Ali Cudby – Book Journeys Author Interview Transcript – March 15 2012

Book Journeys Author Interview – March 15, 2012

Dr. Angela Lauria with America’s #1 Bra Fit Expert, Ali Cudby, author of Busted! The FabFoundations Guide to Bras That Fit, Flatter and Feel Fantastic

 

“To know that I’ve been able to touch someone’s life and make a difference and to know what a big difference it made for me when I had that moment… that’s the most powerful thing.” ~Ali Cudby

 

Angela:

Well, hello. This is Angela Lauria from Book Journeys, our BlogTalk radio show. This is our first episode and we are so lucky to have with us Ali Cudby [who] did spend a whole lot of time in 2011 writing a book and launched it earlier this year. It is her first book, I believe. Ali, this is your first book, right?

 

Ali:

It is, yeah.

 

Angela:

Yeah, so it is her first book and because this is the first episode of Book Journeys Radio, I just wanted to give all of our listeners a sense of our mission and purpose. We are talking to people who are interested in writing their first book; maybe they’re in the middle of it or thinking about. Basically Ali, they’re where you were, I’d say probably eighteen or so months ago.

 

Ali:

Yeah.

 

Angela:

And what I want to do is just give people a sense of the process because a lot of people have the idea, “I want to write a book,” and they don’t get to the end of it. They certainly don’t get to the end of it as quickly and seamlessly as you did. So which one of our listeners think about what would they need to be as successful as you’ve been? And let’s just start with a little bit about your book. Why don’t you tell people the name of your book; what it’s about and maybe where they can find it if they wanna check out your website or any descriptions of the book while they’re here listening to the call.

 

Ali:

Great! So the book is called Busted! The FabFoundations Guide to Bras That Fit, Flatter and Feel Fantastic and it was published in December of 2011 and it is, as the title suggestS, all about why so many women spend years of their lives wearing bras that are uncomfortable and harmful to them both physically and emotionally and then more importantly what they can do about it to find bras that fit for the rest of their lives. And this is really a topic that a lot of women know they have an issue with but have no idea how to solve. They may have seen makeover shows that are great for the three women who are given the audience, the opportunity to work with an expert on tv but that doesn’t really end up helping them figure out how to fit bras onto their bodies and 70 to 85 percent…

 

Angela:

You mean the three 34 B’s that they featured?

 

Ali:

Yeah. Exactly.

 

Angela:

As a non-standard size myself, I can tell you, I watch the makeover shows but it certainly never seemed like it applied to me.

 

Ali:

Right, and in fact if there are bras out there that I think so many of us think about it in terms of the sizes we see in department stores which probably range from, you know, 32 band to maybe a 38 or a 40, and A cup to maybe a double D or a triple D, and in reality 70 to 85% of women are wearing bras that don’t fit properly and part of that is probably due to the fact that bras actually range from 28 bands all the way up to 56 and triple A cups to N cups and so there’s just a much much wider world than most women realize. Hence, when you’re talking about the 70 to 85% of half of the world’s population, that’s a lot of people who are spending a lot of money and time being uncomfortable and it doesn’t have to be that way.

 

Angela:

Yeah. Well, I think it is an amazing topic. But I know a lot of people come to me with either a lot of different ideas or sort of a more precise idea and one of the things I hear is I wanna make sure that my book speaks to everyone. And with your book concept, a lot of people would argue it’s a pretty small market. Like if you’re looking for people that aren’t happy with their bras (let’s assume you’re already ruling out about half of the population that aren’t men) and it seems like that there’s only a small subset of women that might be interested in it. What made you think this would be an interesting topic or a marketable topic or whatever, cuz I think that is something that stops people in their tracks, if [they’re thinking] of a topic that a lot of people wouldn’t necessarily be thoroughly interested in.

 

Ali:

I actually think that the market for my book, the potential market, is huge, you know, half the population, and if you look at the number of books that are actually required to make a book viable—the number of sales that are actually required to make a book viable these days—I struggle actually, to make my audience more specific, more narrowed, more niched. I wanna be able to capture a woman when she’s in a place in her life when she’s thinking about, “Oh my God, this bra is driving me crazy.” That oftentimes means that I’m not talking to women with a capital W. I wanna talk to a new mom whose body has changed and she has no clue what to do about it, or a woman who is getting pain in her shoulder every time she goes to the gym because she’s carrying the weight of her breast on her shoulders instead of in the band, and she knows she has this problem, so I actually think that what makes the book the most successful is when I can speak to women in the place where their feeling, that pain and strain, and that oftentimes is actually meaningful for me and the way I’m approaching my book speaking to a smaller niche market rather than a global market.

 

Angela:

So, that’s fascinating. Is that…? You know, one of the things I’d you love to know from you is, What do you wish you knew before you wrote your book, and if this idea of making the market smaller… something you learned… after you wrote your book, or during, or is it something you wish you knew before? It seems pretty central to how you’ve been so successful.

 

Ali:

It’s something that I definitely thought about before I wrote the book and I have some specific plans for how to use the book and those were built into my thinking before I wrote this book. So while this the more generalized version, I have plans for more specific and targeted versions of the book and, you know, it’s not because I am so uber smart on how to do this. I went and took some seminars that were specifically tailored to how to think this through so when I was taking the time and effort to write the book, I was really being thoughtful about how this was more than just a vanity project so that I could put a book up on my shelf and say, “Hey I wrote that,” but it was the basis of a business.

 

Angela:

It’s interesting. You write about it… I mean a lot of people I work with are life coaches and they get an idea for a book and it almost feels like a passion project; like they just have to write the book—[it’s like] coming out of their fingertips… and… taking the time to stop and be thoughtful and do some of the strategic work, it’s hard for people when they have something they really want to work on and I know, for you, because we actually met—we actually met in an event—where you were talking about this passion project and so I know for you, you have that too. You had to somehow balance the desire to just sit down and write a book with this more strategic approach. How did you balance that?

 

Ali:

Well, first I thought about what I wanted it to be and I that I really thought about it from the perspective of the women that I could serve through the book and through the work. It was… you know… I came to my area of my expertise through my own pain in a lot of ways and as many life coaches do. I got interested in this line of work because I was always miserable shopping for bras and could never find bras that could fit. When I found something that did work on my body, it was this transformative moment for me and I wanted to share that with women impassionately. I didn’t want one more woman to have to go through another day when felt uncomfortable in their own skin because they were wearing a bra that didn’t fit them properly. And I truly believe that, you know, they’re called foundation garments for a reason and without the proper foundation, you know, your outfit and your outlook and your life is never gonna be as solid as it could be. Some people might think that is an overblown way at looking at something as humble as a bra, but for me I don’t, and that’s my thing.So in order to keep these women in mind, I really had to almost take my passion, and say, “Okay that’s great but how do I make this something as a service vehicle?” I think that helped me become more strategic about how I wanted to approach the book.

 

Angela:

So, if there’s somebody like you who is passionate about their topic and I love what you said, like, “I don’t want another woman to go another minute without knowing this information.” Like, as soon as she can get this information out… “I wanted to.” I think a lot of people feel that way. What advice would you give them if they were in that place that you were where they really just want to get this information out and share it as quickly as possible? What kind of information would you give them?

 

Ali:

I really loved the process that I used for actually writing the book because I know so many people—they have this aspiration to write a book and they may even have the idea and a vision for how they want to use it but actually getting the information down on paper is really hard and I was able to… I learned about this process by which you actually talk through and in fact dictate your book into a Dictaphone and then have it be transcribed and that process, even though it gave me the roughest of rough drafts and it took many many iterations after that to finally make it into the book that eventually published, there’s such an incredible sense of completion when you have a rough draft in your hand and so the process that I actually use to write the book was very very helpful to me.

 

Angela:

Wow, that’s… So you actually spoke each chapter. Did you write it out or did you actually talk it off the top of your head or write an outline? I’m not sure how… How did that work?

 

Ali:

Well, so what I did was, first, I took all of my information (and I had done some research) and I kind of looked at it and I said, “Okay, there may be some holes there but I have enough information here to know what I wanna say. And I started organizing it into chapter piles and then I started doing these sort of iterative approaches with the material so I would get more specific with each pile and eventually wrote notes on little sticky pads and created a whole storyboard where I looked at the information visually on my wall and I actually created sort of a visual flowchart of what the book was gonna look like. And then from there I did other iterations with longer, more specific outlines and so, by the time I was actually speaking the chapters, I had gone through a number of iterations with the information (I had filled with some holes that I needed [to]) and even when I eventually talked through each chapter one at a time, there were times when, in the transcript it actually says something like, and then fasten the band and blah blah blah (I’ll fill this in later) and then you… and so when you… and there were specific pieces of information… I literally blah-blahed my way through some of the holes and then went back and filled them, you know, when I could.

 

Angela:

Interesting. Did you ever, with this process, did you ever experience writer’s block?

 

Ali:

You know, I can’t remember a time when I actually got so stumped that I couldn’t produce information. Maybe because I just had a very very clear vision of what I wanted… maybe because I went through this process and so… The process itself is… Because you’re not sitting down and saying, “I’m gonna produce a chapter today,” by the time you’re actually talking your chapter through, you’ve gone through all these different versions, and so I never found myself really getting blocked, but I did find that I had to really carve out some time each day to spend working on it and it’s so easy to get distracted by the shiny things and I think that’s… Often times what happens with writers, is that… You have always something else that you can be doing and it’s hard to make yourself sit down and actually do the writing and do the work. So carving out a specific amount of time each day, like, “I’m only gonna do this for 90 minutes,” that enabled me to sort of say, “Okay, it’s just 90 minutes, I’m gonna focus on this; I’m not gonna look at email; I’m not gonna answer the phone,” and then my life will take back up again.

 

Angela:

And so when did you find was most effective for you? Were they different times of day or did you always do it at the same time? How did you figure that out?

 

Ali:

I’m kind of a morning person, so I would walk the dog, send the kids to school, and then sit down with my coffee in the morning.

 

Angela:

Okay, and you said 90 minutes felt about right to you?

 

Ali:

Yeah. That was about… what a good amount of stamina for me… and I ended up accomplishing a lot in 90 minutes. Ninety minutes of focus work time. I think that in this day and age there’s so few times when we actually turn everything else off and spend 90 minutes focusing on one thing. And I had to, you know, physically fight the urge to look at my iPhone, or, you know, I’d hear a ping of email… on my computer a lot of the time. To really just make it be about one thing for 90 minutes, we just don’t do that very often anymore.

 

Angela:

And so from the time you actually started working on your book, once you had gone through the strategy pieces and started putting your book together, how long was that process for you?

 

Ali:

Until it was published or until I had a manuscript?

 

Angela:

Until you had that first draft.

 

Ali:

Ooh. Uhm, it was about 3… no… 4-5 months. I started in February and I and I had the manuscript more or less in hand about 5 months later. The first draft, I mean, and there was a lot real estate between the first draft and the final version.

 

Angela:

So… But to get that first draft (was about 20 weeks) and you were doing 90 minutes a day for 20 weeks, (every day or 3 or 4 times a week?), like what kind of a…

 

Ali:

I would… I mean, 5 times a week. I may not have worked on weekends and…

 

Angela:

So it’s like Monday to Friday, 90 minutes a day for 20 weeks and you got your first draft, anyway. And once you had your first draft, was there a lot of momentum for you at that point when finishing? Easier or harder? Did you feel like, wow I’ve done it I just want to take a nap now?

 

Ali:

I was so jazzed. I mean, when I had that first draft in hand, it was really exciting and at the same time, I definitely knew how far I had to go. I mean, that first draft was not an exciting read, to say the least, and then infuse with personality and humor, and it was a very very dry recitation of what I wanted to say and it was only in those next iterations that I started adding some of the more personable elements to the manuscript. So it was both very very exciting and energizing and I could see the finish line from that point so clearly and it’s still a lot of work.

 

Angela:

So here’s a question that comes up a lot with people I work with, which is: How do I publish? Do I need an agent? How do I find a publisher? Did you spend a lot of time on query letters and book proposals? How did that whole side of getting the book published work for you? In full disclosure here, Ali and I ended up working together on her book. I know you’ll get to that part but I want to talk about your thinking. Did you talk to any agent? Did you think about putting a proposal together?

 

Ali:

You know, I had one very quick conversation with one agent and not that that conversation did anything to my decision-making process whatsoever, but what I realize was that, for me there were two things that were really important: one was that my book was a tool for getting the word out in a way that was powerful and I wanted to do that in a way that I could be… control the information, so I really… For me it is extremely important to have a publisher that would allow me to retain the rights to my book. I just didn’t know how I was gonna wanna use it and I didn’t care about having a big name publisher attached. And I think that the world of publishing has changed so dramatically in the last ten years and so I had a list of priorities, the things that were really important to me, you know, had to have, nice to have, didn’t need. And… I sort of sliced and diced it… Some of the more nimble niche publishers spoke more clearly to what I wanted to publish, so to make a long story short, I never had an agent, I never wrote a letter, I never wrote a proposal—a formal proposal. I was able to identify the right publisher for me based on some fairly targeted conversations and the proof of that work that I had done before. So even though it wasn’t a book proposal per se, I had enough in my history that the publisher (who ended up being you) felt like, you know, you saw where I was going and you saw enough to feel comfortable with my writing ability and my business plan to wanna work with me, which was amazing.

 

Angela:

Thank you. Well yeah, I think that’s absolutely right. I think that’s true for small publishers like my company, Journey Grrl Publishing, or even Random House (assuming you can get the meeting) is there’s a lot to do with the author, their business savvy, marketing savvy, and really what they’re gonna do with your book. So the risk that we took as a publisher, to work with you, is something that we were mitigating. A lot of people think it’s with the quality of the writing; a lot of people think it’s just the topic, and for us, it wasn’t about the quality or the topic (although those things were important and contributed). But really the first gate to cross with any publisher is that marketing plan, and a lot of people put the marketing plan at the back of their book proposal. But really for a publisher, it’s really the first hurdle you have to cross. Then of course we want a book that’s well written, well edited. We want a book that is informative and helps specific groups of people and you definitely nailed that. I mean a lot of people come in and start broadening their topic but what you did, by narrowing your topic not just on women but on women in certain life stages like you mentioned (kind of at the beginning of this interview)… the publisher we’re looking for and certainly, we’re not unique, but as an author.. well most… about three options (and of course there’s always room for creativity) but there’s work on the proposal and work on the draft and, you know, different versions and trying to get an agent and a big time publisher and in advance (in that route) and you kind of talked about the control issues and why that wasn’t necessarily the best route for you. And then for most authors they go straight to another option which is self-publishing— you’re really doing it yourself, you maintain that control, there is more of an investment upfront because you are paying for, you know, designers, you know, different technology specialists to build different things for you. Why did you want to work with a publisher it kind and kind of put that middle person into the mix? Cuz, obviously there is some cost to that in terms of, you know, time, communication… a whole bunch of things… royalties… all those issues. Why work with a publisher and not just do it all yourself?

 

Ali:

I’m a big believer of the right tool for the job, and I don’t try the sell my own house. I believe in the value of a real estate agent because they know the market, they understand how to do things in a way because they’ve done it a lot of times before… (I fully believe that I am capable of selling my own house, but I have other things to do with my time and energy) and they are professional at it. There’s so many details that come into play in terms of writing a book and I didn’t want to have to learn all of them and frankly, I wanted to be spending my time building my business; not learning the publishing business. So, self-publishing… there are great tools out there and the world that exists for a self-publisher is a lot richer now than it ever has been before and it’s only getting better and better. But, you know, it’s still a learning curve and that was the biggest one. The second one for me was, I wanted the credibility of having a publisher. I think that for what I wanted to do with my book, there was a… and what I wanted to do, included getting media and publicity attention for my message and for the book. Having a publisher versus being self-published… In that one area, they were light-years apart. It’s very hard to get media attention and get publicity on a bigger scale when you’re self-published—not impossible—it’s just another hurdle. And I think that… when people…

 

Angela:

When they ask you… I mean, people have said, like, you know, maybe a journalist that you’ve talked to, and they’ve said, “Who’s your publisher?” and if you said [self-published], then go bye?

 

Ali:

People definitely ask me who my publisher is. And uhm…

 

Angela:

Really?

 

Ali:

Uhuh. And I think that there’s a level of credibility that goes along with having a publisher, instead of being self-published. There are a lot of people who do amazing things with self-published books and I think that’s a great way to go. But I definitely know that I have been asked who my publisher is and I don’t think it mattered who it was, per se as long [as]… but I think they felt more comfortable knowing that there was a publisher.

 

Angela:

It’s like a… almost like a built-in recommendation. Like somebody else believed in you, somebody bought onto your vision and, you know, presumably somebody who’s looked at a few other books.

 

Ali:

Right. I think there is that and I would also venture to guess that there is a level of… somebody else has to bless this thing and you can’t know the quality of a self-published book because there are no checks and balances. A book that’s gone through a publisher… the publisher has to be happy with the quality of the material that’s being put out and I think that makes a difference.

 

Angela:

Interesting. Well in our last couple of minutes of the first episode of Book Journeys Radio, I guess I want to hear from you? What do you think is the best thing that’s come for you in the last three months when you’ve had your own book? What’s the best thing to come of that for you?

 

Ali:

It’s a great question and my mind is going [to] a hundred of different places at once because this has been the most amazing few months of my life. I’ve had such incredible opportunities and experiences just since December when the book came out, so to pick one is hard, and yet at the same time, I would say is that the most amazing experiences that I’ve had since that time are the women who emailed me or come find me on my website which is www.fabfoundations.com, and say, “I used your book. I got a fitting, and it changed my life.” And I just got an email this morning from somebody who had a fitting experience and said, “I’ve never had a day when I wasn’t adjusting my bra strap and I can’t believe where my girls are sitting on my body.” And that—to know that I’ve been able to touch someone’s life and make a difference and to know what a big difference it made for me when I had that moment… that’s the most powerful thing.

 

Angela:

Well… [your life] has absolutely changed (as ridiculous as it might sound) over a bra. And you certainly [have] gotten many emails… saying, “Oh my Gosh! Oh my Gosh!” I just want to say thank you and I want to get your message out there to because and I am in a Lonely Maggie today and it’s absolutely gorgeous and I feel beautiful and it fits fantastically.

 

Ali:

That’s awesome, Maggie is adorable.

 

Angela:

It is, isn’t it? And so… visit fabfoundations.com. Fab for fabulous,, right? F-A-B (as in Boy)—fabfoundations dot com. Is there anything that you would recommend maybe on your website or other pages to get started? I don’t know if you have anything, like a, you know, a quiz or something on your website that will help somebody who listens to this and get started in their journey.

 

Ali:

I think that if you go to amazon.com and you download a free sample—actually on my website as well—you can go to the books tab and you download the free sample, you’ll see the quiz, it’s like a checklist. And if you go through the checklist you can identify whether or not you’re in fact a woman who might need a new bra or need to reassess or fit for her size. So I would say,go through those steps and start there.

 

Angela:

I think that [even] if you aren’t a woman or don’t have any challenges with your bra [you should still] go check that out to see the “process as an author” that Ali uses to help leverage her book [and] to build her list. So that’s definitely part of the journey. So thanks for being on our first episode of Book Journeys and…

 

Ali:

My pleasure. I’m honored.

 

Angela:

Good luck with your book and…

 

Ali:

Thank you!

 

Angela:

By bye.

 

Ali:

Bye.

Enter your details below to get the case study now!

Get Access To Your Masterclass Now

Enter your details below to get access to the FREE video training

Get Access To Your Masterclass Now