SPS-213: Monetise Your Message With Indie Publishing – with Valerie J. Lewis Coleman
We all have areas of expertise, and as Valerie J. Lewis Coleman points out, we can use our knowledge both to help others and to create sources of income for ourselves. Valerie helps authors to navigate the ins and outs of writing, finishing, and publishing a book that will act as a calling card or sell online or at the back of the room during a speaking engagement.
- Updates on the SPF live event in March 2020 in London
- The importance of attention to detail when self-publishing
- The role a book plays in a speaking career
- The opportunities for non-fiction authors to expand into live events and training etc.
- On repurposing existing content to create a non-fiction book
- Why non-fiction needs a narrative arc just as fiction does
- Finding the value in the story you have to offer
Resources mentioned in this episode:
PATREON: Self Publishing Formula Show’s Patreon page
MERCH: Are you a ligneous beetle or a yawning hippopotamus? Get your SPF hoodies and t-shirts in the brand new SPF Store.
WEBSITE: Learn more about Valerie’s work at PenOfTheWriter.com.
Narrator: On this edition of the Self-Publishing Show:
Valerie J. Lewis Coleman: Now, it used to be the book was the ultimate completion of what you were trying to do. Now, the book is almost like a business card. It becomes a tool that opens doors for you to get speaking engagements, paid speaking engagements. It becomes a tool for you to attract clients and customers.
Narrator: Publishing is changing. No more gatekeepers. No more barriers. No one’s standing between you and your readers. Do you want to make a living from your writing?
Join indie best-seller Mark Dawson and first-time author James Blatch as they shine a light on the secrets of self-publishing success. This is the Self-Publishing Show. There’s never been a better time to be a writer.
James Blatch: Hello and welcome to the Self-Publishing Show with James Blatch.
Mark Dawson: And Mark Dawson.
James Blatch: I feel very Self-Publishing Show, in my… although this is the live version. I guess we should do, once the conference is finished, a just standard.
Mark Dawson: Yes. This podcast James is wearing branded merchandise again. It’s quite weird, actually, to see my… basically I’ve branded James. My name is on all of James’s clothes now.
And it was also quite weird when I sort of fetched you off from the live show walkthrough. James went down to the Festival Hall to have a look through, a look around at the venue, and at James. And walking in, he’d very politely be described as Oompa Loompas.
James Blatch: Yeah.
Mark Dawson: I’ve been really trying to joke lately. No, I have wonderful helpers in their branded yellow T-shirts, getting ready for what is clearly going to be the publishing event of the year, possibly the millennium.
James Blatch: I’m pretty certain Elaine and Sam won’t be-
Mark Dawson: No, they’ll be very-
James Blatch: Over the moon at being described as Oompa Loompas. I think you’re referring to the fact they’re oversized crew T-shirts.
Mark Dawson: Indeed I was. Thank you for rescuing me there, yes.
James Blatch: Yeah, and we made them a little bit bigger because we imagine in March, people might be wearing them over their-
Mark Dawson: Elaine and Sam? You’ve made them a bit bigger?
James Blatch: I’ve made them bigger, yeah. We had a good walkthrough. Actually the Queen Elizabeth Hall, I should say, not the Festival Hall, which is nextdoor. And it all looks good.
We’re very excited about being there. We are going to have a full house, at least a ticket sold for every seat. About the time we’re recording, we’re about to release the last batch of tickets. But that will be well gone by the time this goes live.
However, what will be live, we are investing, seriously investing, in a professional production company to turn around everything that takes place on the day into a very slick-looking series of videos.
Mark Dawson: Basically, it costs quite a lot of money to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse. So, yeah.
James Blatch: It’s going to be pure gold. And for those of you who can’t make it to the UK who still want to benefit from what’s taking place on the day. And it won’t just be the sessions; we’ll also include some fun behind-the-scenes videos in that as well. We are going to create a digital package.
There’s a course on Teachable. We’re going to price it, I think, at 25 pounds, which is 32 dollars, something like that, which is about as low as we can to cover the production costs and so on. And you can grab your ticket for that if you go to SelfPublishingFormula.com/digital. Forward-slash digital, D-I-G-I-T-A-L. I sound like a song.
And we are going to aim to turn it around within a fortnight of the conference, so hopefully sooner than that, but within that fortnight, the sessions will appear there, and you can relive them. So whether you go to the conference or not, or whether you’re sat at home somewhere and you can’t make it, you can take part in it. So that is going to be live by the time this goes out, which is going to be a week on Friday from the time of recording.
It’s Super Bowl Week. I watched the Super Bowl. It’s the only football NFL game I watch every year. So I’m that person who has to sort of catch up on the rules, and there’s always bits that intrigue me.
It was a great game, and it always reminds me, and I’ve made this point before, that one of the reasons that we watch sport, the reason sport works and it’s so gripping, is why? Because it’s a story, and we don’t know how it’s going to end. And that game, with that young quarterback who looks like he was 12 years old out of primary school here in the UK, who looked like his helmet was slightly too big for him-
Mark Dawson: Do you mean the six foot four Patrick Mahomes?
James Blatch: Yeah, yeah. But he looks, you know-
Mark Dawson: He does look young. He is 24 years old. He’s very young.
James Blatch: And also in the context of some of those linebackers and so on, he looks small. And yet, he focused, didn’t he? He just stood there. You could see him just… he didn’t show a lot of emotion during the game. He just got on with business, and gradually after perhaps a slightly lackluster first half, suddenly it started happening.
And then you get drawn into it, don’t you? And it doesn’t matter whether you like NFL or anything else. It’s a story unfolding, and by the end of it, you’re part of the ticker-take celebrations in your front room at 4:00 in the morning.
Mark Dawson: I didn’t watch it live, because number 1, my kids don’t respect me.
James Blatch: Face it, that’s the only-
Mark Dawson: No, they don’t respect me, and they certainly wouldn’t respect the fact that I’ve just stayed up til 4, and they’ve got to get to school at sunup, at quarter by 6, every morning. So I didn’t do that. But I did watch it on Monday morning. It is increasingly difficult to remain spoiler-free now. You basically have to not go online.
James Blatch: Yes.
Mark Dawson: I just about managed… I kind of opened The Guardian, and I thought they were probably reporting it prominently, and it was the third item. So I saw “Chiefs,” and thought, “Ah, god.” So I didn’t read anymore, and then as the game progressed, it was like, “Well, of course they didn’t win,” because it was pretty… it didn’t look like it.
But then even, we’ve got Echo Shows around the house, two of them, and one in the kitchen. And I didn’t see it on Monday morning, but yesterday I saw prominently, “Chiefs win Super Bowl.” So next year, I’m going to have to switch them off, I think, just so I avoid that.
James Blatch: When’s the draft?
Mark Dawson: When’s the what?
James Blatch: The draft.
Mark Dawson: The draft is in about two months.
James Blatch: So if Dolphins pick up this… QB? Is it a QB? I don’t know who it is.
Mark Dawson: Tua Tagavailoa, yes.
James Blatch: And they get through to the Super Bowl, I guess we’ll have to go.
Mark Dawson: Well, I will… that’s on my bucket list. Someone actually said to me the other day, a reader said, “What is on your bucket list?” And I said, “Well, I’d love to go to the Super Bowl.”
I looked on, actually on the Broadcast, they said tickets started at $2,500 for Miami. And you could, obviously, you can pay… I think I saw somewhere people were paying $50,000, which is obviously just obscene.
James Blatch: I’ve got friends who went to the Rugby World Cup in Japan, and for the semifinal that England were in, you see those figures going around at 800 pounds, 1000 pounds tickets. But I’ve got friends who were there and bought tickets for about 50, 60 quid, because people whose team didn’t make it to the semifinal… So you always see those headlines, but actually, if you want to go, you’re probably-
Mark Dawson: I think the Super Bowl might be a little harder than that.
James Blatch: Yeah, a bit more. Anyway, it’s in Tampa next year. I’ve looked it up.
Mark Dawson: In Tampa next year? That’s weird. Florida two years in a row.
James Blatch: Yeah, Florida two years in a row.
Mark Dawson: That’s odd.
James Blatch: And it’s going to be on my birthday.
Mark Dawson: Well, there we go.
James Blatch: So-
Mark Dawson: Well, last year, the 49ers went 4 and 12 last year, the year before this, and then obviously turned that around and went 13 and 3 I think this year, to make the Super Bowl. So it’s impossible the Dolphins could be there. Very unlikely, but you never know.
James Blatch: It’s in their state. Yes, anyway, enough sports talk. But I do enjoy a bit of drama. That was what it was, so yeah, I thought I’d shoehorn that thing about narrative in there. Good. So we talked about that, SelfPublishingFormula.com/digital.
There’s not a lot else to say at the moment, because we’re 10 days out from this going out. I am, at the moment, heads down in the granular detail of making sure that the day works sufficiently well. There are lots of aspects of it. But I think we are getting there.
Mark Dawson: Yeah, I’ve been firming up the schedule today. So we’ve got Jasper Joffe; Michael Anderle; Ollie Rhodes from Bookouture; Keshini Naidoo from, used to be at Bookouture and now is at Hera Books; we’ve got Louise Ross; Barry Hutchison; me; Joanna Penn; we’ve got an all-female panel, which I’m quite pleased about, an all-female panel of under-the-radar indies who are making over 50 grand a year.
Some of them, a couple of them, are making two or three hundred grand a year. We’ve got nonfiction with Jace Alexander, Marc Reklau.
And we’ve got an hour with meet Amazon. So we’ve got people like Darren Hardy and some others who will be there taking some questions. Some live, I think, and some that we’ve kind of pre-grabbed. And yeah, and me, and I’m going to talk about mistakes I’ve made, which my Vegas speech, I’ll update it a little bit for those who haven’t seen that.
I’m looking forward to it. I like big crowds, and this will be one of the bigger ones.
James Blatch: I like big crowds and I cannot lie. Yes, good. Well, it’s going to be quite something. I am starting to get nervous about that now. The sleep is starting to drain out of the evenings, out of the nights for me. But there you go. Hopefully it will be worth it.
Mark Dawson: Because if anything goes wrong, it will all be your fault.
James Blatch: I know. Well, that’s why I’m not sleeping, because basically I’m organizing this.
Mark Dawson: You’re doing very well.
James Blatch: But on the other hand, I can bask in the glory if it goes well.
Mark Dawson: Exactly. No, I’ll do that. I’ll take in the glory, but I’m not going to accept any blame.
James Blatch: No. And at the same time, as if we’re not busy enough, you and I have launched our publishing company, which is now live. And if you look at the books of Robert Storey, who’s our first author we have signed, you will see it now says, “Published by Fuse Books,” which is our company, and we are just setting up the infrastructure of that. So we’re going to repackage the books.
We’ve both seen the concept for the new cover for the first book, and it looks fantastic.
Mark Dawson: It does.
James Blatch: Is also going to be a part of this organization and help us with it. And I’m starting to run some Amazon ads, so this is quite an interesting experience for me.
Mark Dawson: Have you started?
James Blatch: I set up a campaign yesterday and did a lot of ordering, just to sort of let it run for an hour, and let it run for a day or so and make sure everything’s working. Yes, it’s going to run probably three days. But so far I spent $10.25 and sold one book.
Mark Dawson: Okay, that’s all right. Well, that’s one book. It’s the first book. I hope you’re not advertising deeper into the series.
James Blatch: It is the first book of the series, yes.
Mark Dawson: There we go. So we’ll work out what our readthrough is, and we’ll keep an eye on that. And a good example, actually, we can actually look at readthrough with fresh, un-jaded eyes.
It’s quite difficult for me to sometimes decouple the promotions that I’ve run and things like that and six or seven years worth of data. And least with the switching over to us, we can have fairly fresh numbers to look at, and we can take baselines and compare where we are after we’ve been running a few campaigns.
James Blatch: Yeah, readthrough obviously is going to be critical to making a decision. One of the issues you have, of course, is you advertise to book one, because for readthrough that’s always the best thing to do. But at the same time, book one is your cheapest book.
Mark Dawson: Well, that doesn’t matter. That doesn’t matter. You don’t need to worry about, because-
James Blatch: So let me ask you a question. I set up, I think, two auto-campaigns, because I put one with the line of custom copy in it, one without. And actually, I think we’ve had two for us sell today, so I think I had one on each of those two campaigns.
How long would I leave them running, if they’re doing basically one or two books a day at this stage?
Mark Dawson: A couple weeks.
James Blatch: A couple weeks, oh, really? That long to get data in?
Mark Dawson: I would, yeah. The reporting is very slow sometimes, so that’s one of the problems with Amazon ads, is that you’ll find the sales don’t often tally up with what you’re seeing in the Kdb dashboard.
What you really need, and it would be great if you had somebody who had a spreadsheet like this, would be to have a spreadsheet that takes account of all your ad spend, compares it with readthrough, and automatically formats the cells to tell you whether you’re in profit or loss.
James Blatch: I think Nick Stevenson’s good at this sort of thing.
Mark Dawson: Yeah, he’s great. He’s got a really good course as well, so yeah, definitely we should-
James Blatch: Yes, I know I should download the spreadsheet that I’ve been handing out to everybody else for the last few years. Good. Well, I’m only spending 600 pounds a day at the moment, so I’m just going to start off-
Mark Dawson: What?
James Blatch: Easily. No, I’m doing a tenner on each course, on each campaign.
Mark Dawson: We can afford that, I think.
James Blatch: Good, well, obviously I mention now. It’s my experience, beginning of my experience of the coalface of the stuff that we have been talking about. So I think it would be an excellent opportunity for us on the show, on the Self-Publishing Show, to blog that story.
Mark Dawson: Only if it works.
James Blatch: Only if it works.
Mark Dawson: If it doesn’t work, you won’t hear about it again.
James Blatch: The way I roll is I do everything through a looking glass. Is that right?
Mark Dawson: No, no it isn’t.
James Blatch: I do everything through a glass ceiling.
Mark Dawson: No.
James Blatch: Okay, look, we’ve been bantering along, full of golden juice, but it’s time for us to move onto-
Mark Dawson: Golden juice?
James Blatch: Yes. It’s my expression. It’s time for us to move onto our interview, which is with Valerie J. Lewis Coleman. Quite difficult to say.
Valerie is absolutely lovely, and I had a chat with her end of last year. We are talking today about having a book, nonfiction most likely, that is part of you selling yourself, part of your brand. Not necessarily a book that’s going to make money in its own right, but a book that’s going to be part of who you are, your brand, and enable you then potentially to do an online course for instance, is an obvious example. But it might be to be booked as a consultant or as a speaker at conferences.
And before we go into the interview, we’ll just say at the top of this, Mark, this is an area of course with SPF that we understand, we know quite a lot about. And I think you’ll probably agree before we’ve even heard from Valerie that having a book is a really important part of the nonfiction business.
Mark Dawson: I would. Yeah, it’s a very good way to find people who are interested in what you have to teach. And selling books in nonfiction is easier with ads than it is to do fiction, because you’re typically solving problems.
So if you can find how people are searching in order to find a solution to their problem, you can present your solution to them as they’re looking. It’s quite easy to define your audience and then get the answer in front of them, as we do quite well. We spend quite a lot of money on Facebook ads in SPF, and we’re typically giving away books, most of the time, free books. And that’s worked really well for us.
James Blatch: Excellent. Okay, let’s listen to Valerie.
Valerie, welcome to the Self-Publishing Show. How are you doing?
Valerie J. Lewis Coleman: I am well, James. Thank you for having me.
James Blatch: What you just said about my accent, I love your accent.
Valerie J. Lewis Coleman: Well, you know, of course to me it doesn’t feel like an accent. But I’m sure from your perspective it is. I love yours too. It just… “In Cambridge, you’re there.”
James Blatch: I mean, that’s exactly what I sound like, yeah. I, literally in the UK, I have no accent. This is middle England, nondescript, accent-less. And there’s lots of accents in the UK.
You travel a few miles from here and it all changes. But for me, your accent… anyway. That’s our mutual appreciation of each other’s voice. Which is good, because we’re going to have a chat now.
We’re going to chat about helping people get to market with books. And in particular, I think we’re going to talk about people who have a skillset, something that they themselves sell, their brand, their teaching.
Using a book, a professionally published book, is an important tool in getting them more business. Right?
Valerie J. Lewis Coleman: Absolutely. Without a professionally published book, you may be considered a laughingstock, depending upon what industry you’re in. You want to be taken seriously.
James Blatch: It’s that serious. You really do.
This is a must-have for any serious professional speaker, for instance, or professional educator.
Valerie J. Lewis Coleman: Absolutely. Because it is a reflection of your brain. So if your book is inferior, if it’s not well-published, if it has to be edited, if you’re on the front cover, if it’s overpriced… all of those things have an effect on your ability to sell, but also positioning yourself as an expert.
If you are a professional speaker, or let’s say a medical doctor, and you’ve got a lot of typos in your manuscript, people will question your ability to effectively serve them as a professional speaker or a doctor. Because if you don’t consider the fine details of making sure your book is as pristine as possible, I don’t know if I want you cutting on my liver.
James Blatch: I can see that. That’s definitely a thing. Although famously, of course, we can’t read what doctors write. I don’t know if that’s the same in the States as the UK, but their handwriting is appalling.
Valerie J. Lewis Coleman: Yes, it is.
James Blatch: But yeah, if you’re going to publish a book, attention to detail is going to be everything when you’re putting yourself forward as a professional. So give us a little bit of your background, Valerie.
How did you get to where you are now, helping people get their books published?
Valerie J. Lewis Coleman: Well, I officially started my company in 2006, but almost seven or eight years prior to that, I started helping an author who at that time was a writer who was working on fiction. And although she had a great book, when she sent it to me just for my opinion, I found a lot of things that needed some help.
Some of the characters, their actions were predictable, or they were so far out. I’m like, “Is this sci-fi? Or is this supposed to be based in…” And then there were a lot of typographical errors.
But I helped her process through that, and then when she was ready to go to print, she contacted me about the publishing aspect of it, the left-brain stuff. Writing is very right-brain; I’m very left-brain, although I can do both.
I was helping her with the basics of finding a quality printer, making sure that she’s not overspending for the price of books. At one point she purchased bookmarks and they cost her a dollar apiece. I said, “Absolutely not. You can’t give them away for a dollar apiece.” So I did some research and I was able to find a way to get her 1,000 bookmarks free. But it’s all strategy and understanding some of the tips and techniques.
I’ve been serving professional speakers and experts to magnify and monetize their message by publishing quality books officially since 2006, unofficially for about seven or eight years prior to that. And I love what I do.
At this point, I’ve published over 130 authors. I have a client now whose book is at the printer and she’ll have it just in time for the Dayton Book Expo, an event I do here in Ohio. And I’m working on my first children’s book for me and my grandbaby. So I’ve got a lot of experience under my belt and a lot of success stories to share.
James Blatch: So let me understand the business model here you have. You effectively are a publisher, then?
You publish the books? Or do you teach them how to self-publish?
Valerie J. Lewis Coleman: You know, I do all of it, James. I have books for people who want to learn the process of writing and publishing. Then I mentor people through the process of writing and publishing and marketing bestsellers.
I do live events, so I do workshops, conferences; I travel, I speak. I love to teach. And then lastly, I publish books, because I have clients who have the time and not the money; I have clients who have the money and not the time. So I kind of fit them in wherever they are in that continuum of their needs.
So I do all of it, from helping them with the book to actually publishing the book.
James Blatch: So whatever’s a good fit for that particular person. Perfect. Well let’s go to fundamentals here: what is the role of a book for… it’s difficult to do a specific example. Lots of people will be listening here who might want a speaking career, or they might be wanting to run an online course, for instance, with their skillset.
What is the role a book plays in that?
Valerie J. Lewis Coleman: It used to be the book was the ultimate completion of what you were trying to do. Now the book is almost like a business card. It becomes a tool that opens doors for you to get speaking engagements, paid speaking engagements. It becomes a tool for you to attract clients and customers.
The books that I use now, when I do live events, I have Self-Publishing Made Easy: Passionate Writing and Self-Publishing Made Easy: Purposeful Publishing. And they are workbooks, so to speak, that I use when I’m teaching at these workshops.
What happens is at the end of the workshop, of course, people want the book. When you have a book, it also opens doors for you to maybe position yourself to get into schools, because oftentimes if you want to speak in a new arena, if they’re not familiar with you, you can send your book ahead.
If it’s well-written and well-published and well-edited then it becomes an opportunity for them to say, “You know what, this person is an expert. They know what they’re talking about. They’ve got proven results. And look, they have a book.”
And it helps to open doors for you. It’s a launching pad for so many other opportunities and income streams. Print book, audiobook, e-book of course; then there’s the speaking engagements, live events, there’s merchandising.
Off of my books I have T-shirts; I have a coloring book that I’m going to be working on; there are a workbook. I have a fiction that I also wrote a companion nonfiction journal so that people can take the information. The book is The Forbidden Secrets of the Goody Box.
Ladies want more of that real relationship advice for men. So I took the real relationship advice out and allow them to work through the journal, which shows them how to implement the strategies that were subliminally taught in the book. So there’s just so many ways to merchandise that opportunity.
And then, of course, like you said, live events and online courses. I’m actually working on an online course now to help authors go from start to finish with writing, publishing, and marketing their books. And workshops, conferences, speaking engagements; the list goes on.
I have clients who have taken their book, nonfiction and fiction, and made them into stage productions. You just never know. The sky is the limit. But if you don’t have the launching pad to start, and the book is one of the fastest and easiest ways to build your brand and create this swell around who you are and what you do.
James Blatch: And we’re talking primarily nonfiction here, and one of the interesting differences is that in the fiction world, it’s a bit of an old idea of spending physical time in a place. Like blog tours, we only really hear negative things about. They take up people’s time.
With the exception maybe of children’s authors going into schools, I think that’s still quite important, but for most fiction authors, it’s in front of your computer where the bucks are.
For nonfiction authors, there is a big market out there for speaking, for personal appearances, and a lot of follow-up business for being physically somewhere, right?
Valerie J. Lewis Coleman: Absolutely. If you are an expert, whatever field you’re an expert in, nine times out of ten there’s two or three hundred people if not thousands who want to do what you’ve already done.
Say for example you’re successful in mentoring people, if you’re a life coach. If that’s what you do for people and you’re specifically a life coach, having a book that you can use to either coach these people through the process, or having a book that you can use to win them over.
Because at the end of the day, I have some packages that go from… the books are $15 and I have packages that go up to $5,000. Well, not everybody can afford the $5,000 package. But if I have an option of a book or I have an option of a mentoring package that maybe is significantly less, they then can still get a piece of me without having to invest quite as much money. So it just opens more doors and more opportunities.
James Blatch: Yeah. It can be a bit daunting, I think, for some people with nonfiction expertise in knowing where they should be putting their effort into. Because as you said, there’s lots of different channels, and they can be priced at one to one quite expensive, and mass audience quite low. But you can’t necessarily do everything all the time.
Do you also provide advice and coaching in that area, in what the offering is?
Valerie J. Lewis Coleman: Absolutely. I mean, when I sit down with my clients, I really have them do a couple of surveys, if you will. I interview them, but I do it digitally through Google Forms. And I get a lot of information about them, what their overall objectives are.
Because some of my clients just want to write the book because it’s been a lifelong dream. Some of my clients want to write the book… one of my particular clients, Justice Mays, he wanted to write a book to honor his sister who had died. He was giving his books away.
I have other people who want to do books just to leave a legacy for their family, leave their inheritance and leave their history for their family.
Then most of my clients, though, are in it to make money. When I find out what their overall objective is, as I’m putting the book together, as I’m mentoring them through the process, I’m always considering what they want to do.
Some of them don’t want to speak, a lot of authors; because they are right-brained and introverted, they don’t want to get out in front of people. So we come up with other things that they can do to still leverage their expertise but not put them in front of people as much.
However, regardless of what type of expert you’re in or what type of book you’re publishing, you need to get out in front of people.
James Blatch: You do have to be a people person, also, when you think of selling yourself as an expert. Which, again, that’s one of the differences, I think, between fiction and nonfiction. Quite a lot of fiction authors would describe themselves as introverted. It’s by no means all, but quite a lot.
Whereas a lot of nonfiction authors are people, in fact I can tell, like yourself, Valerie, comfortable in front of a camera, comfortable talking about what they do and selling themselves.
Valerie J. Lewis Coleman: I am absolutely comfortable in front of this camera, James, but I will tell you that I am so introverted, it’s crazy. I learned recently there’s a term called an ambivert. So I am the kind of person, I can do what I have to do to get the message out, to get people to understand what I’m doing with enthusiasm and passion.
But when I’m done, I have to go home and take a nap, because I pour out of myself. And as an introvert, I prefer quiet time alone to sit alone and recover. Whereas extroverts, they like to be around people. I can be around people, but after awhile I’m drained, so I have to go home and sit down.
James Blatch: Well, that sounds very much like our friend Jo Penn, who is brilliant onstage and gregarious, I would say, with her personality, but would also say the same as you. She’s actually sometimes crippled by introvercy on those occasions. So yeah, that’s interesting. More common than you think.
Okay, so let’s get down to some details here. Let’s imagine we’ve got this person who has an expertise, and maybe they’re thinking about speaking.
Can speaking engagements by themselves be a living?
Valerie J. Lewis Coleman: Absolutely. You have to look at speaking engagements from a couple different perspectives. You can get speaking engagements where you’re not paid, but if you were in front of the right audience, if you were in front of your ideal reader or your ideal client, and you have enough of them in the room, then you can not get paid for anything and still come home with a lot of money.
James, I do want to say that the book business is not just about money, because for me it’s about changing lives and transforming lives. But to do that I have to have money. So I don’t want your listeners to think, “She’s just about money. She’s just about money.” No. I have to eat. I have to have my laptop so I can see you. So there’s money tied to that.
But I will say yes, absolutely. I’ve had speaking engagements where maybe they’ve paid a nominal fee, nowhere near my standard speaking fee, but then I was able to sell thousands of dollars in product and coaching packages. Then I’ve been to events where they’ve paid my fee, but then I didn’t sell any product.
So it really depends on what you want to do as the person, but yes, you can make a living as a speaker. The majority of my income comes in from me going out and speaking, selling books, and selling packages. I don’t sell a lot of books just on Amazon or just at a live event unless I’m speaking.
When I speak, I engage the people, they like what I have to say, and then I have learned some of the marketing strategies and the way you seed your message without saying, “Come buy my books.” There are things you can do throughout the presentation that are like, “Oh my gosh. I have to go buy her book.” So absolutely, you can earn a living as a speaker.
James Blatch: Little asides during the talk, there’s a whole chapter about this in the book. And then you move on. So just planting that sort of thing, planting the idea that, “I need that book.”
Okay, so the book itself, which as you say is a bit of a calling card now, a bit of a shop window for a nonfiction author. Is there a particular way you talk to people about approaching the book? Some people may have a book down in another form. We’ve talked about this on previous podcasts. They may have done so many YouTube videos talking about different aspects of their expertise. They’ve got all the material; they don’t even realize it.
How do you approach structuring a book so it is, as you say, professional?
Valerie J. Lewis Coleman: I have had some clients who do inspirational quotes or posts in Facebook all the time. And then I’ve a couple of them, “If you go back and look at what you have and capture those, even though they may be small nuggets because you can only post so much on social media, you have enough to give a book of daily inspirations for probably a year.” “I hadn’t thought about that.”
Or like you said, going on YouTube and capturing that content. I have people who have videos and podcasts, and if it’s not something that you want to download and transcribe yourself, there are services that you can use to transcribe that information and then convert it into book form.
Or lots of times, experts put out reports and white paper and documents that they have that depending upon who they’re trying to reach with their message, they can take those documents or their blogs if they’re a blogger and compile those into a book.
So there’s so many different ways to get started, and like you said, a lot of people already have a good start and don’t even know that they have a good start.
James Blatch: That’s one of the slight downsides of a book in the nonfiction space is that it’s printed, it’s in black and white. An online course, we update our courses every week, there’s something that’s changed somewhere in Instagram or somewhere we update one of our courses. Not so easy with a printed book.
Valerie J. Lewis Coleman: Absolutely. Not quite as to change on demand. But one of the books that I use for the self-publishing, teaching people to self-publish, are in journal form. So whenever there’s a change in the industry or whatever, I want to add… because sometime I may refer to a company that’s no longer in existence. I can take them out, and when I go to reprint, it’s a lot easier than if I have a book in final book form with the perfect binding and everything, and having to go back and go through that process all over again.
So the books that I use that are more time-sensitive are journal form, spiral-bound journals that I can just easily print 10 or 20 if I need to print 10 or 20. So that’s one way that a nonfiction author can negate, if they’re in an industry that has a constant shift of information, is instead of doing a final, a full book in perfect bind, then they can do it as a journal and make it available at their live events or through their website.
James Blatch: What sort of clients are you dealing with?
Valerie J. Lewis Coleman: Okay, well, that’s a good question. Most of my clients, when I think of my clients, most of them… some of them are already professional speakers. They just needed the book. But a lot of my clients are people who have a story that they want to tell, and so they’re not professional speakers per se, but they are experts in their specific field.
So a young lady whose book is coming out, Skylar Marsh, her book will be available at the end of this month, her book is OMG, which means Operating as a Millennial with God. And so she’s this young person, 19 years old. She has a lot of spiritual background and she wanted to help other millennials understand their value. And it’s not so much what we see on TV or how the media depicts some of our young people, but you have much more value and worth than what you wear and how you behave, if you’re behaving erratically.
I don’t know what they do in the UK, but in the United States, these young people get a little lit, as they say. And so she’s really empowering them to understand your worth comes from within. If you don’t have money to wear the latest fashions and if you don’t have a lot of this or a lot of stuff, so to speak, your value, we’re talking about who you are on the inside. And she’s really empowering them with that message. So she’s not an expert, per se, and she’s very introverted. So I’m working with her to help her boost herself to be able to get the message out.
And then other clients I’ve worked with have written books on relationships. I have clients… and so now what they’re doing is live events and working to position themselves. I have clients who have written a children’s book, and she was doing fairly well with the children’s book. I didn’t publish her book, but she hired me because she wanted to be an Amazon bestseller.
I went through, critiqued her book cover to cover, made some recommendations. It was a very good book. She is a principal, so she has a PhD, or ED, education doctorate. And so her synopsis in her bio read as if she were talking to theologians and dissertations. And I said, “But, well, how old are the people you want to buy the book?” “Well, about five to eight.” “Okay, then you need to write at their level. Even though their parents are going to be the one to buy it, the kid’s going to be the one to say, ‘I want that book.'”
So I helped her revisit her synopsis in her bio to make it more appealing to the audience she was trying to attract. So she’s a professional. Most of my clients so far have been women, and then nonfiction.
James Blatch: In terms of the book itself, the process people go through, you presumably advocate a strong editorial aspect to the production of the book.
Valerie J. Lewis Coleman: Absolutely. With my publishing packages, I have three options through Queen V Publishing, V for Valerie. And the three options, the top two options actually include me editing. I don’t do edit as a standalone. I’m not a professional editor, but I’m very anal when it comes to a lot of that stuff. So I do more of the developmental type editing.
I’m making sure the story is clear and concise; I will have them add content here, take content out; and of course if their objective is to become a speaker or to host live events, I always seed that type of information throughout the manuscript. And then I do a preliminary content, a content and then a copy type edit. But then I always send it back to them.
So we go back and forth several times. I recommend they have a team of people who I’ve dubbed the “Power Team” to read the book out loud as a group, as a collective if possible, read it out loud and take turns reading it so that everybody can act.
Because oftentimes when we’re reading, we do these nonverbal gestures and these body movements that may or may not be reflected in the book, especially if you’re writing creative nonfiction. If you’re telling part of your story and maybe you didn’t incorporate this particular thing in there, but when you read it out loud your head is rocking, and if the people are like, “Hey, that’s not in here. That should be in here.” So it’s a great way to help flesh it out.
But when it comes to editing, I indicate to my clients that there are five levels of edit. There’s the self-edit, which is where a lot of self-published authors stop. They figure, “It’s good enough. I’ve edited it. I’ve read it 20 times. It’s the way it’s supposed to be. This is my baby and I’m not going to change it.”
Those people tend not to sell a lot of books, because you don’t know what you don’t know, and if you’re not familiar with industry standards, if you’re not familiar with word choice, and if you’re not even familiar with how to position yourself as an expert in the writing, you’ll miss the mark.
The second edit, which is what I refer to as the “Power Team,” is five to seven people, and not the people who always tell you you do a wonderful job. Because you’ve got some people, James, no matter how awful you are, they’re going to say, “James is the best thing since sliced bread.” Right? There’s just those people. Mom, dad, family, friends. Those type of people are always saying, “You’re just so wonderful. You have a podcast? Oh my gosh, James is wonderful.” You don’t want those people on your team, because they’re going to say everything you’ve done is great.
You want people who are going to give you honest feedback, not to cut you down and criticize to the point where you feel defeated, but they are going to tell you, “That’s a good storyline, but maybe consider adding this here.” Or, “I don’t understand this. Take that out.” Or, “Move this here.” Or, “You forgot this.” Those type of real, relevant insight.
I recommend the team consist of maybe two to three avid readers, someone who’s proficient in business, and maybe a couple of people who are proficient in marketing.
Because, again, your book is a launching tool for where you want to go next. And if all you’re thinking about is writing the book, and if all you’re thinking about is writing the book and if you’re telling your story, “I’m telling my story.”
But if you’re not telling your story so that it’ll affect the readers, you’re just telling your story. How does your story benefit the next person? How is what you’ve gone through going to help somebody else get through it? How is your message going to be conveyed so that people when they read it, they can relate, and it becomes a part of who they are?
If it’s about entertaining, then great. If it’s about changing their lives, it’s great. If it’s about communicating information, you want to make sure that whatever you’re telling in your story, how does it relate to the next person? They call it “what’s in it for me.” WIIFM, or something like that. What’s in it for me?
If it’s your book, and it’s your story. So I tell my clients, I have a lot of clients when I work with them, they have written about themselves. A couple clients have written about overcoming domestic abuse. So when I first talked to her, I said, “What’s your book about?” “It’s about me and getting through domestic abuse.”
I said, “Okay. So when you talk to other people, don’t tell them that.” She said, “Well, why not?” I said, “Because a lot of people have gone through domestic abuse. You have to position yourself so that when you tell people about your book, it relates to them or somebody they know. So do you know anybody who’s ever been a victim of domestic abuse? Have you or anyone you know had to come leave in the middle of the night, escape from where they were living, because their life was in danger?”
Position it like that. People are like, “What? Yeah.” And then they can see, if they don’t see themselves in it, they probably know somebody else who has been affected by it, or who is in the process. So if you’re telling me you know a way that my girlfriend can get out of this abusive relationship and survive, I need to know that. But if you tell me you’re telling me your life story, I’m not so impressed. And I think that’s important for people to understand.
James Blatch: I think that’s a really good point, and I think a good way of looking at this is, if somebody’s searching on the internet, they’re not searching for your life experience. They’re searching for an answer.
Valerie J. Lewis Coleman: Absolutely.
James Blatch: Right? So they’re going to say, “How do I leave my husband?” They might type that in there, and your result needs to come up for them. You need to be answering that. So if you’re just, yeah, you’re right. I think that a lot of people do think that.
They do think, “I’ve had…” and I mean this very respectfully to people, “I’ve had an amazing family experience with what’s happened, what I’ve gone through. I need to put this in a book to help other people.” But they don’t make that extra step that you’re talking about, which is to really focus the book on other people. It’s almost like what a development editor does to a fiction author.
Valerie J. Lewis Coleman: Absolutely.
James Blatch: At these early stages, they don’t talk about what chapter headings should be or where the commas should be. They talk about what’s happening in the book and whether the story works or not. And everything’s a story, right?
Your nonfiction book has to have a narrative that works as well.
Valerie J. Lewis Coleman: Absolutely. And you’ve got to look at the big picture. How is this going to serve, like you said, how is this going to fix a problem? How is this going to help the reader?
Another thing that I’ve found that a lot of nonfiction authors do is they put, if the book is about themselves, they put their name in the title, and then they also put themselves, the image of themselves, on the front cover. It’s not impressive.
James Blatch: If you’re Tony Robbins, maybe it works to put yourself on the cover.
Valerie J. Lewis Coleman: Right. Absolutely. If you’re a well-known household name. There are certain people. If the prince wrote a book, he should be on the front cover, because his likeness, his face, his name, is going to sell the book.
If I write a book, and I’ve written eight or nine books, I’m not putting myself on the cover. I don’t care if I’ve got beautiful hair, I got my teeth cleaned and shiny and white, I paid $1,000 for new makeup and got this beautiful… it’s not going to sell the book.
Because what it says to readers is, “This book is about me.” Not them. It’s my vanity move. I just wanted to have something to say, “Here. Look at me.” And it’s not going to attract them.
I had one young lady I was mentoring who had a beautiful book. I think the message was powerful. I didn’t actually mentor her, because I can’t teach everybody, and she wasn’t receptive to what I was saying. She has this beautiful book, beautiful cover, and she’s a beautiful girl.
What she did on her book was put herself on the front of her book. Cute dress, cute hair, vibrant colors, it’s beautiful. But it doesn’t speak to the person. And she said, “Well, I’m in a better place now, so this book is letting women understand that they can live a better life.”
I said, “Yeah, but the women who’s not living a better life right now can’t see herself in you. She doesn’t see the process you went through, because all you showed her is the, like I say, you showed the glory and none of the gory. She doesn’t see herself through that process. She can’t see herself standing as proud and confident and bold and falling in love with herself and being in a better space, because you’ve taken her out of the picture.”
We have to be mindful of that, that if we’re trying to win people over, it’s important to know who your ideal reader is. It’s important to know who you’re trying to connect. It’s important to know your demographics.
When I talk to clients, I get to the details. Are you dealing with men or women? Because one of the things I hate the most is, “Who’s your book for?” “Everybody wants my book.” Wrong answer. Everybody doesn’t want your book.
Everybody doesn’t read. Everybody doesn’t read your type of book. Everybody doesn’t read English. “Well, all women. My book is for all women.” No it’s not. It’s not possible. How are you going to reach all women?
I’ll say, “Wait a minute. Hold on. Tell me, how are you going to reach all women?” “Uh….” Right. You can’t do that. But if you identify, “I’m writing to African-American Christian women between the ages of 20 and 40 who are dealing with domestic violence,” I can find those women now.
When I write, I can speak to those women. When I’m telling my story, my story speaks specifically to them. Not to say that other people won’t buy the book, but when I’ve identified with great detail and specificity who I’m trying to connect with, it also helps me as the writer to stay focused on what I’m telling. Because when you’re talking about your life story, it’s easy to have so much to say that you say nothing.
James Blatch: It’s telling people how they should be shaping their message in their book rather than the nuts and bolts of publishing, which frankly, quite a few people teach. But the stuff you are talking about here is the gold bit, the bit that not everybody sees, of how to turn what they know into something that can help other people?
Do you find most of your coaching is this?
Valerie J. Lewis Coleman: Absolutely. That’s a good portion of it. Because I find my strength is in publishing. I’m an engineer by degree, and so my strength is in publishing. I help my clients do it better, faster, quicker, easier, smarter, saving money but still putting out a quality product.
It’s nothing for me to save my clients thousands of dollars just when it comes to the printing, the printing aspect of the book business, not to mention all the other things. That’s my strength, but what I’m finding is I have to back up into the writing part of it and the conceptualizing part of it, because a lot of people are overwhelmed.
I’ve started this new Facebook group, Free Your Mind Writers’ Club with Valerie J. Lewis Coleman. And what I’ve found is that a lot of people are stuck in the writing, because they’re writing nonfiction. “I want to tell my story.” What part of your story do you want to tell? “Well, I think I want to talk about this, this, this, and that.”
I said, “Okay. Right now you’ve got a seven-headed monster like the Tetrahedron in Greek mythology. You’re going to have to cut the head off of at least five of those monsters, and one of the monsters, and the second, you have two heads left, you’re still going to have to cut one of them down.”
You can’t tell your whole life story. Be very specific. Now, maybe you tell, this book, you tell your process of overcoming poverty to be a successful doctor. And maybe you write another book on how you overcame this to do that, or maybe you write another book… they may be several different books. But you can’t tell your whole life story in one book. It’s impossible. It’s going to cost you way too much money.
Like you said, if you’re writing a fiction, you could possibly get away with a 900 page book, although I don’t recommend it. You could get away with a book of a lot more page count. But as a nonfiction, people typically aren’t looking to read 3- or 400 page book on how to do something.
They want the nuts and bolts of it so that you can get it so they can experience a transformation in a relatively quick time. Now, if you tell them how to make a million dollars in 30 days, they might want a 5,000 page book, and they might flip through it. But even with that, if I’m telling you how you can do it in 30 days, more than likely I can’t even read the book effectively in 30 days. So you have to think about all of those aspects of your book, and it’s the fine details that make the difference.
I was working with a client who is writing a book for millennials when it comes to relationships, mostly high school aged kids, and the challenges that the girls are having in understanding the boys and how they keep getting in trouble and they keep making the same mistakes. They think, “If I give him all of me, then I’ll have his heart,” and then they’re upset when they see him with somebody else. So she was writing a good book.
However, in finished book form, it was almost 300 pages. I said, “You can’t do that for your audience. The millennials, high shool kids, are not going to read a 300 page book that tells them, ‘Don’t do this. Don’t do that. Stop doing this. You better do that.’ They’re not going to do it.
Now, if you get it down to 100, 120 pages and it’s very clear, concise… They like bullets. They like quick responses. They like, ‘Do this, do that.’ They don’t need a lot of narratives when it comes to some of the message that you’re trying to convey.”
So you have to have a good understanding of your audience, because if you’re dealing with a lot of young people, they’re not going to want that. If you’re writing children’s books, you have to be clear on the age of the children. If you’re writing to 1 to 3-year olds, you’d tend to have one and two syllable words, and the parents are going to be reading to them for the most part.
If you’re dealing with a slightly older age group then maybe you have three or four syllable words. My granddaughter is four years old, and she told me the other day she wants to be an archeologist. I fell out of my chair. I said, “What do you know about archeologists?” Arche… that’s five syllables. She said, “Well, Mimi, they dig up dinosaur bones.”
Oh, okay, well… but you have to know what your intended audience wants and what they’re capable of. And I don’t know about the UK, but in the United States, they say you should write at the average reading level of someone in the 8th grade. If you hit that benchmark, then you have a wider mass appeal.
But I have worked with people who use words that… I’m fairly smart. I’m somewhat proficient in… the first page I had to pull out a dictionary and look up 30 of the words. I’m like, “I don’t know what these words are. I’ve never heard them.” I have a little bit of knowledge of how you can dissect words and understand what they mean around the content, but if I’ve got a sentence of five words and I don’t understand three of them, I can’t figure this sentence out. So you have to be mindful of all of those things, especially with nonfiction.
James Blatch: How do people know whether their area that they might be good at in their life that they’re thinking about monetizing or growing their nonfiction business.
How do they know if it’s going to work or not? Or whether it’s all value or not?
Valerie J. Lewis Coleman: I was going to say because it’ll work as long as they work it. But I think the value also comes in their ability to position themselves and to work it. I know some people don’t perceive themselves or don’t see themselves as experts in their particular field, or whatever.
I tell them, “Whatever you’re proficient at, whatever you get paid to do at your day job, if there’s transferrable skills, that may be a good indication of something that you can write a book about.” Whatever your passion is.
Sometimes people come up to you and say, “You know what, you are just so good at such-and-such.” Or, “You’re the go-to person. When I need such-and-such, I know I can go to you.” Those type of things are clues or cues that people can indicate to you that give you some idea as to what your skillset may be. Because oftentimes when we’re proficient in things, we don’t know that we’re necessarily proficient in it, because it’s just what we do.
I’ve had people tell me, “You are hilarious.” I’m like, “I’m not a comedian.” “Girl, you should…” No. That’s not my proficiency. But if people think I’m funny, okay. I’m not going to launch a career in comedy, it’s just something that I use, I think, as part of my introversion, to get through that. But it does help to know that those are your skills.
I tell my clients, especially with social media, “Go out to your fans, friends, and followers, and ask them for three to five powerful adjectives to describe you.” You’ll be surprised how they may perceive you, and you may find some things.
I especially have them do that when they’re trying to construct their bios, because oftentimes, especially women, we have a hard time selling ourselves and bragging on ourselves, and writing a bio is a lot about bragging on yourself. And so I have them go out and find powerful words that people would use to describe you.
They get a lot of understanding about themselves, because we only know what we know. You think about your Harvey’s Window, the four different windows, and I only know what I know about myself. But other people perceive me differently than I may perceive myself. And you may find a lot of your strength in relying on people who know you well.
There’s all kinds of things that we may be proficient at or skilled at that are second nature, is a term that people say. Or, “I can do it on automatic pilot. I can do it in my sleep.” Those are probably the types of things that you can use to serve other people.
Because if you’re proficient in administration, for example, a lot of people aren’t. They’re not very well organized. They can’t keep track of things. They can’t stay on task. If you’re a good organizer, you may be someone who can write a book about simple tips and strategies about how to organize, whether it’s your closet or…
You can’t see this, right now I’m in the process of moving from one home to another. I have clutter everywhere, and that clutter begins… it reflects, sometimes it can be reflective of what’s going on inside the brain. So if I’ve got clutter all over the place, it’s hard for me to think effectively, because the clutter on the outside reflects the clutter on the inside. I can’t wait to finish moving so I can put this stuff up, so my brain can feel like, “Ahh, I can breathe again.”
But all those things can have an effect and can be used as a tool to position you as an expert. We’re experts in something; we just have to figure out what it is.
And yes, sometimes I spend my time with clients helping them understand where their expertise lies. Some of them know, but they don’t know how to monetize it, and that’s another thing that I’ll help them sit down and position. And for those who don’t want to do the live events or the speaking engagements then that creates a whole ‘nother dynamic that can be a little more challenging.
Because as an author, you really need to get out there in front of the people, virtually and live, networking, social media groups, connecting to people so that they see you as that go-to person.
So now I’m the go-to person for publishing. I just had a gentleman over in Africa say, “I have this friend who finished a book. It’s a good book. She doesn’t know how to market it and she said, ‘I need help.’ I said, ‘Valerie’s the one.'” Okay, that’s great for me.
I’ve positioned myself so that when people have a question of somebody else about writing, publishing, or marketing, they say, “Go see her.” But that came over time, and it’s a process of being intentional and deliberate and singular in focus.
Initially, I was not singular in focus, and so I had to decide, “Am I going to talk to women who are struggling to experience a fulfilling relationship by revealing The Forbidden Secrets of the Goody Box? Or am I going to serve professional speakers and experts to magnify and monetize their message by publishing quality books?”
When I became singular in focus and focused on the authors and the writers and those people who need help, then that changed the trajectory of my business. So now, I earn a living helping people with their books. Not so much selling my own books, except when I’m doing live events, but the mentoring of clients. And the mentoring I do is from writing, publishing, and marketing.
To answer your question, I didn’t see myself as a marketing person. I was just doing what I needed to do to let people know I had a book, and I had a live event. And then people just started saying, “Hey, can you help me market this? Hey, can you help me with this? Hey, can you show me how to do this?”
I said, “I’m not a marketing person.” Even on LinkedIn, it sends all these job searches. “These people looked for you, and you go good for these…” and a lot of them are PR and public relations and job and marketing. I said, “I don’t want…” I said, “Wait a minute, I think these people were telling me something.”
James Blatch: You were an expert.
Valerie J. Lewis Coleman: Yeah, right. But I didn’t see myself as that, because I was just doing what needed to be done. So then what I started doing was creating packages and programs to help people who were already authors. I was focusing on the writers, how to get them published.
But now I’m focusing, and most of my revenue is generated by, helping those who are already authors but want to learn how to sell more books. The self-published author only sells about 75 copies of their book, and a lot of that is due, in fact, to the inferior quality of their book. A lot of it is due to not knowing who their audience is. A lot of it is due to the fact that they don’t want to get out and do the work to position themselves as an expert.
What I’m doing is helping my clients sell hundreds and thousands of books by positioning them as experts in whatever field they’re shooting for.
James Blatch: Superb. Valerie, we’ve rattled through our 40 minutes or so. I’ve got one last question, which is how buoyant is this market? Because it feels to me that, with the internet, the digitization of the economy, now the opportunities have never been greater for somebody with an expertise to… and let’s not apologize about saying the word “monetize,” because we all have to make a living, and you could argue that writers haven’t been paid enough over the last couple of hundred years, and that might be changing now.
How buoyant is that opportunity now for you to monetize your expertise?
Valerie J. Lewis Coleman: I think it’s very, very buoyant. I know for me it’s buoyant, and I think for other skillsets, it’s very much buoyant, because now because of the internet, because of the advent of technology, now I don’t just have to connect with people whom I see directly. I don’t just have to go to drive somewhere and connect with people.
Now I can literally reach people over in the UK, over in Africa, because of the advent of technology. And depending upon how you set your book up, and how you set up your company, you can actually work with people as mentoring them through podcast type options, or even some of the software that allows you to do conference calls. So you can coach people virtually from across the world.
There’s no limits to what you can do. The limits only are in your ability to identify your skillset and identify the people who need what you can do for them. And again, you have to find them and understand what problems you fix for people, and then prove that you can fix it and repeat that you can fix it, and then position yourself as an expert.
Because, again as an engineer, for me it’s about repeatability. So if I’ve done it for this person and that person and 130 other people, then I know I can do it for other people. And so that helps to leverage my expertise as I leverage my clients’ expertise.
James Blatch: Valerie, where can people find you?
Valerie J. Lewis Coleman: My website is penofthewriter.com, and that’s P-E-N as in ink pen. PenOfTheWriter.com. And if they connect with me, I have a complimentary discovery session that I will offer to your listeners, and your viewers I guess since we’re doing this by video. Yeah, and they can go to https, so it’s a secure site, https://penofthewriter.as.me.
I’m not available until May because I’m moving, and I’m executing a citywide book event I’ve been doing for 10 years that happens the end of this month, and then I’m working on a couple client books. But they can book with me into May, and we can sit down and talk about some of their goals and objectives and expectations and aspirations and challenges, and how I can help them overcome those challenges.
James Blatch: Superb. Okay, well obviously we’ll put those links into the show notes as they are quite complicated. And Valerie, I want to say thank you. It’s been a tour-de-force for the last three quarters of an hour or so, and it’s been great talking to you. So thank you for joining us.
Valerie J. Lewis Coleman: Thank you so much for having me.
James Blatch: Lovely to chat to Valerie end of last year. Good, okay. Well, I think that’s probably about it from us this week. Anything extraordinary happened in the world of publishing that I’ve missed?
Mark Dawson: I launched a book last Friday, and it’s gone down quite well as we record this.
James Blatch: The Vault?
Mark Dawson: Yeah, The Vault. It’s been out for a while.
James Blatch: Step in the vault.
Mark Dawson: It’s done well. Not as well as the Milton book, but that’s not particularly surprising. But it’s done-
James Blatch: Is The Vault not a Milton book?
Mark Dawson: It doesn’t feature Milton, but it is kind of a very… it’s a prequel, a deep prequel, with lots of Easter eggs for those who’ve read deeper into the series. So yeah, and it was a fun one to write, and it’s got great reviews.
A lot of people, some of the reviewers are saying it’s their favorite book that they’ve read of mine. I had a lot of fun writing it. It’s a bit of a romp, so.
James Blatch: Is there any romping in it?
Mark Dawson: There is no romping. I don’t romp.
James Blatch: Do you do sex scenes?
Mark Dawson: Do I do sex scenes? No I don’t.
James Blatch: I don’t mean in real life. I mean in your books.
Mark Dawson: No, I don’t. And I’m looking forward to reading your sex scene in The Last Flight.
James Blatch: I’ve taken my sex scene out. There’s a little bit of nudity in it, but-
Mark Dawson: God.
James Blatch: Probably PG-13. I did write a sex scene in my very first draft, back in 2010, and I felt so embarrassed about it that I just took it out. No one’s ever seen that. The only in-joke was they had to go away for the weekend, because it was the ’60s, and the landlady wouldn’t allow male visitors for her, and he was in the officer’s mess.
Mark Dawson: Quite right.
James Blatch: So they went away somewhere in Wiltshire, actually, to the Cock Inn, and they had a weekend there.
Mark Dawson: I see what you’ve done there.
James Blatch: See what I did there? That’s the kind of layered intrigue there is in my book.
Thank you very much indeed, Mark. It’s always a pleasure to catch up with you. And I haven’t put my picture up yet from Stewart Grant, we talked about last week, but what should be up and live by the time, this is something we can mention, should be up and live by the time this podcast goes out is that image of The Two Ronnies, which is a UK comedy combo from years gone by, and two glasses which we’ve kind of appropriated. There we go.
That image on the T-shirt, and you’ll find that in our merch store if you go to selfpublishingformula.com/merch. But I’m going to put my picture up there. I’ve decided it’s going to go just to the other side of that volcom.
Mark Dawson: Good.
James Blatch: Right. That’s it. Which leaves me only one thing to say, which is that it’s a good night from him.
Mark Dawson: And a good night from me.
James Blatch: Goodbye.
Mark Dawson: Goodbye.
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