Know Your Reader with Julie Broad (Re-Air)
Are you getting beaten down by naysayers around you? It’s tough when the people you expect to support you don’t – and when what looks like a clear path to success doesn’t work out like you thought it would.
This week’s Publishing Secrets guest, Julie Broad, can relate. Julie was told “no” by a major publisher even after she thought a book deal was in the works, and she also faced disheartening opposition from someone very close to her. But she didn’t let any of that stop her. Instead, Julie pushed forward and self-published her book – and now she publishes other people’s books! Today, she’s here to share her expertise on publishing and marketing your book successfully, whichever publishing path you choose to take.
In this episode, you’ll also hear:
- How Julie went from being rejected by a major publisher to self-publishing her book anyway – and why that turned out much better for her in the end
- Why Julie says a book is better credentials than another degree
- Mistakes to avoid when writing nonfiction to keep your book from being boring
- How knowing your reader helps you create a successful marketing plan
- Different avenues you can take to publish your book, and considerations for each
- Julie’s advice for the writer who feels discouraged by rejections or lack of support
The Path to Book Publishing
Today, Julie Broad helps business leaders publish books that help grow their impact and influence – but that’s not the career path she intended to take at first. Instead, Julie started out as a real estate investor. And yet, even that business venture began with a book: Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki.
“It’s funny how books have such a powerful impact on our lives,” Julie says now. After reading Kiyosaki’s book, Julie bought her first investment property. Eventually, that purchase led to a full-time career in real estate. It wasn’t an easy job, but as she gained more properties and people expressed interest in her story, Julie started building a platform on YouTube and through an email newsletter.
Before she knew it, not only did she have a real estate training and education business, but she was also being approached by publishers about the possibility of writing a book.
There was just one problem: the publisher Julie spoke to wasn’t interested in Julie’s book idea. They offered an idea of their own instead, and helped her develop a proposal, only to shut the whole project down months later because their marketing department decided her platform wasn’t strong enough to sell books.
Julie was disappointed. But, after taking some time to process the rejection and with encouragement from her husband, Julie decided to write and self-publish the original book she’d suggested.
“In many ways, I felt like self-publishing was giving up or that it wouldn’t be a real book,” she admits. “But in the end, I think it was the greatest thing that ever happened to me.”
Julie’s self-published real estate book made it to #1 on Amazon. On top of that, she kept full rights and all of her royalties, allowing her to make much more money from it that she would have under that traditional publishing house. Best of all, her book’s success led to an entirely new business venture, because other aspiring authors started coming to her for advice.
“My love was in the books, not the real estate,” Julie realized. “Finally, I started Book Launchers, and I feel like everything I have done in my life has prepared me for this company and for what I’m doing right now.”
Furthermore, the experience taught Julie that writing a successful book can actually be a greater form of credentials even than earning a degree. Although Julie has an MBA in Real Estate and Finance, her efforts to raise capital for her investment business didn’t really take off until her book came out. “The MBA didn’t raise money – the book did,” she says.
Julie’s story is an important reminder for aspiring business owners. Simply having a degree doesn’t guarantee that you actually know what you are talking about, and that you are able to apply the information you were taught in school. Books, on the other hand, allow you to demonstrate what you know and prove your expertise – with minimal investment from your audience.
The Value of Assistance
Another important thing for aspiring authors to keep in mind is that your book is a representation of you and your business. And that means sometimes you need assistance in making it the best representation that it can be. As Julie says, “Just because you can do something all by yourself doesn’t mean you should.”
In Julie’s experience, far too many authors end up feeling embarrassed about how their first book turned out. Now that they’ve grown and improved, they wish they could erase every trace of it and make sure no one ever sees the typos, sub-par cover design, and so on. But here’s the thing – once your book is out there, it’s out there for good! So you want to make sure you get all the help you need to get it right the first time.
Another reason getting assistance is vital is because new authors often underestimate how many different skills are required to put together and sell a successful book. It’s not just about writing, editing, and cover design – there’s also a ton of work that goes into the marketing side of things, from keyword and category research to scoping out the competition and creating a complete marketing plan.
Think about it this way: your book is a business in its own way – a product that you’re releasing to the market. So that means, when you prepare to publish a book, you need to be thinking about all the same elements that you would consider when starting up a new business.
“The book often becomes the center, and the business builds around it,” Julie explains. “And everything you’re doing with that book needs to tie back to your goals of why you’re writing the book and what you’re going to use it for.”
Lessons for Publishing Success
Julie’s experience helping aspiring authors get published has taught her several valuable lessons about crafting and selling quality books.
1. Nonfiction Books Shouldn’t Be Boring
Just because your book is nonfiction doesn’t mean it can’t be interesting and engaging. Too often, authors writing for the same industry tend to include the same type of content over and over again. For example, how many books have you read that talked about setting SMART goals?
If you’re just regurgitating the same information that other authors in your field have already written about, why would readers pick your book over theirs? You want your book to be relevant, of course, but you also want it to stand out from the crowd and offer value that readers can’t get from other books.
2. You Need a Solid Marketing Plan
Julie credits much of the success of her real estate book to the fact that she intimately knew her audience – because she was her own ideal reader. That doesn’t mean you have to be your ideal reader for your book to sell well, but it does mean you need to have a thorough understanding of both who your audience is and what specific problem they are trying to solve.
Once you know those things about your ideal reader, you’ll know where and how to reach them – plus, you’ll know exactly how your book can help them, and why your solution is different from other solutions they may have already tried.
“That’s the hook,” Julie says. “That’s the backbone of your book. So everything that goes into your book has to tie back to that hook – focus on what they need to know in order to achieve that outcome at the end.”
3. A Good Writing Coach Can Make a Huge Difference
One of the services Julie’s business offers is writing coaches who help ensure the finished project aligns to the authors’ goals. She explains that these coaches provide three main things:
- Accountability: A coach keeps the author on track to make sure the book gets done on time.
- Emotional support: Writing and publishing a book is an emotional roller coaster. Coaches are there to uplift the author when they feel discouraged and help them set realistic expectations.
- Writing support: A good writing coach will help the author avoid taking detours from the core message and also push them to dig deeper and be more vulnerable – because often the things we hesitate to share are the things that will really resonate with readers.
Without a writing coach, it can be very difficult for new authors to strike the right balance between being relatable and truly helping readers solve their problems.
Dealings with Doubts
In addition to internal struggles and marketing challenges, many aspiring authors also wrestle with negativity from other people – including their loved ones.
For example, Julie shares the story of moving from Canada to California as a newly expecting mother. Her grandmother – with whom she had a very close relationship – opposed the move so much that she wrote a four-page letter detailing why she thought Julie and her husband were making a mistake.
“We were up against a lot of resistance from a lot of people about the move,” Julie recalls, “And to have her – a person I thought would be my supporter – write this letter, was devastating. It was so hard, I couldn’t even finish reading the letter, even to this day.”
Ultimately, Julie had to come to a place where she understood that her grandmother believed she was protecting her – but that she had made the right decision for herself.
And the same is true of writing books. There will always be naysayers who try to stop you because of their own fears and doubts. Instead of internalizing their negative feedback, you’ve got to believe in the message you’ve been given and get the support you need to get that message into the hands of the people who need to hear it.
Another reason many aspiring authors hesitate to get the assistance they need is because they’re afraid of being taken advantage of. And that’s a valid fear – vanity press publishers, who only care about getting money from authors, do exist, and you need to be careful to avoid them. But traditional publishing and vanity press are not the only two options available.
Julie describes the different types of publishing as a spectrum with three main points: traditional publishing at one end, self-publishing at the other, and various types of hybrid publishers in between.
“All vanity publishers are hybrid publishers, but not all hybrid publishers are vanity publishers,” she explains. With any hybrid publisher, the author pays some fees for things like editing and design. Often, hybrid publishers have good distribution to get your book out into stores and may include marketing services. They also typically keep some of the royalties for each book sold.
If it’s a good hybrid publisher and not a vanity press, that money is going to good use, helping you craft a quality product. And, like with self-publishing, you keep all the rights to your work.
With traditional publishing, you get even more support in finishing, refining, and selling your book. But, in exchange, you forfeit not only some of the royalties, but also the rights to your work – including future adaptations for television or audiobooks.
Finally, with self-publishing, you have to do all the work yourself or hire people to help you finish, edit, design, and market your book. However, you get to keep all of the royalties and rights.
While none of the three options is necessarily “better” than the others, it’s important to consider your goals for the book and how much you’re willing to give up in terms of rights and royalties.
Keeping the Reader in Mind
Like Julie, many aspiring authors have naysayers in their life, who just don’t believe in the dream and who are weighing them down with doubts, fears, and insecurities. If that’s you, Julie encourages you to remember that the negative feedback isn’t really about you – the other person is simply projecting their own fears onto you. Instead of thinking about what that person is telling you, try to refocus on your message.
“I go back to that reader and how I’m going to help them, and what’s going to go wrong for that reader if I don’t get this book out there,” Julie says. “Then I can kind of push past and say, ‘Okay, thank you for your thoughts. I appreciate you wanting to protect me. But this is something I know I have to do.”
Don’t let naysayers or well-meaning worriers stop you from getting your God-given message out into the world! There are people who need to hear it – so keep those readers in your mind, and keep moving forward.
Julie Broad, founder of self-publishing services firm Book Launchers and Amazon Overall #1 Best Selling Author, knows what it takes to successfully self-publish a book. Julie’s titles include More than Cashflow, which topped Amazon, The New Brand You, and her latest book, Self-Publish & Succeed which just won an IPPY award. An expert on writing a book with marketing in mind, Julie teaches authors how to write a #noboringbook on her popular YouTube channel BookLaunchers.TV. Her advice for authors and investors has also been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur.com, Yahoo! Business, CTV, the Toronto Sun, and Medium.com. Visit Julie’s website here. Connect with Julie on Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), and Facebook.