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Episode 312: Nancy Levin from Hay House on The Role Boundaries Play in a Book Launch

May 20, 2020
Nancy Levin knows book launches from every angle. The best-selling author of five books was the Event Director at Hay House for 12 years where she oversaw events for mega bestselling authors Gabby Bernstein, Wayne Dyer and Louise Hay. And with her new book,  Setting Boundaries Will Set You Free: The Ultimate Guide to Telling the Truth, Creating Connection and Finding Freedom, she used everything she knew.
In this episode, we discussed the role boundaries play in book launches, why focusing on the value your reader is going to get is the way to make a book successful and also got into some marketing nerd speak about funnels, tripwires, courses and all the rest.  


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Anna David:                  00:01                Hi Nancy. I'm excited we're doing this. How are you?

Nancy:                          00:04                I'm great. I'm really excited too.

Anna David:                  00:07                So your fifth book came out roughly three months before the entire world changed. How has that impacted your book?

Nancy:                          00:22                You know, what's been really fascinating is that the topic of the book, which is setting boundaries, has been a fairly hot topic during the pandemic. So the book, you know, had its feet beforehand and then once the pandemic hit, I found that people were wanting to know how to set boundaries even more because either they were in circumstances, you know, at home with a whole bunch of people and their own routines and boundaries had been sort of shot to hell. Or they were on their own and realizing that without any structure in place or nowhere to go and no routine to stick to, they weren't holding boundaries with themselves. So I think that there's actually there's been a little bit of an amped up interest. It's also helped that when it's been difficult, Amazon hasn't really been shipping books in the way that they are accustomed to. It's really been great. That Hay House has made almost all of the eBooks. Like 1.99. So the e-book has been, the e-books been cruising and the audio book too. The audio book has been cruising too.

Anna David:                  01:41                Did you record the audio book yourself?

Nancy:                          01:43                I did. I have recorded all my own audio books. I don't like to listen to an audio book that's narrated by someone other than the author.

Anna David:                  01:52                I know. I feel the same way. You have a really good voice. I can tell just a few seconds into this, but sometimes I, you know, I always tell people, be clear with yourself. Recording an audio book is not as easy as one might think. Wouldn't you say?

Nancy:                          02:05                Very true, very true.

Anna David:                  02:08                Days and days. I find myself also, I find it very hard to breathe. Have you noticed you have that also? You're like, well what am I supposed to breathe?

Nancy:                          02:16                I know, I mean I think I have a theater background. I have some theater training and I think that that probably helped me with the audio book recording just to really be able to space out the beats and to really to really figure out how to pace myself and pace the language. But it is exhausting. It's a process.

Anna David:                  02:39                How many days did you record it over?

Nancy:                          02:42                You know, I'll be honest with you, this book I did this book in record time. I recorded this book literally in a day and a half. It was crazy. So I did it. I did like an eight hour day and then I did about a four hour day.

Anna David:                  03:05                Why?

Nancy:                          03:08                Because where it fit into my schedule, I knew I needed to get it. I knew I needed to get this book recorded in two, in two full days. I had booked the studio for or whatever. We booked the studio for two full days. But I ended up getting it done quicker. The other books I've actually taken more time with. I've even taken like three full days, you know, stretched, stretched out, stretched out breaks. But with this one, I don't know, it just sort of the after day one, I knew I could get it done quickly.

Anna David:                  03:40                And so you have a course that goes along with this book? Correct?

Nancy:                          03:46                I have a boundary coaching program that sort of draws upon elements in the book. The book really is a 10 step process. So it's a step by step process. So I do have a boundary coaching program where I take you through these steps. I enhance and deepen the experience with exercises that are not in the book. There's also the aspect of community. There's also the aspect of, I do, whenever I teach any coaching programs, I do them live. So they're not prerecorded, they're not dripped out over time. It's, it's me engaging with the group live.

Anna David:                  04:30                And those are the workshops you do at Kripalu at 14-40 and all of those?

Nancy:                          04:35                I do. I do that as well. Yep. I do. Lots in person, well not right now. And I don't know when, but I was supposed to actually be teaching in Chicago over the weekend and we turned it into an online event. And we did basically a zoom day long event on Saturday. And it was awesome. So it worked.

Anna David:                  04:54                And Why would you say, if you would say books are more important now than ever? Would you say that's true?

Nancy:                          05:05                What I think is that we are wanting to, we're actually wanting to cultivate our own inner resources and I think that books help us do that. You know, there's so much noise in the outside world regardless of even politics or you know, whatever, you know, whatever is also happening. Aside from the pandemic, there's so much noise in the outside world. I do think that we are needing to limit exposure to all of that. And what that's actually having us do is self resource in a different way. So I know that the louder it gets out there, the more drawn I am to find out what's happening inside of myself. And books really are the guide to do that.

Anna David:                  05:54                And reading is up something like 500% so it's not just everybody's streaming Too Hot to Handle on Netflix, which I did binge over the weekend and I'm not proud. I don't feel great about it, but I did it.

Nancy:                          06:05                I haven't, I haven't gone there. I haven't gone there. Or the Tiger King, I haven't gone there.

Anna David:                  06:11                If I had to pick, I'd say just let yourself do Tiger King. You won't feel as dirty afterwards. But so, and also for authors, I would say if you're contemplating doing a book now is the time, not just because you may have the time, but also because it's become increasingly clear, you know, a book is a brand builder and employment is not guaranteed. So the more you can become a self-sustaining solopreneur or whatever it is, now is the time. What do you have to say about that?

Nancy:                          06:45                I have a lot to say about that. Because, so I also have, and I launched it last fall and I'll be launching again this fall, Love and Life Coach Academy. So this is a certification and training program for coaches. And what I'm seeing in this time is that it's really illuminating for people, the changes that they wanted to make or the risks they wanted to take but didn't have the courage or confidence to do so before. But there's something that's happening right now that's catalyzing us into some version of, you know, if not now, when or what do I have to lose, you know, something about now is the time to actually run with whatever it is that I'd been holding back from. And for a lot of people that's turning out to be, how do I turn my side hustle into a full time gig? How do I leave my nine to five because I don't actually want to go back to the office and work where I was working?

                                    07:42                I like working at home, I like working on my own. So there's a lot happening there. And what I'll say about books, you know, I self published my first two books and the beauty of self publishing, and this is something I really think is important for this particular time is that, I had a book in my hands three months after I sent the manuscript in. When you traditionally publish, it is a good 12 to 18 months you're looking at to have a book in your hands. The world is going to change so much in that time. The world naturally changes so much in that time, but even now more it's accelerating. So I would actually say if you're really wanting to go the route of solopreneur, if you're really wanting to go out to build your brand, a great way to do it is with a self published book as a calling card. It can be done really quickly.

Anna David:                  08:39                I think that's such a good point. This idea that this is forcing us to see what really matters. Sure. Family, friendship, connection. But also to see that what has been holding you back. Life is precious. And I think it's really interesting. Okay. But so you self published your first few books and yet decided to go traditional, even knowing that it would take a lot longer and the world could change. Talk about that decision.

Nancy:                          09:11                Yeah. So I, the first book I published was actually a book of poetry. I have a master's in poetry. It's the first book I published. And even though I was the event director at hay house, so I was obviously quite in with a publishing house, but they weren't at all interested in, I didn't even pitch it. I knew I was going to self publish. And then I wrote my second book, which was a quote unquote real book as Reid Tracy, the president of Hay House likes to call it. And this was really my first, you know, sort of self-empowerment coaching model book. And I self published it. And then about three months later Reed called me and said, Hey, your book is actually doing really well. We'd like to pick it up so Hat House ended up picking up my second book? And then from there I did I did book contracts for the subsequent books.

                                    10:09                And I'll tell you that there was part of me that was missing the immediacy of the self publishing because you know, by the time you write a book, it gets edited. It gets, you know, goes through all the channels and you're holding it in your hand. It's like, so last year, you know, so there's also, but what I'll also say is that there's so much preparation that it takes to put a book into the world. Writing the book is a fraction, is a drop in the bucket. And especially, I mean, I would say especially now given the pandemic, but I also mean now more widespread. You know, the truth of the matter is that a big myth in publishing is that, excuse me, is that if you go with a traditional publisher, you know, they're going to do all this stuff to get your book into people's hands. But the truth of the matter is that whether you self publish or traditionally publish, it's up to the author to get the book into people's hands. And so, you know, I've seen books that have come out right now that have skyrocketed and it's because of online presence. It's because of online platforms. So that's really where it's at. No matter whether you self publish or traditionally publish, and really no matter whether we're in this pandemic space or how we emerge from it, this is still really where it's at even more than being in person to sell books.

Anna David:                  11:48                And so when that book that Reed Hoffman acquired or Hay House acquired after the fact, how did it do well? What do you do to make sure it would do well at that point? Before it was picked up?

Nancy:                          12:01                So I was really going hardcore on my social media doing Facebook lives. I had, I didn't have my Hay House radio show quite yet. But I was doing everything I could to also grass rooted into with people that I knew. So yes, I mean, I will acknowledge that because of my position at Hay House, I knew a lot of people who had big platforms, but it wasn't that everyone was so willing to, you know, put it out to their people. But I drew in where I could and I got myself in front of as many people as I could, whether I was getting paid for it or not.

Anna David:                  12:45                Yeah. I think that that's a really interesting, so yeah, even on your press page or not on your site, but I think it's on the PR site, it says 20,000 plus list, 7,000 plus Facebook group because everybody now, a lot of people now know that's what matters. The 20,000 plus list. It's going to move a lot of books way more than being on the today show a thousand times more than being on the today show

Nancy:                          13:10                So much more. It's fascinating because we have this idea like, Oh, I just want to get a national TV show. It doesn't sell books the way that, the way that we, that we have this idea that it will be.

Anna David:                  13:22                And so, you know, you were an event director for 12 years. And so talk about some, and so during that time, a hay house published Gabby Bernstein, Wayne Dyer, who else that was just huge. That is still huge.

Nancy:                          13:38                Yeah. I mean, I, and I was quite close with, with all of them, very close with Louise and Wayne and still with Gabby, Marianne Williamson, Carolyn Mace, Depak. Also you know, the sort of the younger generation. Nick Ortner, Megan Waterson who else? Collette Baron Reed. We have John Holland a lot in the realm of psychic Oracle mediumship as well as, Kris Carr. Did I say her too? You know, so sort of in health, wellness, motivation, inspiration, pretty much everyone in that field I've worked with.

Anna David:                  14:18                And in that time, what happened with Hay House and even more so I think since you've, you've been gotten it, you know, when I first got in it was like, Oh, Hay House is a small portion. It became massive in that time, or I don't know if that's just my perception, but it looked like it went from small to like we give out huge advances. Everyone I know now instead of Harper Collins, they want to be published by Hay House. What was that? What happened?

Nancy:                          14:43                Yeah, I mean I think part of it actually was at the time that no publishers, so when I came into Hay House, I had already been event producing and they brought me in to really create their live event division. And no other publishers were giving their authors a platform for speaking the way that we were. So that was one of the initial shifts. And that was a big reason why authors wanted to come to Hay House. They were getting, they were getting live events built into their contracts. And so the other thing is I think that we, when Hay House began publishing other people aside from Louise, it was really publishing ancillary products. So in other words, you know, other, like Wayne Dyer had a publisher for his books, but he would come to Hay House for our calendar, our card deck or something else. Then what started happening is these big authors started coming to Hay House to actually have them do their books. So you know, Wayne Dyer, Doreen Virtue at the time, Susie Orman, you know, people would, you know, different people leaving other publishers to then come to Hay House. And that was, that was what precipitated the rapid growth for Hay House to really become, you know, one of the big houses. And it always really has maintained the place of being the largest publisher for personal growth and self-empowerment.

Anna David:                  16:12                And so were those events that you planned meant to move books? I mean, they probably served a lot of purposes, but that was one of them?

Nancy:                          16:21                Yeah. I mean many of our events had thousands and thousands of people and we always had an onsite bookstore and we moved a lot of product.

Anna David:                  16:34                And so what else did you learn about book promotion? Having that, you know, front row seat to all those successful books.

Nancy:                          16:44                Yeah. You know, the most important thing I would say is, and I would say Wayne was the King of this, and it wasn't, and I, and I want to say this in a way that it wasn't, it was heartfelt and genuine, not manipulative, but really about letting people know the service that was available to them in the material. So it wasn't like, buy my book, you know, it was here's what's actually available to you. If you are willing to take this on, if you're willing to actually, you know, expand your capacity to include this material, these tips, these tools, these exercises. Here's the way you can change your life. And you know, this actually makes me think about Louise is because I would be by her side at book signings, hundreds of hundreds of people in a line to have their books signed by her. And I mean, every other person would say, you know, Louise, you changed my life. And Louise would say, I didn't change your life, darling. You changed your own life. I gave you the tools. And I really think that like that's what it is. And that's even now, I mean, what I feel passionate about is providing my clients, my students, my audience, the tools that they can use to then make the changes that they're longing to make.

Anna David:                  18:15                And so how does one perpetuate that message? What are the practical steps you take in order to let people know that?

Nancy:                          18:26                I mean, I think for me, what feels always important is to, is for, you know, for me, I need to stay in alignment with what's true for me. So I can only come from a place where I feel congruent and where I feel honest and I'm truth telling. And from the place where I can engage with someone to help them see that it's about actually going micro instead of looking at, you know, it's not a marathon, it's actually let's, what is the next step to take? What's the next step to take, to decipher around. It doesn't even need to be a right step. It just needs to be action because we can always course correct. So it's really that movement mobilizes possibility for us. And you know, that's always where I'm coming from. Wherever I'm speaking or wherever I'm teaching. It's really about let's break this down into the, into the next step that you can take to actually move you in the direction of your vision.

Anna David:                  19:33                So what are some of those micro steps?

Nancy:                          19:35                So I have what I call my transformation equation. So I believe change equals vision plus choice plus action. So we have to first be willing to be able to see, okay, I'm here now, where do I want to be? In order to get there, I'm going to have to make some different choices. I personally think everything comes down to choice because where we are in our life is really the culmination of every choice we've made, every decision we've made. And so it only goes to prove that our present moment choice predicts our future. So our present moment choice is the crystal ball that we're looking for. So we have to be willing to make different choices. And from there we have to back that up with action. And so it's always going to be for whoever is who, you know, whoever is wanting to change their life. It's really this systematic, where do I want to be? What's the different choice I need to make? What's the action I need to take? Because every action and choice we make are going to serve or sabotage the vision.

Anna David:                  20:48                And so could that be, how could that be applied to, I envision myself being a bestselling author. What would those steps be?

Nancy:                          20:57                Yes. So I mean first step is make a book outline. You know, that to me like that's a very practical first step, you know, then it might be determining do I need a ghost writer, can I write this myself? Then it might be determining, you know, like, so you're going in necessary fashion. Then it might be, okay, am I going to self publish or traditionally publish? If I'm going to self publish, I can write the whole book. If I'm going to traditionally publish, I need to write a book proposal, you know? So it's really learning as much as you can about the process and then identifying what are the steps you're going to take. And then mapping it out over time. This is one of the most important pieces is, you know, being able to really chart the course on an actual calendar.

Anna David:                  21:48                So that would be, I'm going to spend three months contacting media, building my list. What would those steps be?

Nancy:                          21:58                So, I mean there's, there's two things that are happening at one time. There's, if it's about, I see myself being this bestselling author, you know, it's first of all getting clear on the actual content and the material. And then it is about ways to build your platform. So it is making sure that you've got a website, making sure you've got an opt in so that people can get on your email list, making sure that you've got the proper social media channels, making sure that you really know who your ideal client avatar is, your ideal customer. Who's the one person you're speaking to, who's the one person you're writing to, you know, getting on other people's podcasts, doing Facebook lives. You know, all of these things end up merging together about the way that you're going to position yourself to become what it is you want to become.

Anna David:                  22:53                And I was also curious. That's great. I was also curious, what role does do boundaries play in book promotion? Because does that mean I'm going to feel empowered to reach out to people who could help me? Does it mean letting go of expectations of people? You know, some people are going to say no. What role do boundaries play?

Nancy:                          23:17                Yeah. So I mean, first I'll say to define, excuse me, to define boundaries. You know, our boundaries are the limits that we set around what we will or will not do, tolerate or accept. So really it's identifying what's okay and not okay for us. So for example, a boundary in this, you know, in terms of book promotion, you know, can show up in terms of who I'm going to reach it out to. It can also show up in ways of something might come in that doesn't feel in alignment. And I say no to it. So it's always checking back in with what feels okay for me and what doesn't feel okay for me.

Anna David:                  24:02                Yup. Yup. And would you recommend create, I mean, if it makes sense for the book, creating a course to go along with a book?

Nancy:                          24:13                I have. So for me, because I'm a coach, and all of my books have, have naturally been something that I can turn into a coaching curriculum. And because as I've been, as I write my books, I test drive them with coaching groups. So they're intentionally written in a way that I can create a coaching program out of them. I have loved doing that and it has really worked for me. So I think if it's, if it is a natural progression for you, it's a great thing to have. It's a great thing to do.

Anna David:                  24:53                And would you recommend making the course free charging for it? Putting sort of lead magnets throughout the book?

Nancy:                          25:01                So I've done it. I've done a few different things and I think for the book, my last book I did a free like almost like a little mini course, like a four module mini course that was free. It was a free bonus when you bought the book. And then from there I nurtured in such a way and then I did an upsell to the full course. This book that came, the boundary book. I did not do a free mini course. I did, I think I did a one hour free workshop. And then that also led into when I ended up doing the full launch for the program. So I think there's different ways to do it and I think it's, I don't think there's any one way. And I also think it's good to sort of test drive different ways.

Anna David:                  25:55                I think if you're in the audience building stage, having a free course is a great idea. If you have a built in audience like you, where they actually contributed in a way to what's in the book. It might make more sense to have a course that you pay for. It really I think depends on your goal.

Nancy:                          26:15                Yeah, exactly.

Anna David:                  26:17                And then I did also wanted to veer back to some of the, the really crazy successful authors that you've worked with. You did a, at your launch in January, you did a Q and a with Gabby Bernstein. What was that like? Did that move a lot of books? Where was it? Back when we did live events.

Nancy:                          26:35                Right back when we did live events, it was a New York City and it came about because Gabby and I were at lunch at an, at another, we were speaking at in the Spring, you know, of the year before. And when Gabby heard the title of the book, Setting Boundaries Will Set You Free. She said, Oh my God, we have to do a live launch for this in New York. And I was like, okay. So it really just came about because she heard the title and said I want to do this with you. So we had nearly 300 people for an evening in New York in January and the book was. So what we did is a book was included in the ticket to come and I kept the ticket prices super inexpensive cause I really just wanted people there and I wanted people to have the book. So it was just, it was a part of my book launch to move books. But that event, we didn't sell books so it moved the books in that the people got the books. But it also moved the books in terms of it being really sort of the, the flagship event of my launch.

Anna David:                  27:48                So if you had to give your top three tips for launching a book, what would they be? And we've already covered them probably, but it, you know, in a quick sort of succession.

Nancy:                          28:04                Yeah. So I would say the top. So top three tips for marketing the book is what you're saying?

Anna David:                  28:11                Launching.

Nancy:                          28:11                Or launching, excuse me, launching the book. So the first thing is you do know you need to know who your market is. So you need to know who you are reaching out to. So whether this is through Facebook ads, whether this, you know who you're targeting. So you really need to know who needs to hear what you have to say. So for me, with coaching and especially with my work with my books, my ideal client is some earlier version of me always. So you really need to know who you're talking to. You, I do think that in the launch of a book, a really hot bonus package does help. So having, you know, having whatever it might be, whether it's an event, whether it's a work, you know, it can be online, an online event, an online workshop, whether it's a series of elements that you want to put together, but something that you want to, something that you want to put together so that when they buy the book, they get this bonus. The other thing I'll say, and this is sort of in the prelaunch runway of the book, is to have something that's really getting people psyched and stoked for this book.

                                    29:30                The reason I did this Boundary book was that boundaries had been a through line in all my other books and it was a full chapter in my last book and then it became clear, Oh I need to this a whole book. Then what happened was I was promoting the book so far in advance, I was talking about the book cause I had written the book, but it still wasn't coming out for like a year. But I was talking about the book and the material and I was getting the sense people were wanting something. So I actually created a, I called it Boundary Badassery, the Pocket Guide. So I created this pocket guide that I have that I made as part of my prelaunch runway and made it actually a trip wire. So it was like three bucks, but it wasn't about the money, it was about getting people used to wanting to buy something. So I did, I did a $3 pocket guide and then I did as part of that, an upsell that was $7, which was Setting Better Boundaries with Yourself. So for 11 bucks they could get these two guides plus a meditation.

Anna David:                  30:47                And when you say a guide, it was an e-book?

Nancy:                          30:50                It was an e-book. It was a PDF.

Anna David:                  30:51                Yes. I love it.

Nancy:                          30:53                You know, so I did these and I S I did that. I think that I rolled that out early summer of 2019 and the book wasn't even coming out until January, 2020. So there was a good like six month period where I was really in the mode of pushing that pocket guide as the prelaunch runway to then have collected all these people who I knew were hot and then I, and then to roll the book out to them.

Anna David:                  31:21                And when you talked about giving the course, you know, putting together, what were you talking about pre orders, you know, if you buy one book, you get this. If you buy five books, you get this. If you buy a hundred books. Did you do that?

Nancy:                          31:33                I personally didn't do that. People do that. I didn't do that. I just did. This time around I actually simplified and I just did that if you buy the book you get I did a workshop right around the holidays that was called Zen in the Art of Boundary Maintenance, the Holiday Edition. So I knew that, that people, you know, have issues with boundaries around the holidays especially. So I did a very specialized workshop for that, for people who had pre-ordered.

Anna David:                  32:02                I love it. And finally, what do you, what can a book do for your career? How can a book launch you to a new level in your career?

Nancy:                          32:11                I think what a book does is, I sort of named it earlier, a book really becomes a calling card. So a book can really anchor you as an expert. A book gives you some credential, a book, you know, gives you some kind of like gives it in some way, validates who you are and what you have to teach. And so there's great benefit in, and again, this is why I would say that this is the time for self publishing. I really have to say this is the time for self publishing. If you've got a message, if you've got something to share, you can get the book out really quickly and you can use the book to help you build your platform

Anna David:                  32:53                Amen. So if people want to find out more about you, grab your book, follow you on social media, sign up for your list. What's the best place for them to go?

Nancy:                          33:04                Yeah, everything is at Everything's there.

Anna David:                  33:08                Fantastic. Well, Nancy, thank you so much. Is there anything I neglected to ask you that you'd like to share with the launch patters?

Nancy:                          33:17                No, this is great. I love it. I love your questions. I love getting to talk about it from this angle and I really, yeah, I really appreciate it.

Anna David:                  33:24                Great. Well, thank you so much, you all. Thank you so much for listening. As usual, if you love this podcast, especially if you love this dual emotional and practical interview with Nancy Levin, please throw a review up there. Give it a five star rating. It takes two seconds and it makes such a difference so other people can find this podcast. So Nancy, thank you. Thank you. I really appreciate you.

Nancy:                          33:46                You're welcome. Thank you.