Michael Malkush – Book Journeys Author Interview Transcript – April 18, 2013

 

Book Journeys Author Interview – April 18, 2013

Dr. Angela Lauria with Michael Malkush, educator, speaker, motivational coach and author of Nothing Good Comes from a But

 

I think anytime you have to do a big project, if you just break it down into smaller projects, it’s more doable.”  – Michael Malkush

 

Angela:

Well, hello everybody! And welcome back to another episode of Book Journeys Radio! My name is Angela Lauria, I am the creator of the Author Incubator and of the Difference Process for writing a book that matters. I’m very excited today, on the show, we have Michael Malkush, he is the author of Nothing Good Comes From a But: Wipe Away Excuses.

 

So Michael, thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little bit about your book.

 

Mike:

Sure. Thank you so much for having me, Angela, this is really a pleasure, and I’m very excited because my book Nothing Good Comes From a But, which is about the excuses that people make, and everybody makes so many more excuses than they realize. It’s holding people back from really achieving their goals and their dreams in life. It’s a big obstacle, and my book will be coming out next month, so that’s why it’s exciting–

 

Angela:

When did you start the process of writing your book?

 

Mike:

I was a schoolteacher for thirty years, and I always wanted to write a book; I retired about two and a half years ago, and I had started writing my book shortly after that.

 

Angela:

When was that? How long was the whole process–

 

Mike:

It took about two and a half years, but I only did it when I felt like it. I was under no pressure to write a book; I had to be in the right mood, and I would say, it took me probably about a year to actually write the first manuscript of it.

 

Angela:

Wow. So, it’s an interesting timeline, because a lot of people are in a rush to get their book out, but I wonder what was the experience like, ’cause you were doing it when you wanted to. Do you feel like it was a more pleasurable experience for you because you weren’t rushing yourself, or how do you make that decision?

 

Mike:

Yeah, it was very pleasurable. I did most of my writing in the morning; I wake up early, so I usually get up about anywhere between five, five-thirty, six o’clock at the latest, and that’s when I just feel energized, and I have a lot of creative thoughts going through me. I used to sit down and write for about three hours, and I might do it for a couple of days, then I might not do it for a little while, and then it would come back, and I would really start moving forward with it. Sometimes I would write two weeks straight, and then, put it aside a little bit.

 

But I did, after a full year, I had something that I was pretty thrilled with, and I was pretty happy with, and then, from there, I actually got the interest of a agent, which, in itself, was…I feel like I really did well. A lot of people don’t reach that level and that point.

 

Angela:

Right. How did you find an agent?

 

Mike:

It was through networking. It was through somebody that I knew, that had recommended somebody else, and —

 

Angela:

–and you were sending…were you sending a proposal? A lot of people don’t understand how this process can take a long time, because first, before you can find a publisher, you need to find an agent. To find an agent, you usually—most people do a proposal, and once the agent likes your proposal, they then want you to redo your proposal completely before they send it to the publisher. So you wind up doing a lot of steps in addition to writing the book. How did that work in your case?

 

Mike:

Absolutely. I cut some corners, because as I said, I did know somebody so I was very lucky that I was a phone call away from meeting in an agent’s office. I had a manuscript of my book that was sent to him prior to my meeting there. He read the first five chapters of it, and he really liked what he had—he read.

 

We had a chance to meet, and it started out as a wonderful experience; I will say, my agent never got me a publisher. [Angela cuts in.“What was your commitment? How much time did you have to give him?”] I’m sorry, what was that?

 

Angela:

What was your commitment to your agent? [Michael cuts in.]

 

Mike:

Well, my commitment was a full year, and that’s why the press took as long as it did. He took it to different publishers, he offered me the feedback, and any feedback, I made the changes, so that was a really great learning experience for me. I heard probably the same thing that most authors hear: what’s your platform, how big is your platform, do you—first time author, I don’t know, do you have a radio or TV show or anything, and before you know it, it was—the rejection that came, there were a few things though with each rejection, that I was able to make changes, and I thought that that just kept making the book stronger.

 

Like I said, I was very patient with the writing, but then, at the end, I just saw where I was kinda like, stuck, that I was involved in a contract that I had to let ride out before I could go out and self-publish.

Angela:

Uh-huh, yeah, that was what I was asking. How long was that time? How long were you obligated before you could self-publish?

 

Mike:

I had a year contract, [Angela: A year.] and then from there, it was probably the last four months where nothing was really being done, and I just waited it  out at the advice of my attorney. He said, look, if you got a few months, no sense—yes, we can get you out of it, [Angela: this non-working investment.] yeah, yeah. So anyway, it ended in December, and now, gonna have a published book in about two weeks.

 

Angela:

Yeah, it’s fantastic, but I just wanna spend a little time on the whole agent thing, because a lot of people that imagine themselves as authors and they imagine themselves…I don’t know, on the New York Times Bestsellers list, or in a Barnes and Noble, or in an airport bookstore, they immediately dismiss self-publishing, and thinks about getting an agent, and wanting a contract with a traditional publisher, because they think that’s the best way to get their dreams to come true. That can be the case, although it’s a little bit like winning the lottery, and the more likely thing is that you lose a good year, if not a year and a half, of momentum.

 

Mike:

Yes, and you lose your control too. [Angela: More importantly, more importantly. Great.] If a publisher accepted or signed your book, they have all the rights after that. Like I was telling you earlier, I had to make a few changes in my cover. A publisher could say, I don’t even like your cover idea. We’re gonna change it on you.

 

When it was a concept that I just—in my head, I had a title first. That’s another thing that I think is interesting, and your listeners and other writers, they always wonder how you gettin’ started, where do you start. I had this—what I thought was a great title for people with excuses, and I wanted to write a book with that, and I had a concept of what the cover art should look like.

 

That to me, the creativity and the excitement now that– [Angela: that’s fun, that you’re creating something.] –is coming out.

 

It’s been a process; I did have an interesting part of the journey, and I had taken a course. It was actually Jack Canfield, from Chicken Soup for the Soul series, he was one of the people who was teaching a course that I took for three months. It was called Bestseller Blueprint [Angela: Oh, okay!] and it was great. I had an opportunity to talk to him one night, he was doing a tele-seminar, and I had told him, I said Jack, I have an agent, I’ve gotten rejected half a dozen times in the past six months, and I told him a little background, and I wanted to get his input.

 

What he told me was, if you’ve only gotten rejected six times in six months, your agent’s not doing a great job. Get rid of ‘im. [Angela: Wow. That sounds like plenty of rejection for me. I might be sensitive. ]That was worth its weight in gold right there. That was my turning point.  To have somebody who’s sold over 600 million books, give me advice like that. He went on to tell me that when he did his first book, he was rejected a hundred and sixty times. That was the– Chicken Soup for the Soul.

 

Angela:

But you made a decision not to stick around and get rejected a hundred and sixty times, ‘cause you definitely could have gone that route.

 

Mike:

Yeah, and I probably would have still been getting the rejections waiting for ____ , and I realized that self-publishing is not what it used to be. Years ago, you hear of people who self-published, and all of a sudden, they have five thousand books sitting in their garage in boxes. It’s not like that. Now, they print on demand for you. There’s different companies, and if somebody places an order, or if I want a certain amount, I’ll be able to order it, and not have to have this large amount to get my best pricing on a book anymore. Technology has really changed.

 

Angela:

Technology was part of the reason you decided to self-publish. What were some of the other reasons you decided to self publish?

 

Mike:

I realized, as I became more knowledgeable, that I started needing more and more people that are self-published, and they shared their success stories with me, and I just realized that “Hey, I could do this, I could get out there.” So I’ve been learning all of the social media stuff, and building up my platform, and I’m actually having a book launch where I have like a big event scheduled, coming up in May.

 

Angela:

Wow! If you were to go back to two and a half years ago, and start this whole process over, what would you do differently. What do you wish you knew two and a half years ago?

 

Mike:

Well, I think one of the things is–how long the process takes.  To sort it, I would know that, because I was gung-ho. Even though I worked at my own pace, I would have thought by now, I would have had my second book complete. And here it is. It’s so much better than it was.

 

I would wish I knew that, what seems like a couple of hundred pages, it doesn’t sound like a lot, but really, to have it typed, and how many times it’s been edited, and how many people I had proof it for me. It just—we finally got it, and it was like, OK, enough now, I don’t want to make any  changes, I like the way it is.

 

I wish somebody would have told me how much work it actually is to go from that first day that you start writing a book, until you get it published. Not only that,  but the other things that go with it, and I wish  had some of the knowledge of the social media before I started. I didn’t realize how important that is.

 

Angela:

Let me ask this question. When you started writing your book, what percentage of the process of being an author did you think that writing was gonna be, and then, what percentage is actually writing the book—actually.

 

Mike:

I thought that writing the book was gonna be close to a hundred percent, that I was gonna have a publisher take care of everything, after that with the marketing, I would say 95%. ‘Cause I knew that I would–if I had it, I would still be out there to do appearances, and to take care of things, and I was very naïve with that.

 

Now that I look at it, I think writing the book is probably 30% of it, [Angela: Interesting.] and I think that is 70% more work that I’m gonna have ahead of me, but I’m also looking to branch out, starting to do some coaching, and speaking, and–

 

Angela:

–Which is part of being an author! I think having that is part of being an author.

 

So, here’s the thing I want everyone to—I want everyone to pay attention to and key in on, is like most of the people that ____show, no matter what you’re hearing, no matter what people are telling you, you have an idea that writing your book is gonna be 95% of what you do, and you are gonna find someone, you’re gonna hire someone, you’re gonna meet someone. Somehow, you’re not gonna be doing the marketing, the promotion, the publishing; you’re gonna have a publisher [that] does everything  other than writing and maybe showing up for readings and signings. Mike was like you, and many of the authors we talked to on the air are like you, and now, he’s finding that he has to be a social media expert, a speaker, a coach, a publisher. He’s wearing a variety of hats, and writing is now not a hundred percent but 30%, and that’s what he’s guessing of the act of being an author. But being an author means something a little different than being a writer. If Mike wants to write a book that didn’t make a difference in the world, that didn’t change lives, he could sit at home and he could write, and he could write a hundred books, and he could stack up manuscripts in the corner and on his desk, and write on that book. But what I hear from Mike is that he wants to change the world, he wants to make a difference, he wants to share his ideas. He’s pretty committed to people not making excuses, and so he is not—he’s holding himself to that same standards. He’s not making any excuses, and he’s saying,  if being an author that makes a difference means there’s more I have to do than I’ve thought, well, let me learn how to do it. And I think that’s a pretty powerful story that most people don’t hear. Most people stop listening when they get rejected from a publisher and they go, “Well, I guess it wasn’t meant to be, and I guess that’s—nothing good can come from a “But”, right?”

 

Mike:

That’s it. You have to be tough-skinned in the business. You can’t make the excuses. You can’t be saying “but” all the time, over and over again. You have to just keep moving forward, you can’t get stuck if somebody says “I don’t like your book”, because there’s somebody else out there that’s gonna say “I love your book.” I think a lot of people are sensitive when they create something, but you have to be realistic, and you really explained it so nicely to your listeners, the whole process, and that’s really the way it is.

 

Angela:

Now, without making excuses, you could have—given this up. You could have been like, this is way too hard, it’s not what I was up for. I’m gonna do something else. Im gonna open a grocery store.

 

So for some reason you decided, even though it’s more different than you thought it would be, you decided to stick with this journey, and I’m wondering why.

 

Mike:

I guess that’s me. If I start something, and I say that it’s a goal that I have, I wanna see it through. If there’s obstacles in there, and I think that’s the way life is in general. You’re always gonna have these bumps in the road, and for your own personal growth, and my own growth in writing, I wasn’t gonna give up on this, and if there was something that came up and it just said, well, I got a rejection letter, okay. Let me make it better. I look at it as, “well, maybe they’re right. Maybe there is something that needs some improvement there.” If I didn’t have the way to do the marketing for it–


Angela:

What is it that Jack Canfield said? Feedback is the breakfast of champions. [Mike: Yeah, absolutely.] I love that quote. That’s one of my favorites.

 

Mike:

Absolutely. You know what other quote that I thought of a lot too? Wayne Gretzky, the hockey player. He said, “You miss a hundred percent of the shots you don’t take.” This is my first shot at a book, and if I didn’t complete it, and get it out there, I would never know. It would just be—it would be an idea.

 

Angela:

And what’s the—what’s the dream? What does success look like?

 

Mike:

What is the—my dream look like? What does—success with it?

 

Angela:

Yeah. If this book was super-successful, what would that look like to you?

 

Mike:

It would be me getting out and helping people, as many people as I can, improve their lives.  That would be—because of the book, the book will be my business card to helping other people through workshops that I’ll be doing, different speaking engagements that I’ll have, and just follow up in different ways with the people.

 

I’m actually creating another website that’s gonna parallel the book. It’s gonna go chapter by chapter, and I’m gonna have guest speakers that are coming on, and I’ll be doing some interviews with. I’m gonna have the experts, several of them for each chapter, because I realize in a book that you could really get a lot out of it, but there is probably gonna be a lot of people that even gonna get more out of it. That’s what I’m working on. That’s the next part of it.

 

Angela:

You really want to make a difference in people’s lives. You want to teach people how to stop making excuses. Why is that important to you?

 

Mike:

As I mentioned earlier, a public school teacher for 30 years, that’s what I do best– is help people. Teach people. And because I retired from public school, I didn’t wanna…not continue [sic], but I just wanted to do it in a different way.  That’s where I saw that the book was gonna be helpful for that, and it’s me fulfilling what I feel is my purpose now, and what I should be doing.

 

Angela:

I know that you’ve been working on this for a while, so I don’t know if this is a fair question, but in the experiences you’ve had ____ your book out, but I know that you have been presenting yourself as an author for some amount of time. I was wondering, are there any concrete kind of “before and after” stories you can tell about being an author, that some opportunity or something that’s happened in your life because you have a book coming out, that maybe wouldn’t have happened otherwise?

 

Mike:

Yes. A lot of the people that I have been meeting…I had been to quite a few different events, I have been invited to different events, I had opportunities to talk to people, and I am building up a tremendous network of other people with great experiences, and if I didn’t have a book, I really wouldn’t be meeting these people. For me it’s like, it’s so exciting, cause these are people that—some of them might have seven books out, and other people are where I am, where they’re just waiting to get published. I’m enjoying that so much, as far as meeting different people.

 

The other part is, I have been out, I have a workshop that I do; it’s called “Stop Making Excuses and Do It.”  It’s just great to be out and talk to people, and listen to them, and actually be there for a couple of hours, and be able to present what I have learned since I got really into education.

 

I’ve worked with thousands of students, and it’s kinda funny, but I’ve heard all the excuses. All the “buts“ while I was teaching–

Angela:

–the dog ate my paper?

 

Mike:

The dog ate—that’s the oldest one, right, and here I am. I’m saying “But.” Actually, I never heard that one, but it is funny, and if it was other things though, and this is where the actual title came in—I had students, one day they were all coming in late for some reason, and I’m, why are you late to class? “But Mr. Malkush, you don’t realize how crowded the halls are,” or “But Mr. Malkush, you don’t realize what it’s like to be a teenager“. “What does that mean?” “Well, we have to talk to people on the way, have to get a bite to eat when we pass by the cafeteria…” so many–all these different buts, I knew, with this title, so just jokingly, and finally, after the fifth one, I said, “you know, nothing good comes from a but,” and my whole class just went silent, and they burst out, like simultaneously laughing. And it was like, after that, I said, yep, that’s gonna be the title of my book.

 

Angela:

Wow. That is a great story. That is a great story. And I love that we kinda segued into that, but I love how you talked about the opportunities that come from being an author, and there are events that you go to, and things that you’ll do, and opportunities that you’ll have as an author that—it’s not because authors are better than schoolteachers, it’s just—you know, you get opportunities; as soon as you say you are an author, there are opportunities that wouldn’t be there. I think that it’s an interesting dynamic, because it’s something that you clicked. You don’t have to get picked or hired– the minute you claim your status as an author, the world sort of starts to open up for you. Opportunities come in, where you can grow your platform, where you can grow your influence in the world, and hopefully, meet your goal of making a bigger difference in the world, and helping people, in your case get rid of their excuses, which could be the challenge.

 

This is the perfect book topic to ask this question about, so a lot of people that listen to this show, a lot of people that I work with, their issue is they wanted a book for a long time, often since they were kids. Their challenge is—somehow, they haven’t gotten around to it. They’re not even sure how; like they scheduled it, they somehow didn’t make the appointment, they didn’t sit down and write it, they couldn’t pick their topic, and there’s a lot of shame and guilt about not getting it done, that leads to feed on itself, and then they feel guilty that they haven’t done it, and that doesn’t make them wanna sit down and do it, and they’re in this mood. So that is the most common excuse that I hear. It’s I wanna get it done, but I can’t seem to get it done.

 

So I am wondering, what advice, as a no buts guy, I think that comes from a buts guy, what advice would you give to those authors about why they’re not writing their book and how they can get it done?

 

Mike:

I think they’re looking at the big picture; like this big book, and they’re getting overwhelmed. If they could break it down into smaller pieces, if they thought of a book as, I could write one page a day, after a year, you could have a book with 365 pages to it. You could even take breaks in there, and still come up with a full book and have more than enough pages. Or if you look at it, and say, I’m gonna do a chapter a week, or chapter every two weeks, that way, it’s broken down instead of this big, massive, how do I do it. I think that’s one strategy that could definitely work, and I think anytime you have to do a big project, if you just break it down into smaller projects, it’s more doable.

 

Angela:

I know you talked about conferences and events, and working with people on your book. Is that something that has helped you get past your excuses?

 

Mike:

It has, it has. I have taken different workshops along the way, and I really think that, if you take some of the right ones and you could build up your own network with other authors, you could motivate each other also. [Angela: That’s wonderful.] yeah. It would really be good.

 

You know, it’s funny, when you mention some of the things that being an author—opportunities for me, if I wasn’t an author, I wouldn’t be on your show today. [Angela: Well, there you go!] [Mike and Angela talk over each other] I think that shows everybody just something I never thought of, but here I am, talking to you and your listeners because of Nothing Good Comes from a But.

 

Angela:

Excellent! We will be back next week on Book Journeys Radio talking to another author, and always teaching our listeners how, together, we can change the world one book at a time. So thanks for being with us. Buh-bye.

 

Mike:

Bye.

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