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Entrepreneurial Authorship Case Study

What happens when a client’s publisher doesn’t uphold their end of the bargain?

Sarah [not her real name] came to me for coaching to develop her consulting business, speaking career, and strategically use her new book to launch into both containers. Throughout our coaching period together, there was one problem after another with her publisher, and we were constantly working to pivot around the mistakes or misleading information that the publisher had provided.

The Moment of Panic

This came to a head as launch day neared.  The agreed upon plan was to print advanced reader copies on the 1st of December in order to give the sales team time to market the book to stores to receive orders before the holidays.  It would also give Sarah time to send advanced reader copies to reviewers and press.  We would then hit the ground running in early January with a book launch date in early February.

The print date came and went.  The distributor had not bought into that plan.  We’re not sure if the publisher did not communicate well with the distributor, or if the distributor was a bad choice and went rogue.  However, there were no books to begin the sales process at this critical juncture.

When my client contacted the distributor, they simply stated they had chosen to wait to print the advanced copies in mid January — only weeks before launch and not enough time for stores to make their orders.

This left a massive gap in the marketing plan for the book, especially due to the looming holiday season.  The book would launch to crickets if we didn’t do something fast.

Time to get Disruptive

We had to make a plan that would fill the marketing gap but not create excessive cost outside the original budget.  It also had to be something we could launch fast because we were a week into December and already behind.

What I created for this client was a postcard campaign.  The postcards would contain the book cover, a synopsis, and the contact info for the sales team.  This gave the sales team a physical showcase item to replace the physical books.

However, that created another problem.  If the postcards were used in different regions, that meant different a sales person’s information needed to be provided for each region.  We didn’t have time or the budget to develop small runs of postcards with unique contact information.

The solution was to create a universal postcard that forwarded interested parties to a sales team page on the book’s website.

Finally, my client was concerned the sales team either would not know about the book in time, or wouldn’t care about the postcard solution to make up for the lost time.  Each salesperson has several books that they are promoting at one time. We needed the sales team on our side and we needed them to be ready to help us when the advanced reader copies came out.

We decided to send them all holiday presents of bourbon-filled chocolate. Not only was the team happy to receive a gift, it also made my client memorable, so when they finally had the book in hand in January, they were invested in its success.

So what happened?

Not only did the postcard idea help bridge the gap in the marketing plan, it created an entirely new marketing plan. The distributor, the sales team, the publicist, and even the publisher were so enthused about the postcard idea that they all requested a batch of their own.  We bought a larger run of postcards, saving some money on the individual cost, and garnering the book greater attention than originally planned.

This client is both an author and consultant. We were building a marketing plan for both, and so the success of this book was critical. Knowing that I helped her to pivot as fast as possible and bring the book to success is exactly the work that I love to do.

If you have a book in the works and you’re not sure how to fit it into your business plan, or you need support to pivot a marketing plan fast, I’d be happy to talk to you.  Let’s schedule an intro call.

 


My book’s documentary selected into a Film Festival

This week I learned that my book’s documentary was selected for the Lift-Off Film Festival 2020.  This is very exciting for a number of reasons.  First, it will widen the awareness of my book and work, as the documentary will be screened in both the UK and Los Angeles.  Second, it gives much deserved distinction to David Astudillo, who took the footage I gathered during the interviews I conducted in my research and turned them into something marvelous.  Finally, it is a perfect demonstration of persistence paying off.

So much of entrepreneurship is about persistence.  One of the most prolific and awarded authors of our time, Jacob Appel, has been rejected by publishers 21,000 times, while having published 215 stories and won several awards.  Our work takes time and patience.

I conducted my research for Stories of Elders in 2015.  It took three years to write the book, finally publishing in 2018 through Identity Publications.  In between research and publishing, David approached me and stated he had interest in making my work into a documentary.  Lucky for us, I had recorded footage of the interviews I’d conducted.  The night of my book launch I didn’t read from the book — I screened his film, which brought the audience into my seat during interviews and told the story in an intimate manner.

Today that documentary is being used to prime the next wave of interviews with Generation Z.  Their reaction to the film creates a perfect compare / contrast between the last analogue generation and the first all-tech generation.

I applied to many more film festivals than will ever accept us.  That’s simply how it works.  But so many authors and entrepreneurs get discouraged after only a few no’s.  In April I’m teaching a free workshop in Long Beach on exactly this topic.  If you’d like to develop a plan around your book, you’d better be there (virtual replay to follow — join the newsletter to find out when it lands).

Facing the Facts of Failure

Failure is an inevitable part of entrepreneurship and well… just life. The highs and lows come
evenly, but what makes it worth it is how much those highs outweigh the struggles. Anyone
would be lying to claim entrepreneurship didn’t come with tough moments. But, processing
them is critical for strengthening yourself and your business moving forward.

There’s one moment of “failure” in particular that has stuck with me over the last couple months.  In February, I decided to do a Reddit AMA for my book, Stories of Elders.

For those of you who don’t know, Reddit is an aggregate forum with unlimited communities, a sort of “front page of the internet”.  An “AMA” stands for “Ask Me Anything”, an opportunity for users to
understand more about a topic and, in my case, my book and experiences.  My experiences with
AMAs on other platforms were really positive, and it felt SO great!

My Reddit AMA, however, left a lot to be desired…

Responses were sparse and those who did engage were critical, posting to ask questions like “who
do you think you are?” or “how do you think talking about technology saves lives?”. I never
claimed to be saving lives! But, I am an author who had hope of sharing with those interested in how tech changed everything and what our elders know.

After everything going so well with my book and opportunities continually arising, I felt so crushed to not be able to share this excitement further. I felt as though I failed, like no one actually cared about my book at all.  It truly made me sad.  I know that’s not true, that I really have reached so many people based on the amazing responses I’ve gathered, especially in response to my Ted Talk! I know what I have done and know the experiences I have had, and that matters more in the grand scheme of everything than this one flop.

It may be hard to take yourself out of it in the moment. You may be left sitting there asking yourself, “what am I doing?” or “WHY am I doing this to myself?”.

This will happen, and it’s ok.

Sometimes it’s hard, sometimes there are setbacks that make us want to give up and question it
all. Sometimes we need to take a break and come back for a minute. But, entrepreneurship
wouldn’t be what it is any other way. There will be something that will make you want to quit it
all. But, don’t be so quick to follow, this is only temporary. Your success isn’t achievable without
failure.

So let’s face the hard facts. Failure is good.  It teaches us a lot about ourselves and our values.  It helps us focus on what matters, and can lead to some pretty great self discoveries (like, why do I care what Internet trolls think, anyway…???).

Watch my latest YouTube video to hear more about the experience.

Entrepreneur Spotlight: Rachael Steil

I am so excited to highlight Rachael’s work.  She was one of the first local authors I met, and her advice has been a cornerstone to the development of my own book, Stories of Elders.  Rachael is the author of Running in Silence, a memoir in which she bravely describes her experience with eating disorder in the athletic field.  Her second book is due in 2019.  Join us on August 28 at 12:30pm in the Fempreneur Forum on Facebook to talk to her about her journey as an author.

How did you get started with writing?  What was the process like from start to book?

I began writing (at first, drawing) “books” (stories) at a very young age–I think around 6 years old. I was always fascinated with books and aspired to be an author someday. I was also an avid reader as a little girl, and I’m so thankful for that. They say reading is one of the best ways to learn to write well–along with writing each day, of course.

I continued to love writing through high school and college. When I developed an eating disorder in college, I began writing about it each day in a journal, and later posted some of those journal entries on a website I started in 2012 (runninginsilence.com). I gained a following through that. With a story to tell and a passion for writing, I decided to transform my journal entries into a book. I began editing this manuscript in the summer of 2013 with my professor and advisor Dr. Brent Chesley of Aquinas College for an Independent Study project, continued to edit on my own after graduation, did some heavy editing and revision with an editor I hired, signed a contract with my publisher (Koehler Books) in early 2016, and had the book published November 2016. It was a long road of revision and editing over and over again until I had to let it go.

What do you love about the writing / publishing process?

I enjoy the process of trying to transform the rough draft into something that would make the reader feel like they were LIVING or watching the scene/moment. I think that’s so powerful with writing–that words on a page can do that. So it’s probably the revision that I love, and then, once published, readers telling me they feel like they were watching a movie while reading Running in Silence. I still have a lot to learn and improve on as a writer, but the writing and publishing process was such a great experience and will help me as I work on my second book.

What do you hate about the writing / publishing process?

There was a point where I was so sick of rereading Running in Silence that I couldn’t look at it any longer. I think if I would have set it aside for a few years, it would have been easier to edit and revise more, but then I would probably never get it published. I’m such a perfectionist, so even now I don’t dare to read my published work because there’s always something I want to fix, and you can’t quite do that once it’s published. Letting go is the toughest part.

How did you find a publisher?

I initially sent out queries to agents for about a year to try to get a traditional publisher. I was getting great feedback, but the biggest problem was that I didn’t have a large enough following on my Running in Silence social media platforms (publishers want to make sure you have a large following that will buy your book right away). I was told that if I didn’t get an agent after a year of sending out queries, to seek alternate routes of publishing–especially in this day and age where we have various options (self-publishing, hybrid deals, etc). My mom had a friend from the Grand Rapids Women’s City Club who had a friend who was an editor and author with Koehler Books in Virginia. Thus the connection was made, the Publisher liked what he saw, and encouraged me to go the self-help route through a hybrid publishing deal (half traditional, half self-published) with Koehler Books.

Tell me a story from one of your book events / publishing process. 

I’ve had both success and failure through this journey, so I want to emphasize that this was a HUGE learning process. For one of my first events, only two guests came (not including my parents, the photographer, and someone else helping me to organize it). The event wasn’t a failure per-say because we had a great small group discussion through it, but it was not what I had expected/hoped for.

I’ve also had some success later down the road–being able to speak to schools around the country about my book and eating disorders in athletes, including at Saint Michael’s College in Vermont. The student athletes were so welcoming and excited about what I was doing, and one guest drove an hour and a half to see the talk. I had only met her through social media prior, so to meet in person, hug, and feel so emotional that all we could do was hug through our tears, was an amazing moment.

How has your book been important for the development of your brand? 

I’ve listened to many speaker podcasts that urge speakers to write a book, and I realized I went the other way around–I wrote a book first and then became a speaker. Being an author has helped to get me more speaking engagements because it gives me credibility. Plus many who have read the book have reached out to ask me to come speak.

So the book helped me to not just be a writer, but also a speaker. Combining both of those has led me to find the message I want to send–that athletes everywhere are prone to eating disorders, we need to raise more awareness, and provide better education and training to the athletic community. My brand was developed slowly over time by finding what I could do with my writing, then what I could do with my speaking, and then what the biggest message was behind all of this.

What do you suggest for entrepreneurs who want to write a book, but feel overwhelmed?

Write each day, and don’t worry about writing “perfectly.” I heard a while back how some writers call first drafts “SRD”s (“Shitty Rough Drafts”). THIS IS SO TRUE. And it’s totally fine. If you write from the heart and just let your mind and pen wander, you’ll at least have something written to work with. No one but YOU has to read it the first time around, and you can spend so much time revising from there.

Take notes throughout the day, too–anything that pops up in your mind to add to your book. If you don’t write it down, you will NOT likely remember it. Chip at it day by day. Veronica even gave me the advice to write/edit right when I get up each morning, so that I DO get it in each day. This has been so helpful (especially as I’m currently working on my second book).

Learn more about Rachael’s work on the Running in Silence website.

Podcast

Degrees of Separation Podcast | Sara DiVello

“I’ve started thinking about time as a currency, and none of us has unlimited time.”

Sara DiVello is the author of Where In The Om Am I?  She left a six figure job in order to study yoga and lead a healthier life.  Learn more about her path in this episode.

Find out more about Sara at http://saradivello.com 

Degrees of Separation Podcast | Mark Nathan

How does a theater degree support a serial entrepreneur?  Mark Nathan knows!  He is the founder of a Film Festival, author of The Delusion of Passion, and more.  This is an episode not to miss.