How does one become a bestselling author and what benefits come with that distinction? If you’re writing for the vegan lifestyle space, it can be very challenging to become a bestseller when you’ve got a niched audience. But with the right strategy coupled with hard work and dedication, it is not impossible. Taking the lessons they learned from their own experiences in writing, publishing and marketing their own books, Jason Wrobel and Whitney Lauritsen dive into the whole process of breaking through the bestseller cellulose. They cover everything from getting a book deal, the pros and cons of traditional publishing versus self-publishing, the essentials of book marketing, the pros and cons of eBooks versus printed books, how book advances work, book royalties, the benefits of being a published author and more. And most importantly in many ways, they discuss the things that you can do to make money out of book writing, which is may not be as easy as you think.
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The “How To” And The Perks Of Becoming A Bestselling Author
We are going to talk about writing a book and the process of becoming a bestseller. Our experience with having cookbooks, our future as authors and this episode is inspired by our podcasting friend, Allison Melody, who has the wonderful show, Food Heals. She started a Bestselling Book Mastermind. Full disclosure, we became affiliates of that mastermind. We’re going to talk about that later on. As I was looking at what she’s been doing with this, which has been going well. This is the second round of it. We wanted to make sure that we discussed it on the show because we imagine that many, if not, most people would like to write a book in their life.
A lot of us have this dream of becoming an author. It’s been no surprise that her mastermind has been so successful. It’s been neat seeing the progress that people have been making there. That inspired me to want to talk more about our experience as authors and the book writing process. Encourage you, the reader, to consider writing your own book, whether you self-publish it, or you work with a traditional publisher, we’re going to talk about our experiences. I’ve done both. Jason has worked with a traditional publisher and dive into what it’s like to be a published author.
This came up in an upcoming episode with Jason Horton. You’ll have to stay tuned and subscribe because Jason talks about his book writing process. We’ve had a number of different authors on our show. Where should we begin in this conversation, Jason? I suppose it should start with you. You were the first of us two to write a book. Were you thinking of doing a book or were you approached to do a book and then you thought, “Why not?” What was your mindset? How long did you want to be an author before you did Eaternity?
It’s important to take it way back into childhood to answer your second question. Whereas I’ve always wanted to be an author as long as I can remember. I started reading at, according to my mom, an extraordinarily young age. Far more than other kids that she knew. I’ve always gravitated toward books learning and reading. Even as a kid, I knew I wanted to write a book someday. I didn’t exactly know what kind of book per se, but I was obsessed with books that in addition to stuffed animals, I would take books into bed to sleep with them. I would sleep with my head on the book or under the pillow. To take it all the way back, I’ve always been obsessed with the idea of writing a book and loving books.
If we fast forward to the book that I wrote, Eaternity, that we’ve referenced many times on this podcast, it was something that was clear to me when I graduated culinary school in early November of 2005, that I had an inkling of wanting a TV series and wanting a book someday. It took its time to get there. The genesis of Eaternity that came out was accelerated for me, Whitney, when we got picked up for the pilot of the Cooking Channel show, How to Live to 100. Before it was a series, we got picked up to do a pilot episode. That was 2012 when we sold the pilot to Scripts.
At that time, I was like, “I’ve got this treasure trove of recipes that I’ve been working on for my YouTube channel, social media and building up.” I had already a good sizable chunk of recipes tucked aside. When we got the pilot for the show, the pilot did well, and we got greenlit for the first season, that’s when it started to catalyze. That was 2013, 2014, where I started the idea of Eaternity, which was a much broader look at the information and the perspective of the TV series, How to Live to 100. In the sense of, I want to go deeper into the scientific research. I want to go deeper into the functional benefits of the foods that I talk about on the show. In many ways, Eaternity picked up speed because I wanted to write a companion for anyone who saw the TV series. That was when Eaternity started to crystallize for me.
As a contrast because I didn’t intend on writing a book for a while and then there was like this shift for me. After seeing how it went for you, Jason, and all the benefits that you had, I think about some of the events that we spoke at together and how people loved buying copies of your book. It’s always interesting in general at events like people want to buy something. I’ve had merchandise like my t-shirts and such. Your books have always been something that people enjoy. I experienced that too. After I have my traditionally published book, The Vegan Ketogenic Diet Cookbook, I have had a lot of people just buy it to be supportive. Our mutual friend, Ross has bought several copies to give away as gifts.
It makes him feel good to give somebody a copy of a book that his friend wrote. That’s neat. It’s interesting all of the different benefits, which we’ll get into more of, being a published author. For me though, my journey has started with my self-published eBook called Healthy Organic Vegan on a Budget. I wrote that back in 2014. Perhaps that book came about because I had a successful YouTube video about eating vegan on a budget. In 2011 or ‘12, I did this experiment. I went to a number of different grocery stores and price match things and came up with different meals that you could make for a few dollars.
I made a little PDF for my website, EcoVeganGal.com as an opt in. If somebody decides to sign up for my newsletter, they would get this free eBook. That was part of me learning how to do more internet marketing and have a successful newsletter. That’s a big piece of advice for content creators is to give somebody this freebie. We have multiple PDFs now for Wellevatr. If you, the reader, has not downloaded it yet, you can go to Wellevatr.com. If you go to the Free Resources, we have three eBooks now.
Our latest is From Chaos to Calm, all about dealing with anxiety, uncertainty and chaos in the world, which there are plenty of it especially right now. We also have our second one, which is Take Charge!, which is a compilation of an interview series we did of some of the most incredible leaders in the plant-based movement from mindset people to fitness coaches, chefs, nutrition experts. The very first one we did, Whitney, which was pretty early on in our Wellevatr journey was You Are Enough, which is about mantras and affirmations for anyone who’s dealing with the mindset of not being enough, which is certainly something you and I have both dealt with. They’re good eBooks not because we wrote them, Whitney. I’m very proud of the content, the lesson plans, the directions, everything we did in those three eBooks. For the reader, if you haven’t checked those out yet, please dive in.
This was not meant to be a promo of our own three eBooks, but to give an example. I imagine that if you’re interested in this episode, you’re probably looking at how you can do more writing and establish yourself as a writer. Writing eBooks, especially the free kind, is a great way to get that practice and to learn the art of writing. It’s pretty challenging. These eBooks took us a while, especially our last one From Chaos to Calm. We spent like months working on that, developing the concept, finding resources, editing it, creating the style for it. You can certainly spend a lot less time. In fact, that eBook I mentioned about eating on a budget, that took me maybe an hour or something. I remember throwing it together, the minimum viable product as they call it, and putting it out there as something of value.
That’s a very important element in it. It’s got to be something that somebody finds valuable enough to download and then to want to continue to get more from you. It’s been interesting over the years developing different freebies like that. My point being as I made that freebie is I had this video. I can’t remember, Jason. You and I did our video together, which was Extreme Vegan Cheapskates before I wrote my book, Healthy Organic Vegan on a Budget. We did that cheapskates video, which was also fairly successful on YouTube. That was in 2013. My book didn’t come out until 2014. That second YouTube video also inspired my self-published book as well. I wrote this book. I treated it like it was with a traditional publisher. I did all this research. I studied how to format it correctly. I had a team of volunteer editors. I had three different women, who read it through, made suggestions and helped me make sure it was okay. I recorded my own audiobook version of it and offered that. I studied how to market it. It was an interesting process.
If anybody is interested in learning more about that specifically, you can always reach out to me via email or direct message. All of our usernames are under @Wellevatr. If you’re ever curious about that process, I’d be happy to share more. If I can find it, I will link this wonderful resource I found. It was an eBook or a course that I took that talked specifically about how to write and publish a successful book as a form of monetization and self-promotion.
I did that book. I was unattached to whether I would do anything further. I don’t remember the exact date that I started, but I did do one other self-published eBook. I have continued to update it annually. That’s for the Natural Products Expo, which I’m passionate about. A big lesson here when it comes to writing books is to find a topic that you’re passionate about and you’re knowledgeable in. For me, in addition to learning how to eat well on a budget, I also was knowledgeable about this trade show that Jason and I go to. You may have heard us talk about this in previous episodes. It’s called the Natural Products Expo.
I have been so passionate about this that I decided to put together something called The Insider’s Guide. Similar to what Jason mentioned with our eBook for Wellevatr, I went and interviewed a number of different experts, people that also love and know a lot about the Natural Products Expo. I got their best tips. I compiled their tips together with mine into an eBook that I’ve been publishing every year. That continues to bring me money because of the SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization.
I learned through the self-publishing avenues of doing eBooks specifically. Neither one of those books is available in a physical form, although I’ve considered making the Healthy Organic Vegan on a Budget book available on Amazon or something like that. They have something called like Kindle Publishing now or something. They do have a feature that’ll print books on demand for you, which is pretty neat.
The avenue to becoming a self-publisher continues to change. This is a huge element of Allison’s Bestselling Book Mastermind, which we mentioned. We’ll give you more details later if you’re interested in joining it. It’s about creating a book and getting it onto a platform like Amazon to become a bestseller in ten weeks, which is crazy. I have found that you don’t need that much time to write a book especially if you’re self-publishing it. It is a different avenue seen as Jason and I have both written with a publisher. To continue the journey of my book writing experience, after doing those two eBooks on my own, I’m feeling unattached to book writing.
Something hit me in 2019, towards the beginning of that year, I started to feel like I wanted to write a book and do it the traditional avenue. It was something that was in my head. I was reflecting on. I might’ve put it on my visualization board or something like that. I don’t know how much energy I put towards it. Somehow the universe conspired in my favor and a friend of mine reached out who happens to work for a publishing company. She said that they had a book about the vegan keto diet and they were looking for an author to do it.
What’s interesting about that publisher in contrast to Jason’s publisher, which I’ll let him get into more detail on, the publisher that I worked with on my cookbook comes up with a concept and an outline, and then they find authors to create the book based on that outline. It’s a very different process than coming up with your own concept and pitching it. In summer 2019, I was approached to do this book. I was super excited about it because at the time I was passionate about the vegan keto diet.
I love talking about it. It was a huge part of my life. I also had been thinking about writing a book. Suddenly one showed up in my email inbox. I got an email from my friend. She asked if I was interested. We got on a phone call. Within 1 or 2 weeks, I had a book deal. Since I don’t develop recipes, that’s not a passion of mine, I had to find somebody to do it with me. Jason and I have a mutual friend named Nicole Derseweh, who we had on the show. She talked about the book writing process as well. Nicole and I co-wrote that book together.
What was neat about our publisher is because they already had the outline, they had a whole timeline set out for us. We wrote that book in two months or so. It went through the editing process. It came out in February 2020. It was less than a year of being approached and publishing it. You had quite a different experience with your book, Jason, because you went the super traditional publisher route. Tell us about how that all came to be and what that was like.
I was jotting down recipes, visions and chapter sketches. It wasn’t even a proposal yet. This was during the time that I was filming the pilot in the first season for How to Live to 100. I have this document. I recall updating with, “Maybe this idea, this recipe and this functional benefit.” It was this ragtag grouping of ideas that had no form or structure yet. Two things happened that helped me to get my proposal together. There was an interesting set of dominoes that fell.
The first one was that I talked to our mutual friend, Ruby Roth, who we had in an amazing previous episode here on the show. In that episode, she talks a lot about publishing and reinventing herself artistically. Ruby had already published two books by the time that I was in the kitchen, cooking up the idea for what would become Eaternity. I reached out to Ruby and I said, “Ruby, I have all these ideas and they’re ragtag and scattered. I have no idea what a book proposal format should even look like.” Ruby was kind enough to email me the proposal that she had submitted to her publisher, which at the time, it may still be North Atlantic. She said, “I’ll send you my proposal. You can see the format, the structure, what the publishers look for.” Ruby Roth, a huge shout-out to her for sending me her proposal. I could use that as a template on how to structure mine.
The second thing that happened was another mutual friend of ours who has not been on the show yet is Tess Masters, who is also known as “The Blender Girl.” She has published three wonderful books with Ten Speed Press. I ran into Tess at my mailbox. I’ve had a mailbox ever since my TV series was out because I would get fan mail from time to time. I didn’t want that stuff going to my physical address. I ran into Tess randomly at my mailbox. I was like, “Tess, what are you doing here?” She’s like, “I’m finally getting the last draft of my manuscript out. I’m sending it now. I’m freaking out. It’s crazy.” Tess is high-energy. I ended up talking to Tess for almost an hour at the mailbox about her experience getting a book deal, what you need in the proposal, what they look for. Lo and behold, Tess introduces me to her book agent. Her book agent talks to me, learns about the show, learns about my book concept. By this time, it’s a few months down the line where I have my proposal like 85% done.
Tess’ book agent helps me polish it up, get the last 50% done and then we start pitching it. We were still in the first season of How to Live to 100. When I signed with this agent and we were pitching the book with, this was like early spring of 2014. We initially had interest from, which is probably known as the preeminent cookbook publisher in the world, which is Clarkson Potter. We got the proposal over to Clarkson Potter. We had a great conversation. Unfortunately, during that negotiation process is when we got word that we were not going to get renewed for a second season of How to Live to 100. Without getting into too many of the gory details and they are gory, Clarkson Potter said, “If he’s not going to have a second season, we’re tanking it.” They yanked their deal. That was heartbreaking. I had wanted to go with Clarkson Potter. Who did they do? They did Anthony Bourdain’s cookbooks. They did a lot of the big mainstream chefs.
For me to be included in that publisher or on their roster would have been a huge thing for me. We didn’t get picked up for a season two and they pulled the plug. We were pitching. We had a couple of deals on the table. It came down to Ten Speed Press, which is another preeminent cookbook publisher. They’ve done Tess’ books. They’ve done Miyoko Schinner, another great podcast guest. We’ve talked about Bryant Terry also.
Ten Speed Press is huge for cookbooks and culinary-themed books. It came down to them. It came down to Hay House. Hay House is not necessarily known for their cookbooks. They’ve done cookbooks, but they’re mostly known for self-help spiritual transformational books. What it came down to for me was the money was a consideration. I can get into some specifics maybe a little bit later about how advances work and how the cookbook deals work. What it came down to me in that decision process was not who was going to offer me more money because spoiler alert, Ten Speed Press offered me more money than Hay House did. I won’t say those numbers. I don’t think it’s appropriate in this context.
I went with Hay House because they offered me more creative freedom. This is important because this does not happen that much. They also said that they would co-promote the book. That’s huge these days because most publishers I found not only in my investigations of pitching my books but talking to other friends of ours, most of these big publishers, if you’re going to go traditional, it’s all about platform. One of the first questions they ask when you talk to a publisher is, “What’s your platform? How big is your platform? How big are your numbers?” Why do they do this?If you're going with traditional publishing, make sure that your publisher is going to be a co-creative promotional partner with you. Click To Tweet
They do this because they expect you to do the bulk of the promotion for your own book. In most cases, unless you’re a heavy hitter, they will not do very much PR. They will not do very much promotion on their own. They expect authors now to do the bulk of that. The reason I went with Hay House is they offered me more creative freedom. They said, “We love your vision. We want to do your vision. We don’t want to change your vision.”
I got a little bit of a hint that Ten Speed was going to maybe alter some things that I wasn’t comfortable with. The other side of it was that Hay House said, “We’re going to promote you on all of our social media networks. We’re going to send you out in our newsletters. We’re going to put you on Hay House Radio. We’re going to do pretty much everything in our power to be promotional partners with you.” Even though the money wasn’t as big as Ten Speed, I felt that ultimately the success of the book was going to be greater because Hay House was going to give me free creative reins with one exception, they did everything that I wanted to do.
They went to bat for me. They promoted the hell out of that book when it came out. Whenever you’re looking at this stuff, the advanced number and the money is not everything one ought to pay attention to if you’re going to go with a traditional deal. You need to look at creative freedom. You need to look at if the publisher is going to be a co-creative promotional partner with you. That was a longwinded rant, but I wanted to get everything in there.
This is super helpful and interesting. Many people want to write books. Talking about it and what that experience is like is helpful to others. There are many different ways to do this. That’s part of what overwhelms people is there are pros and cons. We’ve had many authors on our show. This is bringing awareness to this. Another person is Robert Cheeke, who had a great episode. One of my favorite guest episodes ever is with Robert. He self-published a number of his books if not all of them up until now. I could be wrong, but he does talk about this in the episode. I believe that his latest project might be his first traditionally published book.
He’s done three self-published books and has found a lot of success, not just in terms of building his brand but financially. Even though you might put up a little bit of money to self-publish in his case, you are retaining 100% of the profits, which is very different than going with a traditional book deal where you are not retaining 100% of the profits. That’s a big distinction we could maybe dig into a little bit more. To answer your question, Robert is in the process of writing his first traditional major book deal.
That’s exciting for somebody that’s self-published books beforehand. Some of the big pros and cons to self-publishing versus traditionally publishing is that creative control that Jason was talking about. Not every publisher is going to give you that. Some publishers do. Sometimes it depends on where you’re at with your career. One thing I want to get into is all the nuances of working with a publisher and the negotiations and all of that.
One of the huge benefits to self-publishing your own book is that you get to call all the shots. The downside is that unless you hire a whole team around you, you’re doing it on your own. That’s one of the big reasons we want to talk about Allison. By the way, it’s not just Allison. It’s Allison and Laura who have also gotten to know over the years. Laura Petersen has become well-known for supporting people with the book writing process. If you’re going to self-publish, it’s incredibly daunting, overwhelming and confusing if you’ve never done it before.
Maybe even if you have done it, it’s still a lot of work. Having someone there to help you with the whole process of writing, editing, formatting, publishing and marketing is huge. As Jason mentioned, some traditional publishers will guide you through that entire process and some don’t. It depends on your deal. In my case with my publisher, they were a smaller publisher. They’re not as well-known as Hay House, but they were so great because it was a huge perk to have an outline. That’s one thing.
Going back to Jason’s proposal, I remember when he was working on it, that was a lot of work just to write that proposal. It’s a ton of time and effort to do that. This is something you don’t have to do as a self-published author. When I was weighing out the pros and cons of working with a publisher, it was neat for my first traditionally published project to be that in between point where they already had the concept and the outline for me. All I had to do is write based on that outline.
I didn’t have as much creative freedom as Jason was talking about, or in the case of a self-published author like Robert Cheeke or me with my previous eBooks. I liked having that outline and that guide. I liked having their own timeline and having someone hold me accountable for it. Do all the editing and the formatting, which is a lot of work when you’re self-publishing. When Jason is talking about the marketing too, if you’re going to self-publish, that’s entirely up to you unless you work with a team or a coach or consultant like Laura Petersen and Allison Melody. If you’re taking that on your own like Robert did, it’s a lot.
You have to study a lot. You have to be very committed. You have to have a lot of willpower around this. Robert Cheeke and I were dating at that time. We dated for a few months back in 2010. I went on the book tour with him. He put together his whole book tour to promote his book. He did such a great job marketing it. He was at all these events because it was a vegan fitness book. He would go to fitness events. He would go to veg fests. I got to see him all along the way promoting this. We made videos together for YouTube. They are linked already in Robert’s episode. If you’re curious about Robert’s journey, check out that episode.
It was interesting observing his process. What’s neat about a self-published book is you can make it look so good that no one will even know that it’s self-published. One of the things that they do with Bestselling Book Mastermind is they’ll help you learn all of that. Those are things I don’t know yet. With self-publishing, I haven’t done any print copies. One of the huge benefits to working with a team, whether it’s a coach or a group like that, mastermind, or if you’re working with a traditional publisher is they can help you with making it look nice.
In my case, and Jason’s case, we had a team of people doing that work. For me, the publisher hired a food photographer. They hired a graphic designer. I had no input on that. That was fine because they did an amazing job. I love the cover of my book. The only downside is that Nicole, my coauthor and I would have liked if we could have been on the cover. My publisher finds, through their research and experience, that pictures of food do better than people on their covers unless they’re celebrities.
We didn’t have much creative control, but that wasn’t a big deal to us. They did a great job with the food photography. Some of the dishes came out so much better than I could have imagined like the matcha donuts recipe in the book. Sadly, the recipe is hard to make it look as good as it does in the book. The photo is incredible. It’s beyond belief what that food stylist was able to do. For you, Jason, was it Jackie that did the food photography? You’ve got to hire your own photographers for your project, right?
Yeah. As a distinction, I did get to choose my own photographers. They said, “We have your book advance. We have a separate budget for photography.” Not every publisher works that way. Some publishers will give you an advance for the book. Out of that lump sum will come the photography budget. As an example, I go back to our friend, Tess on her first book, she got a lump sum of money. She had a three-book deal. Out of that lump sum, she had to pay the photographer she chose out of that as opposed to Hay House, which is a little more unusual where they separate the author’s advance from a separate photo budget.
I had a separate distinct photo budget. I hired Jackie Sobon, who also has the brand, Vegan Yack Attack and has wrote 2 or 3 books at this point. Also our good friend, Jeff Skeirik, also known as the “Rawtographer.” Jeff handled the cover shot and he handled all of the lifestyle photos. There were shots of me working out and running. There were shots of me in the garden, picking herbs and vegetables. Jackie focused only on the finished recipes. We had 154 recipes. Not every recipe had an accompanying photo though. We had about 50%. It was maybe 70 something recipes had photos in the book.
That’s still a big, big chunk of recipes to create and photograph. Assisting Jackie in that process was our good friend and my culinary assistant at the time, Michelle Marquis. She helped me tweak and develop some of the recipes. When it was time to do the food styling, her and Jackie did it together. Jackie was also a food stylist. I had a team of two photographers and then two food stylists. On the corporate side with Hay House, they had a typographer. They had a graphic designer. They had a layout artist. All in all, it was a big team to make it all happen.
There’s also the marketing side of it. How much marketing did you do to support Hay House? Did you have a contract for it? In my case, my publisher put together a marketing plan. I had an incredible marketing advisor, but I don’t know how much they did. They did take out ads on Amazon and maybe some other places to promote the book. I don’t know if they had any leverage on the marketing side. In my contract, I had to do a set amount of social media post and they again provided a whole outline for it. It was pretty cool because I learned a lot through that process where they had templates for types of posts that did well. They gave me dates to hit and all sorts of suggestions. They checked in with me. They did a great job in supporting me. Unlike Hay House, they weren’t helping me in addition to that marketing. What was required of you, Jason, if anything, to market your book? Beyond what was required, what did you do to promote it? What do you think was successful?
I didn’t have any specific requirements that were baked into the contract. I did lay out a marketing plan for them in the book proposal and that involved a copious amount of social media videos and photos from the book. There were no restrictions on that. I had digital files for all of the photos. I created a whole catalog of memes that I had put out as well. I put out recipe photos. I put out the book cover. I put out memes. I did a book launch party here in LA. I did an event in New York. I did an event in Detroit. It was like a mini tour.
I also did the Wanderlust Festival that year. I did The Longevity Now Conference. I did do quite a few appearances on the road when that book came out in 2016. In addition to that, I did a giveaway where I contacted different brands like Sunwarrior, Blendtec, Lakanto and Om Mushrooms, all my favorite brands. We put together a prize package that was worth over $3,000. This was one of the most successful things in terms of opt-ins too. How it worked was if you bought a copy of the book on Amazon, IndieBound, Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble, I had a separate email account that people would email their receipts.
By doing that, they would submit their email address and their name. They’d be entered in the giveaway to win this $3,000 prize package. It was amazing. I got hundreds, maybe even thousands of entries. I can’t remember the exact number, but it was a high number of people who entered this. As a result, that first two months of book sales were high. We talked about these expectations in previous episodes. I wanted it to be a New York Times bestseller, Wall Street Journal bestseller. Those are the standard marks of how people perceive success. It didn’t end up hitting any of those lists.
It did however, hit the bestseller list in Canada, which was fascinating. I learned that in terms of market segmentation, it was selling well in Canada. To this day, I still have a lot of Canadian fans, which is amazing. I’m grateful for them. We didn’t have any of the US bestseller list, but we did hit the Canadian seller list. To go back to your question about marketing, I did a ton of social media, a ton of video content, a ton of recipes. The big thing that I noticed, Whitney, was doing live appearances at those festivals and conferences and how excited people were, as you mentioned previously, that when people see you speak on stage and then they know you have a new book out, I was moving hundreds of copies at some of these events. The Longevity and I remember particularly Wanderlust in Squaw Valley, the big one, I was moving stacks of books. The two biggest promotional tools were live touring and then that big giveaway I did with all of the brands. Those were hugely successful.
I love this inside scoop. Hopefully, it’s helping people think about their own marketing if they’re going to come out with a book or maybe it’s a dream of yours to do that one day. The tactics are constantly changing. That’s part of marketing in general. What year did your book come out, Jason? Was that 2015 or ‘14?
Eaternity came out on April 6th, 2016.
Tell us about that timeline from beginning to end.
I finished the proposal in the beginning of spring in 2014. We pitched and got the deal with Hay House in the summer of 2014. From the finishing of that proposal to the actual release of that book in the US and international, it was a full two years from the completion of the proposal, selling the book and then getting the deal hammered out. It was a solid two years to it finally coming out. It was one of the most challenging things to do because I wanted to have the original vision. This is one of the few points of compromise with Hay House. I understand why they did it.
The original manuscript I turned in the first draft of the manuscript to Hay House, which was probably early 2015 was well over 100,000 words. It was 120,000 words, which would have ended up being at the size of the print and the cut would have been probably close to 550 pages, which is a big book. That’s a thick cookbook. They said, “We love you. We think it’s amazing, but we aren’t keen on publishing a book of this size. We think it’s going to be a little too dense for people to take in all that information.”
One of the few compromises was that I trimmed it down to under 400 pages. The final book ended up being 75,000 or 80,000 words and about 382 pages. That was the toughest part of the process was editing because I wanted all of the research in there. I wanted all of the data around superfoods and functional benefits. I wanted all of the recipes in there. I acquiesced to Hay House on that point. They said, “We think that a 550-page book is going to be overwhelming to people.” Maybe in some cases they were right. That’s an extraordinarily large cookbook. If you look at most cookbooks, they’re not over 100,000 words and they’re not over 500 pages. That was one of the points that I had to take a lot of time. That was probably the most difficult part of the process was, what do I leave in and what do I take out? I agonized over the editing process. I agonized over it.In self-publishing, you get to call the shots, but unless you hire a whole team around you, you’re basically doing everything on your own. Click To Tweet
Maybe you could do a book of everything that was edited out of it. Have you ever thought about doing that?
Like a director’s cut?
Not even like a director’s cut, but a bonus material. Here’s what got left out of the book. That would be interesting.
I thought about it. Some of the recipes that didn’t make the cut for Eaternity, I still have those back pocket. I still have a recipe journal that I keep in one of the drawers of my kitchen. It’s like my secret recipe journal and there are recipes in there that I haven’t published. We go back to you talking about eBooks. I’ve put out three eBooks over the years. I’ve been doing this for many years. Before Eaternity, I had three eBooks. Between those eBooks and between Eaternity and also between the chunk of the book that I contributed to our friend, Jeff Krasno, we keep name-dropping all the freaking guests, who was also an amazing previous guest here on the show.
I know we’ve had many authors on our show. It’s mind-boggling.
We’re obviously grateful and blessed to call them friends and colleagues of ours but great authors. Jeff approached me after Eaternity was published. This was 2017 and he said, “I want to do a follow-up to my bestselling book. He had written a book about Wanderlust, which is the organization he co-founded. He said, “I want to do a recipe book called Find Your True Fork.” I want you to be the one to do the vegan section. I did a whole separate slew of recipes. I did 8 or 10 recipes for the vegan section of Find Your True Fork. That’s not officially my cookbook, but I do lump it in there and talk about it if people do want more of my recipes. Matthew Kenney is in that book and Meredith Klein and some other amazing plant-based chefs. It’s not an exclusively plant-based book.
There is a large amount of the recipes in there that are vegan or plant-based. Unofficially, my second book, my name is not on the cover, was Find Your True Fork with Jeff. I’m proud of those recipes in that book. I did my take on Japanese fusion. I’ve mentioned this in previous episodes that Japanese cuisine and Japanese culture is my favorite. I feel a deep soul connection to that. When he challenged me to do that section of the book, I said, “Are you cool if I do all Japanese theme recipes?” He was like, “Of course.” Even maybe more so than some of the recipes in my own book, I’m super proud of the recipes in that Find Your True Fork book.
You have done a lot. To anyone reading, who hasn’t even written a PDF book, it’s all about starting somewhere. Writing a book is accessible if you are wanting it. Whether it comes about through you starting a project or you joining a mastermind, like the one that our friend, Allison and Laura, are doing, or if you are wanting to do a self-published book. Maybe you put it on your visualization board like I did, and you get an opportunity coming to you or maybe even something that we’ve heard. With this upcoming episode we have with Jason Horton, he got books offered to him because of his podcast. You might be going about your life and get approached on something. It’s not that easy. You do have to put work into this. You never know how it’s going to come to be for you.
That was what happened with me. I’m not attributing my book experience to my manifestation powers, but it was interesting how I was thinking about it. Out of the blue, I got approached to write a book. A lot of that was due to my work on my Eco-Vegan Gal social media accounts. I was talking about vegan keto. If I hadn’t been posting for fun about vegan keto, I wouldn’t have had that book opportunity. Some of this is about doing what you already love to do. Publishers might approach you. Book agents might approach you or you can submit yourself as well. You can go and find an agent and work with them to get your book.
There are different avenues you can take. When I went to the Podcast Movement Conference back in February 2020, the same month my book came out, I spoke at the Podcast Movement event in Los Angeles. There was a great presentation happening there. I’m going to try to find the information for them because they also will help you through the publishing process. Although I’m a little biased with Allison and Laura’s mastermind program, but it depends on what you want to do, weighing out the pros and cons and what pace you want to go at. Going back to Jason’s timeline, if you want to spend two years on a process, or maybe you don’t have the choice if you’re going with a traditional publisher versus in my experience of being able to do the whole process from beginning to end in nine months with a traditional publisher.
It’s interesting. If you self-publish though, one of the elements of the Bestselling Book Mastermind is doing it in ten weeks. Laura and Allison’s big mission here is to get you out of analysis paralysis. A lot of people sit in that place of wanting to do something, but they never accomplish it because they’re overthinking it and myself included. I want to write another book. What’s funny now that I’m talking about it, I did have another book that I was going to work on and I scrapped. It was going to be called Healthy Balanced Body.
Part of the reason I scrapped that project is because my whole perspective on things shifted. I was planning on doing a book about healthy weight loss. This was part of my experience, losing weight and gaining weight and trying different diets. I started writing this book. I created a little program around it. I pre-sold the book and didn’t feel it was in alignment with me anymore. I still want to do a version of that project one day. It’s not entirely out of mind. It’s that it wasn’t what I initially set out to do. That can happen a lot.
Plus, I did have analysis paralysis. I was procrastinating a lot out of fear. I felt like there were too many options and trying to do something like that alone is tough. One of the huge benefits going back to self-publishing versus traditionally publishing is most self-publishing is done completely on your own unless you join a mastermind or a program or work with somebody in some capacity like that. If you’re on your own, it could take you years to get something done. A lot of people will get stuck in that place versus when you work with a traditional publisher like Jason and I have. You’re being pushed.
Aren’t there a few stories we’ve heard, Jason, of people having crazy situations once they get the book deal? I know one that comes to mind is Brendon Burchard, who is working on one of his books. He had some huge run in with the publisher where they wanted him to do it completely differently than he wanted to. He had to pay them back his book advance, which was some crazy amount. Wasn’t it $1 million or something like that? Do you remember the story?
I don’t remember the exact amount. Knowing him, it was probably hundreds of thousands. I don’t know if it was $1 million. He submitted a book to his original publisher. They completely rejected it. They asked him to write a different book. He said no and the publisher dropped him. He had to pay back the advance money. Hay House picked it up and published The Motivation Manifesto. Brendon is a Hay House author. He’s on their stable. That whole thing of advances, it’s a good segue way to talk about that quickly.
For anyone who doesn’t understand the mechanics of what that means, it means when you sign a book deal, most publishers give you an advance. What that is that’s a chunk of money that in most cases is leveraged against your earnings. Here’s how it works. You sign a book deal and they say, “We’re going to give you $50,000.” Again, most publishers will want you to take some money out of that for the photo budget. Most publishers will be like, “We need to take $10,000 of that and put that toward photography.”
You’re left with $40,000. How that works is baked into your deal, and this is almost exactly how record contracts work too with bands and musicians, they give you a lump sum of money and their philosophy is, “This will be over the two-year process that it takes to write a book. You might not have to take other gigs and you can focus on the creative project we’re contracting you for.” The original intention is to let the artist survive while the artist creates the piece of work that they’re contracted for.
The rub is that you don’t start making any actual earnings on sales of your book until that advance is recouped. That’s the phrase that is used in the book and the music industry. Recouped means that if you get a $50,000 advance and the percentage of sale per book that you get, which for a first author unless you’re a massive celebrity or have a huge following is between 7.5% and 10% of the retail value of the book. This means that if you have a $25 book and you get a 10% cut, you’re getting $2.50 per every book you sell.
Where it gets tricky is you don’t start seeing any of that money of the book sales at all until you paid back the $50,000 advance to the publisher. That means that every single book that you sell, that’s $2.50. You don’t start getting any residual checks, any checks until that $50,000 is paid back. What is $50,000 divided by $2.50? That means you have to sell 20,000 books until you start seeing checks from the publisher.
Most published books never get anywhere near 20,000 copies. I saw a statistic that that’s putting you in the 80th or 90th percentile of all books that are published. I’ve heard people like, “I only sold 20,000 copies.” It’s like, “Are you out of your mind? Do you know how good that is in the context of books that are released every year in the world?” To give an example, you’re not going to see any checks pass that advanced money until it’s fully recouped and paid back to the publisher based on your per unit sales.
It’s something I want to talk about too is in my case with my publisher, I got a lump sum. It wasn’t quite an advance. Again, since my publishing deal was still like a traditional publisher, but different from most traditional publishers in that they paid me a fee to write the book, but I didn’t get an advance. I don’t get any money beyond the money that they paid me. That was a hard decision to make. The reason I went forward with it is I felt like it was such an easy yes.
First of all, I wanted to write a book like I said. I was like, “This is amazing that I’m being offered this opportunity.” Second of all, I was super passionate and knowledgeable about vegan keto and still am, even though it’s not the way that I eat. I have a lot of respect for the vegan keto, low carb plant-based diet and thought writing a book about it would fun. It would be great to do it with my friend, Nicole, and give her some work and give her the opportunity to have a book. Being a published author, we should also talk about the benefits that come with that “title.”
My point being, I had to weigh out the pros and cons. I knew based on Jason’s experience and other people I know, all these published authors we’ve been talking about like approximately the range of what you can make as an author with an advance. When I saw the numbers for my situation, they weren’t great. I knew I was worth more than that. Knowing that I wouldn’t make any more money from the sales was a drawback for me. I do still make a little bit of money through affiliate commissions.
One thing you’ll see if you go to Wellevatr.com, we use affiliate links. We have a little disclosure on there that tells you that if you buy something based on our recommendation, we might get a kickback from it. I’ll get a few cents every time you buy one of my books. Jason will get a few cents if you buy his. It’s a little way to support us. It doesn’t sound much, but it does add up a little. Also, with the mastermind that we’ve been talking about, we’re affiliates of them too. As a disclosure, when we promote some things, there’s something within it for us. We never promote something we’re not passionate about. Long way of saying that, there wasn’t a ton of money in it for me, but this is a great segue to the things that go beyond money or the upfront money because you might not make a ton with your advance. You might not make a ton like with the sales afterwards, a bonus or whatever you might get because you got that too. Did you talk about that yet, Jason?
Sometimes there are tiered bonuses in a publishing contract, not all. Sometimes if you sell a specific number of copies in a certain timeframe, they’ll kick you extra money, which also it’s added to your advance, it’s not free money. They’re like, “We’ll kick you this extra money.” That’s also an advantage against the royalty. They say, “If you sell 10,000 copies in the first twelve months, we’ll give you an extra $10,000.” It gets added to your original advance, which again, as I explained is recoupable against your royalties. It might seem great at first, but it’s trading that bonus money or that upfront money of the advance toward your later earnings. Unless you’re selling a ton of books, that means that the residual checks are going to be that much further away. There are pros and cons to all of it.
It’s a lot to weigh out. That’s why working with an agent or working with a coach is helpful to figure all of these things out. I don’t know if there’s necessarily a right or wrong way to go, whether you’re determining which publisher to go with or whether or not to self-publish. Writing down the pros and cons for you is important. For me, another huge benefit of doing my book deal was that I got the experience of writing. It helped me realize that I want to write more books, which is not something that I was super clear on beforehand.
It’s cool saying you’re a published author. There’s that ego validation side of it, as superficial as it might be. We laughed a lot about this in our upcoming episode with Jason Horton. It’s fun to say you’re a published author. Some of us like to have those little check marks on our list or put it in our bios and that does lead to your credibility. This is a huge reason why people in the entrepreneur world want to write books is because it adds to your overall credibility. You’re somebody who has taken the time and the effort to do this. Some people feel maybe a little embarrassed or less than if they self-publish, but you should give yourself a huge pat on the back if you self-publish. It’s a lot of work.
It takes that accountability. It takes the research. It takes maybe an investment of working with a coach or in a mastermind setting. I tip my hat to those people especially Robert Cheeke. He puts so much effort into that. If you do get to work with a traditional publisher, that’s a pretty big deal too. As we’ve described, there’s this process of getting that opportunity, whether it’s somebody you know or it’s a subject that you’re an expert in, or you have a platform that people want to approach. That all takes a lot of work. In Jason’s case, getting the book agent and writing the proposal, that’s a lot of work too, and then spending two years on something. This is why writing a book does give you that credibility. It’s so much work and effort. There’s so much more that leads to that experience in the first place.Writing a book gives you credibility because it takes so much effort, accountability and research. Click To Tweet
It’s important for the reader if you have the inclination or the desire that you think you want to be a published author, it’s going to be a lot of hard work either way. To piggyback on what Whitney said, whether it’s an average of two years or even more in some cases for a book or it’s having the accountability and the drive to do it yourself. I wouldn’t call it fun all of the time. There are elements of it that are fun, but I’m saying this as a spoiler alert to the reader that it is a lot of nose to the grindstone, discipline, focus, late hours, meeting deadlines, whether they’re imposed by the publisher or your own self-imposed deadlines. I don’t want to paint a picture that this is unicorn rainbows and cat farts. There are nights where it was like, “I need to be up until 2:00 in the morning to meet a deadline.” There were a lot of nights like that. One ought to understand that this is going to be unless of course you’re in an accelerated program like ten weeks. Even then, it’s going to be a lot of work. It will be fun, but it’s also going to be a challenge.
It’s like people that want to run a marathon. In theory, that sounds awesome and what an accomplishment. You have to train for it. You have to complete it, which is a lot of work. My hat goes off to anybody who’s done a marathon. That’s amazing. It’s a good thing that it’s hard because then if it wasn’t, everybody would do it. Granted anybody can write a book for better or for worse. Because you have a book, doesn’t mean that it’s a great book. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re credible because anybody can do it through all these different avenues. Because of that process, it says something about you and you can do things like getting a ghostwriter. There are many different avenues that we don’t currently have experience in.
There are so many different ways to create a book. Some people dictate their books and have somebody write it for them. We’ve seen a lot of creative processes over the years. Speaking of processes, I want to talk about what it means to be a bestseller. That’s one thing you brought up briefly. I’d love for you to dig into it a little bit more. Why did you want to be a bestseller? What did it feel like to be a bestseller in some ways, but not in others? Did it matter as much as you thought it was going to? You wanted to be a New York Times bestseller and you didn’t reach that goal. I remember you feeling sad about it. I also remember that you had certain amounts of books that you wanted to sell for different reasons and not hitting those marks was tough for you emotionally. Talk about what that experience was like at the time. My big question is did it matter in the long run that you didn’t hit those marks that you wanted to do?
If I’m honest about it, it was the perception that there was this echelon of people in our industry that I know that I’m as good as they are. They all have New York Times bestsellers. For me to be in that “club,” I’ve got to hit that too. I’ve got to prove to myself that I know I’m as good as they are, do this and hit this accomplishment. I didn’t. It was crushing for me because it was like, “Does this mean I’m not as good as they are? Does this mean that my book wasn’t good enough to make that list? I felt it was. I promoted the absolute hell out of that book. I spent a lot of my own money on launch parties and book tour.
I was doing a lot of appearances. Also, a huge part of it too beyond the giveaway I talked about and the tour was, I probably did between 30 and 40 podcast interviews when that book was launched. I did a shit ton of podcast interviews. It was frustrating and disappointing because I felt like I had “done everything right” and went way beyond in my promotion. The only thing I didn’t do if I look back on it from my marketing plan was creating a book trailer for YouTube, but I did everything else. I did the podcast tour. I did the physical tour and put up thousands of my own money on launch parties. I did 30 to 40 podcasts. I had friends of ours like Kris Carr and David Wolfe tweet about it and send it out.
I did every fucking thing right in my mind. When it didn’t hit the bestseller list, I’m like, “This is bullshit. I did everything that I said I was going to do. Hay House promoted it. David Wolfe, Kris Carr, everything with the exception of that trailer. Why the hell isn’t this a best seller?” I was so not in gratitude. I was so angry. I was so bitter. I was so frustrated because I felt like I had gone so above and beyond with everything to “do it right.” I was partially frustrated because I had spent all this money and time and effort and checked off all the promotional boxes. It was the ego coming in of like, “This is bullshit,” because you know you’re as good as they are. It was almost like sour grapes.
It doesn’t matter, but it mattered to me at that time. It mattered to me because it was a badge of honor of having that sticker on the front of your book of New York Times bestselling author. They did it because my ego told me I was as good or better than those other people. In the long run, why did it matter? It mattered to me because I perceived my book as an enhanced business card that if I had this book on my book tour. I was hanging out with whoever, Vani Hari or Lewis Howes, or whoever we were going to dinner with, “You hit the bestseller list. Congratulations.”
It was this perception that was going to be even more of a door opener for me, whether it was or wasn’t because I didn’t hit the bestseller list, who’s to say? Did I get a lot of opportunities regardless? Yes, I did. To me, it’s still part of this cliquey club mentality, which it exists. There are people in the health wellness, culinary industry that cloister together because they’re “successful” and they’re “on that level together.” We see it all the time. I didn’t mean to name drop and I’m not trying to throw anyone under the bus, but there is an echelon of people, they hang out together because they’re the ones making seven figures and they’re the ones having New York Times bestsellers. I thought if I was in that clique and in that group, I’d finally be validated for my brilliance and I didn’t get there.
Thank you for that honesty. That’s important too because there is a big desire to be a bestseller. For me, I didn’t care that much about it with my book. Although, it was exciting when I saw my book hitting the bestselling charts on Amazon. It didn’t feel that difficult either. It’s not that I felt like I didn’t earn it, but it was like, “This is cool.” It felt like a little fleeting to hit Amazon bestselling ranks because it was like, “The publisher has put ads out or I’ve done this certain marketing that I was advised to do and that’s why it hits there.” There are many factors.
If becoming a bestseller is important for you, this is one of the things that is covered in Allison and Laura’s mastermind. It’s about becoming a bestselling author in ten weeks. If that’s your goal, there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s very validating in a lot of ways. There is a step-by-step roadmap that you can follow. There are all sorts of techniques and people like Allison and Laura have figured out that formula. If that’s an aim of yours, take their mastermind. Since we’ve been talking for a while and teasing you, we do have a discount code for them.
If you use Wellevatr, you get $50 off their course. Use the code, Wellevatr if you want $50 off that mastermind or you can drop our name to them, tell them that we sent you to them and they’ll give you that discount code. They’re amazing people. We’ll talk about it once more before we wrap. My point is if you want to become a bestseller, you can follow that formula on certain platforms. In your case, Jason, you did feel like you did everything possible to become a bestseller. It’s that you didn’t hit the ranks where you wanted to.
New York Times bestselling is much different than becoming a bestseller on Amazon. A little shortcut is you can say you’re a bestselling author as long as you’re a bestseller on one platform. You are a bestseller, Jason, because you were a bestseller on some platforms, not all of them. You weren’t a bestseller for New York Times or Wall Street. For me, my question is, did it matter that you didn’t get on those charts in the long run because you are a bestselling author. You can still say that. Isn’t that more important? Does it even matter to be a bestselling author do you think?
This is hard to say. In my mind, I thought that if I had reached a tier of acknowledgment and getting the award. This is maybe a completely tangential example. In my mind, it was like, “I’ve been in this industry for so many years. I’ve been busting my ass. I’ve been doing the thing. I’ve been giving a lot of love. I’ve been giving a ton of free content.” It’s like when Leonardo DiCaprio won his Oscar for Best Actor for Revenant, there was all this talk of like, “Leo is finally validated.” It’s not to say this man hadn’t done extraordinary, wonderful roles in his career, but there was a level of public and egoic validation of like the dude finally won his Academy Award. In my mind, it wasn’t enough to have a primetime TV series.
It wasn’t enough to have a book deal with one of the world’s preeminent publishers. It was like, “No, I have to win a fucking Emmy. I can’t just have a TV show.” I remember I had a whole thing on my vision board of winning an Emmy award. I said, “I’ve got to win an Emmy. I’ve got to win the best daytime TV host Emmy, then I’ll be validated. I can’t just have a book published and sell tens of thousands of copies. I have to be a New York Times bestseller.” It was a complete validation of all the years of hard work I had put in.
When I didn’t do those things because I did hit a bestseller on Amazon in the category I was in, I did hit the Canadian bestselling book charts, but it wasn’t the New York Times. It wasn’t the Wall Street Journal. It wasn’t winning a daytime Emmy. I was continually setting the bar higher and higher for myself, and believed in my heart I could hit those specific marks. When I didn’t, it was almost so disrupting from my reality. I was like, “I did all the right things. I met all the right people. I made all the right connections. I put all the hard work in. Why the hell didn’t it happen?” The sad part was that I wasn’t able to fully celebrate and take in my wins and the things I did accomplish because I was so focused on what I didn’t.
Again, thank you so much for sharing that because that’s such an honest take on this. We have to step back and think about things. What is our motivation? Why do you want to write a book? I’m asking you, the reader, why is that important to you? What do you have to say? What value does it bring to the world? Why do you want to be a bestseller? No matter what your answer is, it’s okay. Getting clarity on that and also not being attached to the results is super important because it’s in that attachment where the pain comes. For me, I find my book writing process was peaceful in a lot of ways because I wasn’t attached to those types of outcomes. It wasn’t about the money for me. Although, one thing that we did touch upon and I wanted to circle back to is ways to make money from your book beyond the book deal, the advance, the bonuses, the commissions, affiliate revenue, all that stuff. There are a bunch of other perks. Do you want to segue into that, Jason, or do you want to talk any more about the bestselling side of things?
Even if you don’t hit the highest marks in whatever your mindset is, it doesn’t invalidate the value and the worth of your book. I’m saying that from direct experience and this segues into the other way to make money. I’ve got dozens and dozens of speaking appearances over the few years since the book came out of going on tour, doing conferences, doing festivals, doing podcast interviews, doing YouTube collaboration. Even though it wasn’t a New York Times bestseller or Wall Street Journal bestseller, as I had intended, it was still a way to kick new doors down and kick new doors open as a result of that. I want to say even if you don’t hit your metrics, your marks in your mind, or whatever happens, it still is a massive calling card to parlay into other income opportunities.
The biggest one is speaking appearances. I’ve been blessed to have gone to these dozens and dozens of appearances and made good money as a speaker. Having a published book in your niche, whatever that is convinced that whatever your niche is, I’m talking to the reader now, whether it’s health and wellness or whether it’s mom blogging or you’re a gun enthusiast or you’re a conspiracy theorist. There’s probably a legion of fans, followers and the attendant conferences and festivals where you can parlay your book into speaking appearances and make money doing it.
Speaking appearances can be incredibly lucrative using your book as a form of merchandise. Whether you’re speaking at an event or you’re attending an event or you want to have a booth at an event, some people will go and sell their books. Robert’s done that at veg festivals and things like that. You can use your book to those events too. It’s not like what happens when you’re on stage, but getting there adds to that credibility that we’ve talked about. You can use it as bonuses too. You can give away copies of your book to promote something else. We’ve done that with Jason’s when we’ve run a course promotion. Sometimes we’ll offer up one or both of our books as a little extra bonus for purchasing something. What else? There have got to be many other avenues. Another great one is speaking appearances is doing demos. You’ve done a lot of food demos, Jason, at events.
That’s a good way to showcase the actual recipes that are in the book if you show them in real time. I’ve also done stand-up comedy over the years. I started to create this hybrid of improvisational stand-up comedy and fusing that with cooking demos. People loved it. They ate it up. Whenever I would do that food demo plus a lecture and a little bit of stand-up comedy thrown in, I would have lines of people waiting to buy books. By taking your unique approach as a speaker, especially if you’re in the food industry, doing a food demo to show people, and then also they taste it afterward. They’re like, “This recipe is delicious.” They feel much more motivated and compelled to buy a book if they’re getting an in-person demo and tasting of the recipes that are featured in there. That’s a direct and visceral way to not convince, but motivate people to buy your book.
We’ve gone pretty in-depth about this process. Is there anything else that you would add about your overall book experience, Jason?
It does come down, as you said, Whitney, to get crystal clear on what your intent and your aim is in doing this. We’ve had other friends of ours who have gone the route of doing a Kickstarter or Indiegogo or Patreon to fund their book publishing. We had two friends of ours, acquaintances and friends, the Vegan Black Metal Chef, he raised about $80,000 or $85,000 on a Kickstarter to self-publish his book. Also, our friends, Jay and Joy, the JingSlingers, they also did a Kickstarter. They raised $50,000 or $55,000.
The Vegan Zombie guys might have done their book through a Kickstarter as well.
The reader might think like, “They did $80,000. I’m moving to Aruba. Fuck this.” Here’s the thing, $80,000 goes toward getting a graphic designer, photography, any marketing promotions, hiring a PR person and also printing the books from scratch, finding a printer. Paper and printing a book is incredibly expensive depending on the print run. If you’re doing a Kickstarter Indiegogo, it’s the t-shirts, it’s the merch, it’s all the bonuses for the people that have donated your campaign. Initially, you might think $80,000, talking to Brian and talking to Jay and Joy and our friends, Chris and Jon, The Vegan Zombie, that money goes a lot faster than you might think.
There are many ways to slice up whether it’s Kindle or it’s CreateSpace through Amazon, whether it’s getting a traditional publisher, which we talked a little bit about the mechanics and the money involved in that, or doing crowdfunding. Keep in mind that if you do that and get $40,000 to $80,000, that money is going to go to a lot of mouths. It’s going to go to a lot of people that are involved in creating that book for you. In a lot of those cases, there wasn’t a lot of money left over in that process. We’re presenting all the options for you to consider. There’s no right or wrong answer. As Whitney brilliantly illustrated, it goes down to your intent and your aim and what you want the book to do for you.
Speaking of that, Jason, do you see yourself doing another book? I know you intended to. It was like a few years ago that you were trying to get another book off the ground. Where does that book stand? If that book is no longer happening, do you still feel the desire to do another book or are you over it right now?
It’s a complicated answer. I parted ways with my book agent after Eaternity came out and through a friend of a friend, who’s an entertainment lawyer. She said, “I’ve got this amazing friend who’s a book agent. You should meet her.” This was 2018. I said, “Cool.” I have an idea for a second book. I had done a proposal for book number two and got with this new book agent here in LA. We were shopping around and we weren’t getting the response on book number two as we had hoped for. Publishers were like, “We don’t know if we want to do this.”
One publisher said, “There are enough titles about food, mood, mental health and nutrition.” I was like, “There are not that many on the market. What the fuck are you talking about?” I’ve got a lot of weird responses from publishers about it. I ended up getting so frustrated that I parted ways with my new book agent. I don’t have a book agent. Where it’s at is this book about mood, food, mental health and nutrition is it’s in proposal form. It’s a fully fleshed-out proposal with new recipes and new information. I feel right now that I had to take a step back because it was an intense process in trying to pitch that second book and getting massively frustrated with the response I was getting. If I do want to go the traditional route again, I have to get another agent and do another round of pitching. At this moment, I don’t have the energy or the desire to do that.Even if you don't hit the highest marks, whatever your definition of that is, it doesn't invalidate the value and the worth of your book. Click To Tweet
What about self-publishing with all things considered? Do you think you would ever take that on?
I would because I feel confident in the number of people that would support that and would be excited about me releasing a second book. I don’t know how I would want to do it because I’m very much keen on aesthetics, the feel of the paper and the design of the book. I don’t think that I would go, say with the CreateSpace or the Kindle Publishing through Amazon because I don’t feel like I personally would have enough creative control. I would want to find a graphic designer, hire the photographers, get a typographer, find a printing house and do all of that from scratch. If I want to go that route, that’s going to require tens of thousands of dollars and I need to weigh that.
Do I want to do a Kickstarter? Do I want to do Indiegogo, do a Patreon? I am not keen at this moment of putting that money of my own towards the book because of not knowing how it’s going to sell. Here’s the thing. If I were to say invest, let’s throw out some random numbers because we’re kicking it around with self-publishing. If I want to do it from scratch and I want to put in $20,000 of my own money, which is a very feasible thing. Once the book is done and complete, I’m getting 100% of the profit. If I say invest $20,000 and then I’m getting $25 for a book, which is a pretty standard retail price for a book. That means then, dig this in terms of numbers. Remember as a throwback, I said, in order to recoup that $50,000 advance, you’d have to sell 20,000 copies of your book in a traditional deal? If I were to put in $20,000 of my own money and then sell them for $25 a pop and I’m retaining 100% of that profit, I only have to sell 800 copies of the book to make that $20,000 back.
We are not self-publishing experts and that’s why we have plugged our friends, Allison Melody and Laura Petersen so many times because they are. It’s interesting, Jason, I’d be curious for you to talk with them because you haven’t had a conversation with them about this yet. I don’t know how much it would cost to do a book through their program. Their program does cost money to join. As a reminder to the reader, if you do want to join it, the second round starts on August 24th. I wouldn’t be surprised if they do a third round. If you’re reading after they start, reach out to them and see if they’re doing a third round or we’ll keep you posted. You can use our discount code, which is Wellevatr to get $50 off that cost.
It’s an affordable value. They’re giving you all of this coaching. They have group coaching. They also have a built-in launch team to help you hit bestseller status. They have Q&As. They have work sessions. They have an action plan calendar, a private Facebook group. They have blueprint trainings, guiding you through all of this. It’s pretty amazing what you get for the small cost of joining their course relatively and not $10,000 or something like that, Jason. What they’re offering does not encapsulate all of those things that you’re putting on your spreadsheet. I’d be curious to ask them to find out how much it costs in general to do that.
You could reach out to them. Let them know that you found them on social media or email. Feel free to reach out to them and ask. Allison and Laura are incredible women. Alli took a course of mine. She was a student of mine and that’s how we became friends back in 2015. I met Allison through Jason because Allison was working on a documentary that Jason was part of because of your book. How did you meet Allison?
I met Allison because we went to a market in Pasadena that we love called Grassroots Natural Market. Laura was a health consultant at Grassroots, a different Laura, and said, “You’ve got to meet my friend Allison. She’s doing a documentary and all these great people are involved.” It was through random interaction at Grassroots Market that we got introduced to Allison. Allison came over my house 8, 9 months later and we shot a great segment of her documentary. That documentary is out there. It was a wonderful experience. That was my first interaction with Allison and she’s been a good friend ever since.
Have you met Laura Petersen, Jason?
I met her when we went to Pat Flynn’s Mastermind group down in San Diego.
I met Laura the first time I went, which was not with you. I went on my birthday with Allison’s. Allison was the one that introduced me to Laura back in 2017. You and I went down there together in either 2018 or ‘19 at Pat Flynn’s Mastermind. If anybody isn’t familiar with Pat Flynn, he’s an incredible podcaster that’s helped me a lot with learning about marketing and podcasting. I’m part of this group that he does for entrepreneurs. Laura has been a huge part of that group in shaping it and hosting it. She’s a force to be reckoned with. She does a lot of copywriting work. She’s developed this whole system for helping people become bestselling authors. She’s the sweetest person, genuinely. Both of them are incredible. They’re knowledgeable. They’re fun. They’re down to earth. They’re accessible. All that to say is, if you’re looking to do this, you have questions, reach out to Alli and Laura. Let them know that we sent you and they’ll give you some extra care because they love us.
I have a feeling if you drop our names that they’ll take good care of you, give you that discount and answer your questions. We would love to know what your process is. If you have questions for us, you can always reach out. As I mentioned, you can direct message us @Wellevatr. You can direct message us on Instagram or Facebook or our TikTok if you want, wherever you hang out or you can send us an email. If you have questions about anything we talk about on the show, whether it’s book writing or creating your career or wellness, we are here for you. We love being there for you. That’s why we do the show. Send us an email, [email protected]. Lastly, you can comment too. There’s a little comment section. You can share your opinion, your experience. Maybe you’ll help somebody else out with it. We love community. We love supporting people. We’d love to see you supporting people. Whatever that means for you, please get involved.
Thank you so much for reading. I was trying to come up with a good frequently asked query for this episode. We’ve had a ton of queries related to books, but most of them are like specific queries about books. Jason, we’ve had over 400 searches that have come back to our book, our website. Some of them are random, but there are many books that people are searching for. People are interested in The Untethered Soul, The Power of Positive Thinking, The 5 Love Languages and all these books that you and I have mentioned, Shel Silverstein’s books.
Anytime we’ve mentioned a book, it’s led somebody to our site somehow, which is cool. A couple of other authors we’ve had on our show have been Chris Guillebeau. We talked about him, his process with The Money Tree book. That was another one of my favorite episodes. We had Mark Victor Hansen on our show, who co-wrote Chicken Soup for the Soul. He talked about his book, which is called Ask!. He co-wrote that with his wife, which is neat. That’s another great episode.
We’ve talked about a lot of things. We’ll have the link to the Bestselling Book Mastermind and the discount code reminder for you. That will have a link to all the episodes with these amazing authors we’ve talked about so you can continue to dig in. These authors have opened up like Robert Cheeke had one of the most vulnerable episodes. Ruby Roth got into the creative process. Chris Guillebeau shared about what it was like to launch a book during the pandemic.
It’s been super fascinating to learn from all these authors over these years. We’ll continue to bring lots of great episodes coming up. We’ve been teasing the one with Jason Horton, which is good about his author experience. There are so much more coming your way. We release episodes every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Friday are our guest episode days. Monday and Wednesdays are the two of us talking about things. If you ever have suggestions about topics you want us to explore, let us know. Is there anything else you would add in to this subject, Jason?
No. It’s a wonderful thing to have a book out in the world, especially in this increasingly digital age where things are amorphous and not super tangible. Having a physical printed book in the world is a very cool thing. It feels a little bit old school, but that’s why I like it. It’s very analog. It’s something that is photos, words, thoughts, ideas and creativity on paper. There’s something to me that is special about having that and putting that out into the world.
With that dear reader, we appreciate you being with us as we went through this deep dive of what it’s like to be published authors and all the ins and the outs. I’m sure there are nitty-gritty specifics that we didn’t cover. If you want any more information, Allison and Laura’s program will do a much deeper dive into helping you become a published author. You can reach out to us as Whitney mentioned on all of the social media networks, our handle is @Wellevatr on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and TikTok.
For all the resources, go to our website, Wellevatr.com, for all the free eBooks we mentioned. We have some wonderful online courses. You will find even more wonderful resources to assist you in your wellbeing mentally, physically, spiritually there. Until next time, thanks for getting uncomfortable with us. If you did get uncomfortable, maybe this brought up some things about the idea of becoming an author that made you feel uncomfortable. Thanks for being with us and joining us. As always, your support means the world to us. We will catch you for another episode very soon!
*We use affiliate links in our show notes. This means we receive a small sales commission if you purchase an item based on our recommendation.
- Food Heals
- Bestselling Book Mastermind
- The Vegan Ketogenic Diet Cookbook
- Healthy Organic Vegan on a Budget
- YouTube video – Cheap, Healthy, Easy Vegan Meals: Less Than $2 and 15 Minutes Each!
- Free Resources at Wellevatr.com
- From Chaos to Calm
- Take Charge!
- You Are Enough
- Extreme Vegan Cheapskates on YouTube
- Natural Products Expo
- The Insider’s Guide to Natural Products Expo
- The Vegan Keto Journey with Chef Nicole Derseweh – Previous episode
- The Artist’s Way: How Ruby Roth Reinvented Herself – Previous episode
- Tess Masters (The Blender Girl)
- The Heart of Veganism with Miyoko Schinner – Previous episode
- Handling Social Media and Anxiety with Robert Cheeke – Previous episode
- Vegan Yack Attack
- Jeff Skeirik
- Michelle Marquis
- The State of Wellness: On The Practices Around Wellbeing and Mindfulness with Jeff Krasno – Previous episode
- Find Your True Fork
- The Motivation Manifesto
- The Seitanic Spellbook by Vegan Black Metal Chef
- Food with Benefits Cookbook by JingSlingers
- The Vegan Zombie: Cook and Survive
- [email protected]
- The Untethered Soul
- The Power of Positive Thinking
- The 5 Love Languages
- Staring Down Financial Uncertainty in the Midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic with Chris Guillebeau – Previous episode
- The Money Tree
- The Power of Asking the Right Questions with Mark Victor Hansen – Previous episode
- Chicken Soup for The Soul
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