LegacyONE Authors recently met with Beth Buelow, author, speaker, and certified professional coach. We talked about her newest book, The Introvert Entrepreneur and how she met the challenges of writing, publishing and marketing it.
Karen Lynn Maher (KLM): Good morning, Beth. First, what would you like people to know about you?
Beth Buelow (BB): I’m an introvert. People sometimes question if I’m really an introvert because I’m also an entrepreneur. But, I am absolutely an introvert. In my business, I act as a guide for other introverts who want to align their businesses with who they are personally.
KLM: What was your purpose for writing a book?
BB: Writing a book was a fantastic way to share my message broadly beyond the immediate circle of people I coach or work with in an organizational way. I was also hearing there was a lot of published information about building a business through networking – which for an introvert, is very taxing. So there was a gap in the marketplace addressing how introverts can be true to themselves and still be successful entrepreneurs.
KLM: How has your book been received?
BB: All of the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
KLM: Super! Can you share with us the key parts of your marketing strategy?
BB: You have to start marketing your book before it’s written. Build your platform and draw people to you. I put a lot of emphasis on social media, particularly Facebook, to build that community. Another huge part is my interview-based podcast. It puts me in touch with a lot of influencers in a way that has been different from a lot of my colleagues.
KLM: You successfully published your book through a traditional publisher. I know there are a lot of people who aspire to have this experience as well. What kind of guidance can you give to them about what it takes to get published this way?
BB: Four key things had an impact on my success. One was timing. Author Susan Cain had just published the bestseller, Quiet. Introverts were a hot topic in the marketplace. The second was that even though there were books about introverts, none of them looked at entrepreneurship through an introvert lens. The third and fourth keys were platform and patience.
I got my agent through participating in a pitch slam at a Writer’s Digest conference in Los Angeles, California. That’s like speed dating with literary agents. Eventually, I signed with the first agent I met.
But she didn’t sign me right away. We traded emails and proposal copies for over six months before she signed me. Once I signed with her, it was another six months before we started pitching to publishers.
The proposal writing was torture! I only had one chance to pitch to the high-level publishing houses. So it had to be the best proposal imaginable. It was so challenging! When you finish the manuscript, all that’s left to do is wait. But my patience paid off because we pitched to the first tier and got a bite within a few weeks, and a signed contract a few weeks later.
Equally challenging was shifting my focus from what had been a relatively solitary activity to actively promoting and marketing my book.
KLM: Would you say the effort you put into the proposal made the book writing a bit easier once you got the contract?
BB: Yes. I also highly recommend hiring a freelance editor to get help on your first draft. Getting feedback and being accountable to someone else was crucial in the writing of this book.
KLM: I love that you’re talking about that period of waiting while the book was being created and printed – and that all you had left was to market it and cement the plan you had already put in place.
BB: Yes. If you’ve done your marketing consistently before even beginning to write the book, getting to the marketing phase will be like watering seeds that you’ve already planted.
KLM: What would you say was your greatest learning experience throughout the process?
BB: I learned how valuable it was to not get isolated – to enjoy and nurture a team of people around me. There’s power in being connected with your peers, colleagues and even your competitors. There’s always an opportunity to form mutually beneficial relationships with people who can endorse your book, talk about it or just lend moral support. I learned it was fun to reach out to people.
KLM: You spent all this time writing a book. While you were waiting for it, did you feel you had tons of information to share with people during that seed-planting process?
BB: Yes, definitely. I felt grateful that no matter how many times I read the book, it still felt true to me. But at the same time, my thinking had grown and new client experiences led me to look at some things differently. But this book is not the end game or manifestation of all my thoughts. It’s a springboard that allows me a public platform on which to expand those thoughts and further the conversation.
KLM: I love that you share that in traditional publishing, the process can take a long time, from the time you get your agent to publishing your book – and that it’s important the content of your book be consistent, or “evergreen,” so it stands the test of time.
BB: Exactly. Unless you’re planning to churn out a book every year, you want to be thinking ahead to “evergreen.” For instance, you don’t want outdated technology or pop culture references to distract from your message.
KLM: How has writing your book benefitted you personally and professionally?
BB: Personally, it was a fulfillment of a lifelong dream of knowing I would write a body of work. Professionally, my goal was to shift my business model a bit. I’ve started incorporating more virtual book groups. I now have folks I meet with on Zoom all over the country. We go through the book one chapter at a time. It’s personally and professionally satisfying because I could talk to readers and hear what’s resonating with them and help them put it into action. I’m able to use the book as a tool to connect with and coach people in a different way.
KLM: Fabulous! What additional tips would you share about promotion for aspiring authors as they prepare their books and get ready for their big launch?
BB: Remember that you’re always promoting the book from the first word you put down until it’s launched. It’s up to you to keep the momentum moving. For example, a colleague of mine, Laurie Helgoe, who wrote Introvert Power recommended that a Wall Street Journal reporter talk to me for a story. Then I got into The Telegraph and Success Magazine. But I learned even the “buzz” at this level can fade quickly. So keep sharing your book over and over again. And keep sharing the media stories that you contriute to; if editors see their writers are getting attention, then you’re going to be more prized in their eyes as a resource.
Finally, have patience. It takes multiple big media hits before that tipping point when instead of you pitching yourself, others are coming to you asking to interview you. You’re going to have ebbs and flows. What’s key is to keep building on those hits.
KLM: Perfect. I love your recommendation, too, that it’s really up to the author to keep the buzz alive. There is a myth out there that to get a traditional publishing contract means they will do all the marketing.
BB: Yes. Traditional publishing is very different from self-publishing up until a month after you’ve launched. Then, unless you have a million-seller blockbuster, it’s almost as though you self-published. Even if you’re working with a publisher, you are your own best champion. Make sure they know you are advocating for your book. To be clear, it’s nice to have the support of a publisher. However, you need to treat being an author and having a book as a business.
KLM: What should an aspiring author know about the life of an author during the writing process. What does it take to successfully write, publish and market a book?
BB: Know how you work best. Some authors hunker down and don’t do anything but write the book. Others say they’d go crazy working that way. So during the process, understand what days and times work best for you, if you have long or short bursts of energy, need to isolate yourself, work well under pressure, or need to go to a writers’ retreat. Then honor what works best for you.
In author Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great, he talks about “pushing the flywheel.” If you give a flywheel a good push, it will develop enough momentum to start going on its own. I would tell my husband, “This is a flywheel weekend. I’m going away to a coffee shop to write and work so you don’t feel like you’re intruding on my space. But I need to get the flywheel going.”
KLM: How can readers get in touch with you and especially get a copy of your book?
BB: The best way is to go to my website, the introvertentrepreneur.com. You can find the book on Amazon, in Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold online and off. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you.
KLM: Perfect. Thank you so much!
BB: You’re welcome. I wish everybody great success. Just keep at it!
Karen Lynn Maher is a leading authority on writing and self-publishing expert non-fiction. Since 2001, she’s developed more than 50 authors, guiding them from concept to published book. She’s the author of ExpertBook™ Planning Made Simple: The Best Ever Guide to Writing Your Book, and co-author of ExpertBook™ Marketing Made Simple: Publicizing and Promoting Your Book.