"My First Launch" (Round Table!)Sep 28, 2022
Oh, wait a treat this one is!
Here you're getting four for the (free!) price of one: a round table interview with four of my clients at ONCE: Barbara Legere, Tamar Hermes, Chris Joseph and Lauren Schwarzfeld on the anxieties and excitement of their first book launch.
Only listen if you want to hear the disparate experiences authors have on their first book launch!
Anna David: Here we are with the very first and potentially last roundtable podcast interview. I'm so excited to interview you four. And listeners, I'm sure I told you this in the intro, but this is a bit of an experiment. I've never done this before. I've already told you in the intro about this fabulous group I'm working with. And we're just going to kind of all do like a group interview. Everyone’s going to be chiming in at different points. We just lost one. I'm sure that was an accident and she will be right back. So, I didn't tell any of them until just now really, that the focus is going to be on book launches and what's interesting is we've got two people in this group that have launched their books and two people who are going to launch their books. So it's kind of an amazing perspective! You can hear what worked from somebody who launched a book over a year ago, what worked according to somebody who just launched a book last week, if she does come back, and then what these two other lovely guests are planning. So let's start with you, Chris. Well, first of all, what was the most surprising aspect of publishing a book?
Chris: Oh, my book was published in September of 2020. And to me, even now, a year and a half later, it's the gift that keeps on giving. And I didn't know that when I was thinking about even writing it or publishing it, that it would continue to be a gift even a year and a half later. So that's probably the most surprising thing.
Anna David: How is it a gift?
Chris: You know, I've never been an athlete, a professional athlete or anything like that. But when you win a championship, no one can ever take that away. When you write a book and publish a book, no one can ever take that away. I think it's a huge accomplishment.
Anna David: Oh, I love that. That's music to my ears. Listeners, no I didn't pay him to say that at all. So what was the most effective thing you did for your launch?
Chris: So I'm going to speak in two levels, macro and micro. On the macro level, what I learned is that marketing your book is just as much work and it needs to be just as much work as it was writing that book. You can't just write the book and put it out into the universe and think that everyone's going to love what you wrote and think, oh, this is great. I mean, you know, there's a tiny chance that could happen but I knew it wasn't going to happen with me. I had to hustle. And I'm still hustling a year and a half later. So I think the two biggest things that I did were the Advanced Review Team, which I learned from you. And getting 30, 40 or 50 people, I can't remember the exact number now, to read the book in advance and post their review on Amazon so their view would be up on Amazon the day my book was launched. And they were writing really nice reviews. That was really great. That really helped propel the book, to some number one lists. It brought awareness of “hey, yeah, it's the number one book.” So I would say that was the first thing and the second thing was pitching myself to podcasts. I knew that I had a good story about my cancer journey. But people didn't know I had a good story. So I would call people, I would email people. And to me, it was just about hustle. A lot of hustle.
Anna David: I should mention that Chris has already been on this show before. So if you haven't listened to his episode before, you better go back. I'll link to it in the show notes. Lauren, we're going to give you a break since you disappeared. But normally, I would go to you next because we were talking about how basically, you guys have had books out and these other two guests haven’t. So I'm going to give you a minute to think about what was the most some what's the most surprising thing about launching a book. Actually, I'm just going to jump in. You tell me what was the most surprising thing.
Lauren: Surprising, like having your internet go out the second you're about to answer a podcast question? I think it's surprising how many people actually are really nice, decent, sweet and supportive. I think I think we see a lot of nonsense on the internet of people being jerks. And I was really surprised by how incredibly supportive so many people are. The offers that I got too-like I was featured as a local businesswoman on my friends Instagram page. I blog for a local parenting blog and they were really supportive and offered to have a feature on that site. People that I'm friends with on Facebook and Instagram who I don't necessarily know, super, super well in real life have been so supportive and offering to make introductions and do Instagram lives and things like that. The support from people that I wasn't necessarily expecting, I think was really encouraging.
Anna David: Yeah, I will say, and I don't mean to be Nancy negative, but after your first book, it goes down. People are so excited on your first book and on the second they’re like, "That's cool.” But they're like, whatever.
Lauren: I also kept it under wraps a little bit. So when it came out there was like an element of surprise.
Anna David: Yeah. And that is also what I recommend. People make a big deal about well, “can I post my cover?” And it's like, yeah, but people really won't care until it's out. I actually love the way you launched it because you listened to me. You basically were like, I've got something coming and then on launch day, you said you sent out a newsletter, and you were like, here's my thing. I thought that was like, very, very well done. So what would you say? I know, it was less than a week ago. But could you say what was the best thing, the most successful launch strategy you employed? Too soon to tell?
Lauren: In terms of successful as like long term results, probably too soon to tell. But I think there were two things that I did. One was putting together kind of like gathering people pre-launch. And so I did that two different ways. I had an advanced reader team who read the book in advance, which, from an emotional standpoint was really helpful for me because it felt very vulnerable to just sort of be putting this book out there. So to know that there were a bunch of people who had already read it and who weren't horrified and that made it easier to envision launch day. Then, because my book will also be sort of tied in with the coaching program that I run, I did this like pre-book launch coaching experience with a small group of people. So, that was also really helpful in sort of crafting both the coaching program and also the key pieces of the book because it gave really good feedback in terms of people who were reading the book for the purpose of like making changes and using it as a stepping point. So, it gave really, really great feedback to kind of know how to tailor the launch and what people wanted to hear from it.
Anna David: Yeah, I should mention, the book is called “Unboxed: “Essays on Learning to Trust Myself to Stop Doing the Things I Hate.”
Anna David: And Chris Josephs book is called “Life is a Ride: My Unconventional Journey of Cancer Recovery.” So fabulous. So, we're going in chronological order, which means Barbara, you are next. What would you say? Well, what are you most scared of in terms of launching the book?
Barbara: Negative reviews.
Anna David: You’re not going to!
Barbara: Yeah, I think I'm not as scared as I was at first. I was I was afraid people would judge me for some of the things I said in the book and I was concerned about that. But then I realized, you know what, I don't care. I really don't. The worst thing that could possibly happen to me has already happened. You know, anything else that happens from this point forward is really pretty minute.
Anna David: Yeah. And that is what the book is about. It will be out by the time you guys hear this, and it's called “Kevin's Choice: A Mother’s Journey Through Her Son’s Mental Illness, Addiction and Suicide.”
Anna David: It always feels crass for me to transition from saying that to like, let's talk about marketing. But at least listeners, she's smiling. Let's quickly talk about your blurb experience. So you had the dream blurber, you were like, “I'll never get him, there's no way.” Then, what happened?
Barbara: He said yes! And now I have his blurb on the front cover of my book. I just decided, you know what, I'm going to ask. The worst thing that can happen is he won't do it. And he did. He said yes, he was so gracious and kind and it blew my mind. I'm so grateful.
Anna David: So what was the process? So it's David Sheff who wrote this famous book called “Beautiful Boy.” You just found his email address and you wrote him?
Barbara: I follow him on Twitter. And we've kind of chatted back and forth a couple times over the course of me writing the book. So I wasn't a complete unknown to him. I was somebody that he had talked to, I mean, not talk but chat online with. So, I just said, my book is done now and I just asked him, if he'd like to read the manuscript. I didn't even ask him for a blurb. I think he just assumed that I was asking him. I just said, “would you like to read the manuscript?” And next thing I knew he had read it and sent me a beautiful blurb for the cover.
Anna David: Quickly, because I remember you telling me that and then the blurb arrived. So, he clearly read the book quickly. And he said, I have to read it first or whatever,
Barbara: He said he wanted to read it, yeah.
Anna David: I will say, I think it's cool to talk about this. Then, another person who blurbed it had suggestions, which is something that in general, as the publisher, I'm just like, oh, my god, please. But I thought his suggestions were good. So, we actually went back, even though the book was done and made changes as a result of the blurb or suggestions. And you were grateful for that, you thought those were good?
Barbara: Very grateful because he's someone I really respect and I wanted to take his professional opinion. My dogs are crazy in the background, sorry!
Anna David: Okay, so we'll move on to Tamar. So Tamar, what are you most excited about when it comes to your release?
Tamar: Well, I can't get past the dogs! So anyone that's watching live is going to be enjoying this party of pups in the back. What am I most excited about? I am most excited that I wrote the book. It is known that 81% of people want to write books and how many percent actually do it? Okay, so hooray for us, right? I mean, we did it and for me, it was, can I do something hard? Can I do something that is in my in my heart that I really want to share? So, let's look at Ben Hardy and Dan Sullivan's book, “The Gap and The Gain.” I'm going live in the gain on this one and say I wrote the book. So that's what I'm most proud of. So I’ve already won.
Anna David: I like it. So now, does anybody want to chime in? Especially those of you with all your experience and some advice from the old timers to those coming up on their launches?
Tamar: You want other people to chime in on that?
Anna David: Yeah, I'm going to have Chris chime in on it, you and Barbara.
Chris: Barbara, you said you're worried about whether people will give negative reviews. What I've learned about memoir, I told my story. I didn't use my book to tell other people what they should do. And I'm guessing yours is the same way. It's your story. It's your very powerful story. No one's going to argue with your very powerful story. They may not like it. It may not be for them. Maybe they're too afraid. But no one's going to give you a bad review. No.
Anna David: No one’s going to give you a bad review. And I say this as someone who's gotten lots of bad reviews over time. I just don't think they will. So anybody want to chime in? I had one more question for Tamar right now unless anybody wanted to chime in. Tamar, I have some inside information and I hope it's cool that I bring this up because everybody goes through it. This idea of tinkering with the manuscript under this delusion that if we change the word “the” to “an” on page 76, it's going to make all the difference between success and failure. Do you want to talk about that?
Tamar: Yes, I have had a lot of challenges with realizing that the book is going out into the world and that people are going to look at it. Hopefully more people than I imagined, which means more eyeballs on me. And it does make me feel a little bit self-conscious in terms of my content and the way that it's written and wanting to make sure that it's as good as it can be. So I have had this issue with feeling like it's just never done. There is a point where you have to put it away and move it on to the next phase.
Anna David: And we should mention, tomorrow's book is called, “The Millionaire's Mentality. Subtitle?
Tamar: “A Professional Woman's Guide to Building Wealth Through Real Estate.”
Anna David: I will mention, as the publisher of all of these books, and the fact that I can't say one subtitle, I don't remember the subtitles for any of my books either. So that is that is just being 51. I don't know. I've never been good at that. So Barbara, Lauren, Chris, do you relate to what Tamar's talking about?
Chis: Can I jump in? I totally can relate. I but I kept my eye on the goal of releasing the book and I kept remembering also that perfect is the enemy of good and my book is never going to be perfect. It was never going to be perfect. So, I'm sure your book is great. But that doesn't mean it's perfect.
Anna David: Lauren, Barbara?
Lauren: So I went through this process of sort of recognizing and I because I think I've been on a lot of advanced reader teams for books that you've released, I also know that no matter how many people look at a book, there's always going to be typos, there's going to be things like the words are flipped. A couple of months ago, sort of as I was processing this, I wrote a blog post about stop taking people's grammar and just listen to what they're actually saying. That was my internal processing of this idea that yes, I am going to put this thing out into the world and it might not be as perfectly grammatically correct as my high school English teacher would want. And things might not be exactly as they should be but it's going to be exactly as I intend the words to be heard. And that just has to be enough.
Anna David: So the thing about typos is, even if it goes through four or five edits, the human eyes do a thing where we fill in words. I think that's the biggest problem, which is why we now do a thing at Launch Pad, where we have the final editor listen to it out loud because that's how you can find those things. But I will say, and listener, oh my god, please take this. None of you guys did this. What happens is, when we say give it to your advanced reader team and have them be on the lookout for typos, sometimes people's husbands, best friends, cousins, their inner writer will come out. And they're part of that, whatever, 67%, I can't do math, that isn't writing the book but wants to. Suddenly they have all these ideas and all this feedback and all the things that you did wrong and your publisher did wrong. That is the bane of my existence. So I do think when giving it to people being very clear about if you see typos, let me know. But please don't tell me if you think that chapter three should be chapter seven. It's just irrelevant. Does anyone want to say anything?
Chris: I had one of my people on my advanced readers team do exactly that. He chimed in with saying, “Why are you starting the book with you getting diagnosed with cancer?” You should save that.
Anna David: In his book, if that's his story, he can.
Chris: Right. I ignored it. I ignored it.
Tamar: Not to change the subject about this but also because you had asked about what we're doing for launches. So, I did want to say that it has been challenging in terms of what Chris said, when you start the book, there's a whole component of once the book is done of the marketing piece and I repel the marketing. I just feel like I don't want to get stuck in the nuances. One of the things that you and I have discussed even is just making sure your back end is ready. So for me, my book is a bit of a business card. It shows the skills that I have and will likely lead to some clients. So, I need to make sure that all my funnels are done and my website looks right. That has been something you know, you don't want to put the book out in the world and then someone goes to look you up and you just don't have anything to offer or it's not organized or it's not clear what you're offering. So I think that that's a really important piece and it has been challenging that those kinds of details are not my favorite, even hiring them out has been a challenge. So it's just that I guess, with everything that we want to do, there's always components that are more challenging that we have to shove ourselves through to get to the other side.
Anna David: It's like what we're doing? Are we decided on that quiz-you're going to have the book lead to a quiz? So anybody listening, what is the quiz?
Tamar: The quiz is a personality quiz that will enable you to determine what sort of real estate investing is best for you. And you can actually get it on Bitly.com. Take the personality quiz.
Anna David: I see. And so a lot of times what we'll do with books, Chris, and Lauren, we did I think this for both of you, we put the QR code. I know we just did it for Lauren. Chris, we did that with you, where we put a QR code, and it leads to something?
Chris: No, I don't think we did.
Anna David: I don't think we did. I don't think then that we were doing that actively. But you know, we'll do that and we'll put a QR code. Sometimes if you put it at the beginning of your book, even people who are browsing through and not going to buy your book will do it. I did do a podcast episode about this but Pat Flynn did that. He had a QR code at the end of every single chapter and it led to a free course and the course was obviously totally related to the book. From that free course, he sold a paid course and apparently he made $300,000 just from that audience. So, there are definitely ways to do that. But you know, some people are using the book to funnel people onto a newsletter list. Some people have a newsletter list and they're using that to get readers. It's all it's all part of the same soup. And you know, and my constant message is-and Chris really is a testament to that-is like it doesn't end in launch week, it just it's there forever. So okay, we have to get close to wrapping up. How fun is this roundtable? Just fun for me? I don't know. I think listeners are having fun. We're going to go around and say your best advice for somebody who is either planning to launch a book, or thinking about writing a book or writing a book. You go first, Chris.
Chris: Start writing. Just start writing and keep writing and even if it's lousy at first. Keep writing every day. That’s the best advice I can give.
Anna David: And Chris, you wrote your book in three months?
Chris: Three months. Started in March of 2020 and finished the first draft in June 2020.
Anna David: Yeah, that was crazy. And the truth of the matter is that when you told me it was done, I was like, oh, dear God, what is this thing going to be? And it was so good. I was shocked. I was shocked because you wrote it so fast and it was your first book.
Chris: Thank you.
Anna David: Okay, Lauren, what is your one bit of advice?
Lauren: I think for launch week, you just have to say the things. You just have to talk. You have to put yourself out there. It's the thing that I needed the most pep talks around because it's the thing that is least comfortable for me. The writing part is the part where I like to sit in front of my laptop and do the writing part. The part where I'm actually putting myself out there and talking about it and promoting it, I don't even know if the word is actually promoting it, but sharing it feels very awkward to me. So, figuring out a way to do that in a way that feels good or more comfortable is really important in that launch week.
Anna David: Did it get easier? Is it getting easier?
Lauren: Yeah, it did get easier. I mean, I think I'm sort of an awkward person in general. So when I say things I try to not make myself less awkward than I naturally am. But it did. I feel like I tailored the way I did things to who I am. I think we all know people who have had a really, really successful book launches and if I were to try to emulate the way they did them based on having very different personalities, it wouldn't read properly. I just read a book about how to be your own person and not do the things other people expect of you. So to then have a launch where I'm doing it as if someone else had done it, felt like it would have been inauthentic.
Anna David: That's great advice. Yeah, if Marie Forleo did a Beyonce like concert, it would have been crazy.
Lauren: That would have been strange. That would not have translated.
Anna David: Okay, Barbara, I know you haven't gotten there yet but what's your advice for anyone writing or launching a book?
Barbara: First of all, I want to apologize for my dogs. But I would say for me joining a writing group really, really helped. It had accountability. I show up every day for an hour and I write and the support and encouragement and people that had more experience and have written other books have given a lot of their insight. I've learned so much just from being part of that writing group. The other thing is what Chris said, I mean, you just have to sit down and write and not edit yourself as you're going, just let it all come out and know that you're going to go back to the beginning. And then you can add, edit, and tweak it or whatever. But for me, just getting it all written out first was what helped the most.
Anna David: Great advice. Tamar?
Tamar: I would say, obviously, all the feedback from the other wonderful guests I would agree with. I will add that taking it step by step and chunking it down really helps in every step of the process. I think it helps with the book, it helps with the launch, even now with this advanced reading, you've got to get people to read your book in advance, you've got to get people on your list, there’s steps to take and it's easy to get overwhelmed. Overwhelmed leads to paralysis and we don't do anything. So I would say chunk it down. I mean, even if it's even if you commit to writing one hour a day, then you just write one hour a day. Eventually it'll get done. Or with the launch, when I look at all the things that need to be done, I say okay, “what's the biggest priority?” Okay, I have to get the funnel done. So, then I get the funnel done. Then, I moved to the next. Then, well, I'm not tinkering around between “the” and “an.” I do that.
Anna David: Um, well fantastic. You guys, thank you so much for being my roundtable. It makes me want to do this all the time. Listeners, please just go grab the show notes. I'll say whatever the link is in the intro, but get these wonderful books by these wonderful people who have given you advice I'm sure you can relate to and that's it. I will see you next week. You’ll hear me next week.