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February 13, 2024 27 mins

On last week’s episode I talked about the power of quitting to completely change the way your story unfolds. This week I want to share something BIG I’m quitting as it relates to publishing—and that I believe you should quit, too. Hint: it won’t be what you expect.

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Pick up the pieces of your life, put them back
together with the words you write, all the beauty and
peace and the magic that you'll start too fun when
you write your story. You get the words and said,
don't you think it's down to let them out and
write them down and cover what it's all about and

write your story. Write you write your story. Hi, friend,
welcome back to the Write Your Story Podcast. This is
Ali Fallon. I'm your host, and on today's episode, I
want to revisit something that I touched on very briefly
in the last week's episode, which is the publishing choices
that I'm making for my most recent book. I announced

in last week's episode that I have a new book
coming out in May of twenty twenty four, May seventh,
to be exact. My new book called Write Your Story,
will be available everywhere that you buy books. In fact,
it'll be available even sooner than that, I think kind
of any day now. It'll be of available for pre order,
and I'm going to literally like pull out every favor
that I have and ask you to go pre order

the book and share about it with everybody that you
know and just create a groundswell of enthusiasm. So that
the book buyers and booksellers all know to buy a
bunch of copies and keep them on hand. As I'm
sure you know, in some capacity, pre order sales make
a massive, massive difference for authors. And the other really
cool thing is I'm putting together an awesome preorder bonus

package for you, So everybody who pre orders the book
is going to get a ton of freebies, and I'm
still working on exactly what's going to be included in that,
but I'm literally like pulling out all the stops and
like pulling out all the old resources that I've ever created.
I'm going to give you everything that I have that
I can and really make it worth your while to
go pre order. So stay tuned for the exact preorder date,

but it should be literally any day now. So anyway,
like I shared in last week's episode, the book is
called Write Your Story, A simple Framework to understand yourself,
your story, and your purpose in the world. And I've
changed the subtitle. Actually I had to look up the
exact subtitle because I've changed it a couple of times
in line with what I talked about in last week's
episode that I've been in this massive evolution of learning

what this message is really about. That this is not
just about teaching people to write books and published books,
which is awesome, but it's really about helping you to
see yourself more clearly, helping you discover your purpose like
why am I here in the world? Who am I?
And why do I matter? And helping you hear more
clearly the lessons the insights that your life is trying

to offer you. And I talked about last week how
I really was adamant that this book has to go
in the self help section of the bookstore over the
writing section of the bookstore, because this isn't really about writing,
although the tool is writing that we're using, but the
purpose of the tool is all of those things that
I just said to help you develop more purpose and

confidence and clarity in your life. And I'm just so
excited for you to finally be able to read this
book that I've been working so hard on for a
really long time. I promised in last week's episode that
I would talk about my publishing choices because I'm taking
a little bit of a different path with this book
for both packing light and the power of writing it down,
which is my first and my third book I took

the traditional publishing route, so I published with Moody Publishers
out of Chicago for my first book, with Sondervan their
Business Leadership Imprint for my third book, The Power of
Writing It Down. And I've had mostly really great experiences
with traditional publishing. In fact, I Miracle of All Miracles,
got the same editor for Packing Light and for the

Power of Writing It Down. I mean, maybe it's not
the Miracle of All Miracles. It seemed quite serendipitous to
me because Packing Light came out in twenty thirteen and
the Power of Writing It Down didn't come out until
twenty twenty one, and so because there was such a
wide gap there and it was two different publishers, I
was shocked that I had the same editor for both.
But Stephanie Smith is fabulous and just so such an intentional,

thoughtful reader and editor of my work. I felt like
she really caught the vision for both of those books
and brought her genius to the table too, and we
had a great collaboration while I was working with her.
Is when I would say all the time that writing
a book is like a long conversation between a writer
and an editor, and there's this great book called The

Journal of a Novel by John Steinbeck. It's the journal
he kept where he wrote letters to his editor while
he was writing East of Eden. It's such a fabulous,
lesser known book that most people have never heard of,
but reading those letters affirms that belief for me that
writing a book is this long conversation between you and
your editor, because you have one way of saying a thing,

and a great editor is not going to necessarily delete
something that you have to say or change it on equivocally,
but they're going to ask good questions and get you
to go deeper and make really powerful suggestions so that
when the reader gets the final product, that they get
the richness of that conversation. If the conversation was one sided,

it would be half as rich, or maybe a tenth
as rich as it is when you get that sort
of back and forth, that long conversation between two people.
So Stephanie Smith was my editor for both of those books.
There's also Indestructible, which is the memoir about my divorce
that was published between those two and the Power of
Writing It Down came out in January of twenty twenty one.

I'm checking the date really quick, but I think it
was January fifth, twenty twenty one was the release date,
and January sixth. We all know what happened on January
sixth was the insurrection at the Capitol. That was such
a tense political time in the world, and also a
really bizarre time in my life because I had a

barely six month old, maybe not even six months, and
I had just moved across the country. I was literally
recording podcast episodes to talk about the book inside of
my empty office with zero furniture and there our furniture
hadn't even arrived from LA to Nashville yet. And it
was such a bizarre time to release a book, both
because of what was happening in the world and also

what was happening in my personal life. And then shortly
after the book came out, I found out I was
pregnant with Charlie, which was a very welcomed but not
one hundred percent planned pregnancy, And so it was like
a whirlwind, and the book was out, and I felt
like the book kind of got a little bit lost
in the weeds of my life. However, as I reflect

on the release of that book and everything else that
was going on in publishing at that time. I also
kind of wonder if it would have mattered, Like if
I would have had the rocket fuel to put behind
the book, would it have made a difference for how
the book performed in the marketplace. I don't know, because
there was so much happening politically. There was a lot

happening in the publishing space for starters. There was a
massive reorganization of personnel at Zondervan while my book was
coming out, so like a huge leadership turnover. People on
my direct marketing team were I think laid off or
I don't know exactly how it works, but I just
remember it being like influx and in movement as my

book was coming out. And then I also was talking
with other friends who were authors who maybe they had
signed a contract before the pandemic hit in twenty twenty
and their contracts had been canceled. A lot of people
were meant to go out on book tours and never
got to go, And there was just so much uncertainty
in the world that definitely filtered into publishing. And the

other thing that you saw happening in twenty twenty one
is in person retail for books dropped significantly. I can't
remember exactly when it happened, if it was late twenty
twenty or early twenty twenty one, right when my book
came out, But because you saw such a massive dip
and in person retail, it changes the way that books
are sold, and it changes the way that contracts are written,

because publishers are writing contracts based on how many copies
of your book that you've they think you're going to sell.
So all that to say that book came out at
a really really strange time in the world, in a
strange time in publishing, and I found myself a lot
of times when I was working with other authors saying
to them, why don't you consider self publishing or why
don't you consider hybrid publishing as an option instead of

traditional publishing. In the early parts of my career, the
push was always for traditional publishing, in part because that's
what people wanted. People get in their mind that traditional
publishing is kind of the A list way of doing things,
and that if you're like a B list author, or
you're junior varsity, or you're just not as cool and
nobody wants your book, then then you can self publish,

or then you could publish in a different kind of way.
I personally have never thought that that was true, but
I think even more and more we're seeing massive shifts
in the way that book publishing happens. But all that
to say, people would come to me, they would be
really dead set on wanting to traditionally publish, and because
that had been my path, I knew how to help
them do that. So Prepare to Publish my flagship online course.

At the time, I was one hundred percent helping people
write book proposal documents. Now, if you don't know what
a book proposal document is, you're not alone. I went
into my first publishing meeting ever with Packing Light having
no idea what a book proposal document was. I was

one hundred percent helping people write book proposal documents. Now,
if you don't know what a book proposal document is,
you're not alone. I went into my first publishing meeting
ever with Packing Light having no idea what a book
proposal document was. But a book proposal document is how
you get an agent, It's how you get a book deal.
It's like a thirty to forty page document that basically
gives the business plan for your book. It tells your

publisher here's what the book is about. Here is a
sample chapter or two. Here's who I am as an author.
Here's how I'm going to sell the book. It is
a massive undertaking to create a book proposal document, and
so this is what I was helping people do. This
is what we did and prepare to publish. And I
would tell people, you know, if you plan to self publish,
you don't need a book proposal document, but it's still

really helpful to create one. So let's just plan to
write book proposal documents for every author that we work with.
And that was best practices for me back in twenty fifteen, sixteen,
seventeen eighteen while I was doing it, and then when
The Power of Writing It Down came out in twenty
twenty one, and I had that different kind of traditional

publishing experience. It was nothing specific that any one person did.
It was just like the lightning bolt of watching what
was happening in the world and happening and publishing and
me feeling like, maybe there's another way to do this,
like maybe writing book proposal documents is spending a lot
of time doing something to get the approval of a gatekeeper,

when more often than not I'm watching these gifted authors
who don't have massive platforms because they're not household names.
I'm watching them work really hard to create this book
proposal document and then you know, knocking on the door
of all the gatekeepers and getting no, no, no, no, no,
no no. And many of them were people that I'm like,
your book needs to be out in the world. It

makes no sense for you not to publish a book.
And some of them, a lot of them, actually were
people who I thought, like, you have the marketing channels
available already, Like you've got people listening to you and
people buying things from you who would love for you
to publish a book. So it's a no brainer to
have you publish a book. But the publishing companies couldn't

make the numbers make sense, and so they were saying no.
And so I started to hear myself saying this a
lot in twenty twenty one to clients I was working with.
I just was like, have you thought about hybrid publishing?
Have you thought about self publishing? And my experience with
hybrid publishing was pretty limited, and my experience with self
publishing was even more limited. But I started working really

closely with a company I love called book Launchers. Julie
Brod has become a friend of mine and I really
really have so much respect for what she's done with
book Launchers. Book Launchers is a self publishing agency, that's
the best way I can think to describe it. That
basically acts like your publisher for self published authors. So

that way you can self publish a book and you
don't have to feel like I'm out here floating in
La la land, all on my own with this thing
I've never done, and I have no idea what to
do next. But instead you have a team of people,
just like you would with a traditional publisher, who comes
alongside you and says, here's what we do next. We're
going to get your ISPN number, we're going to get
your copyrights. You need to be working on your manuscript.
Here's an editor, here's a carver designer. We're going to

do your interior layout. So you have a plan in
front of you. You always know what to do next.
You're not just guessing. And the only difference with book
Launchers and a traditional publisher, well, I can't say the
only difference. The biggest difference is, rather than getting paid
to write your book, you're paying for the service of
having this team help you get your book out in
the world. And when I met Julia, I was like,

this is so brilliant, an incredible service for any author
who wants to self publish. There are tons of people
for whom self publishing makes infinite sense, like way more
sense than spending two years knocking on the doors of
agents and publishers. So what a brilliant service that you're
offering to authors and really like giving them an opportunity

to level up the quality of the final finished product
and even in many cases to sell more copies or
make more money than they would if they had taken
a more traditional route. So Julie Brod is one person
who I met during this time who I'm a huge,
huge fan of. And if you're interested in learning more
about book Lunchers, you can go to book lunchers dot
com and schedule an intro meeting with them and learn

more about what they do. And then the other thing
I learned about is Forefront. Fourfront Books is a hybrid publisher.
They're here in Nashville, Tennessee. It was a company started
by Jonathan Murk, who has had a long and really
valuable history in the traditional publishing world, and who is
a well known name and a really respected name in

the traditional publishing world and started four Front Books as
a way to rewrite the book on publishing. That's their
tagline is rewriting the book on publishing. And they've been
featured on like every news outlet. They've been voted, you know,
the number one hired publishing company in the US. They
have had a ton of books hit the New York
Times list and other bestsellers list. They're just a really,

really credible group of people who care about books, who
are helping authors think differently about how publishing has to work.
And one of the main issues that Forefront Books is
solving for self published authors is distribution. Because I don't
want to get too much into the weeds that might
not be interesting to everyone. But a big problem that

self published authors face is their only distributionist through Amazon.
So as a self published author, you can't just go
knock on the door of your local Barnes and Noble
and say, you know, can you carry my book. The
way that a book gets into a Barnes and no
Well is through the sales team at a publisher talking
to the sales team at Burns and Noble and negotiating

like how many books are you going to carry and
where you can put them in all that sort of stuff. So,
as the average self published author, your only distribution is
really through Amazon, and so it can make it complicated
if you would prefer to broaden your range of distribution.
You don't really have as many options as a self
published author. And so Jonathan Murk has brought together the

benefits of self publishing and traditional publishing and offered an
option for distribution. So he uses Simon and Schuster, which
is one of the big five publishers in the US,
to offer distribution to authors who want to hybrid publish.
And again, the difference with hybrid publishing versus traditional publishing,
the big difference that matters to the author is instead

of getting paid an advance on royalties to write your book,
which is really just you paying yourself upfront, instead of that,
you're paying for the service of distribution, for the service
of interior layout, cover design. You're paying for this team
to help walk you through the process of publishing your book.
So you make that investment up front. But then the

nice thing is, rather than with traditional publishing where you're
keeping ten percent of the royalties, with hybrid publishing, you're
keeping like seventy to eighty percent of the royalties. So
all of that to say, one of the main reasons
why I made the decision to work with Jonathan, aside
from just the incredible testimonials and the incredible experience that

so many other authors have had with him and just
the expertise of his team, was because I wanted to
have an experience that I could pass on to the
authors that I was working with, because in so many cases,
I was saying, instead of writing a book profosal document,
let's write the manuscript and see if we can use
a hybrid publisher or maybe self published instead of traditionally publishing,

because again, over and over again, what I was watching
is people spending six months writing their book proposal document,
spending another two years pitching it to publishers and not
getting the responses that they were hoping for and feeling
really demoralized and shut down. And so I just was like, Hey,
what if we skip the book proposal document writing process altogether?

What if we just jump straight to writing the manuscript?
In my mind and this will make sense to those
of you who listened to last week's episode. This pivot
that I've been in my professional life. In my mind,
writing the manuscript gives you, as the author, all of
the gifts that the book was there to give you
from the beginning, Like it teaches you, it informs you,

it fills you up, it talks to you, It gives
you insights, it gives you inspiration, and then the publishing
piece is like whatever, that's secondary. That's so cool. If
you get to share those insights and inspiration with the world,
then fabulous, fantastic. If you don't, then the book already
gave you everything that you could have asked for. It
already transformed you as the author, already made you into

the kind of person who can move through the world
and embody that message. It makes me think about my
friend Thad who just released a record his Records called
The Kid Thad Cockroll. You actually can't stream the record
on your normal streaming apps. You have to go to
his website Thatdcockrell dot com and purchase the record there
and you get a digital download, and you also get

a vinyl copy of the record, and you there's a
couple other like cool merch things that you get along
with it. But I went to Thad's release party last
Friday night and he gave a speech at his release
party that stuck with me. In fact, after his speech,
I was like Thatad, I need to get you on
the Writer Your Story podcast. I went to Thad's release

party last Friday night, and he gave a speech at
his release party that stuck with me. In fact, after
his speech, I was like Thatad, I need to get
you on the Writer Story podcast. I've had him on
another podcast show that I did, where he talked about
his experience of getting on the Jimmy Fallon Show not once,
but twice and you know, and ending up getting like

I don't know, ten or twenty minutes of airtime, which
is like unheard of on late night television, and just
talked about like the miracle of that experience and how
it saved him in a way because he was on
the verge of giving up on his music, on his
art and was just like forget and I'm going to
go get a real job. And then you know, got
this spot on Jimmy Fallon. So that's such a cool story.

But what he said the other night at his album
release was this music has already given me everything that
I could ever ask for. And he's like, now, what
I hope and pray for the album is that it
can go give those gifts to other people. And I
wanted to give the gifts to as many people as possible.
But I have chills just repeating his words right now,
because it's exactly how I feel about writing a book.

And I really think that is going to be so
successful with this album, not just because the album is
friggin great, Like it's so good. It is one of
those albums that you just want to put on repeat
over and over and over again. And that's important as
we're making art, right, Like, you got to make good art.
You can't just make cheap art and expect people to

want to come and spend their hard earned money to
buy it. So the album is great, that's one thing.
But also he's taking a different approach to this album.
You know, he's not streaming it on Apple Music and
Spotify and whatever. He's selling it on his website for
ninety nine dollars. The albums ninety nine dollars and trying
this experiment, like what would it look like if I

want to keep making music I need the consumer to
be willing to pay for the music what it costs
for me to make it. And it is experimental. It
remains to be seen how the consumer will respond to
it because we're so used to being able to stream
music for free. But if the music is good enough
and if people want it badly enough, don't you think

they would spend the ninety nine dollars to go make
the purchase. So the comparison I'm making here is like
self publishing. Hybrid publishing is a younger version of publishing
than traditional publishing. Traditional publishing has been around forever, and
I often call it a dinosaur because it's like they're
very slow to evolve with the times, you know, and

their systems and processes are in place, and they're unlikely
to do things differently. So hybrid publishing and self publishing
are a younger version of this. It's more experimental, kind
of like selling your album on your website for ninety
nine dollars. But I'm so curious to see how consumers
respond to this. And I really feel like that is
going to be so successful because he's taking a chance

on a different way to do it. He's doing this
on his own terms. You know, he made great art
that people are they're going to want to have access
to this, and I just see him being really, really
really successful at this, and I think it's such which
a good light on the horizon for us to look too,
Like it's a model for how we can think about

our writing our art as writers. So I want to
have that on the show he said he'd come. I
think I'm going to record an episode with him next week,
so hopefully we'll have that available for you soon. I
can't wait to hear him just tell the whole story
of why he decided to do this, and you know
what it looks like from here and what the response
has been like. So I'll ask him all those questions.

But essentially, the reason that I decided to take this
path with Forefront Books and to try a hybrid publishing
route is because I wanted to be able to speak
with some authority to the writers that I'm working with
about what it looks like to skip the traditional publishing
process and take matters into your own hands and write
your own story of publishing and just decide for yourself,

like when is it a good time for me to
publish this book? When do I think you know, I
can I tune into my own intuition and think about, like,
when does it make sense for this book to release
into the world, rather than waiting two years for a
publisher to say yes to you, rather than waiting even
longer to build your platform first before publisher says yes
or whatever, jumping through the hoops that you have to

jump through for traditional publishing. Instead of that, can we
just jump straight to the writing of the manuscript and
just get all the gifts that the book has to
offer you and offer that to the people who are
paying attention to the consumers, to the I don't even
like the word consumer when we're talking about art, because
it's like the people who are going to experience this
beautiful work of art that you put together. So I'm

testing that out. I mean, it remains to be seen
what will happen with this book, but I'll tell you
what I believe in the people out there who care
about good art. This is another reason why I think
Dad's album is going to pop off. I think it's
going to because I think there are enough people in
the world who care about good art and who are
willing to pay a premium for it, and I think

there are enough people out there who would rather band
together and write the story about what makes a book
popular or what makes an album popular, or what makes
a piece of music really interesting to us, rather than
just well, it was published by this publisher or it's
owned by this label or whatever. So I mean, I

feel like as artists, all we can really do is
focus on creating something really wonderful that feeds us and
that will feed the people who listen to it or
read it, and trust that it's gonna find its way
out there in the world. It doesn't always find its way,
you know. Writing a bestselling book is a little bit
like catching lightning in a bottle. Even if you do
all the right things, you can't always get to that objective.

And it's why I think that objective isn't a really
great one to have. It can be motivating, but it
can also be really deflating when you do all the
things and you don't get there. So I'll harken back
to last week's episode, going back to your why. It's like,
if my why is the this book is feeding me,

that's why I wrote it. It's like psychically and spiritually
feeding me. Even if it doesn't feed me or my
family with the sales of the book, which I hope
it does, but if it doesn't, it's feeding me psychically
and spiritually, and I hope it's feeding you too. And
I really believe that as artists, that's all that we
can hope for. And when we venture away from that

territory and move into the territory of the known, like,
I know exactly what to do, and I can, you know,
put this thing together and it's going to sell. There's
nothing wrong with that. But you venture out of the
territory of art, there's like production, where you have a
product that you know will sell and you've got the
distribution channels open and you've got the numbers all worked out,

and that's production. And that's fine, there's nothing wrong with production.
But it's not art. And I think what I'm talking
about here and what I'm really interested in is art.
And you know, maybe I get a side job in
production to and my art. I think that's also a
wonderful way to do it. So what do I want
to leave you with. I want to leave you with
a couple of things. I want to leave you with

a reminder to go back to your why, to check
in with yourself and ask yourself why you're doing a thing.
Why am I writing my story? Why am I writing
this book? Why am I writing this half marathon? Why
am I working on this music? Why am I making
this art? What is it for? And really check your
intentions and your motives with that why, and ask yourself
if maybe there's something that you need to quit or

alter or change. I also want to leave you with
the reminder that art is important, that art feeds you,
that art feeds the people who come into contact with it,
and that creating beautiful art is a really important endeavor
that I hope we never lose sight of. And then finally,

I just want to leave you with a reminder that
you don't have to do whatever it is that you're doing,
writing a book or anything else. You don't have to
do it the old way. You don't have to do
it the way that other people are doing it. You
don't have to follow the predictable pattern. You don't have
to follow the program. You can break protocol. You can
sell your album on your own website for a ninety

nine dollars a pop. You can break protocol and try
it a different way. Published with a hybrid publisher. You
can break protocol in whatever way that you want to
and just for the sake of experimenting, just for the
sake of writing your own story, of carving your own path,
you can do that. You don't have to if that's
not what feels aligned for you, but you can. That's

available to you. It's open to you, and I hope
you take the path less traveled. Thanks for listening everyone,
I'll see you next week.
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