This month’s Featured Author is Larry Williams, a respected veteran journalist and professional speaker who shares a passion for offering cutting-edge ideas in business and personal growth that challenge conventional thinking. I especially enjoy how Larry blends his love of the music industry with his passion for helping people uncover the untapped talent they have within them.
Although Larry and I have never met in person (not even on Skype yet!), I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Larry a bit on Facebook. We met through the National Speakers Association Facebook group, and connected as friends there as well. So, when Larry started sharing about the release of his third book, Develop Your B-Sides, I definitely wanted to hear more.
Here’s what Larry had to say…
Tara: What motivated you to write a book?
Larry: I have been a journalist most of my adult life. Freelance mostly. My articles were picked up by many national magazine and newspaper publications.
By 2006, I felt inspired to write a business management book for the wedding industry.
In 2011, I became more disillusioned by the deterioration of customer service. More specifically, the lack of common sense demonstrated by many in the field. I wrote the book Customer Service A to Z. This book focused on the idea that it is not the egregious examples of bad experiences we have to worry about – but more so the minor imperfections we all have that turn off our customers. A simple concept really, but still one that is not often discussed.
So you could say my first two books are my take on the topics of small business management and customer service.
My latest book, Develop Your B-Sides, is a personal development book that includes a self-improvement mechanism I used for years when I worked in the broadcast booth as a radio DJ.
In this book, I use the lessons of music to discover untapped skills in life and business. It’s my most original work to date because it is my story.
Tara: What publishing options did you consider?
Larry: I considered them all, but ultimately chose to be self-published. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against publishing companies. In fact, if I ever found the right publisher, I would most definitely consider it. However, I have come to understand that the majority of publishing deals do NOT come with book promotion. It is still up to the author to pound the pavement and do all of the marketing and advertising. So if the purpose is only to get your book in the bookstores – I can go to Ingram as a self-published author and get that done.
Successful books are based on promotion. I am a one-man operation. If I can’t have a team behind the effort, I see no point in pursuing a publishing company. But again, I am always open to the idea.
Tara: Why did you settle on the option you chose?
Larry: For me, it’s all about content and offering real value to the reader. I don’t need a publisher to have a great book. But a publisher does need a great book to be successful.
The Foreword for my book Customer Service A to Z was written by entertainment legend, Dick Clark. The Governor of the State of Nevada endorsed it, as did many popular authors, speakers and business leaders. It’s rich in content and would be perfect for any publisher.
My latest book, Develop Your B-Sides, has an Afterword written by one of the most successful recording artists in history – Brenda Lee. I honestly don’t think it would be hard to get a publishing deal for either book, especially given the original content and endorsements, but I never pursued it.
My point is, there are great self-published books out there that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with other popular published books. As a writer, you have to ask yourself why you got into this business. Is it to have a best seller or to help people? If you are satisfied with helping people – the best seller thing will come in time. I’m in no hurry.
Tara: How easy was it to get your book done?
Larry: My latest book Develop Your B-Sides took forty days and forty nights. No kidding! It really did! Because this was a personal story, I lived, it flowed rather easily.
It also came at a difficult time in my marriage. So I guess you could make the case that the time alone really got my creative juices flowing – though I wouldn’t suggest to others that this is the best way to write a book.
Tara: How did you distribute the book after publication?
Larry: This is the blessing and the curse of the self-published author. My books are mostly supported through personal appearances. When I speak, they fly out of the back of the room. When I don’t, the sales trickle through social media, Amazon and direct mail blasts to my colleagues.
Tara: How are you marketing and promoting your book?
Larry: Since keynote presentations are the main vehicle for the majority of my book sales, I have often tried creative ways to market my books prior to my speaking engagements. One of my most successful ways is to encourage a few people to buy my book ahead of time, read it on the airplane while en route to the conference and then post their photograph on social media. They would receive a special audio product at the conference for doing so.
The reposted images really helped steamroll anticipation for my keynote address and hence, book sales following the presentation.
Tara: Which social network do you use the most and why?
Larry: Facebook is my social media platform of choice. I like it because it is a real conversation. I like to talk (and type). I find it difficult to limit my conversation to 140 characters or a photograph. Again, the conversational aspect of Facebook has really helped me stay connected to my followers and readers.
Tara: If you had one piece of advice for someone thinking about writing a book, what would it be?
Larry: My one piece of advice would be to invest in a Book Shepherd. This was the best investment I ever made. This person will work with you on exterior and interior design. He or she will be your confidant and advisor. They can proofread or edit and basically make your writing shine. They will format your book and make it print-ready. More than anything else, a good Book Shepherd will help your book stand out as a literary masterpiece and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the best books on the shelf.
I’ll chime in here now and say, I did not bribe, pay or otherwise influence Larry to recommend a Book Shepherd, but for those of you interested in learning more, I encourage you to check out our sister company, Emerald Lake Books, where your words are transformed from manuscript to masterpiece!
For those who are interested in learning more about the B-Side methodology, check out this great video interview Larry gave on Entrepreneurs Making a Difference.
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