How to Get Your Speaker Client to Finally Write that Book...Without Typing a Word of the Manuscript
If you are a coach for budding professional speakers, you know all too well how your clients would get more speaking gigs paying at higher rates (and their businesses would grow as well) if they could just get their book done.
My name is Marty Dickinson (pictured above). I've never thought of myself as a professional speaker; although, I've certainly given my fair share of paid presentations over the years.
I don't consider myself to be a speaker coach either. Yet, I've mentored and advised more than 100 professional speakers over the past 20 years toward their path to the professional speaking stage.
I've always been more of a behind-the-scenes guy who has enjoyed supporting speakers in their pursuit of professional speaking infamy.
I've watched how each has either evolved into $5,000, $10,000 to $15,000 keynoters, remained at the free or small fee level, or abandoned the speaking business entirely.
Completing a book (or not) has always been one of the most consistent success factors between those who go on to greatness in speaking and those forced to find a day job to make ends meet.
Sure, there are professional speakers making a good living for themselves, and there is still no book with their name on it. And, I'm sure there are many speakers with books who are starving for speaking gigs.
My point is this: A new speaker will have a much easier time entering the professional speaking arena if he or she has a book. Of course there are many other reasons to write a book as outlined in another post.
Writing Books Built MY Speaking Business Too
In 2004, I self-published my first book called: Winning the Internet Dogfight (out of print). I conducted 3-hour Internet marketing training workshops where I pre-sold the book to pay for the first print run.
The book helped me to:
- Secure more butts in seats for my workshops.
- Attract new clients needing web marketing services.
- Engage higher profile speaking gigs and partnerships (Constant Contact, CloudNet360, NSA).
- Get noticed by Wiley Publishing (Web Marketing All-in-One for Dummies, 2009 and 2012 editions).
- Get inspired to write follow-up books.
Quite simply, the more books I would write, the more speaking gigs I would get and the more clients I would on-board.
Every new speaker could (and should) be following that same path. There's just one problem...
Not All Speakers are Writers
Every speaker I've known has had the intention of writing a book to boost their credibility while building their professional speaking career. Only some have succeeded so far. Most begin the process, lose their momentum after a few days of writing, then stop.
By the time their interest in writing is renewed, another year has flown by.
There you are again as the speaker coach, left hung out to dry with a speaker unwilling or unable to just get the book done!
This is exactly what happened with Dana Morgan-Barnes. Dana is a former district director with District 26 Toastmasters, where she led a team of other district officers and oversaw more than 150 Toastmasters clubs throughout Colorado, Wyoming and Western Nebraska.
One day in 2013, while at a Toastmasters conference, Dana revealed to me that she finally beat a long-time battle with obesity that held her back from enjoying life to its fullest potential for more than 50 years.
When I asked of her secret, she listed off a five-step sequence she developed. Then, Dana told me she was starting to take on consulting clients for health and wellness and maybe doing some speaking.
My reply was, "You need to write a book!"
About twice a year, I would come into contact with Dana and ask her jokingly, "How's your book coming along?" Each time, the response was a look of being a bit embarrassed, followed by, "I just haven't had the time," or, the all-familiar, "I HATE the idea of sitting behind a computer and typing!"
In the fall of 2016, I approached Dana again asking if she had started writing her book. Met with the same response, as predicted, I gave a different reply than what she was expecting.
I said, "Dana, I have recently created a new way to get your book written and launched on Amazon in less than 30 days. And, you won't have to type a single word of the manuscript. Would you be interested?"
She jumped at my offer and the book, Health and Wellness Journey: Creating a Plan that Works After All Other Attempts Have Failed was launched a month later. Dana uses her book to promote her availability as a wellness coach and a speaker where she always brings a stack of soft-cover books with her (ordered in advance through Amazon at cost) to every speaking event to offer to the audience. I am talking with Dana now about producing her second book.
Dana, like many, had no interest in writing a book; but, 110% interest in having a book!
Why is Book Writing So Hard for Some Speakers?
Speakers speak. That doesn't mean they enjoy writing or have good writing skills. In fact, most people I've talked to would love to get their life-long written work out of their brains and onto paper. But, paralyzing barricades get in the way of speakers achieving their book publishing goals, such as:
- Hating the act of writing.
- Lack of engaging writing or basic grammar skills.
- Refusing to devote time to writing.
- Despising the idea of sitting behind a computer and typing.
- Taking forever to craft a paragraph, let alone an entire chapter.
Yet, speakers speak because they have an important message to deliver to the world. Providing their message in a book form is essential to getting their message to a wider and more global audience.
The Hardest Part of Writing a Book is Clear
In a recent poll of 105 business owner respondents, I asked the question, "What is the hardest part about writing a book?"
Writing the content was seen as the biggest challenge for 38% of the respondents.
Coming up with a topic that will sell: 23%
Writing the content 38%
Producing the content (edits/cover/layout): 7%
Getting published: 19%
Promoting the book: 11%
Because of those numbers, I will focus the rest of this post on ways you can help your speaker clients produce the content for their books...without typing...or even writing. Your role as a speaker coach should include providing proper guidance to your clients for ways they can produce their book content using one of these methods if their efforts with traditional writing are not producing results.
Alternatives to Writing
If you've given up on the idea that your speaker client will someday get her butt in gear and get the book done, I invite you to consider these options:
Combining Blog Posts
Using a speaker's already published blog posts is, in my view, the lowest quality form of creating a book. True, there are some bloggers that get very extensive with their content creation for blog posts. But, most people (including me) aim for 400-600 words per blog post and offer 3 general tips or steps in the content. A book can be produced with this limited level of content depth, but I question that a book of this low quality should be created.
Benefit: Combining existing blog posts requires little extra work since the content is already produced. Older posts might not get used if there is time-sensitive information included.
Drawback: Readers may feel like they've been a bit swindled when they go to your website and see all the blog posts they could have read for free but paid for to get access to by purchasing your book.
A speaker should not write a book only to get book sales, but to get good book reviews. The only way to assure positive book reviews is to provide enough quality of content and detail so that action steps can be implemented. Combining blog posts is probably not the best path for releasing a book capable of generating mostly positive reviews.
Using Recorded Speeches
Another way to produce a book is to record the speaker's live presentations, workshops or keynotes and transcribe them into a book form. This method will take a good deal of editing and moving of content to make the speeches read more like a book should, rather than sounding like just another
speech. But, it can be done with the right book producer.
Benefit: The speaker doesn't have to spend any time writing. The content is delivered without any extra effort on the speaker's part.
Drawback: Book readers today expect enough detail that they can follow a proven sequence of steps so that they can do things they were unable to do before.
Most keynotes and 60-minute or 90-minute speaking slots focus heavily on entertainment value rather than teaching. If your client leads half-day or full-day workshops, you have a much higher possibility that enough content will be present for a book because workshops tend to be more instructional in nature.
Traditional Ghost Writing
Ghost writers are so prevalent on the web that directory websites had to be created to contain them all. For as little as a few hundred dollars, you can post the project, hear sales pitches from prospective ghost writers, send samples back and forth by email, spend a couple of hours on the phone, and receive your first-round manuscript in as little as a few weeks.
Benefit: The good part about ghost writers is the competition for your project. Ghost writers are starving for your business and payment and they can be negotiated with if it means they can win the deal based on price.
Drawback: The hours your client could have been writing will be spent researching ghost writing candidates, testing them to see if they write in the speaker's voice, and assuring author copyrights are available and transferred to the author for the final published content.
The NEW way of producing book content for time-pressed, writing-challenged, new professional speakers wanting a quality book they're proud to stamp their name on, is through a method I call content extraction.
With this method, the extractor creates a series of questions in a logical flow for each chapter of the book, along with the introduction and conclusion. The extractor then extracts the content from the expert (the speaker) through a series of deep dive interviews. The content is recorded, transcribed, and rearranged into book format.
Benefit: Speed! The speaker requires ZERO prep time and all the book's content can be easily generated in under a week.
Drawback: Speakers lack confidence in themselves that they are capable of verbalizing all the details necessary during interview sessions. They always think something is being left out. Fortunately, a good content extractor builds their confidence throughout the process and knows how to dig deeper to get the good stuff most speakers wouldn't even think to add in the book if they were writing it themselves.
Why the Old Way of Writing Doesn't Work for Everyone Anymore
After producing a dozen books using my content extraction method, I've come to realize that the traditional way of "writing books" (getting up at 4:00 a.m. every day for 200 days and writing 600 words a day to get a 120,000-word book) is an outdated approach.
Professional speakers seeking their first book should focus on producing 18,000 to 22,000 words. This is just enough to outline their expertise in a concise manner while providing enough detail of value to readers.
Plus, most people don't buy printed books these days. They subscribe to Amazon Prime or Kindle Unlimited so that they can "borrow" books for download. Within minutes, a person can read a page or two of a borrowed book and decide if the book sucks or to continue reading for its high value of content.
The only way authors get paid for their borrowed books is when readers...actually READ the book!
Readers are much more likely to read short books with compact information showcasing specific action steps. This reality actually helps the content extraction process to be the method of choice for producing a book in 2017.
Marty Dickinson's Content Extraction Process in 3 Steps
So, let's take a closer look at exactly how my content extraction process works.
Content Extraction Process Step 1: Create a G.E.M.
The extraction process begins with YOU, the speaker coach (or me if a speaker does not have a formal speaking business coach).
Whether you know it or not, you've been coaching your speakers-in-training to teach audiences their proven methods for which they are qualified experts to teach.
I call the speaker's method a Genuine Expert Method (G.E.M.).
A speaker's G.E.M. is more than someone else's method she's bought through certification training and licensing. A G.E.M. is a process the speaker has developed, tested and tweaked over time so that it's genuinely theirs.
No one else in the world implements the same process in just the same way to solve a specific challenge like a speaker's G.E.M. does.
Many times speakers do not even realize they possess a G.E.M. until it's extracted from them.
You as the speaker coach need to work with your client to identify that G.E.M., put it into a sequence of steps, and give it a name.
I provide a free document on ProduceMyBook.com called The Method in You to help speakers identify their G.E.M. You are welcome to use the document in working with your own speaker coaching clients.
One of the speakers I worked with to produce her book content has been a therapist for more than 30 years. Here name is Susie Hayes. When I asked Susie what her G.E.M. was, she replied, "I don't have a cookie-cutter method. Every client I work with is different from the next."
Well, that's true. Most providers of professional services would probably say the same thing.
Trying the same question from a different angle, I asked her how she on-boards a new client. That question changed the conversation and unveiled a step-by-step sequence.
Soon, we had developed six steps that every one of her clients had been guided through during their therapy term, in almost exactly the same sequence, for the past 30+ years.
Her six-step process evolved into the acronym F.R.E.E.D., which we wound up using for the book cover as the title, FREED from Stuck.
Would a ghost writer have come up with that?
Content Extraction Process Step 2: Research the Competition
The next step in the content extraction process is to read at least one book on the topic and every single book review on Amazon for up to 30 books in the target category. Most speaker coaches I've worked with choose not to spend the time required to do this part properly and stop their involvement in the content extraction process before this point.
Whoever you choose to help extract content from your speaker client must know what people like and dislike about other books and methods related to the target topic.
Negative book reviews are a great way to know what readers want to read in a book topic and also how they felt shortchanged with the book they provided the bad review for.
Why is this competitive product research so important? Because, a content extractor formulates the extraction process and guides the speaker through that process, much like a talk show host would interview a celebrity. If the content extractor does not know the topic, and how to create content outlines, producing a quality book using this method will be nearly impossible.
Content Extraction Process Step 3: Extract the Content Detail
The actual content extraction occurs through a series of deep-dive interviews that are recorded by phone and transcribed into text form. I've found the best results to require a one-hour project kick-off session and then three to four separate days scheduled in 2-hour increments.
For one author, I extracted content for his topic (renting luxury vacation homes) in a single sitting while riding in his car as a passenger as he drove for six hours. He slept for 11 hours that night due to complete exhaustion; probably mentally spent from driving as much as from being interviewed.
So, a single extraction is possible, but not recommended. More than two hours for a properly conducted content extraction will find the speaker talking in circles. It is the job of the person conducting the content extraction to sense when it's time to wrap up a session and hold off until the next time.
I was conducting a recent workshop to a small group of professional speakers teaching them how to construct a book so that it even has a chance of becoming an Amazon Best Seller. One of the participants asked me how I come up with the questions to ask an author during the extraction process.
My response was, "That's one thing I haven't figured out how to teach yet."
What I can report is this: Your content extractor really needs to care about the author's well-being, book quality and career in order to perform a successful content extraction.
What Else to Look for in a Content Extractor for Your Speaker Client's Book
My method of extracting content from clients for books actually evolved through 20 years of producing websites for, and consulting and mentoring with, speakers and authors. No one ever seems to know what he or she truly wants in a new website. So, I would always have to extract content from the client so that I could create their website copy to help sell their products, services and speaking platforms online to meeting planners and event planners.
A few years ago, I presented my website strategies at National Speakers Association's (NSA) national conference.
Producing 8 of my own self-published books and co-authoring two Web Marketing All-in-One for Dummies books (Wiley) helped pave the way for me to produce books for others, rather than only websites.
I reveal all of that because I want you to be very careful with whom you partner or hire to perform content extractions. Your reputation is on the line as a speaker coach!
Just think of all the outlets where that book will could potentially wind up, including:
- Sending the book to meeting and event planners for speaking consideration.
- Providing multiple copies of the book for corporate internal training.
- Selling the book in the back of the room after presentations.
- Referring to specific chapters in the book during presentations.
- Displaying the book in video demo reels.
- Showcasing the book on the speaker's website.
- Finding the book through keyword-based Google searches and Amazon searches by people who have never heard of your speaker client before.
A book is much more than a business card. Choose your content extractor carefully.
What's the Hardest Part of the Content Extraction Process?
With all of that said, I would make the claim that the hardest part about extracting book content is planning the extraction sessions so that you get the high quality content you need in order to convert the spoken content into book-readable form, while keeping the client's voice.
Whew! That's a mouthful.
But, it's true. Those three things must work together to produce quality content that gets read and gets quality reviews.
Just like meeting planners expect a speaker to look and sound on their stage like they look and sound on their speaker demo reel (or better), a book needs to read in the style of the speaker as well.
Joe Sabah co-founded the Colorado chapter of NSA more than 30 years ago. He has taught literally thousands of speakers how to get into the speaking business, including several top-shelf keynoters like Scott Friedman, CSP, John Sileo, CSP, and Kevin Knebl.
After 36 years conducting his Speaking for Fun and Profit workshop, Joe is now 86 years-young and just getting started! Twelve years ago he had a stroke leaving the left side of his body mostly paralyzed. To this day, he continues to teach new speakers how to get into the speaking business in a live setting.
I used my content extraction method to put Joe's teaching into a book form, which is available through Amazon under the title, How to Speak for Fun and Profit: Get Started in the Professional Speaking Business and Share Your Message with the World.
A few days after its release, I got a phone call from a reader of Joe's book. He had known Joe for almost 50 years but lives in a different state. So he hadn't seen Joe in a long time. He told me, "I heard Joe speaking directly to me throughout the entire book as if I was in the room with him."
That's the biggest compliment a reader could give to me, personally. Preserving the voice of the speaker in a written form is one of my most important priorities for every book project I'm involved with. Whoever you choose to extract content for your speaker client's book had better have voice integrity as a top priority like I do.
Want to Partner?
If you are a professional speaker coach or business coach, you should be assisting your clients through the process of producing their non-fiction book content. You can do that in three ways:
- Do it Yourself - If you feel you have the skill set as outlined above, go for it! Content extraction could be a valuable new service for you to provide for your speaker clients. Expect that completing a few book projects will be required before you figure out how to provide a top quality content extraction.
- Hire or Train an Unknown - Content extractors do exist and you can probably find someone out there that has lower rates than what I charge. Content extractors come in all shapes and sizes from virtual assistants to book publishing coaches. Use my guidelines mentioned earlier for finding and selecting the helper that meets your budget.
- Partner with Me - Bring me in as your official content extractor and have me go through the content extraction process and content producing portion of the book with your client. If you have a cover designer, editor, Kindle/CreateSpace coder, and Amazon launch process of your own, I can work on content as a stand-alone project. Or, have me produce the entire book from concept to launch. Send a text message to me at 303-913-4813 with the word "coach" in the text and I will return your call immediately if I'm not on the phone already.
Book Publishing Has Already Changed Forever
When I self-published my first book in 2004, printing books in large quantities before they were sold was the norm. Today, Amazon prints books, and ships them, one-by-one only after a sale is made of the soft cover edition. No more need for buying large stocks of inventory up front.
On the other side of the coin, pitching your book topic to the big 5 New York book publishers is simply a waste of time—at least for new speakers trying to build their name value. Even if your book does get picked up by a major publisher, you'll be waiting a year or more before you have a copy of your book in your hand.
Today, the term book publishing has given way to book producing. Producing a book from scratch to selling can now be accomplished in less than a week, if completely necessary. I've found the sweet spot is 6 weeks for true quality book producing and assuring the best chances for an Amazon Best Seller launch.
There is no excuse why your speaker clients (and any business owner for that matter) should delay the completion of their book. The rewards of having a completed book are too great to ignore or put off any longer. Contact your speaker clients today and get them introduced to my content extraction
method. It could be some of the best speaker coaching advice you've ever given.