by Alvin Ramirez June 6, 2014
In this post, we talk about Dr. Angela Lauria’s Book Journeys interview with author Jim Johnson, a speaker, basketball coach, and author of A Coach and a Miracle. In the book, Jim Johnson is the coach and the miracle is high school student Jason McElwain, known simply as J-Mac, a teen with autism who had the dream of joining Coach Jim’s basketball team.
For three years, J-Mac tried out for the team but didn’t make it. So Coach Jim did what he thought would be perfect. He gave the kid a gift, which was to put him in uniform for a final home game on senior night. So, that night, with just four minutes to go, J-Mac was in the game. What happened ultimately surprised everyone and changed the lives of both Coach Jim and J-Mac and turned them into online video celebrities as early as 2006.
With the unprecedented publicity brought about by surprising game, Coach Jim was asked by people, “When are you going to write a book about it?” So that started the ball rolling and with the help of a co-author, Coach Jim flesh out the manuscript for A Coach and a Miracle, and the result was a new career, a new life, and a new opportunity for J-Mac who has since become an example of how one’s dream in life can become true in more ways than one.
Asked by Dr. Angela why he said yes to people’s clamor for a book, Coach Jim said that the game was something that gave so much inspiration and hope for so many people and it somehow gave autism a voice, which in 2006 wasn’t really quite heard as much as it should have. In line with his years of teaching and coaching, he said writing the book was his chance to give inspiration and teach the many life lessons he’s learned in his own personal journey.
In spite of all the publicity and the celebrity endorsements, Coach Jim had expected more attention to be given by the public to his book, but he realized since its publishing that there were certain things that should have been given more focus, like a platform for reaching out to people and a plan for marketing that’s active. He realized that is was crucial to get the word out about book into the world. For Coach Jim, having good content wasn’t enough. An author may have a really good book but it’s not going to make a difference or influence people in a positive way if it is sitting on a shelf gathering dust or stuffed in a box in a basement somewhere where no one is reading it.
Coach Jim’s advice on how to promote the book is to really make it a part of what you do in life. In his case it was being a teacher, a coach and a speaker. Every opportunity to talk about the book is an opportunity to make a sale. In his experience, events like speaking engagements should have backroom book signings and that social media be used to spread word about a book.
The road to getting published wasn’t quite smooth for Coach Jim. Behind his success is a story that’s a mix of good luck, coincidence and meeting the right people like a newspaper editor, an inspirational book author, and an agent who was willing to let go of something that wasn’t really working out. They all ultimately helped him get the book out. Consequently, having the book in turn also helped him to connect with more people as a speaker.
In his speaking engagements, Coach Jim often talks about the value of belief, faith, and perseverance. He certainly had all those in his journey publishing A Coach and a Miracle and it all began with J-Mac’s own perseverance in wanting to play basketball.