessarily good. They’re not good for a variety of other reasons. There’s a spectrum of publishing. There’s a spectrum of getting it out there. There’s a self publishing concept where you can do it yourself. You can go to Amazon CreateSpace and do it yourself. You can go to IngramSpark and do it yourself, whatever.

And then there’s the traditional publishing, which is the big box publishers mostly, but there’s a lot smaller ones as well, that will basically buy your idea. They’ll buy your concept. They own it. They’ll move forward. Then there’s everything in between. And this is kind of where the nuances are kind of playing out in the industry and that is there’s a lot of hybrid publishing happening right now. People still don’t understand what that means. And I will tell you, there’s absolutely zero difference between a hybrid publisher and a traditional publisher except for the business model. Otherwise, they both do exactly the same thing, exactly the same thing.

The only difference is who’s taking on the financial risks for that book. That is the only difference. But where they also differ sometimes is the amount of control you have. In other words, from a content perspective, one of the things that gave me a sour taste in my mouth when I used the big traditional publisher back in the day was once I signed over the rights to that book, I no longer own it, at least for a period of time. They own it now and they can do whatever they want to it.

I wrote a book on creativity. It was on creative thinking. Once I sent my manuscript, they started editing it on their own. Did not consult me whatsoever as the author. They took out a couple of key points out of i