In this episode, Stacy sits down with founder and CEO of Emerald Lake Books, Tara Alemany. The two discuss methods on how to best market your book, and how writing and publishing a book helps demonstrate your expertise and credibility.
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Welcome to Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them. I’m Stacy Jones, the founder of influencer marketing and branded content agency Hollywood Branded. This podcast provides brand marketers a learning platform for top experts to share their insights and knowledge on topics which make a direct impact on your business today. While it is impossible to be well-versed on every topic and strategy that can improve bottom-line results, my goal is to help you avoid making costly mistakes of time, energy, or money, whether you’re doing a DIY approach or hiring an expert to help.Stacy Jones: 00:29
Let’s begin today’s discussion.Announcer: 00:31
Welcome to Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them. Here’s your host, Stacy Jones.
Stacy Jones: 00:36
Welcome to Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them. I’m Stacy Jones. I’m so happy to be here with you all today. I want to give a very warm welcome to Tara Alemany, founder and CEO of Emerald Lake Books, the hybrid book company for independent authors. Additionally, Tara is also a multi-award-winning author of seven books. Emerald Lake books provides a unique blend of business coaching with publishing to help its authors succeed by using a unique goal-oriented approach to publishing to help authors set and attain goals for their readers, their brands, and their books. Their services include cover design, book formatting, publishing, website development strategy [inaudible 00:01:09] and creating social media presence, search engine optimization, audio and video editing and production, and developing marketing materials, all to help authors to better reach their fans.
Stacy Jones: 01:18
Today, we’re going to talk about how you can use the power of writing and publishing a book to demonstrate your credibility and your expertise. We’ll learn what has worked from Tara’s experience, what maybe could be avoided, and where people are missing the mark.
Stacy Jones: 01:30
Tara Alemany: 01:31
Thank you, Stacy. It’s wonderful to be here.
Stacy Jones: 01:33
So happy to have you here today. I love talking about books and publishing and authority-setting, and you could have our listeners learn a little bit more about you by giving us some background.
Tara Alemany: 01:46
So, I started out my first company when I was 19, and I was doing technical writing for Fortune 500 and 100 companies. It’s interesting because now that I’m 50, I’m looking back on some of the things I learned back then and seeing how they apply now to what I’m doing. I love telling the story in the beginning of my latest book, Publish with Purpose, about that fact that when I was working with technical writing, I was documenting software programs. I was the intermediary between the developers and the users. The developers were off, you know, they were happy little coders developing the neat products that they wanted to do and all these bells and whistles that they thought would be fantastic and not really having conversations with the users as to what they actually needed. So the software would get rolled out and the users would go, “Ah, this doesn’t do this and it doesn’t do that,” and all these different things.
Tara Alemany: 02:32
I’m finding the same thing happens with authors. We are so passionate about the message that we have to share that we sit down and we start writing what we want to write, and we don’t really think about, “Who is going to read this, and what are they looking to get out of the book?” One of the things that I’m really passionate about is helping people marry together the “what is it that they really want to write about” to “what is the reader that they want to be talking to, and what do they need?”
Stacy Jones: 02:56
You are a very good interpreter, basically.
Tara Alemany: 03:00
Stacy Jones: 03:01
That is good.
Tara Alemany: 03:02
I’ve played that middle ground way too many times and seen way too many disconnects, and it’s neat when you get people to actually connect because that’s a huge part of marketing and building your brand.
Stacy Jones: 03:11
Right. That makes sense. So, what got you into the world of book publishing?
Tara Alemany: 03:16
Oh, a very long, long journey. So as I said, I started out technical writing. I knew a lot about developing books because of working with that, and over time, my career kind of transitioned through a bunch of different stages. My business died as a result of 9/11 after 16 years, and so I went and got my first job in my middle thirties, and that lasted for a little while. When that ended in 2009, right after the recession, it was like, “All right. What do I do now?” It was interesting because I joined a mastermind group and I had some friends in that group who were writing their books, and they needed an editor and they needed somebody to do the layout of the book. From my technical writing background, I could do that, so I did that for probably seven or eight books before I finally realized that there was nothing pointing back to me as a brand. There was no way to generate business or let people know what I was doing, and so I ended up creating Emerald Lake Books.
Tara Alemany: 04:11
The story of the name is kind of fun because I live on a road called “Green Pond.” It’s “Green Pond Road,” and I found a map when I first moved here that was from 1973 where the body of water that this road is named after was called “Emerald Lake.” I keep trying to envision this town ordinance meeting of going and somebody petitioning to change “Emerald Lake” to “Green Pond.” I mean, “Green Pond” makes you think of scuzzy water, algae-filled stuff. Emerald Lake is beautiful.
Stacy Jones: 04:39
Yeah. My turtle would loving in the Green Pond that I have, but Emerald Lake is like, we all would like to live on its shorelines.
Tara Alemany: 04:48
Yes, exactly. So when I had to name my business, it was like, “It’s going to be Emerald Lake Books.” So, that’s it.
Stacy Jones: 04:55
That’s [crosstalk 00:04:55]. That’s awesome. Now you have already published seven books yourself and you have, I think, another book coming up.
Tara Alemany: 05:02
I’ve written seven myself.
Stacy Jones: 05:03
Written seven of them.
Tara Alemany: 05:04
Helped publish a few dozen.
Stacy Jones: 05:06
Okay, so written yourself, yes, yourself. Did that come before you actually started Emerald Lake, or is that part of having started it?
Tara Alemany: 05:16
It’s actually part of why I started it. I self-published five different books in different ways, and there were mistakes with each self-publishing experience.
Stacy Jones: 05:29
You weren’t perfect? You weren’t perfect?
Tara Alemany: 05:29
Stacy Jones: 05:29
You’re not perfect to start? Okay.
Tara Alemany: 05:31
No, the first time there were hiccups. It was kind of funny because the first time there were hiccups and I thought, “All right, well I’ll know better,” and so the second time I expected it to go well, but there were different mistakes that I encountered, and the third time, there were still other mistakes that I encountered. After a while, it was like, I had done five books. A sixth book was coming out and I was just thinking, “You know, I can write, but there’s nothing that I’m inspired to write right now. I’d much rather people avoid these issues that I’ve run into.” Because I’m kind of a perpetual learner, I love learning new things all the time, I really started digging into publishing itself, just what the standards were and how you do it right, and what are some of the common mistakes that people who choose to self-publish make, because there’s some very easy-to-distinguish errors that a book seller will look at, and they can quickly tell whether something’s self-published if they see these common errors.
Tara Alemany: 06:26
So it was like, “All right, let’s make sure that we’re not doing any of those. Let’s start refining all our process,” but part of my background as well was business process analysis. It was looking at processes and making them work better, and doing so for media marketing became part of it as well. Ultimately, what I decided to do was blend together business coaching with the publishing so that as we were working on the production of the book, I was coaching our authors on how to develop their business and ran with it. We have these exercises that we put together, which are outlined in Publish with Purpose, that help them kind of do different parts along the way so that they’re not left at the launch trying to figure out what they need to do, why, and when. They’ve learned along the way.
Stacy Jones: 07:12
That makes sense. You know what’s funny? I tell a lot of clients, when we’re in pitch mode and they have questions about our pricing or, “Hey, can I pay you less money than what you said that you’re going to be?” It happens, right?
Tara Alemany: 07:27
Stacy Jones: 07:28
Yeah, to everyone. What people have to understand, and the whole thing that you’ve just outlined, is people hire you and work with you, or with me, because of all the mistakes we’ve made so that people won’t have to make them again. So-
Tara Alemany: 07:44
I actually like to liken it to the fact that when you’re an entrepreneur, a solo-preneur, you start out and you almost proudly proclaim that you’re chief cook and bottle-washer as well as doing all the client stuff, but if you’re going to grow your business, you ultimately need to start hiring people to help you with the things that you don’t need to do so that you can focus on the things that you do need to do. It’s the same when you’re publishing a book. It’s all well and good to initially start out and do the self-publishing and all of that, but you run into the issue of creating problems that you didn’t know. When your brand is tied into your book and you’re trying to build a business around that message, that’s your first impression for some people. What first impression do you want to make? Instead of trying to figure it all out on your own, it makes a lot of sense to partner with or work with people who can guide you through that process, I think.
Stacy Jones: 08:32
Totally makes sense, and hello to your cat that just popped into frame.
Tara Alemany: 08:35
Sorry about that. Yes, thank you.
Stacy Jones: 08:37
No, no. It’s great. Love cats.
Tara Alemany: 08:39
He’s the COO. He’s the Chief Optimist Officer.
Stacy Jones: 08:44
Well your cat is much more polite than my dogs because they don’t pop into frame; they just start barking.
Tara Alemany: 08:50
Yes. Well my cat likes to actually get in front of the camera on the computer when he thinks that it’s time for me to be done working. [inaudible 00:08:57].
Stacy Jones: 08:57
That’s a good thing to do.
Tara Alemany: 08:59
Stacy Jones: 09:00
You have a “stop work” alarm clock.
Tara Alemany: 09:01
I do, I do. He’s black and fuzzy, and sheds hair everywhere at this time of year.
Stacy Jones: 09:07
So, can we talk a little bit about, what are the mistakes that are so common that so many people make when they go out and start self-publishing? I’m super eager to know these things because I’m in the midst of trying to publish as well, so I have a feeling you’re going to open up for our listeners and for me a whole vast array of things that we had no idea we’re waiting to encounter.
Tara Alemany: 09:30
There’s some very simple telltale signs in the layout of the book and the design of the interior. So when you open up a book, there’s certain standards; whether the book is fiction or nonfiction, it’s going to change. So for instance, for nonfiction books, your chapters should always start on a right-hand page. Even if your prior chapter ends on a right-hand, you’re going to have a blank left-hand page before your next chapter starts. If they run together and I see chapters starting on a left-hand page, I know that designer didn’t know what they were doing quite. Also, the chapter page, that first page of the chapter, the header and footer are typically different than the interior pages of the chapter. For instance, you may find that the first page of a chapter has no header and it has a centered page number in the footer, and then when you go to the next page, the next left and right-hand page within the chapter, those page numbers are going to be in the footer on the outer edge. One’s going to be on the left, the other’s going to be on the right.
Tara Alemany: 10:34
The header, you’ll have typically the title on one side and the chapter name on the other, but there’s certain things that you know to look for when you’re looking at the design that if these standards aren’t met, it’s fairly quick and easy to tell, “All right. This is somebody who just didn’t know the rules.” Right now, a common mistake I’m seeing is that people will format their book to look like their blog. They’ll use spacing between paragraphs and no first line indent. That’s all well and good on your website, but it’s not the way books are supposed to be formatted. Books are supposed to have no spacing between the paragraphs and a first line indent. That’s another common issue to see.
Tara Alemany: 11:13
When you get to the outside, to the cover, one of the problems we run into is a lot of people say, “Well I have a friend/neighbor/nephew who’s a graphic designer and they made the cover for me.” That’s wonderful that you had-
Stacy Jones: 11:28
That’s a lovely expression you have on your face right now. Anyone who’s listening and not watching, she’s just like, “Oh dear, no.”
Tara Alemany: 11:35
“It’s wonderful that you have somebody who wants to support you in that way, but not every graphic designer is a cover designer.” There are certain standards that cover designers know about. For instance, if you look at a professionally designed cover, there’s one of two rules that are either being followed: one is the rule of thirds, which is where typically you’ll have your title on the top, you’ll have something visual in the middle, and on the bottom you’ll have the author information. The other is they follow the golden ratio. If you look at, for instance, the cover of The Help, if you were to draw a spiral on the cover, you would see that the eye is drawn to the various things on the cover. So you start in the lower corner because you’ve got the author’s name there. It goes up and you end up at the bird that’s on the wire. Your eye is being drawn across the cover to hit all of the things that need to be seen: the author’s name, the title, and then that visual. So there’s certain things that you’re looking for on the cover, a design, that oftentimes graphic designers, they’re thinking more like how you design a flyer or a poster, and it doesn’t look anything like a cover.
Tara Alemany: 12:40
The other issue is when you create your bar code for the ISBN that’s on the back cover, if you want the book to be in bookstores, you want to make it easy for bookstore stores to carry it. So one of the ways that you do that is you embed the price in the bar code, so you don’t just have the ISBN but you have the price embedded as well, which means that when somebody brings the book to the checkout, they can scan it and not only do they know what book it is but what price it is. If you don’t embed the price, you’re just telling them what book it is, and then they have to go look on the cover to find, “All right, is the list price here someplace for me? Do I have to look it up? Is it in my computer system?” You want to always make things as easy as possible for retailers to carry your book.
Tara Alemany: 13:23
If you make it difficult, then they’re either going to have to sticker your book, and one of the issues when a bookstore has your book in-store is that they purchase returnable copies because, say they purchase ten copies. If only three of them sell, they want to make sure that they’re not stuck with seven copies, so they actually can return them at any point in time. Now if you haven’t put the price in the bar code and they’ve had to put a sticker on it, you’ve got books with stickers on it, which makes it very hard for you, then, to turn around and resell them.
Stacy Jones: 13:56
Right. Like having consignment store stickers on all of your clothing that you’re shopping around.
Tara Alemany: 14:00
Yes, yes. Exactly. So those are just some of the things, but they’re quick and easy to see when you know what you’re looking for.
Stacy Jones: 14:09
And those are not anything that I think I ever would’ve thought of in any single solitary case.
Tara Alemany: 14:16
Which is why having somebody who can guide you through the process is a very helpful thing.
Stacy Jones: 14:20
Yes. So do you work with both fiction and nonfiction writers?
Tara Alemany: 14:24
We’ve actually just published our first couple of fiction books this year, so we’ve been primarily focusing on nonfiction because so much of what we do with our authors is about how they build their business and brand around it, but we’re actually working with a couple of fiction authors right now who want to be professional authors. That is their business and that is their brand, and so we’re working with them to develop strategies for building that platform for them.
Stacy Jones: 14:47
That’s awesome. So when someone has written a book, do they just reach out to you and say, “Hey, I wrote a book. I want to get it published. What do I do now?” Can you walk us through what happens?
Tara Alemany: 15:01
Well, we actually do have an application process. We have certain standards that we apply so that we maintain a very high quality of what we put out there. Actually, it’s kind of neat because this year, it is not even September yet and our authors have already won eight awards this year.
Stacy Jones: 15:18
Tara Alemany: 15:19
Because we really focus on that quality, and it gives them something that because they’re building [inaudible 00:15:24] brand around it is important, but if somebody wants to work with us, we have an application form they fill out. If it looks like a good fit for us and a conversation we want to continue, we do ask to see the manuscript. Then from there, we don’t do package pricing because every book needs something different. Every author needs something different, so we give you an estimate based on what we’re seeing that particular book needing and what you want to accomplish with it, but yeah.
Stacy Jones: 15:48
That’s awesome, okay.
Tara Alemany: 15:50
We work with authors from any stage at they’re at. We actually have ghostwriters that we can work with and author coaches that we can work with if you’re starting out with, you’ve got this idea but you can’t get going, to “I’ve got a manuscript and I want to get going on it now.” That’s typically most of the folks that we work with; they have the manuscript. They just need to polish it and finish it.
Stacy Jones: 16:10
Okay. When someone polishes and finishes their manuscript, you help them figure out what to do. I mean, you’re not suggesting that they go out and find a literary agent and sell it out. You are actually handling the whole self-publishing plan for them.
Tara Alemany: 16:27
We are actually publishing for them. Rather than them being considered a self-published book at that point in time, they’re an indie published book. We are a hybrid publisher; we are paid for the services we render, but when we’re doing it, you have the benefit of being published by a legitimate publisher. If you self-publish, one of the things to know is that when you self-publish, you purchase an ISBN number. Every unique format of a book has an ISBN, and it’s a unique identifier of it. When a bookstore or a retailer looks at that ISBN, they can tell whether or not that is a single-author-single-title ISBN or if that’s a multi-author-multi-title ISBN. You stand a much better chance of getting into stores if you are using a multi-author-multi-title because they know then that if that publisher’s still in business, they’re probably doing something right, so you stand a better chance of getting your foot in the door. It’s not a guarantee, but it certainly makes things easier.
Stacy Jones: 17:27
Okay. Do y’all print everything? Do you have a place that actually prints or is it a print-on-demand type scenario? How does all that work?
Tara Alemany: 17:37
We can do a combination of both. We don’t have in-house printing, but we have a list of printers that we’ve vetted that we’ve worked with in the past and are confident do good work. When we’re looking at printers, when we vet them, we’re actually asking them for samples of their paper and their ink and their foils, and all these different things so we see the quality they can produce, but most of our authors will print on demand. That way, they don’t have to have a garage or a basement filled with boxes of books that they don’t know how to move. Print on demand is much easier to do. We’ve got some folks that are speakers; they love having a quantity to have on hand for back-of-room sales or sometimes with conferences, they can make arrangements that if the conference, for instance, can’t pay them, maybe what they’ll do is they’ll purchase a copy of the book for all the attendees. That gets the book out among all of the audience. There’s different arrangements you can make. Then at that point in time, yes, you do want to have a bulk set of books available, and we can help you do that.
Stacy Jones: 18:33
Okay. Then, what is the turnaround time? Someone says, “Okay, I have my manuscript. I’ve gotten it over to you. You’ve approved me, you want to work with me. Yay.” Where does it go from there? Is this a quick process? Obviously if the book’s not written and you need a ghostwriter, not as quick a process.
Tara Alemany: 18:51
Stacy Jones: 18:52
But how does that work?
Tara Alemany: 18:53
If the manuscript is already there, and say it’s primarily text; there’s not a lot of additional design like charts and photographs and all these different things, we can do something in about three to four months depending on how much work the book itself needs. If it’s needing just a line editor, a content edit, that’s much easier to do than if, for instance, it needs a development edit, because we’re able to do all of those varying types of edits, but a development edit often involves taking the book and almost deconstructing it and building it back together in a new format, a new order. When you’re doing that, that can add a couple of months to the whole timeline, but it can make a huge difference in the final result as well.
Stacy Jones: 19:34
So, if someone decides that they’re going to actually print and they don’t necessarily have an entire garage, basement, or warehouse filled with their books, do you help them as well try to get in into retailers to sell, or is that something that is separate?
Tara Alemany: 19:51
So, there are certain aspects of that. I refer to distribution as one of two things: you have active and you have passive. In active distribution, somebody’s actually going to be going out to those retailers and promoting it and trying to get them to get it in the store. We’re not big enough to do that yet. We hope to be at some point. We do passive distribution, which means that what we’re doing, it is available for any retailer to purchase. We create sell sheets for our authors, which are one-page flyers that are totally focused on the book. It has retail information and wholesale information on it, ISBNs, cover image, cover description, all of that. As part of our homework, we coach our authors on how to do bookstore and library outreach so that they can make those steps, because one of the things about marketing a book, and it’s the same with marketing a business, it’s a journey, not a destination. It’s not something that you do and now you never have to do it again. When we’re working, we kind of prioritize, “Based on the goals that our authors have said that they want to achieve, what steps are necessary to get there?”
Tara Alemany: 20:58
What we find oftentimes is bookstores and libraries, while they’re nice to have, they’re not the things that are going to move the needle for most authors. You want to focus on things like interviews like this one, you know, having conversations, leveraging other people audiences where you can create valuable content, give great information, and get people to know who you are so that then they’re interested in the book. They’re interested in working with you, whatever that might be.
Stacy Jones: 21:24
Right. I’m interested right now. I’m like, “I want to see your book.” You came up with all these things I hadn’t even thought of in thinking about my own book, and I’m like, “Oh, that means her book has even more things that are valuable in it.”
Tara Alemany: 21:36
Yes, I think so. I had a lot of fun putting it together because it was almost like this retrospective of going back over, we launched Emerald Lake Books in 2014, so going back over these years and looking at how our methods have grown and matured and developed over time to the extent now that we feel so confident when we work with our authors about helping them identify the goals that are right for them and their business and what they want to achieve, because so many times, authors will focus on book sales as being the key metric of success of their book, but unfortunately for some authors, this number is going up this year. Now I’m hearing people say first-time authors, over the lifetime of the book, will sell probably about 250 copies. Just a couple of years ago, it was 100 copies over the lifetime of a book.
Stacy Jones: 22:26
That’s actually higher than I would anticipate. So that must mean that there’s some authors who are just selling the heck out of it and some who are like, “Yeah, I got my five sales. Yay.”
Tara Alemany: 22:36
Well, I think it’s partly that, but I also think there’s so much more readily available information about authoring for authors now that I think they’re starting to get better at it, starting to make some headway there. But, if you’re thinking about 250 copies of books, by the time you pay the print fee, by the time you give bookstores discounts on wholesale rates and things like that, you’re probably making anywhere between a buck to $5 a copy. If you’re selling, say, 200 copies, that’s at most $1,000 you’re getting back. That’s not, to me, a sign of success.
Stacy Jones: 23:09
No, but that leads us into why books are so important still to do.
Tara Alemany: 23:15
Yes, exactly, because there are so many things that you can do with your book, like introducing people to who you are and what you do, like helping them solve problems on their own that when they get to more complicated problems, now they want to come pick your brain, you know. “How do I fix this?” You can build your mailing list with them. You can include them as part of a funnel into your business. So we do things, we have what we refer to as “business-building elements” within the book that give readers the opportunity to engage with us more, but then we also have opportunities that drive people to the book, so it becomes part of the funnel that we work with when we’re trying to relate to people. When we have a new high-paying client, they get the book because, “This is the outline of what we’re going to be doing together. This is what you can anticipate. If you want to start thinking about it now, great.”
Tara Alemany: 24:08
That just makes things easier for us as a business because now we have better educated people that we’re working with, we have higher qualified prospects. We’re building our mailing list, we’re creating visibility for ourselves, and I tell you, the process of writing a book if you’re a speaker, coach, consultant, it really helps you clarify your message. When you’re sitting across the table from a prospect having a conversation, you don’t want to be stumbling around trying to figure out the answers to the questions they’re asking you. So, yeah-
Stacy Jones: 24:39
And of course it’s the fact that people are still somewhat, you know, they put you on a pedestal almost if you’ve written a book because it sounds like such a daunting task that it just boosts your authority sky high immediately, from being able to say, “Oh, I’m a published book author.”
Tara Alemany: 24:58
Yes. It’s a great conversation-starter. One of my hobbies is I’m a wine maker. There’ll be times when I’m at the winery having conversations with people that have just come in for a wine tasting or whatever, and as soon as you say you’re an author, it’s like they want to know everything about you. “How did you start?”, “What was it like?”, all these different things. It’s a great way of networking. If you’re one of those folks who go to networking meetings and struggle with, “What am I going to talk about?”, writing a book is a great conversation starter.
Stacy Jones: 25:28
Right, because all of a sudden, because you’ve written a book, obviously you know 50,000 to 75,000 words that someone might find of value that you put down into a book, so you’re definitely worth probing and getting value out of that conversation you’re having.
Tara Alemany: 25:43
Exactly, exactly. One of the things that we do is, we’ve never focused on creating bestselling authors because it’s just such an easy thing to game anymore. The panache of being able to say that you’re a bestselling author, unless you can say your The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times or USA Today, you can game Amazon so easily to be a bestselling author, and it has no meaning because you can actually make zero dollars and be a bestselling author on Amazon. Now to me, that kind of doesn’t make sense. “Bestselling” you would assume have revenue associated with it, but …
Stacy Jones: 26:17
Is that because Amazon does a lot of giveaways with Kindle and things along those lines, so you might be moving a lot of titles but you’re not actually moving dollars?
Tara Alemany: 26:26
Not so much. What it can be is if you choose categories where the number one book in the category hasn’t really sold a lot of copies, and you manage to sell in a giveaway, so you do a KDP day. If you’re in KDP Select, you can have up to five days that are free days. You can have a thousand people download a free copy of your book and become a bestseller on Amazon and not have sold a single copy.
Stacy Jones: 26:56
Tara Alemany: 26:58
So to me, it’s all gaming the system. “Bestseller” really doesn’t have the connotation anymore, and if you want to go for a New York Times or Wall Street Journal or something like that, it will cost you about $100,000 in marketing budget to be able to do that. Not many entrepreneurs have that to put out there, so what we focus on is this quality aspect; if you’re able to go to a conference and say you’re an award-winning author, you know. Lots of speakers are authors now, so how do you distinguish yourself? “I’m an award-winning author.” That makes such a huge difference, and the awards that we deal with or that we recommend our authors participate in, they’re all juried awards. They’re judged by librarians, by retailers, by industry peers or professionals. It’s not one of the popularity contests where you have to beg all your friends to go vote for your book, because that doesn’t really get you anywhere. You can say that. Now, somebody else is saying that the content you have to share is valuable.
Tara Alemany: 27:54
One of our authors, Susanna Liller, wrote a book called You Are a Heroine, and she talks about a retelling of Joseph Campbell’s hero story, and she talks about how on this story, women take this journey differently than men do. When women encounter dragons in their journey, they’re more likely to embrace them and try and understand them and see them as the protector that dragons are intended to be than somebody to go confront and kill like men would. She’s got this great book; it came out in September, and in the last three weeks, she’s won three different awards. Now she’s building a coaching business for women who want to be more bold in their life. Being able to have all of this affirmation that her content is valuable and that it’s enjoyable and that it’s entertaining makes it much easier to sell the book and get people to actually want to coach with her.
Stacy Jones: 28:53
That makes absolute sense. I mean, it’s literally a business calling card that opens doors for you.
Tara Alemany: 28:59
Stacy Jones: 29:01
That’s your dog. You have a dog too, don’t you?
Tara Alemany: 29:04
I do. She’s outside. We have a bear in the neighborhood, and so-
Stacy Jones: 29:09
Your bear likes the green pond.
Tara Alemany: 29:12
Yes. Well, he likes the Quimby Swamp that’s near Green Pond.
Stacy Jones: 29:15
Tara Alemany: 29:18
[inaudible 00:29:18] be able to pinpoint where I live now.
Stacy Jones: 29:20
I know. Everyone’s going to be able to GPS it and figure it all out.
Tara Alemany: 29:25
Stacy Jones: 29:25
I’m just so happy I’m not the only one who has dogs that bark during podcasts, so it’s fantastic.
Tara Alemany: 29:30
Well, actually while I was waiting for the call to start, I live across the street as well from an airport, and helicopters were doing touch-and-gos right before. Normally they’re Thursday mornings. I don’t normally schedule anything podcast-wise for Thursday mornings because I know they’ll be there, and it was like, “This is Friday afternoon. What are you doing?”
Stacy Jones: 29:47
Well, you are now the second podcast that I have learned that seemingly on a Friday afternoon that I schedule, and I mentioned it right before our call, but if anyone’s watching the video, I am glowing. I have sun shining down a skylight that I never would’ve thought of when I set up our desk position in here. When I tell my husband that, “Oh, we have to move our desks into the office,” he’s not going to go for it, right? Yeah, so I have a very bright skylight and I’m just going to hover closer to the video monitor a little bit.
Tara Alemany: 30:19
You have to figure out how to put curtains on it or something.
Stacy Jones: 30:21
I might have to, yes, but it’s lovely-
Tara Alemany: 30:24
It does. You look wonderful. Very radiant.
Stacy Jones: 30:25
Yeah, it’s very nice lighting. Yes.
Stacy Jones: 30:29
So, what type of books work better than others, as far as subject matter, as being calling cards, or does it work for everyone out there?
Tara Alemany: 30:39
I think the main thing is to make sure that you infuse it with your personality. People like to connect with people, and so it’s all well and good to write a book that’s very informative and instructive, but if it’s too much like a textbook, they’re not as likely to get as much out of it as if they feel like they’re really getting to know you in the process. So if you outline a book and you’re working through it, we recommend that as you’re making your main points in each chapter that you’re also sharing stories in there, because the storytelling is what’s going to get them to understand who you are, how you view the world, and things like that, and build that relationship because if you’re going to use it as a calling card to get people to work with you, you want to know that by the time they actually talk to you that they know who you are, that they’re comfortable with you, if you have a unique brand of humor, if you have a unique way of speaking, if you like to use foul language, which I don’t, but-
Stacy Jones: 31:37
It works for some.
Tara Alemany: 31:38
It does for some, so including in the book makes a lot of sense because if they are going to reach out to work with you, you don’t want it to be incongruous; you want them to feel like the person they’re working with is the person they’ve been greeting. I really like making sure that our authors keep that part of the book in there. I have a friend, Robert [Embrialli 00:32:00] who published a book with another publishing company years ago, and he said he was so disappointed when he got the book back from the editor because that particular publishing company took all of him out of it, and in doing that, left him with this sense of, you know, where was he in the book? His personality was completely gone. When we complained about it, they were like, “Well, you could put it back in, but we don’t think it will sell as well.”
Tara Alemany: 32:26
Now, if you’re trying to sell in an academic market, yes, you do need to be more precise. You need to be more concise. You need to be a little drier, but when you’re-
Stacy Jones: 32:36
Little more in a box.
Tara Alemany: 32:37
Stacy Jones: 32:38
In a box.
Tara Alemany: 32:39
Exactly, but when you’re writing a book to build a business or brand, shine. Let them know who you are, what you’re like, and what drives your passions.
Stacy Jones: 32:46
Right, and really it’s about your brand. At our agency at Hollywood Branded, we spend so much time looking for ways that brands can jump into other people’s content that matches their brand, right? Or if you’re working with an influencer, you’re trying to find an organic opportunity to align with someone else who perfectly matches with your brand or elevates your brand. There’s no point in writing a book that’s not about your brand as well. I mean, that’s the only thing that you have. You’re selling your brand, your uniqueness, your individuality.
Tara Alemany: 33:21
Exactly, exactly, although it’s funny because as you’re talking, I’m thinking about the blog post that I was reading of yours about Starbucks cup and the Game of Thrones thing. It’s like, sometime showing up someplace that you’re unexpected can be equally interesting.
Stacy Jones: 33:37
Yes. Sometimes you can go viral from that, and then manage to hit all corners of the globe. Yes, even our agency got to revel in that a little bit. It’s been quite the ride.
Tara Alemany: 33:50
That’s part of the thing too, is watching the trends, understanding how you can tie into what’s being currently talked about. You start talking about the cup in Game of Thrones and yeah, you’re going to become part of the conversation and create visibility, so I think that was absolutely wonderful.
Stacy Jones: 34:07
Yeah. It as a big success. [inaudible 00:34:09] a lot of-
Tara Alemany: 34:10
Stacy Jones: 34:10
Thank you. Done a lot of interviews over the years, and it’s always amazing what gets noticed and what gets called. You never know what will, and the smallest article that you think you’re just commenting on someone will all of a sudden blow up and become viral and get you $65 million or more earned media value, and four billion online impressions. That doesn’t happen often. No.
Tara Alemany: 34:37
I always find it interesting because if you watch your analytics, I don’t know if you’re fascinated by your analytics on your website, but the things that people are most interested on our website are the things that I rarely think to talk about. The two top blog posts right now are “What is an ISBN?”, and “How do you set a list price?” It’s like, “All right.” I’m glad that people are finding value in that content. It’s not something that I typically stand around and talk about, but as an author, it’s something you need to know.
Stacy Jones: 35:07
Yeah, I think one of our most popular blogs right now is not how much product placement costs or how to work with influencers or all these detailed how-tos. I think one of them, one of our team wrote one on how you can watch content at home before it comes out in movie theater. That thing just is, everyone wants to see [crosstalk 00:35:25] watch content at home before it’s coming out in the movie theaters at the same time, or Kim Kardashian a lot. People really like Kim Kardashian. We have to embrace her, no matter what.
Tara Alemany: 35:35
Stacy Jones: 35:35
Tara Alemany: 35:35
I’m just a bobble head here.
Stacy Jones: 35:39
Yeah, it’s what people are interested in.
Stacy Jones: 35:44
So, what are the next steps for someone listening? What do they need to do? They have an idea. Where do they need to go? How do they need to put it down on paper? What do they need to do in order to bring this to life?
Tara Alemany: 36:00
I think that every writer has a different way of doing things. Some people are very structured; they like outlining their book and filling it all in. Publish with Purpose, I dictated it. I created an outline, I had my high level bullet points, and then I dictated the whole book, which meant that interestingly enough, on February 1st, I did not have word one written. 77 days later, I had the book in my hands, endorsed with a forward by a leading authority, all these different things. It’s really fun, but you can either outline or what’s called a “pantser,” which means you sit down and you start writing by the seat of your pants, because I know my content. I know essentially the flow and the progression of what I want it to be. Once somebody has their manuscript written, if they want to have us take a look at it, have us work with them, they can reach out to us on our website via the “Contact” form there, which is emeraldlakebooks.com, or they can email me at [email protected] If somebody is a little more engaged and they really know that they’re ready to take the next step, they can actually fill out our application, which is emeraldlakebooks.com/application.
Tara Alemany: 37:12
Those give the next steps for working with us, but whether they’re going to work with us or not, when you’re writing your manuscript, make sure that once you’ve got that draft that you share it with some beta readers, some folks that are going to give you feedback that’s honest critiques of the material so that you make it as strong as you possibly can before you start trying to pursue getting it out there too far because that’s really good information to have. I like recommending that if you have a coach or you have a business partner, or you have somebody who really gets what it is that you do. Talk with them.
Stacy Jones: 37:46
Tara Alemany: 37:47
That’s okay. Talk with them about what your goals are for the book. One of the first exercises we do with many of our authors is called the Dear Reader exercise. In the Dear Reader exercise, we have our authors write a letter to their reader, and it hits on a couple of main topics. One is who the reader is and what they’re struggling is, who the author and what makes them different than other people who do the same thing. What the author’s promise is to the reader, that if they invest their time and money in purchasing and reading the book, what are they going to get out of it? It’s a really emotional experience to write because it gets the author back in touch with their “why.” What are they trying to accomplish? Why are they writing this book? Who is it for? When you do that, we actually take that and give it to our editors because now, the editor has a clear and concise understanding of what the author’s trying to accomplish as they’re reading the book. So it enables us to come back with suggestions for improvements, ways of strengthening it.
Tara Alemany: 38:46
One author we did this with, it was really kind of funny because she was getting ready to supervise her manuscript and she was very passionate about the book. She was writing on the topic of sales training that was going to be geared towards mid to large-sized companies, but her sweet spot for her coaching business was entrepreneurs, network marketers, and small businesses. So we’re-
Stacy Jones: 39:09
That’s a problem.
Tara Alemany: 39:10
Stacy Jones: 39:10
That’s a problem. You’re establishing your authority maybe with the wrong demographic.
Tara Alemany: 39:15
Exactly, and it’s funny because sometimes, it takes somebody else to point that stuff out to us because we get so heads down in writing that we don’t see what we’re doing. Even with me; I have two editions of one of my books called The Plan that Launched a Thousand Books. It was the first book that I wrote, and it’s a do-it-yourself guide to creating your book marketing plan. I put it out there originally because I needed a way to connect with people so that they understood who I was and what I had to offer, and I needed it at a price point that people really [inaudible 00:39:47]. So I created this book, I updated it a couple years later. I was getting ready to update it a third time because the tools and techniques change over time, and I realized in talking with my business partner that it made no sense to update that particular book because the DIY market isn’t really who we’re pursuing anymore. That book first came out long before I had a publishing company. As a publisher, I want those folks that are willing to invest some time and money into creating a book that helps them build a business and build a brand and build the visibility that they need in order to succeed in the way they want.
Tara Alemany: 40:24
Doing a third edition of the plan really was not going to get us that audience at all. I certainly wouldn’t be on this podcast with you; if I had written that book, I’d be looking elsewhere. Instead, setting that aside and focusing on Publish with Purpose, which is everything about what we do and who we are and how we operate these days, made so much more sense, but it took a conversation with my business partner to even see that I was almost wasting my time where I was spending it.
Stacy Jones: 40:53
You were spinning wheels.
Tara Alemany: 40:55
I was. I was doing what I thought I needed to do, not stepping and figuring out what would benefit my business the most.
Stacy Jones: 41:01
Right, and that comes down to your brand again and who your brand is actually targeted to.
Tara Alemany: 41:06
Stacy Jones: 41:07
Okay. If someone is going to be writing nonfiction in this scenario, if it’s going to be more of the drier, the research, the collegiate, they’re trying to go into that type of tomb of a book, is that something that you work on as well, or-
Tara Alemany: 41:27
Stacy Jones: 41:27
Is it something more that’s lighter?
Tara Alemany: 41:29
No. Our tagline, in terms of who we’re looking to work with, is we want to work with positive people who have an enlightening, entertaining, or engaging message to share with the world. One of our most popular books is in a highly niche category that is called Stress-Free Chicken Tractor Plans. Talk about dry. Talk about instructional.
Stacy Jones: 41:57
But it is stress-free.
Tara Alemany: 41:59
It is stress-free, and I tell you, what’s really neat for this particular guy is when his book got out there, he was immediately on Amazon next to, as he referred to it, his “idols,” the people he got into the business for because of the books that he read from them. He was thrilled with it. At this point in time, the tractor that he developed is known as the Suscovich tractor, which is his last name. Talk about building a brand around something dry, but he’s very clear on who his market is and he’s very good at delivering the content that they need and look for. His YouTube channel has over 90,000 subscribers. It’s just like, “Okay.” When we published the book, he had 34,000, so he’s grown a lot in the last two, three years.
Stacy Jones: 42:43
Yeah, but 34,000 to start is an awful lot, actually, on YouTube [crosstalk 00:42:47]-
Tara Alemany: 42:46
Stacy Jones: 42:48
That’s a tremendous audience.
Tara Alemany: 42:50
Mm-hmm (affirmative), mm-hmm (affirmative).
Stacy Jones: 42:51
Who knew? I mean, there is an audience for literally everyone out there.
Tara Alemany: 42:56
We find the niche markets are the best. The more you can niche your content, whether it’s dry or not, the better it is. One of our books that’s doing really well right now is The Future of Omni-Channel Retail, and prior to having a conversation with the author about his book, I had never even heard of omni-channel retail.
Stacy Jones: 43:13
Tara Alemany: 43:15
Yet, this is a gentleman who is very academic. He’s British, and so he can be a little dry sometimes. The material is really well-written, really well-researched. The neat thing is is that he proposed this whole framework for looking at omni-channel retail that nobody else has ever proposed before. So he started with no audience, no platform, but his goal was he wanted to build a coaching business around it, a consulting business. We’re in the midst of finalizing a website for him right now that’s related to it, but since the book came out less than a year ago, he is in multiple university marketing programs now. He has spoken to a lot of different colleges because of that via Skype and webinar. He’s doing consulting with some very large retail brands that has him very excited. His very first fan letter came from an entrepreneur in Singapore. We’re based in the US, he’s in New York. It’s really interesting because that book is your calling card that never sleeps. It works for you 24/7, and it works for you no matter where in the world you are, which is really neat.
Stacy Jones: 44:28
That’s awesome. That’s really cool.
Stacy Jones: 44:31
So, can you, just one more time, share where people can get this magical, wonderful book that you have written that opens the doors to all things that none of us ever knew you needed to know?
Tara Alemany: 44:43
Yes. You can find a description of it with by-links on our website, so if you go to emeraldlakebooks.com/purpose, you’ll find links to it on Amazon, on Barnes & Noble, on Smashwords, and on our own store as well.
Stacy Jones: 44:56
Well Tara, thank you so much for your time today. I really enjoyed it. I learned a lot, and now I know what to be looking out for as I travel this road ahead of me. To our listeners, I hope that you enjoyed the conversation as well and thank you for tuning in to Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them. I’ll talk with you on our next podcast.
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