Ep 348: Tips for the First Time Author with Bob Wheatley

AJV (00:53):
Hey everybody, and welcome to another episode on the Influential Personal brand. This is AJ Vaden here, and I am here today with a very good close personal friend and a fellow brand builder and actually a client turned team member, which is very unusual and very rare for us to have someone like Bob Wheatley on the show today. But we just felt like this was too good of an opportunity to pass up. And so before we get into the details of this interview, I wanted to kinda tell you why you need to stick around for the entirety of this interview. And ultimately, if you have ever had a dream of writing a book, this is the interview for you. Or if you are in the process of perhaps writing your first book or trying to land a book deal or trying to get your book published, or you’re just starting to ideate around this, like, I’m going to do this now, how do I get it in the hands of somebody that it can impact?
AJV (01:56):
This is for you. Or perhaps you have even published your first book and now you’re wondering, how do I sell this ? How do I actually make money with this thing? Then this is the interview for you. This is an interview built for that first time author, or aspiring first time author. And that is why you need to stick around for this interview. Now let me also formally introduce you to my good friend Bob Wheatley. Bob is an author. He’s also a podcaster. He’s also on the speaking circuit talking about his new book, but he’s also a former professional athlete, which is definitely what my two toddlers think is the coolest part about Bob. He serves as a co-host of that single show, a singles ministry sponsored by Christian Radio in Dallas. And after graduating from the University of Southern California, he played for four years of professional baseball with the Toronto Blue Jays and the St.
AJV (02:55):
Louis Cardinals and l y’all listen, like that is like no joke. Like to learn about the rigor and the expectations, and quite honestly, the passion and the lack of pay often associated with professional sports. One of the things that I know is that what you’re going to learn about here is some true hard work. This is not fluff. These are the real things that it takes to get real things produced in the real world. These are not get rich quick gimmicks. This is not how do you sell a million books in 30 days? But this is the real work that it takes because that’s what he is been putting in for his entire life, and that is no different than what you’re gonna hear on this show right now. So without further ado, Bob, welcome to the show.
BW (03:42):
What an introduction . You can just, you can just keep going. I don’t, I don’t have much to much to add beyond that. That was amazing. Thank you. I’m so, so stoked to be on the show with you.
AJV (03:52):
We’re so happy to get to be able to do this and a part of why we were so excited to have Bob as a guest on the influential personal brand is because he is a first time author and he just published his first book and it’s going out. It’s going to be available for presale right now, but it’s launching in January of 2023. So as you’re listening to this you have an opportunity to get your hands on this amazing book that we’re gonna talk about but also is because we’ve been able to walk side by side along with Bob and watch the journey of idea to book, to publishing, to holding it in our hands of going, this is a reality and this can happen. And it wasn’t that long, truly. And so we thought this would be amazing opportunity for all of those first time authors or aspiring authors to go, how do I do this?
AJV (04:46):
But then also, we’re just so excited of you for or for you, and we’re so proud of the work that you’re doing. So this is also just a really special moment that we get to celebrate some real life hard work that we get to see firsthand. And so here’s my first question that I have for you, and I pinged you with this earlier. It’s why write a book, right? Because , as you are going to share, it’s no joke, it’s so much work as anything good in life takes a lot of work, but it’s a ton of work. So why a book? You could have done a course, you could have just stuck to the blogging or podcasting, but there was something in you that said, I want, I want these words on paper. So tell us a little bit about why that route.
BW (05:30):
Yeah, totally. And but before I answer that, let me just say, it’s kind of surreal for me to be sitting here cuz if you’re a member, I became a brand builder’s client first I found you guys through the podcast. It was just a friend referred the influential personal brand. Like, Hey Bob, you’re thinking about writing the book. I know you’re in the podcasting space. These guys are doing some awesome stuff. Check out this podcast. So it’s cool for me because I was listening to you guys for a while, you know, on the other end of this show. Now to be sitting here with you personally is just so, so cool. Oh,
AJV (06:01):
I didn’t even know
BW (06:02):
Share that. I, yeah, I was a, I was a podcast listener subscriber, the whole deal. But as far as why write the book, cuz you’re right, there’s so many ways that you can go when it comes to a personal brand or even just having a message to share. I think for me personally, I was always a reader, like when it comes to playing professional baseball, spending time in the minors, we have this saying, hurry up and wait. There’s just so much downtime. And so it’s either you’re playing cards with your buddies, you’re scrolling your phone, or for me, you know, you’re, you’re reading. So most of the stuff that I was reading while I was playing was nonfiction. It was mental game, it was mindset, it was health, nutrition, weightlifting. Like, I just wanted to throw baseballs as fast as I possibly could cuz I wanted to get to the big leagues.
BW (06:50):
But I was reading, I was constantly around it. And so you’re, you’re right that I could get a message out in any number of forms, but I’ve always been a reader. And I grew up in a house of attorneys, oddly enough, my dad’s an attorney, my brother, my sister, my grandfather, two uncles and an Aunt . Oh my God. So if you guys get sued, don’t call me. But I do have some wheatleys on deck for you in the legal space. But when you grow up in that house, when you grow up in the house of an attorney, you’re constantly making an argument. And that doesn’t mean you’re being combative with people, but it’s like, okay, if you believe that thing, that’s great. Prove it. Hmm. Like, why, why do you believe that? Let’s not leave it at surface value. Let’s, let’s develop an argument. Let’s develop our thinking. And so there’s so many ways I could answer that question as far as why a book, but that’s just a couple. I was always a reader raised by an attorney and oh,
AJV (07:51):
That’s good. Here we have it. You know what’s interesting is as we come to a close on the year 2022, I have shared this with many people that I’ve encountered over the last few months, that this has probably been single-handedly the best year of my life. Both personally and professionally, but not because something extraordinary happened in our business. Although there’s lots of successes, but there’s been lots of ups and downs, or there wasn’t something extraordinary that happened in my personal life. But this year has been the single most 40 year of my life because of my commitment, my recommitment to personal development. And I am finishing my 15th book of the year. I’ve got just, I don’t know, maybe a third of the this last book I’m reading called Live No Lies by John Mark Comer that I had the opportunity made my, made the opportunity for myself.
AJV (08:47):
I read through the entire Bible this year and then read 15 books. And I, I shared this with Rory about halfway through the, the year this year. And I said, I think I forgot the power that a book has to change a life. And I am just a firsthand example of that this year. And you could ask anyone who is super close to me. I am a different person today than I was 12 months ago. And it is because of the books that I have just completely committed my life to just being in positive reading and filling my mind with things that are gonna help me versus potentially harm me. And it’s, I had just, I have fallen back in love with the power of the written word. And there’s nothing wrong with a short form content and a blog or a social media post or a podcast.
AJV (09:40):
But one of the things that I thought about this year is I do a lot of podcasting and write blogs and write social media posts. And I can tell you right now, the amount of time that I put into my podcast prep or blog prep or social media prep is teeny tiny. But the amount of time and preparation and thought that is required, that is mandatory to write a good book takes a lifetime. And I forgot about that until I have like, been so transformed by books this year. And it’s, it’s one of the reasons why I wanted, I wanted to ask that question because I think there’s just, people have forgotten the amount of preparation and editing and re-editing that it takes to like, make a book a book, and we kind of get consumed with that short form content or pop it in our ear of going, man, we just whipped that out, for 15 minutes prep versus a lifetime of experiences and stories that really make up a book. And I, again, and we know how long it takes to do this and the fact that you’ve done it in such a short amount of time is incredible. But then also knowing that the book that you have will change someone’s life is pretty freaking extraordinary.
BW (11:01):
Yeah. Well I, and I’m so glad you you said that not necessarily about me. I’m saying I have that, I’ve had that same experience where as I’ve written more, I’ve become a much better reader mm-hmm. Because I’m, I’m so grateful for the work that these men and women have put in on those books. Like when I was in the, in the buses, in the locker rooms of the minor leagues reading book after book after book, I really didn’t care. It was, or I wasn’t as grateful as I should have been. Now after having spent two and a half years writing a book, writing, rewriting, editing, throwing stuff away, like there, there is so much that goes into a book just because it is, it’s so complex. And of course it depends on the project, but by and large you have to write 200 pages. That makes sense.
BW (11:50):
Yeah. You know, and you’re sharing like this’s just thousands upon thousands of your own words. And you’re right, like when it comes to a podcast, you and I are having a conversation, we’re keeping it casual. We could pause the whole deal when it comes to a book. It is set in stone mm-hmm. . And so I totally agree with what you’re saying. As I’ve written more, I just so appreciate writing, especially cuz like, it took me two and a half years to write a book and I have a, I have a Mac. Like imagine these guys who like, I, I like classic novels and know I quote a number of them in my book. But if you think about like a toll story or you know, like you think about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, like then they didn’t have a Mac like the, the minds of these people to write something down like that. And with the lack of tools, the lack of technology, it’s just, it’s so impressive and so awesome that we’re able to share that. Oh my god. And years later,
AJV (12:52):
I have a girlfriend who is just, she’s incredible, her name’s Victoria Jackson. And she hand wrote both of her first books. And I was like, what, what does that mean? And she was like, what do you mean, what does it mean? I had some paper and a pen or a pencil. And I was like, what?
BW (13:11):
That is wild. I couldn’t imagine that my two year book would’ve taken two decades. That’s crazy. good for her.
AJV (13:20):
So, okay, well on the topic of getting this book out there and for all of you who are listening, who are these first time authors? I think there’s some really strategic questions that we wanna dive into today. That would just help anyone who is listening in a universal kind of perspective shift and all the different ways that you can actually write a book. Because if you are going about writing a book, there’s a few different ways you can do it, right? There’s the traditional path, right? You’re gonna try to work with a p a traditional publishing house, which means you probably need an agent. They’re gonna have, you’re gonna have a book deal, you’re gonna have a book proposal, you’re gonna do the whole thingy, right? Then there’s the opposite of that, which the self-published route, right? And I always use this example how Elrod, right?
AJV (14:00):
People always go, well, self-published, like is it really gonna get distribution? Well, it’s like he’s now sold 2 million copies of the Miracle Morning. So yeah, self-published can work just fine, right? But you’ve got that where you’re doing all of it and you’re paying for it up front, but you’re keeping all the money on the back end. But then you kinda have this middle world, which is this hybrid model that has really come on strong in the, on the scene in the last 10 years where it’s, it’s like a traditional publishing hat publishing house because they can do some of the design and the editing and the distribution, but yet it’s more like a self-publish route in terms of you’re gonna keep and retain the rights and the money to your book. And so walk us through what did you do? How did you go through that decision making process and what has that decision been like for you?
BW (14:47):
Yeah, definitely. So I ended up taking that middle route. I did the, the hybrid model that you were describing where self-publish the book with an agent. So we call it agent led publishing. And when it comes to the traditional route, I mean, it’s called traditional for a reason. That’s how it used to be. But honestly, self-publishing is becoming so good these days. Not only in terms of the, the product, but the amount of people that are doing it. It’s not like the little kid brother like, oh, you self-published, ha ha ha. Like, you can, you can have a really solid product if you sell publish. And so for me personally, the traditional route wasn’t really in the cards. And I say that was for two reasons. One externally and one internally. The external would be I just didn’t have the platform. Mm-Hmm. , like if you’re looking for the New York publishing houses to give you a call, you’re gonna need to be somebody. And I just didn’t have that platform to where they’d be so enticed, oh, Bob, gotta have your book. So externally there was a no. Can
AJV (15:51):
We pause right there just for a second? Yeah, please. I think there’s a couple of nuggets in there that is really important. And we were having this chat before I hit record around how it really isn’t the New York Times, you know, best written book. It’s the New York Times best selling book. There’s a hundred
BW (16:09):
AJV (16:10):
Called that. And you know, it’s like any chart that you look at is not really a, a critical claim on the quality of the book. It’s how well did the book sell, how well was it marketed? And you mentioned something that I think is really unique. It’s like, I didn’t have the platform to attract a big publishing house. And so can you tell us a little bit about like, what your platform was and and then I can share, you know, feedback of like, we had, we experienced the exact same thing when we were initially trying to shop and get our books sold. But talk a little bit about this platform size and why traditional publishers lean into that. And then what was your size at the time? Just give some, you know, context for everyone who’s listening.
BW (16:55):
I mean, if you think about it, these are for-profit businesses. So if they had to choose between publishing Bob’s book or Barack Obama’s new memoir, like, duh, of course, of course they’re going with, with the president. So in terms of my platform, like even today, I probably have about 10,000 followers between all of my socials. That’d be LinkedIn, TikTok, Instagram, I might be a little over that, but it’s not hundreds, not hundreds of thousands. Not even close. So small fish in that pond. So I could write this amazing book. Wow, this is the best we’ve ever read. Not that anybody said that, I’m just saying in theory. And, you know, they, they still wouldn’t take my call mm-hmm. . So then it’s the, okay, I’m probably going the self-publishing route, which again is totally fine, but I was so blessed to actually find an agent who believed in me, who saw the projectability of things.
BW (17:49):
Like she, she read one chapter of my book and there was enough to warrant a, a phone call and we’re actually on Zoom and you know, we, we talked for 20 minutes or so, and then I was so glad that I was prepared for this. She asked me, what’s the next book? I was like, let me, let me show you. And so I have it, you know, I have all the files ready to go and pulled up and like, I had already written like 20,000 words of my next book. That was all thanks to honestly my brand builder’s training. So the fact that I am like, you only get that phone call once because my agent, she’s a, as a Christian podcaster and author, she’s like on the Mount Rushmore of the Christian publishing world. Like she is, she is a baller. And so she represents all these amazing authors. She’s 80 New York Times bestsellers. And she said, Bob will take a chance on you. And I think part of that, a writing something
AJV (18:45):
As a compliment to you, please, but then a reminder to everyone else is having quality content is a prerequisite, it’s a requirement, right? That’s not what gets you published. That’s not what gets you an agent. That’s the expectation of it has to be good, it has to have value, it has to exceed the value that I thought I was going to get in this chapter. And that’s, that’s just like basic level, nothing more than that. Everything above that is how are you going to distribute this, right? But I think that’s really important around, it’s like, you know, there is this weird mix of how am I gonna sell the book and how am I gonna market the book? And also how do I make sure this book provides value that has the power to help and change the reader, right? And I think that that’s not something we wanna skimp over of going, you know, this is something we say often at Brain Builders Group is that the book is always the last thing you do, not the first thing you do, it’s the culmination of years and stories and experiences and data and research and all the things.
AJV (19:57):
It’s not the first thing you do, it’s the last thing you do because, you know, this is, this is, this is the, the summation of everything. It’s not the hypothesis. And so the fact that you did that and you had quality work is what even got you the call, right? And so, just for everyone listening, it’s like focusing in on the content and making sure it is value rich and value written like that is, don’t get us wrong when we say it’s a New York Times best selling author and you gotta sell it and promote it and market it. Yes. That’s how you get in the hands of people. But if you really wanna work with people and you really wanna provide value, it’s the content has got to be life changing.
BW (20:38):
Totally. And that’s exactly what she shared with me. She said, typically, whether it’s her criteria or even a, a traditional publisher, they look at three things. They look at the product, they look at the plan, and they look at the platform. Mm-Hmm. , you need to have two of those three things or they will not consider you at all. So when she was looking at my specific situation, product plan platform, okay, well, she, she liked the product, she liked, you know, the, the chapter that she read and the concept of the book as a whole, also my writing style. She’s like, Hey, there, there’s something here. Then the plan, it’s like, look, I know I don’t have the platform, but here’s, here’s what we’re gonna do to sell it. Here’s the whole plan as far as the podcast tour and the, the bulk orders. And here’s here is the, here’s the plan.
BW (21:27):
We actually have one, like, like you said, it’s not, you know, New York Times best, best writing, it’s New York Times best Selling. So here’s my selling plan. And then the platform, I probably failed that test, but again, it’s two of the three Perfect World. You have all three and then you know, you it’s gang busters and you sell millions of books. That’s awesome. . But yeah, it it was one of those doors that were just cracked open. I had a a, a former friend that went to USC with me. He was a, a student athlete there, and he was connected with this agent. So I got a phone call with her. But then to be able to take advantage of that call, I think is just gonna be a, a real milestone moment for me as I look back on my life and my writing career, frankly.
AJV (22:15):
Yeah. And I think that’s, that’s really significant too. Like, there’s just so many nuggets. If you’re not writing down notes, I would encourage you to like write down some notes because these are some really significant nuggets too. It’s that, and I think so often somehow we just think we’re gonna send a bunch of cold pitches and send out a bunch of chapters and we’re gonna just like network wor network our way in through social media or through our content. And unless you have a massive platform, that is likely not the way you’re going to get to partner with an agent or a publishing house. But the most likely way is that you put on your sales hat and you work your personal, you know, sphere of influence and you figure out who knows someone who knows someone who maybe even knows someone who could get me a call, right?
AJV (23:03):
And it’s like, do not disregard the importance of the statement that Bob just made as I had a friend who knew this person who could refer me in. We all know someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows someone, right. Seven degrees of Kevin Bacon. But we, we’ve gotta be confident enough, inspired enough that what we’re doing means something to actually say, Hey, I’m willing to go out on a limb here. I’m gonna ask for this. Why? Because I’m so convicted in what I’m talking about. I’m so passionate about this that I can’t not, right? I can’t contain it. I can’t keep it in. I have to get it out there. And we all need a little bit more of that if this is something that we really wanna go after, because that’s how it’s most often going to happen, right? It’s a referral in. It’s taking that, you know, sales mindset and going, who do I know? Who knows someone who can help get me connected to the right person? Right? Totally.
BW (24:02):
As far as what we can control, I think that’s absolutely the way to go. Part of it is, you know, divine providence. And if, if God has good works prepared for us, I think he’ll open the doors that need to be open, shut the doors that need to be shut. But yeah, we have a responsibility as well. You’re absolutely right.
AJV (24:19):
Yeah. It’s that, you know, that whole saying, it’s like let God do what he can do and let you know you do what you can do. Right. And it’s like we both have a role to play. I can’t just sit here and say, bring it to me . Right? Yeah. If it shows up at my door that’s not really how it works. We gotta work while we wait. So, so you decided to kind of go this, you know, hybrid model, right? And a lot of that was you had a good product, you had a good plan, but you didn’t really have the platform, right? So walk us through like, what does that look like for somebody who’s out there going, okay, like what are my options and what does a hybrid model really work look like? So behind the scenes, give us the real deal, like what does it look like in this hybrid model?
BW (25:02):
Yeah, totally. So when it comes to self-publishing versus traditional, one of the value add is you retain all of the rights of your book. Whereas with traditional publishing, it’s typically the large pop. You know, you make six figures for some people, I mentioned Barack Obama probably a seven figure advance. Like that’s pretty sweet. That’s a, that’s a big deal. But then when it comes to the, the commissions thereafter, like you’re basically making a dollar a book forever. Once you earn out that advance, they pay you,
AJV (25:34):
You sell a lot
BW (25:35):
, right? Totally. But I mean, oftentimes those advances are, you get it all upfront and it’s like, hey, you could sell zero books, still keep it so that, that’s a, it’s a cool thing. But then when it comes to self-publishing, the margins are significantly greater. You know, you might make $6 a book or something, but also you retain the rights to it. So if you wanted to, if you wanted to change the title, you could, if you wanted to change the cover, if you wanted to make a movie from it, if like it is yours, it is still yours, you are self-publishing. And so that is one of the value ads of doing this hybrid model, because I have the representation where I have this awesome agent in my corner, we’re self-publishing together. So if anybody, let’s let’s say actually sell this book, say a lot of people buy it and like it, and that’s awesome.
BW (26:22):
People can then say, oh, well he’s working with her. Oh, well te tell me more about this guy. Cuz I’ve never heard of him and his 10,000 social media followers. Like, he seems like a nobody but the book. People like the book and he’s represented by, by somebody with a name. So you retain the rights, but then also you have that representation to where if the book really sells, you can just flip it. You can go to those traditional publishers, say, Hey, kinda like a proof of concept, like a beta test. Hey they, they sold 2000 copies in their first three months. Hey, they sold 5,000 copies this summer. Do you want it? So having that agent in your corner, I mean, and they have those, the publishers on speed dial, cuz that is their job pitching the, the projects of their clients to those houses. So yeah, there’s, there’s give and take with both traditional and self. But for me, that hybrid model, just having the representation, having somebody in my corner has been so valuable. Not to mention as a first time author, being able to borrow other people’s mistakes so I don’t have to make them myself so valuable. Having a coach, having somebody say, okay, this is what you need to expect has been, has been just so, so awesome for me. Yeah,
AJV (27:42):
I love that. And as everyone’s kind of like, you know, thinking about this and it’s the way that we’ve explained it, you know, in our, in our own household as we, you know, we’ve done two books with traditional publishing houses and I think there’s pros and cons to all the things, but you know, with traditional publishing, you’re really paying all of the fees yourself upfront in the hopes of making money on the backend, right? Whereas often if you have a six figure plus advance, you’re getting the money on the front end and very little, very little on the back end. So you’re kind of paying for it no matter what. It’s just, do you wanna pay the upfront costs, retain the rights, retain the ownership, retain, you know, I would even say the creative rights of covers, images, titles and you’re gonna pay for it, but then you’re gonna make it back on the backend as long as you have a good plan and a growing platform.
AJV (28:38):
Or do you go, Hey, I’ll forego those things. I’ll get that short term upfront money, but I’m also gonna forgo lots and lots of royalties. You know, and again, I’m talking, generally speaking, there’s plenty of people who make royalties. But I can, I mean, I can attest that in the non-fiction world, you know, we have a national bestseller and a New York Times bestseller and we can not even pay for monthly groceries off of our royalties. So I’ll tell you, it’s like even, you know, New York Times best selling books there’s, you know, again, it’s like you’ve gotta just have that continuity plan. But again, it’s because the royalty percentage is really small. Right? And those are all good lessons learned. But the other thing, you know, I think that’s really important is you don’t think that the creative rights are that important to retain, but they are like, one of the biggest lessons that we learned through the publishing process was with my husband’s second book Procrastinate on Purpose.
AJV (29:38):
And this is way before we knew the hard, hard lessons that we know now. We went with a, you know, a kitschy title, something that we thought was clever, called Procrastinate on Purpose, and didn’t have the same impact that we had with Take the Stairs. And then when Rory released his TED Talk, multiply Your Time, you know, it’s got what, 6 million Ted or 6 million views now. And we’re going, what’s the exact same content? What in the world? And it had so much to do with the title. And for three years, for three years we have been trying to get this dead gum title changed. We’ve tried to change the cover image we never liked the cover image. And they will not for the life of us, change the title no matter what or change the creative concept of the cover. And it’s like, those are things that you forego and it’s like, I think those are important lessons to learn. And we’ve, you know, fortunately, unfortunately learned them the hard ways. But again, there’s pros and cons to all of it. But that is a really great pro that you can go, Hey, I’m gonna make some tweaks here, republish, let’s go again. Don’t get that with a traditional publisher most of the time,
BW (30:50):
Right? When it comes to the traditional publishing that you know hasn’t changed is it still has the cachet. You can say, I’m with so-and-so publishing house. It’s like, okay, big deal. Like this is, this is a, this person is a big deal. They know what they’re doing. They like, they have a book deal versus self-publishing. Like we just understand what is what. But you’re right there, there are pros and cons to both. And with somebody in my position, or perhaps the person listening, you might not have the option. Mm-Hmm. , you might not. So if you go the self-publishing route, just know there are a lot of pros of that world over a traditional Absolutely. There’s nothing wrong with going that route.
AJV (31:30):
Absolutely. And I think it’s getting stronger and more reputable literally every single month. Not even every year. It’s like every month. That industry is doing a pretty dominant takeover in a lot of ways. So that’s so super helpful. So now there’s this art and science of actually writing the book and getting it in the hands of other people to actually read it. So what we’d love to hear is just what are some best practices and pitfalls, some dos and don’ts of how to get this writing part done in the most effective but also efficient manner. So what are the, some of the lessons you’ve learned about how do you actually finish writing a book? Because we all know someone who had an idea that never got started or had an idea that got halfway started and never got finished. And so how do you actually bring this thing to fruition?
BW (32:27):
Yeah, totally. I, I would say for the person who is considering starting a book, like, Hey, bucket List, I’ve always wanted to do this. Don’t get caught up in the, the perfectionism of things. I would say if, let’s say you have the concept, cuz you need, you need to know the destination of where you’re trying to go. Your first goal should be just create the outline, create the skeleton. You’re gonna put meat on those bones eventually, but create your system. Like, especially if you’re in the non-fiction world, like if you just look at the non-fiction books that you have on your shelves, oftentimes it’s some sort of system. It’s the five love languages, it’s the seven baby steps, it’s the seven habits of highly affected people, right? We’re taking this expertise in whatever field you’re in and we narrow it down. If we’ve spent 10, 20, 30 years, we are like a world renowned expert, or at least we just know more than the reader.
BW (33:28):
Cuz that’s all you need. Let’s make it simple, let’s narrow it down. And so I would say if you are the bucket list person, hey, I really wanna write a book. I’m sure you have the concept there. It might be a little fuzzy, but you have the destination next step, just create the system. Five love languages, seven habits, whatever it is. Like, do a, do a brain dump, write down everything that you believe and then say, okay, how can I piece this together to make it clearer for the next person? Hmm. So that would be the first step. The second thing, and this might be difficult for the perfectionists that are, are listening to this, but that was me. So this is just something I learned as far as pitfalls. Like this is one that I stepped into. This is an error that I made.
BW (34:11):
Your first draft will be bad, will be, I I promise you it will be. So lean into that. Let that be your first, like your first foray into writing. Your goal is not to write the bestselling book initially. like literally my goal, like on any books that I have moving forward, my, my first goal when it comes to the actual writing is to write a bad book. Write a bad book. But it has to be a book. Like it has to be 200 pages. Don’t write a bad chapter. Chapter. Yeah. Like it, people have done that. Like you need to write a book, but it doesn’t have to be perfect. So give yourself the permission to write a bad book. Then you take a weekend off, maybe take a week off like you let somebody else read it, whatever, get it outta your hands. But it’s, it’s done.
BW (35:03):
Like there’s so many people that have started a book, in fact, I’ve done this myself with previous projects that will never see the light of day, where it’s just, you know, one chapter, two chapter three, dead end. Like just, you just lose the juice. So, and I’m being kind of facetious, like, hey, write a bad book. But like, that’ll be a challenge in itself. You know, you need to write 200 pages of stuff that is just okay. Just okay then give it to somebody you trust, maybe one or two people in terms of the editing process. And then you make it it better and better and better. I would also say don’t waste your editors. Like let’s say you have 10 people that you trust, you’re in a book club or whatever it might be. Do not give it to all 10 of them right away. Because if you do that, then they might all have great feedback. But what happens if they’re not aligned? Mm-Hmm. , Hey, I love chapter three. Hey, I really don’t like chapter three. Who’s right? Both, neither in the middle. Like, you really don’t know. So just give your book to a person, have ’em edit. You don’t have to apply all the things that they do. But that is like a solo like test in isolation. Hey, just read my book with a pen in your hand and think on paper. And so if you’re really bored in chapter three, like that’s good for me to know. Cuz that’s a 16 page chapter. It’ll be much better if it’s 12.
AJV (36:31):
I will tell you about that. That’s great advice. Not just for writing a book. That’s great advice for life. It’s like, so often we get bad advice and it’s because we ask the wrong questions or we ask the wrong people. So to be super tight and small and considerate with who you’re asking to do something, I think it’s really why sound advice for writing a book, but also for life no matter what it is that you’re doing it’s being very intentional with who’s the one giving you some of that feedback. I love that. That’s just good life advice.
BW (37:08):
And I can’t say I came up with it myself. If I could get add like one additional thing, have a mentor. Hmm. Have somebody that you’re trying to model. Like as I was playing in the minor leagues, I would watch film of other left-handed pitchers that I wanted to emulate. I was watching Clayton Kershaw, I was watching John Lester. Why? Because they were the person that I wanted to be. So, and there’s gonna be some creative, you know, latitude for you to work with. It is your book, it’s your writing style. Like this isn’t a true copy and paste, but as far as that, don’t waste your editor’s advice. My writing mentor told me that. So if you wanna write a book, if you wanna start a business, you wanna play in the big league, it’s like, get somebody that has done it before and say, Hey, if you were in my shoes, what would you be thinking about that? Again, it’s probably more like life advice than anything, but if you’re listening to this and you’re thinking about writing, awesome. Find somebody who’s written, Hmm. Give ’em a call.
AJV (38:07):
And I think one of the underlying things that you’re saying across this is like, don’t be afraid to invest in yourself. Right? It’s like, it’s gonna be a time, money resource but there’s gonna be all different types of investments. I know that you work a lot of weekends and after hours, but I also imagine it probably doesn’t feel like work. It feels like a passion, it feels like a hobby, like a purpose. But I also know that you invest a lot of resources and of your own money into doing this. And I think that’s just something that let’s not, you know, not address, you know, the elephant of the room. Like this is no joke. This is going to be an investment of energy, time, money and resources. Anything you wanna add to that?
BW (38:55):
Well, yeah, totally. If if it wasn’t a book, if it was some other widget that you don’t sell for $12, you’re starting a business. Like if you’re starting a donut shop, you wouldn’t expect, oh, I think I’ll spend like, I mean 97, 90 $8 to get this thing started. Like, no, you’re spending thousands of dollars, tens of thousands, maybe hundreds depending on the project to start your business. And so it would just depend on the book that you’re writing. There’s nothing wrong with writing something where it’s more like a journal for the eventual grandkids. Totally fine. But if you say no, like, I want to write a book, I want it to be published and I want it to change people’s lives. Don’t expect to do that without an investment. Hmm. Whether it’s time, money, or both. And so you shared it on the front end of the call. How’d you put it? You said something like, I can’t not share this. That’s when you know you have a book in you. If you have something you can’t not share, it’s just like, oh, if I could just share this one thing with the world, like I, I would, I have to. It’s like, well, you totally can.
AJV (39:59):
I love
BW (40:00):
That. Sit down at the desk 90 minutes a day, you know, every day except for Sunday and it will happen like that. That’s been my, that’s been my strategy. And I think that’s one area where playing pro sports, specifically baseball has helped. We had a game every day. Mm-Hmm. . Like, if there’s anything that baseball players are good at, it’s just showing up. Just like you, you might lose, you might be the, the scapegoat of the game before you blew it. You know, you, you lost the game. There’s a game tomorrow and the next day and the next day. Like there’s a quote in Bull Durham. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains. There’s always a game tomorrow. Like, just keep showing up. So if you say, look, I wanna write a book. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, like, make a plan, commit to, all right, I’m gonna write for 90 minutes a day until it’s done.
BW (40:54):
And it will be hard. But sometimes, I mean, when it, when it comes to something worth doing, it’s always hard. Hmm. It’s always hard and it’s worth it. I’m already writing my second book. Like it was, it was such a rewarding experience and I’m, you know, I’m kind of like geeking out on this right now, but it’s just what an amazing thing to set your mind to something and finish it. And now moving forward I can share that with people. Mm-Hmm. Like the conversations that you have as a result of your book, the Doors that open, and it’s not for money, fame, anything like that. I now have a connection piece with friends, family, colleagues. I was just at the gym last night and there’s this gal that I’ve kind of worked out alongside for like years and it’s one of those gym relationships where you kinda like give ’em a head nod.
BW (41:48):
It’s like, Hey, I see you every Thursday, but like, we don’t, we don’t talk and Tina talk, actually know each other. , she and I, she and I talk a little and you know, it’s kind of just like the smile and then put in the headbutts the earbuds. But like for me to give her my book last night and like to see her light up and that’s something that we’ll now share. Hopefully she likes it. we’ll see t b d we’ll see, we’ll talk about it on the next episode. But to be able to share that with somebody, like what a cool thing as humans. Yeah. I love that. That’s what we’re made for. We want to connect and, and share and and love. So yeah. It’s, it’s been a, a great journey for me. I’m so glad I’m on it.
AJV (42:25):
Oh man, I love that. And I love that too of just that great reminder. It’s like, you know, half of it, it’s just showing up. It’s just showing up. I, that just, it reminds me about some of like the early advice I got as a new mom. It’s like, you know, half of the success of parenting is just showing up. It’s just showing up and you gotta do it and you gotta do it every day. Right. You gotta do it every day. And you mentioned something there, it’s like, well you said it’s like, well, you know, it’s like I can’t not share this. And so as we’re kind of like rounding out towards the end of our interview here, it’s like, what is it that you can’t not share? So tell us a little bit about this new book that’s coming out. It releases January, 2023, our Heart’s Desire. Tell us like what, what’s this book all about?
BW (43:09):
Yeah. like you said, it’s called Our Heart’s Desire Subtitles, how our stories reveal the thing we want Most. And so I’m a Christian. I love God. This book is, and it’s so funny cuz you and I hadn’t talked about this. You read the Bible this year. That, that’s amazing. That’s so cool. We should do it together next year.
AJV (43:31):
It’s been, revel a revelation of my perspective of, you know, I’m actually this book I was just reading live No Lies. One of the things it said, it’s like, you know, the Bible is a historical work. And so it’s like I have both read the Bible, both in a historical perspective as well as a, you know, spending time with God, perspective of learning and growing and that, but it’s been more of a, a knowledge journey of a, a historical record. And it’s, to view it that way has been extraordinary. And it’s like I’m now taking that approach with books of like, there are, you know, just these different facets of how you learn. And it’s been so exci. I can’t wait to read your book. I told you earlier, it’s not in my office, it’s next to my bedside. And so I’m so excited to read it. So tell everyone else about it. I’ll stop talking.
BW (44:20):
Yeah, no, that, that was my fault. That was my tangent. I’ll own that. But in, in terms of this book, aj, the reason why that caught my ear, you reading the Bible last year, I’ve done that every year, year for the last five years. Wow. Wow. I have a mentor here in Nashville that recommended that I do it, and it’s just become my routine. Wow. Like, I wake up in the morning, I read the Bible for 20, 30 minutes, whatever that day warrants. And so that doesn’t make me an expert on scripture. I would never claim that. But it does mean I am constantly reminding myself of that story. And so as I had written a couple of those books, like I said a few minutes ago that stopped and started and didn’t go anywhere. I was also learning about story and about writing and stuff like that because that seed had been planted and I was kind of getting there.
BW (45:08):
And so this book came about because I’m learning about story and also reading the story of scripture. And what I realized was the, the similarities between the two mm-hmm. and like the subtitle, how our stories reveal the thing we want most. When we look at our favorite movies or novels or whatever it is, you’ll see all of the same motifs over and over and over again. You have the hero, like the protagonist, you have the villain, the love interest to be saved. You typically begin in some sort of paradise. That paradise is lost. The entire story is about restoring that paradise. Mm-Hmm. . And so as I’m reading the story of scripture five years in a row, I’m like, well, that, that’s the story. That’s what this book, the Bible is saying. And so if this is truly God’s word, and if this, if this is truth, that’s the story we were born into.
BW (46:04):
That’s wild. Because you could have humans writing books, writing screenplays in Hollywood. They keep telling that same story, hero villain, love interest to be saved. We want to return to paradise. And then you think about the desires of our heart. Like even we could even take, you know, God out of it for a second. If you look at society, if you look at your window and you say, this is wrong, or you look at any sort of like social dilemma or things like that, all we’re trying to do, AJ is restore paradise. That’s it. Like we just wanna live in paradise. That’s what we are made for. And so if the Bible is God’s word, which I wholeheartedly believe it is, we’ll have that. What an amazing thing. Now God, as the author of that story, has a specific way that he wants that to unfold.
BW (46:57):
But we have the same desire that he does. It’s just that we’re like on the hamster wheel of, oh, let me get to Paradise faster. Mm-Hmm. , and he’s the author of, of the story. He’s the one that’s dictating the terms. And so basically what I did is I took the Bible and I told it through stories. So quote dozens of movies, novels, plays, like I talk about the Dark Knight, the Hunger Games. I talk about the back and forth relationship of Rachel and Ross and friends. Like, I’m just, I’m guiding you through the story of scripture by using stories that you understand. And so this isn’t like a top shelf, overly academic. Like there’s not gonna be any pastors or theologians that nerd out over this. I wrote this book for the person who wants to connect with God but doesn’t really know where to start.
BW (47:52):
Hmm. So as the person who’s read the Bible, you know, the last five years, like, all right, well, but I grew up in the church. I’ve been going to Christian schools since seventh grade. Like, so I was in it, I was around it. If there’s somebody who wants to know God but didn’t have that, what would they do? Hmm. Because they’re not, I can open the King James and like, oh, you know, oh, I totally get this right. But I believe as humans, like just on a, on a heart level, we have this story written on our hearts. We want to return to that paradise. We wanna see every tear wiped away. And if what the Bible says is true, that’s exactly what God plans for us. It can give us so much hope. Yeah. So that’s the book.
AJV (48:39):
I hope that it sells millions of copies and I hope that it gets in hands, the hands of millions of people. But I know it’s in my hands, it’s on my bedside and it’s gonna be one of my first reads of 2023. And I would encourage any of you listening, if that sounds appealing to you, to get to see, you know, the work of a first time author to bring this out, but also this really creative and unique depiction of how do we take these pop cultural references and movies and shows and love stories that we’re so accustomed to and start, how do we apply this and learn about the Bible? Then that might be a book for you. So Bob, tell people where can they go to order a copy of the book and where can they go to learn more about you?
BW (49:20):
Yeah. Best place is just bob wheatley.com. Have everything for you there, Bob wheatley.com. You can place an order. We are also given away the audiobook completely free for anybody that pre-orders. So depending on when you listen to this it’s probably still gonna be available for you. Just go to bob wheatley.com. If you place that order, it’ll be super easy right there on the homepage. First name, email your receipt number, and then boom, you have an additional five hours of my voice. So hopefully that’s not a detractor. Maybe I should , maybe I should have kept that to myself. But yeah, audiobook is entirely free. If you love the idea of the book, I don’t want you to have to wait.
AJV (50:01):
So I love that y’all check out Bob. Go to bob wheatley.com. You can order a copy of our Heart’s Desire and if you do it as a presale you’re gonna get a free copy of the audiobook so you can listen and give the copy away. But if you also just wanna learn more about Bob and his story you can get all of his social media handles on his website. We’ll also put all of those in the show notes. Bob, thank you so much. It was so awesome to have you on the show to hear about the journey, but also learn about the book. I’m so excited for you. I hope this gets in the hands of exactly who needs it. We love you, we support you and to everyone else we’ll catch you next time on the Influential Personal Brand. We’ll see you later.