Hey everybody, this is AJ Vaden, one of your co-hosts on the influential Personal brand. And I’m so excited to get to interview my friend Risha Grant today, because she’s awesome and y’all are gonna love her. But two, I just love getting to talk to first time authors who have done the incredibly hard work to dream up the idea of a book, work with a traditional publisher, write it, get it sold, and then to get to talk to them right before it goes live is like one of the best things in the whole world. So you’re gonna get to hear a little bit about that journey. And before I formally introduce you, Teisha I just wanna remind everyone why you need to stick around for this particular episode because I know so many of the people in our audience and in the Brand Builders Group community have so many questions about what it takes to write a book.
Should I try to get a traditional publisher? Should I self-publish? Should I do some sort of hybrid publisher? Like so many people talk about writing the book, and so few talk about selling the book. ’cause The truth is, if you actually want anyone to read it, they have to buy it. And then they have to be motivated and motivated enough to start the book. And that is what we’re gonna talk about today, is the journey from idea to writing, to publishing, to selling, and to actually having this make an impactful change in the readers of your book. And so, Isha is gonna walk us through what that journey look like, looks like for a first time author. And that is why you want to stick around. So if you have a dream of writing a book, you’re in the middle of writing the book, or you’re about to launch a book, this is an episode that you want to listen to.
So stick around and let me formally introduce the one and the only Reha Grant. So here’s just a high level. I, I personally know Reha. So I get to just speak volumes about who she is as a human being. But she is an incredibly sought after keynote speaker. She speaks on anything from culture and leadership and personal accountability as well as diversity, equi diversity, equity and inclusion. Like I’ve got tongue tied today,
Thanks for having me. I am super excited to be here. So let’s, let’s get to it. Let’s, let’s really talk about it. ’cause You’re so, right. It is writing it is one thing. Selling it is a completely different animal.
Yeah. So I, I wanna kind of know, because I know that there’s, there’s many journeys when it comes to writing a book. And I wanna know, like, first things first. What made you go, this has to be a book, right? So for the people who are listening, who are going, and I think I wanna write a book, maybe they should hear this before they make that formal decision. So let’s talk about that first.
Well, it’s because all of the stages that I’ve been on, right? I get a chance to talk to so many people, and I consider that, you know, a huge blessing. And they have so many questions, you know, within the speech, I’m out of there, in and out of there in an hour, 45 minutes I’m speaking. And people have all of these questions and they wanna know more. And you can only give them little tidbits within that speech. And they want, they want to continue to learn. And so I’ve thought, you know what? My journey has been insane. You know, for so many reasons. You know, I could be looked at as someone who wasn’t supposed to do all the things that I’m doing. And I thought, let me put it in the book. ’cause If I can inspire or impact anyone’s life in a way that lets them know, it doesn’t matter where you come from, it doesn’t matter what you’ve been through. If you want to be better, do better go out there and crush goals. You can do that. You can make that decision. And this is how I did it. So I decided to put it in a book. And so it’s actually my second book. The first book was self-published, this second book, traditional publisher, completely different ballgame.
Yeah. And I should have practiced that first time author with a traditional publisher. Yes,
Yeah, I probably should too, but
So, so let’s talk about that, like the route to working with a traditional publisher and what is, what does it take and why, why did they decide to work with you? And I would be so curious to hear your experience and your take on that. ’cause I have my own stories of what it took us to get a publisher interested. So walk us through. It’s like, if you really wanna write a book, which I love that. And, you know, I would say I’ve been more reminded over the last two years of the power that books have. Like, I think I forgot that a book has the power to change your life. ’cause I had stopped reading during Covid for some reading for some Unbe un unbeknownst reason to me. And it’s like, they do, like, books are powerful and they take so much time and passion and energy to get it out there. But then to actually, you know, work with a traditional publisher who they’re not working with just anybody. Yeah. They’re working on kind of the, the sure win. Like, Hey, I, I, I’m not, they’re not in the gambling business. They’re like, Nope, I think this is gonna sell a lot of books,
I think, so for me, it was a long process that took a lot of patience. This second book has been six years in the making. But what happened is I went and spoke at a, at a conference that I did not wanna go and speak at, because it was one of those you pay for everything to come here, but the everybody in the audience, you know, is, is going to want to do business with you. And I was a little, you know, not, not that excited about it,
One thing I will say about, about this whole process is they are focused on how many people are going to buy this book, right? You can have this idea, you think it’s great, which I did. I had a, I had a different idea that I thought was great. They were like, that’s great, but if we broaden this, you know, then we’re going to be able to sell it to more people. And so I found myself thinking about, well, you know, maybe it’s not for everybody. Maybe it’s for a certain, you know, certain smaller group of people that would really benefit from it. But they kept pushing me and kept pushing me. And so we got to this bigger book. My agent has been amazing. He was able to actually get my, my book in a bidding war with three, three different publishing companies.
And so we ended up going with Hay House because they just had an amazing offer. And I say this like it was nothing, but when I tell y’all it was
There’s, there’s a description for every chapter. There’s a sample chapter. There’s who are your competitors and why is your book different? Who’s gonna buy this book? What does your platform look like? Do you have enough people in social media to support this book? What does your email list look like? How are you gonna publicize it? Because they don’t really do any of that
And actually, I’ll pause right here just for a second because I think a lot of people forget that if you really want to go big, and I would say this, even if you are considering doing a hybrid or a self-published book, doing the book proposal is the business plan. And I love the way that you said that. It is the architectural blueprint of how am I going to position this book? How am I gonna market this book? How am I gonna sell this book? What audiences do I have access to? And regardless of what way you decide to publish, this can be as robust as necessary. But it’s really important for you to actually think about these things. Because getting the book published, quite honestly, is like, at the very beginning stages of the journey. Like, that’s a part of the process that that’s not the end goal that is
So I started in August of 20. This would’ve been August of 2019, I believe. And so the book proposal itself I actually ended up going and getting help with that because it was so expansive. I mean, I had, my agent sent me all of these proposals to look at, and I was like, oh my gosh. You know, and, and even if you’ve tried to write a book, you know that the only way to write a book is to actually write a book. You have to sit down. You have to figure out what time works for you, when you’re gonna have the least amount of distraction when you can actually get this done. Well, I was speaking like 70 times a year.
So let’s just talk about this just for a second. Like, I think the really unknown part of this for most people is the process of writing a book proposal. So can you just like, walk us through like, how long did that part take?
Months. It, it took months. Gosh, we probably allotted six months to write that proposal. Because it’s not, it’s not just a, here’s a couple of pages on what I think this book should be. There are, you have to do a chapter description for each chapter. You have to write a sample chapter. You have to then talk about marketing and how you plan to actually market this book, who your competitors are, and why your book is different from theirs. Then you have to do an overview even after you’ve done all of the, the chapter descriptions and the sample chapter. It is a living document that is really thick. You know it, so by the time you sit down and write the book, the great thing about it is, you know, all of the stuff you wanna talk about. We varied a little bit from that.
‘Cause We, we, when we presented it, we had 11 chapters and we ended up with nine because one of the things we noticed is that we didn’t have as much information for a couple of the chapters. They were gonna be a lot shorter than the other ones. So we were able to figure out a way to to just build those out, you know, by, by placing them into other chapters. So we were able to get it done. But it is a it’s just an incredibly long process, I think from, so from the time that you write the proposal, then they have to take it and sell it and see who’s interested in it. And so we had we had one, one group that we knew, one publishing company that we knew was interested in the book, but of course we wanted to get the best deal that we could get.
So it went to bid three, three publishing companies bid on it. And then once we got the deal, then we actually had to write the thing
Yeah. And I just think that’s like so important. Like you said something there, which was, so I had to get this proposal and then they had to go sell it, right? And that’s just an important distinction of going, like, your book proposal is a sales tool. It’s a sales and marketing tool. And, you know, think about the amount of research that it takes to do that. And then you’ve gotta go to the sales process, then you’ve gotta go to write the book, and then it goes into editing and publishing. So we are in August of 2023. When did you start this process? Isha?
2019. Yes. It was a really, really long process. And four years is really, you know, it’s good considering mm-hmm.
I mean, the third book will just take two. You know? Yes,
Yes. I’m gonna keep getting better. I’m gonna keep getting better. But it is a it’s been a real process. ’cause I mean, you think getting the book done is the big deal, and you’re like, yes, I’ve done this. That’s, I mean, you gotta do that, but it’s this other part of actually selling the book. And that is the, that’s where I am now. That’s where I’ve been since February. I mean, we’re talking, working seven days a week. I’m talking 10 plus hour days, more like 15 plus hour days for a lot of this time since February. I have gone back to every client I’ve worked with, if I’ve consulted for you, spoken for you met you, you’ve heard from me at this point about buying this book. And that was not something that it’s Yeah. Yeah. And that, and that is not something that I could hand off to somebody else.
You know, I tried to delegate where possible. But what I’ve realized is if I want to hit the bestseller list, if I want to actually, ’cause let me say this, there are a lot of books out there. Mm-Hmm.
Yeah. Good luck. Let us know how it goes.
Yes. They’re happy for everything you’re gonna do, but they wanna know what are you going to do? And that was what I think helped to sell the book. I mean, they were interested in the topic, but we had such a robust marketing plan in that thing that and, and I’ll be honest, my background is marketing and pr. So it was helpful that I was able to to really look at that and really see how we can push the book. And we have, we have done everything that, that we know to do. But it’s not a it’s not a, I wrote this and, you know, here it is, and now I’m gonna go sit down and watch all the great things happen. That is not it.
That’s a real bummer.
Yeah. That is not it so far.
I would, I would love to hear from you for everyone who’s listening, what would you say are the sales tactics and the sales strategies that you feel like are really working to move books?
You know, I don’t think people talk about this enough, but I think it’s relationship. It is, for me anyway. I’m not saying ’cause, you know, social media, that, that’s been helpful. Pr and the pr that’s really been helpful has been the pr where I’m writing op-ed pieces or I’m getting to write longer pieces for Fast Company or business Insider and those kinds of things. But it has been the relationships for me. I am I’m big on relationship building. I’ve, my, my entire career, I’ve been big on it because I know that when things go bad in business, and it will if things go bad in writing this book, and it will, you know, you need to be able to call on people and say, Hey, this is happening, and I’m not sure which way to go. Hmm. And so with the book I focused my sales campaign on my relationships.
Now I have been, I’ve owned my own business since I got outta college pretty much like a couple years out of college. So it’s been over 25 years. But those relationships, you know, I make sure that I am doing more. Like, what can I do for you, you know, as the client. It’s not just about what you can do for me, but how we can together make sure that we are able to help each other. Yeah. And so when it came to something like selling books, that’s what I’ve done. And, you know, whether it’s, whether it’s a speech or what, you know, whether it’s a a q and a or one-on-one consulting, I’m offering services that people usually pay a lot, a lot of money for. And it’s not like they’re not paying that for the books, but they’re getting a heck of a discount
Wow. And I so, so appreciate you being transparent in that, because that was our experience too. It’s like we, you know, it’s like we had all these grandiose marketing plans and at the end of the day, 90% of our book sales came from us selling.
Yes. Yes. That is, that is it. There is no way around it. And if somebody finds out something else, let me know.
There is no, I think that’s just like a really important part. It’s like writing and getting your book out there is like, it’s like launching your own micro business.
Yes. And it’s like
Business plan, content strategy, sales and marketing plan. It needs staff, it needs attention. And it’s like, you’re not ready to emotionally invest and then actually financially invest. Yeah. Then you’re not ready. Right. ’cause It’s gonna require all the above
Financial investment. Yes.
That you not Yeah. I think you know, it’s a, it is a misnomer that you, you get a publisher and you don’t have to worry about money couldn’t be further from the truth. I mean, this is an investment. It’s a financial investment that is pretty substantial. Uhhuh
It is. And, and then also back to that kind of sales piece for just a second, and I think this is a, a testament to, although I I love you, it wasn’t top of mind for me to proactively be like, oh, Isha, let me have you on the show because my brain is busy. Yes. But it’s like you did a call to action on an Instagram post, and then it, I think somebody had tagged me and it’s, I think it was Amy LaValley. Yes. Yes.
Yeah, it is. I mean, I’m doing the same thing. I probably have 5,000 contacts in my phone. I am one by one contacting these people. Some of these people I haven’t talked to since before the pandemic. And I’m saying, yes, it is me. I know we haven’t spoken in three years, but I’m shamelessly asking for your support. Just purchased one book. And so people are sending me screenshots back that they purchased the book I ran into. And anybody I’ve done business with, my, my makeup person that I use sometimes I run into her at the mall this weekend. She said, oh, you sent me a text. She was like, I gotta get it. I’m like, go ahead and get it now.
Let me pull up the link for you right
Now. Yeah. You’re gonna go back to work in a second and you’re not gonna think about this. So it’s not like one time I have to send this and I mean one text message at a time. It is so time consuming. But I’ve gotta go back through those people and say, Hey, you know, I just wanna make sure you remember to purchase this book. It is an all day commitment. And so from the time I get up in the morning, I, I work out, you know, and then, then the rest of my day is, is pushing these books out. So, well,
I know the amount of work that goes into this, and so I’m just so excited for you, I’m so proud of the work that you’re doing, because this is a book people need. And it’s like, I know this is like launching a business, having a baby. Like, it’s that level of intensity. And I’ve had done both. So I can say that
Radical acceptance. I work in the, the diversity, equity, and inclusion field, and I’ve been working in the field long before it was a hot topic. And what I’ve known is that there are so many people that feel excluded, ostracized, left out, and not just to a point of of isolating themselves, but to the point of taking their lives and not feeling like they matter. And you know, we have so many, so many things in this world that say, this is normal and this is who you have to be, you know? And if you’re not this person and you don’t fit into this perfect box, then you’re not worthy. Hmm. And people would come and talk to me about, they, they have so many stories. Maybe it was their race, maybe it was their sexual orientation, maybe it was their religion. Maybe it was just that they wanted to be a dancer and their parents wanted ’em to be a lawyer.
It doesn’t matter what it is. We’re not allowed to authentically show up as who we are. And it’s, and one thing that I never understood about it is we don’t have to agree on everything. You don’t have to like my lifestyle, but you do have to treat me with common courtesy, decency, and respect. And when I walk into work, it should at least be a place that mandates behavior that allows me to do my job in the way that that wins and is helping the company win and meet their goals and, and helping me to meet my goals. And so people are, environments are in environments where they’re, we’re in a complete suit of armor every day to just kind of deflect all of the BSS coming at them every day. And I thought, you know, what if we were just accepting of each other, and I’m not talking about, ’cause I know that can go a whole bunch of ways for a whole bunch of people, things that are just horrible things.
I’m not talking about those things. I’m talking about showing people that you see the humanity in them and allowing them to be who they are without your judgment. Hmm. That is, that is all I’m talking about. I know in the wellness world, radical acceptance is about taking, taking your pain and trying to avoid the pain that’s coming at you. The radical acceptance that I teach is about helping you not cause pain to yourself or to others. And so, it’s a thing that e even within myself, there are so many things about me that would be looked at as a negative. Like most people that I’ve come in contact with. And I, and it’s not missed on me that because I’m on this stage and because I’ve, I’ve been blessed to build this business that that everybody likes me. Well, if you didn’t know me in that realm, and you just knew, you know, you just knew Isha, here’s this, you know, I I, I always start every speech with, I’m a small town divorced ex preacher’s wife who comes from a loving but largely religious family.
Some describe me as this competitive relentless ex division one basketball player. But my friends as an extremely loyal but conditional extrovert. I also happen to be a bisexual black woman, a serial entrepreneur, and a Catholic middle school basketball coach who runs a diversity consulting and communications firm in one of the reddest states of the nation. When I say that, so many things within that Yeah. Are things that people frown upon. Mm. And they wouldn’t give me, you know, give me the chance to, to be me. And so I learned that if I would radically accept myself, you know, be willing to lose everything, to gain myself, then I could extend that love and acceptance toward other people, you know? And so it’s, it’s radical acceptance of yourself, of others and, and of the world. You know, are you willing to be wrong to get the company culture right.
Are you willing to lose judgment in the moment to win humanity in the end? And so that’s what took up all these years. That’s what made me say, you know what people need to know. They matter. You know, you may be, you may be the one person in someone’s day that smiles and treats them with kindness, one person that keeps them going. And we are so caught up in our own stuff that we don’t do that. So that’s why the book is called Be Better Than Your bss, because we all are carrying around and BSS stands for our biospheres, our Belief Systems, you know, the bias synapse in our brain that deals with unconscious bias. So I want people to know that people are people, you know, you can, you can mentally disagree with someone’s life, but still embrace the person that they are.
Wow. I would say that’s worth four years of your life.
That’s exactly what the biosphere is. Yeah. It’s those five socializing agents that we all grow up in from our family and friends to peers and schools and religion and media. And we, we don’t really know what we think for ourselves because from the time we’re born, our family tell us what to think. And then as we go through life, you know, we, we don’t really take the time to research it for ourselves. And so are, we will really willing to unlearn all of the things that we’ve learned from the people that we love and the institutions that we trust.
That’s so good. On that note, if there was one profile, if there was one person who is listening to the show today that you could identify and go, you, I wrote this book for you and you need to pick it up. Yeah. Can you tell us who that would be?
That would be the person that feels as though they don’t belong anywhere. They don’t fit anywhere. They’re the person who says, because I look like this or dress like this, or don’t fit into this box, you know, I’m not worthy. Mm-Hmm. It’s also for the company that says, you know what, we’re an imperfect company working with imperfect people, but together we can create the kind of company where people can thrive. It’s it’s for companies that, that understand that they may not have handled everything the best that they could in the past, but they can actually read this and work with their employees to build a better future.
Yeah. I love that. Who wouldn’t want to pick up the book when you frame it that way? Right. Yeah. I think that’s a really, really important message. And, and I think one of the things that is important for everyone listening is going, if you aren’t willing to give up years of your life however many, because you believe in it that much, then it’s not the right topic. Yes. You shouldn’t, it shouldn’t be what you do because it’s, you’ve got to go, it’s worth it. Yes. It’s worth all of the money and the time and the investment because it needs to be said and it needs to be heard.
And that was what is going to carry you on those days where you’re like, why am I doing this? Am I crazy? This makes no sense. I’m spending money, I’m spending time. But when you know that the impact is greater and that the impact is, is going to change somebody’s life, that’s gonna carry you through those days for where you’re questioning your own sanity
Oh, wow. That is a great question. I wish that I had followed my gut on, on some things that that I probably didn’t need to do that I was, that I was led to do. And I have the benefit of having been in business a long time, but, you know, when you’re embarking on something new and you have a lot of new people involved you wanna do all the things that they tell you that works. I would say always trust your gut. It, it is not gonna lead you astray. And not that because the things that I have learned and encountered, they’ve all been great. But just because there’s so much work and so much time, I wish I had just stayed in line with my gut and said, okay, that may, that may be great, but I’m still gonna go this direction because I know it works for me.
I love that. Second question. What’s the number one thing you have learned through this process?
I love that. And third question what would be the one piece of advice that you would give to someone who is going, I’ve got a topic, I’ve got a message that’s worth it for me. Right. The time, sweat, tears, money. It’s worth it to me. Yeah. What should I do first? What should I do first? Isha, what’s your one piece of advice?
I would run the, run the idea by a lot of different people to see what the interest is. Because some, sometimes things that are important to you may not be important to a massive group of people that that you need to buy this book and read this book. I know that we talk a lot about, well that’s important to you, but it’s
So you wanna make sure that there’s a beginning, a middle, and an end. And I think I think there are people out there who are willing to maybe look at your synopsis if you’ve put together a synopsis and, and tell you what they think. And I think you have to that’s where your gut comes in though, because sometimes those people are gonna be wrong, even though they they are people that you trust, admire, you know, believe in. You’ve seen them do it over and over. Sometimes, you know, people will look at something you have and say, it’s not gonna work, but in your gut, if you know it’s gonna work, you also need to need to run with it. So yeah, just, I, I believe in bouncing stuff off of people. I think that’s really, especially for something like a book, I mean, you want a lot of people to buy it, so make sure that it means something to other people besides yourself.
It’s so good. You said something that made me think about this thing. So we read a lot in the Vaden household. It’s part of our jobs, but also part we love it. Like we love books we love reading. And we have this thing where if we read a book or listen to a book we’ll always ask you, how was it? And we have this saying in our house with my husband and I, and we’ll go I’ll always say, well, it should have been a blog. And he’s said, what do you mean? And I’m like, should have been a blog
And everything else just turned into stories and fluffy stuff because you had this amazing idea, but there wasn’t enough to make it a book. Right? It should have been a chapter of the book, not the book. And so we, now we now we have this saying is like, was it, you know, was it a book, a blog, or a podcast? Like what, what was it?
It’s like we get so excited, but we forget now. This has to go for a lot of pages, a lot of words. Yes. Is there enough depth into it or should it be a chapter? Should it be a blog or a podcast?
So, so good. And Isha, if people want to read your book which is more than a blog, so please go read this book. It will be the whole book,
Go to Amazon. Be better than your bss. How Radical Acceptance empowers Authenticity and Creates a Workplace Culture of Inclusion.
So y’all, you heard it here, go to Amazon, pick up the book better than your BS by Isha grant. And if you wanna just be extremely specific, just go to the show notes of this episode. I’ll have the exact Amazon link in there. Go buy a copy and help this woman hit the bestseller list. Isha, we are so excited for you. We love you so much, and everybody else, thank you. See you next time on the Influential Personal.