Episode 116: Robin Colucci ensures the book you write accomplishes your objectives
December 10, 2018
Our guest today is Robin Colucci, who is a book writing coach. If you are thinking of writing a non-fiction book to advance your career, Robin is someone who would help you think through the strategy of the book to increase the odds that all the effort you put into creating the book will have the impact you hope to achieve.
In this episode, we discuss the questions that Robin asks her clients and how to think through who is the audience of a book, what that audience is already looking for, and how to serve that need.
You can learn more about Robin’s services and get in contact with her on her website: http://robincolucci.com/
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What is some bad advice for book authors?
One of the most common is that your book is just a big business card. The reason that’s bad advice is that it gives people a mindset that their book content doesn’t really matter and that it’s just about having something you can indiscriminately hand out at events. A book has the potential to be so much more.
When I hear somebody say, “It’s just a big business card anyway,” I’ll stop them and say, “Let me ask you something. How many business cards have you taken to bed?” We read our books in our most intimate places. In our bedrooms and our bathrooms and our favorite chair. There’s a reason for that. A book is an opportunity to create intimacy with the reader.
Number two piece of bad advice?
That you can write your book in a weekend or go from idea to publication in 90 days. The book content really matters. Getting the book done and having the physical product in your hand is a huge accomplishment. It’s a transformative moment when you get that book back from the printer and you get to hold it in your hand.
The value of being an author happens in the process. It should be an inquiry into discovering more about what you know, learning about your own beliefs and refining them and testing them so that you become a better expert. You can’t do that in a weekend.
Tell me how you help folks and what you do.
I’m a strategic book development writing and publishing coach. I put the word ‘strategic’ in there because I primarily work with people who have businesses or who are in business in some way. They have a very specific goal. They’re writing a book to grow a business and a brand and to further their cause. One of the things I do is I help people frame their book in terms of their bigger vision and the ultimate goal of what they’re looking to accomplish.
When is the ideal point in the process for you to help someone?
When they’re in the idea phase … when they’re ready to start the process and have a lot of ideas but they’re not exactly sure how to focus. That’s the perfect time, because I have a very specific process that I lead people through. The very first thing they need to come up with is what I call a saleable concept that has to be aligned with their goals for their business — their goals for how they want to impact the world, and their goals for how they want their life to look.
If we don’t take that into account, the book becomes an extra chore and a distraction, so it’s really important to get that into the picture. Once we get clear on that, we go on to aligning with what their ideal reader/client knows they want, meeting the reader where they are. Then the third criteria is making sure that it’s unique. That’s the one that my clients initially find most intimidating.
What do you mean when you ask what the author wants their life to look like?
A big part of the quality of your life is the quality of people you’re working with, especially when you’re a consultant, and also the kinds of activities you’re going to be doing. If you don’t like speaking in front of people, you’re going to want to do more online, and that could impact how we frame the book, because we might be dealing with different audiences. It’s about getting clear on how you see yourself utilizing the book once it’s out, and how you want to be known in the world. That can affect the activities you’re doing and what your everyday life looks like.
What are the different choices for how to use a book when it comes out?
Again, this comes down to the business strategy. The first question is what the business goals are and what you’re willing to do to meet those goals. Then we see how you can purpose the book to accomplish that. For some people it’s doing a speaking tour. I’ve had some clients in highly niched industries where it’s not a broad market, but the market that’s there is very profitable. If they’re looking at five consultants and one has a book, it gives them an edge, so that’s a very valid way to use it. For some people, it’s about creating a massive social media campaign, while for others it’s about generating a lot of endorsements. The most important thing to remember is that the book is there to support the main thing, and there’s no shortage of things you could do with the book.
Can you give us a case example of a client who you’ve helped get to a place that’s strategically aligned with their goals?
I had a client who was a consultant who facilitated mergers and acquisitions. He was initially going to do a book on due diligence from the acquiring side, and as we were talking, I realized that he consults on both sides — he changes sides. We did the book explaining the process of due diligence for both sides, and it made it a much more valuable tool. People going in to a deal could not only see what they needed to look for, but also what the other side is going to be looking for so they could better prepare.
He was thrilled with that adjustment, and it made the book so much more useful to his business. It made him so much more valuable because he could show whoever was hiring him that he had a clear understanding of both sides and could support his clients in a completely multidimensional way.
I’ve heard about publishers that don’t want to talk to you unless you’ve already built up a following. Could you talk about that a little bit?
Not everybody needs a traditional book deal, but some people really do, so that’s the first question. You decide your publishing route based on your goals for your business. Sometimes it’s better to self-publish. It takes longer to get a traditional book deal and go through their production process than it does to self-publish. If you do decide that a traditional book deal is the best route, what it really comes down to is that the only way the publisher can make money from your book is book sales. You can make money from your book a myriad of ways, but they need to make their investment for producing the book. My advice is always to ask what tactics make the most sense in terms of facilitating your bigger vision.
What’s the set of people you need to help you self-publish?
First, you need an outstanding book. You want to have a good quality manuscript. When you’re ready to go into the production phase, the first line is an outside copy editor who did not help write the book, who gives you a fresh set of eyes. You need to hire a specialist book designer who does cover design and interior layouts, and then you go to the proofreader. Proofreading is another, different type of editing. A proofreader should be almost like an accountant sort of personality: just matter of fact, highly detail oriented, where they’re going to catch all those little picky mistakes that the average person won’t see. And if you have an index that would be a different person.
If you want to do it as an e-book, do you have to have a different person?
Not necessarily. Sometimes somebody who can do a hard copy layout can also do a Kindle layout and an iPad layout for you. If you want to do an audio version, that would be a different person. I also work with like a book packaging company that I really trust. You’ve got to get your copyright registration, your Library of Congress control number, your ISBN number. If you work with a packager, they can take care of all that for you.
What would the rough cost be for the full package of copy, editing, layout, cover design, Library of Congress, all that stuff, for a typical business book of around 250 pages?
Around $3,000. That’s for the copy, edit, proofing, design, and everything. The upper limit should be like $5,000. But if they’re charging you $8,000 to give you a cover design and interior layout and get your paperwork done and give you one round of copy editing, move on.
They should be able to help you get it on Amazon as well. They’re not going to help you get into bookstores, even if they tell you they are.
Would you have printed copies stored in some warehouse somewhere that Amazon would ship?
You don’t need a ton of copies, but you always want to have some hard copies on hand because you’re going to be going out and doing stuff. You don’t need to keep 3,000 copies in your garage. You don’t really want to print more than 100 copies at once unless you have a specific purpose.
Do you want to share a success story of someone you’ve worked with who published a book and it really helped impact their business?
One that I’m especially proud of is a client who had a really successful fitness business. As an online marketer he was very successful, a millionaire before he was 30. At the point that we started working together he was starting to feel like he wanted to work with people in a deeper way and work with them not just on their physical wellbeing but more overall.
We started talking about a book that would help create a bridge so he could get out of being known just for bodybuilding and really change how his audience saw him. This was a pretty major transition. We got a traditional publishing deal, I helped him get a literary agent and he went on to get a publisher and then we wrote the book together. It was still about fitness and creating a better body, but we also included things about mindset and lifestyle. It laid a foundation for him to create a whole other side of his business and enabled him to continue his journey. He was able to continue living his full expression, and also created a much higher ticket revenue stream.
It was a pretty exciting story.
What’s the best way for people to find you?
My website is really easy. It’s robincolucci.com, and you can learn more about me there. If you’re curious and want to have a conversation about what it might look like to get a book done, or even if you are just curious about finding out the best timing for you to do a book, what would make the most sense, I offer a complimentary consultation. You can just click the schedule now button on my website and we can have a chat.