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Find Your Book Idea And Make It Irresistible With Tamsen Webster

How do you come up with the right idea for your book? How do you make sure that idea is irresistible? In this episode, Tamsen shares answers to those questions, taken from her book Find Your Red Thread: Make Your Big Ideas Irresistible. Her strategies and tactics are the same ones she’s used to work with organizations like Johnson & Johnson, Harvard Medical School, and Intel, and in her roles as the former Executive Producer and current Idea Strategist for TEDx Cambridge.



Josh Steimle: 

Today, my guest is Tamsen Webster. Tamsen is part strategist part storyteller part English to English translator. Tamsen helps experts drive action with their ideas. And Tamsen has this red thread approach. We were just talking before the recording about where red thread came from. Maybe we can ask her to tell us about that. But she's used this to work with major organizations like Johnson and Johnson, Harvard Medical School, Intel, and with hundreds of individual founders, academics and thought leaders. She's a former TEDx executive producer, and she's an idea strategist. She's also the author of find your red thread, make your big ideas irresistible, which is something all of us want to do as authors. Tamsen, welcome to the show.

Tamsen Webster: 

Oh, hello, Josh. Delighted to be here.

Josh Steimle:

So, Tamsen give us a little bit more background on who you are, and where you came from, and how you ended up as an author how you created your red threat approach? Now? That's a big question right there.

Tamsen Webster:

Sure, yeah, it's a big one. I became an author very reluctantly, with much resistance. But how I got to this place was that I often found myself in the position of as I like to call it English to English translator, where I was, whether it was marketing, or whether it was in my own personal life, or whatever, really, in the in the mode of trying to take ideas and information from one group of people and make them attractive, empowering, effective for another group of people.

And I saw certain things happen over and over again, that made that very difficult, either for other people, or to be honest, certain cases for myself. Things like, Alright, where do I start? Like, I hate having a blank page, which is part of where the reluctance, you know, from, from writing a book for peace started. But also, a thing that I would see, if I, you know, I tend to work with people who are very technically expert, they, they have spent a lot of time doing the work that they've been doing, and as a result, have a very difficult time speaking about their work in anything other than the most technical of language.

 And so, I was trying to figure out how do I get the incredible power of even those ideas out and easy way. So about five years ago, I took a bunch of different threads of my life pen not intended for marketing and brand strategy to the issues I found with translating marketing and positioning to day-to-day content when I work for an advertising agency, seeing the tension between marketing and sales. So, there's what you say that you want to do from a marketing standpoint, but then your salespeople are actually need something quite different. Plus, things that I learned moonlighting as a Weight Watchers leader about how people actually make those decisions, and the role that I found myself in as a TEDx executive producer, helping people bring their ideas to a TEDx stage. I was like, Alright, let's take all this together and figure out a way to make that easier. And the red thread is the result.

Josh Steimle:

So, tell us that story again. Where does the red thread come from? What is the red thread? What's the origin story of that name?

Tamsen Webster:

Well, the approach didn’t have that name. When I first started with it five years ago, I came up with the approach first. And I think that's actually an important thing for I think other aspiring or new or desiring of publishing the next thing authors to hear that I really, I had, I had the approach that I was using, that had these five components that was rooted in in storytelling, and more specifically, the story that we tell ourselves to justify what we do. But I also knew that calling it goal problem truth change action was not exactly going to fly from marketing perspective. And separately, I had had this kind of tucked away in my mind this wonderful idiom that two different Swedish clients used, and they would, they would ask about the main idea of something. You know, the kind of the thing that made this all make sense and the terms of what they would say, what's the red thread of this?

And I just love that because it was such a visceral, tangible, embodiment of a thing that we as humans look for when we read a book or see a talk or get new information or meet somebody for the first time. We're constantly looking for Okay, well, what ties us together? What ties this to me? And I went, researching why the Swedish call it the red thread, like why, why do they do that?

And as you and I were talking about before the call, there are red threads in just about every major emulator, religion and philosophy and culture all around the world. So, there's one in eastern philosophy, but the general agreement is that the Swedish can Northern European idiom finds its roots in the Greek legend of Theseus and the Minotaur, that half man half bull monster and the labyrinth in which that Minotaur lived. And the red thread was, as legend tells it, how Theseus traced his path to the Minotaur and the center of the labyrinth. So, after killing the minotaur, he could find his way back out.

And that process, so A, the story was just great on its own, I was like, well, this is fabulous. But that process of fight, like retracing your steps, so that you could find your way back out, again, very much mimic this process that I've come up with. So, you know, when I had a great dinner with some great friends of mine one night, and I was like, I can't call it this thing. And I was like, well, but there's this other thing. And they're like, oh, my gosh, why are you not already calling it that? And the red thread with its current name was born.

Josh Steimle:

Got it? So, what is that process? Can you walk us through from a high level? What is this process? What's the red thread formula process method that you use with your clients?

Tamsen Webster:

Well, the big idea behind the red thread is that the most powerful way to make your ideas irresistible to somebody else is to essentially pre construct the story that they will tell themselves about why your idea is a good one. We do this anyway. I mean, we humans will come up with these stories, if we read a book or get a new idea. And oftentimes, pre consciously without us realizing it, we are rationalizing for ourselves why that new idea does or doesn't make sense period, or why it does or doesn't make sense for us. So, the book would really operate from this idea of, well, if you want to make sure that your idea is as powerful as understandable as raise the probability of success as high as possible on your explanation of your idea. Why not just build that story, that your audience will tell themselves about your idea from their perspective in the first place.

So that's the big idea. It has five components, five major components, and they map to 'once upon a time stories'. So, while these subconscious rationalizations that we tell ourselves don't necessarily say, well, once upon a time I was born, you know, in this place, once we it, we do still look for those same elements that are in Once Upon a Time Stories to understand and make sense of why things work the way they do. We want to understand people's intent, what are they trying to accomplish? And that that maps to the first element of my red thread, which is what do we call the goal? And that's the audience's goal? What's the thing that they're looking for? Why would they be interested in your idea because it helps them achieve something that they're looking for right now or solve a problem.

The next major element is story is a problem that gets in the way. And it's a problem that the character doesn't know about in the first place. And that maps to the stories that we tell ourselves by really creating contrast between what most people do and what kind of another option, another perspective might look like. So, this creates, in my red thread, the problem of perspective, what's the difference in view that people are taking, you know, kind of conventional wisdom versus what's another way to look at situation. The third element, awesome from stories, and this is, in many ways, the most important in all stories have what's known as a moment of truth. And that's a moment where the main character realizes something that makes that problem that they've been introduced to absolutely impossible to ignore. And that thing that they realize in this moment of truth really forces them to make a choice, it forces them to choose between what they believe to be true, what they really want, and what they've been doing so far.

And so, when we're creating these stories for ourselves, these red threads for our audience, we need something similar. So that third element is what I reduced to calling a truth statement. So, something that somebody already or readily believes is true. That puts what they want in jeopardy, as long as they ignore that problem that you've introduced. Last, oh, sorry, the fourth piece, remember, it forces a choice. So, the fourth piece is a change. So, what do they do differently? What does that shift in thinking or behavior that happens? And so that maps over so we've got goal problem, truth change? What is that high level shift in thinking or behavior that your idea represents?

And then in stories, you know, they may make a decision, but the story doesn't end there. It was a well, okay, what do they do as a result? And so that maps back to the red thread and what I call the actions and that's what somebody needs to do to make the change that you're arguing for your idea how, what they need to do to make that complete. So those are the five main things a goal something people want, problem of perspective that's getting in the way, a moment of truth that makes that problem impossible to ignore, a change as that results right that resolves attention and gets them the goal that they're looking before, and the actions that they need to take in order to get it.

And even those are the five main ones. Just like in a regular story, when we really know a story is over when we've gone back to the beginning, and we've seen whether or not somebody has gotten what they really wanted. Essentially, that's what the red thread does to we find it linearly, but it really works almost in a circle. So, it kind of comes back at the end and says, So, because all this is true. And if you make this change, and if you put these actions and actions into place, you're going to get that goal that you're looking for at the beginning.

Josh Steimle:

So, this is really useful for authors, I'm thinking about people listening to this. I mean, this is a recipe for writing a better book producing something that's more useful for the reading audience.

Tamsen Webster:

Yes, that is my intent. I've got a lot of clients that have used this to help clarify the big idea behind their book that have used it to structure the book, my own book, it's very meta, it follows this structure. So, there's a red thread of a book, there's the red thread of each chapter, and I expose that. So, there's kind of like an x ray into the book so that somebody can not only read the book for the content, but they can also read the book to see how you can use the approach to write a book length piece of content.

Josh Steimle:

Mm hmm, got it. Can you walk us through some stories of clients you've worked with? Maybe it's authors, maybe it's companies, maybe it's entrepreneurs, but can you tell us walk us through a case study or two of how they implemented the red thread in their business or with their book or whatever they were doing?

Tamsen Webster:

Yeah, I mean, there's a bunch. I mean, I think probably, since you've got authors listening, that's, you know, the two main ways that authors tend to use it are either to prepare to write their book, or to get it published or sold, because even hybrid publishers, for instance, still want to understand very quickly what your idea is. And as I know from talking with a hybrid publisher, they don't usually get a 22nd answer, they usually get a 20-minute answer when they when, when they ask that question to people, so What's the book about? And there are threads really designed to help people get from a 20-minute answer down to a 22nd answer, and then be able to keep talking about it for 20 minutes. So that's one the one place and then the second place, typically, where people use it is to is to build out a talk that goes along with the book once they've written it.

So as we all know, you know, a book can be you know, anywhere from you decide how many words but right 12 thousand 50, 60, 80 thousand words, but a 45 minute talk, right can only really be in there in the realm of let's say, if you do a, if you do 160 words a minute, then it can only ever be in the realm of like, 7200 words, right? So how do you take an idea that can fill that many pages and take it into 10%? of the space? And the answer is you don't you figure out what angle on the book or what big concept from the book that isn't the book you can write about. But you have a specific case study.

So, I do a lot of that work, for instance. Okay, I probably one of the best examples I can give for that kind of, okay, let's do a talk that accompanies the work of a book is one of my TEDx speakers.

I still work actively with TEDx Cambridge, it's one of nine legacy level TEDx events in the world. So, it's one of the top nine events. And we work almost exclusively at tennis, Cambridge with primary researchers or academic scholars. So, in a lot of cases, they have just written a book on all of this stuff. And that's what we're trying to get into a talk. That's three to 18 minutes. So, it's so this. So let me give an example of really at the extreme kind of complicated idea. And then I can give an idea that that's more on the motivational speaker.

Josh Steimle:

If I can think of anybody who had have trouble distilling their idea down to 15 minutes, it's probably academics.

Tamsen Webster:

Yes, it is. And it's not because they don't know their stuff. And it's not because they don't speak about it all the time they do.

Josh Steimle:

They know so much stuff, that's the thing.

Tamsen Webster:

That's right, and they see all the nuance, and it's painful for them, and I think probably literally physically painful for them to not be able to capture all the nuance in everything that they say every time. So, the real challenge is, well, how can we give something that that allows for the concepts like so that we have something that we present in simple enough concepts that anybody could understand, but those concepts are chosen well enough that they can contain all the nuance and the sophistication that could be in there, right.

So, I'm going to the best example I can give recently is a as an author named an academic named Caleb Scharf, he works, I believe out of Columbia. And he is an astrophysicist literally. And so, he has this, he has this big idea that humans aren't fully human. And but not in the way that we may think thought, right. So, it's kind of like in the last 20 years, where we've discovered that we are more bacteria than human. And so, we've all gotten used to this idea of the microbiome and so that we, as a person, or as a human, are living constantly in exchange with the microbiome that is both within us and without us, right. So, we've come to accept that. Caleb argues that the same thing is true for us, but in terms of the data and the information that we create. So, he's arguing for the fact that we aren't just fully human, we are in a symbiotic relationship with what he calls the data own.

So, it's the equivalent of a microbiome, but it's the information that we create. So, walking through this, you know, following these five steps that we were talking about before, we really must anchor this in a question or a concept that most people would be asking of themselves. So that would be curiously so we're identifying this. And we decided in the context of, you know, the data, that, that a lot of people are curious when it comes to AI and information about what is the future going to look like? And the way that we ended up talking about it was, is it going to be like Star Trek? Where there's a there's a, there's a friendly, useful, productive interaction between human and data? Or is it going to be like Blade Runner and Mad Max where like, it's everybody out for themselves? And it's this dystopian wasteland? Like, which way are we going? Understanding? Of course, that's an extreme piece. And so, then the next.

So that's the question, right? That's what kind of gets people to say, okay, this is the intent behind the talk, it's going to help you answer this question. That's the goal of the audience. So, the next piece is this problem of perspective. In other words, when people are answering that questions, where do where do we tend to put our attention? Where do we tend to put our focus versus where does? Where does Caleb, in this case, want us to start thinking about putting our focus. And notice, this isn't what to do. Instead, this is kind of where to look and how to think instead.

And so, the way that we set that up was to say, well, you know, when most people are trying to figure out how to like figuring out which direction we're going, a lot of times the questions that follow are, what do I need to do? Like? What are the steps that we need to take to avoid, you know, this dystopian future and make it more like Star Trek? What can we do?

What can what algorithms can we fix? What are what are the steps that we can take? You know, what sustainability issues can be couldn't take into place. And as Campbell says, That's not wrong. But we're focused so much on that, that we're missing that what makes us who we are, so we're focused so much on what we need to do.

 That's the first perspective that we're not as focused on what makes us who we are. And then there's this moment of truth, peace, right? So, there's this concept that we need to introduce that makes people go, oh, okay, I got to pay attention to that, who we are peace. And the way that we summarize that truth statement for Caleb was that with a statement that most people would agree with, outside of his idea that we are as we are controlled by the information we create, right, that and most people would agree with that, like, I make a to do list that governs my day. Most people would agree that, you know, for good or for ill, we are controlled by the algorithms that serve up information to us in a way, so we are controlled by the information we create. In other words, we are controlled by this living system that he refers to as the data.

So now you see we haven't introduced any technical concepts here. But there's a big idea by this. And so really, what's the change then, is to kind of look at ourselves through this grander lens of the data and really use that to guide our decisions and projections about the future. So that we can reclaim agency and control of that direction. So, and he gives, you know, give some specific things that we will do in advance, but this is how we don't have to go in and explain. Like the super details of what he means by data, um, like over the course of the talk.

Yeah, we're talking about what creates a living system, how are humans different than other animals, really, the primary way that we are different from other animals is in our creation of information that lasts past us in a way that others can come and read to us as the example of Shakespeare. You know, so there's these other things but the core concepts come down to which where we go in Star Trek or Blade Runner, we focus on more on what we need to do then What makes us who we are, we're controlled by the information we create.

And therefore, if we really want to understand which way we're going to go, we need to understand our role with information, our relationship to information and a completely different way. One that that really takes into account the fact that this is a symbiotic relationship. So that's the very complicated idea boiled down into five statements.

Josh Steimle:

That is super interesting. And the whole idea with the red thread is that you can take a complex idea like Caleb's. And then you can simplify it, I don't know if simplify is the right word, but you can put it into chunks that normal people who are not astrophysicists can understand and process and then do something with Yeah, exactly.

Tamsen Webster:

And that's the whole point. And this is why I say the work that I do is translation, right? So, we haven't taken anything, like we are successful, I am successful, when I when the author of the academic, the idea creator, agrees that we have taken nothing away from the idea like that those are, those are still accurate ways to describe what he's talking about. And that each of those statements serves as a container for the deeper information.

And that's it I mean to me that that's, that's the goal, because if you can take your, you know, kill this case, like 3040 years, not 40 aging and 30 years of like deep work and astrophysicist, astrophysics, and astrobiology. And get it so that the core explanation, the core argument of his of his idea, we can nail it in five sentences, well, then he has now the full range of everything in between, to be able to talk about his idea.

So, he can talk about it to all his fellow astrophysicists and such and he can write a book length book on it, which he already had done. It's called the ascent of information, by the way, great book. And he can talk about it in 18 minutes, and he can talk about it in 60 seconds. And that's really the goal, that's when you know, you have been able to articulate your idea inside and out is when you can kind of run that whole gamut. And most of us, though, stay in that kind of limited technical explanation of our ideas. We don't open up to this simpler version. And really, that's what my book is meant to help people do.

Josh Steimle:

Got it. Yeah, I mean, it really is translation, because you're not taking anything away, you're giving him access to a new audience the same way as if somebody writes a book in Russian? Well, they only have access to the people who understand Russian, but if you can translate it in English accurately, you're not taking anything away, just because it's not Russian anymore. You're communicating the same ideas. But now you've opened up to an entirely new audience who can appreciate that and use it, then you're able to serve them now?

Tamsen Webster:

Yeah, oh I love that! I will give credit to you. That is that is a wonderful way to explain the benefit of the translation piece is to giving access to a new audience.

Josh Steimle:

Now, when we talk about your own author journey, there was a point of choice where you had to choose to write a book? Do I not write a book, you said you were a reluctant author, talk to us a little bit about the choice that you made when you said, You know what, I've got to turn this idea into a book, it's not enough to just talk about it and teach it, I need to write a book.

Tamsen Webster:

So, a couple of things came into play with that one of the reasons why I was reluctant is because I never considered myself to be a writer. Which is just an absolute mental block. Because you know, after sustaining a newsletter, like essentially weekly for three or four years, there's a point at which you have to go, okay, wait, I do this. Um, but another thing that kind of got in my way, and this might be a thing that a lot of people run into as well is that I had in my mind that this had to be like, a book. I mean, like big ideas like big, you know, like, I had to be Gladwellian, Dan Pinkian or Seth Godian. And I guess it would be, you know, from the outset, and that kind of pressure to like, make it big, was paralyzing, frankly, for me. So, I spoke with a good friend of mine, Ann Handley, who she herself has written a book called "Everybody Writes."

Josh Steimle:

And that's a fantastic book, too, was a great book.

Tamsen Webster:

And so, I was like, Ann! Why is this so hard? Because in this case, I know this idea inside and out. And it was I was more paralyzed by, you know, I can talk about this idea in any way possible. Like I can talk about it from this perspective, or that second tactical perspective or a big idea perspective and, and gave me I think, the single best piece of advice that I have for writing the book, and she said write the book that's easiest to write. And she says, instance don't even think about necessarily as a book, like, you know, could be any book could be something else.

There's just like, right, what's the book that's easiest to write? Like all that, that I know. And that is the real tactic. Call how to piece of this, which is essentially capturing what I do one on one with clients in book form. That's super easy. I didn't have to like because I know that I know that backwards and forwards is how I spend all my day. And that because I had been doing that worked with clients for five plus years, all those explanations were already tightly honed already. And it that made it easier to write, it meant that I needed to let go of this big idea piece. But it also meant that it could do what I needed to do better, which is, you know, I made a conscious decision when I started my own business that I wasn't creating a company more that so much as I was creating practice.

And that's, that's a delineation that that an author and consultant named Matt church makes it's like, are you Is it a company? Or is it a practice? Meaning a company is this idea where it's kind of like, it's built to grow into sell, right, versus a practice, which is like, you know, think about, you know, a law practice or a dental practice or a medical practice, like, what did you do in the work?

Josh Steimle:

It's an extension of you.

Tamsen Webster:

Yeah, it's an extension. And I was very clear from the get-go, that I was not, I had no interest in empire building, I just wanted to do this work. But I also believe in this approach because I've seen it work, and I am only one person. So it's kind of combination of write the book that's easiest to write, which was this how to, and what I do with my clients, helped me solve that problem of I'm one person, which is, you know, for people who don't have the time, money, inclination, whatever, to work with me on one on one, or I just, I don't have the time.

This was a way to allow people to have access of like Tamsen on their shoulder, without having to work with me on one on one. So, it was really a way to be able to capture that for folks. And that's how I went into it was, let me just give people a way to do this, get it give him as much information as I can, so that they can get as close as possible on their own as I can get them without my being physically there.

Josh Steimle:

So, what were some of the decisions you had to make while writing the book, while you're in the middle of it in terms of do I include this? Do I not include this? How far do I go? In then how do I wrap this up and finish this? Because there's always more that you can add, there's always more that you can refine, how do you decide what's enough?

Tamsen Webster:

So, I think one of the biggest shifts in the beginning when it went from like big idea book, to and I'd like to think it's there's still a big idea behind this book. But instead, you know what I mean, instead of being this kind of like, here's the idea, now you go figure out on your own how to do it, I really wanted to be like, here's the big idea. And here's how you do it in a book.

I think that big shift was, was kind of flipping the structure around, meaning that a lot of those big idea books are very, very story based, which I know a little bit ironic, given the fact that this is based in kind of story structure, my approach. But the one of the biggest first things that I cut, when I decided to write the book that was easier to write was these kind of, you know, these deep, fascinating stories that introduced every chapter, and basically said, you know, what I'm, I'm going to, I'm going to write this kind of like a journalist would write it, you know, when to use a pyramid model. And then I'm going to write it so that the detail gets added, as you read in a Chapter rather than kind of this is unfair to food bloggers, I will agree, rather than the food blogger model of let me tell you all this stuff, and then finally put the recipe at the end.

So that was probably one of the biggest shifts, which is say, you know, every chapter opens with a red thread, what I call a storyline which I show the five big concepts in that story that you'll tell yourself about that. It opens with that and then tells you exactly you know, kind of what the what we're building what it looks like when a successful what the criteria are that needs to be and then I go into more detail if you need it about how do you find it what do you do if you get stuck? So, I think that was a big shift that I made was a is not that there aren't stories in there. There's just not this doesn't open with you know, a 1934 Salvador Dali saw a picture, right? Like which I which, you know, the version that I sent to some book agents, you had that kind of thing in it.

So, I got that. I think the other big decisions were how deep to go on certain things because this is we're talking about like there's an extraordinary nuance and this and there's all sorts of different tools and techniques that I use if I'm you know if I needed like, take a one-on-one client one next level. So, there was a and there. So, we're really in those in that area, there's really two things that we made the decision to not put in the in the book. One was a way that helps clarify exactly what that goal question is even further in the context of how ready willing or able somebody is to make the change. And I knew because I was writing the book, at the same time, I was running a mastermind, where I was testing some of these concepts, that, that dive into that second level, exercise was too deep. It just it didn't work.

So, we ended up pulling it. Anybody who bought pre ordered the book, or you can still get it, you know, if he's bought multiple copies of the book, and then send us a proof of purchase, we could still get this. We ended up taking that same information and putting it in a bonus chapter. So, I created a chapter that's in that there was a bonus for, you know, book buys, or mini book buys, where we took that concept and then and use it in the context of adapting. Okay, great, you've got to come up with one red thread. How do you adapt that to additional audiences, different applications, etc.

So that was one thing that we decided not to put in, and we put it back in as a bonus chapter. And then the second thing that I elected not to put in again, because I thought it would just be too much information too much detail was a worksheet that I tend to use with my one-on-one clients to help kind of get started and to polish up the at the end. And that was a tool I call the conversational case. And that also became a book bonus for folks. And I still use it one on one, but I also still believe it was the right choice not to include that additional tool in the book. So, it really was just kind of keeping it to the core information. So that if people wanted more information, they would be you know, more interested in you know, following up with doing a workshop or one on one work those kinds of things.

Josh Steimle:

Now, you often say We, who has given you advice, who was mentoring you through this process? I know you worked with page two as the publisher. So, were you working with them? Were there other people, Ann Handley giving you advice on this? Like, who are the people who are helping you out? And what are they providing?

Tamsen Webster:

The very first person that helped me out with this was a wonderful editor, a freelance editor. She's you know, she she's a book coach, and all sorts of other things named Deborah Ager, and she's the person that really helped take the book from this kind of big idea book, like in 1934. To the structure that you see it today. She really helped me kind of slim it down the, from a kind of format structure, what am I trying to do? Who is this for that kind of thing, she really helped me get started there.

So, I was an A, that helped me that put it so that when I was putting together first draft for page two in their editors, I did, I think I spun my wheels a lot less than I might have otherwise, because I'd really worked with Deborah to help create the outline for the book. Once I was with page two, so they've got a couple layers of editors. So, they have a developmental editor and then a copy editor. And it was really the development editor.

In this case, Kendra, I'm spacing out her last name right now. I'm going to look it up. So, I give her full credit. She was the one that you know, reading it with fresh eyes and reading. And as someone who didn't already know my work, she was the one that really felt that, like that extra step, that one that we eventually pulled out and turn into an extra chapter. She was the one that was a kinder word is her name. She was the one that really had those kinds of made those kinds of calls and helped me talk those through. Same thing. She was also the one that helped me decide not to put the conversational case tool in there and to reserve it for later.

So, she was really good at understanding what somebody wasn't already familiar with my work would be able to process and so she was very helpful. And then from there, yeah, once it was through Kendra and then we went into copy editing. On the copy editing was just continuing to hone the language and just getting it sharper and sharper and sharper and cleaner and cleaner and cleaner. Between Kendra in the copy editor, those were places where we were adding extra explanations like those were, you know, at you know, where they would come in and like can you give an example of this? Can you give us a story of this or a copy it or was that would say, you know, this is a pretty expected in my case, problem pair, can you give us something that's a little bit more, you know, not as done and I was like, okay, and this gave me a chance to bring in a different client example.

So yeah, page two and their processes nervously supportive of getting the book to be where it is. And I would say even like, the last thing that really affected how the book, looks, feels and reads was the was their designers. It was very collaborative process; I had a pretty well-established look and feel for my brand and my stuff to begin with. And so, it was it was very interesting for us to think through together. How do I take this very bulleted book? And a lot of ways it's a very bulleted book, and how do you make it look read and feel like a book, right, rather than just like a series of memos. And I think they did a real great, they were wonderful in helping to really think through how to make it readable from that perspective as well.

Josh Steimle:

This really is a theme that comes up a lot in this podcast, that writing a great book is a collaborative process. And there's a team and even though there's an author, and that might be the one person's name, who's on the front of the book, there's always people behind the scenes who are helping to one degree or another to make that a successful product.

Tamsen Webster 

Yeah, yeah. And I really love the philosophy that he brings to the table, which is that, you know, that partnership is an equal exchange of expertise. Because they very much make their stand on the fact that you as the subject matter, masters, they like to say, and not just expert, but the subject matter Master, you know, what it is that you need to say about your idea and who it's for and what's going to be successful.

And they also know what's going to be successful from, you know, from a readership standpoint, and from a, you know, from a retailer standpoint, I didn't end up doing trade publication, I did a I did print on demand with my book, but even their ability to help me think through that was great, because it meant that I could take what I knew about myself, my work my audience, what I wanted the book to do for me in my business, and they could bring all the knowledge that they had an expertise and bring that to bear. And we could just make those decisions as we went.

So that, you know, I know that I feel about my book away that a lot of my friends who have gone with traditional publishers, unfortunately, don't. And that is I feel about my book, that it is absolutely kind of the best representation of what I wanted, and hoped my book to be, as it could possibly have been, like, I have no complaints about my book whatsoever. Like I it is exactly what I wanted it to be, it looks how I want it to be like it reads how I wanted it. It, it seems to be accomplishing what I wanted it to do, based on reviews, and, and feedback I'm getting from folks unbidden.

And I, I don't know that everybody can say that about their relationship with publishers. But I also know that it is a far better book, because I didn't just go with, you know, an editor that I hired and a bunch of, you know, a designer that I hired whatever, like I, for me, it was really important to have people who just really know the publishing world to find that intersection. Because I think it just based on the work that I do, I mean, we are all subject to confirmation bias. And, and we are blind to the faults in our own work. Because our brains really won't let us be anything but awesome with our own work. And I think that it was really important for, for me to have that outside perspective for them to push in certain cases and say, you know, we know you have this section in here, we don't think it's the right.

We don't think it's right, that you have this level of detail, like we they're new, would you consider removing it, it was always up to me. But I took it seriously when they would come back and say, this feels like a level too deep. Or this doesn't make sense. You know, I, the book was already partially in layout when I completely revamped the chapter on what I call the problem.

And because that was based on feedback that I could consistently see, the editors were getting tripped up on and I could see that there was something there was a better way to go through it that I was experiencing with my clients and they were, you know, they're open to that as well as like, okay, I just need to fix this chapter. And they were able to do that as well. And I think that's important.

So, I mean, that's maybe not everybody's path, maybe your path is just to get a book out. So you know, for whatever reason, but it was so you know, I had to get over so much mentally to get myself to write this book that I just didn't want to even entertain the fact that my book I would do all of that effort and it not be what I wanted it to be like that I would be not happy with the cover or you know that someone would tell me afterwards that there was a typo and knock wood we're still like it came out in May I still haven't had anybody come back to me and say that they found a typo but that book is proceed And now it's just really important to me that it was that everything was executed at that standard.

Josh Steimle:

That's great. Now, as you mentioned, the book came out in May. So, it's just been a few months as of this recording that it's been out there. But you said you're happy with the results, you're happy with the reception it's getting. Tell us a little bit more about the reaction? And how is this helping you with your business and the goals that you had for your business for yourself?

Tamsen Webster:

Yeah, I mean, so some of the things are subtle. Anybody who has also published a book with on demand printing, rather than preprinting a run like that goes into bookstores with trade will tell you, it's a little hard to answer that question, how is it doing because it's a little opaque to understand exactly how many copies you sold, it's a little bit different when you've, you know, printed, you know, 5000 books, and now there's only like 1200 left and the, you know, in the in the warehouse like well, you know, that X number of sold. So that's a little odd.

So, I have to kind of go based on like, little payments that I get, and the level of reviews. So, I was very excited. I'm already over 100 reviews on Amazon. And I think they're I'm in the dozens on Goodreads as well. And they're positive, thank goodness. But for me, really, because I went into this not as a steppingstone like this was I did not for me. And my goals for the book, as I said before, were to be either an introduction to my work or a capstone on my work. In other words, if somebody didn't know who I was, or what I did, or how I did it, it would be a way to say, oh, you know, what, if you really want to know more about my approach, it's, it's all my book, go read it. Or if somebody had already been introduced to me because I had spoken to, you know, or that somebody else had referenced them, it was a way to follow up and go deeper on the ideas that they'd already introduced.

So, my intent was that it was a thing that I just would naturally incorporate into the work that I do with clients. And now it is so anytime somebody works with me one on one, a copy, digital copy of the book is included. We work it into anytime I do a speaking engagement, that's part you know, that's part of what's bundled in his books that accompany it, because like, even though I have multiple keynotes, like all roads lead to the red thread, so it's useful to have that kind of real tactical book, because it's the how of all my talks. And from that perspective, it's really it's really, really working because my, my hope was that people who a, it would add that depth to have larger engagements, which it already is, and be and this was totally self-serving, that would make my client consulting work much more efficient, because people were already coming in with a knowledge of what we were trying to do, and they had a reference book to go back and go, Okay, you know, we're supposed to be working on this piece of our red thread this week, they can go to the book and go, Alright, what's the truth? You know, what are the criteria for a good truth saving again, are we meeting that, etc.

And so all that's been great. And that's been from, from that perspective, it really has been doing exactly what I wanted it to do.

Josh Steimle:

That's great. Well, Tamsen, it's been great chatting with you here on the show. If people want to reach out to you and connect with you, where's the best place for them to find you?

Tamsen Webster:

Best place is  All things Tamsen are there.

Josh Steimle:

Perfect. Thanks so much. Tamsen, for being with us here today on The Published Author Podcast.

Tamsen Webster:

Oh, pleasure. Thank you so much.


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