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E14 (and final): Writing a Book - The Learning Curve (66-70)

Finally...the last one, right?

· writing a book

This is the last edition - and I sincerely hope this has been helpful. There are lots of books about writing books. I've tried to create an easily digestible, choose your own topic flow to help you learn the lessons I did so you can focus on creating a great book, business and reputation.

Let's talk about how you set up your business, price your time, and a couple of random lessons that will wrap this up.

So, here's goes...

Lessons 66-70

66. How do you price your time? Levers! Throughout my career as a sales leader, I’ve always struggled with understanding how any contractor prices - whether it be a speaker, trainer, consultant...or even at home with a plumber, electrician or landscaper. It seemed random, and the calculations hidden. So, I gave it some serious thought. How could I ensure that I am utilizing my limited inventory - which is “time”? It’s essentially four levers:

  1. Base Rate: I have a base rate that I charge for each event, which is kindof a minimum charge, but covers the time I’ve spent throughout my career developing the content, and then customizing it for the audience.
  2. Audience Rate: The larger the audience, the larger the impact, and as a result, the more you should be charging. If it’s a small audience (i.e, < 20) I don’t charge for it. But, as the audience goes higher, so does the rate.
  3. Time Rate: How much time are you being asked to deliver and facilitate? If it’s a short speech, then you’ve probably covered it with your base rate. If it’s a multi-hour, half-day, full-day or multi-day, you need to charge for that time. That also correlates with the amount of preparation you’ll need to do, and certainly to the impact to the audience.
  4. Distance Rate: This equates with time away from home, traveling, and not able to monetize. In other words, if the talk is in Chicago, I’m here anyway...so that’s cool. I can go and be home for my family at night. However, if it’s in Ireland, that’s multi-day of travel. So, this fourth lever is based on how many miles from Chicago the event is taking place. 

So, in the end, if you can correlate your pricing to those four levers, your customers will absolutely understand, and you’ll be delivering the pricing from a position of knowledge versus a “how much can you afford?” approach.

67. Setting up your business is a f*n nightmare: At the beginning, you may just want to bill clients personally, attaching a W-9 form so they are able to ensure it’s reported properly. Record all of your income and expenses diligently, as that will matter big-time come tax time. Then, as you get bigger, you’ll want to set up a corporation. I set up as Sales Melon LLC. It was so much harder than they make it seem on the Legal Zoom commercials. You’ll set up as potentially a single person LLC, but then you have to register with a whole pile of websites to ensure you’re reporting income to your local state and federal. I swear this took me two solid days to get right, and I’m still dealing with elements of it. Every month, going in to pay myself using antiquated state websites feels like I’ve morphed back to 1998. It’s no fun. When your revenue gets high enough, it’s probably something you’ll want to pay someone to do.

68. Foreign publishing is an odd surprise: Do you ever wonder how books get picked up for translation in other countries? Similar to how a writer may pitch a book proposal / manuscript to a publisher, now the publisher pitches the completed book to international publishers. With so many books out there, international publishers select the top sellers, then an agreement is struck. In my case, while my book isn’t a true best-seller, my publisher called me to tell me that my book has been picked up in, of all places, Vietnam. Upon my agreement, they are translating the book into Vietnamese, designing a cover, while also sending me a tiny advance. Why just Vietnam? Who knows. But that’s my understanding of how it works.

69. Book awards - they don’t just happen on their own: When I said no to my publisher’s question around running a “best-seller campaign” (lesson #31), my desire was to get validation through the recognition of having a high quality book - ala, awards. Imagine you are an organization who gives out awards each year to the best books. That’s a fulltime job - reading them all takes massive amounts of time, then categorizing and sanctioning the awards costs money. As a result, if you want your book considered for an award, you have to pay. My publisher submitted my book to a couple of awards organizations, including the International Book Awards. Honored that my book made the top four in two categories (the sales book category, plus the non-fiction cover design category). It’s not expensive, but you will pay. It doesn’t just happen on its own.

70. Even if the book sucks, you won’t regret doing it: You’ll be so proud of the accomplishment. There’s certainly an opportunity cost, but the rewards in the form of pride, time with my family, getting healthy and having a lifelong business card blow those costs out of the water. If you’re on the fence - do it. There are so many directions you can take with your book, but the bottom line for me is, it’s been the greatest learning experience of my life. It has changed my life for the better. It has opened doors I never imagined. I've been to so many new places both physically and mentally. It has opened my mind to the realization that there are incredibly smart people out there who have amazing ideas that are hiding in the pages of the books at libraries and in research articles, waiting to be discovered. I will be forever thankful to my wife for nudging me to do this even with the sacrifices that it required, my publisher (Ideapress / Rohit Bhargava) for all the guidance and support, and every single person who has taken their limited time to read it.

I’ll leave you with an article recently written by Josh Bernoff. “What your book says about you”: https://withoutbullshit.com/blog/what-your-book-says-about-you. It’s a great article that will help you decide what form your book should take.

Stay tuned...will there be lessons learned from a book #2?

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