Episode 108 – The story behind This Book Means Business with Alison Jones

This Book Means BusinessSomething a bit different this week: I interview myself to pull out some of the learnings from the process of writing This Book Means Business, a book about writing a book to build your business written to build my business. Meta, huh?

Discover how and why The Extraordinary Business Book Club podcast began with some thoughts on how podcasting might work for you, what happened when I faced the fear and took the advice of my guests, and what’s next now the book is out.

You can also listen in to the short talk given at the launch itself on 26 March at the Free Word Centre in London, and join in the toast to us – may we be the authors our readers need.


Alison’s website: https://alisonjones.com/

This Book Means Business: https://amzn.to/2GIy5Po (Amazon UK)

The 10-day Business Book Proposal Challenge: https://alisonjones.leadpages.co/proposal-challenge/

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

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

Pictures from the This Book Means Business launch party: https://bit.ly/2GRdb1b

Welcome to episode 108 of The Extraordinary Business Book Club – it’s 7 April 2018 as I’m recording this.

The big news here is that I’ve opened registration for the 10-day Business Book Proposal Challenge: I’ll put the link on the shownotes at www.extraordinarybusinessbooks.com. This challenge has become legendary – I’m so proud of all the books that it’s produced – and I can’t wait to work with the class of April 2017. Basically by the end of the challenge you’ll have a full professional proposal document, I’ll give you feedback and ideas every step of the way, and you’ll be absolutely clear on the book you’re gong to write and ready to start writing or pitch it to agents or publishers, whichever route you choose. You can read what people say about the course on the sign-up page, I know I would say this , but I think it’s pretty special. And of course one proposal will win an all expenses-paid publishing deal, so it might just be the most life-changing 10 days of your life.

Anyway, back to today: It’s slightly different this week, I’m interviewing myself, and reflecting on the writing and the launch of This Book Means Business: Clever ways to plan and write a book that works harder for your business, which published just a couple of weeks ago.

The launch went really well: the book shot to number one in three Amazon categories, thanks to my fabulous street team, and it’s still selling nicely and as I speak has 15 5* reviews, which is wonderful – you can’t incentive reviews at all, Amazon’s very strict about that, so that wasn’t part of my launch process, so it’s lovely to read reviews and know that they’re people’s honest response to reading the book. One went up this morning that said the book is ‘a pleasure to read as well as being useful’, which made me very happy. Every author cares about the reaction to their book of course, but because I’m writing a book about writing a book there’s a double level of self-consciousness there, and I’ve really tried to walk the talk because I know the book will be judged as an expression of what I do as well as a book in its own right, if that makes sense.

I’m not going to talk about the launch process itself here because I’ll be setting out the whole process in a webinar to my street team later this month as a thank you for their support. What I’m going to do today is try to draw out some of the key things that stand out for me in this journey, give you a taste of the book itself in what I hope will be a particularly relevant way, and end the episode with the speeches from the launch, which aren’t too long, but really give you a feel for the evening, but really say everything that needed to be said.

So it’s worth saying right up front that this podcast started as a means of getting the book written. It’s become such a core part of my platform and my life and what I’m known for that it’s sometimes hard to remember that it started as a way of tricking myself into writing, holding myself accountable in public and doing the research for the book. Here’s the section on podcasting from the book itself:

‘One of the most wonderful things to have come out of this book journey has been the launching of the Extraordinary Business Book Club podcast. It’s hard to remember that it actually started primarily as a way to force me to write this book. There were two key dimensions to that plan:

  1. Accountability. If I was broadcasting to the world week by week about how I was getting on with my own book, surely I’d have to write it out of sheer embarrassment if nothing else.
  2. Content creation. I wanted more examples of smart ways to write business-building books: what better way to find them than interviewing successful business book authors?

Both worked beautifully (though the writing took way longer than I’d imagined).

But the podcast has become so much more than that and now I recommend it as a top strategy for anyone wanting to build their platform (and, inevitably, their network, their business and themselves too).

Joanna Penn started The Creative Penn podcast back in 2009, before podcasting was even a thing, and she believes it’s still one of the best ways to connect with your tribe, IF you can be consistent and stay the course – she agreed to be a guest on my show only after I’d done 15 episodes, because:

‘So many people start podcasts but then disappear, so I figure if you can do 15 you’re probably committed… we’re at that point with podcasting where we were with blogging in 2008, 2009 probably. Podcasting’s now the real way to connect so I think it is very powerful but as with anything, you have to commit for the longer term and then it is very rewarding.’

[And then I go on to list all the reasons a podcast is a great tool for developing your platform.

I’m just going to include two here to give you a flavour:]

  1. It’s engaging. There’s something very intimate about listening to someone’s voice, much more so than reading the words they’ve written. I’m more unguarded in a podcast than I would be in a blog. I drop in details about my life, I definitely emote more (in fact once I actually cried laughing during a podcast, thank you Andy Cope). The result is that those who listen to my podcast feel they know me and they’ve started to like and trust me. And that’s a great position from which to start a conversation with a prospective client.
  2. It generates top-drawer original content. The podcast itself is a central part of your content strategy of course, but in addition you can use it as the basis of blogs, courses, videos, articles and so on. And for each of these outputs you can tag your interviewee who will almost certainly share it with his or her followers. Boom.

I absolutely love hosting the Extraordinary Business Book Club (and apparently it shows). I finish each interview feeling electrified and inspired, and each time I re-read the transcripts I notice another gem that I missed first time round. It’s brain food of the highest quality and I get to share it with anyone who’ll listen.

And here’s the thing: I just decided to do it. I had a million reasons not to, and paralysing fear about looking an idiot or messing up the tech, but I decided to do it anyway. I knew I’d enjoy it and I knew it would be good for business, and that was enough.

If you’re hovering on the brink, here’s a tip that several of my clients have used: create a podcast series on a particular topic, say six interviews. That way you can ‘try out’ podcasting, see if you enjoy it enough to want to continue, and if it resonates with your audience. If not, you still have six interesting interviews which you can mine for their networking and content value, and which will give you a toe-hold for discovery on audio platforms such as SoundCloud, iTunes and Stitcher. But if you fall in love with it as I did you can create more series and link them together and, before you know it, you’re a podcaster, baby.’

And at the end of each of the short chapters in the book there’s an ‘Over to you’ section that’s designed to help you translate the thinking of that chapter into stuff you can use in your own business and your own book, to make it work for you:

  • If you’re considering a podcast, draw up a project evaluation: what are the costs (primarily time and opportunity costs), what are the potential benefits (specifically for you and your business), and what are the risks?
  • Decide on your approach: what niche will you make your own? Who’s it for and what’s the hook? How will it relate to your book?

So that’s a taste of the book, and how it works. Basically this is the premise: most people understood that a book is a business-building tool, but my argument is that writing a book is a business-building process: you can use the months of writing your book to develop yourself, your network, your platform and your business

And of course I used the writing of this book as an experiment and to test my methodology:

I experimented with free writing , exploring my own early-stage thoughts and going deeper into my ideas as I developed them, discovering new ways of understanding and expressing them, and finding a new creative introvert in myself in the process.

Alongside that very personal development, I basically wrote the book itself in public – there’s the podcast itself of course, but then I used blog posts and articles to pull out the ideas and basically write the first draft of the book as I went. I learned a lot about how to write as an extrovert, when you’re getting your energy from others, and you’re holding yourself accountable to them, and I developed a community along the way which has been an absolute joy both personally and professionally.

I had to get brave. When you’re writing about the benefits of putting up your table of contents and even the full first draft for public comment, – which has now become known as ‘doing the full Guy Kawasaki’, rather than the full Monty, you have to do that stuff, or it’s just words: it was absolutely terrifying, but I talk in the book about the incredible power of it.

And again, building a Street Team was something that I write about in the book, so I had to walk the talk, and again I couldn’t have imagined how wonderful that would be: my street team didn’t just catapult the book to Amazon bestseller status, they’ve been like family, and they continue to shout about the book and post reviews and just generally be invested in its success, which is amazing.

So basically I used the writing of the book to carry out lots of experiments, and that isn’t going to stop now it’s published: I’m in the process of creating an audio book version, I’m exploring some really interesting distribution options for the ebook and translation deals for the print, and I’m in discussion about presenting a workshop based on the book to a business network group. I’m also exploring the idea of running workshops on the use of writing as a tool for thinking, collaboration and creativity, not just for business communication. I’m also in the early stages of planning a companion book that will be more of a journal to support the book-writing journey.

So lots to come, and I’ll be sharing the lessons here.

In the meantime, I’ll finish with those speeches from the launch, with one additional thank you – to you, the listeners, who make this podcast work.

[speeches from Bec Evans and Alison Jones]

That’s all for today, I hope you’ve enjoyed this rather different episode, and I’d love to hear what YOU think of the book and the process behind it, or if you have any questions. You can tweet me, @bookstothesky, or join in the conversation in the EBBC on Facebook, or if you’re really serious about making your book happen, sign up for the 10-day business Book Proposal Challenge: but whatever you do, do something. Books don’t write themselves, and the world needs more authors. See you next week.

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