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The Published Author Podcast

WRITING BOOKS BRINGS ENTREPRENEUR INTERNATIONAL SPEAKING ROLES, OPENS DOORS

Michelle Tillis Lederman has written four books and with each one she’s discovered that a personalized approach to PR and marketing brings the most success.

This makes perfect sense. Michelle is the author of The Connector’s Advantage and The 11 Laws of Likability.  She’s a connector at heart. 

Michelle is one of Forbes Top 25 Networking Experts, and CEO of Executive Essentials, which provides customized communications and leadership programs for Fortune 500, non-profit, university and government clients. A former finance executive and NYU professor, Michelle is a regular in the media appearing on NBC, CBS, Fox, NPR, the Wall Street Journal, NY Times, CNBC, and others. Michelle is known for helping people work better together and advance their individual impact.

THE CONNECTOR MINDSET BRINGS RESULTS!

Michelle is often asked how she’s built her business. She says The Connector’s Advantage answers the question. “This is how I build my business, with these philosophies. 

“I realized that it's just a way of being if we can embody mindsets, and I talk about the seven mindsets, and the connector’s advantage of having them.” (Listen to the episode to uncover the seven mindsets).

She adds: “If we can embody those (mindsets), that's when you achieve the connector’s advantage of faster, easier, better results!

When she’s asked about the difference between networking and connecting, Michelle says: “Networking is something you do, but a connector is who you are. And that's how my work grew. And that actually became the last line of my book. Because it was like: ‘Oh, this is what I want people to get. Don't do something, be someone’.”

SELF-PUBLISHING GIVES MORE CONTROL

Of her four books, Michelle has only used a traditional publisher with the first one, and she says the experience wasn’t great, mostly because she didn’t have any kind of voice in the process. The publisher sold the audio rights and a man recorded the audio book, while the first cover presented wasn’t something Michelle liked.

For the Connector’s Advantage, Michelle worked with a hybrid publisher and describes them as “fabulous”. She was fully involved in the process and had a voice every step of the way. She also says that the financial model is better for authors.

“Where traditionally you get the advance up front, you get very little on the back end,” she explains. “Well, The 11 Laws Of Likability has sold every week for over a decade. Tens of 1000s of copies, and I get $1 a book, you know, maybe $1.50. And it costs me $10 to buy a copy. So even when I sell them direct, I'm not making that much.”

In contrast, Michelle can buy The Connector’s Advantage at cost which makes it much more affordable to gift copies. 

THE CONNECTOR’S BOOK LAUNCH

With The Connector's Advantage Michelle took more  of a podcast approach to the launch, as opposed to a full book launch.

“I've been on hundreds of podcasts. So I just went back to all the podcasts and said: ‘Hey, launch coming. You want me back on?’ And I was recording for months with them, releasing it around the launch date.”

Michelle also ensures her launches have a personal touch. She explains: “If I’ve had a conversation with you, I try to personalize the inscription in the book that I sign. Now, when you're doing a line of 200 people, you can't do that. But when I had 20 or 30 people, I would try to do that. It became this whole group conversation. And people felt connected and people would stay at my table. I really live the work.” 

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ABOUT THE HOST

The Published Author Podcast is hosted by Josh Steimle, founder of Published Author. Josh is a book author himself and his article writing has been featured in over two dozen publications including Time, Forbes, Fortune, Mashable, and TechCrunch. He's a TEDx speaker, the founder of the global marketing agency MWI, a skater, father, and husband, and lives on a horse farm in Boston. Learn more at JoshSteimle.com.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Josh Steimle

Welcome to the Published Author Podcast where we help entrepreneurs learn how to write a book and leverage it to grow their business and make an impact. I'm your host Josh Steimle. Today, my guest is Michelle Tillis Lederman, one of Forbes top 25 networking experts in the author of four books, including the internationally known The 11 Laws Of Likability, and her latest The Connector's Advantage. Michelle has a connection creator and CEO of Executive Essentials, which provides customized communications and leadership programs for the Fortune 500, nonprofit university, and government clients. A former finance executive and NYU professor, Michelle is a regular in the media, appearing on NBC, CBS Fox, NPR, The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, CNBC and others. Michelle is known for helping people work better together and advance their individual impact. Michelle, welcome to the show.

Michelle Tillis Lederman

Thanks for having me on.

Josh Steimle

And, you know, I like you already. I haven't even read the book, The 11 Laws of Likeability, but we're chatting a little bit before the show. And Michelle seems like a nice person, dear audience, so definitely check out her 11 Laws Of Likeability book, she seems to know what she's talking about and practice what she preaches. But Michelle, tell us when you were growing up, did you always know that you wanted to be an author and that someday you were going to be writing business books? Or when did that spark first come to you?

Michelle Tillis Lederman

Absolutely not. I actually am what I call a recovering CPA, I started my career in finance. And I tried every aspect of finance from working on the trading floor to venture capital to auditing, you name it, I tried it. And, you know, it was really the poor management and poor communication that I saw as a woman in finance in the 90s that drove me to start my own business. And this first book, The 11 Laws Of Likability, was my first book back in 2011. It actually came from a course I created called the Natural Networker. And somebody . . . I was delivering as a MoMA. And this guy came up to me, I'll never forget, he was . . . you should turn this into a book. And I'm like, yeah, yeah, yeah. And I kind of thought about it in the back of my head, and he's like, No, he's turning this into a book. And I'm like, Alright, that sounds easy enough.

Josh Steimle

That was it. So what would happen if that person hadn't come up and told you that you need to write a book about this?

Michelle Tillis Lederman

You know, the truth is, I had about 10 book ideas. And it was a dream, but not really a plan. And it wasn't until I actually had my first child who . . . . actually I had two kids by then. But I had to pull back from work because I had a special needs kid, and we were doing so many things around him, I really just had to pull back and I'm like, I still need a brain, you know, connection. And so I'm like, well, this will be a good time, I have to sit at the school every single day, I'll bring my laptop or write a book. You know, what you think is involved in writing a book and what's actually involved in writing a book are completely different. But you know, once you start down the path, it becomes easier that momentum keeps you going.

Josh Steimle

So, with the motivation for your book, tell me a little bit more about what was going into your presentation. Because there are a lot of people out there who say, Well, if women are going to be successful in business, you have to be more assertive, you have to be more kind of stern and authoritative and kind of mean, like the stereotypical male hard driving CEO. And yet you wrote a book all about likability. So was that something that you're thinking about as you're writing the book? And why did you choose likability versus you have to be like Steve Jobs type of thing or something?

Michelle Tillis Lederman

You know, there's a personal aspect to it for me, because I don't think I was always very likable. Like when you said, I seem like Well, I'm like Pheww! You know, because the truth is, you can't make anybody like you. And I had publishers who wanted to change the title of the book to 50 ways to make people like you. And I was like, no, that's not the book. It is understanding that we are all likeable. And we need to enable others to see what's likable about us. And I always say when people like I'd rather be respected than liked, I'm like, those two things are not mutually exclusive.

Josh Steimle

And have to be one or the other, right?

Michelle Tillis Lederman

It's not an either or choice. People do business with people they like, and the relationship wins over price and over product. And if you want to be successful in your career in your life, you are going to get there faster, easier and better through relationships. And that's actually the premise of my latest book, which is The Connector's Advantage, which builds on the first one, you know, and so when we think about women in business, I've actually had organizations not hire me as the speaker because of the word likability and then I've had organizations hire me only because of the word likeability. And there are a lot of, you know . . . and this is a really good tip for people who are thinking about topics of their books, something a little controversial isn't so bad. You're gonna get people talking and get people, you know, discussing the concept.

Josh Steimle

Yeah. So as you were starting the process of writing this book, did you have people helping you or giving you tips or what was it like being a first time-author and navigating the process?

Michelle Tillis Lederman

I've published four books, four different ways. And the first book, I went with traditional publishing. I hired a person to help me with the proposal. And that person connected me to agents, I then had an agent. And that agent got me offers from publishers, but at the same time, I was reaching out to publishers through my connections. And so I got an offer from Greenleaf publishing to do, you know, what's now called the hybrid model. But I wanted traditional I wanted, you know, I wanted the advance. And, you know, this was over a decade ago, you know, I didn't have the finances to really fund it myself. But I also didn't know what the process was. And so I felt going traditional, I would learn each step of the way, I had friends who were authors, and so I would reach out to them and ask them about the process. I add people who would read my draft and give me feedback. So, you know, I live the theories of my book around relationships matter. And I leveraged all the relationships I had. I ended up going with a publisher who I had reached out to through my connections. And they did eventually give me the offer, but only after my publisher had gotten two other offers, they had to step up to the plate. But I chose her because of the relationship we had, it was the best decision I made.

Josh Steimle

So that was the traditional publishing route on that first one. And did everything work out as you wanted it to, are there any struggles or challenges that you faced going through that traditional process?

Michelle Tillis Lederman

There were definitely bumps along the road, I'm still really happy with my choice. You know, I had offers from McGraw Hill and some other publishing houses, and I went with a smaller business book publisher, which is now called HarperCollins Leadership, but it had a different name back in the day. And for me, I got chosen as a lead book, which means they put some marketing dollars behind me, which was great. But some of the bumps along the way were, I submitted my manuscript, and I didn't get feedback for six months.

Josh Steimle

That's got to be not so fun.

Michelle Tillis Lederman

And when I finally got feedback, it was 17 pages of here's, you know, what you need to change, like, Oh, my God, no, and here's, you know, 30 days to do it. Hmm. And I was like, not happening. So I ended up getting 90 days, we had to negotiate that. And then when they gave me the cover of the book, it was not at all representative of the brand of the book. It was coral, and purple, and very feminine and very self help. And I said, I'm not a doctor, I have no credibility and self-help. I'm a businesswoman, and entrepreneur. I said, this is a gender neutral, you know, professional book. And the response was, we didn't ask you. Yeah, we'd like it. And I was just like, Oh, I can't feel good about promoting this book, the way it looks. I'm like, I don't want this doesn't represent me. So you know, fortunately, when you have the relationships, I called my agent. I said, Here's what's going on, what do I do? And he helped me navigate the conversation, and I got a book cover that I could be happy with. That's interesting. Well, to comfort all of us who have been through that, have you seen the Brene Brown special she did on Netflix a year or two ago? I know of it, I haven't had the chance to watch it.

Josh Steimle

In there, she talks about how her publisher gave her a book cover for an international market, but it had like an elephant's behind on it or something. And she's like, really? Like, is this really the right cover for my book. So I mean, if even Brene Brown gets covered designs that she doesn't like from her publishers, then maybe the rest of us shouldn't feel too bad. But I had a similar experience myself with my first book. I got a cover back from the publisher. And I thought, this looks like a technical manual or something. This doesn't look like a business book. And I had to really fight with my publisher a bit to get them to accept something different. In the end, I actually paid a designer myself and took it to them and said, look at this, which one do you want on this book? And they said, Okay, we'll take that, but only if you let us use it on other books, too. I was like, Done, I don't care what you use it for. I just want it on my book. And but yeah, it can be a struggle. Sometimes it's as a first-time author, sometimes you don't know going into the process that these people buy your book publishers buy your book, and then they own it. They can do whatever they want with it. Yeah, as the author, you're kind of they're saying, that's my baby. But yeah.

Michelle Tillis Lederman

That's why I only did that one book fully traditional because another bump along the road was around the audio rights. I wanted to be the voice on the book. And they sold the audio rights. And I said, okay, but I would like, you know, I'd like to record it. And they're like, Well, no, that's not part of the deal. Yeah, they wouldn't even interview me. I wasn't even given an opportunity to audition for my own book. And they put a man's voice on my book.

Josh Steimle

Ah, yeah.

Michelle Tillis Lederman

The worst reviews I got on Amazon, we're over the audio book and the guy's voice. So for my latest book, one of the things I wouldn't sell the audio rights unless I was attached to it. And so I got to record my latest book. And these are the things you learn along the way.

Josh Steimle

Yeah, lessons learned. So tell us about the experience going into the second book, what was the motivation? Why did you want to write it? And then how did you decide to do it the second time around?

Michelle Tillis Lederman

So after the first book, I was like, Okay, I'm done. Never again, that was too hard. Yeah, it took longer to birth, you know, that book than two children's combined. And so what happened was, my sister ran into a guy that she went to middle school with, at a restaurant. And it just so happened that he was the head of NBC's Digital Publishing division. And she's like, Oh, my sister just wrote a book. And he said, Oh, get her in my office. So I go to the head of NB C's digital publishing division, and I'm like, Hey, Mike, here's pictures of you in eighth grade with your sweat pants up to your chest and your shirt tuck in, you know. And we had this great conversation, he said, I'd love to take your book and do this. And I said, the publisher owns all the rights. And I said, why don't I just write you a new book? And then I'm like, Oh, my God, I didn't just say that. I have to do it. And he said, Well, what would you write? I said, Well, I could write about interviewing skills, my sleep. And we can do one for you know, you know, returning parents, we can do one for new grads, or we can do one for veterans, veterans, let's do one for veterans. And so that became the second book. And we actually then came up with the blue sky idea of being able to give it to veterans for free. And so the second book actually became a sponsored book. And I went to my clients, and Citibank actually ended up sponsoring the production of the book. It's an enhanced ebook with 20 videos, we had a cast of veterans, we had veteran organizations involved. We had a Medal of Honor recipient, do the foreword, it was a production, you know, and I got a small stipend out of the budget for the production. And it is free forever for veterans and their spouses. And so it was a really interesting process to do it that way.

Josh Steimle

That's great. Now, a lot of people listening to this have never heard of the idea of sponsoring a book. Tell us a little bit more about that, and how that worked in your case.

Michelle Tillis Lederman

It was not intentional. I didn't go back out looking to have a book sponsored. But it is something that's really interesting. And for my latest book, I, you know, I referenced United Airlines in my book. And so I tried to reach out to the CEO of United Airlines, we didn't get anywhere. But you know, the idea of a company wanting to either buy copies for their people or do a foreword and do a version of the book for their people with their logo on it, things like that are interesting things to explore. For me, it was really about knowing my client, because I do training and speaking for Citibank, and have in the past. I knew that they were very big on veteran programming. And so when I brought them the opportunity, they were like, yeah, this is great. And they joined the team. That's great.

Josh Steimle

So what were some of the other lessons learned from the first book that you brought into the second book? It said, Okay, I know what I'm going to do this time, I'm going to do it this way. You talked about the audio rights, things like that. Were there any other big lessons learned between books one and two?

Michelle Tillis Lederman

So the cover and the audio rights were big ones . . . they are . . I don't know if, you know, to such an anomaly and how you publish . . . But the marketing aspects in the ownership of the website, NBC owned it. And NBC kind of controlled everything. And, you know, when they got a new shiny thing, they forgot about it. And so eventually, I had to recreate the entire website, under my own name because they let it slide.

Josh Steimle

So being kind of a corporate-driven project. Yeah, the interest only lasted as long as that was the thing, and then they moved on.

Michelle Tillis Lederman

So you know, control . . . so you'll see each book I got a little more control.

Josh Steimle

Yeah, so take us to book number three then. After doing one and two, and knowing how much work goes into a book and having been through it twice. What was the start of number three, where you said, Yep, I've got to do another one?

Michelle Tillis Lederman

I didn't ever say that. I will say, likeability came out in 2011. Heroes get hired in 2000. And I'm kind of pointing to them behind me. In 2013. Nail the Entry Land The Job came out in 2015. And at that time, I really wanted to write The Connector's Advantage, which didn't come out till 2019. So you can see two years, two years, two years, four years. This was the thing I was dying to write. And I and I had a lot of people saying, Michelle, we want this Nail The Interview book. I didn't have . . . .I'll be honest, I didn't have a lot of passion around it, it was really a veteran book for different audiences. And originally, we were going to do a series of working moms and new grads and the older workforce and things like that. And I decided to just throw it all into one book. And, you know, I did self-production, because it was almost like, if I get that out, I can write the book I want to write. And, you know, so I hired a general contractor of book publishing and produced the book and I will tell you, I see the difference in, you know, in my bottom two books than I do in the top two books. And, you know, one is because the NBC sponsored book wasn't meant to be a paperback, it wasn't meant to be a hardcopy because we were getting it for free. But certainly, like, I see the difference in a self-published book and the quality, in the choices. And so I did that book, because the content was 70% similar, right . . . so it was already kind of written. And all I needed to do was go into each section and re-address it for the challenges that new grads, returning parents, and the involuntarily unemployed, I call them, and older workers. So I addressed those issues of those four categories in that book. And so it was a rewrite in a way. And I never did a launch for it. I did some speaking, and they would buy books, and it exists out there. And it sells here and there. And, and it was just, you know, a way to get to what I wanted to write. But that's terrible.

Josh Steimle

No, everybody has a different path and a different experience. And that's what's so interesting is that every author goes through their own unique set of experiences, no two experiences are alike. So take us through your process a little bit more on the Connector's Advantage. So I mean, it sounds like this is really your baby, this is what you've been kind of working up to all these years. Is that right?

Michelle Tillis Lederman

Um, it is, you know, the 11 Laws Of Likeability and the Connector's Advantage go hand in hand, right? So I actually summarized the likability concepts in the Connector's Advantage, because it builds off of them. And these two pieces of work are my mission. You know, and so it really is taking it to the next level. And my brother-in-law walks in my office one day, and he goes, Oh, you're writing another networking book? And I said, No. And I hate the word networking. That's another thing I learned. My publisher came to me and had me change the subtitle of likeability, and include the word networking in it, they said, you have to use the word networking, because of, you know, SEO. And I said, well, it's only half about networking. And he was like, what's the other half? And I said, it's really about relationships. And, and I said, this is how I coined the phrase relationship networking, which has ended up being a top title and ended up being a really great thing. Because I had to, you know, codify the concept and the new paradigm. And so we added that phrase, relationship networking. And so when my brother-in-law comes to my room, he goes, What's the difference between networking and a connector? And I looked at him and I said, networking is something you do, but a connector is who you are. And that's kind of how my work grew. And that actually became the last line of my book. Because it was kind of like, Oh, this is what I want people to get. Don't do something, be someone. You know. And so this book, from all the lessons I learned, I went with a hybrid approach to publishing.

Josh Steimle

You worked with a hybrid publisher in this case, and who did you work with on the Connector's Advantage then?

Michelle Tillis Lederman

Page Two and love them. They were fabulous. You know, and they came, recommended by some of the authors, I'm part of a female authors group, and others have worked with them. And so I talked with one of their partners and felt really comfortable with the approach because it was really a very aligned incentive. But rights were more in my control. So I chose every step of the way: if I want to sell the audio rights, if a foreign rights, you know . . . so I'm in 12 languages with the 11 Laws of Likability. I'm already in three with the Connector's Advantage. But I chose every step of the way, you know, is this the deal I want to take? I get all bulk sales, I have control of all e-sales, but they do all distribution into bookstores. And that's where there's more of a royalty model. I had the cover designed on my own but they tweaked it. You know, so it was really a partnership and a collaboration on the approach. They provided some marketing, but I didn't like the person they chose. So I went on my own and they said, Okay, we'll work with this person. So it was really a great partnership where I felt that I had the control. And you know, the financial impact was shifted, right. So where traditionally you get the advance up front, and you get very little on the back end. Well, The 11 Laws Of Likability has sold every week for over a decade. And, you know, 10s of 1000s of copies, and I get $1 a book, you know, maybe $1.50. And it cost me $10 to buy it. So even when I sell them directly, I'm not making that much. So I can buy my newest book at cost. So if I want to give them away, it's a lot easier. I'm not being like, here's a $10 bill, here's . . you know. So I love being able to buy them at cost. And I love the voice I have in every step of the process.

Josh Steimle

That's great. So talk to us a little bit about your launch and your marketing then. So you finished the book in 2019. Right?

Michelle Tillis Lederman

It was launched in March of 2019. Yes.

Josh Steimle

And so talk to us about what you planned on for marketing and PR and launching and getting it out there. And then how that went.

Michelle Tillis Lederman

One of the things that I did with my first book was a quiz on what type of networker you are. And it was picked up by a lot of websites, and it was really popular, especially on some tech websites. And, and so I thought I would do the same thing for the connectors advantage. So I created a quiz. What level connector are you, because there's seven levels in the connector spectrum. And it's a three-minute quiz. I've now embedded it into my website, it goes right into my list. But I also can use that quiz to create, you know, information about an organization's, you know, staff, right, so I can do a separate, here's just what your staff looks like for everybody who took the quiz. So it's a really great tool. Anybody out there can take it, it's great. And you're not even required to give an email address to get your results. I make it very opt in. And I know you'll put those links up. So the quiz

Josh Steimle

We've got at that link in the show notes. If you're listening to this, go to our show notes, you can access that link to that quiz there.

Michelle Tillis Lederman

So I have a quiz . . . . And they're both on my website. With my first book, I had no clue. And I did have the PR team at the publisher really helping me they got me on TV. They got me on CBS. I got on NPR I got on Gayle King, I got on, we did a radio campaign, and I would see a correlation between where the radio show was and sales in that city. So that was huge. I did 40 radio shows in three days.

Josh Steimle

Wow, that is quite a bit.

Michelle Tillis Lederman

It was there was a true launch. With the Connector's Advantage I did more of a podcast approach. I've been on hundreds of podcasts. So I just went back to all the podcasts and said, Hey, launch coming you want me back on. And I was recording for months with them releasing it around the launch date. And, you know, I did some article placement. But you know, it's really hard to produce and produce and produce. But these days, that's what they wanted. There, you know, the radio wasn't as big as podcasts were, you know, and things change.

Josh Steimle

Yeah, it's interesting how podcasts have kind of taken over. And they've gone through kind of an interesting phase here where podcasts were like a thing 10 years ago, and then they weren't a thing for several years. And now they're like this huge thing all over again, an interesting evolution.

Michelle Tillis Lederman

But you know, I continuously look for opportunities to create a marketing moment. So for example, in March of 2020, you're gonna laugh, at the anniversary, I did a whole Anniversary Special where we did a Kindle countdown campaign and things like that, well, horrible timing, because that's right when COVID hit. But you know, that was an opportunity. And then around the holidays, I did a special called give the gift of connection, I just shared that link with you. Where I actually personally will sign the book, put a bookmark in and write a personal note from the gift giver to the gift recipient. With that messaging, I put all their little pre-package and I ship it and I made that a really easy price point. With the shipping in the US included. If it was not the US it was a different story. But I had somebody buy it for their whole team. And so I said hey, if you want to do it for more than one person, just email me and I'll do it without you having to go fill out the form 10 times.

Josh Steimle

That's great, such a hands on example. Is that something that applies to what you have in the book about making connections with people . . . . doing that type of activity that's more connected, more physical, and more out of the ordinary?

Michelle Tillis Lederman

It's the personalization right? You know, when somebody sees . . . I've always had a motto . . . if I can, if I've had a conversation with you, I try to personalize the inscription in the book that I sign. Now, when you're doing a line of 200 people, you can't do that. But when I had 20, or 30, I would try and people would just all like, watch. And it became this whole group conversation. And you felt connected, and people would stay at my table. So I really, I live the work. I was asked, always have I built my business? My first client was JP Morgan. My second was Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley was in my first five clients. So I had, you know, this really elite group of clients, and they're like, well, how did you do it? And originally, this book was answering that question. This is how I build my business, these are the philosophies, and then you know, everything explodes. And I realized that it's just a way of being, and if we can embody mindsets . . . and I talk about seven mindsets, and the connector's advantage with having them. For those who are thinking about, you know, the entrepreneurship, and doing all of this, I'll share with you the seven mindsets. So connectors are open and accepting. They have a clear vision, they trust, they come from a place of abundance. They are social and curious. They are conscientious and they have a generous spirit.

Josh Steimle

Sounds good.

Michelle Tillis Lederman

And if we can embody those you that's when you achieve the connectors advantage of faster, easier, better results, right. So you will have your goals of whatever it is you're trying to do. And one of my goals in the first year was to get to 100 reviews on Amazon. And that's the clear vision, it doesn't have to be huge. It doesn't have to be I want to make the New York Times bestseller list. It just has to be something that people can tangibly support you on. And I broke my 100 reviews. And now I'm working on the next 100.

Josh Steimle

So how did you apply lessons from your book to market and promote the book and get it out there? How can you look . . . can you look back on how the book is done and see, oh, I was doing this thing right out of the book and that's one of the things that actually helped the book?

Michelle Tillis Lederman

It's actually really an interesting question, because I started to reach out to people with some expertise when I was writing the connectors advantage. And I ended up realizing that I had so many other connectors beyond myself that could add expertise to the book. And I ended up including, you know, sidebars, or expertise from over 30 other authors or experts in the field. And then when the launch happened, they were part of my launch team, right, which is something you want to put together. And they provided endorsements, they provided social media, they shared it with their lists, they helped, you know, get it out there, maybe not huge, maybe one post here, one post there. But their name and voice was associated with it. And so that's what I mean, by curating your connections. You know, I had Ivan Misner who started BNI. The largest networking organization did the foreword.

Josh Steimle

That's great. So now, you've got your four books out. What's coming next?

Michelle Tillis Lederman

Oh, can I have a nap? I told you. I haven't had breakfast yet. Breakfast is coming next.

Josh Steimle

Do you have any ideas for books in the future? I think you said earlier, you had like 10 books that you wanted to write or something,

Michelle Tillis Lederman

You know that I've had many, many book ideas. Right now, I am not planning another book at the moment, I will never say never, but I will say not now. Right now my focus is on really amplifying the voice of The Connectors Advantage. And you know, a likability book is out there. And it's pretty well-known. And that continues to be, you know, recognized. So, of course, these are my babies that I continue to promote. And I do that through speaking. And I do custom training programs, I have a course called The Connected Leader. And I deliver that through universities as well as other organizations. So it's really about not just the book itself, but the products that you offer around the book. So I'll do a speech and we'll look to have the books as part of that. And everybody gets a copy. And then I do a book signing, or I'll do a training. And that training is based on methods of the book. And so they get a book in the training. And I have an assessment that comes out of the likability book. And so they can go online, and there's a discount code in the book. And so every once in a while, somebody will just go take the assessment online. And now I'll know that they read the book, because I'll see the coupon code in there. So there's little things that you want to create more than just the book. It's the ecosystem around the book.

Josh Steimle

Right, because even if you do get to keep more of that money because you're self publishing or hybrid publishing, still, it's hard to make a living just off of book sales, right? So you've got your other business that you're doing this training and development with in the book is a marketing tool for that. Right?

Michelle Tillis Lederman

Absolutely. And I will say that, even though I've, you know, I've been a bestseller in the Spanish edition here, even though we're in 12 languages. I don't think in any given year, book sales have given me more than a really nice vacation.

Josh Steimle

Yeah. So that's a reality check for some first time authors out there who might think, Oh, I'm going to get rich, I'm going to make 100 grand a year off of this book. Well, yeah, if you're Brene Brown, maybe, but . . .

Michelle Tillis Lederman

Not just through the book, right? So yes, you can do that. If you are speaking with the book, if you are selling bulk orders, custom copies into organizations, without going through your publisher. You can do that through creating training programs or online learning programs. There's a lot of ways to use the book, but it's not just from the book sale.

Josh Steimle

Right. Because if you're making a couple of dollars off of each book sale, you might have to sell 5000 books to make $10,000. But if you're making $5,000, per consulting engagement, to go in and speak to a company, you only have to sell two books, maybe to get that to that $10,000.

Michelle Tillis Lederman

And which is why it's really nice that I can now more easily give the books away. Because if I have a meeting, when we used to be in-person with a potential client that wants to run training programs, well, you know, a training program can, you know, is typically a five figure and they might run it multiple times. So have a book, here's one for your, you know, your coworker, you know, and you leave them almost as a business card.

Josh Steimle

Can you tell us any specific stories about how the book has helped your business grow, where the book has been the tool that you know, sealed the deal, or created the deal or brought in the lead and turned into a great business relationship?

Michelle Tillis Lederman

Countless. You know, I've had . . . and a lot of times it's the media as well, because I had the Wall Street Journal reached out to me, because they were researching the concept of likability. And, you know, a columnist who, you know, is very well followed, interviewed me. And then she reached out and she said, Michelle, you didn't make it into the article. But I loved our conversation so much. I'm doing a piece just for our conversation. You know, and so if you have something that is uniquely recognized, but like the word likeability is uniquely recognizable. It is a concept that, you know, not many authors have talked about, and there's not many experts on it. So when somebody Google's that concept, they find the book, and they find me. And so when somebody is thinking about a connector, now, there's more books on that word than the other. But again, it is understanding the niche that you want to create and the words you want to be associated with. So I will tell you that I would never be picked up by speaker bureaus if I wasn't an author. I would not be getting keynotes on international stages if I wasn't an author. So it really does open doors, and gives you a sense of credibility in all of those conversations. So you know, there's just too many instances to nail one down.

Josh Steimle

Why do you think that is? Why does a book offer so much credibility versus all the other things? Because I mean, you can make videos online on YouTube and post on LinkedIn, there are lots of other things that you can do to get content out there. But what's the difference between a book and all the other types of content that people can put out?

Michelle Tillis Lederman

There's something tangible about the book. Right? It is, you know, it is that physical idea of holding something in your hand, right, that's heavy and weighted. And the idea that there's 50 to 60,000 words, that is really challenging for people to do, right. A lot of people can put on a camera and talk. And it could be good, it could be bad, but you still have a product. You can't just throw words on a paper and have a book. It is hard. And even though it's easier to get published, because of all of the print on demand, and all of the ways that you can get published now, getting a book to market is much easier, and it's much lower barrier to entry than there used to be. You still have to write it.

Josh Steimle

Yeah. Now it's serious work. After I wrote my first book, I had so much respect for all other authors, even the ones who write bad books because I realized even if you're writing a bad book, it's so much work to get that book out there. We're gonna write a book you might as well write a good one if you're gonna do the work anyway, but I've seen even bad books help people. So you know

Michelle Tillis Lederman

what, that's one more lesson learned. I wrote my first book by myself in this room. And yes, eventually I would, you know, share a chapter here or share a chapter there to get feedback. And when I was done, I got feedback. But after getting 17 pages of things I didn't think about while I was writing that book in a vacuum. Every other book, I started with my editor, I started kind of with a writing coach or writing, you know, editor that I hired. So that, you know, I would basically find it easier to speak, I would explain how I want the chapter organized, I would explain the content, I would explain the lessons, I would speak it all out. And they would then give me a framework or like a wireframe on paper. And then they might give me 5000 or 10,000 words, and I would turn it into 50,000 words.

Josh Steimle

That's great. Yeah, having a book coach can really help that process along right now. Were these always editors that you were working with? Are they . . . ghostwriters? Or what type of background did they come from?

Michelle Tillis Lederman

I would call them editors. So the editor I hired for my first book. When I got that feedback to help me parse through the feedback in the short timeframe they gave me. I then hired her on the next two books. So she worked, I brought her in right away to work with me on the hero's get hired book. So it was that process of, you know, she understood my voice, she genders, you know, and I basically just spoke the book to her. And then we edit it back and forth together. With the next book, I used her to help me make the adjustments, right, because it was already written and she'd written it with me. But I wouldn't call her a ghostwriter. Because I, even though I might have spoken the words, it was recorded and transcribed. And then she massaged it, you know, she, you know, took out the arms and the oz so that I had a clean draft to work from, and helped make sure the structure was clear and things like that. She wasn't available for my last book, but she referred me to a great editor. And I found that process to be really effective, where we would record and transcribe and, and work from there. And I would say, you know, it was more challenging because after working with somebody for three books, they knew my voice. And so I know, with a new editor, she didn't have my voice quite the same way. And for me, it has to be my voice. So I, you know, I, you have to make it yours. I think ghostwriters are interesting. But you should edit your ghost writer then. Right? So, one way or another, you need your voice.

Josh Steimle

Yep, yep. Now I've read books by ghost writers of famous people. And I realize this is not this person talking. This is not how they talk. They had a ghostwriter. I mean, sometimes you can tell that a ghostwriter wrote somebody's book, because you know what they really sound like in real life. And you know that this isn't the way that they would write. And you bring up an important lesson here, which is you don't actually have to write the book, sometimes. First time authors think, well, I've got to sit down, I've got to do a bunch of typing. But you spoke these books, you verbalized it, you got it transcribed, and then you could go back and edit that and is . . . Now with . . . Did you ever with your books? Do you ever sit down . . . I mean, your earlier books, did you just sit down and bang those out on the computer? Or were you recording those as well?

Michelle Tillis Lederman

So my first book, what I did was I, when I had my proposal writer, we recorded her phone calls, because I didn't I'm like, I want to write a book. I don't want to write a proposal. So you write the proposal. And I didn't do a sample chapter, I did chapter summaries. So I basically summarized the concepts of each chapter, I knew exactly what the book was. And so when he wrote that into chapter summaries, we also had the transcription which was 45 pages of me speaking. And so when I sat down at the computer to write the book, I started, I basically took all of his chapter summaries, put it into a doc. And then I had another document of the notes. And so I already had something that wasn't a blank page.

Josh Steimle

Yeah, I mean, 25% of the book written already, it sounds like.

Michelle Tillis Lederman

You know, my proposal was 63 pages. So yeah, but what I did is I a lot of people write the book, and then try to get a publisher. I did not write the book until I had a signed deal with the publisher. I wrote a proposal and so then I had, okay, I have a year to write this book, you know, but that was a chapter every two weeks. it you know, at some point, because I didn't start writing right away. And so I put myself on a deadline and I would write chapters and I had my . . . . actually unlock book I'm not sure if I hired an editor that early but I, you know, I did hire like a writing coach here and there just to look at a chapter and and help me with the structure and then I would get it back and then I would apply that structure. So it was very much like . . . the first book was very much In a vacuum, where I just sat and I typed it, I did not use the methodology that I used for the proposal until later.

Josh Steimle

Hmm, got it. Interesting. Thank you so much for being with us here, Michelle today and leaving all these lessons in such and I know you have a lot of links to different offers. You talked about the quiz, we're gonna put all these links in the show notes. Was there anything we didn't cover, though, that you wanted to mention in terms of giveaways or bonuses,

Michelle Tillis Lederman

I have lots of different giveaways and bonuses on my website, and one of the things that you want to do is to build your list. And so I have a free gift pack, which is also one of the links, but the best way to kind of check out my work and connect with me because I welcome connecting with you is on my website, which is Michelle with two Ls.Tillis, t i l l i s Lederman l e d e r m a n Comm. And from there, you'll find my LinkedIn and my YouTube and my blog and my gift pack and all the good stuff. So, tell me where you heard me.

Josh Steimle

Perfect. Now before we let you go, I have one more question I want to ask, which is, we're recording this during this whole COVID pandemic crisis thing. We're recording this at the beginning of 2021 here, and connection during a time when we're not allowed to connect in person, and people are not working in offices the way that they were before, What are some of the observations you've made based on your research on your writing, that apply to this period of COVID about the importance of connection? Or how to make connections during a time when you can't just say, hey, let's go grab lunch or something because nobody will meet with you.

Michelle Tillis Lederman

I can do a whole another hour on that question. The, you know, the result, I think of COVID it is going to be more connected cultures and more empathetic organizations. I think we're allowing people to see into our homes and into our lives. And we have increased our understanding that, you know, there isn't always an easy separation between work and life. And I think that that will hopefully stay with us. And I think that's a really positive thing. The other thing I'll say on a personal note in terms of connecting with others is this time has given us a great excuse to reach out to those people that maybe we've been hesitant to in the past. Just saying how are you holding up? How you doing? I hear things are getting better whether they are or not so great there or, you know, what have you been doing to keep sane? Like little light check-ins go a long way because social isolation is . . . has a greater detriment to your health and your mortality than obesity or smoking. So stay connected.

Josh Steimle

Great. Thank you so much. Great note to end on. Thanks so much, Michelle, for being with me here today.

Michelle Tillis Lederman

Thanks for having me on.

Josh Steimle

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