Perhaps you’ve thought of writing a book, but became intimidated by the anticipated time involved with the process. Maybe you just didn’t know if people would be interested in what you have to say. Maybe you just didn’t know where to start.
By putting a carefully structured, strategic plan in place right from the start, you’ll have all the tools you need to organize your book from the initial outline to the marketing, and everything in between. Whether you elect to write it yourself or hire a ghostwriter, the results will allow business owners to leverage their expertise into other programs and marketable content so they can increase profits and sustainability.
Julie Anne Eason is a New York Times bestselling ghostwriter, with past experience as both a journalist and copywriter. Julie’s ingenious system of book writing makes the entire process less daunting and intimidating as you progress from idea to finished book.
Rich: Hey, how would you like to write a book? Well today we’re talking to Julie Anne Eason. She is a New York Times best selling ghost writer. This is actually a perfect October topic. She helps business people from speakers, trainers, consultants and CEO’s to small business owners write and market books that increase their influence and build their brands. Julie has been writing professionally for over 15 years as a journalist, a copywriter and now a ghost writer for full length books. She is also the creator of the Book to Backend system, which teaches authors how to make money by using their books to sell backend products and services. Julie, welcome to The Marketing Agents podcast.
Julie: Thanks so much, Rich, I’m so excited to be here. And congratulations on an awesome Agents Of Change Conference, I was there and I was so happy to be part of that awesome experience.
Rich: I’m so glad you were there, too. That was pretty cool that we connected and met each other in real life. Now, did you know about the conference before we met at the Tweetup and couple of weeks before that?
Julie: I did, I did. I’ve known about it since the first one you did. It’s just sort of floated across my vision a little bit every year, here and there, that you’ve done it. I’ve just never been around to go to it, so this year I said I have to go. I was really excited, it was an awesome, awesome conference, you did a great job.
Rich: Fantastic. Well thank you. Obviously a lot of people made that happen and I’m glad you could be part of it and of that community. Very cool. So, questions right off the bat, how did you arrive at this point where you’re writing books and also doing ghostwriting? What’s the quick story there?
Julie: The quick story was, I’ve always been a writer, ever since I was a little kid story writing was something that I loved to do. I also have a very analytical mind, so copywriting came very easily. I started out wanting to write novels and the first book I wrote took me 16 years, which was insane. I figured out very quickly that novels were not my thing and I could really make more money and have a better time helping more people tell their stories and get their visions out into the world. I meet so many amazing people and hear so many awesome stories, and I just can’t write fast enough to get all of them out there. I love writing, and I’ve found that I’m most comfortable writing longer length pieces. I’ve done a lot of copywriting where it’s one, quick page or a small ad or something, but I love being able to take the time to really get to know an author’s voice and get to know what their goals are, and help their book actually meet what they intend to happen with the book. So usually – in my case – they want to sell something or want people to sign up for their coaching program or whatever it is that they want to happen at the end of the book. I’ve really had a great time figuring out the process so that we get the book, and then there’s just a natural progression towards reaching their goals and getting people to sign up for whatever it is that they want to happen.
Rich: Now that’s very cool. And I actually brought you on the show because I want to talk about how we can write our own books, because that’s something that’s been on my list for awhile. But before we get to that, actually, I want to follow up on this. So, what you’re suggesting is that any entrepreneur – or anyone listening to the show right now – who might have a story in them but for whatever reason can’t seem to get it out there, that you can help them actually birth this book and bring it to fruition.
Julie: Yeah, yeah. I’m kind of like a midwife.
Rich: Exactly. You are the doula for the entrepreneur. But my question is, how do you represent their voice? Because my biggest concern, and the reason why I’m ultimately going to write it myself, is because I feel – and I’ve been told – I have a very distinct voice. And I know when we’ve tried to bring in copywriters for certain clients they’re like, “No one understands my business like I do, nobody can speak in my voice.” And of course that’s a longer conversation, but how do you find that you either mimic the person’s voice – or perhaps improve on it – to get what they want to accomplish in the long run?
Julie: So I think that’s partly my business training and partly my theater training. I’m a theatre person as well, so I’ve had a little bit of acting and directing experience. But mostly it’s just letting the author – because I consider myself the writer and the person I’m writing for the author – I let them talk the way that they talk, and I spend time with them. If I’m just coaching somebody through making an outline, I’ll spend 3 or 4 hours on the phone with them. If I’m actually writing the book for them, I’ll go in and I’ll sit with them in a hotel room or at their house for a couple of days. I learn their mannerisms and I learn what’s important to them, I get them excited and ask them to tell stories that are passionate and emotional and see what happens to their voice when they’re really into something as opposed to when they’re being very formal and kind of standoffish. There’s a lot of interpersonal reaction and emotion that goes into communication, and a book is a communication tool, but it’s so static. Nowadays we have podcasts and YouTube and so many ways to very easily communicate with people, and what’s ironic is that a book is still one of the best ways to still be prestigious and position yourself as an expert in the industry that you’re in. A book is not a great way to really convey emotion, but I found – maybe it’s just something that’s innate to me – but I found it very easy to just let the author talk, and then sort of be a conduit to what they want to say. It really is just a matter of me funneling what they want to say into something that’s a written word. And I take great pride in the fact that I do get the author’s voice. Every single author I’ve ever worked with, that’s the first thing they tell me, “I cannot believe this actually sounds like me!” I think it’s a respect thing. I respect the fact that they have a unique voice. One of the most recent ones I did, he was Cajun, and he wanted that Cajun to come across. He has an awesome, awesome voice and you just have to write the way that he talks. if you’re doing it yourself, if you’re writing your own book and you’re not sure that you’re getting your voice, just talk into your phone or a recording device and listen to how you normally talk. We all hate our voices on tape – I had to get over that – but that’s the best way to really get to hear how you actually talk. Because the way you think you talk may not be the way you really do. When I write and other people read it they’re like, “Oh my god, that sounds just like you.” I think it comes down to respect, and the short thing is just knowing that that author has a voice and they want it to shine through and it should shine through. If everybody sounded the same, that would be really dull.
Rich: Well now you’ve really made me concerned about the sound of my own voice.
Julie: No, you have an awesome voice. Can I just go a little into that?
Julie: That’s something that is really important. When you get into the marketing phase of a book, you have to do podcasts and TV and everything, and people will tell you, “I don’t want to hear my voice.” But has anyone ever told you, “God, you have a weird voice?”
Rich: Not to my face, no.
Julie: Nobody ever tells you that. It’s our own self judgement of our own voice.
Rich: Well. it’s also so different to what it sounds like in our own head.
Rich: It’s like if you part your hair to one side and you look in the mirror, and then you part it to the other side and you’re like, “Who is that person?”
Julie: Right, exactly. So don’t get hung up on that, nobody else is thinking of that, it’s your own little issues if you have them. Hopefully you don’t and you can go on with life just fine.
Rich: And if you do have them, maybe we can start a program for ghost podcasting. You can hire somebody to speak for you. Alright, I’m getting off topic, I have a lot of questions I want to ask you today. I’m super excited – I can’t believe I just said that, but I am – I’m super excited because every year on my list since 2010 I have, “Write a book this year” on my list. Obviously it’s 2014 and it’s not going to get done this year either.
Julie: It could if you wanted it to.
Rich: It could? Alright we’ll talk about that, too. The question I really want to ask you is, why haven’t I written my book yet?
Julie: That’s a really awesome question. That’s not where I thought you were going, but that’s awesome.
Rich: If you can extrapolate that to help other people as well. But the bottom line is, I blog, I write emails, I love to write, I love to express myself. Why haven’t I sat down and shared my knowledge with the universe?
Julie: I think it has to do with the fact that the first important job that we ever learn as human beings is how to read. When we are little, little kids, you’re reading a book. And if you can remember far enough back when you couldn’t read but your parents read to you, it was like this magical thing. You had favorite books and books that were just these amazing, magical things that can take you into other lands. And whether or not you’re a bookaholic like I am, you still are going to have some sort of experience in your deep, deep past that is holding books up as some sort of reverent item. It’s a thing that’s big and amazing and I think that we put more importance on the thing and it’s a little intimidating to think, “Oh, I don’t know if I can write a book.” And it’s not so much that you can’t do it, it’s just different than putting on a podcast or writing a blog. In our brains it’s just this separate thing, and I think it goes back to childhood because they were these amazing things. When you learn to read you say, “Ooh, I can read now!” But nobody ever says, “We’re going to write a book now.” They say, “Let’s write an essay or a blogpost.” When you learn to write, you write little things, not anything that’s really longer. Unless you go to college and write a 20 page paper, even that’s not the same as putting your heart and soul out there in a book. The other thing is, you are putting your heart and soul out into a book and there’s always that, “What if I’m not good enough? What if I get a bad review? What if somebody else knows more than me? What if there’s already 27 books on this exact topic that I want to share?” All of those “what if’s” get in your brain, even if you don’t know they’re there. You just have to tell yourself they’re not real. What if there’s 27 books? They’re not going to be written the same way I’m going to write it. What if you don’t know as much as some other author? That’s ok, it’s the same as starting a business, you have to get over these hurdles of what if. I’m making it sound more dramatic than it probably is – especially for you, because you’re very successful and you’ve got a podcast and things going on – but it’s really easy for you to procrastinate at writing something because of some deep, psychological thing with the “what if’s”.
Rich: I definitely do that, yeah.
Julie: You say, “Oh, I’m so busy. I have a conference and a podcast and kids at home and a business to run and more clients than I can handle, I’ve got fires to put out….” Blah, blah, blah. It’s like, write a book or don’t write a book. No one said that you have to write a book, if you want to write a book and you want to use it as a vehicle to help your business grow, then you have to see the time that you write your book as an investment in your business.
Rich: Alright, so let’s talk about that. A lot of people who listen to the show are entrepreneurs or marketers – and some are consultants – what would you say to them if they asked, “Why should I write a book?”
Julie: Why should you write a book?
Rich: What’s the business reason for it? I’m not talking about novels here. What are the business or brand building reasons that I would want to write a book?
Julie: So the #1 thing – especially if you are a local business and you’ve got competitors – I’ve written books for locksmiths, so it can get as local as you can possibly get.
Rich: What was the name of that book, if I might ask?
Julie: It’s called We Can Protect Our Children. It was written after a school shooting, and this guy is a security expert, and he felt very passionately about protecting kids in schools using hardware, because it can be done. He was just like, “This can’t go on. The fact that there are these school shootings is insane and they could have done something.” And actually this is a great example, because what I want to do is I’ll answer your question by using this book as an example of what a book can do for your business. So he’s a locksmith, he actually sells wholesale locks online. He’s a distributor and actually designs lock systems for all the military branches to secure some of their stations. He’s done work for the Olympics, he’s done big time venues, as well as hotels and things like that. So he knows how to design lock systems for the best price that you can possibly get. At the particular time that this happened – we actually wrote the book very quickly because it was a reaction to something that had just happened in the news and he really wanted to get it out there – he wanted to get into churches and schools and daycares and universities, and he wanted them to call him and ask how they could secure their facilities better. So what he did was on the very front page of the book – and it was a Kindle book – he said, “I will talk to you for free for 20 minutes and I will tell you exactly what you need to do to secure your schools. You send me pictures of your doors, and I will tell you what you need to get for free.” And a lot of people took him up on that. It was not as well marketed as it could have been for a variety of reasons, but the fact that he saw something happen and wanted to do something about that would help his business and help millions of people stay safer. That’s how he tied his business to a book.
Rich: Alright, good example. So if we know why we should write a book, the concerns I have are, how much time is this really going to take? It’s like, I’m so freaking busy already and I’m writing a book, to what, get more business because I don’t have enough time in the day? I’m obviously being a little facetious here, I really want to write this book. What tactics should I employ to actually get this done? Do I have some assets that I can pull from already? What do you tell people when they want to find the time to write that book?
Julie: First of all, there’s more to it than just getting clients and customers. There’s positioning yourself as an expert in your industry and being the “go to” person for publicity. So if the news is looking for an expert, they’re going to go for the author not somebody who hasn’t written a book. If you’re looking for speaking opportunities, you’re going to get more and better speaking opportunities. It opens doors, a book opens doors. So like I said before, the time that you spend writing that book is an investment in your business. And it’s not a matter of finding time. If you need to find time, then you need to go and check out all of the time management authors and gurus out there because they will tell you where to find time. You know in your heart where the time is. You know you can get up earlier, you can work on your lunch break, you can stay an hour late, whatever it is. It’s not finding time, what it is is not wasting the time that you have. What happens is people who are trying to write a book – whether it’s their first or their fifth book – the first thing they do is they read back what they already wrote. And maybe they spend a half hour churning over what they’ve already written to try to refresh their memory and know where they’re going to go in the future. So the #1 tip is to plan your book correctly. This means outlining in a certain way, and I call it an “uber outline”. It’s a system I’ve developed to make sure that you can always sit down at your computer and write the next section. You don’t have to go back and look at the other sections, you don’t have to re-edit. The editing loop goes on forever, you need to keep moving forward until the whole thing is done, and then you can go back and edit. To write an uber outline, instead of thinking in terms of topics, you think in terms of questions. Who, what, where, how, how much, when not to, why shouldn’t you… all of those are your best friends. So if you have a topic like, give me a topic you want to write about.
Rich: Ok, well, I would like to create a product – that could be a book – around helping entrepreneurs put on events.
Julie: Ok, awesome. Putting on events. So a topic for putting on events might be venues. So maybe chapter 3 is going to be about venues and chapter 4 is going to be about sponsors. So you’ve got all these topics,normally that’s how you write an outline. But when you sit down to write, your brain is muddled because there’s so many things you could say. But instead of having just this list of topics for your outline, what I do when I coach people through creating an outline is I take those topics and I break them down into questions. So if we’re talking about venues: Who do you go to first when looking for a venue? Where do you want your venue to be, where do you not want it to be? When is the best time to get started looking for a venue? When you have those questions in front of you instead of just a topic, all of a sudden you sit down and the questions are on your computer screen and your brain just starts going.
Rich: It’s very easy to answer questions.
Julie: It’s very easy to answer questions. So what I tell people is if you plan it right , then you can use all of the amazing tactics that are all over. You can speak your book by talking your topic and getting it transcribed. That’s one awesome tool. But if you don’t know what you’re talking about then you’re just going to be rambling, so having those questions just means you record the next question and you can do it in small chunks. Also you can blog your book, which means you write blog post and when you get enough of them you put them you put them in a book. But if you don’t have the strategic plan and the uber outline and you don’t know what the order is going to be, then blogging a book is just going to be a mish mash of articles. Does that make sense?
Rich: Yeah, no, it totally does, and I like the questions. I know when I do presentations, my favorite part is Q&A. Because that’s when I know I’m delivering valuable content and because they’re asking me these questions and it’s easy, I didn’t have to prepare or go to some photo place and get some slides made. It’s perfect.
Julie: That’s another way to save time and not waste the time that you’ve got is to crowdsource your book. Which means that you go and you outline your frequently asked questions for the questions, or you survey your list for the questions., or you go onto a forum in your area and you just look at what people are asking and those are your questions.
Rich: In cases like that, I really miss the LinkedIn questions section. They used to have the best business-related questions, they were all blog posts ready to go. Although there are still a million other places to go like Quora that have this information. So I have a question, let’s say I’m passionate about the subject of helping entrepreneurs put on events and obviously it’s something I’m knowledgeable about I’ve been doing it for several years now and I want to share that, I just don’t know that anybody cares about it. So how do I know if I’m writing about something that people actually want to learn about?
Julie: That’s an awesome question. You really need to know that before you start writing. The best thing to do is to ask people or pay attention to what people are asking you. It all comes down to questions. So if people are constantly asking you, “Rich this was a great event, how did you do it?”, or if people are emailing you and asking questions, pay attention. If they’re asking you a question, it also means other people are wondering the same thing. The other thing is pay attention to your blog comments and Facebook comments. All your social media that you’re doing, throw out some trial balloons. Presidential candidates do this all the time, “Well, let’s see what they think of this topic.” Just say something and see what happens, use it as a testing ground for market research. One or two people may have already written on that topic, that’s a good sign that maybe it’s a good one. If 27 people have written on the topic, then you’ll need a way to stand out from the crowd.
Rich: Alright, so let’s say that we feel confident that we have a topic people are interested in, we’ve put together our uber outline, let’s say we go through the process, we’ve asked and answered all the questions and we think we have something that’s pretty good at this point. what are the next steps? Do I hire an editor, do I go to a publisher, what do I do with this rough draft?
Julie: Ok, you want to think about how you plan to publish. And I don’t want to get into a big discussion about publishing. But if you’re planning to go a traditional publishing great route where you go to a New York publisher and they give you an advance and you wait 2 years before they actually get around to publishing it – you really have to fight to get a slot in there because you have to prove that you have a massive platform in order for them to make money – if you’re going to do that, you need to have a book proposal and there’s a very strict format for how they want this which includes market research. If you’re going to self publish or use a subsidy publisher or vanity publisher, all of those are good ways to do it. I’m of the opinion that the publishing doesn’t matter, it’s more about what you’re writing, how good is your writing. The next steps are get someone to read it. First put it away in your desk drawer for about 3 weeks, don’t look at it. Then you read it, then give it to someone you trust that’s in the industry, not your family or anybody who is close to you who doesn’t want to hurt your feelings. Maybe a business partner or someone you’ve helped in one of your trainings. And they’re going to help you edit and refine it into what I call a 2nd or 3rd draft where it’s pretty well ready to go. Then you want to hire an editor, and there are different kinds of editors. There are structural editors who will look at it and go, “Maybe this chapter would be better first.” Then there are copy editors and line editors who are looking more at the grammar, spelling, making sure that all of your headings are consistent sizes, making sure your bullet points are the same. All those little nit picky things. If you are doing traditional publishing, you don’t want to do any of this stuff until you have a deal. So all you do is the book proposal stage – which involves 2 chapters and a whole lot of market research – and you want to make sure you have a deal before you write the book. That’s just the way that it’s done. You may end up hiring an agent to do it. But you’ll also have to convince them that you’ll sell a lot of books. In the traditional world of publishing, you have to prove that you’re going to sell multiple thousands of books, otherwise it’s just not worth it to them to take you on. That’s why self publishing has become such a huge thing. There’s a lot of steps after writing, and all of them can be hired out, but you still have to read it.
Rich: Yeah, no, I completely get that because listening to you right now, the writing seemed like the daunting part. Reading my book over more than once seems totally un-doable at this point. I can’t even listen to my podcast after I do them anymore, which is why I hire out the transcription part. But it’s a critical piece.
Julie: It’s a critical piece. You’ve got to be able to read your book a lot of different times. And the hardest thing – and this is why I started coaching – is that you’ve got to just say, “Ok, I know you want to change this chapter but it’s great the way it is.” It’s normal and natural to want to change things after every read. You can edit forever, but then you’ll never be an author.
Rich: Ok, so let’s say we get to the point where we’ve got a polished product, let’s say we’re publishing on a Kindle, what do we do next? How do we capitalize on the fact that we have this new book?
Julie: That goes back to the planning. Everything goes back to the beginning because there’s more than writing going on at the same time. When you get to the end you know you need to market the book, the problem is you don’t have any momentum and the book flounders. So I will tell you that writing a book is like having a baby, I’ve had 3 of them I can say this with great certainty, you are exhausted by the time the book is published and going.
Somehow you have to find a way to not only get that baby up and alive and breathing, but you have to teach it to walk. You have to put it out there in the world so that it can live on it’s own. The more momentum you have going into a book launch phase, the better you’re going to be received by publicity people if you already have a platform going. So this is where it goes back to social media and all of the things that people are listening to your podcast for in the first place. While you’re building up the book, and writing and editing, at the same time you need to be doing your platform building. So you need to be interacting with people on Twitter . And your platform is nothing more than your fanbase, people, your followers, your list. You need to be communicating with your list, tell them, “Hey, I just finished chapter 2. I sent out a cover design, tell me which ones you like best.” And so getting them to vote is a great way to engage them. Giving them little snippets to get their feedback is great. Keeping them engaged gets them excited and builds momentum for the launch. Once you’ve launched the book, you need to start going on podcast, you need to be writing guest posts, you need to be leveraging other people’s lists. You want to get your book into the hands of as many people as possible. And that’s all in the strategic plan at the beginning. And if your goal is to sell something at the end of it – a program or products or services – that’s another thing that you have to have in the book ready to go. I actually have a 3-dimensional call to action and it’s becoming very common right now. You have a vehicle and in the book you refer to it, “Hey, on my website I have extra content for you. All you have to do is give me your email and I’ll send you access to it.” So you’re getting people on your list from your book which is a vehicle to sell your other products and services. The missing link is getting people from the book to your business. And that is where the skill and strategic planning come in.
Rich: Right. And I’ve certainly listened to enough audiobooks and read business books where they give additional resources that are only available at the website. So obviously that’s one technique that people are using successfully to get people to visit the website and then opt in for more information and thus you’re building your list. So it all comes around full circle for your next book.
Julie: Yup. And I find video content is the best because there’s a legitimate reason. You could give them the resource in the book, you’re just choosing not to so you can get them on your list. So it’s kind of manipulative, but if you say, “Hey, this is something that I’m teaching you that really needs video, you’ve got to see me do it.” So if it’s in an audio or video format, there’s a legitimate reason you can’t put it in the book.
Julie: And it’s much more believable.
Rich: That’s great. Now I know that you have a lot more to offer, Julie., and I know a lot of the people listening to this podcast are probably going to want to dig a little deeper. So, where can we find you online?
Julie: Oh, thanks! I’m actually at my website julieanneeason.com. And if you want to see what these uber outlines actually look like, go to julieanneeason.com/gift, you will find an actual .pdf of an uber outline that you can download or reverse engineer adn see how I put it together. You don’t have to opt in unless you want to, it’s just right there for you. I also have a workshop – depending on when you’re listening to this, it might be live or recorded – at theghostwriterssecret.com. It’s 4 hours of going through this process that we just described with the strategic planning and building out your uber outline and making sure that you have your book taken care of in person with me as close as you can get without actually hiring me.
Rich: Sounds good. And we’re going to have links to all of those resources that Julie mentioned at The Marketing Agents podcast show notes, and we’ll give those to you in just a minute. Julie, thank you very much for your time today.
Julie: You’re very welcome. I’m excited to read your book.
https://www.quora.com/ – the question and answer website Rich talked about using as a resource for your outline.
To learn about the conference that Rich just put on, go to http://www.agentsofchangecon.com/
Want to find out more about Julie? http://www.julieanneeason.com/
Check out a sample of Julie’s uber outline – http://www.julieanneeason.com/gift/
Want to check out Julie’s workshop? http://theghostwriterssecret.com/