Transcript of Why All Business Owners Should Become Authors
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John Jantsch: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Dan Janal, he is a publicity and marketing expert and an author of about a dozen books, including the one we’re going to talk about today, Write Your Book In a Flash. So Dan, thanks for joining me.
Dan Janal: Hey John, pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me, John.
John Jantsch: So I find myself, my listeners are probably getting tired of this. I find myself reminiscing these days about the old days and the folks that have been doing this as long as I have. And I think you and I probably first bumped paths maybe close to 20 years ago around your service that I think still is around today called PR Leads. Do you remember that?
Dan Janal: Yeah, it still is and it’s still helping a lot of people. We have a lot more imitators now, which is fine. Every business has imitators and that’s cool. It proves the concept and it also forces me to be more creative in saying, “what else can I do to help more people?” And that’s why I decided to write my new book, which is called Write Your Book In a Flash.
John Jantsch: Yeah, we’re going to, we’re definitely going to talk about that. But let’s just first talk about books in general and writing books in general. I wrote my first, I don’t think I wrote my first book until 2006, so you wrote yours about 10 years before that maybe, on a topic that was just getting started, internet marketing. So what’s, for you, what’s changed about book writing? I mean it was hard, sort of slogging work back then and a lot of stuff’s come along that’s made it easier, hasn’t it?
Dan Janal: It sure has. You know, back then there was no such thing really as self publishing. It was a big, if you were self publishing, it was very long, expensive, difficult. Today many books are self published and it’s pretty easy. You just write your book, show your book around to a few other people to get some thoughts and feedback as well, but the actual printing process is pretty easy. You go to Kindle Direct Publishing, which is part of Amazon, and you upload your book and bingo, you’re in business. You know, you hire an artist on Fiverr to do a cover for you. Maybe a hire someone on Fiverr to lay out the book for you so it looks a little bit better than what Word can do, and your business.
Dan Janal: When I self published my first book, which was early in 1991, it cost thousands and thousands of dollars. And then when my first commercially published book was done, the book you’re referring to, The Online Marketing Handbook, which was one of the first books about marketing on the Internet 25 years ago, a traditional publisher handled that and it cost them thousands and thousands of dollars for proofreading and copy editing and publishing and printing and distribution and warehouse and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Now, anyone can write a book really fast, get it online and start making money and helping people.
John Jantsch: So here’s a question I do get a lot since you talked about self publish versus the traditional publisher. Is there, I mean, is there one way that you should go? Is there one better than another? Do they have pros and cons? I’m curious how you answer that when people ask you that.
Dan Janal: Sure. We could take about an hour answering it, but here’s a short answer. If, you can build your house yourself or you could hire a general contractor. [inaudible] yourself, a lot of money, it’ll be done a lot faster, but you have to shoulder all the burdens yourself, the copy editing, the proofreading, the layout, the ISBN numbers, loading it to Amazon, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You can do all that and you can do it really, really fast. So if your purpose is to get your book out fast, have a big business card for yourself to help you stand out from everyone else, then self publishing is definitely the way to go.
Dan Janal: If you are so lucky as to get an offer from a publisher who wanted to print your book and publish your book, it will probably take them about two years to get it into their production cycle. So if you want to make an impact fast, self publishing is still the way to go. And if you’re very successful at it, you will attract a publisher who will put it into their publication cycle.
John Jantsch: Yeah, I mean, just for context, I’m just finishing up or just finished, turned in my manuscript for my sixth book and I signed the contract for that book last July. I turned it in May 1st and it’s going to drop October 22nd. So that’s a real, today, timeline still for the traditional publisher.
Dan Janal: Right. That’s not bad. Six months is not bad. And if they publish it then they’re shouldering the costs of printing, proofreading, copy editing and all the other good things. So all you have to do is be brilliant, which is good.
John Jantsch: Well, you know, I’m a sure thing Dan, so that’s why they had no problem with that. So here’s the big question then of course, and it used to be people would sit around in literary rooms and think, “huh, not everybody should write a book,” but you’re suggesting that every business owner, let’s stay in that category because that’s who my listeners are generally, would you go as far as saying every business owner should have or at least think about a book?
Dan Janal: Definitely. I just worked with one of my clients who owns a HVAC company in Ohio and he wanted a book to stand out from the crowd. And it’s a really good book and it’s a book that can make him stand out from all the other competitors who have good jobs, good recommendations, and everyone on this call has the same thing. We’ve all gone to good schools, we all have good clients, we all have good recommendations, so how is a prospect to separate one from another? It might be because you’re the person who wrote a book. And a person who writes a book is an expert. They’re the acknowledged expert.
Dan Janal: And if you give your book away at a networking meeting or a breakfast meeting or you are more proactive and send it out to your top five prospects, they all keep the book forever. It’ll be on their bookshelves. It’ll stand as a silent sales person for you for a long time until they’re ready to say, “you know, I need a new HVAC system. I know there, I met a guy at a networking session, he wrote a book, it had an orange cover, let me see. Oh, there it is!” You know, and bingo, you get the job. So that’s why every business person needs a book, to stand out from the crowd.
John Jantsch: Yeah, I’m glad you used HVAC as an example because I think it’s getting harder and harder to stand out as a marketing consultant with a book. You know, there are a lot of fields that are pretty crowded with that. But the real opportunity is in those industries where people go, “no HVAC contractor has a book. That’s stupid.” I mean that’s the real opportunity, isn’t it?
Dan Janal: It is. And you’re right in saying that for a marketing consultant or a coach or lots of other businesses, everyone has a book. So if you don’t have a book, then you are not even at the starting gate, you’re not to be taken seriously because everyone else does have that entry level requirement of a book.
John Jantsch: So let’s just stay on the HVAC person. Just for grins. You know, I work with HVAC folks and trying to get them to even give me an idea for a blog post sometimes is hard. I mean, how do you coach people, again, I know the answer is obvious, but a lot of people don’t get this. I mean, how do you coach people on the fact that they do have the information? There’s stuff that they know that people would want to write about. I mean, how do you get that out of them?
Dan Janal: Sure. There are a couple of ways. First you have to realize the only reason someone will buy a book, any book, or read a book, any book, is because they have a problem and they need to solve it. So you should survey your prospects and say, “what is your biggest problem?” And then you have eight chapters that talk about those eight problems and you show them that you are the trusted leader who’s been there and done that, who can take them from mess to success because you’ve done that and you’ve proven that with your book.
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John Jantsch: How far do you think a book like that, you know, they’re not angling for the New York Times bestseller list, I mean, as you called it, it’s a great business card. It’s a marketing brochure almost. So how far does a person that writes a book with that objective in mind go in terms of selling what they do? I mean, is it, you know, do you educate, educate, educate, and you hope they call you? Or do you educate and then say, “call me.”
Dan Janal: You do you do both. You educate, but people are suddenly learning that they know, like, and trust you. And the last chapter can very much be a call to action that says, “okay, if you need my help, here’s how I help people.” You can even have one sheets that are advertisements in the back of the book that are real direct calls to action, like a page on your website so people can take action. Because you know, think about it. If you’re a reader, you don’t know that the author is actually doing the work. They think that the author is a writer. They don’t know that they’re actually the provider of those services. They don’t make logical connection. You do. I do. We think they do. They don’t.
Dan Janal: So you have to tell them that, yes, you can install their heating system. Yes, you can install swimming pools, you can be their dentist. So yeah, yeah, you have to be overt. But during the writing of the book, you can subtly pepper your stores by saying, “when I consulted with this company,” or “when I installed this deck for, in this subdivision, blah, blah, blah,” then people will say, “oh yeah, he installs decks in subdivisions.” So there are ways to do it that are subtle and effective.
John Jantsch: So if I’m sitting out there thinking, “okay, this sounds like a good idea, but like what’s involved in this?” I mean, what are the steps really that somebody needs to at least count on either doing themselves or hiring somebody to do?
Dan Janal: Well, those are two great options. And I do work with people who don’t have the time or energy or ability to write books themselves and we can walk through that process. But for someone who would like to do it themselves, some people like to write and some people don’t like to write. If you don’t like to write, don’t turn off this podcast because you can dictate your book. In fact, you may be doing 20 minute sessions at the Rotary Club talking about how to choose the dentist, or what’s [inaudible] in building your deck, or hiring a realtor, or selling your home, or all those other ideas. Well record that and then give it to a transcriber who have to their automated transcription services on the Internet now, and then give it to an editor and they’ll turn it into readable material for you.
Dan Janal: But really think about the eight problems that your potential audience has, and those become the eight chapters in your book. The first chapter is an overview chapter that tells your story, who you are, the struggles you’ve had, how you came to be a success in the field you are today, and what people are going to learn by reading this book. Then you use the eight problems that you’re solving, and then the last chapter is the call to action chapter. That’s it, 10 chapters, 20,000 words, 2000 words per chapter. It’s like a very long blog post. Anyone can do this.
John Jantsch: Yeah, I love that you say that about recording too because for some people that’s just a lot easier in terms of them formulating their thoughts. But I’ll tell you, I can talk 150 words a minute. I can type 45, 50 on a good day. So it’s just a lot faster. And I would be remiss if I didn’t note that one of our sponsors of our show is rev.com which is an awesome transcription service. Alright, you call yourself a book coach, or at least that’s one of your titles. What does a book coach actually do to help somebody get a book written?
Dan Janal: We do a number of great things were a cheerleader, we’re an accountability partner, and we’re also an editor. So the coaching service can help you write the outline, write your marketing materials, get you focused on what your book should be about when you hit those inevitable dips, as we all do for writer’s block and whatever. Then the coach acts as your cheerleader, your accountability partner to get you back in the groove. And they also give you feedback on your writing and any other questions you have about the publishing industry.
Dan Janal: There’s also something called a content development editor, which is something I did for the HVAC guy cause he only wrote [inaudible] and his copy editor said, “you know, you really need to show this to a developmental editor.” And what she meant by that was, “you told the same story three times in three different chapters. You told this story and it really didn’t make the point that you thought it would make, you know the whole chapter on this topic, but your stories really don’t mash and you need more information. You make these assertions, but you need statistics.”
Dan Janal: So they, they act as your editor and your friend to guide you in the right direction saying, “you know, here’s what your book really needs.” So some developmental editors just give a review of a first draft and say, chapter by chapter, “here’s what’s good, here’s what needs work.” And they’re done with it. Other developmental editors actually work with you more hand in hand and they do that first overview, but then they work with you to make sure that you bring it up to that level that is expected to make it a professional book. And of course most people are aware of proofreaders and copy editors and that’s the lower level work, to be honest, because that’s the nitty gritty and they’re looking for typos and grammar and punctuation and all that stuff. That’s the very last thing you need to do.
John Jantsch: Yeah, they don’t care what you said just as long as you said it right. It’s going to have a look at that.
Dan Janal: Exactly. As long as there’s a period at the end of the sentence, they’re happy.
John Jantsch: Yeah. And that’s, what you just described, is pretty typical of the traditional publishing model. You know, you have that overarching person that wants to make sure the narrative runs through the book in the right way and that the reader gets kind of the impact delivered and then you’ve got that person looking for inconsistencies throughout. And then you’ve got, as you said, the person that’s looking for typos and commas and semicolons. So it really, a lot of people underestimate how much editing, I suppose, goes into a well written book.
Dan Janal: It really does take a village to write a book because if you write a book by yourself, it could be good, but two heads are better than one. So having someone look over your shoulder and say, “hey, you did this, the story goes on too long,” or “you don’t have enough stories,” or “you need statistics to back up your claims here,” or “you have too many statistics, you’re going to bore people to death!” You lose perspective, and that’s where the developmental editor comes in and saves your butt.
John Jantsch: So a really favorite headline it seems of the Internet marketing folks is to say, “I’m going to reveal the number one secret that nobody in the industry wants you to know,” that’s like a hook to really bring people in. So what’s the number one secret that book authors don’t want you to know?
Dan Janal: Well, book authors want you to know everything and that may be the problem. No one wants to read the encyclopedia about your topic. Today’s reader wants to pick up a book when they get on a plane in New York and finish it by the time they land in Los Angeles, if not before. So books are getting smaller, easier to read, a lot of cartoons, images, things that make the world just easier to understand. So I think a big problem that a lot of people have when they sit down to write a book is they think, “well I have to cover everything about this industry,” and the answer really is no. It goes back to those eight problems that your prospects have. So they come to know, like, and trust you, so they want to hire you.
John Jantsch: So in the title of your book, which is Write Your Book In a Flash, I want to just get a sense, if I’m listening, what’s ‘a flash’ mean? I mean, if I’ve got the book and I’ve got a reasonable, you know, handle on what the topics should be and whatnot, what’s in a flash? From the time I maybe contact you, or from the time that I start writing to the whole publishing, out there, people can buy it now.
Dan Janal: Great question. It’s different for different people because the number one question that I get on my forums is, “I don’t have time to write a book. I have kids, I have work, I this, I that, blah blah blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” I think if you have 15 minutes a day to write a book, you can write a book in four months. Because in 15 minutes a day you can write about 250 words. So four days you have a thousand words. You need 20,000 words for a book. Do the math yourself. If you can carve out 15 minutes a day by waking up earlier, by going to sleep later, by taking 15 minutes off of your lunch hour, by not watching television for 15 minutes, any of those things, you can write a book in three to four months.
Dan Janal: And if I were your coach, same thing. It can be done that fast. Cause again, books only need to be about 20,000 to 25,000 words. So it’s a whole different world today than when Good to Great was being published, which is way more words. So you can get by with doing less and have more impact.
John Jantsch: Well, and I think a lot of people underestimate. There are very few people sitting around in their robe, you know, writing books. I mean most people write books when they’re done with their day job. So most of the books that you see out there are written in that fashion. They’re not people sitting around writing books for four months in their writing cabin in the mountains. So where can people find out more about not only Write Your Book In a Flash, but about the work that you’re doing? Where would you send people?
Dan Janal: Thank you. I believe in consistent branding. So Write Your Book In a Flash is the name of my book, it’s the name of my website, it’s the name of my Facebook page, it’s the name my YouTube channel where I have lots of questions from people and we answer them through YouTube. So writeyourbookinaflash.com will take you to all of those places.
John Jantsch: Awesome. Dan, thanks for stopping by. You’re still in the Minneapolis area, is that right?
Dan Janal: Yes, I am.
John Jantsch: Awesome. Well, it was great catching up with you and a really important topic. Everybody should write a book and they should write it in a flash. I think that sounds awesome. So hopefully we’ll bump into, you won’t be 10 years or so before the next time we chat.
Dan Janal: That’ll be great. Thank you very much for the opportunity. I appreciate [inaudible] helping your listeners.