Episode 139 – Being the champion of your book with Pete Williams

Pete WilliamsWriting a great book is a good start. But it’s only a start. After that comes the marketing, which is every bit as important as the writing.

‘If you’re not going to be the biggest champion for your book, who is?’ asks Pete Williams. The author of several best-selling books and head of Preneur Marketing, Pete knows a thing or two about marketing books, and you might be surprised by his advice.

He also knows that writing a business book can bring unexpected benefits for the business itself, including setting it up to be able to scale. A fascinating conversation packed with practical inspiration.



LINKS:

The Cadence website: http://cadencebook.com/

Pete on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/preneur/

Preneur Marketing: http://preneurmarketing.com/

Pete on Twitter: https://twitter.com/preneur

Alison on Twitter: https://twitter.com/bookstothesky

The Extraordinary Business Book Club on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1447064765612358/

Sign up for the Extraordinary Business Book Club newsletter, including a review of what I’m reading now and a weekly writing prompt: https://www.getdrip.com/forms/887338035/submissions/new

Join the wait list for the next 10-day Business Book Proposal Challenge: https://alisonjones.leadpages.co/proposal-challenge/

Alison Jones:                        Hello and welcome to The Extraordinary Business Book Club. Today I’m here with Pete Williams, who is an entrepreneur, advisor, and marketer whom Forbes recently called, “One entrepreneur today that every marketer should be modelling.” So, you know, listen up. And Inc. described him as, “A savvy marketing strategist.” He’s been referred to as Australia’s Richard Branson, and he’s won a number of international business awards. He’s started companies in varying industries, from telecommunications to ecommerce. And he even sold Australia’s version of the Yankee Stadium, the MCG, for under $500 at the age of 21. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. He’s also the author of Cadence: A Tale of Fast Business Growth. Welcome to the show, Pete.

Pete Williams:                    Thank you very much for having me. Looking forward to the good chat.

Alison Jones:                        It’s going to be good. Just tell us first, is selling the MCG for under $500 … I mean, is that okay, or should you not have got away with that?

Pete Williams:                    No, it was … Basically, really quickly, the stadium got redeveloped, and I bought a whole bunch of the timber that was part of the stadium and made little certificates up with a history of the MCG, and sold off bits of memorabilia and stuff like that. It was a fun little project that got a lot of interest here in Australia.

Alison Jones:                        Very entrepreneurial, love it. Now, let’s talk about Cadence, because Cadence is not your usual business book, is it? Just tell us about … You’ve used a story format. Why did you decide to do it like that? And how did you develop the book? And how did that approach help you as a writer, and us as readers, looking at the story rather than at a dry business book?

Pete Williams:                    Yeah, you’re right. I really tried to avoid that dry business book feel. When we first started working on the project, it was going to be that lean startup, that quote-unquote, yeah, “dry business book” type of feel, and I just wasn’t enjoying it as a writer. And putting it together, I was just like, “This is not going to be engaging. It’s not going to stand out enough.” So, about eight months into the project, we sort of went nuts, scrapped it, and then pivoted into this story.

And it’s based on a true story. It’s a fictional tale, but it’s rooted in some real events. And I think it just helps people, particularly the type of target we’ve got for the book, which is small to medium business owners, people who might be really, really good on the tools. They’re a great accountant. They’re a fantastic tradey, they’re really good at doing graphic design. Yet, they don’t typically read business books. We tried to make it the business book for people who don’t read business books, in that it’s a story. It’s engaging. It’s very, very different. But you still get those lessons all the way through.

Alison Jones:                        Yeah. And I have to say, I do like that format. I know, it’s been a couple of times I’ve seen it used before, not quite like this. But I know Michael E. Gerber incorporated that into The E-Myth, which works really, really well.

Pete Williams:                    Yeah.

Alison Jones:                        And I don’t know, do you know Robin Waite? He did a book called Take Your Shot.

Pete Williams:                    No.

Alison Jones:                        And it’s a similar idea. You should read it. It’s really interesting. It’s a golf pro, who’s ticking along and he’s selling coaching and tuition. And then he gets a business coach in for tuition. And as he teaches the business coach golfing, the business coach teaches him to package his business separately. It’s a similar sort of thing.

Pete Williams:                    Beautiful.

Alison Jones:                        And it’s so readable. And it gets … There’s something about a story that gets underneath your defences, isn’t there?

Pete Williams:                    Yeah, absolutely. One of my favourite business books is Built to Sell by John Warrillow, which is, again, it’s the story/fable/parable type approach. And I just find it so much easier to enjoy and consume. It almost becomes a bit of a can’t put down, sometimes, because you’re engrossed in the story. You want to know what happens next in the story. Whereas, with a lot of business books, ’cause it’s very factual and just direct, it’s not as enticing to keep reading sometimes. Often, you have to force yourself to finish those books.

Alison Jones:                        Yes. Because you don’t actually care. There’s nothing to care about. That’s the thing, isn’t it?

Pete Williams:                    Yeah.

Alison Jones:                        There’s an emotional connection to the characters, if you get it right.

Pete Williams:                    Yes, exactly. And that’s the hard part, getting it right. And I think that’s where a good editor comes in, particularly for me, is that. And also, a lot of the traditional business books, I find, you could really summarise the whole core message in almost a really nice blog post or a deep article.

Alison Jones:                        Yeah.

Pete Williams:                    And they end up just padding it out for another 80 pages for the sake of padding it out. Whereas, what we found with Cadence and the story is, we could teach the main crux of the lessons in the book quite easily. But then, we are able to delve in other conversations and other supporting information that is really important to get across to someone, but might have felt a bit disjointed if it was just stuck in there as a random chapter in a book. We’re able to get the teaching across and a broader message in the story, which I think has worked. Seems to have worked really well. The response has been great.

Alison Jones:                        Brilliant. And behind that story, let’s just dig into that, the message that you’re talking about there, the lessons. Because there’s your seven levers model, and I think there’s some of your 10% wins framework in there doing the heavy lifting as well. Just tell us about those models and how you developed them, presumably how you use them in the business, and also why they matter. Just give us a little bit of a idiot’s guide to the models behind it.

Pete Williams:                    Sure. Basically, the core crux of the book is that there are only seven things that drive profit in any business. Whether you are a landscape gardener, you’re a lawyer, you’re a retail store, there’s only seven things that drive profit. And a lot of business owners don’t really take the time to identify what those are and really focus on those seven elements. And then the 10% win part of it is, the really … I call it, magical part, but that sounds a bit bigger and more mysterious than it really is, is that if you just increase each of those individual seven areas by just 10%, you get a 10% boost in those seven areas, the actual result is a 200% change to the bottom line profit of your business. It’s basically a framework for focus, in that as you are trying to grow your business, you really have got to make sure that these are the seven areas you focus on. Because everything else, effectively, is just a distraction and noise.

And to answer the part of the question about how I found this, in our TelCo business, we started that 13, 14 years ago now, is that very early on, we were a sales and marketing company that happened to sell phone systems. And we very much lived that ethos, in that all we cared about was traffic and conversions. To the point where we literally, once we made a sale, we would hand that customer across to a subcontractor – you could also read that as a competitor – to actually do the installation, and the technical part of the actual solution we were selling. And that was great, from a startup point of view, to help prove the business model. Yet, we realised pretty shortly that, hang on, if someone buys a phone system and gets it installed, and needs more handsets or more support in a few months’ or a few years’ time, who are they going to go back to?

Alison Jones:                        Right.

Pete Williams:                    The people who basically sold them and handed them over, or the people who actually turned up and gave them the service, support, the love? We weren’t getting that part of the equation. We were literally just having a one-time experience or relationship with out customers. We realised there was a lot missing. We sat down and started thinking, okay, what is it that’s driving profit in our business? And started looking at a whole bunch of businesses in a whole bunch of other industries to figure out what is driving profit for them, and then where was this gap. And it was during this process, over a period of time, we realised that these are … There’s only seven things. And I hate that there’s only seven. ‘Cause it’s like seven dwarves, seven sins, seven habits. It’s just such a cliché number, which I absolutely hate. Because I think, for a lot of people, they go, “Ah, seven. It’s just this mystical number that marketers use all the time.” Which is really frustrating, because this is driven by math, not by marketing.

And the story is basically the framework of how that works, and it’s explaining in a very similar way to the story you mentioned about the golf, which I’m definitely going to check now, is that this bike store owner, whose store’s name’s Cadence, he starts coaching a athlete to his first iron man triathlon. And during that 20 weeks, the athlete starts teaching the bike store owner and triathlon coach about this framework and how to implement it in their business and how 10% wins actually works, and the power of that focus and attention.

Alison Jones:                        Which is interesting, again, because there is a real trend, isn’t there, nowadays, for the learnings from sport, the 1% things from the British cycling team…

Pete Williams:                    Yes.

Alison Jones:                        …and Will It Make The Boat Go Faster? That sort of focus on the process and focus on the marginal gains and so on, which you’ve brought across here, which is brilliant.

Pete Williams:                    Yeah.

Alison Jones:                        What I love about that story, as well, is that you have become one of those … And this is, I suppose, the classic business book author, isn’t it? You’re doing the work. And then you look at what you’re doing in the work, and you become that reflective. And instead of just doing the work, head down, bum up, every day, delivering the thing, you’re actually, “What am I doing here?” And you’re starting to think more abstractly about it. And you’re starting to draw out generalities and things that can be abstracted and models that can then apply to other businesses. Were you conscious of doing that at the time, or was it all about just, “Hang on a minute. How can we get this more profitable?”

Pete Williams:                    Yeah. I’d like to say that there was wisdom early on. And I think a lot-

Alison Jones:                        Come on, you can say. I’ll believe you.

Pete Williams:                    I think a lot of other people … I think a lot of people end up just self-justifying after the fact, and looking back and going, “Yes.”

Alison Jones:                        “That’s absolutely what I meant to do.”

Pete Williams:                    “That was actually a conscious thing.”

Yeah. Well, I think it was a weird one, is that the MCG project that we touched on earlier, that whole business was very driven by a sales and marketing model as well as that the memorabilia that we made, we made a series of frames up and a whole bunch of stuff. And that whole project was driven by necessity in that I couldn’t make the frames. I had a full-time job at the same time. So I couldn’t do the delivery. That whole business model was built with massive leverage by default, because I couldn’t do anything else. When we started the TelCo, and got involved in that, we just took that same model and built that out in terms of, “Okay. We’ll do the sales and marketing. We’ll let someone else do all the actual operational element.” And that was really good to prove the model.

But then we realised stuff was missing. And as we developed, it was purely just to save our own bacon. It wasn’t to, “Oh, yeah, we’re going to build this model and talk about it 15 years later.” It was like, “We want to grow a business. We need to have more revenue. What’s actually happening here?” And that’s how that framework came to be. We were thinking of it as a model that we could use internally, and we’ve rolled that out over the whole group and other businesses we’ve been involved in over the last few years. And I started sharing it with people. We had our podcast we spoke on a little bit, did a little bit of consulting here and there. And it has just evolved into its own little movement, I guess, over the last five or six years.

Now, it’s like, “Okay, well let’s package it up into a book that can actually help grow the movement and help other business owners around the world who are struggling.” Because you mentioned The E-Myth, and I think this is an interesting one, is that Michael Gerber did a great job with The E-Myth in that he really educated people who were really good on the tools, that there’s a difference between working in your business and working on your business. And I think that created a lot of aha moments for business owners, yet I think the problem that Michael left those readers with is that once you understand that, “Okay. I need to get off the tools. I need to work on my business.” And people had that awareness: Where do you work on? What do you work on? When you sit down on a Monday afternoon-

Alison Jones:                        What does working on your business look like? Yeah.

Pete Williams:                    Yeah. And that, I think, was really missing. That’s where it developed for us, is, what are we going to do when we’re working on our business? And this was the framework, the seven areas we focused on. And we just keep cycling through those seven areas, hence, the tie-in with the cycling story as well. We really … I love a bad pun. So I try to build in as many bad puns as possible into the book. And that became the framework for us, as our “on the business” thing. And I think that’s probably what’s resonated a lot with the readers so far, in that it is that ‘sequel to The E-Myth’-type feel. It sounds a bit egotistical to say that, yet that’s what it’s become, which I think is really helpful for people.

Alison Jones:                        That is, yeah. That’s a very cool way of looking at it. I like that. And Cadence, of course, is not your first book. Before Cadence there was the 10% Wins, How to Turn Your Million-Dollar Idea into Reality, and Media Strategies for Internet Marketers. You’ve got quite a backlist behind you now. What does writing books … Well, you have. You’re a one-man book machine.

Pete Williams:                    Yeah.

Alison Jones:                        What does writing books do for you? Just, obviously, professionally, because these are a big part of your business. But also, personally. Because they are a massive investment of your time and energy. What makes them worthwhile?

Pete Williams:                    That’s a really good question. I don’t think I’ve got a really great, articulate answer for that one. I think it’s a mixture of a few things. You could justify that my mum was a teacher, and that part of me comes out. And you could say it’s a massive part of my business. I would argue that it’s not. The TelCo and the quote-unquote “real world” businesses, I pride myself of being in the trenches with the readers, in that my day-to-day is in the businesses, dealing with the staff, dealing with customer problems, growing the business. I’m not a full-time author. I’m not a full-time consultant, I think. A lot of people who are those full-time business consultants and business authors, it’s like, “Well, hang on. Unless you’re a Michael Gerber of a Tim Ferris where you’re selling millions of copies, you’re not practising what you’re preaching.” There’s more leverage in the team and the business than there is in selling books.

I think, for me, it’s a movement thing. It’s a support thing. It’s a … I devour books, and I think they’re a massive part of what’s been the success for us. It’s like, let’s give back. And it’s also, I think, a way for creating clarity internally for myself and our team, is that as you produce the book proposal and the models for a book and the concepts for the book, it also becomes an internal manual, almost. If you look at, for example, Media Strategies, that book was more of just a internal guide of how we, as our businesses, wanted to use the media to leverage what we were already doing. That was written as much as a guide for the team to go and be able to use as it was for external readers. 10% Wins, it was a manifesto. It wasn’t a book in the traditional sense. It was more a manifesto of, “This is this framework. This is the 10% focus.” And this is the manifesto I could give to friends, give to people, before Cadence came out.

Pete Williams:                    How to Turn Your Million-Dollar Idea into a Reality, the most informationally-named book ever, which I hate, but it’s a whole other story about when you’re a first-time author, don’t always listen to your publisher. Feel free to push back. I was 23 when I got that book deal with Wiley and I was like, “Yes, Sir. No, Sir. You want me to jump? Okay. How high? And what do you want me to do while I’m in the air?” That was the story of selling the MCG. That was more of that story. And I think I was given the reins to write a book way too early. If you look back at that book, there’s some really good stuff in it. And there’s some stuff in there that just makes me cringe. I think, yeah. I was way too young to be bestowed the power of a book, in hindsight.

Alison Jones:                        They have a long shelf life, don’t they? Yes.

Pete Williams:                    Yes. It’s interesting. And I think that’s where self-publishing and hybrid publishing has got a lot to answer for. It’s probably not the right terminology to use. Yet I think there’s some power in having gatekeepers, in that … In that … And I know, now, obviously, I somehow snuck through the back door with that one, with that first book. Yet, I think there is some validity in actually having that third party going, “Yes. Your idea is validated, and it has value for the marketplace.” It’s an interesting one that’s a whole other debate, I guess we could go on a very random tangent about.

Alison Jones:                        Oh, absolutely. I can talk about this for hours. Yes. But I want to pick up on something you just said about what the writing of the book does for you, personally, but also for the team. I thought that was really interesting. Basically, what you’re saying is, it’s clarifying, what you’re doing. It’s forcing you to get really clear on it.

Pete Williams:                    You have to. Absolutely.

Alison Jones:                        Yes. And it’s codifying it, as well. It’s then making it something that you, as a team, can refer to. So when somebody joins the company, you say, “This is how we do things around here.” And you give them a copy of the book.

Pete Williams:                    Yes. Exactly. Because I think … A friend of mine has a business. His business is to systemize businesses. He’s very much been drilling into me for years about systemizing and process and all that stuff, which has been a massive help for our growth. And this is just another form of that. It is, because if this is the way we do the business, it’s the way we do the business. And everyone has to understand, this is the way we operate, and this is the foundation of how we go about what we do when we are focusing on growth. And, I think, for so many businesses, they don’t take the time to even … I’d say, document their philosophies so it can scale. And I think that’s an issue for a lot of business owners.

And I think, particularly for us, the process of having to craft a proposal, craft an outline, write the book, it really helps you distil, okay, what is true and what is the narrative you tell yourself? Not the narrative of the story, but the narrative you tell yourself around this framework or this focus. And that helps clarify a lot. One of the things that came out of Cadence is this six C’s process, which is the actual process that we actually go through when we want to start implementing this framework into our business: clarifying, capturing, a whole bunch of stuff. And it … The story walks you through doing that. And that had never been articulated in any form until I started working on the book.

It’s like, “Okay. Now how do we actually implement this when we buy another business, when we start another business?” When I consult with a company, what is the actual process we go through to get this model humming inside a business? And it forced me to step back, and go, “Hang on.” This was missing from the book. This was missing from the story. And it forced me to really think it through, and become now something that we can use internally that was a bit led by me more than led by a system. And that was quite powerful, internally, as well. It’s really interesting that, yes, it was written primarily, obviously for an audience, to help other business owners get that clarity, get that system, that road map. Yet, at the same time, it was probably 30%, just also helping us internally too.

Alison Jones:                        Which I think is fascinating. I spend a lot of time talking about the fact that writing is a business discipline, or it can be, if you let it. That’s a really interesting perspective on it. Can we talk about marketing? Oh, go on…

Pete Williams:                    Yes. Oh, I was going to say about the writing. Just in terms of the writing, it might be helpful for the audience, is that the way … With this book, I ended up having two editors work on it very heavily. I took the framework, or the outline for the story, and the concepts. And I ended up writing all the dialogue. All the actual conversations between the two main characters, I wrote that. And I got, first and foremost, got a fiction writer, or fiction editor, to come in and actually paint the story around those conversations, the whole, “And as he drove out of the car park, he could smell the salty sea air and the seagulls barking in the background.” Do seagulls bark? What do they do? They …

Alison Jones:                        Let’s go with that. I quite like that idea.

Pete Williams:                    Clearly, I needed that fiction editor to help out with that part of the story. That was the first cut, was a fiction writer, not a business writer at all, to actually come in and make the story a story. And then I was able to track down, through a couple of other writing friends, the editor who worked on Built to Sell, the book I referenced earlier. And she came in and really helped take a second swipe at the book and really moved some stuff around and cut some stuff and added some stuff. And she’d written business parables before. So it was a really interesting process that I think helped out. Because I was able to pin the framework and pin the lessons, but the actual story element was so far out of my scope that I had to get some support in for that.

Alison Jones:                        That is interesting. Because, as you say, you’re almost bringing together two completely different forms here. And when we said about getting it right, that’s actually quite a big ask, unless you happen to be trained as a writer. Get the beats right. Get the characterization. It’s not … Everybody thinks they can sit down and write a book. It’s not like that, especially a book that can hold your attention and where the characters are believable and hold your, not just attention, but affection. That’s really interesting that you had them both on… I wonder if they’d ever worked together on a book.

Pete Williams:                    No. They didn’t know each other.

Alison Jones:                        Interesting.

Pete Williams:                    Yes.

Alison Jones:                        That is really interesting. It also shows you the power of getting the right people around you.

Pete Williams:                    Yes, absolutely. because the book’s far better than I thought it would have been, which is always nice.

Alison Jones:                        It’s pleasing.

Pete Williams:                    And some awards have supported that, which is nice.

Alison Jones:                        And let’s talk about the marketing, too. Because obviously writing the book is only phase one, then you’ve got to actually sell and market the thing.

Pete Williams:                    Oh, yes.

Alison Jones:                        I know. And this is where you have a bit of a superpower. Because, obviously, Preneur Marketing is one of your many businesses. And then I was looking … As the podcast host, you do your research. And I was really impressed at the job that your marketing company does of marketing your books. Obviously, you’ve got an unfair advantage.

Pete Williams:                    It helps. It does help.

Alison Jones:                        I know. Why did you bake that into your business? How do those two things work together? And what else does it do?

Pete Williams:                    Well, the marketing stuff is … Yeah. That’s my passion. Obviously, I’m a business owner, but I’m a marketer by trade. That’s my skill, my passion. It’s one of those things. You can produce a really good product, whether it be a pair of shoes, a piece of art, a movie or a book, or whatever it might be. But unless you scream it, and you’re the one who champions the message, no one’s going to hear about it. That’s inevitably the big thing for me. I almost wrote a book a few years ago called “It’s Not About the Product.” And it was a book saying, who cares what your product is? You’ve got to learn how to market it. Don’t get sucked into ‘the product’s going to sell’. And that book didn’t happen for a number of reasons. Yet, that’s what I believe, is that you’ve got to really … If you’re not going to be the one who’s going to be the biggest champion for your book, who is going to be?

Yeah. Having the marketing team helps, because it’s what we live and breathe and we help clients with and we do internally with our own businesses. And it helps. It’s another product. And particularly, too, you know, for a lot of the guys in the team, they spend a lot of time marketing my own businesses, like TelCo and phone systems and very, very boring stuff: cheaper phone calls and phone systems and bits of plastic. It’s a nice break for them to go, hey, let’s do something very, very different and very creative. They’ve enjoyed that too.

Alison Jones:                        Yes. You can get excited about it. But everybody gets excited about a book, don’t they?

Pete Williams:                    Yes.

Alison Jones:                        But I think that fact that you’ve got to go out and sell your book, it’s really hard for some authors. Not so much business authors, who, by definition… if they haven’t learned to sell, they’re probably out of business. Fiction authors find this really hard. But even business book authors have that sense, sometimes, that if they write a good book, that should somehow be enough. Having that conversation, that, actually, if I had to choose between having a brilliant book and a lousy marketing campaign or a lousy book with a brilliant marketing campaign, I’d probably go for the latter, which is … It’s not how it should be, but it is how it is, really.

Pete Williams:                    Yes. Absolutely. I think it’s an interesting one, is that I think a brilliant book can take your book from a bestseller to a perennial seller.

Alison Jones:                        Yes. But you have to get that attention first.

Pete Williams:                    But a brilliant book won’t … Yeah. Exactly. A brilliant book won’t go from zero to bestseller. You have to market your book to become a bestseller. And at that point, if the book’s awesome, it’ll take off. A bestseller won’t be a perennial seller just because it was a bestseller. A bestseller becomes a perennial seller because it’s amazing. But you have to get that first … You have to work hard to get past that first hurdle.

Alison Jones:                        Yes.

Pete Williams:                    And that’s what a lot of people do. There’s always … This is the problem with the internet, is that there’s always outliers. And the outliers are praised. For example, Robert Green’s book, the 48 Laws of Power. That took ten years before it hit the bestseller list. And it’s a brilliant book, and it’s a perennial seller now. And that’s spoken about as a case study. Yet, it’s an outlier. It’s an exception to the rule, in that, yeah, sure, a brilliant book can become a perennial seller without any major marketing effort. But it takes ten years and sheer dumb luck. And I don’t like dumb luck. I like to control destiny, or at least control the-

Alison Jones:                        It’s not much of a strategy, is it?

Pete Williams:                    No. Exactly right.

Alison Jones:                        Absolutely. If somebody’s listening to this, they haven’t written their first business book yet, what tip would you give them? How would you help them out?

Pete Williams:                    There are probably a few things. I think one of them is, when you are planning your book, plan the marketing more than the content. I know that sucks. And it sucks to hear if you’re a passionate writer. But I think, if you’re going to do a proposal, or even just … Whether it’s a proposal for a publisher or an agent, or just an internal one for a self-published book, I think your marketing plan has to be bigger than your book outline.

Alison Jones:                        Yes.

Pete Williams:                    It shouldn’t be bigger than your final book. But the outline of, how I’m going to actually take this to market, I think, needs to be thought through beforehand.

Alison Jones:                        That’s a awesome tip. Yes.

Pete Williams:                    One of the things that we were very strategic in, I guess you could say, is that this book came out in August. We had the book finished and designed and the first print run was done in February. We had a full six months of the book being completed prior to it being publicly available. What that meant for us is we could do a whole bunch of stuff. One of the things we did was, we entered the book in every single book award programme we possibly could. And it won a bunch. It won, incredibly, the best business book of 2018 at the International Business Awards, which was massive kudos for the book, massive positioning, that we can leverage in everything else. And that was awarded two weeks before the book actually was publicly released, which is unheard of. Because most people don’t have that foresight and planning.

Alison Jones:                        Yeah.

Pete Williams:                    So we’re able to do stuff like that. We had the audiobook produced early. And we did a pre-release campaign, where I went on a whole bunch of podcasts, and said to people, “If you pre-order the book, the hardcover book, we will give you access to the audiobook instantly, today, early. If you bought the book in May … One of the worst things about doing media pre-release is, you’ve got to try and encourage someone to buy the book in May that’s not going to be delivered to them in August. It’s a massive inertia for someone to get over.

Alison Jones:                        We’d like immediate gratification, please.

Pete Williams:                    Yeah. Exactly. And particularly with podcasters. Because podcast listeners are audio people. They’re not probably going to want to sit down and read a book. But for us, it’s still traditional hardcover books that hit bestseller lists and really is what the industry measures off. Which is ridiculous, but that’s what it is. We went, okay, let’s give away the audiobook. By having that window, we were able to pre-sell a whole bunch of copies of the hardcover that all count to your first week of sales in the actual book scan figures, but we were able to bribe people by giving them the audiobook early, which was the platform and media that that audience wanted to consume anyway. They’re probably going to take the book and put it on the shelf or give it to a friend or whatever it might be. But our …

We lined up the interest. People wanted the audiobook. We wanted hardcover sales. We were able to do that. And that lead time was massively successful for us. I think the biggest tip, which I haven’t heard a lot of people talk about, that I think can be quite powerful, is don’t get your book out as soon as you can. Be willing to wait and give yourself a runway between … Not runway for marketing. Everyone talks about runway for marketing. “Your book’s coming out next year. Start the marketing early. Start talking about it today.” And that’s true. I actually believe it’s get your book done at the start of that runway, so you can do stuff with the actual book. We sent it out to so many media. I think we sent 500 copies of the book to different media. We gifted a whole bunch out to people. We did the audio campaign. We entered the book in contests. We allowed ourselves a window to actually use the book pre-release. And I think that was massively successful for us.

Did we execute on everything we wanted to do well? Definitely not. But I think the strategy was good. Some of the tactics didn’t quite come off. But the strategic foresight I think was quite powerful and we’ll definitely be doing it again and again.

Alison Jones:                        That’s awesome. And you’re right. Nobody’s done that tip before. But it’s very interesting. I was chatting to another publisher about this the other day. And he called that “the long neck.” We’re used to hearing about the long tail. He said they’d started using more of the long neck and getting the book out before.

Pete Williams:                    That’s a-

Alison Jones:                        Yeah. It’s a good phrase.

Pete Williams:                    Really good term.

Alison Jones:                        Isn’t it? Yes. And making the most of that. Yes. Funnily enough, at Practical Inspiration we’ve just done something similar. Because we have quite a fast production time, four months. But actually, a few of the books, particularly ones with real trade appeal, we’ve published and then held back publication so we can get those copies out to people. Yeah. This is a thing. A really, really cool tip. Thank you.

Pete Williams:                    It’s hard, though. It’s hard when you’re a creator to go … For creators, particularly, and because I’m a business guy first and foremost, this was a strategic plan. Whereas, I know a lot of authors, it’s like, “This is my creation. I want to get it out to the world. I’m an artist.” And it’s really hard to not get it out there straightaway, because it’s like, “It’s done, let’s get it out. It’s done, let’s get it out. Let’s move on to the next thing.”

Alison Jones:                        Yes.

Pete Williams:                    And it’s really hard to … It takes a lot of self control, a lot of discipline.

Alison Jones:                        It does. And you’re right. It takes that shift from thinking about this as a creative writing project to thinking about it as a business marketing project. And it’s a head shift.

Pete Williams:                    Yes.

Alison Jones:                        Now, if people want to find out more about you, more about Cadence, where should they go?

Pete Williams:                    Yeah. Look. The book’s available where all good books are sold. That’s a cliché. But, realistically, cadencebook.com is the page and the home site of the book and the movement. I’m on Instagram @preneur P-R-E-N-E-U-R, so preneur, like entrepreneur. Instagram’s a good one. Cadencebook.com’s probably a good start, or preneurmarketing.com is where I blog and write about all bunch of crazy shenanigan things about business and marketing.

Alison Jones:                        Awesome. And I will put all those links up on the show notes at extraordinarybusinessbooks.com as usual. If you’re driving, dinnae panic. Really amazing. Honestly, we could have talked … I want to go back and almost have that conversation about publishing as well, but we’re out of time. Thank you so much for your time today, Pete. That was awesome.

Pete Williams:                    Any time, Alison. Happy to come back on and share what limited stuff I know.

Alison Jones:                        Well, I might take you up on that.

 

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