Angela’s Book Journeys Radio last week brought to us an interesting interview with Paul Smith, a keynote speaker, trainer, and author of two books: Lead with a Story: A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives that Captivate, Convince, and Inspire. This has been followed up with his second book, Parenting with a Story: Real Life Lessons in Character for Parents and Children to Share. Paul’s first book is a leadership guide and a how-to book on using storytelling to make one a better leader and to actually understand how they can craft their own leadership stories. Paul’s second book came while he was writing the first one, as it dawned on him that leading people at work is in many ways similar to parenting kids at home. So it became a collection of stories that parents could use to teach life lessons to their kids.
Paul says his idea of a book project started with someone else’s book. He was teaching executive training courses in his job at Procter & Gamble and he used Chip and Dan Heath’s book, Made to Stick. He quickly came to like what he was doing, teaching people the content of the book and making his own personal examples that made the book’s principles come to life. Eventually he thought of doing the same thing by himself full-time, but using his own book. So this became the motivation for him to write a book, and storytelling became the topic that he saw was something he knew enough about and was passionate enough about to write a book on.
From the start, Paul’s goal in writing the book was to make it a primary marketing vehicle for launching his speaking and training career. So with this goal in mind, he chose to work with a traditional publisher because he needed a book that would sell widely, but not necessarily be his main source of income. He credits his publisher for the great marketing efforts they made for his book which he said he couldn’t have done on his own. Through their well-connected PR department, he was able to get publicity for his book in leading business magazines like Forbes, Inc., Time, and in Wall Street Journal. They also have a sales force that sells his books to all the bookstores in the country and even got his book sold to different publishers around the world. Paul was pleasantly surprised by the success of his book which is now on its seventh printing and has been translated into six or seven languages around the world. But he says that only 15 to 20% of his income comes from book royalties as the bigger share is from his speaking and training fees. He cites that one of the trade-offs of going the route of traditional publishing was that the book royalties are much smaller than a self-published book. Another trade-off is the right to make decisions for the book, such as the title, the cover art, and the editing process, among other things, which are often decided by the publisher.
A major take-away that Paul gives to those who want to have their own book is to never give up. He believes that if they are passionate about what they’re writing and are willing to write it even if no one wants to publish it, then they are more likely to get it published.
Watch out for Angela’s interview with another exciting author.