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 it that basically ruined the book in my opinion but it fit their paradigm of what they wanted it to fit their page count. Well, in the hybrid world, you as an author, you have more control over that and you can dictate that, “Hey, this is key to my point. I want this in there. Great.” And that’s important to understand. But everything else is pretty much exactly the same.

Basically understand too that the role of a publisher is selectivity. They want to make sure that they’re selecting good content. I already talked about that. I mean, we won’t publish anything that’s just boring or not good. We had to develop a project based on standards. In other words, there are publishing standards out there. If you self-publish, and this is where a lot of self-published books fail is that most of those books are not built on standards. They’re built on the basic minimums, right? So in other words, creating an ebook is fairly straightforward except there are some standards in that ebook and unless you know about them, you’re not going to do them.

The publishing world has become very complicated and very convoluted sometimes, which is another reason why you want a coach involved, whoever that might be, that has been there, down that road so they can help you make sure that you have all the bells and whistles and all the Is dotted and all the Ts crossed. And then a publisher who helps to take your book to market. This is what separates a lot of books. Now, you talk about the 4 million books out there. Most of these books you have to understand are still savvy books. They’re not written for a higher purpose. They’re written for either to build credibility on the part of the author to raise off his profile per se, or the company’s profile. Or they are a self marketing tool. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Those are all perfectly legitimate goals to have.

But when you think about distribution then of that book, honestly, most distributors won’t even distribute those kinds of books because they are such a narrow market for those and such a niche market for those. And because the content is somewhat self-gratifying, so to speak, they won’t even touch those books. So when you think about writing to an audience, you’ve got to think about, okay, this is all about this goal of making myself look better and to promote myself and my business, but it’s got to serve the needs of somebody, right? Somebody has to have care.

Drew McLellan:

Well, I mean, again, if you go back to and the listeners of this podcast have heard me talk about it, you go back to the core tenets of Sell with Authority, it is to build cornerstone content with the intention and goal of actually teaching something valuable to your audience so that they can be better at the work they do. Step one is not pat myself on the back and make me look smart. Step one is be actually helpful so that people continue to want to learn from you, which will by default make you have more credibility and all of that. But you’re not producing it to write about yourself or to make yourself look smart.

Tony Paustian:

Right. And if you do that, your book will start standing out from amongst the other 4 million books that are out there because of that 4 million books, probably 3 million of them are just what you talked about. They’re about self-gratification, patting yourself on the back. They’re not about helping people. So if you can do that first, like you said, you’re going to stand out just because of that. The thing about your book that’s so awesome is while it has a distinct market niche attached to it and while you’re focused on agencies, your book content, however, can help anybody. I mean, I’ve had a lot of people read that book that didn’t know about who’ve gotten it, they had nothing to do with agency world, that got a lot of positive takes from that. So if you can think about that from an author’s perspective where you’re writing and you’re like, okay, yes, I’m writing it for this audience, but what other audiences can benefit from this content, you’re going to expand your market big time and a lot quicker.

Drew McLellan:

Absolutely. Somebody says, okay, I know I want to write a book. I think I have a good idea, but I don’t really know how to construct the book, how to create the outline, how to begin the writing process, so I’m going to invest in a coach. What should they be looking for in a book writing coach, because there’s a ton of them out there. So how do I know, A, if they’re good, and B, if they’re good for me?

Tony Paustian:

Right. Well, I would do your due diligence, number one. It’s kind of like anything else. It’s like hiring a lawyer. You want to find a lawyer that’s got good outcomes and not just any lawyer you look online to find, the first one that comes up on Google AdWords because he paid more money. You want a lawyer that actually knows what they’re doing and actually has produced outcomes that verify that insight. Like you said, there are a lot of author coaches out there and they are a dime a dozen. But you want an author coach that’s written their own books, who’s been there done that, has gone through the process on multiple occasions, not just once.

You want an author coach who’s worked with enough people and whose books have done a number of good things as a result of it. In other words, if you find a coach out there who’s coached say 10 people and of those 10 people, their books went on to become successes or have won multiple awards, whatever, that’s a good sign. It’s kind of like hiring a lawyer who’s got a 98% win rate on trials. That’s a good sign that they’re competent and know what they’re doing. So again, you want to do your due diligence. You want to look at those things from an outcome perspective that basically… And you also want to find an author coach that’s good in your genre.

In other words, if you’re writing non-fiction, you don’t want a creative writing coach that works in fiction to help you because it’s a totally different genre. They’re not going to get the… The nonfiction book is a very different book than a fiction book. I’ll tell you we started publishing some fiction recently in the last few years and it was a big learning curve for us because we had never done that before and we did it as a favor really because our wheelhouse is non-fiction. So it took us a while to learn all this and we’re still not there yet. So, you want to find people that are good in that particular genre or marketing for that book that understand it better so they be better coaches for you.

It’s kind of like, going back to law again, if you’re doing property law, you don’t want to hire a divorce attorney. Or if you’re doing property law, you don’t want to hire an intellectual property lawyer for trademarks. You want to find somebody in the real estate. So it’s kind of the same thing. You want to find the right person in that right context that will help you the most.

And as far as also finding a publisher and a distributor as well as a coach, it’s the same thing as… Another good analogy is like a small business loan. To find a distributor and a publisher that will often take you on. You see, everybody thinks that their book is awesome. I have yet to find a writer who doesn’t think that their work is not a masterpiece. They all think that, which is fine. You want them to think that. But the reality is, if you have no experience, if you’ve not published any books or have any sales experience or have no background or anything to generate some potential future sales, a traditional publisher and/or distributor will not pick you up. They just won’t. Because it’s kind of like a small business loan, banks give money to those who have a proven success story. They don’t loan money on long shots.

Publishers and distributors are the same way because they’re in business as well to succeed. Well, they want you to succeed so they can succeed. They’ve got to have some idea that you’re going to succeed because historically, like for example you Drew, your business has been around a long time. You’ve got a great track record. You have great success rates. So any book that you write is going to probably be successful. Any small bank would know that and be happy to loan you money or in our case, publisher or distributor will pick you up because of it. But if you have no background per se, you need to start finding a way to do background, which is why people go on the self-publishing road because they have no other choice. You can still do the self-publishing road, but I would still invest in a good author coach before you do it.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. Right, absolutely. What can someone expect? What is a working relationship with an author coach look like, because most everybody listening here owns a business. They’re slightly type A. They’re used to telling everybody else what to do. So part of this, I’m guessing, is a little bit of discomfort in the idea of somebody else is going to tell you how to raise your baby.

Tony Paustian:

Right. Well, I can tell you, I can’t speak for all other coaches, I can only speak for myself. When I coach authors, we take it very incrementally. We start by having some general conversations about what the goals are for the book, what they want to do with it, what its purpose is, who they’re trying to help with the book. Get through all those initial things so we can both be on the same page about what we’re trying to create, the birth here basically. Once we have that, then we start to just make lists of things that makes sense, that they should be in the book. Just random list of things that, “Hey, what needs to be in this book to tell your story and to help these people.”

So we start doing that. We start budding off the easiest pieces to create and write first and we start to write those things together. We have regular meetings. We have a scheduled… In other words, if I don’t keep people on task with regular meetings, they’re never going to get done because life happens and things always come up, especially if you’re a small business owner, right?

Drew McLellan:

Absolutely. Right.

Tony Paustian:

They always happen. So we try to keep on a regular schedule. So we will meet every Thursday at two o’clock, whatever the case might be, or every other Thursday, whatever works out best. And we try to stay to the schedule as close as possible so we can stay on task. Every time we part ways, you’ve got homework. In other words, you’ve got to get your assignment done for the next meeting. And then the day before our next meeting, you got to email it to me. I will read it, look through it, then we’ll have a constructive conversation about it during our meeting. Then we’ll take next steps from there. You do a little bit of work, we talk about it. A little bit of work, we talk about it and we kind of build it from there. At that point, we’re not worried about organization. We’re not worried about final book. We’re not worried about any of that. We’re just worried about getting words on paper and then we’ll massage them and wordsmith them later.

Drew McLellan:

I think one of the misperceptions a lot of people have is if they’re going to work with a publisher, whether it’s a hybrid publisher or one of the big five or whatever it is, the length of time it takes to go from writing the book to actually having the book in their hand. I know for a lot of authors when they ask me about the process that we went through, then I talk to them about the editing process, they’re kind of surprised at how long that takes. So talk to us a little bit about like what should a… If somebody is like, I have a great idea. From I have a great idea to I’m holding a book in my hands, what’s a reasonable timeframe?

Tony Paustian:

Wow. That’s hard to really nail down Drew because everybody writes at their own pace. I mean, I’ve worked with some really aggressive people that are willing to bang out their book in a short period of time. So they stick to task. Come hell or high water, they’re going to make their deadlines. We set those deadlines up together upfront, all these incremental assignments upfront, and they will make those deadlines. They’re really good about it and diligent and they’ll have the book written in a few months. Then there are others that they start off with that intention, but then things happen and things get delayed or I’ll put off a week here and I’ll put off a week there. Next thing you know, it’s a six to 12 month process just to write the book. Sometimes it’s longer. I mean, it’s hard for me to say how long that part takes.

Drew McLellan:

Let’s say the first draft is done, whether that took say six weeks or six years.

Tony Paustian:

Right. If I’ve got a first draft manuscript in my hand that’s ready for editing, that process typically takes, again, there’s a lot of built-in things on the author’s part, how fast they reply on things. But on average, that process probably takes eight to 10 months to do it right. And I only say that because there are some lead times that we have to take into consideration before the trade. So if your book is not going into distribution, if your book is not going to be distributed, it’s not going into bookstores, none of that happens, we can shorten that cycle up quite a bit. We can compress that quite a bit. But if your book’s going to go to actual distribution and it’s going to be at Barnes & Noble or available through Barnes & Noble or any bookstore on the street, then we have to extend the lead time on that because the trade requires certain minimum things in advance.

In other words, the trade wants to know five, six months in advance, “Hey, this is what’s coming. This is where I know I can order.” The salespeople, the distributor want to know what’s coming out so they can sell it. We have to build then by that lead time. Now, that doesn’t mean you won’t have books before the book releases. In other words, the book may not release to the trade say in October, you might have books in June. But we have to build that in as well. But typically you have to allow a good… For the first good edit of the book, it might take four to six weeks depending upon the length of the book and the reason for that is, it’s seems like a lot of time, right? A month, a month and a half to edit my book.

Well, the editor is coming into this cold. They’ve never seen your book. I mean, this is a fresh new thing to them and you don’t want them rushing this. You want them to go through it diligently, read it more than once, fix it and modify things. And the way the editor works typically is that they’ll fix punctuation