How to Publish Your Story and Amplify Your Impact with Rick Lite
Rick Lite and his wife, Lori, ventured into publishing in 2003 with a line of books and CD’s through their company, Stress Free Kids. They even negotiated a deal on ABC’s Shark Tank in Season 1, Ep. 3. After achieving international success, they decided to form a new company in 2010 called Stress Free Book Marketing to share their knowledge and strategies to help other authors do the same.
Inside This Episode
- How to Know If You Should Write a Book
- Why You Should Start In Reverse
- Using Your Book As A Part of Your Platform
- Finding the Right Marketing Mix for Your Message
- The Key to Avoiding Getting Stuck in a Writing Project
- The Ideal Scenario for Writing and Marketing Your Book
- The Main Ingredients for A Successful Book Launch
- The Reality of Independent and Traditional Publishing
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You're listening to key conversations for leaders. This is episode number 40. Welcome everybody. In today's episode, we'll be discussing how to publish your story and amplify your impact with Rick Lite. We'll be talking about how do you know if you should actually write a book, why you should start in reverse the reality of independent and traditional publishing and finding the right marketing mix for your message and much, much more.
John Ryan 0:25
Leadership is about vision. It's about creating a vision and sharing that vision with others in a way that inspires them to walk with you towards its fulfillment. Along the way, leaders, encourage, motivate, guide and even challenge people to bring their best each and every day. And it's all done through conversations. That's what this show is about better conversations for better leaders.
John Ryan 0:47
Hey, everybody, and welcome to key conversations for leaders. I'm your host, John Ryan. And today we have a very special guest, Rick Lite, Rick and his wife, Lori ventured into publishing in 2003, with a line of books and CDs through their company stress free kids, they even negotiated a deal on ABC shark tank and season one, Episode Three, for those of you that are playing the home game, and after achieving international success, they decided to form a new company in 2010, called stress free book marketing, to share their knowledge and strategies to help others. Other authors do the same. So welcome to the show, Rick.
Rick Lite 1:22
Thanks. Thanks for having me.
John Ryan 1:24
Excellent. You know, it seems like more and more people are interested in sharing their story and becoming an author, how does one know if their story is worth telling? And if they should actually pursue writing in sharing a book with the world?
Rick Lite 1:40
The easy answer is, if you have something important to say, there's, there's something to be said for a business professional that wants to create a book, to deliver a message or to complement another platform that they're speaking to. But it really involves having a message being able to articulate that out to to an audience. So I think a lot of people know, when the time is right, they might have even been told by a mentor or other professionals that what they're talking about when they're speaking and engaging customers or clients with is something that should be put out for the masses. So there's, there's a variety of different reasons, but I think the author or the writer knows, when when they have something that should be shared?
John Ryan 2:35
You know, it seems like probably on some level, everyone has a story to tell, is it? Does it take some work? Does it take some guidance to find that right story? they can they can reach the masses? Or is it okay to be more targeted? And in finding a message that connects to a certain select group of people as well?
Rick Lite 2:55
I think both. It really depends a nonfiction author or an author that's working on a biography, autobiography. historical fiction, is writing it for a different reason than somebody that's creating a fiction romance or a vampire series. So I think that's an individualized question. But authors usually will, or writers will usually know what their message or who their message should be targeted towards, they might just not be able to understand the process of getting that done.
John Ryan 3:36
So what do you recommend for people, whether they're in business, or they just want to share a story that they have in their mind about a novel, perhaps a fiction, work, work, or telling their own personal story to share with the world? Where do they start? How do they get started in creating that idea? Or finalizing it?
Rick Lite 3:58
Yeah, it's, you should start, believe it or not in reverse. So if you're, if you understand who your audience is, and what they want to hear a message, then you're writing with that in mind. So in a weird way, you're you're you're looking at the audience, and then you're writing for that audience. Again, if a little bit of it boils down to the genre, but you know, there's there's not one particular process to get people there. But in most cases, successful authors will start with that, and then they might start with the creative part of it. They might have a plan to know what they're trying to achieve or what kind of steps are involved in getting to that point. You know, writing or writing a book, going from a writer to an author is something that is too very personal. And that could even involve a children's book author who's creating fiction or self help for, for helping kids like, like Lori has. It's it's personalized, but there's always these pillars of, of support and necessity that are involved in the project.
John Ryan 5:22
What is the appeal for going for it and really deciding to put pen to paper and become, you know, a published author for many people that you work with, what do you find is the appeal.
Rick Lite 5:35
I would think it's mixed across the board. But a lot of people, they want to be known as an author, they want to have that badge of honor. Some people feel that that is something that can lead to a different revenue stream, or it would put them out in the public eye. A lot of the customers and the clients that I work with are trying to complement what they're doing maybe on a different platform. So they might have a podcast or a radio show, or they do speaking engagements, and they want to create a book that would not only be credible, and add to that information, but also be another selling tool, they're thinking ahead, that the book could really promote the other platform, and that the other platform is something that they can promote with the book.
John Ryan 6:36
In that regard, you know, it seems like so I hear podcasts, perhaps maybe there's a blog that should be involved as well as the book. What are the minimum components you would recommend for someone to be a successful author? And or is that an individualized thing as well?
Rick Lite 6:53
When you mean components, what,
John Ryan 6:55
So the podcast, the blog, and like those pieces, you could just do a book, right? And put that into a publishing environment and have a list of either on Amazon digitally or other sources, or actually get it printed and try to get in bookstores. But it seems like in today's day and age, it's not just one channel, there's all these other channels that we need to take advantage of, are, is there a minimum that you think of the author in today's day and age would would want to think about in order to make sure that they're promoting their book, you know, the way they need to?
Rick Lite 7:30
How about maybe for your audience, it could be everything, you know, thinking of every opportunity and every other platform that they can use to promote the message, because it's really about the message, right, the book is just a carrier to that message. For a children's book author there, they're probably not going to podcast, they might do some interviews as part of the marketing process. But it does boil down to what their goals are, what their what the reasons are that they put out the book in the first place. But it's there's not a one size fits all it is john genre heavy. But in the business community, there's definitely more of a focus on you know, social media, building that up having alternate platforms like a podcast or, and whether they have their own or whether they're just appearing on a bunch of different podcasts, they see the value of using video of using blogging, of having a social presence out there, all encompassing for their their goal of marketing the book or marketing their message.
John Ryan 8:45
So it seems like obviously, this goes back to the day you said a moment ago is working backwards. Who is your target audience? How do they like to consume information? Where are they? Not a lot of you know, six year olds and seven year olds aren't listening to podcasts these days, maybe there's some out there. So that wouldn't make sense for you know, the the stress free kids books that you and Lori had produced, you know, years ago, but for a business platform. Sure. podcasts are key relationships, even novels like the novelization series that are happening on podcast two, which is pretty exciting. So with that, where do people typically get stuck? Because you know, it seems that the glamorized idea that of sitting down and getting out the typewriter in today's modern world of course, it's going to be the keyboard, and although I did see now that they have a typewriter, you can put your iPad into if you want that clackety clack kind of experience that seems there's something like magical and like nostalgic about that. Where do people get stuck? Is it the writing is it the marketing and and how do you typically help people through that process?
Rick Lite 9:50
I think people get stuck when they're not properly planning stuff out. You know, the ideally you know what steps We're involved. And I'm not sure that the industry does a great job of this. I think they leave it up to the individual author to do the research on what this is what's involved in the industry and how it plays out. So people might get stuck when they produce the book. And they knew that they should be doing marketing, but they're not sure how to market a book, they feel it's different than marketing an app or, you know, a company. There's different, there's different points, but nothing should really stand in the way of that if you're, if you're if you're planning that out. I think that a lot of the authors that I'll that I work with are independent authors, indie authors, so they tend to not do a great job of educating themselves and they take incremental steps, they are focused solely on getting the book out. And then they're solely focused on marketing. And then they're looking at expanded distribution. And it's, it's challenging, in some respects, so having someone to guide them to mentor them, which is part of what I do with a lot of the independent authors. And trying to educate them trying to put out articles and blogs that are educational and purpose, so they could see what the timeline should be. But it's really just a matter of reaching out to everybody to get them there. But then some people aren't good writers, you know, they have a great message, but they might not be able to visualize how the book turns out. So they might need to hire a developmental editor who can help them put the story together. So yeah, it happens, it happens at different times in the process. I don't know if it's really necessary to happen. I'm not really convinced that that some people need to run into those pitfalls, but you know, it does.
John Ryan 12:06
Sure. So, in that process, you said, it sounds like there's a tendency to focus on just the task at hand, is that beneficial to those people do the best when they stay focused on one thing at a time? Or should they be thinking down the line about creating content for the next phase of the publishing process?
Rick Lite 12:24
Here's the ideal scenario, somebody begins writing their book, they have their target audience in mind, they know what the books about, they know who they're trying to reach. They know how it's formulated, they've researched how they're going to go about the writing process, what the timeline is how long it will take, simultaneously, they begin working on the marketing, assuming they don't have a presence on social media or any other way of getting that message out. They start to work on that while they're writing the book. so that by the time the book is completed, and goes out, hopefully to beta readers and is published six months, or Yes, published six months in advance, so they have a marketing window to get to that point. Those are the people that tend to do the best. And of course, it has to have something someone has to be passionate about what their messages and, and definitely focused in on a commitment to get it out. But there are people that I've talked to, I get referred by Ingram Spark, which is a division of Ingram book distributors, the largest book distributor in the world. And a lot of first time authors come through their website, I'm listed as a book marketing expert with other with other services. But I get a lot of people that will come out and say, I'm done with my book. Now, what do I do? They might not be technical. So they might not gravitate towards social media naturally. So there's a lot of mixed mixed things that happen in that process.
John Ryan 14:16
So it sounds like there's Yeah, like you said, there's a lot of things going on, they have to begin with the end in mind who the people you're trying to serve, I have to have that creative spark that passion to go through the project, because there's a lot of work involved in getting it done. It helps to have some guidance along the way, and be working on these processes, both the creation and the marketing the business side simultaneously. So when you're looking at prospective authors to work with, what are some of the characteristics that you consider when taking on a new client?
Rick Lite 14:47
Really, how do they have a plan? how committed are they? how passionate are they? Have they put their goals to paper? Have they thought through that process? Where are they in that process? Some of the other things we'll look for are, get a sample of the writing. I want to make sure that we're passionate about representing somebody that's a good writer, and they have these other traits in mind. And also get a sense of what they're what they're planning to do with their book, are they? If they're not, if they're a good writer, or if they're not using somebody to help them write the book, were they planning on having it professionally edited? Were they looking to have a professional cover created and interior design? So a commitment to putting out the best work that they can? Are prerequisites with for working with us? I'll help other people. Right, I'll help other people. If somebody contacts us, I want to give them as much help as I can. I mean, one of the reasons why we started this was so many authors that that saw Lori's success with her books, approached her and asked her for help. How would you do it? or What did you do to get into this company or this bookstore? And what I realized over a period of time is that a lot of people were getting bombarded with information. That wasn't always correct. And, of course, there's bad actors in every business, but you'd have the occasional nightmare scenario happening. And I just felt an obligation to an industry that, fortunately, we've had success with, to kind of give back in that way. I can't work with, you know, too many people because I have to be selfish with my time for my clients. But I want to help everybody, even if it's a piece of advice, or some coaching or something that would help them along their way.
John Ryan 16:55
What are some of the the elements or components that that really prospective authors, people are thinking about getting their message out there in the different formats we've talked about? How do they make the distinction between going in a more traditional publishing route versus, you know, getting help from someone like yourself, and and publishing it independently?
Rick Lite 17:15
I don't know if it's their decision. It's very difficult, very challenging to get into a traditional publisher, especially a big, you know, the one of the top publishers, you need to have an agent who believes in your writing, and is able to then market your book or shop your book or speak to their clients about that. So a lot of times that decisions made for you. And then the decision, and there's also a time factor, it takes a while to do that. Plus, even if you're published with a traditional publisher, you end up having to do a good deal of the marketing yourself. They don't do it all for you. But then your choice becomes a being an independent author, or going with a hybrid publisher. And the hybrids are a little bit of a blend, there's a variety of deals out there. So time wouldn't permit us to talk about all of those, but it's kind of a, you know, a cross between the traditional and indie author. But if you're if you believe in what you're what you're writing about, and you believe in your message and your audience, and independent publishing is not that hard, you just need to make sure that you put out the best work you can, and that you have a way to market that to your target audience. So it's it to me is pretty straightforward. We help a lot of people, even with the publishing side, I call a guided self publishing. Because I'm really bringing them along, I have done interior designers, cover designers, editors, and people that I can touch. These are people that I've worked with for a long time. And I can bring somebody from a manuscript all the way through to the publishing part, they own everything copyright, they get 100% of the revenues, it's in their name, I'm just helping them get there. But why not do that, when when you when you're putting that work and the energy and effort into creating something. There's, there's definitely something to be said for being traditionally published. But most people will, will have to go the indie route, because the big publishers aren't interested in everybody. And you have to have some credibility there.
John Ryan 19:33
I love that starting point, you said it might not be your choice. There's a lot of hurdles that you have to get through and go over to even get that opportunity. And and then once that's said and done, they're not necessarily going to put a million dollars behind your work until it's proven out in the natural chain of events that happen there. So you're still gonna be out there hustling, hustling out there marketing and doing podcasts and writing blogs and all the things we talked about. before. And and I don't know about what it looks like from a traditional publishing perspective, but the, the royalties are usually pretty from I understand like pretty slim compared to going the independent route. So if it's a financial outcome, then it sounds like independent might be probably a preferable way if they have a choice at all. Right, from a financial perspective on that sense, yeah.
Rick Lite 20:23
Most people don't have the choice. And those that do, there's something really special about being published traditionally, I think if an author had an opportunity to do it, they should absolutely go for it, because it does bring some prestige and stature to their writing, especially if they're a career writer. But an interesting story of that, and a ray of hope for authors that are looking to be traditionally published is low, Lori was approached by Scholastic Book company, to write a children's book, because she had a line of books that were independently and traditionally published. But also because she had a very large social presence. They they specifically said in that initial call, we liked your books, we loved your your message on your platforms, very active, very organic, very robust in terms of reaching out to other people. So you know, there's different ways to get eyeballs on your work, they actually saw her work, and said, oh, let's let's get some of her books to see what, what they're about. But they had their own series in mind. And, and they approached her for that, and that's, again, an accolade that, that she has for her career. So there is hope and, and if anybody's looking to be traditionally published, you could certainly go after a publisher or an agent directly. And don't give up, go after your dream. But also know that that doesn't have to be the only time that you do that.
John Ryan 22:13
I remember, Lori and I connected around a decade ago, and she's been active on social media ever since. And she's really, really amazing. And your point about her say, I like your books, but we love how you show up on these platforms and your service mindset and your connectivity. And the way you generate positivity out there. That's the same thing your book can do. That's the same thing that your book can do is it because it's leveraging it's out there marketing your message, as a business owner, as a leader, just your story, however you whatever you publish, 24 seven, which really helps you differentiate yourself and for other opportunities, and you never know, so you're building your platform, Grant Cardone says our greatest enemy is anonymity. And so social presence, putting out content like that is amazing. When you're working with someone, and they submit, I don't know how they submit to you, if they do like a query letter, or if they just send you a manuscript or just the book idea. Maybe it comes in all different forms, how quickly can you tell if it's a project that you're going to get excited about?
Rick Lite 23:16
fairly quick, but I do give it a time to I want to talk to the author, I want to check what their, what their passion is, what their goals are behind that. But it's, it's something that it's there's a lot of clients that I work with, who maybe I don't connect passionately with the message, or maybe it's a business book that's in a topic that I'm I haven't experienced. So it's a learning process for us. But there are those authors that come through where within two pages I'm in, and I'm hoping that they're in also. So it's it's a fairly quick process, but I want to be fair, and give anybody that contacts our company, an opportunity to, you know, to really make the case for representation. And, again, if it's somebody that I maybe just I like the work, but we just can't get behind it for some for whatever reason, I want to help them get behind it. So I will try to do whatever I can to to get them pointed in the right direction.
John Ryan 24:34
You know, obviously, books are sort of a one sided conversation and on this podcast, we feel that conversations are a key to many things in life. Can you share with us, you know, what's a conversation that maybe you've had personally professionally that's had a big impact on you and your life?
Rick Lite 24:53
Well, I think one of the one of the one story that comes to mind in for this industries when we first started out, we knowing how hard book marketing is, I wanted to make sure that we were doing a good job. So I was once we engage the author and started working, I was heads down, and the team would be involved in, in focusing on reviews and promotional opportunities. The one thing I forgot to do was communicate often with the author. And this one particular author, after maybe three weeks, maybe it was a month that I hadn't talked to her, she knew we were working on things, because there was some email communication back and forth requesting this because of that. But I wasn't speaking to her. And she rightfully or wrongfully, you know, gave us a nice wake up call. And since that time, I implemented a policy for communication, where, when I start working with an author, I'm communicating with them every week, same time, for at least the first month or two, depending on what the the project is, and the needs, giving them updates on what we've been involved in getting updates from them on what they've been doing, using that time, to educate, to strategize to collaborate on different strategies that we're working on. But it is that communication, that is super important. And sometimes people don't communicate, they don't want to communicate extensively over email. So you, you're not going to get the gist of what's going on. But it's also important just to hear the voice and to and to gauge their, you know, their, their, their temperature, because we all know how texts and tweets and posts sometimes don't relay the exact message. So there's nothing that really can replace verbal communication or jumping on an audio call or video call than that. So that was a that was a big wake up call that that, really, and I told her I said, you're you're absolutely right. I mean, we are doing all these things for you. Here they are. But how would you know that if I'm not talking to you?
John Ryan 27:23
So those resolve with that client?
Rick Lite 27:25
They did she actually stopped working with us. I refunded part of her money. Because I I couldn't, you know, I couldn't deny what she was saying. And I just took it as I licked my wounds and took it as a great learning lesson. So, and I and I have felt bad and and had reached out to her after. But I did not get a response. Yeah, it did. Didn't make us feel good. But their life is filled with lessons all around it. It makes us who we are. And if you learn from them, you know, then my other clients have benefited from that, that experience. So
John Ryan 28:10
what a powerful story. Thank you so much for sharing that on the frequency and just staying in touch. And I love that you have that structure now and learn I think it's a great idea. Thanks so much for for sharing that wisdom. You're sure. Rick, what's the best way to get in touch with stress free book marketing you and to stay in touch with you and Lori and all the good things you're doing in your world?
Rick Lite 28:29
Yeah, the website: www.stressfreebookmarketing.com is is the best way if people want to email me directly. It's Rick@stressfreebookmarketing.com. We're on the internet for you know in searching they can come through the Ingram spark website. Ingram being one of the players for print on demand as well. So yeah, there's a lot of different ways they can reach us. But we we'd love to, to help anybody we can.
John Ryan 29:02
Excellent. I'll put the social media in the website in the show notes as well. And again, Rick, thanks so much for being here.
Rick Lite 29:07
Appreciate it. Yeah, my pleasure. Thanks for having me.
John Ryan 29:10
And thank you all for listening and watching until next time, develop yourself, empower others and lead by example. Thanks for listening to key conversations for leaders with your host john Ryan. If you enjoyed the show, please let us know. Give us a rating or write a review. And if you'd like to connect with me and other like minded leaders, I invite you to join our Facebook group called Develop, Empower and Lead where I deliver free live training every week. If you go to www.developempowerlead.com It will redirect you right there. Hope to see you there soon.