What It's Like to Be Chosen by Oprah with Greg BehrendtAug 12, 2020
Greg Behrendt is the #1 New York Times best-selling co-author of He’s Just Not That Into You and It’s Called A Breakup Because It’s Broken. He's appeared on every TV show known to man, including Oprah, The Tonight Show and The Today Show, is a life long standup comedian and co-hosts the relationship podcast Don't Take Bullshit From Fuckers.
He's also a life and writing coach, who can walk you through exactly how to write a book like his—as well as how to survive any adversity that comes your way (he's in recovery from addiction and has beaten cancer twice).
In this episode, we talk about what happens when the publishing dream that wasn't even your publishing dream comes true, how to handle being categorized as "that guy" after runaway success and how becoming Oprah's obsession for a brief time doesn't mean you're set for life.
Hi, Greg, this is my fourth time saying hi to you. Yeah, I do the interest separately. So listeners, you already heard it this and I'm sure I said it, even though I haven't recorded it yet. This is one of my favorite people on the planet, the planet, and you are in for a treat. No pressure. Now this is, this is what I have to say about you. So modest. You are so funny. You are so kind. And one would not know that you were in number one, New York times bestselling author from talking to you.
No, I don't bring it. I don't bring it up much.
In fact, I would like to coach you to bring it up more.
I, I I've actually heard that from people. Yeah, I've actually, yeah. I had a coach for a while ago. Why aren't you talking about this anymore? And I'm like, I don't know.
Even in the bio you sent me the other day, you do not say number one, New York times bestselling author, you say New York times best selling author. There is such a massive difference to the point that I'm going to change it, at least for what I put on.
Yeah. I S I started to realize that I didn't, I didn't realize that, that I really should make that distinction. You really should twice, twice, twice. Yeah.
Nobody. I mean, it obviously happens to somebody every week, so that's inactive.
Right, right, right, right. It does actually, actually it does actually happen. It really happens to someone literally, literally it literally happens to people all the time. It just doesn't happen to that many people in the grand scheme of things.
It tends to happen to the same people week after week after week. So let us talk about your journey to author them. Cause it is highly unique.
Right? Okay. Sure. Yeah. Well, I had, I had never had any intentions of writing a book. I mean, more than, you know, like other people have. I mean, you know, people, everybody thinks they have a book in them, you know which they do what's that
I did not think you had a book in you, is that true?
And, and, and when the idea to write a book came up, you know, I mean, I can just tell the story really quickly, but, but, you know, I was working as a consultant on sex in the city. And and there was a girl that was one of the writers was having a problem with her boyfriend. And she was seeing a guy. He didn't want to have sex with her. And she asked me if that was bad. And and then I just stared at her for 15 minutes. But then eventually I said, he's just not that into you, which I don't remember saying. And then this other writer lives to Chillo, who's there, who's the coauthor of the first book grabbed that out of the air and said, Oh my God, he's just not that India. That's a book. And I was like, I don't think so. I mean, it's barely a pamphlet and she's like, no, it's a book. It's a book, it's a book. And unfortunately I listened to her and we decided to write a book.
So it became a huge hit, which you didn't know what happened.
Right, right. Yeah. The episode really popped and they were talking about it on the view the next day. And and and that's when, you know, Liz was like, we really need to do something with this. So what happened next? So we wrote a treatment. We wrote we wrote intros, two chapters and a table of contents
Kills me and kills anyone. Who's tried to sell a book. It's not even called a treatment. It's called a proposal
Proposal. Right. Right.
You, you know, so, so you write this proposal and do a, you got an agent right away. Cause you guys worked on sex in the city. Is that, is that how that happened?
Yeah, I was at, I was at ICM and, and I got one of their junior lit agents who who repped the book sold it very quickly. No, no, it went, it went, I mean, it's so, I mean, we went to about six ages, I guess we went to about six, six publishing companies and we got everything from somebody saying this isn't even a magazine article to Simon and Schuster spotlight, which was like a little you know, a little churchy, airy label, theirs. And that did like novelty books and they liked it.
And so did you get one of those massive advances or not really?
No, not at all. No. We got, I think we got, I think we split $35,000.
So then you, you sat down and wrote the book and you and I lately been talking about the format for that book. How did you guys figure it out? Who did you sit in the same room and write, how did that work?
Well, she lived in New York and I was in Los Angeles. So we did a lot of it at the beginning by email, but then we decided to get together and it was those days together that really formatted the book, you know, writing together was really important. And we got a lot of help from my wife also at the time who was really encouraging and, and and really contributed quite a bit to the book. And you know, we just sort of broke it down into its easiest little pieces, you know, we started with, she's just not that into you, if he doesn't call you, you know, and then we worked all the way up to, he's not that into you if he has to be drunk with you all the time.
And so did you say, well, it's going to be, I don't know how many is it? 12, 12 different issues. That'll be chapter seven.
Yeah. We sort of came up with a format for how we would out the chapters, which was a little explanation at the beginning and then answer questions.
Were they real questions?
Some of them more and some of them weren't because nobody would have known nobody would have known me at that point to write and ask me questions.
Right. Right. So, and so you answered all the questions and then Liz will write something at the end, sort of analyze that. Very honestly, especially the one where, I mean, she basically writes in one chapter. Yeah. Maybe we are supposed to settle for mr. Good enough. But like, what if you know, what, if this, you never really get treated well, I mean, it was something like that. It was so honest. I remember it when I was single feeling that way, just going, you know what, I'll just say, the guy is not that into me because that's better than being alone. And I thought that was just piercingly honest.
Yeah. Liz is part of the book is crucial. I get a lot of the credit for the book because I'm the person that they're seeking, you know, it's a guy's advice. So I'm the guy. But Liz was crucial in, in, in, in backing my, in backing me up, but also in questioning me. Yeah. You know, she doesn't always want to agree with me.
Yeah. I certainly didn't. I read that, but when I read that book, I was enraged thought you were wrong. Didn't know you, you know, because I was dating a series of guys who were not that into me, that, that, that let's be fair. You had intimacy issues or they just weren't that into me. But I, but I do know the difference now and the book didn't enrage me when I just reread it. So what, then, you know what, since you had really such a Cinderella experience and most people who have a Cinderella experience, don't even know they're having it. They just think this is what it's like to have a book come out. Let's talk about what happened, the kind of attention you got, what the launch was like,
Well, the book came out and they only published, I think, 75,000 copies, something like that. And that is okay.
Most print runs are like 3000 or 5,000. Go on.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. This was, this was back in the back in the day. Yeah. Yeah. It was something, something like, like that, but there was no, there was barely any online books. Yeah. You know, I mean, it was, you know, that was a really, you know, most people bought their books from Amazon, but they bought hard cover books from Amazon. And and so the book came out and we got a couple of reviews, but within this, I think it was the second week of the books released. We got asked to go on Oprah.
Okay. How did that happen? How do you find it? So the
Publisher sent her copy and it went to the executive producer and the executive producer said we don't do dating books and, and, and said no to it. And then that was just a really aggressive producer, a young producer who got it to Oprah herself and had, and had, and Gail read it first and then called Oprah. Wow. And said, you've got to read this. And then Oprah was all over it.
And so then did you both go on Oprah? Just you,
So we both went on Oprah. Yeah. We both went on Oprah, but Oprah talked to me. She wanted Oprah didn't care about the book. She didn't want to talk about the book. She wanted me to tell women that their guys weren't into them. Like that's what she wanted the show to be. Right. So it was less about the book and more about, Oh, I call it the party track where a girl explains everything to me. And then I eventually just say, he's just not that into
How sick are you of saying that, you know, basically waiting out the story. Cause usually those explanations are very long. I know. Cause I want to make them and you know, what's coming. And I mean, how many times would you say you've had to do that?
Oh my God. I thousands and thousands of times. Yeah. You know,
And then people's responses. Aren't always pleasant.
No, sometimes they don't agree, you know? And I'm always happy to say, that's fine. You know what I mean? You have your own story, you know, it, you know, you asked my opinion and this is my assessing it. This is my opinion.
And so then you go on Oprah. Was that nerve wracking? What was that like?
And you know, I, I wasn't nervous about it til it started because I, I had, I mean, I'm being really honest. I, I don't know if I'd ever watched an episode of Oprah. Obviously I knew she was, and I knew she was a big deal, but it just wasn't my, you, you know, just wasn't I wasn't television that I watched. So I didn't quite get what a big deal she was tell she walked out on stage and the crowd went absolutely bad shit. And I suddenly went, Oh my God, this is big. This is a big deal. I mean, and I knew, I mean, obviously Liz and everybody impressed upon me how important it was, but I think probably not having seen her show made me a better guest.
Yeah. It's interesting. I had a friend who worked for own, and so I was invited once to a premiere that Oprah was introducing the movie. And it's the only time in my entire life where you are just allowed. These are sophisticated people who live in Hollywood, you were just allowed to start taking her picture. You know, that's one thing for paparazzi to do it, but for like LA dressed up at a premiere that I had never seen that done before, but she's just so famous that these jaded people didn't care. It was very interesting.
Yeah. I mean, she, she she's the real deal, man. She really is the real deal. She was very sweet and and really promoted the book. I mean, she kept saying to get this book, get this book, get this book, every break, get this book, get this book.
So what happens after that? After Oprah EHRs? I mean, or was it live? It was live.
No, it was, it was a week before. It was, it was, it was a week before I went back to LA. I went back to LA and I was, I was riding on a show and I went back to the show that I was riding on and, and we all watched the episode at work and it aired. And then we went to Amazon to look at the thing. And the book would had been at 800 in the morning. It was somewhere in the eight hundreds. And by that night it was at number one.
Yeah. And by the way, eight hundreds is not bad either, either there were fewer books then, but still so it's at number one. How long did it say the number one most sold book on Amazon?
It was sort of back and forth with John Stewart's America from it was in that show here and I think in August and it stayed number one almost all the way through Valentine's day.
Wow. So what happens to your life? What I do, you know, suddenly everyone's calling you to say, Hey, will you do a talk show and what, what happens next?
Well, I mean, you know, they wanted to turn the book into a movie when they did. Yeah, we did. We sold, we sold the script and book and they didn't use the script, but that's all right. You know, we got asked to go on, we were on everything. We were on every morning show. We were on every, you know, I was on, I think I went on the tonight show. We did Larry King Anderson Cooper. They did a 2020 on us. Yeah. Yeah. It was, it was really, it was really something.
And so your life does, did change overnight. I mean, you were already very successful, but did it change over time?
I was, you know, I was moderately successful, but as a standup, but not, you know, not like a, I wasn't like a, everybody knew who I was. Yeah, no. Yeah, definitely. And that was working. I was definitely working and I had development deals and all that kind of stuff for my comedy and, you know, I had all those kinds of things going on and then the book just exploded and then I became that guy.
Yeah. And let's talk about the conflict of becoming bad guy. Yeah.
Well, it just was, it was just sort of weird in that I never, I never, you know, like I, wasn't a person who had set out to have a career in the self-help arts, so, you know what I mean? I didn't, I just wanted to be a comedian. Yeah. And and suddenly, you know, I'm a relationship expert and, you know, getting offered a second deal for a book, another book and we're, you know, we're touring in Europe and just, it was just wild. It was like when in a contest, but I sort of wanted to go back and do stand up. And I kind of couldn't in a way, because everybody that came out to see me and wanted to hear about the book. Yeah, yeah. You know, and I think if I was a wiser person, I would have really leaned into it, but I didn't
Do what doesn't feel organically. Right. You know,
It was just knowing what to do with that. Like it's different now, and now that I coach people and all that, but it, but it, it it's a different world, I think. Had there been a more robust internet or something, it would have been easier to handle.
Yeah. I mean, you know, we have this in common. I accidentally became a relationship expert, but on a much lower scale, you know, cause I always story. So like whatever, the like D version of your experience, which was still a good version and you know, and my experience was, they said, Hey, do you want to come on and talk about relationships? And I was like, wait a second. You're going to pay me to do that. And that, that was how it happened. And I always felt pretty uncomfortable doing it in that role, because for me, you were, you were married. Like I was really struggling in relationships at that point. So I felt like such a hit.
Yeah. Well, you always feel like a hypocrite even married. It just, you feel a little bit like who am I to tell people what to do with their lives and you know, how is my life, how is my life an example of something somebody should want? And, and so I found it and also the thing that's sort of the thing that is key in my work is that it's very simple. It's not super complicated. So I don't like to get into the minutia so much sometimes because I feel like when people complicate things, they're bullshitting themselves and I, I kind of want to talk about your relationship and then be done with it. Do you know what I mean?
Yeah. Yeah. But it's just you know, I think because there are no rules for these things and we're fed a bunch of BS about it is the one place where people, not the one place, but it is probably the place where people are most looking for guidance and they don't even care if, you know, if you have a degree, if you're like a homeless guy on the street, like
Right. Want to be told, even if they don't like the answer. Yeah, no, it's true. It's true. People just want to be talked to. I mean, they, they really want to be straight talk to and and it's, I mean, I find it sometimes it's it, you know, and also some people want an answer. Some people don't, you know, that's just the difference, you know, when you're working with somebody who wants an answer, it's really fun because they're interested and they listen and they take your advice when you're working with somebody who has their own story, you know, you're just wasting your time.
And so, and so let's keep going with the publishing journey. So then you get a second book deal that you did with Liz or that you did with me.
No. So Liz didn't want to write relationship books anymore. She wanted to go off and do her own thing. And, and so but Amira and I wanted to write a breakup book. And so we got a deal to write a breakup. And that also was a number one New York times. Yeah. Yeah.
So here's what I think is most interesting about your story. What it's, everyone's dream, everyone's dreaming the number one New York times bestselling author on Oprah. Let's talk about what people don't see about that dream. What that, what, what what's the most, what are some of the most surprising aspects? What are, why is it, was it not a perfect experience or maybe it was
That's an interesting question. Well, you're not set for life. Yeah. Everybody thinks you're set for life. You're not set for life. Yeah. I wish that was the case, but it's not you gotta keep making money, but I think it was a pretty, I mean, it was a pretty amazing experience. I, I loved, I loved most of it, you know, I really did, you know, I enjoyed having a talk show and I had it for as long as I had it, you know, I enjoyed a lot of the places I got to go because of the book, you know, I got to see the world and I got to go see the world with my wife. So, I mean, that was great. And yeah, so it was, you know, I think, you know, a book doesn't seal your fate. It helps you get other things. I think most of the money came from other opportunities, not from the book.
Can we break, are you comfortable breaking down? Like what you made from,
Oh my God. I don't know. We made 50 cents or something. A book.
No, total. I mean,
Oh, totally off the book.
Like, like, are you still getting royalties?
Yeah, we get small royalty checks.
Yeah. Okay. So I won't probe and make you tell me the exact amount, but I'm going to guess you may not have been set for life, but it was a pretty penny.
Yeah, it was good. I mean, it was definitely good. It was definitely good.
And so then, you know, let's, let's expand on this idea of you're not set for life. What happens? Like did you want to be continuing to write books you still wanted to do?
So I still wanted to do stand up, which I did and I shot a couple of specials, but we continued to write books. We wrote one or we wrote one last year. And those books don't sell as well as the other books we, we did, we did it's called the breakup cause it's broken. And then we wrote, it's just a fucking date. And we got to teach a life class for that Oprah, which was pretty great. And then we put out how to keep your marriage from sucking about a year ago.
And but you sold the books or did you publish any of them?
No, we published them and we published the, we, we publish it's just a buck and date and kind of keep your marriage from sucking on our, on our, with with a company that they, there was no money up from. We took a 60, 40 split.
And tell me about when, when you had to get more creative for the launches, what did you guys do?
I mean the same stuff everybody else does, you know, we went on the radio and went on podcasts and, you know, tried to promote it through our social media.
I mean, I don't, to be fair. I don't think that is what, what everybody, you know, somebody, a lot of the listeners are people who want to put out their own books who don't have like the name value necessarily. How do you get on the radio and podcasts?
I mean with podcasts, you know, you, I guess you sorta gotta hustle. I think you let people know you have a book out and then you'd love to come and talk on their show. You know, I can get for hippy to hit people up. You know, your book could sound really interesting to somebody, you know with radio, we had a publicist that they at diversion, which was the label that we put our books out on and and they did okay. They didn't, they didn't do great stuff, you know, but we had enough of a name from, he's just not that into you to get, you know, that sort of always helps me get press. Yeah.
Yeah, absolutely. I don't think radio turns the needle much at all, unless it's MPR, but I don't know.
Yeah. Yeah. I think there's certain. Yeah. I think you're right. I think you're a hundred percent, right. I think NPR is a good place to get is to get some press, but you've been on NPR course, but morning shows and that kind of stuff, which we did don't really do turn them, turn the dial. I mean, going on, I mean, we were on the, you know, with this last book, how to keep your marriage from second, we were on the today show twice and it didn't do, you know, did, okay.
I know it's so interesting, you know, cause I did good morning America last week and I got this email from like a media trying to get me to buy the clip and they put in the email, this is the value, the money buy value of the segment. You did $250,000. And I I'm thinking, I bet it sold 10 books. So how is that? It was super fun to do because I haven't, you know, ever been on done the today show and stuff like that. But I hadn't been on a huge show in a long time, but $250,000 value. Like how are they counting that?
Yeah, I don't know about that. Yeah. I don't know about that. That, that didn't mean that wasn't the case with art book. I mean, with the first time we went on the today, show the, the book one up the charts, but, but the second time it didn't. Yeah, yeah. You know, and I, you know, and it all depends too, like in one of those segments, the host did most of the talking. Right. And so sometimes, you know, it, it depends on what happens in the interview. You know, you've got to put out some kind of, you know, the thing about especially self-help is, are, is what you're saying, going to be essential to somebody, you know, are you giving them an essential piece of information? What is the one thing that you're going to say? You know, the thing, like, he's just not that into you. It's like they would, people would set us up with questions and then I would say, right, that, that guy's not into you. And it would sort of make the case for the book. You know, it was very simple.
Had, has anyone ever told you a story where the conclusion was actually he is into you? It's just he'll take time or something like that.
Oh yeah. There's always somebody, who's got some story where, where, you know, the person came back into their life or, and we always just say, yeah, there's the exception in the rule, you know? Yeah. There's an exception to every rule, of course. But do you want to pretend that you're the exception the whole time and delude yourself or isn't it better to play it as the rule then if you're the exception, you'll be surprised.
Yeah. Yeah. That's good. That's good. So, and so let's talk about building a business from the book. That is what you've done now.
Yeah. Well, I've decided to, you know I've had these experiences writing and so, you know, I want to share my, my, my ability to write books and my enthusiasm for it and what I know with people who want to write relationship books or any kind of book really,
But first the coaching. So you started coaching and, and are, are people coming to you for relationship?
Yeah. They're coming to me for all of it. For all manner of stuff. It's sort of weird. I almost don't know how to promote myself sometimes because at first it was just life coaching and people were coming, but I found that I was getting writers and I was getting comics and I was getting actors and I was getting people in the business who wanted life help, but then they also wanted, you know, creative coaching. And and so I do a little bit of both. Yeah.
How do you do the, you know, someone listening wants to hire you as a coach? Like how, how does that work? Do they sign up for five sessions? What's the,
Yeah, well, you can go to my coaching page and then we do a 10 minute free call and we figure out what's best for you. You know, I usually do. I usually, you know, talk people into the idea of doing six calls, you know, something like that, so that we can, because you really do need to spend time with someone to get to know them. You know what I mean? You really need to talk to them more than once, but, but I'm also happy to have one call with somebody.
Yeah. And so, and so do you give them okay. And so listener you and I have been talking about partnering on teaching people how to do self help books because you've got this brilliant format and he's just not that into you that other people have been copying for years and years and years. So why shouldn't it come from the source let's talk,
Right? Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I know there's a, there's a whole book written about how to write a self help book. And it seems like they look took our book and use it as the format for the, for the, for the book, you know? I mean, you know, the, the key thing with w with all of this is, you know, if you want to write one of those books, what do you know, what do you know that I don't know, what can you tell me? You know, what can you tell me that I, that I don't know.
And so then where do they go from there? So then they go, okay, well, I know about overcoming a tragedy. So then, then what's the next,
Show me all the ways, you know, how to overcome tragedy and, you know,
It's the, are those different chapters?
Yeah. Yeah. Different types of tragedy and different types of you know what I mean? Like, to me, you need to be able to answer almost any question if you're the authority and you'd be able to answer any question on the topic,
That's really a good, that's a good tidbit. And so a lot of times, you know, it isn't, sometimes it will just be your personal experience, but sometimes it's going to be that plus a hell of a lot of reading.
Yeah. It depends on, it depends on what you're. Yeah. You're and what your subject matter is.
Yeah. I mean, if you're passionate about the topic, it's going to be fun to do the research. That's what you're going to go on to be reading and watching and all of that.
Yeah. I mean, even with Liz and I, we just knew that we, Liz had had enough dating experiences and I'd had enough experience as a guy to be able to talk about all the different ways in which somebody would not be into you. You know, the truth, you know, the subtitle of the book is the no excuses, truth to understanding guys, which I think is a little bold. I don't know that you understand guys completely when you're done with this, but you understand what it, what did you understand what it is when you're being alone, when you're not getting the kind of attention that you need? Yeah.
Yeah. So, so somebody listening could have an idea for a self help book and you could walk them through the entire process.
I think I could. Yeah. Yeah.
So, yeah. So, and, and, and listeners, if you like this idea, certainly email us and let us know slash put it in the, your iTunes review when you're talking about how much you love this, this episode. But, you know, basically we've been talking about, you know, doing some sort of a workshop or
Yeah. Structuring yeah.
Thing. Because I think a lot of people do not know how to write a self help book. I think a lot of people read them and think they know how to write them and then start them and realize, you know, they've got 70 pages in and they've said everything they have to say. I think that probably happens a lot.
Yes. One of the key things with really good self help books is the repetition. It's repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition. I mean, even the very, you know, even if you read the power of now, he is explaining the same thing to you over and over and over and over and over and over again. And he asks himself questions, you know, and then he answers them and, and that's what any good help is, is repetition. It's practice, you know, it's, it's like sports.
Yeah. It's so interesting because I really am not a fan of self help books at all, because I always say I get about 50 pages in and it starts to feel really repetitive and I'm a massively impatient person. So I'm like, why am I wasting my time reading this over and over again? You know, the same thing, but that's why your book is so special and why it was such a big hit because it's funny, there is a reason to, you know, I do not think most self help books give you enough of a reason to read the whole thing.
Right. Right. I mean, ours is, you can do that book in an evening like that. It is a, it is a, it's an easy to digest book and it's meant to be funny and it's meant to be light, but it also, you can go find your chapter in the book. You don't have to. The other thing is, is that we put all of the different combinations of what could be the problem in the book so that you can look it up and not have to read the first four chapters in your chapter five. Right. Right. You know, cause that's what, when people want help, when people, people who buy self help books are in crisis, they're in crisis and they want an answer and they don't really want to preamble about how you come to write a book. They don't care about all of that stuff. You know, they maybe they'll read it later, but what they want to know is I'm hurting. I want to stop hurting. How do I stop hurting?
And I think that, that brings up another point, which is, I think a lot of people write self help books with their own experience, talking a lot about their own experience. And while that can be interesting, the listener, the reader wants a solution to a problem. And so, you know, and that's why having a format and structure that works is so important because you can't. But I say this, having just published a book, that's, you know, 75%, my experience in that, in the last 25%, I get to you know, tell you what I know, but that is because I didn't have your format. If I'd had your format, I could have just done that. So you guys, this is super, super valuable if you're like one of the six people on the planet who has not read, he's just not that into you. It's, it's timeless. Classic. I gotta say having, just read it last week.
Thank you. Doesn't go out of date. It doesn't really, it doesn't really, I mean, you know even in this very gender specific time, the ideas that are there are really can be used by anybody. You know, it really doesn't matter. It's how you're being treated by another human being. Yeah.
Yep. So you guys be on the lookout for what Greg and I do together. And please just go and hire this guy as a coach. What are useful, useful thing. So is it just going to your, to your website?
So yeah. So if you go to Greg Gregory, baron.com I have a coaching page, or if you follow me on Instagram, which is it's Gregor's, that's my Instagram it's Gregor's its G R E G G E R S. You can just DM me.
I love it. I love it. So, Greg, thank you. Thank you for being a person. I adore so much.
Oh my, I adore you too. And I'm looking forward to working with you.
Yes. Okay. And you got all, thank you so much for listening. I will see you next week slash talk.