Episode 417 – How to get a book deal with Hasan Kubba

Hasan Kubba‘It’s an unfair advantage to have a platform, it massively helps, don’t get me wrong. But it’s totally possible to do it without one.’

When Hasan Kubba and Ash Ali got together to write ‘The Unfair Advantage: How you already have what it takes to succeed’, they assumed they’d self-publish. They even put up a ‘lean’ version of the book on KDP. But as it turned out they had publishers fighting over it (sensibly, as it went on to be named Business Book of the Year), and Hasan has gone on to help other authors achieve the same feat. 

While having a big following certainly helps in the battle for publishers’ attention, Hasan argues that it’s possible to get a book deal with a major traditional publisher without it. It’s not unlike securing funding for a start-up, which is the other area in which he is an expert. 

Discover the vital elements you need in place and the process to follow to get yourself and your book concept in front of agents and publishers with the best chance of success, with lessons for ALL kinds of content creation. 

AUDIO

VIDEO

Hasan’s site: https://hasankubba.com/

Hasan on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/startuphasan/

Alison on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/the-alison-jones/

The 10-day Business Book Proposal Challenge: http://proposalchallenge.com/

The Extraordinary Business Book Club on Substack: https://extraordinarybusinessbooks.substack.com/

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

Alison Jones: I’m here today with Hasan Kubba, who is the co author with Ash Ali of the award-winning bestseller, The Unfair Advantage: How you already have what it takes to succeed. A successful entrepreneur himself with over a decade in marketing, thought leadership and content, he’s now a strategist for online creators and businesses and helps aspiring businesses and self development authors attract literary agents, get book deals from publishers, write great books and achieve New York Times bestseller status.

These are the holy grail things, aren’t they Hasan?

Hasan Kubba: Absolutely.

Alison Jones: Well it’s very very good to have you back because of course you were originally here with Ash talking about The Unfair Advantage. I think it was 2021 when you won that, or 20?

Hasan Kubba: That’s right. Yeah, it was 2021.

Alison Jones: And it was the business book of the year. So firstly, let’s just appreciate that for a moment. Congratulations again.

Hasan Kubba: Thank you. Amazing.

Alison Jones: Let’s talk about that before we go any further, actually. What, what did that mean for you?

Hasan Kubba: Oh yeah, that was incredible. That was great. It was really nice to be able to, you know, get that kind of, I guess, validation and that that this thing that we’d worked so hard on for so many years really struck a chord and we’d already started to get really good feedback. I mean not started, It was it was quite a while into it, we’d already gotten good feedback, from readers But it was great to see it from judges as well. And now i’ve seen what it’s like to be a judge and how rigorous that process is, and so, yeah, we were just happy to win the startup book of the year, so let alone the overall business book, of 12 categories.

So yeah, it was incredible and it was a wonderful feeling honestly, it really, really was.

Alison Jones: Yeah. And just for context, I think that was my last year as head judge and I read all the finalists. I mean, it was, it was just such a privilege. I mean, as you know, now as a judge, it’s, it’s a terrific responsibility, but also a huge privilege. And you get to read some fantastic books. And when you’re the head judge, you read the the winning titles in each category.

So it’s sort of the creme de la creme and yours was an absolute standout book. But at the time, I remember we couldn’t have the event because COVID. So it was a shame not to be able to award you with a thing in person on the night.

Hasan Kubba: It was, it was. It was an interesting one. We were in a restaurant and and suddenly somebody pops out of nowhere with the trophy, which was incredible, with the award to give us. Yeah, it was it was definitely a night to remember. It was great.

Alison Jones: It’s brilliant. And I think, was that your first book, Hasan? So, I mean, way to go, and it was a bit of a hard act to follow. What did you learn from, from that whole process?

Hasan Kubba: Oh, so much. Oh, I learned so much about the process. It was I’ve always been a book reader. And I’ve just kind of, I almost remember thinking, you know, like, you know, like a good book or even something tiny, like a joke is like almost impossible to create. I couldn’t imagine how people could write a joke or write a book or, or, or write a piece of music.

It just didn’t like even… compose music. Like, how does that work? So it’s great to switch over from kind of consumer. to creator, let’s say. So yeah, I learned a lot. There’s so much about the process, about the what you have to go through, about the different hurdles and the different challenges and and I kind of understand what people mean, writers mean, when they say like it’s almost like problem solving in a way. Like, you know, there’s different phases, like writing is rewriting, you know, this idea of like, it’s all in the revisions and the drafts that you actually get the writing done in the, almost in the edit is where you actually get the writing done, which is an interesting way to look at it, but it really feels true.

And this idea of like having to make it work, you know, it’s very vague language. It’s a very abstract, but it really is that it’s almost a series of problems. As you kind of have this first draft and then you kind of make, want to make it work. It’s tough. It’s very cognitively challenging, which is unique and fun.

You know, it’s like one of those challenging things that’s fun. Almost like solving a puzzle.

Alison Jones: And when you say make it work, there’s lots of levels to that. I mean, it’s got to work for you. It’s got to say what it is that you feel passionate about and want, but it’s also got to work most importantly really for the reader. So it’s got to take them step by step through what you’re saying and give them something that they can use at the end of the day.

Hasan Kubba: Exactly.

Alison Jones: And it’s also, you’re writing with a co author in that case. So it’s got to work as a collaborative exercise, almost.

Hasan Kubba: That’s right. And, and the other thing is, one thing that really stands out to me is this idea of making it cohere. I felt that was hard. That was like, I think it was my editor who used the word cohere. And I was like, yes, that’s the word I’m looking for. I’m trying to make this thing cohere. I’m trying to figure out, what is this damn thing about, you know?

And it’s this idea of kind of distilling it down. Almost, almost even, of course you’re always thinking about what do you want to say. Of course you’re always thinking about what does the reader, what’s the reader thinking. Of course these are very, very important things to think about. But it’s almost, it’s its own thing, it needs to stand on its own.

It needs to cohere. It’s almost, it’s almost, a vacuum to those kinds of things. Not really, but you know what I mean? It’s almost like a different lens to look at it. It’s like, this thing needs to work on its own.

Alison Jones: Yes. Does it work textually and structurally?

Hasan Kubba: Yes. And thematically, you know, as a concept, that’s the, that’s what I learned.

A lot of what I learned is to do with like structure, concept You know, I work with like YouTubers as well. I’ve been coaching a lot of YouTubers and things like that on content creators, and the same thing applies for…, , you know, I was, I had my own marketing agency just before I started writing a book, my, my entrepreneurial journey was that, and I guess it’s the same thing for even, and even for startups, it’s the same thing.

It’s this idea that almost upstream of everything, you have to make the concept work, you know, you have to have the right idea. For a YouTube video it has to be the right idea for a video, the most high-leverage thing is, what’s this video going to be about? Well, what’s this book going to be about? And you know, they say things like title and thumbnail or for a book It’s the cover and title and the subtitle and it’s like yeah, but there’s even something upstream of that, which is: what is this about?

You know, even before you get to title and cover and that’s, you know, when you ask me, what did I learn? I feel like that’s the main thing I learned. That this is the importance of concepts, the importance of theme, the importance of making it cohere, the importance of structure, and that was not what I expected, you know.

Alison Jones: It’s fascinating to hear you articulate it like that. And we’re going to talk a lot about the content world and how people move across to books and what, the role that books play in there, I hope. It’s the only form in which you have to achieve coherence at such scale, isn’t it? You can, you can chuck an article out or even a video and it’s a relatively short thing with its own arc, but when you’re doing it at book scale, that’s a whole different challenge.

Hasan Kubba: The whole different thing. It’s like a, even a tweet, right? A tweet. Let’s take it to the other extreme. It’s… a tweet needs to be about something. It needs to have a theme and it’s, like, a bit odd to think of it that way. It’s almost too small to think of that, but it’s still true. It’s still true. Like you still need to like rework it and what’s the hook here?

The hook is similar to the title and the, and the cover, or the title and the thumbnail for a YouTube video, and everything works in a similar way. So yeah, it expands and it collapses, but yes, absolutely. It’s the most… It’s a very long form and it’s very… it’s the opposite of off the cuff.

Like you could do a podcast off the cuff, right? And a book is the exact opposite. It’s the most scripted thing you can do. The word ‘scripted’, It’s not quite the right word, but it’s the same, you know, you have to write it. You have to plan it and you have to think it through. So there’s a lot of thought, I think. I remember when I… English wasn’t a strong subject of mine. It was my weakest. I was best at science and then maybe maths is next and I think I, in English literature, I used to always think, ‘why are we analyzing this, surely the author doesn’t mean so much by this.’ And then when I see the other side, I’m like, actually no. A lot of the time, you know, every, even for a film, let’s say everything is there purposely, you know what I mean?

I’m throwing in examples from everywhere ’cause I think it’s just so universal. So I’ll say like even a, in a film, if a character is watching something. You know, whatever’s on TV that they’re watching, that they sometimes show on camera, it’s very scripted and thought out and it’s very deliberate, you know, and that’s like, I never used to realize that.

Hasan Kubba: And I think it’s very important to kind of be on the other side, to realize how much thought goes into everything. So it’s the same, yeah. So the book is the most well thought out, the least off-the-cuff thing ever. So for, yeah, you have to really maintain that concept, that theme that structure and make it coherent over 200 pages or 60, 000 words or whatever.

So yeah, it’s tough. It’s really tough.

Alison Jones: It’s really tough and really rewarding and you speak there, I think, to the craft of writing, which I think a lot of people who, and like you, business people, not writers, not English literature graduates or anything like that, but, but actually you, you do have to work quite hard and pull in that craft if you’re going to make a book that’s really satisfying to read, which is where I guess all the editing comes in, and the revising.

Hasan Kubba: The revising, the editing, and I think a huge piece of this is. Let’s say my unfair advantage to writing, because it seems like I have none, it’s like, well, you have no background in writing. English history was my, or English in general was my weakest subject at school, so how did I… you know, you talk about collaborative effort, it was actually really useful because Ash was much more bigger picture, much more of the ideas, much more the idea development, the feedback the actual and original idea and title came from Ash. But it’s me developing the MILES framework and developing kind of the, you know, making it work as a structure, making it work as a book.

That was the bit that you know, the actual writing was nearly all me. So that’s how we were able to split that. Because we get that question a lot of, how do you work as co authors? So you already touched on that. So I wanted to mention that so when writing this book, it was… a lot of it was about kind of thinking through, you know, for example like even storytelling principles, you know in our stories or, or thinking through how to make it, keep it interesting.

But going back to what my unfair advantage is, I think it’s learning about marketing. And when you learn about marketing, it’s actually a lot about empathy and knowing what’s the reader thinking at this point, you know, and being able to kind of understand what objections they might have at that point, what questions they might have at what point, where they might be muddled up or confused, where they might, it might be unclear to them.

And it’s tough to do that. But I think that’s what helps make the book so so much, I mean the reviews say like it’s oh, it was a page turner, it was easy to read, it was great, like, those kinds of feedback. I think that’s why I don’t think it’s like I’m, just such a skilled writer. I don’t think I have an amazing turn of phrase or I’m… I can’t write poetry for my life.

I mean, thank god for ChatGPT now to help me write in birthday cards and stuff because that’s not me So yeah, it’s in that sense I wanted to touch on I think it’s a case of like, I’m good at like logical flow and I’m good at kind of getting in the shoes into the shoes of what the reader might be thinking. And I think those are the main two things that I’m good at and was able to apply to this.

Alison Jones: It’s great that you phrase that as your unfair advantage as well. It’s like, that’s, that’s very meta and very appropriate and brilliant. And now, of course, you help other people do this. How did that come about?

Hasan Kubba: Something I stumbled on, one thing I teach, like, let’s say YouTubers or anyone starting kind of wanting to get into kind of helping other people in some way… so let’s say so the YouTubers I work with, that kind of educational YouTubers, they’re kind of helping the audiences to level up in their lives in some way, or their careers, not just pure entertainment, let’s say. And often the thing that you actually get the most interest in is the meta thing So a big example is, the biggest, my biggest kind of most famous client is Ali Abdaal.

Ali Abdaal is a big YouTuber. He did a review of The Unfair Advantage which went viral. And he kind of is a productivity YouTuber. If anyone hasn’t heard of him, he’s, he started off doing like study tips to get into medical school and then sort of study tips in general. And then sort of productivity in general, as he started, as he, you know, graduated and wasn’t a student anymore and his audience grew up with him and he was just, he just talks about effective productivity.

And…

Alison Jones: …and his book is now everywhere, of course.

Hasan Kubba: And his book is everywhere, Feel-Good Productivity, but where has he made his, most of his money isn’t in productivity. It’s in teaching other people how to be YouTubers. And so…

Alison Jones: That is meta, yeah.

Hasan Kubba: …the meta thing that gives, usually… so for example personal trainers, and this is a very well known thing, and it can seem a bit, hmm. Is this quite right? But it’s very common and you’ll see what I mean: Personal trainers make the most money when they switch to teaching other people how to be personal trainers. The meta thing, they train personal trainers. Every sort of self development guru has like courses of how to make money or how to start a business and then they have like ‘train the trainer’ often, like a Tony Robbins type or something. And they make the most money in train the trainer.

And so this is a very, very common theme And it happened with me. So my book is about startups and business success. But then I got a lot of interest with the book success of, like, Oh, how did you get a book deal? How did you make a book so successful? How did you launch the book? How, what was the story behind that?

How do I get a literary agent? How do I…? And basically I stumbled into it. It was just a need from the market. And that’s how I started helping people. So it was two kind of main types of people. Let’s see. Sort of three. So it’s online creators of educational content creators and experts, but experts could be the creators, or they could be the second category, which is sort of business people, let’s say, sort of CEOs, founders entrepreneurs executives. And so, the niches of, the broad niche, let’s say, is nonfiction books. And, that’s who I work with and that’s who have been coming to me for help. And so I’ve been like, recently, I was like, ‘Oh, I do coaching in all these different areas. Why don’t I just focus on this? Cause it’s so much fun.’

Alison Jones: It’s so much fun, that’s brilliant. And I’m sure that there are people listening, hanging onto every word now going, those are exactly my questions, Hasan, please could you answer them right now for me? But one of the things that really stood out to me when you and I were chatting and you were talking about what, the work that you’re doing with people now you might assume from what you’ve just said about working with YouTubers and so on that you start with the platform and then you go on to publish the book and publishers aren’t interested in you unless you already have this huge following.

That’s kind of the received wisdom. But you said, no, no, no, Alison, it doesn’t have to work like that. And I’d love to hear more about…

Hasan Kubba: …well, yeah. Exhibit A…

Alison Jones: …that.

Hasan Kubba: Me and Ash we, we had no platform. We had no following. And we didn’t just get a book deal. We got multiple offers. We got three different publishers kind of fighting to get our book, you know signed to them. And i’ve done it for other clients as well, you know, so who have had zero following, zero online presence and… It’s an unfair advantage to have a platform, it massively helps, don’t get me wrong. But it’s totally possible to do it without one. It’s totally possible.

And I think the key is, if I’m just to summarize it, I think the key is to have a strong concept. It really is true. You might think, oh, well, people just want, you know, publishers just want a risk-free, proven, you know, way to sell books.

And you know what? No, they actually are interested in, in a good concept. And if you have a good enough concept, a refreshing idea, that’s gonna, you know, really grab people. And you also, I think the other, the other criteria is that you’re willing to put yourself out there and promote the book, like you’re not just an author that wants to hide away in a cave and just be like, ‘now publisher, you take care of everything for me.’ The reality is publishers are not that great at marketing. They’re not that… they’re good at selling into bookstores, which is what you want to use them for, they’re good at making covers, they’re good at giving you feedback on editing and etc and creating a nice book But they’re not very good at selling and at marketing. And so you have to do that. So as long as they see that you’re willing to do that and you have a good idea I think it’s totally totally possible. And I’ve, you know, there’s been now sort of two strong examples of… our book, and a client of mine’s book, his name is Garrett Gee.

His book is coming out in, in a couple of weeks. By the time this podcast is released, it might already be out. It’s called The Hacker Mindset, and it’s a self development book based on, you know, cyber, you know, having the mindset of a hacker, essentially. And yeah, no, no following, no platform. You’re going to struggle to find some of his content online, but he got a book deal.

Right.

Alison Jones: And presumably strong credibility as well. You have to have that kind of sense that you are the right person to write this book.

Hasan Kubba: Yes, yeah, absolutely credibility is very important. I think it goes down to, one way I like to explain it is a very old school way, which is you know, they used to teach in old public schools in England, the syllabus used to have rhetoric as one of the main things. And one of the keys to this idea of rhetoric, rhetoric, I think means persuasion or public speaking or persuasion, something like that, persuasive speech, maybe.

And in rhetoric is there’s three pillars, and this is ancient Greek, and it’s logos, ethos, and pathos. Logos is the logic of what you’re saying. Pathos is the emotion. And then ethos is the credibility, is who’s the messenger? Who’s telling me to do this? And, you know, the classic example is, you know, if you have an obese person, clearly an obese person on stage, telling you what you should eat and how you should exercise, even if everything they’re saying is true, even if they bring, you know, they’re super emotional with it, it’s hard to take the advice of somebody who’s not practicing what they preach, or you might think that they’re not, you know, if they’re not visibly credible, whatever that means. And so, yeah, credibility is key.

Alison Jones: There is something around the emotional content as well in that you’ve got somebody on stage who’s skinny and has always been skinny and has never known what it feels like to need to eat a pack of biscuits to the bottom. That’s not going to land either. You want somebody who can connect all those dots for you, who’s, who’s credible because, because they have got where you want to be, but also because, they’re credible because they, they know what you’re going through at that stage and somebody who’s started up the business… and so…

Hasan Kubba: Yeah. Ideally you’ve been through it and you have a transformational story yourself. I think of things in terms of transformational creators. It’s funny you mentioned that, but they, they know what it’s like to want to get through a pack of biscuits, which is so relatable for me.

Alison Jones: I mean, I just, that’s why I’m here. I don’t know.

Hasan Kubba: Yeah, honestly, it’s, if you haven’t been, ideally you’ve been through the transformation yourself. Yeah. But if you haven’t, it’s still possible if you have enough case studies and success stories that to show that you’ve helped others do it. And so you can use them as your, you know, the emotional story. So, yeah.

Alison Jones: Just going back to getting the book deal. You talked about getting a literary agent. It’s really helpful, especially if you want a bidding war, but it’s not always necessary, isn’t it? I think people sometimes don’t realize that there are lots of publishers, particularly for business books and self development books, who will absolutely look at your proposal without an agent bringing it to them.

So if you want to pitch to Penguin Random House or HarperCollins, sure, you’re going to need an agent, but actually there’s lots of that you can pitch to directly.

Hasan Kubba: A hundred percent. Yeah. There’s so many options nowadays. That’s the interesting thing is there are so many options nowadays and yeah, you absolutely can do it without an agent. I think one of the things is that what I have decided to focus on because it’s unique, any, I mean, you could publish anything and just put it on Amazon yourself, you’re an author now, and there are little tricks to even getting the best selling status on Amazon now, because small enough category or something is essentially the gist of it.

But, it’s about like, it’s about what you want out of it, right? And it’s about why do you want to become… write a book? Or why do you want to be an author, let’s say? And there are pros and cons to all the different ways of publishing. There isn’t just one way and I think because I come from that kind of tech startup world where what they do is they raise funding from investors, a bit like Dragon’s Den kind of thing, where they, where they pitch investors and give away part of the business and raise funding, I see a lot of parallels with that world, which is what The Unfair Advantage is about, and the book publishing world, because in a similar way, a publisher is, or traditional publishing, let’s say, is investing in your book.

And they’re giving you an possibly an advance on the royalties which is like giving you an investment which they can’t recoup. So they’re they’re taking a risk. That’s the key. That’s the key similarity and so… thankfully nowadays, you don’t have to go that route. You don’t have to please some gatekeepers.

You can go direct, but there’s a lot of advantages of You know, if you can, so our advice is, to use the parallel of this tech startup world, our advice in business is, if you have the unfair advantages to raise funding, you might as well go for it. If you have the connections, if you have the the expertise, if you have, et cetera, et cetera to be able to raise funding, if you just fit that type where it’s just, you know, getting those doors open is more straightforward for you, you should probably go for it.

Why not go big or go home, kind of thing, you know, not necessarily But it’s just it’s an interesting… I mean, it’s kind of you only live once, go for it. Take that, take the millions and see what you can do with it is the general advice if you’re ambitious, etc. And I kind of feel the same about publishing, is that if you can get a traditional publishing deal with a big publisher, you might as well try and go for it. You don’t have to then accept whatever deal they give you, you don’t, you don’t necessarily… it’s just the process.

Alison Jones: options. You have options. Exactly. And you’re likely to get good feedback.

Hasan Kubba: Exactly, the process in and of itself, you’re just, even before the feedback, the process of you writing a book proposal will clarify, so will force you to clarify so much in your mind, that it’s a very very useful process So Alison, the interesting thing is, for for people who have advised in business and entrepreneurship, I’m not actually a big fan of business… I don’t get any, I’ve never written a business plan. I don’t really tell anyone to write a business plan. But with a book, I really recommend book proposals. And it’s and I think because business for a business, it’s much more of a straightforward thing.

What’s the concept of the business? You know, what, how are you going to make money? How are you going to make a profit? What’s the product? How are you going to stand out with a book? There’s so much more, as we’ve kind of discussed, to grapple with in terms of concept and theme and depth and structure that to have… to be forced to think about it rather than just just charge ahead and just to start typing into a Google doc or a Word doc, it’s just so powerful, because people don’t stop and think and strategize on it. And even to be forced to think about the marketing plan, to be forced to think about what other competing books out there already, those kind… so it’s a very very…

Hence why for my consulting slash coaching, what I do is I say: Let’s use this as our syllabus. Let’s use the book proposal as a way for us to clarify our thinking, even have some sample chapters, even write the intro, even to have the table of contents to know what the book is about. It’s so so powerful and…

Alison Jones: …and of course, that’s exactly what I use in the proposal challenge. We have this document…

Hasan Kubba: You mentioned. Yes, it’s…

Alison Jones: …when you’ve got the output, you can use it. So that’s, that’s great on one level, but the process, the, the, the questions you have to ask yourself, because you’re exactly right. It’s, you’re making a pitch, aren’t you?

You make a pitch for investment and you’re making the case for the book. And even if you are going to publish it yourself, or you’re going to go with a partnership publisher, you still, you need all that information.

Hasan Kubba: You do, and so from there you can then… once you have a book proposal, you can then just be like, Oh, I’m just going to self publish this book. Let me just write it and just put it up on Amazon. Or you can go to a hybrid publisher, or you can go to a smaller, but traditional type of publishers, or you can go, go big and try and get a literary agent to be introduced, get feedback.

I mean, they’re not going to, you will probably get feedback from a literary agent from a proposal. Like you probably, it’s not going to be that hard. That’s their job. That’s what they’re trying to find some diamonds in the rough. And so yeah, why..

Alison Jones: Why not? Yeah, it’s all out there for you. Well, you know, as you know, Hasan, I always ask my guests for their best tip. I’ve got a feeling that might be it, actually, but I’m going to ask you anyway, what’s your best tip for somebody who wants to write a really good business book?

Hasan Kubba: Yes. I know, that that really is it. Write a book proposal. Write a book proposal, even if it’s, even if you’re never gonna show it to anybody, even if. I think you should show it to people, but I’m just saying, even if you were going to fully self publish, you know, write a proposal because it’s going to, just having those, you know, Google what a book proposal needs, right?

Those subheadings that you have to fill in, the book overview, you know, what’s the concept, what’s the book about, what’s the elevator pitch or blurb of the book? You know, what’s the table of contents and structure for the book? You know, how many words are you going to aim for? What are the competing titles?

You know, give a few sample chapters here. What’s… how are you going to sell the book? What’s your marketing plan? These, to be forced to think about it, it’s so powerful and…

Alison Jones: It’s so powerful. And I would just add, I mean, if you Google book proposal, you might get something for fiction, which is really different. You don’t, that’s not what you want. But if you go to one of the business book publishers, I’m not going to name any, there are lots available. Generally they’ll have a proposal you can download, you know, so look, look at the publishers who are publishing the kind of books that you want to be sitting on the shelf alongside, go to that publisher’s site, download their proposal template with their proposal guidelines, and boom, you’ve got exactly what you need.

Hasan Kubba: Absolutely.

Alison Jones: Yeah. Brilliant.

Hasan Kubba: Yes, and that’s what we did. We were going to self publish. And so let me, I guess I should hold up my, this is the book that we were going to self publish is the lean version is a 10, 000 word version of the book, and we called it our, in the startup world, you call it the minimum viable product.

Alison Jones: The MVP. Absolutely.

Hasan Kubba: This is the MVP, the Minimum Viable Product.

Alison Jones: And I can see it’s got the Kindle banding across it. That was a, yeah,

Hasan Kubba: …this is the author copy…

Alison Jones: …this is the author copy. That’s cool. If you’re not watching this on video, then clearly you’ve no idea what we’re talking about, but it’s that… you should probably go and watch it on YouTube.

Hasan Kubba: So it’s a completely different cover. It’s, it says ‘The Unfair Advantage: Boost your chances of tech startup success’, and there’s a little badge, you know, we’ve got this designed as a cover, a little badge that says ‘lean version’, and this is the lean version of our book, you know, using the whole startup language of lean startup.

Alison Jones: Well, in a sense, I guess a proposal is an MVP as well, isn’t it? It’s sort of one stage before what you’ve got there, but it’s, it’s really, it’s the book in microcosm.

Hasan Kubba: That’s why I was able to actually write, when I tell people, how long did it take for me to write a book proposal? It took me a day a day and a half. Like literally a day and then some feedback and then just some updates And why? Because we’d already done all the thinking, we already had all the sample chapters, because of this lean version of the book. And and therefore what did I need to write? Author bios, you know, competing books, and I don’t know what else was there. There’s not much. Oh the marketing plan, which you know, I I come from a marketing background. So that…

Alison Jones: …yes. That was never going to be too hard for you. Yeah. You’re in your happy place there. That’s brilliant.

Hasan Kubba: Yeah.

Alison Jones: I also, as you know, ask for a recommendation. You’re not allowed to recommend The Unfair Advantage, but what book do you think everybody should read? They should, of course, read The Unfair Advantage, but what other book do you think we should read?

Hasan Kubba: in terms of if you want to become an author there’s a really good book which really helped me and I recommend it to all my clients it’s called Nobody wants to Read your Shit by Steven Pressfield, and it’s a great little book.

Alison Jones: Brilliant.

Hasan Kubba: Yeah, it’s a great little book, because it’s in that book that I learned about this idea of concept and theme. Those are the main two learnings and some people get a bit frustrated with this book because he’s not very prescriptive. It’s just the way he writes is not a classic self help book, he kind of just takes you through a journey and then you have to figure out what exactly you have to do because it’s kind of… they’re a bit hard to define.

What is a concept? What is a theme? It’s it’s a bit of work. It takes a lot of work to really think, what is what is this thing about? What’s my actual concept? How do I make it stand out? But it gives you the right kind of mental model for this So that is a book i’d recommend to everybody who wants to become an author because that will help you.

Alison Jones: Such a great recommendation.

Hasan Kubba: Yeah, to do the first thing, which is: what is it about? That’s the highest leverage thing. Whatever the thing you’re doing, choosing the right thing, like, what is your business idea?

What is your YouTube video going to be about? What is your tweet going to be about? What’s your LinkedIn post going to be about? What’s your book going to be about? These are the highest leverage decisions, which we often skip and just say, Oh, what do I write? And how do I make this sound exciting? And, and, you know, whatever it might be, how do I tell my story in a great way?

And really you’re skipping the step… or even: what should my title be? Even that’s skipping a step, which is what is it about exactly? You know…

Alison Jones: We don’t do title until day four of the proposal challenge, which always baffles people because it’s like, let me tell you my title. I’m like, I don’t want to hear your title yet. We’ve got some work to do. Brilliant.

Hasan Kubba: Yeah.

Alison Jones: So Hasan, if people want to find out more about you, more about your book, but also the work that you do with authors and all the other good stuff you do, where should they go?

Hasan Kubba: Sure, so go to my website, hasankubba.com, I’ve just updated it to be kind of more specific to helping prospective authors, aspiring authors, and, yeah, you can kind of read… I’ve got case studies up there with kind of… so i’ve worked with people with big audiences and I’ve worked with people with zero audience, you know, who’ve, who’ve really nailed their book concepts, got on agents got on book deals and some, you know, it’s quite, you know, start to end a book is a long process. But that’s why… I now have my first two clients, which is Ali Abdaal with Feel-Good Productivity, which became a New York Times bestseller, which is incredible, and Garrett’s book, which is Hacker Mindset, which is coming out in June. And so it might already be out if you’re listening to this.

So yeah, and then as as time goes on more will come out and… so far, and this isn’t going to stay this way because that’s just how life works There’s no guarantees, but so far all my clients have gotten book deals.

Alison Jones: 100 percent success rate.

Hasan Kubba: 100 percent…

Alison Jones: …cool…

Hasan Kubba: …rate and you know, there’s no guarantees there, but, but there’s something, I mean, I get feedback from agents and publishers, which are like, Oh, this is perfect. I don’t, I’ve got no notes for you for this book proposal. And that’s because it’s just something I’m good at. I used to help, I used to help people with their UCAS applications back when we were applying for those. So I guess there was something always there, you know.

Alison Jones: so funny.

Hasan Kubba: The personal statement part.

Alison Jones: Yeah, talk about transferable skills. I love it. Brilliant. Thank you so much, Hasan. It was, it was fantastic to talk to you today. It’s great to be working with you in the Business Book Awards as a fellow judge. That’s..

Hasan Kubba: We’re doing the same category and…

Alison Jones: I know, it’s really cool. It’s great. But thank you so much for your time. It’s been just a fascinating conversation.

Hasan Kubba: Thank you, Alison. It’s been a pleasure.

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