Self-publishing and small-publishing can be a very lucrative endeavor. But you shouldn’t take my word for it. You can just ask any of the millions of independent authors who have made hundreds or even thousands of dollars doing it. Today I am beginning a series of interviews with independent authors to show that you, too, can do it.
I can think of no better way to start this series than with an interview with Derek Olsen. Derek is already a best-selling Amazon author with his first book Four Week Financial Turnaround which at various points in the last year has ranked as high as #2 in a very competitive category and only behind household name, Dave Ramsey.
For his second book, he decided to throw back the covers and give us a peek into how he was able to reach such success. My questions are in blue with his answers below.
1) Why did you want to write this book?
Self-publishing a book can be intimidating, stressful, and can feel impossible. When I decided to write and publish my first book, I had no idea where to start or if I would be able to actually do it. I studied, read blogs, asked questions and eventually figured it out. It took me a year to write and self-publish my first book. When I was finally finished, I realized just how much information I had learned during the process. Anyone who has self-published knows what I mean. Self-publishing is a huge accomplishment to be proud of. I looked back on my journey and realized just how valuable all this new knowledge could be to someone just starting out. So I decided to write down everything I had learned and offer it to those who are looking down that same road I had just traveled.
2) Are you worried that writing a book on writing will decrease your standing as an expert on money? I.e. the “jack of all trades is the master of none” mentality. How do you combat that to show that you can be an expert on two subjects?
I really appreciate this question. I thought a lot about this as I was writing From Your Head to Your Hands. For those who don’t know, the focus of my blog is money and marriage. There were many times when I thought to myself, “What are you doing Derek? Why are you writing a book on self-publishing when that isn’t your true focus?” In fact, I almost ditched the project a couple of times for this very reason. I am an entrepreneur at heart, so anything on the business side is interesting to me. I really enjoyed the self-publishing process, it became sort-of a hobby to me. I also learned a lot about writing, publishing, and marketing while writing this book which has helped me in unexpected ways. In the end, self-publishing and marketing is a hobby as well as a crucial part of my business.
3) This is your second book. Obviously you learned a lot with the first one. What did you learn while writing this one?
I was surprised by how much I learned while writing my second book. I thought I would just type up everything I learned from publishing my first book and that would be it. It turns out that I was challenged to learn and grow during this project too. This book is 60 percent previous knowledge from publishing my first book and 40 percent new info that I learned while writing this book. I learned (for the second time) that the road is long and difficult. With both of my books there were days when I felt like quitting, especially towards the end when I felt like I should already be finished. Those days can be incredibly difficult and frustrating. I learned (again) that finishing strong is so important. A book that is 90% finished isn’t finished at all, you have to go all the way.
4) One of the tactics you mentioned was shooting for the stars and trying to get the book into the hands of some big names. You mentioned Oprah. Where you able to reach her?
Haha, no, unfortunately. Well, not YET. I read a story about a person who got on Oprah through a chance connection that person had. That person wasn’t famous at all, a nobody. They just happened to have a great story and a connection. It was inspiring to think, “Hey, why not? Why can’t I get on Oprah?” I put that part in the book to get the reader to think big and outside the box. Don’t be the reason you don’t succeed is the message. Don’t hold yourself back because you don’t think you are worth it, or capable. A lot of the successful people I know are ‘self-made’. They chose themselves rather than wait around for someone else to find them. If you have something that the world would enjoy or benefit from, it is your duty to bring it to the world.
5) In what cases would it be better to hire a professional to complete one of your steps?
I am all about hiring out work. We are not under the illusion that one person is capable of or should be responsible for every part of the process. My computer skills are very limited. I always hire out graphic design, formatting, and even editing(my spelling and grammar are terrible, but I don’t let that stop me). I suggest hiring out the parts of your project that would suffer if you attempted to complete them yourself. If I formatted my book myself, it would look like a child did it. So, I hire that part out. Same for grammar and spelling, if I don’t hire an editor, I’m toast!
6) What are your plans for the future with your publishing?
I plan to return to my core business of inspiring married couples to have better conversations about money. My wife and I are launching a podcast in January 2014. We plan to produce an ebook and an audio book by summer 2014, then another print book by the end of the year. Publishing is something I really enjoy, it’s a hobby as well as a huge part of my business. I really enjoy being able to look at a finished project and think, “Cool! I did that!” Sharing what I have learned along the way is part of the fun.