book, people, email, writing, write, authority, read, thought, published, alastair, outline, marketing, business, niche, failures, learn, author, recipients, incubation, talk
Alastair McDermott, Voiceover, Anne Janzer
Anne Janzer 00:00
My challenge to myself with a subscription marketing book, I didn’t know what the book was gonna be like. But I said, I’m going to write 1000 words a day, until I have some idea if there’s a book just free write. Not, no structure, no format, just that, oh, here’s this idea about marketing. Here’s this idea pulling it out. And I did that when I hit about 12,000 words, I’m like, I see the book, I see the outline, I see my framework, it all is there, but it wasn’t there. And still, I challenged myself to start digging for it.
Welcome to The Recognized Authority, a podcast that helps specialized consultants and domain experts on your journey to become known as an authority in your field. So you can increase your reach, have more impact and work with great clients. Here’s your host, Alastair McDermott.
Alastair McDermott 00:44
Okay, so today, my guest is Anne Janzer. Anne is an award winning author. She’s a nonfiction writing coach. She’s a marketing practitioner on a mission to help people make a positive impact with their writing. And she supports and encourages writers, authors and marketers through her books, blog posts, webinars, and coaching. And she’s recently published her sixth book, which is the first topic I want to ask you about, Anne, is about failure, because this is something I talk to people a lot about on this podcast. I asked people to share their failures and that’s what you’re doing with this book. Is that right?
Anne Janzer 01:16
That’s right, it’s it was grounded by the title of the book as part of a series that all begins with “33 Ways Not to Screw Up” and then the subject area. So I chose business emails, which we can talk about. But what I really enjoy is the not to screw up part because it invites, sharing our failures, it invites sharing, how we screwed up, and what we learn from it. Everybody likes to get on podcasts, or go on medium and talk about their successes, you know, I did this thing isn’t this fantastic. And yet, it’s so, so generous to share our failures. Because how do we learn, we learn, we learn by trial and error, right? And as we get older, those errors get more painful. It’s like gonna learn to snowboard at age 60, it’s gonna be a lot more painful than if you learn to snowboard at age 15, something like that. So those errors get more painful. And we get more hesitant about trying things. So what we can do is we can read and learn from other people we can we can hear other people’s failure stories. And you know, when you listen to a story, you actually become aligned with the protagonist of the story, you take their perspective for a moment. So I think it’s totally legit, that we can in fact, learn from other people’s failures, which makes sharing our failures, a really, really generous thing to do. If we if we share them in the right mindset in the spirit of here’s what I learned. So you don’t have to share this pain not, you know, this is scary. Don’t ever do it. That’s, that’s the opposite kindness. That’s not the message we want to be sending. That’s the less generous one. The more generous is how do you learn from it.
Alastair McDermott 02:54
Yeah, absolutely. And that’s why I like to ask my failures on the show. And I asked, I’d say, depending on the time, I’d say probably about 40 or 50% of the guests and, and everybody like the usual response I get is, Oh, geez, I don’t know which one to tell you about, because I’ve got so many. And I think it’s important for people who are maybe in early stages in their career, to know that, you know, people who who have made it who are very successful, that’s usually because they’re very experienced, and very experienced, it’s just another way of saying they’ve made lots of mistakes already. And, you know, but yeah, it is cheaper, and it is nicer to learn from other people’s failures. That’ll be yourself. But I do think that you do have to actually encounter a certain amount of failures yourself. You know, I think, I think that you have to go through some of those experiences yourself.
Anne Janzer 03:44
Yeah. But you can you can reduce the scale and the scope of them, perhaps, and not do the ones that aren’t necessary. I mean, there’s always going to be if you’re, if you’re learning, you’re always pushing against the boundaries, and you’ll always have these failures. You know, do you think of it as a failure? I mean, here, this gets to a mindset thing, do you think of it as a failure? Do you think of it as a lesson? It’s like, okay, tried that, that didn’t work. If you’re curious, curiosity can bring you through those failures, right? It’s like, what, what do I learn from that? What? What lesson can I do to protect myself from that in the future? What does that tell me that I didn’t understand when I made that mistake? So,
Alastair McDermott 04:24
Yeah, and I think re, reframing is as the as that lesson is good. And now I do like to refer to it directly as failure because I think and it does depend on your culture. But I think here in Ireland, there is definitely a kind of like a cultural bias against people who have had failures in their past and that people don’t want to talk about. I think it’s a bit more accepted in the US in particular. And so I do think, you know, I’m thinking, it depends on where you are, you know, what the kind of the cultural viewpoint is on that but the other thing is, I know that a lot of people like to talk about their failures once they are a success. And it’s okay to talk about your failure once you’ve made it, but not so while while you are still considered to be a failure, which is probably a really unfair label and probably shouldn’t use it in that way. But yeah, I do think it is something to talk about. Let’s talk about some of the specifics, actually. Because you’re, you’re talking about business emails here. I’m interested. I have just bought the book on Kindle today, but I didn’t actually look through it. So can you give us a few examples of how people have screwed up with business email and, and what what you can learn from that?
Anne Janzer 05:32
Well, you know, at least one story in there, Alastair. I’m not going to ask you which one it was. But yes, so when I was started researching this book, you know, so the “33 Ways Not to Screw Up” told me I had to research by reaching out and asking people for “tell me your email screw ups”, “tell me the things that went wrong”. And wow, you know, yeah, that’s a really great stories, I can’t include some of them just to protect the recipients. And the rejection way more than would fit in a small and a short book, which this is trying. It’s an under 20,000 word. It’s a short, short book. But I heard everything from you know, oh, I copied and pasted from one mail to the other and left the wrong name in there. You know, I’ve shared plenty of my own. One of my my favorite ones, you know, how email can sort of autocomplete the email address for you when you’re typing it in? Because we don’t really remember anyone’s email addresses. We just start typing their name and the mailers like, yeah, it’s this person, right? You know, it gives you a menu and you’re like, yeah. I you know, so my first name is Anne, I was sending something to a client named Anne, and I picked the wrong and from my, my thing, and I said something to the wrong Anne like a business proposals of thing. And she replied, she’s like, Yeah, I don’t think this is me. And I thought that was so funny, because it was my own dang name that I, that I, I, you know, whatever. So, but I also heard, you know, many more cringe worthy things, somebody, you know, had gotten an email from someone on their team that really upset them, this person was driving them crazy. So they sent off a rant to the manager is like, Oh, this person, you know, I can’t believe they’re disappointed, except they hit reply instead of forward. And it went to the person they were complaining about, you know, so I know,
Alastair McDermott 07:24
I’ve heard that one before as well. I think it’s because that person is so much on in your mind that you that you may accidentally send it to them.
Anne Janzer 07:32
Yes, yeah. Yeah.
Alastair McDermott 07:34
I think that you may experience this with a name beginning with A as well, I get a lot of like pocket dials and butt dials or whatever you call them. And I also get sometimes, you know, the wrong email. There’s, there’s a company out there with with a domain similar to a domain that I use for, for my personal blog. And for some reason, everybody spells the domain wrong. So I end up getting all these business inquiries to my personal blog email address. So I told him about it, and I, you know, I eventually just send them to spam and with them, you know, somebody else’s problem. So,
Anne Janzer 08:07
Alastair McDermott 08:08
Yeah. So is there anything in there that would be useful for some of our listeners to know about, like, we’ve got a listenership of independent consultants, experts speak like that. Which of those mistakes would would be important for them to actually look out for, you know, apart from, you know, getting people’s name wrong, and things like that?
Anne Janzer 08:26
Right. I mean, you know, you all know about that, you know, not replying all, checking the recipients, all of those kinds of things. One of the favorite, there’s a couple that would be appropriate to your audience. One of my favorite techniques, and I do this with most of the emails that I write, I’ll draft the email that I want to send someone, and then I’ll go back. And first of all, I want the first paragraph to really give someone or the first sentence or two paragraphs, probably the wrong word to use the first sentence or two, to really communicate what the emails about, I don’t want to piddle around too much. You know, unless I’m, you know, maybe it’s his former formal cultures, I might put a pleasantry in there before I dive in. But I will try to rewrite that first sentence or two, to be from I to you, because everything we write tends to be in our own head, like I want you to know, or, you know, I’m doing this and I saw this thing and thought send it to you, right? That’s a common kind of opening. So it’s all about me, the sender, and yet, you know, we are more likely to pay attention to things that are about us, the recipient when we’re reading, so just reframe it, whatever it is you’re writing, reframe it. It’s like, you might be really interested in knowing this thing that I just learned. Or, you know, you are invited to this meeting next Thursday. Can you attend? You know, rather than I’m having a meeting next Thursday, right? You see the difference is is such a little thing, but the way you know, if you can make people more likely to read and absorb your emails, would you do it? Yeah, I think yeah. When you’re emailing clients and you’re emailing prospects, yes. So this is a really simple little practice to put in place, just change from go to the first sentence or two and change it from I to you. And see, you know, we have to rework it a little bit, but it really makes a big difference in the impact the email makes when it lands with the reader.
Alastair McDermott 10:20
Oh, yeah, yeah, absolutely. There’s a couple of things that I try and do with my emails, I try and get directly to the point in the first. In the first sentence, I use one sentence paragraphs, so I don’t make big blocks of text, and I tend to try and put in bullet points or numbered lists as much as possible when I can. Just to try and break up that wall of text effects. Yes, try and make it scan readable. And those are some things that personally that I tried to do with those types of emails to make it easy for people to process them. Because I think people are like this scan, reading them on their phone, like, people are sometimes stopped at traffic lights, reading your email.
Anne Janzer 10:58
Yeah, yeah, you got it, you know, and I talk about, if you’re not sure how your email is going to land, give it the coffee test, right? Which is to, to send it to yourself, and then waiting to your line at a coffee shop, or go make yourself a cup of tea while you’re glancing at it and see how it lands, right. So you want to make it scannable. You know, don’t be afraid to if you have to communicate some fairly substantive stuff, don’t be afraid to, use a little subhead. Meeting details in bold, boom, you know, what I need from you in bold, but, uh, you know, it takes us an extra moment of your time, but it can, it really makes a difference to the recipient, I know that when I receive emails that someone has clearly spent that little bit of time organizing and structuring for me, I feel a sense of gratitude. It’s like, Oh, thank you, you know, you just took a little work off of my plate, a little cognitive work off of my plate with this email. And I really appreciate that. So again, this is a way to elevate your brand with whoever you’re talking with
Alastair McDermott 11:57
This with websites and copywriting. But you know, with email as well, it’s reducing the cognitive load. So making it easier for people to process it. So yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Okay, so I want to talk to you about the other topic, which is how to write a successful book. But I just want to make sure that we’re that we, that we covered everything important. Is there anything else you want to mention about the How to screw up business emails that that people should watch out for?
Anne Janzer 12:23
Oh, gosh, you know, there’s just a lot of things. But I think, you know, here’s one other tip that’s from the book that I thought was really useful that some readers contributed, which is that they there’s these two writers, they work together, they’re consultants. And they, they do diplomacy checks for each other. So when one of them has to write an email about a difficult situation, or a sticky situation with a client or something like that, she writes it and she mails it to her partner, who emails it and says, Oh, you know, this sounds a little this sounds a little testy. Because we are terrible at you know, you’re not as good. You may not, you may be great at writing emails, but you’re probably not as good at writing them as you think. And you’re probably not as good at reading them as you think we tend to misinterpret tone all the time. So, you know, consider getting a buddy to do this sort of diplomacy check with you on emails there says, Can you read this? Isn’t that a fantastic practice? You know, so that’s something you could implement?
Alastair McDermott 13:16
Yeah, I consider emails, I consider it like a line drawing. And so you write your email, and it’s missing the color. And the color gets filled in by the recipients in the mindset that they’re in. So if they are in a mindset where something negative is just happened to them, and then they get your email, and something is in it, that could be interpreted in a positive way or in a negative way, they’re probably going to interpret that in the negative way just because of their environment. And so if you can, at all avoid that by, you know, making your email less ambiguous. I think that’s a good idea. So I really like that that buddy check. That’s cool.
Anne Janzer 13:52
Yeah, another little tip. Again, if you’re in a situation where you’re giving feedback to someone or something that you know, you’re you’re getting into that area where somebody could take it very personally. One practice I learned was using something like loom to create a little video that you can make just if you’re talking head or your voice, so they can they can actually see your body language. Hey, I read this and I just think you want to make these couple changes to it before it goes. Someone’s going to read that they’ll see that I’m being supportive and encouraging as opposed to super critical, right? So sometimes email alone is not the right answer. Sometimes the best way to send an email is either not send the email and do something else or to include something else.
Alastair McDermott 14:30
Yeah, absolutely. I love the loom idea. I’m just checking to see can I can I tell from my loom account because I just sent an email with a loom video today and basically the just the short videos and you can do a screen a screencast with with a picture of you in the corner, or you can do full face, you know, where you’re talking to camera, but I think I’ve got about three or 400 videos in there. So
Anne Janzer 14:54
Oh, fantastic. So you know that you’ve got
Alastair McDermott 14:56
A lovely. Yeah, for for those kind of those kind of things. Just those quick messages, I think it’s really handy. So I wouldn’t you know, it’s too much hassle to go recording a video and putting it up on YouTube. But when you can just click on loom and he can just record it very quickly. It does me crazy. So yeah. And so I think if you do that the important thing is to give enough context in the email, but they don’t necessarily have to watch the video straightaway. Because some people will be on their phone, they don’t want to click on that, you know, they’re in a quiet environment, they don’t listen to audio, whatever. So,
Anne Janzer 15:28
Alastair McDermott 15:28
You know, just just bear that in mind as well. But, but loom is a is a super tool. Actually. I use it all the time.
Anne Janzer 15:34
Alastair McDermott 15:35
Okay. So let me ask you about the other topic, then. Because you know, you’ve written six business books now. And I’m really interested in because I’m interested in the whole topic of writing books and authority. And the word author is right there in the word authority, which is very interesting. And so let’s talk about writing successful books. So can you just give me a bit of background on on why you started writing these books? And was it deliberately to position yourself as an authority or what was this?
Anne Janzer 16:04
It wasn’t actually my very first book was about marketing, subscription marketing. And it was about the how, how I saw that the practices of marketing had to change as the business model was shifting to a subscription model, it wasn’t enough to keep marketing glaoui voice done, because now we have to earn trust and continue to nurture value after the sale. So I wrote it because there was this message, I really wanted to get out. This was in 2015. I thought, nobody’s doing this, I gotta hurry and get it out. Because clearly, this is such a huge, I mean, how can it’s like a freight train coming at us? How can people not be seeing this? Turns out, I was probably a few years ahead of the curve on that, which was fine, because I did a second edition. And then I did a third edition. So I did that, because there was an idea I wanted to share. And that and by doing that, though, interestingly, I did not, you know, I did not feel like an authority in the field, I felt like a curious observer. So I did a bunch of research. I did the first book. And then people started inviting me to conferences, I started talking, I just kept learning more. And I did the second edition, because I learned so much more from being out there talking about it. So there’s this interesting dance with authority is not something that we necessarily have to wait for, authority is something we earn. Expertise is something we build authority is something we earn authority is granted to us by other people. And sometimes we earn authority by being really fantastic about researching and explaining things. That’s why, you know, I feel like Dan Pink is an authority on a lot of stuff. He’s not out there doing the research himself, but he has internalized, synthesised and communicates it to us, things like that.
Alastair McDermott 17:48
Anne Janzer 17:48
So it’s, it’s interesting. People get hung up on, you know, I can’t write a book yet, you know, I’m not an expert, like, you will be once you write the book.
Alastair McDermott 17:59
Yes, absolutely. Absolutely.
Anne Janzer 18:01
I tell you.
Alastair McDermott 18:03
So there’s, there’s a few things there. I love the curious observer phrase, that’s, that’s really nice. And I agree, you know, you cannot sell for dane, as an authority, it has to be bestowed by others. And, and I think that you have to be this is one of my views on authority, I think that you have to be an authority in a specific area, I don’t don’t think that you can be a generalist authority, so that you have to have a field, and, you know, The Recognized Authority in their field. And the other thing about that is like, there are certain people who are authorities in multiple fields, and that’s okay, but there’s still specialist areas, you know, people like maybe like Dan Pink, and people like that. But I think when you dig into it, you’ll actually find that they’re, they’re authorities in still quite specialized areas. You know, um,
Anne Janzer 18:50
Yeah, you need to, yeah.
Alastair McDermott 18:52
Yeah. Like you, for example. You’re an authority in writing. And you were an authority in book publishing, in business book publishing, and also in subscriptions, and subscription marketing. And those are two different areas, but that, you know, people would would see you, I think, as an authority, both of those areas, you know, and so,
Anne Janzer 19:09
Yeah, so choose your book topic wisely. Because you’re going to be, you know, carrying it around with you. That’s the second sir. You know, I, I wrote subscription marketing. And had I decided that that was the life I wanted to be was a marketing consultant on this topic. I could have done it. Because I was the first one to write the book in the area, and people were coming to me, it’s like, come talk at our conference in Brazil and like, Yeah, I don’t want to, you know, I realized, Oh, I should be careful what I write a book about, I need to really want to talk about it. Which is interesting.
Alastair McDermott 19:44
That’s really interesting and one of the exercises when I’m talking to people about specialization, and niching down or niching down, one thing that that you know, people find that very difficult to do. One thing I say is, try to imagine you know, it’s five years time and you’ve written the best selling business book, what’s the title and subtitle of that book? And, you know, what would that be? And I think this is a really useful one, because it forces people to kind of go through, okay, well, all they want to talk about, or they want to be invited to conferences to speak about, and things like that. So, so yeah,
Anne Janzer 20:16
That’s a nice, that’s a nice way to do it. I like that. I like that strategy. People really resist the niche, and I don’t blame them because, you know, a nice, it’s like a little look on a wall, you put a vase, and no one wants to be there, right? I mean, put me in a niche, what are you nuts. So I like to reframe it and say, You know, I think in the book, get the word out, I use the metaphor of ponds. So you pick a pond, which is a group of people you want to talk to, but but ponds can be interconnected, and they can connect up with rivers and Great Lakes, and then make it to the ocean, you know, so there’s all these different interconnected ways. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to stay small to choose a niche topic. Or if you’re looking at a niche audience, if you’re looking at a specific sector of the audience, instead of excluding everyone think about putting out the welcome mat for a really specific group of people, and other people will come to, but the welcome mat is out for those folks to really come. So lots of ways to get because the metaphor of the niche is problematic. It just doesn’t sound pleasant.
Alastair McDermott 21:21
It doesn’t, although I think it does sound better than niche, personally, I’d rather be in a niche than a niche. I don’t know what that says. So you were way ahead of the curve, because you know, there’s all these books, you know, the automatic customer and things like that that came along after. And you were way ahead. I think I remember, just because of the green cover. I think I remember seeing your book, right when it came out. I had just finished I had just given up on a on a training, training startup, we had this website, we were trying to get subscription customers. And we we tried in 2010, 2011. And it kind of limped along and we eventually put it to bed by 2014, 2015. I think maybe I think we could have done with something like your book at that point. But yeah, you were way ahead of the curve at that point. So was that the first book that you wrote in the business field?
Anne Janzer 22:17
That was my first book, that was my first book I’d written. They might happen. It’s like, I got I went met,
Alastair McDermott 22:24
She started writing about writing.
Anne Janzer 22:27
Alastair McDermott 22:28
Anne Janzer 22:30
And that really made me raise my game.
Alastair McDermott 22:32
Can you tell me about the thought process behind that? Because you now have this skill set where you’ve, you know, you’ve developed this skill set of writing, and you understand publishing and things like that. So what what made you want to, because at this point, you knew that you were going to get invited to conferences to talk about the topic. So you deliberately chose it, right?
Anne Janzer 22:51
I deliberately chose I, you know, I have been, although I’ve been a marketer, my whole career, I’d also been a writer, my whole career, and I was really curious. The first book I wrote about writing was called the writer’s process. And it’s about the inner game of writing, because I had, throughout all the years of working for clients develop this whole set of ways of being super productive with my writing. And I kind of thought they were weird until I really started doing some research and said, No, actually, I’m just using the cognitive science. I mean, this is brilliant. I’m using incubation I’m doing you know, it’s like, I understood it all. And I wanted to do that research and share it with people. So as I keep writing books, again, I guess, to go back to that curious observer, I learned from each one I write and it makes me raise my game a bit. So the books, you know, I like I’d like to say that you writing a book doesn’t mean being an expert, and makes you more expert in something. I think I said it better than that one of my books, but anyhow.
Alastair McDermott 23:48
I saw somebody, I don’t write because I have ideas. I have ideas because I write, I think,
Anne Janzer 23:54
Alastair McDermott 23:55
That’s it. I’m trying to remember if that’s Seth Godin, or it could be, you know, but I think that encapsulates it for me is the process of writing and having to logically think through the topic and having to structure your thoughts in in a logical way for people to process. I think it just forces you to to go deeper. It’s like, you know, if you want to learn something deeply, teach it to somebody. And that’s really what you’re doing writing, right?
Anne Janzer 24:21
Absolutely. I mean, if you think about how much time in your life do you have for deep thought, you know, you sit down, it’s like, oh, I’m gonna go to this other thing. Writing is like a physical manifestation of deep thought, right? It’s a chance to really to dive down and think deeply, it gives you something that you’re engaged with while you’re thinking. Someone else wrote I write to figure out to discover what I think I write to Discover what I think. I forget whose quote that is, but it’s, it’s it certainly holds true for me. So if you are thinking about doing a book, and so here’s the important corollary for your listeners. If you’re thinking about doing a book, but you say, but I’m not sure precisely, you know, I’ve got Alastair’s advice but I’m not sure precisely wanting to say about the topic, my advice is start writing, do some flash writing, do some free writing, just start writing to discover what you know, and what you want to know about your topic. Don’t wait for that book proposal idea to alight from the heavens, because that doesn’t happen as often as we would like. But once you dive in and start doing it, my challenged myself with a subscription marketing book, I didn’t know what the book was going to be like. But I said, I’m going to write 1000 words a day, until I have some idea if there’s a book, just free write. Not no structure, no format, just that, oh, here’s this idea about marketing. Here’s this idea of pulling it out. And I did that when I hit about 12,000 words, I’m like, I see the book, I see the outline. I see my framework, it all is there. But it wasn’t there. And still, I challenged myself to start digging for it. So that’s my challenge. Anyone who’s like on the fence about writing a book, give yourself a challenge, like that.
Alastair McDermott 25:57
I love and just start just start writing. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I am. I mean, I wholeheartedly wholeheartedly agree with that I made a mistake back in, I think I remember it was 2008. It could have even be late 2007. I was in Zurich, because I had a client in Geneva. And yeah, it was late 2007, we were trying to get a project finished for early 2008, an elearning website. And I was in Zurich airport. And I remember fleshing out the outline of a book. And it was a book about online marketing, I still actually have the outline. And it was so bad. Now when I look at it. Yet, because I hadn’t started trying to write anything I was just outlining. I liked that it was great at the time. And looking back, it would have been just such a terribly generic book that would have been useless to anybody because it was so generic. It was useful, I guess the outlining, because it helped me take on the form, you know, make linkages between different sections and things like that in my own thinking. But it would have been a really terrible, terrible book. So I think yeah, if I, if I had just started writing, I probably would have made a lot more progress there.
Anne Janzer 26:01
Alastair McDermott 27:06
Okay, so so let me let me ask you about some actionable, apart from just start writing. Can you talk about some of those other things, I think you mentioned was an incubation and some things like that. Can you can you give some, if anybody is out there listening to this, and they’re thinking about writing that book, and they’re looking for some, some help, because you know, they’ve got the, well, what some people call writer’s block, I don’t know if it’s really exists as writer’s block. Procrastination, I think it’s more likely.
Anne Janzer 27:33
I think writer’s block is a misunderstanding of the writing process, right? We think of writing is that moment that you’re either putting pen to paper or you’re typing, right? But it’s really, it’s really, more it’s, it’s, I like to call it, you know, I do the inner research, which is the thinking about things or free writing, and then it’s pulling back and is looking at, does this work? What’s the message? Who am I writing for? And how would they then structure this? And then it’s drafting. And then it’s going back and saying, does this work? How should I structure this and fixing it, you know, so it’s, it’s, I like to think it’s more like baking bread, you know, you can’t just throw all the ingredients together, stick in the oven and walk away, like it’s not, if it’s a yeast bread, that’s just not gonna, that’s not going to work, right? You have to work with it, let it rest. So the letting it rest is the incubation part of the process. And that what that means is, when I was engaged, as I told you on this 1000 words a day, I knew every day, the next day, I was going to have to write 1000 words. So a little part of my mental processes, when I was not writing was still committed to thinking about and looking for ideas, and I get new out. Amazon does that. That’s interesting, right? So I was, I was still searching. And I was still incubating the ideas of this book. And so incubation is a way to be working behind the scenes when you’re not actually writing and then the next day I would sit down to write, and the first 500 words would flow really easily because of all this stuff. I’ve kind of been cogitating on whether it was consciously or not. So that’s what incubation is, is learning to use the associative and creative parts mental processes that are not so much under your direct scheduled control, but when you feed them fodder and give them a little free rein, they go off and and work for you. And there’s a bunch of psychological research to prove the incubation effect particularly for creativity. It makes us more creative and creative, you know, yes, business books must also be creative. Creativity is always part of the writing process.
Alastair McDermott 29:44
Okay, so, so, so what else then is part of that writing process for business books like like, what does it take to be successful? And when you say writing successful books, like what are you talking about when you say successful Do you mean best selling or you know what, what is it your what’s your metric for success?
Anne Janzer 30:02
My metric? Yeah, be very careful how you define success, my metric for success. Success really depends on the reader, it’s granted again from the readers. So success is having a message that lands with the impact on the people that you want to get it with the impact they want, you want it to have, I talk in my book, get the word out about this idea of servant authorship, which is kind of parallel to servant leadership. When I publish a book, it’s not about me being a best selling author, it’s about are there people that this book is going to help? How can I get it in their hands? How can I get it into as many of the hands of the people who are going to love it and find value from it, and that is not everybody, you know, it, this is niching down again, is finding those people that this is going to resonate with, and I know that my style is not going to resonate with everyone. But I know also, it really resonates with some people. And so those are the folks I’m trying to reach. So a successful business book, to me is one that makes a difference in people’s lives one way or another. And when that’s your metric, this whole authorship thing is tremendously rewarding. And then the side effects of that are usually very good for your career. And speaking, you know, if I’m not chasing those things, but those things happen, because the book is meeting people’s needs. So yeah, be careful what you’re setting your goals on, if it’s all about, you know, being a bestseller and selling, making a lot of money as you write somehow that’s going to come through, but if you’re writing really thinking about that reader and what they need, that’s going to change the whole book, and and also help you make a lot of decisions about the book, like even how should you publish, things like that, all have to do with what the reader needs.
Alastair McDermott 31:50
Yeah. And so I hadn’t thought about that in the context of, of book of the book, actually, I very much think about it in the context of the podcast, I, you know, we’re both here in the service of the the listeners, that’s, that’s why we’re doing this. And if we think about it that way, good things will come it’s, I think it’s enlightened self interest, that you will get positive rewards from doing that. But only if you have this kind of dogmatic, almost religious adherence to, we’re going to do things in the best interest of the listener. And if we continue to do that, it will eventually come into line, you know. So that’s, that’s kind of how I see that see the podcasts. And so what you’re saying is effectively the same thing for, for the book. So yeah, so, okay, well, well, let’s talk about the some more actionable specific stuff, then on making it successful in that way. What What else would you do if you were planning a new book, or if you were advising somebody who’s planning their first business book, and they want to write something that’s going to be useful for their audience? That’s going to be also is also going to be a success for them in some way? What would you write?
Anne Janzer 33:00
Yeah. So one thing that will make the book more successful, and the book writing process more streamlined, is to do what I call priming the pump to start talking about your subject. If you’re consulting, can you consult on it? If you’re blogging, can you blog on it? Can you create, you know, a webinar on it, I did some webinars on chapters of the book, get the word out. And creating the webinar helped me structure things without the weight of it being writing a chapter for the book. And I also got real time feedback from people and they made suggestions. And so then when it came time to write that chapter, bam, so much easier. When you do this, you’re starting to serve and connect with your audience, even before or as you’re writing, you’re also building the platform for the book. So people sometimes get this sense of scarcity around a book, it’s like, someone’s going to steal my idea, I’m not going to tell anybody until it’s out. And that is so counterproductive in so many ways. A book, any, any writer will tell you an idea is just a starting point in the book, you know, so when you’re worried about someone stealing your idea, you know, is two people write the same idea, they’re gonna be really different books if you’re bringing your whole self to writing it. So I think let go of the scarcity, start talking, or consulting or blogging or speaking or teaching different parts of your subject, and the whole book will come together much better, and it will be better because you’ve been priming the pump for the writing.
Alastair McDermott 34:37
Yeah. And that on the scarcity, I was just talking to Philip Morgan, who is a mentor of, my business coach, and he’s helped me through the specialization process. And I was talking to him about, because I’m writing a book called The Recognized Authority, which is going to help people to become an authority in their fields and guide them through that journey because I think it’s a it’s a difficult journey, but one major part of that is Actually niching down and specialists specializing, and I was talking to Philip about this and saying, Look, I’m concerned because he’s written a book about specialization. In fact, he’s written, depending on how you count them, he’s written two or three books about that topic. And so I said to him, Look, you know, I want to make sure that I don’t just like rewrite your book. So I’ve been really careful. And he said, You don’t need to be careful, don’t, don’t even worry about it. If the two of us sat down with the same chapter outlines, and started writing at the same time, we would write two completely different chapters from the same outline. And that’s true. So. So that’s one thing, I’m kind of more reassured after talking to Philip about that, because that was something I had some concerns about, I think, different people, different audiences will be attracted to different voices and different styles. And I know that, for example, Philip and I have very different ways of communicating and, and, you know, that will attract a different audience. And so yeah, so I’m past the scarcity on that. Personally, I think priming the pump is is brilliant, I’m actually doing a training workshop tomorrow with a group. And that will be a chapter of the book. I really looking forward to doing that, because it’s going to lead me through that. So yeah, absolutely with you on that.
Anne Janzer 36:16
Alastair McDermott 36:16
So, so is there anything else that our aspiring authors need to know? You know, you know, just just start writing, give, give some time for incubation, prime the pump by talking to people about this, consulting in the area, letting people know you about the book, is there anything else we need to do?
Anne Janzer 36:22
You know, so many of the authors I interviewed, you know, they didn’t, when we get back to this area, about finding your area of authority, and your niche, right, or your your pond, whatever. So many of the authors that I interviewed for the book, get the word out, they didn’t really know right off the bat, they as they were priming the pump. And as they were talking to people, they were people were saying, but we need this, you know, it’s it’s not a one way conversation. It’s really, if you listen, it’s a two way conversation. And so getting out there and doing the work generously, you may discover what your specific angle and in place is where you really are going to resonate with people. So just yeah, I wish I had felt more free to do this earlier in my career, I said, You know, I just felt like, I couldn’t do this. I wasn’t, you know, imposter syndrome, whatever. I would also say to the, you know, Seth Godin quote, of course, it’s been said before, but not by you and not to us. So I mean, if you were the only woman writing a book on your space, you need to write your book, even if there are other books in the space, you know, I mean, we need all of these voices, all of these perspectives. It’s a generous thing to do. It’s a generous, and it does rebound on you when you serve others, as you so well said, Alastair with your podcast strategy.
Alastair McDermott 38:03
So going back to failure and mistakes, are there any mistakes that you think people make, when when they’re setting out to write these books?
Anne Janzer 38:09
You know, yeah, I think there’s, there’s a lot of them. One is the not starting because of all these scarcity issues. Another thing that I want people to be aware of, I did this big survey of published authors, and I asked them, how closely did their finished book match their outline. And these are a lot of these traditionally published authors. So they had submitted with their proposal, an outline which the publisher had bought, and the number that said that their outline was an exact match to the finished book was 6%.
Alastair McDermott 38:38
Anne Janzer 38:38
6%, right. So another mistake is to just get too wedded to what you thought it was going to be before you write because you discover and learn through writing and you don’t want to if you sold the book, to a publisher, you’ve got to pretty much deliver the kind of the book but you can change the outline, you can say oh no, I’ve discovered this you know, open that conversation they want the best book from you don’t feel straight jacketed into an outline, that is not working. Because nearly every book, I’ve nearly every book I’ve read written, I get halfway through and I realize the outline isn’t quite right. And I have to restructure. So if that happens to you is not a bad thing. In fact, it may be a great sign that the book is going to be better.
Alastair McDermott 39:20
Okay, I’m interested in just asking you about your business model. And I’m interested in you know, kind of the ratio of book sales to consulting income to anything else that you’re doing it like is book sales a major part of your income now or is it miniscule compared to what it drives in consulting sales or how does that break down work?
Anne Janzer 39:43
The book sales you know, I do better on my books than many authors because I’m in the published and they’re selling well so but it’s still you know, I couldn’t live on that alone. So yeah, it’s it’s consulting I, I’ve made had to make this transition because I used to write for other people. Once I started writing for myself, I realized writing for other people emptied my tank. And so I had to stop that writing and find other revenue sources. So I do I do developmental editing and some coaching and things because what the books do was for your consulting business, obviously, is really elevate your authority and give you the ability to do all kinds of other things. They opened a number of doors, to go to speaking, to do do consulting, had I wanted to do that marketing consulting, it was there for me, I just, I just chose not to do it. So it’s usually a book and you know, the book becomes part of something bigger with a business book, especially very few business authors can just retire and live on book royalties.
Alastair McDermott 40:45
Yeah, I’m interested. So you’re independently self-published, is it?
Anne Janzer 40:51
Yeah, for most of my books, my most recent one is a hybrid is part of multi author series, but the others are independently published or, you know, I have my own publishing houses, how I think of it. I mean, I hire a professional designer, you know, cover designer, professional copywriters, proofread all that. And then they’re professionally published in other languages, they’re traditionally published, like in Japanese or Korean. I’m not, I’m not going to crack those nuts. So Russia, you know, it’s like, those are real publishing houses doing the foreign language editions.
Alastair McDermott 41:20
Excellent. Yeah. And I mean, it’s interesting, then, because I think if you were traditionally published, your cut of the of the royalties would be so much smaller, and you probably would be much more limited. Yeah.
Anne Janzer 41:34
Yeah, that the, the trick for consultants for your for your audience, and you want the book, if you want the book, to be part of a larger consulting practice, and you want to maybe put frameworks and trainings and all that around it, there are advantages to being indie published, because you can do more things, whether you’re traditional or indie, you’re pretty much on the hook for book marketing. But, but when you’re indie, your book marketing options are almost limitless. And when you’re traditional, you can only use maybe 10% of the content outside of the book, and you can’t get the free copy. I mean, you know, it’s, there’s a lot more handcuffs on what you can do in law situation. So it’s, it’s a conversation to have those two way off. There’s trade offs. But there are some real benefits for someone who wants it to be part of a larger platform that has other stuff to keep all of those rights yourself. And on the on the publishing.
Alastair McDermott 42:30
Yeah, I think I mean, I’ve, I actually have a publishing contract. And it’s because I was in business with the publisher with a joint venture a few years ago. So we have an established relationship. And I’m lucky in that it’s the biggest business publisher in Ireland, but we still, we still talk back and forth about it. And I mean, my take on it is that the big thing that a publisher, a traditional publisher, will give you is the initial seal of approval, they give you that external validation. And that’s the biggest thing that I see that they bring to the table, because I don’t think that they tend to bring any more marketing or anything else that you can provide yourself as an author. And again, I will have to have this debate with Brian. But, you know, I think it’s tough to argue for traditional publishing. And I certainly don’t think I’ll be interested to see what you think. But I my take on it would be if you can get your first book traditionally published and then the rest of them sel-published or indie publish, I think that might be an ideal scenario. Now this is me speaking of somebody who hasn’t yet hit that hit that mark. But that’s, that’s what I’m what I’m thinking about.
Anne Janzer 43:41
That is can be a fair, I mean, I’ve seen a lot of business publishers who do that they go out and then they’re like, Well, wait, wait, now I’ve got this platform. And I, you know, I’m going to, I’m going to do this myself. You know, there’s, there’s pros and cons and trade offs. But it does give you, like, you said that social proof, it’s like, Look, a publisher chose me. And that’s something that you have to replace, and then you also have to rise to the challenge of doing a book that is at least as good as anything that comes out of the big publishing houses, right? It has to be as professional, professionally edited, well written all of that you have to do a product that is good, so that someone would really have to just be analyzing the copyright page just have never heard of that imprint, you know, that that’s, you know, it should not scream self-published, it should look Yeah, and feel like every other visual.
Alastair McDermott 44:26
I think Seth Godin talks about this somewhere on the podcast, I was listening to. He said, you know, so long as it looks and feels and even smells like a traditionally published book, then that’s how you find, you know, but you don’t want to have those telltale indicators, like the horrible cover design that you see or, you know, typos and grammar errors and all that kind of stuff. Yeah, yeah. And certainly that is something that if you can’t, if you can’t source that yourself as an independent or self-published that I think that you probably should consider, because the traditional publisher will bring that to the table.
Anne Janzer 45:05
Yes, absolutely. You’ll have better product out the door. And and you know, there’s a lot with physical distribution that is tricky and things that they will take care of for you. So,
Alastair McDermott 45:14
Yeah, yeah. Are there any myths or misconceptions that you want to debunk about by writing or publishing or any of this?
Anne Janzer 45:23
You know, that the biggest misconception, again, I did this huge author survey, and I asked people what their biggest surprises were, right? I thought that would be a really interesting question for published authors. What surprised you most and they’re like, there’s so much marketing, or I thought my publisher was going to take care of marketing, you know, we have a vision, probably from the movies of old of what the author’s life, you know, you ship off the manuscript, and then you, you know, show up for a few book signings and, you know, live a life of quiet cogitation. And that’s a myth for most people. So just to sell you though.
Alastair McDermott 46:00
Okay, okay. Well, speaking of books, then I’m gonna start to wrap this. We’re coming up on time. Can you tell me, is there a favorite business book that you have? That has been inspirational or particularly useful for you?
Anne Janzer 46:12
There, you know, there are so many. And because I read, I read a lot and read a lot. So I’m going to tell you about what I just read, which I think might be incredibly valuable for your, for your audience, I think it just comes out like today or something is John Jantsch, his new book, “The Ultimate Marketing Engine”, he’s the guy who wrote “Duct Tape Marketing”. He is a real sort of marketer with integrity. And “The Ultimate Marketing Engine” is of course, a really satisfied customer. So he but he super practical advice on how to really think about what you’re offering, how to really think about what they need, and how to make that happen in your business. I think it’s a lovely, lovely book for that really practical and actionable.
Alastair McDermott 46:52
Cool, we will link that in the show notes as well as all of your books, of course. And then let me ask is, is there a fiction book that you particularly enjoy? Maybe when they go back to?
Anne Janzer 47:02
I go back to things from my English Lit days, probably even in the Jane Austen’s and things like that. But when I read fiction these days, it’s it’s mostly mystery. I had to find something very soothing about things that resolved. I think that’s, that’s my go to relaxation. I read one recently that was by Susan Alice Bickford called “A Short Time to Die”, which was set, you know, half of it in the Bay Area. And I like that and it was sort of a thriller slash mystery, but not, not the kind of keeps you awake at night. So I like that too. Yeah, it was a page turner, but not terrifying. So I enjoy that enjoy a good mystery.
Alastair McDermott 47:42
If you’re looking for stuff that resolves stuff that makes sense. I think there’s like a sub-genre called rational fanfiction, which is where people have rewritten stuff like Harry Potter and things, but where the, where the protagonist actually makes intelligent decisions. It’s very funny. I’ve seen some of that kind of stuff. No, they, like you know, at least choices that people make in movies where you’d like why would somebody do that? Like they would just pick up the gun that’s there, they wouldn’t do that kind of stuff where you’re screaming at the TV. So I think there’s this this whole rational fiction sub-genre and I think there’s a lot of fanfiction out there for you know, popular books. I’m sure,
Anne Janzer 48:21
Alastair McDermott 48:22
For Twilight and things like that as well. I don’t know I haven’t read that.
Anne Janzer 48:25
But I bet they’re a lot shorter because without all of those bad decisions, it’s just like boom, boom, you know, right?
Alastair McDermott 48:30
Anne Janzer 48:31
Alastair McDermott 48:32
So okay, so where can people go to find you if they want to find more?
Anne Janzer 48:37
The best place is probably my website which is just my name, AnneJanzer.com and there’s a silent e on the end, so don’t don’t miss that. You can find my books and I have a every other week writing blog and I give away a book once a month to people on my email list and it’s a lovely community of people and they’ve been a huge source of inspiration as I write my books too. So that’s been a lot of fun.
Alastair McDermott 49:03
Cool, and the latest book is only $1 on on Kindle so it’s it’s I’m sure it’s gonna be an entertaining read. I know
Anne Janzer 49:14
Price will go up a little bit tomorrow I think the price goes up tomorrow that was a launch price but yeah, it’s it’s so fun.
Alastair McDermott 49:21
Yeah, go go check it out. Anyway, you can you can read some of the previews on Kindle and see if it’s for you. Anne, thank you so much for for coming on the show and sharing your your story and your tips with us. Really appreciate it.
Anne Janzer 49:32
Thanks for having me. Alastair. It was fun. And thank you for contributing to that book, too.
Thanks for listening to The Recognized Authority with Alastair McDermott. Subscribe today, and don’t miss an episode. Find out more at TheRecognizedAuthority.com