the podcast recap episode with aj & rory vaden

Ep 409: 3 Things To Know Before You Write A Book | Risha Grant Episode Recap

Listen to the episode below

Contrary to popular belief, writing a book may not actually be the most beneficial step to building your personal brand.

Join us as we provide a debrief of our recent interview with Risha Grant on the ins and outs of writing, publishing, and selling a book.

In this episode, we share our main takeaways, from when it truly makes sense to write a book to how to navigate the options of traditional, hybrid, and self-publishing, and master the art of effective sales and marketing.

Tune in to find out what you need to consider before taking on the commitment of writing a book!

Key takeaways from this episode

  • The first steps to building a personal brand (Hint: not writing a book!).
  • When you should consider writing a book.
  • What it takes to successfully drive book sales.
  • Self-publishing options.
  • The time, energy, and financial investment writing a book requires.
  • What to consider when choosing your publishing route.

Tweetable Moments

“I have read many books where at the end of it I’m like, ‘Man, that would have been a great blog. That would have been a great chapter, but that was not a great book. And that is because an idea, by itself, is not enough.” — @AJ_vaden [0:03:38]

“If you have a great idea or you have a great story, the first thing you do is not write a book.” — @AJ_vaden [0:04:34]

“Writing a book is the last thing you do, not the first thing you do.” — @AJ_vaden [0:05:33]

“There are incredible hybrid publishers out there that are creating massive distribution channels and hybrid publishers that are helping their authors hit the bestseller lists.” — @AJ_vaden [0:12:23]

“If publishers publish and editors edit, then who sells? You do. The author. That’s your job.” — @AJ_vaden [0:13:46]

About Risha Grant

Founder & CEO of Risha Grant LLC, an award-winning diversity consulting, communications and speaking firm, as well as an edgy, educational and motivational speaker, author Risha Grant uses honest, humorous, and vulnerable storytelling to motivate audiences to embrace the inner tough work of Radical Acceptance while honoring diversity, equity, and inclusion without evoking feelings of judgement or assigning blame.

Links Mentioned

AJ Vaden on LinkedIn

AJ Vaden on Twitter

Rory Vaden

Rory Vaden on LinkedIn

Rory Vaden on Twitter

Take the Stairs

Brand Builders Group

Brand Builders Group Free Call

Brand Builders Group Resources

The Influential Personal Brand Podcast on Stitcher

The Influential Personal Brand Podcast on Apple

AJV (00:02): So this is for the person who has always thought I have this great idea. It needs to be a book. Or maybe it’s for the person that gets told all the time, wow, you’re such a great speaker, or a great storyteller, or, wow, you have an amazing story. You need to write a book. So that is who this particular message is for today. And here’s what I have to say about that. There are three core philosophies that I have along with my company, brand Builders Group around the art and the science of writing, sell and selling books. Number one, a book should be the last thing you do not The first thing a book is when you have a truly vetted idea and you have enough content for it to actually be a book, not a chapter of a book, not a blog, not a podcast, but an actual 200 to 300 page book, which means you need to have points and stories and frameworks. AJV (01:14): And I idea for a book is not a book. A great story is a great story, not always a book. And I often wonder when people started writing these books, did they ever ask themselves, should this be a book, a chapter of a book, or a blog, or even just a conversation on a podcast? Because great ideas and great stories can be any one of those things. It does not have to be a truly vetted and fully published book for it to make a huge impact. And so I have read many books where at the end of it, I’m like, man, that would’ve been a great blog . That would’ve been a great chapter. But that was not a great book. And that is because an idea by itself is not enough. You have to have an idea that then is broken apart and separated with chapters. AJV (02:12): And each of those chapters has to have different stories and points and frameworks that all build together, right? In a through line of what’s an overarching theme of this body of work, which we call a book. And that doesn’t start in the beginning. That’s the end, right? That’s the conclusion, right? You don’t start writing a book with a hypothesis. You start writing a book when you have the conclusion, when you have all the information. And that takes time. It takes talking about it a lot writing about it a lot creating content about it a lot, speaking about it a lot. So if you have a great idea or you have a great story, the first thing you do is not write a book, sorry, to burst your bubble on that AJV (02:58): One. The first thing you do is you start talking about it. You start blogging about it. You start writing content about it. You start making videos about it. You start speaking for free or for money, but you start speaking about it. It just needs to be vetted. You need to know what people remember, what appeals to them what you love talking about. Like what stories should you use? And then once you’ve done that for an adequate amount of time, and I’m not gonna put a timeframe on there for an adequate amount of time where you now have an entirely vetted, like, this is the main theme. These are the points I wanna make, these are the stories that support those, and here’s what I wanna teach people, i e frameworks, then, then you’re ready to write the book. AJV (03:46): But it’s the last thing you do, not the first thing you do, right? So that’s number one. Is that writing a book is the last thing you do, not the first thing you do. And if you think you have a great idea, start with a blog , right? And then build from there. But don’t start with a book. So that’s number one. Number two, that is that writing a book is just a piece of the puzzle. It is not the whole puzzle. You have to write a great book with great content. That’s the prerequisite, right? That’s the given, right? The expectation is that, well, of course you have good content, that’s why you’re putting it in a book, right? That’s the pre prerequisite to enter into the publishing field. And again, I don’t care if it’s self hybrid or, you know, traditional at the point of writing a book is you think it’s gonna help somebody, right? AJV (04:36): You, you think that the message that you have will help impact someone to change their life or their business for the better. Otherwise why do it? Because it takes a ton of your time, energy, resources, and money. So if it’s not going to be something that you’re deeply passionate about talking about for a long time, then write a book, right? So back to this is that writing is just part one. And what most people don’t spend near enough time thinking about and planning and executing is the sales and marketing plan. And I did say those, those in order sales and marketing, right? If you think that you’re going to write a book and send it to your email list, even if you have a huge email list, it will likely not sell as many books as you think. If you have a huge social media following and you think that you can write a book and just use your audience, I think you will most likely be severely disappointed in how even that does not move many books. That’s marketing. And I’m not saying you shouldn’t do it, of course you should do that. Of course, you should market your email list. Of course you should be marketing it on social media and doing a podcast tour and doing all the AJV (05:56): Things. Yes, but that’s not the bulk of what actually moves books. What actually moves books is you the author selling. Now I say you the author because you are the best and most well positioned person to make the sale. Now, that does not mean you can’t have support and help doing all these things. Of course you can. But when you think about how do I move books to get them in the hands of people that I think it will actually make a difference in, you literally have to think of old school selling. And here’s what I mean, my old school. Pick up a phone and call somebody. Pick up your phone, text somebody, engage with them, go speak to their group, go meet them in their office. They need to see a, a tangible copy of what this book is, why it’s important. And you need to start with the people who know you like you and trust you the most. AJV (06:56): So those are the people who have hired you before. They have paid for your services before. They have worked with you before. They’re the ones who were telling you that you need to write the book. Well, if they think you need to write the book, well then they need to buy a copy of the book, right? But it’s like that is sales. You need to pick up the phone and call people and give them a reason to buy these books. And hopefully you have some people who will buy lots of books at the same time, right? So bulk sales and as well as the individual orders. But you have to be a salesperson to be compelling enough to go pull out your credit card, click on this link and give me at least 24 99 to buy this book that takes sales and supplemental marketing, right? AJV (07:41): It’s not one or the other. It is both. But please hear me when I say it takes a sales effort, a sales plan, which means you actually have to have people to call on, right? So back to, are you ready to write the book? Do you have enough content? The second question to ask yourself, am I ready to write the book? I e do I have enough people in my audience in my my client sphere, in my, you know, friends and family sphere that I could actually get this in enough hands of people and make it, you know, marketable enough that this would actually spread and make a difference, right? That matters. Now, if you’re writing a book just because it’s a legacy book and you’re like, man, I just wanna get what I believe on paper, and I don’t care if I ever sell a copy. AJV (08:28): I’m not gonna try to, I’m just gonna have some for friends and family to give away. That’s a different story. This, this piece, this message is not for you today, right? This is for the person who’s going, no. Like, I want this book to make a massive impact. I want this to be a part of my business. I want this message to spread. I want this to be in the hands of people I care deeply about that this is who this is for. So number one the book is the last thing, not the first thing. A second thing is get sales ready, be sales ready. And then the third thing, and this is not in order per se, but the third thing is you have to know how you want to actually publish the book. That’s it. That’s it. An important part of this formula that maybe wasn’t such a part of the formula 10 years ago and definitely wasn’t a part of it 20 years ago when we wrote our book take the Stairs in 2010 is when it launched. AJV (09:21): And so that’s what 13 years ago, like, there was not a lot of awesome self pop publisher options where it was credible. There was hardly any even less than self hybrid options. I mean, it was like, if you really wanted to get your book in the mainstream, it was a traditional publisher, right? And it took us two years of hardcore whole hardcore sales and cold calling and prospecting and follow up to get an agent to even look at this much less considerate, right? So two years of just going like, please , here’s why. While we were building our audience, building the platform in the background, no current day 2023, it’s a different story. It’s a different story. There are incredible hybrid publishers out there that are creating massive distribution channels and hybrid publishers that are helping their authors hit the bestseller list, right? That’s something that we do at brand builders groups for all of our clients and our community. AJV (10:21): It’s like, we’ll do your fulfillment for you, right? So it’s like that’s something that we do for our members at Brand Builders Group because we care deeply about getting your message into the hands of others. There are good self-publishers. Like there are books out there that are self-published like Miracle Morning, Hal l Rod, where it has sold it has sold millions of copies and he gets to keep every dollar of it, right? But that this is an important part of the journey. ’cause What, here’s what people think. They think I’m going to get an agent, which is pretty much necessary in order to work with a traditional publisher. I’m gonna get a big advance and whew, my job is done. Earn not true. That’s not how it works. Agents sell your book proposal to publishers. Publishers publish your book. They help edit it, they help formatting, they help with not help. AJV (11:11): They tell you what the cover’s going to be. But they do those com right components. They put it into a form of a book where you can flip pages and read it. They do not sell your book. Now, maybe if you’re Michelle Obama, they will help market your book for you. But if you are not Michelle Obama, they do not sell your book. They do not market your book. So the question is if publishers publish and editors edit, then who sells? And who does that? You do the author, that’s your job, right? So being an author today also means that you are a sales person. Going back to step two. But that is an important part of the journey of like the advance. What that really should be considered is like, this is an upfront amount of money that I’m gonna reinvest back into the book launch. AJV (12:01): Because if you get a big advance, that means that you’re not going to make any additional money until you earn that out. And royalties. So people are always like, well, I don’t have the money to traditional, or I don’t have the money to self-publish, which is why I need a traditional publisher. I don’t have the money to do a hybrid publishing deal because that takes my money upfront. Well, the truth is, is it takes your money both ways. It doesn’t matter. You’re just going to ex have an expenditure upfront that you then get to earn and keep all the money on the backend, or you’re not gonna have an expenditure upfront, but you’re going to make pennies on the dollar for the life of that book. It takes your money any way you look at it. It’s just, do you have the money to invest upfront? AJV (12:50): Yes or no? And that is really the only thing to decide because it does take your money. It doesn’t matter how you do it. It’s an investment of time, energy, and financial means to get a book in the hands of people that it will make a difference. And so deciding which route to go is really important. And if you think that, you know, oh, if I do it this way, I’m gonna get all this support. Think again. There are things that people do and there are silos, and then there are things that are up to you and there are some things that are gonna be on your plate regardless of which path you go. And sale, selling and marketing, the book is one of those things. So consider those things as you’re, you know, going through the options of like, how would I wanna do this? AJV (13:33): And it’s like, do I want to have more money for the long tail? Do I have enough confidence in myself to sell this at the back of the room or to sell this to clients or not? Right? And tho those things make a big difference. Do I have enough money upfront to be able to make that upfront investment, but then earn it back and I get to keep it versus no, I’ll take this money upfront, but that money costs me a lot in the long run. ’cause I won’t make another dollar until all of that is earned out. And then I’ll make very small royalties for the rest of the lifetime of that book. So, like I said, it’s gonna take your money either way. It’s just which way makes more sense for you. So those are the three things that you should know as you prepare on the adventure. ’cause That’s what it is. There’s peaks and valleys of writing a book. Check out our entire podcast interview with Isha Grant to hear more about all that it takes to write your first book. We’ll see you next time.

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