Hey Lifestyle Entrepreneurs,
Hope you're having a productive, exciting day so far...and if you're not, why not start now?
I want to share a few behind-the-scenes views into the ever-unfolding Lifestyle Entrepreneur book launch. I say ever-unfolding because, even though the majority of people who will ever see Lifestyle Entrepreneur will see this version that's coming out now, I think of it as v3.0 of the book that I started writing nearly four years ago in Shanghai.
Lifestyle Entrepreneur Across The Years
Even though the first book was called The Entrepreneurs Guidebook, it did include a number of the core concepts that made it all the way to today's version (like a Vision-MAP and The Operations Model). Plus that eBook is what got me an introduction to my Asian publishers Kanyin Books.
Working with my editor at Kanyin (Carol Lin) was a huge learning experience, as she got me thinking about eye-catching chapter titles and re-writing parts of the book to include stories from my own business history. The re-writes took about 5-6 months, but it wasn't just "re-writing" the book as much as it was morphing it from a China-USA trade focused book to a more overarching theme of being a "lifestyle entrepreneur".
But the effort was worth it, and the partnership with Kanyin was exciting as it unfolded over 4 trips to Malaysia and Singapore, filming the book launch video and ultimately seeing it rise up the charts to #2 business bestseller!
Bringing It Back Home - From Asia to USA
In a sweet twist of irony, the first book that became Lifestyle Entrepreneur was focused on China-USA trade, but by the time the book actually came out in USA the journey was reversed from Asia >> USA.
All along it was my goal to have some success with the Asia book launch and use that to leverage into getting a great publishing deal with a US publisher. And not just any publisher, I had one particular publisher in mind; Morgan James Publishing who had released Brendon Burchard's book The Millionaire Messenger.
So I showed up at a conference that the Morgan James team puts on called Author 101 University with a stack of books and proceeded to approach, pitch and get a preliminary "thumbs up" from their president, publisher and senior acquisitions editor
Admittedly, it was easier to pitch myself as a potential Morgan James author with a book in-hand that already had a proven sales history. But that was exactly the point of putting in the work beforehand with the Asia launch...to not have it be the first time I'm dealing with publishers when releasing the book in US and beyond.
Signing Two Publishing Deals in Two Years.
My strategy to work with Morgan James was to talk to their main decision makers 1-on-1 and get them excited about Lifestyle Entrepreneur. After talking with them at Author 101, and each of them saying "that seems like just the kind of books we like to publish," I brought them together and said "Please do!" 🙂
I've heard countless stories from authors saying "Oh, I was rejected 23 times in a row by publishers" - but my experience has been really pitching two publishers...and signing two publishing deals.
Why is that?
Well, I'd say for one, in both cases I had a finished book ready-to-go; I had already done the heavy lifting and proved that I was going to bring my message out to the world one way or another. Many of the rejection stories I heard center around submitting book proposals (as, in not a complete manuscript with a sales track record).
Takeaway for Aspiring Authors: If you're passionate about an idea for a book - WRITE ONE! You don't need a publishers approval or anyone else's permission to put pen to paper. These days, you have an outlet for your book through programs like Kindle Direct Publishing, eBooks, selling informational/training books on ClickBank and more. So it's no longer the case that a publisher is gatekeeper to the distribution channels where readers buy books.
The Benefits of Working With a Publisher vs. Self Publishing
Even though it is entirely possible to self-publish a book nowadays, I still prefer working with a publisher because I enjoy being part of a team. Ultimately, signing with a publisher means joining a roster of authors, some in your genre writing similar things as you, and others in different varied fields. These are all potential allies and friends for book reviews, cross-promotions, and future book projects.
Plus, I like the fact that my publishers take care of just about all the details not directly related to writing and promoting a book. Sure, it's possible to learn about all the publishing platforms out there, join their service, format your book for each platforms tech specs, and integrate sales stats from a variety of sources - BUT - I'm much happier to spend all that time on getting the word out about my book.
So from that perspective, I enjoy partnering with a publisher, and have no illusion about the fact that publisher or not, the author always has the ultimate responsibility to promote his or her book.
Re-Writing and Editing Lifestyle Entrepreneur for US.
After signing with Morgan James, I decided to re-write and improve Lifestyle Entrepreneur again and get it *just right* for the release I always envisioned back when I started writing my eBook in Shanghai years before.
The main change was shifting it from a semi-autobiographical book, featuring my life and business experiences as the majority of case studies, to looking at "being a lifestyle entrepreneur" as an identity that anyone can assume and make their own.
To that extent, I interviewed seven other inspirational entrepreneurs who have kick-ass lifestyles and 6-or-7 figure businesses that they run amidst extensive international travel.
Then I worked those interviews in throughout the book as features, or "Lifestyle Entrepreneurs In-Focus" as it's titled in the book. This is to give readers a number of examples of what's possible and let them self-select which ones resonate most with their goals, dreams and life experience.
Then I included a new Discover Your Identity exercise and framework, and re-wrote the Prologue to be current and representative of the most recent year of travel and business adventures.
With the content up-to-date, I turned my attention to the overall look and feel; The cover design and interior layout.
Crowdsourcing Design Work for Authors
In my experience, the writing of a book is my primary creative contribution. I think a lot of first-time authors shoot themselves in the foot by thinking they have to do everything in the process, including the most important thing - designing the book cover.
I had a vision for how the cover could look - with a crest, sort of like you'd see on a prestigious university, but with images representative of being a lifestyle entrepreneur; an airplane, a globe. So I sketched out a rough image with pencil and paper and launched a contest on 99designs!
You can check out the progression of designs on the completed contest here, and you should be able to click on "design brief" and see the original instructions I gave to the designers.
99designs is great for projects like this where you want to actually see the design ideas of many designers up front, instead of like on Elance where you review bids, award a job and then start to see actual designs. Each has their place, but 99designs is cool because you also have a historical record of progress (*and can share it in blog posts!)
Coming Up in Part 2
At this point we've followed the progress of Lifestyle Entrepreneur from it's humble beginnings being written on an iPad in coffee shops and skyrises in Shanghai, through to an initial launch in Asia and now being reborn for a full US and global release.
In the next post, I'll write about finalizing the book as a "finished product", and then building a book launch strategy (actual multiple strategies) and shifting gears from "writing and creating" mode, to marketing and selling the book and being the face and voice for it's message.
Let me know your experience of writing and publishing (or wanting to write and publish) below!