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Episode 328: Chris Joseph on Publishing a Book About His Recovery From Cancer

Sep 16, 2020

In the last 33 years, Chris Joseph has started and managed three environmental consulting businesses, launched two fan-funded music record companies and founded a non-profit charitable foundation. He has also dabbled in philanthropy, songwriting and magazine writing, and he is currently studying for his real estate license. Chris is an LA native who lives in Santa Monica with his two teenage sons and his longtime girlfriend Susie. 

He is also the author of Life is a Ride: My Unconventional Journey to Cancer Recovery which I am very proud to say Launch Pad has just published. The book is about how, after being diagnosed with third-stage pancreatic cancer and discouraged by traditional medical treatment, he embarked on his own path to healing. It's a beautiful, poignant journey that will inspire many and I'm looking forward to seeing what it does for him.


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Anna David:                  00:01                So Hey there, Chris Joseph, how fun is this?

Chris Joseph:                00:05                This is fun. It's going to be fun.

Anna David:                  00:08                I'm going to ask you at the end if it's fun, but I think it's fun. So, this is a very special interview for me because we've been working so closely together. And while I have had clients on the show before nobody that I've worked this closely with in so many capacities, and I should say, we're recording this a few weeks before the release, but listener by the time you hear it, this book is out. So, let us talk about how you're feeling right now and how you're planning to launch this book?

Chris Joseph:                00:44                How I'm feeling right now. Well, that's a multifaceted answer. I'm feeling nervous since this is my first podcast. I'm doing my first podcast interview. I am incredibly excited about this book, incredibly excited. I lived this journey for four years, which we'll talk about, I started writing this in March, which doesn't seem like that long ago, but I've been working nonstop on this since March. So, I'm also, I'm nervous, I'm excited and I'm a bit relieved to be honest, that the book is done. Now I'm going to go back to nervous because I'm, you know, whenever you put something out into the world for someone to comment on or read a review or whatever, people are going to have comments, and of course I want them to be good. So yeah, I'm a little nervous about that.

Anna David:                  01:44                They will be good. I mean, what's there to find fault with A, in you. We've never met. So, when I say that, I can't find fault with you, but that's obviously you are a human being, but I can't imagine you know, do you think it could cause some controversy in the cancer community?

Chris Joseph:                02:06                You know, there's a couple parts in the book where I take aim at Western to use Western medicine to heal. I use Western medicine in part to heal. And I, you know, it couldn't see, but I, when I was writing the book, I kept that in mind. I kept my commentary very limited. And I would just want to tell my story because I felt if I told my story, no one can argue with that. They may not like it, they may not like the stories, but, but no one can take issue with it.

Anna David:                  02:42                What about the doctors that you, you use the real names? Yeah?

Chris Joseph:                02:50                The first oncologist that I fired, I changed his name. I have not spoken to him since March of 2017, since I fired him. There's a part of me that wants to send him the book. And I might, I might do that. It sounds a little bit addictive, but I might.

Anna David:                  03:11                I so understand that instinct. I had a psychiatrist before I got sober, who, who just did something terrible to me. And that sounds just really weird. He did something that is immoral. He basically gave me enough pills to kill myself and told me he couldn't help me because I was a liar, and never said AA or rehab or anything like that. And then, and so I've written about it extensively using his name. He now runs a rehab. So, I consider that fair warning. But I get that. So, let's, so before March, how long had you been wanting to tell your story?

Chris Joseph:                03:55                So can I tell 30 seconds of my history? In October, 2016, I got diagnosed with third stage pancreatic cancer, which was a complete shock and scary as fuck. I was well aware that pancreatic cancer is a deadly form of cancer for most people. I was so scared that I just did what the doctor told me, what my oncologist told me to do, which was go on chemotherapy and chemotherapy almost killed me. And it wasn't even helping, but it almost, it almost killed me. I forgot your question though.


Anna David:                  00:00                So how long had you been wanting to tell your story?

Chris Joseph:                00:08                I actually, when I first got diagnosed, I was really torn about telling anyone, let alone ever having the thought of writing a book. But early on in my cancer journey, I started writing a blog and the blog got really good reactions, good responses. And then about a year into my journey, when I started doing better, I started getting calls from people from cancer patients and also from family members and friends of cancer patients, wanting to know what did I do to survive pancreatic cancer? And I probably got about, I don't know, 50 calls over the two or three years. And so around the first of this year, early in 2020, I thought, well, so many people are asking me about the story and I knew it was a good story. I decided, well, what the heck I'm going to see if I can write a book. I knew nothing about writing a book. Nothing. Never had tried one, never attempted one. I consider myself to be a halfway decent writer, but it's a different kind of writing that I do. I do technical writing. I've never tried writing a memoir. This is a plug for you and your publishing company, but I can't remember who told me about the workshop you did in March, which I joined. And from that I hired you guys to do an outline. And then you created simultaneously when the pandemic hit, then you created the inner circle. And I joined that and from March on that's when I started writing it and going full bore. So this wasn't really a well thought out plan until this year.

Anna David:                  02:01                Well, it's so interesting. Yeah. I don't know how you came to be aware of me, but you, yeah, you just popped up one day and then popped up every day thereafter for every opportunity I presented and I was like, who is this guy? And at first I get overwhelmed when new people come into my circle, literal circle. And I please forgive me, I was getting you mixed up in the beginning with the truck driver guy whose name we won't mention. I just had you two mixed up. And so I was like, okay, that guy, truck driver is writing a book on cancer. And this guy, Chris is writing a book on trucking. And then I figured it out rather quickly. And I will say that, you know, you showed up every day and have shown up every day to write. And the Inner Circle for anyone who doesn't know is this monthly membership program where everybody meets Monday through Friday and writes for an hour and an enrollment will open up again in the spring of 2021. But when you, when you said I'm done with my book, was it, you know, within three months, I would say, you said that?

Chris Joseph:                03:12                Then I was done with it. Yes. I started in March and I finished in June. Yeah.

Anna David:                  03:17                So I was like, okay, here we go. When a non writer writes a book, it's one thing. But when a non-writer writes a book in three months, that's, and I really, and I sort of told you this, I braced myself for what's this going to look like? And I start reading it. And I had just, I hadn't read your book. I didn't know what a good writer you are and I'm not blowing smoke because you can ask most of the clients that I work with, who turn in manuscripts and I'm like, whoa this needs a ton of work. And I, and I saw immediately, not only that I wanted to keep reading, but that, but that it didn't need a lot of work. And I was so impressed, and so important. I was on board before, because I was supportive of the story, but I really got on board once I read what you've done. And it is such a Testament to, just to just saying, okay, I'm going to do this. I'm going to do this quickly and I'm going to do this well. You proved to me that it's possible. So that's pretty special, but yes, go ahead.

Chris Joseph:                04:20                First of all, thank you for that. That's very nice to hear. I, like I said, I always knew I had a great story. I always knew that. I didn't know if I could write it. What I learned, one of the many things I've learned in this process is that it's one thing to write the book, but it's quite another thing to go through the editing process, which has been wonderful. Absolutely wonderful. That's a lot of work too. It's a lot of work. I thought when I finished in June, I started to take a deep breath and then I got the first set of comments back from one of your staff. Okay. I got to dig in again. I got to dig it again. So the last three months, it's not like I've been relaxing. It's been a lot of work since I've finished writing.

Anna David:                  05:08                Yeah. I mean, as the expression goes, writing is rewriting and people don't know that, and you've been such a good sport. And I mean, working hard and saying, thank you the whole way. That's not, everybody is so grateful. There are annoyed sometimes, but we have to make it the best, you know, the best quality thing we can or what's the point of releasing it.

Chris Joseph:                05:31                I never got annoyed because first of all, 99.9% of the comments were great. Second of all, I knew that the comments were making the book better and they did make it better. They made it much better. So I never had a problem at all, at all.

Anna David:                  05:49                Well, and so then, as we've discussed many times, the launch is a whole different thing. And frankly, because we get to take as authors, we get to make that as, as hard or as easy as short or as long as we want to. That's the good news. But you know, and I'll tell you with my own book, I'm taking a pause and then I'm going right back into it again, because you know, each book is something that is going to be around for the rest of our lives and after. So why not really go for it? So talk to me about your launch plans.

Chris Joseph:                06:27                Launch plans. Well, let me back up, I've run an environmental consulting company for over 30 years. And so when you're in the consulting business, you sell your services. So I've learned how to sell. I certainly don't know everything, but over 30 years, I've gained a lot of knowledge. I have never looked at launching this book as a, Oh my God, what am I going to do? I mean, I've certainly learned a lot of things from you and from other people about how to launch a book, but it was never a daunting. It's not a daunting task to me to, okay, I've got this, I'm just going to go full bore. I'm going to shamelessly plug myself. I've got from my day job, I've got an email list of about 20,000 people. I'm going to send emails to every one of them. Some of them are going to be personal emails. Some of them will be a form letter or whatever, but everyone's going to hear about my book. I belong to various chat boards. I'm going to post on various chat boards. I'm going to use social media, Instagram LinkedIn, Facebook. I'm thinking, and I probably should ask you about this, but I'm thinking about a Facebook avertude and see how that goes. I'm just starting to look into that. I have about four or five other things I'm doing if you want me to continue, but you look like you wanted to ask me a question.

Anna David:                  08:00                Well, I'll tell you something about Facebook ads and books. Cause this is something I just learned with this. I do not think, I'm sure Facebook Ads will disagree with me with the amount, unless you want to invest an insane amount of money. I do not think financially they pay off. However, I spent plenty on Facebook ads for my recent book because book sales is not my goal, earning back the money I'm spending. It's not my goal. My goal is to spread awareness and I actually have a great Facebook guy. I can give you who specializes in ads for books. And I think it's well worth it. Once the book is out, I'm a big believer in don't do, I mean, do a lot of prep for once it's out, but don't promote before it's out, to me that's like a very old school way of doing things that doesn't work very well anymore. But yes, keep going with your list.

Chris Joseph:                08:55                Podcasts, of which this is one, I've got a couple more lined up and I've got inquiries into about a half a dozen others. And there's, you may know there's a, such a large cancer community, sadly, but there is, there's so many people are afflicted with cancer. So I'm starting to reach out to people who I think would be like-minded with me and might want to interview me for their podcasts. Some different stuff I'm doing. The title of the book is Life Has Arrived. And it's also a song that I co-wrote back in 2017 in which I discussed the story that's in the book. The co-writer of the song is a great musician in New Orleans named Paul Sanchez. And Paul and I are talking about doing a book slash music tour. Once the pandemic eases or ends, we're probably not going to be able to do this till next year, but do maybe 10 house concerts, 12 house concerts around the country. Maybe get 50 to 75 people. I don't have unrealistic expectations, not everyone's going to buy the book or some people will already have the book. But I should tell you one other thing is that I'm not, I didn't write this book to make money. I didn't write this book to build my business. I wrote it because I too. I had to get it out. Yeah, I'm going to get a little overwhelmed now. I had to get it out. And what I realized what people offered me on my cancer journey, I didn't know this at the time, I needed hope. And I was getting hope from certain people early on. And I realized when people started calling me, I thought they wanted to know what I did and they wanted hope. They wanted hope. And that's what I want from the book. I don't want money. I want to provide hope.

Anna David:                  10:54                Right. And I think that shines through throughout, and I told you, I know somebody who has cancer now, and I was sending him parts of the book as I was editing it because I knew it would help him. But so let's talk about this music thing. Let's talk about your history with music and, you know, let's kind of an entrepreneurial, the way you jumped into Jazz Fest and that whole music scene kind of reminds me of how you jumped into writing and Launchpad. It's just like you are the guy who seems to just show up and then like kind of lead the crowd. Is that your vibe?

Chris Joseph:                11:33                Well as someone put it to me a few years ago they called me the idea guy. I have probably a hundred ideas and maybe 99 of them are really bad, but one of them is really, really good. And so the Jazz Fest thing after Katrina hit in 2005, there was a group of people who I had met through Jazz Fest and on the Jazz Fest chat boards we called ourselves threads. And we were trying to figure out a way to help the musicians in New Orleans. And there was a concert in 2007, after Paul Sanchez who I talked about earlier and John Bochay, they were playing a show and playing us up. And after their set ended, I asked him if they were going to make an album and they said they didn't have any money. They were still trying to find housing after Katrina, a year and a half later. And so I just came, it was sort of on the spot. I sort of came up with the idea, well, let's help. Let's help them out. Let's raise money. And that turned into a not for profit record company was fan-funding, crowdfunding, before crowdfunding was even before that there was even a term. We helped maybe there was a group of us, hundreds and hundreds of people we helped make over 60 albums in New Orleans started a separate nonprofit. That's helped give out about three quarters of a million dollars in grant money to New Orleans musicians. So again, I forgot your question, but yeah, I mean, that was how I got started helping out the musicians in New Orleans. And that's how, that's what led to the song. Life has Arrived. And that's what led to calling the book. Of course, Life Has Arrived.

Anna David:                  13:28                And so this idea about your concerts, what do you think of this? What do you think of charging tickets, but the, okay, so what you could, you could do two things. You could say they get free admission. If they buy the book or that like $65, I have no idea. And they get the book, the free admission. I know what you're going to say to me. You're like, I want, I don't want to charge anyone, something like that. I'm just coming to you as a publisher. Maybe you have shirts made that say like, or hats, Life Has Arrived. What do you think of that as like a way, and then it's automatic book sales.

Chris Joseph:                14:05                Just so you know, I'm not going to say don't charge money. But what I am going to say is charge money. Again, I just want to cover my costs with the book. But I want the money, any, you know, let's say we charged $50 or whatever, and they get a book and they get, there's a CD called Life Has Arrived as well. If there's $25 leftover per person, I want that money to go to Paul Sanchez because that's his living. And as you know, music clubs are closed around the country. He can't play beginning to do house concerts right now because people aren't hosting those. So when we do this, I want the money to go to him. But I do want some sort of a package deal. Yeah, absolutely.

Anna David:                  14:56                And so let's talk about your advanced reader team. So listener by the time you see this book, it should have many reviews and be number one in several of its categories. But tell me about who you gathered for that, how you're doing that, all of that stuff.

Chris Joseph:                15:11                So I knew, you know, the tournament advanced reader team was something I had never heard of until a couple of months ago when I became a part of your advanced reader team or make your mess, your memoir. And so I learned what the term meant and what the roles that the advanced review team members would play from that experience. Your team urged me to do it for this book and I was happily willing to do it. I have about 35 people on my advanced review team. They got the book about a week and a half ago. Most of them have already read it and given me their private reviews. And thankfully they're all really good, which is nice. Nice to hear. They're still maybe about a fifth of the people who haven't reviewed it yet, or they haven't told me. They're the ones that are going to purchase copies of the book of the eBooks and write reviews. Write about when the book goes on sale on September 15th. Yeah, it's exciting. It's a great way to create buzz. It's a great way to get really good reviews. I'm not sure if I'm answering the question you asked me, but.

Anna David:                  16:30                No. It's good. And just in case listeners don't know what we're even talking about. It's basically a group of people that you gather a month or two before, as Chris was saying, we give them, we'll put the book, a PDF of the book on a site called Book Funnel. You can always also send the PDF, but it's kind of nice. You put it on this site and they can download it. And then you ask them to read it and write up a review and just hold onto it until the book is on Amazon. And then what we do is we price a book at the e-book at 99 cents, just for the release. It depends sometimes we'll do it for the three days before the release. So just your advanced reader team goes in, buys it for 99 cents, paste the review, with make your [inaudible]. I left it at 99 cents for a couple of weeks, cause like I didn't really care. And now I've moved it back down to 99 cents. I'm always just kind of playing around with it, but it's a really good strategy to, as Chris said, get buzz, going, get reviews because it's all that social proof stuff. If you look at a book on Amazon that has two reviews, you're less likely to buy it. Then if you see one with, you know, he's seven reviews, so that's the strategy. And I noticed that you're putting in your emails, you've already, you know, author of the upcoming book, life as a writer. Is that what I saw?

Chris Joseph:                17:54                My email signature. Absolutely mentions it. Yeah. I've been doing that for a few weeks now. And I've had a few people ask me, Oh, you, you have a book. Oh, that's great. Tell me what it's about. You know, some people don't know about my journey, some of my clients and stuff, but yeah, I figure again, what I said a few minutes ago. I don't have a problem promoting myself whatsoever. There's many situations, many social situations where I'm very shy, but from a business standpoint, I figured, well, people are going to either say, Hey, that's great. Or they're going to think it's obnoxious or they're not going to think about it at all. And whatever they think it doesn't bother me.

Anna David:                  18:37                And it really, especially in a book like this, it is doing people a disservice if this book will help them. So I think it's also going, okay, this isn't about me. This is about getting this message to the people who need to hear it so that I think can take the self-consciousness too, away from it. I know I feel self conscious promoting books endlessly.

Chris Joseph:                19:01                I will tell you a very quick story. As recently as yesterday, I got a call, a friend of a friend from a woman who's 46 years old and about five weeks ago, got diagnosed with fourth stage colon cancer. And she'd heard about what I had gone through, about my success. I talked to her for about an hour yesterday. And, you know what it's like, I mean, to be of service to someone else is amazing. You can't put a price on that. You can't, I mean, I gave her some ideas, but more than anything, I think I just heard what she had to say and I understood what she was going through. And so, and again, I know I'm repeating myself, but that's what I want from the book. That's what I want.

Anna David:                  19:49                Yeah. I mean, and that is really what a book does. It's, you know, thousands or hundreds or dozens of conversations because it's not realistic to talk to everybody one-on-one, but that's what it's for to give people hope and to, for them to read it and know that there's someone out there who, even if it's not a successful story, I mean, yours is a massive success story, but just knowing that there are other people out there, because I think when we struggle, we forget one of the ideas of, you know, the symptoms of depression is thinking, you're the only person out there who's got this problem.

Chris Joseph:                20:25                Absolutely. Yes. We can make ourselves feel tremendously alone. Yeah, totally agree.

Anna David:                  20:32                And what else? Oh, I wanted to ask you about this. You know, you have this massive email list, but they're, there are clients for your company. How are you going to, email them once? Are you going to email them a few times are going to, how are you going to handle that? Have you written the emails yet? Because you should.

Chris Joseph:                20:52                I haven't written emails yet, but I probably will soon. I think I will probably pester people. I probably will. And I think, you know, from a 20,000 person email list, you know, I might get, I don't really know how many I would get to buy from that, but maybe a thousand people might buy it. I hope but I think, yeah, to your question to, will I send them repeat emails? Probably. Yeah, probably.

Anna David:                  21:29                Yeah. It's interesting. I sent out a newsletter last week talking about how the only backup I got, cause the week of my release, I sent out three emails and one person wrote me and said, you know like, you know, I guess with the virus, like you're here just for money. And so you're just trying to [inaudible] people by selling, selling, selling, you know, this is someone who signed up for my list and I'm like, Hey buddy, I'm selling my book for 99 cents. So I hope to God, nobody is trying to think of this as a way to make a living. But for the most part, people don't get upset for the most part people are really, you know, cause they also don't read every email. Think of all the emails that you know, you just automatically, so again, you're doing them a service by continuing to tell them about something that could help them.

Chris Joseph:                22:19                Also, I mean, in my day job, I get maybe a hundred emails a day, just work related emails. So I'm going to use in my responses to those emails. Oh, by the way, I don't know if you know, I have a book out that's really, so again, it's a shameless plug. I understand that, but that's fine. I'm okay with it.

Anna David:                  22:45                Speaking of shame, this was something that Emily Redondo and I pulled on my advanced reader team, which I highly recommend. We called it the double shame. It was for people who didn't do the review, who joined the advanced reader team, who didn't do the review, which the bigger your group is going to be, the more people you're going to have like that. So she sent an email saying, Hey, we didn't see your review. And then if they didn't respond to her, I sent the email saying the same thing, double shame. Oh my God, did it work? It was the one, two punch. And suddenly I had 10 more reviews. So I think that's also something, you know, Chris for you to know, and for anyone who's listening, who wants to use the advanced reader team technique, people say they're going to do it and they don't do it. And you just have to stay on top of them. We only had one person in the whole group that said, stop emailing me. I'm done. That's the solution.

Chris Joseph:                23:38                My kids would tell you that I have no, they know I nudge them about just about everything. So I don't have a problem bugging people.

Anna David:                  23:50                Good. It's going to come in handy cause you have such a nice demeanor too. It's never going to feel like bugging.

Chris Joseph:                23:56                I'm not sure. I'm not sure my kids would say that, but.

Anna David:                  24:02                I'll debate it with them. So, okay. We have to get close to wrapping up. What is it you want listeners to most know about your book?

Chris Joseph:                24:12                I guess it's about my book, and also about writing a book, you know, it's repeating a theme of what we've talked about at least a couple of times already on this podcast. But my book is about hope. And it's not even necessarily about cancer. It could be about any kind of serious life threatening disease. That's scary as fuck. I think that one of the things I was taught and I write about it in the book is to be your own CEO, take charge of your own healthcare. So I want people to know, and I think a lot of people already do know this. The doctors don't know everything. They don't, they know a lot, some of them know more than other doctors. But you know, it's talking about nudging people. You have to know your medical professionals. You have to question them, you have to get second opinions. You have to get third opinions. These are all the things I, by the way I didn't do when I first started. So I'm not saying this from a lofty perch, these are things I learned the hard way on my journey. So, you know, I want people to know that there's hope I want people to hopefully learn from mistakes I made and things and good things I learned along the way. What I want to tell people about writing a book is I sort of feel like if I can do it, a lot of people can do it. Because like I said, writing a book six months ago was not on my radar screen whatsoever or eight months ago. It's hard work. It's hard work and it takes a lot of diligence and it takes, I mean, I know I'm talking to someone who has written eight or nine books, but it's really worth it. I got to say I'm really, really happy that I wrote this book.