Becoming an author and sharing their knowledge is a dream of many entrepreneurs and executives, but few achieve that goal. Our guest this week has a way to make that happen in months, not years.
Tucker Max reinvented himself from a bestselling author to a media entrepreneur. He left Duke Law School in 2001 with a law degree but no interest in becoming a lawyer. Instead, he wrote a book, I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, that hit, and later dominated, the New York Times bestseller list. It launched the “fratire” genre, and at one point Tucker had three different titles on the NYTimes bestseller list. The only other author to do that has been Malcom Gladwell.
Today, though, Tucker is busy revolutionizing the book industry while firing himself as CEO.
In 2012, Tucker left the fratire lifestyle behind and began collaborating with evolutionary psychologist Dr. Geoffrey Miller on a podcast series. They co-authored the book, Mate: Become the Man Women Want. Tucker’s latest venture is Scribe Writing, a business that helps busy entrepreneurs and executives write and publish books by managing the process and supporting them every step of the way.
We discuss the long and varied career arc that Tucker has followed to his current role at Scribe Writing. Tucker has mastered getting attention, garnering influence, and cutting through BS to connect with an audience. He has also partnered with another bestselling author and Brainfluence Podcast guest Ryan Holiday to promote books and stir up controversy.
If you enjoy the show, please drop by iTunes and leave a review while you are still feeling the love! Reviews help others discover this podcast and I greatly appreciate them!
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On Today’s Episode We’ll Learn:
- How Tucker Max went from law school grad to bestselling author.
- Why Dr. Geoffrey Miller agreed to work with Tucker to write a book about dating and sexual relations.
- The challenges of working with clients to create a book.
- Secrets from behind-the-scenes of the book publishing industry.
- Why digital media changes business models.
Key Resources for Tucker Max and Becoming an Author:
- Connect with Tucker: Scribe Media | Twitter | [email protected]
- Amazon: Mate: Become the Man Women Want
- Kindle: Mate: Become the Man Women Want
- Audible: Mate: Become the Man Women Want
- Amazon: The Book In A Box Method: The Groundbreaking New Way to Write and Publish Your Book
- Amazon: I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell
- Amazon: Sloppy Seconds: The Tucker Max Leftovers
- Dr. Geoffery Miller
- The Five-Hour Workday: Live Differently, Unlock Productivity, and Find Happiness by Stephan Aarstol
- Less Doing, More Living: Make Everything in Life Easier by Ari Meisel
- Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss
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Full Episode Transcript:
Welcome to the Brainfluence Podcast with Roger Dooley, author, speaker and educator on neuromarketing and the psychology of persuasion. Every week, we talk with thought leaders that will help you improve your influence with factual evidence and concrete research. Introducing your host, Roger Dooley.
Roger Dooley: Welcome to The Brainfluence Podcast. I’m Roger Dooley. Austin is home to some interesting people and today we’re going to talk with one of the most interesting. Our guest graduated summa cum laude from the University of Chicago in 1998 and earned his JD from Duke Law School in 2001. Now, most newly minted lawyers with these qualifications would probably have jumped on the partner track at a white shoe law firm. Do people really wear white shoes? But instead, he decided to write full time.
The writing didn’t get traction immediately, but in short order, our guest was sued by Miss Vermont, got massive national media coverage, was the subject of an MTV documentary, and accepted a TV deal with 20th Century Fox. A couple of years later, his book “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell”, was published and hit the New York Times Best Seller List. Eventually, the book would lead to a movie deal and spend more than 100 weeks on the New York Times List.
This book, and a couple of subsequent bestsellers penned by our guest, are credited with creating a type of literature called “fratire”. This genre, the male answer to chick-lit, is politely described as politically incorrect though others would term it sexist and worse. But that’s not all bad for sales. Our guest is the only author, other than Malcolm Gladwell, to have three books on the New York Times Non-Fiction Bestseller List at the same time. And he did something many would’ve thought impossible. He turned a million or two young men into book buyers and readers.
In 2012, our guest reinvented himself once again. He left the fratire lifestyle behind and began collaborating with Dr. Geoffrey Miller on a podcast and then a book. If you’re a reader of my neuro-marketing blog, you probably know that Dr. Miller is one of the leading proponents of evolutionary psychology, and wrote an entire work spent on how modern consumer behavior has its roots in our hunter-gatherer days.
I could probably spend the entire podcast doing a more detailed intro, but I know we all want to learn more about our guest’s latest venture, Book in a Box. This business helps busy entrepreneurs and executives write and publish books by managing the process and supporting them every step of the way. So I’ll just say, welcome to the show Tucker Max.
Tucker Max: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Roger Dooley: Great well Tucker first I have to ask you, of all the colleges that you could’ve attended, why did you pick University of Chicago? For a young guy who apparently liked to have a good time, you ended up at the school with the reputation for attracting super serious students who love to grind away in the library probably more so than any other major institution in the US. Why did you end up there?
Tucker Max: Yeah, I mean, there’s no answer other than I was really stupid, when I was in high school. And I just, I didn’t understand how to pick a college. I didn’t have a lot of guidance. At the time I thought I was the smartest person on Earth, the typical high school hubris. And so, the logical thing to do for me in my head that made sense to me, that I’m the smartest person on Earth I should be at the best undergrad and I should be studying with the smartest professors. And they were. They were great. It was just socially, kind of the worst possible place to go.
Roger Dooley: Right, well it’s … Probably stupid is not the right term, maybe inexperienced or something would better because clearly, just if you completed their application and got in, stupid doesn’t really apply. What was your second choice school. Do you remember?
Tucker Max: Where else? I looked at Duke which is where I went for law school. I looked at UVA. It was that tier of schools.
Roger Dooley: Right well, you survived and prospered so that’s good. And, at the time, one of the weird things about Chicago was that their application was probably the toughest application of any major college. It was full of really unique essay questions that were hard to repurpose for other applications. But now they’re … A few years ago they went to the Common App and their applications numbers have really gone up.
Tucker Max: Yeah. University of Chicago … They use to like to kind of put on this elitist, snobby, sort of, “Look at us. We’re different and better than everybody else.” And I don’t know a lot of it was kinda nonsense so I think they figured that out.
Roger Dooley: Right. Well and plus they got basically hammered in the ranking because it looked like they weren’t very selective because nobody wanted to fill out the darn application. But anyway so then after law school you never practiced, and I thought the story of your summer internship and how that flamed out in spectacular fashion was hilarious. But to me there’s a really useful takeaway from that and that is spending a little time in the law firm environment convinced you very quickly that you actually didn’t like the work that lawyers do, and you were probably lucky because I think there’s so many lawyers who come to that realization after they’ve already been sort of locked into the mortgage on the McMansion and the BMW payments and so on.
And they really don’t have an alternative way of getting it out without totally disrupting their lifestyle.
Tucker Max: Yeah I wrote a whole piece about this about why- It’s called Why You Shouldn’t Go to Law School and I think I’ve legitimately had 1000 people email me and be like, “Dude, thank you so much. This stopped me from going to law school.” It’s funny … I can’t imagine I can take credit for it but I will tell you, from the day that that piece came out coincides almost exactly with the downturn in law school applications that’s really accelerated the last few years. There’s a major crisis at law schools. Not enough people want to be lawyers, which is fantastic. That means they’re gonna go out in the world and create things instead of being little monkey paper pushers. I think it’s amazing.
Roger Dooley: Right well, yeah probably 10 years ago or 15 years ago, basically everyone wanted to be either an investment banker or a lawyer and not to disparage those professions but they tend, I think, not to create as much value for society as some others. So, yeah it’s really interesting and plus I think the downturn also coincided with the cutback in big law where it was no longer as easy to get offers and a lot of even graduates of prestigious schools found themselves after the financial crisis without an offer.
But I think the takeaway for anybody contemplating a career there is to try and get into it as early as possible, and get a little bit of hands-on experience because even if other professions don’t have those sort of golden handcuffs, it’s still easy for the Sunk Cost Fallacy to sneak in where you’ve earned the degree, you’ve paid your dues, and you really don’t want to throw it all away, despite the fact that you don’t enjoy it.
Tucker Max: Yup, no it’s 100% right, man. The best thing you can do if you don’t enjoy it is get out. Even if, “Oh, I’ve spent all this money and whatever,” no, leave. You need to leave.
Roger Dooley: Yeah. So, I think Tucker your accomplishments in selling books have been really amazing and our mutual friend and fellow Austinite, Ryan Holiday wrote his great book Trust Me, I’m Lying and in there he talked about some of the promotional stunts that he worked on that helped get traction. One that was probably the most inventive and certainly fascinating for me was the idea of putting up billboards and then intentionally defacing them to create the appearance of a groundswell of sort of feminist protest. Were there any other guerilla marketing tactics that you used that you found to be effective?
Tucker Max: Yeah, I mean … What are some of the things we did? We did a bunch of … Well I mean really they were all my ideas. Ryan was like just … He was my first assistant, and so he just helped me execute ’em. One of the main things that we did was we did the same thing, or something very similar with the Chicago, the MTA. So what we did is we wrote up these really offensive ads. They weren’t actually even that offensive. They were stuff like … I mean goofy stuff. It was stuff like blind people hate electric cars and things like that. ‘Cause they can’t hear ’em and just things like that. And we tried to get them on the MTA, on the Chicago sort of public transit right?
And I actually think we got the ads put up, but then what we did is we took a bunch of pictures that were already on the internet, of the MTA with the offensive ads on buses or whatever, and we photoshopped them on so they looked pretty realistic, and then we forwarded those pictures to media outlets and were all outraged like, “Oh, look at this terrible movie and Tucker Max. He’s a horrible person.” And so I think before our check had even cleared with the Chicago Transit Authority or whoever, they canceled it, and refunded our money, and we got all this press coverage, so it’s like we didn’t even have to spend the money for the ads, and we got basically the impact of the ads. We did a bunch of things like that.
Roger Dooley: That’s great. Kinda funny too now, Ryan has moved into the philosophy space and is selling quite a few books that have really gotten a lot of acceptance and acclaim, talking about stoicism and whatnot so an interesting turn of events there. Your early books probably would not inspire a scientist to say, “Wow, here’s a guy that’s really a serious partner.” You began working with Geoffrey Miller who, as I mentioned is pretty much the guy in the evolutionary psychology space.
He wrote The Mating Mind and again suggesting that our mating behaviors from tens of thousands of years ago still drive decision making today even though it’s not necessarily related to mating. How do you connect with him and did your past work which I mean it was obviously very popular but not necessarily scientifically serious. Did that put him off at all?
Tucker Max: I mean a little bit but not really. We met at a conference and I mean I knew his work really well and it’s sorta like you said, people who have the academic credentials I have, it’s tough to fake. And, I also was … I knew this field. I was very interested in it. I learned a lot from it. And so we basically … We were talking and it was like we just had a conversation and it was like I basically asked him … Oh, here’s what it was. He told me that his- He’s got a lot of younger nieces and nephews, and they all used my books as the guides to dating and understanding sex and that kinda stuff and I was like, “No. That’s not what they’re intended at all. They’re supposed to be funny stories. That’s it. They’re not supposed to be guides.”
And so I was like, “Well, what do you tell them to read? What are the guides?” And they’re like, “Oh, it doesn’t exist,” and I’m like, “No, there has to be something.” And he’s like, “Dude, I know this field. There’s nothing that’s good. There’s nothing I can recommend.” And so we kinda kept corresponding about this and I was like, “Well why don’t we just write the guide? I can’t imagine that this book doesn’t exist that teaches young men how to understand women and dating and sex in a way that is productive and responsible and effective.” We wrote the guide that should exist.
Roger Dooley: That book is Mate: Become the Man Women Want, so I did not have a chance to read that before we spoke. Definitely will link to that in the show notes because I think that the combination of you and Dr. Miller adds a lot of credibility to it in a variety of ways so that’s really fascinating. I would have sort of guessed you for an odd couple but I’m glad it worked out and that should be really useful.
So I know that a lot of our listeners aspire to write a book, but relatively few people will carry that idea all the way through to the writing and publishing process. And so your newest venture is Book in a Box, and that business helps the writing, the publishing, and the promoting process. Why is it so hard for a would-be author to actually accomplish this on their own?
Tucker Max: So books look … A great book when you read it, feels so seamless. And it feels so effortless, that I think most people … They just don’t think about it. And they’re like, “Oh, that must be easy.” If you know something, if you’re a smart educated professional and you’ve been working for 10, 20, 30 years, you definitely have knowledge in your head and so … But the difference there is just because you know your field really well doesn’t mean you have any idea how to write a book or how to turn your knowledge into a book and that’s where the disconnect comes, is that a well done book looks really easy, and it looks really effective but it’s actually really hard.
That was one of the big issues we had with Dr. Miller. As smart as he is, and as good of an academic as he is, he was very very bad at sort of writing for a popular audience and understanding how to explain his ideas and concepts in a way that … What I call idiot proof. The Mating Mind was not an idiot proof book. It’s a brilliant book but it is hard to read. You have got to focus. Whereas Mate had to be for people who are 16 years old. A 16 year old dude is a totally different thing.
Roger Dooley: Right well actually that’s probably how I’ve been spending my time for the last 10 years or so with the book and with the blog because a lot of what I do is translating academic stuff into content that people can A understand and then B actually apply it in the real world and then to me those … And certainly there’s some academics who have a very good business mind as well, and can in fact communicate effectively and understand business ideas and strategy but many of them really sort of fail. They know their topic, but to express what they know in a way that is engaging and practical too is a challenge.
And if they were all great writers I guess that maybe I’d be out of business. So, I want to hear about the Book in a Box process but before we get much further I’ll say that at least two of our fairly recent guests on The Brainfluence Podcast have published books with your help. One was Stephan Aarstol who wrote The Five‑Hour Workday which got quite a bit of acclaim. And then, very recently, Robert Glazer, who wrote Performance Partnerships a book about affiliate marketing and I think both of those guys really had a good command of their space, and they were definitely knowledgeable.
It’s not just yeah okay somebody showed up with money and cranked out a book. I think that both of them really had a lot of good information to share. Do you curate your authors and choose carefully and the people that you work with?
Tucker Max: Yes but not for the … Not in the ways that a lotta people think. So, our process … So Book in a Box is essentially a new way to write a book. I should say it’s a new take on a very old way to write a book. I mean if you think about it, most of the classics, the Western canon, were not written by the author. Socrates never wrote a word down, Plato wrote it down, right? And Jesus never wrote a word down, his apostles did and Buddha and Marco Polo and Dostoevsky and go down the list. Almost all of them used scribes to record their words. Because like I said before, the reality is knowing your subject is a different thing than knowing how to write a book. There are different skills, and they don’t necessarily have any overlap.
And so we created a company, basically that lets people know what you’re talkin’ about, but we take all the sort of back end work off of them. They don’t have to understand how to turn their ideas into a book, they just have to have those ideas. And it’s different than ghostwriting, because with ghostwriting you just hire someone to write a book for you. With our process, we’re not adding ideas, we’re not adding content. It’s only your ideas, your words, your voice. And we have a very kind of systematic interview process so we do that, and then we do all the publishing.
So, to circle back to your question, we do absolutely vet our authors, because our process doesn’t work if you don’t bring us a complete set of ideas that can make a book. If you come in and you’re like- And this happens all the time, probably 15%, 20% of the people who call us, some version of this happens. Where someone will come in and they’ll say, “Yeah. All right I need a book on sales.” They’re a CFO and they want to be the CEO and so they need to add a book to their resume. So they’ll say, “Give me a book on financial accounting or sales,” whatever. And so our sales people will say, “Okay great. What do you know about financial accounting?” “Ah, you know. Just the normal stuff. Whatever, just put it all in a book.”
“No, hold on. We don’t know anything about sales or financial accounting. If you know the stuff then let’s talk about that, and we can put it into a book. But if you want us to just magic a book out of it, we can’t do that. You have to go hire a ghostwriter.” And you have to pay substantially more. A good ghostwriter is anywhere from 50 to $200,000. We charge 25,000 for that exact reason. We are only focused on taking your ideas, positioning them, outlining them, getting all the content outta, getting it down into a book so it’s really a great book, that is a great representation of your ideas. Structured well, written well, but it’s all your ideas. It’s not our ideas.
Roger Dooley: Yeah, one of the case studies on your site Tucker is Ari Meisel the founder of Less Doing that’s not morphed into Leverage. I’m actually a small customer of theirs, but it’s funny because he had experience with a traditional publisher, and it mirrored my own in a few ways. He wanted to give his book away and they suggested that he buy copies at $10 or something, and they wouldn’t bring out a Spanish version. Overall … Wiley did my book and my experience with them was fine. They were honest, they never misrepresented anything.
When I give away copies I typically end up buying ’em on Amazon because it’s not economical to buy ’em from the publisher. And maybe if I was gonna buy a huge quantity, it would work but by the time you figure in shipping cost and everything else it doesn’t make sense. And it took me three or four years to get a Spanish translation when I knew that the interest in my topic, in Spain and Latin America, was probably greater per capita than it was in the US and the English speaking world. But it just took forever to get done.
So, is … What is it with traditional publishing? Do you think it’s broken now?
Tucker Max: Yes and no. So, it’s just a very limited business model. Right? Traditional publishers make money by one way only. Selling copies of books. So their model is based on scarcity. Scarcity of media, which makes total sense in an analog world. Right? Where it costs money to print books and distribute them and sell them, then their model works. But in a digital world, where the transaction cost of information is zero, their model just doesn’t make any sense at all. Right?
It’s free to copy things. Once they’re done. Their business model is dying. Well what’s funny though is we don’t even consider ourselves competitors of traditional publishers. I mean we have quite a few clients actually who come to us and work with us to do their manuscript, and then they either go get a traditional publishing deal or they already have one. That’s quite quite common with us. What we really created is a new way to turn ideas into books, or a new method on an old way. To turn ideas into books.
And then we have a publishing company, as well, that does self-publishing right? So in professional, the highest level professional publishing possible. We use the exact same cover designers that Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins use because they’re all freelancers so I know exactly who they are. We hire them. We use the same printers, we use all the same stuff, ’cause I think in the future, publishing companies are gonna go away, not because our model is better, but because the economics of the entire field have shifted, and they’re just dinosaurs. Dinosaurs don’t work in a post-asteroid world. It’s nothing against dinosaurs.
Roger Dooley: Do you see any of the big publishers making big changes? Or are they just sort of hunkered down and trying to keep things going as long as they can?
Tucker Max: Yeah, no they definitely don’t make any changes. I mean they’re kinda trying to at the margins, but you have to understand that in the entertainment business and make no mistake, books actually do fall in the entertainment business regardless of what they will tell you. If you have talent and intelligence, the book publishing in the traditional entertainment business is the ghetto. If you’re smart, and aggressive, you are in TV, or you are in movies. Not even newspapers. You’re much higher up the food chain.
And so the sorta people who are go-getters and doers, in media used to be they would move outta books. They’d go in other fields. Now, they’re in internet or technology companies right? They’re doing other things. They’re entrepreneurs. And so there’s just no one in that world that has this vision, and beyond that how many industries can you name that actually innovate … That don’t go out of business that innovate and change and meet the competition? Maybe you can make an argument Microsoft is kinda doing it and they were a tech company to begin with. It’s just not how it works, man. It’s extraordinarily rare for a company to innovate and change.
What generally happens is that large check … They become very successful, they build a bureaucracy around that process, it becomes calcified, large secular shifts happen, and they get left behind and new entrants spring up, take the opportunities, they become big, then they become calcified and it’s the circle of business life.
Roger Dooley: Yeah. Just talking to somebody the other day about digital photography industry and Kodak who actually had the best digital camera technology but opted to sit on that, because they didn’t want to obsolete their current business and then of course other people faded in. It did obsolete their film … So what about literary agents, Tucker? Are they going away too do you think? I mean because it seems like their main advantage was they were sort of a gateway to the big publishers. Are they gonna have a role in the future?
Tucker Max: That’s an interesting question. So, they are trying to evolve much quicker than traditional publishers are. Because they see the writing on the wall. But what they’re doing, for the most part is really stupid. They’re going for the short-term cash grab. The agencies that- Most of the agencies that I know that are trying to do things, are doing things like, “Oh, let’s sign 360 deals and own all the rights to the book,” and authors are getting to be too smart for that so no one really wants to do that.
Or they’re trying to turn into management agencies or they’re trying to turn into full service agencies like media agencies, and they just don’t have the DNA for that. They don’t understand what they’re doing, and they’re not competing well in those spaces, and some of them are doing okay and they’ll continue to leverage their position in the old hierarchy to extract rents, but it won’t last for long.
The smartest agents, that I’ve seen, are moving forward. They’re essentially building side businesses. And the side businesses, they’re book packagers. So they are going to potential authors, they are creating … They’re basically becoming media companies where they’re like, “Okay we know this is gonna sell. Let’s get a ghostwriter to do this, let’s get this person here, let’s do this,” and they’re trying to almost set up their own publishing companies, but the problem there still is that they’re trying to own the IP. And I’ll tell you, I think traditional publishing is gonna collapse, but it will collapse into a weird set of fiefdoms.
So there will bill people who still own IP, and because they bring … They’re gonna bring a big set of skills. They’ll have relationships with distributors, and I don’t mean bookstore distributors. I mean media. Right? They’ll have relationships with those sorts of people. They’ll kinda combine PR and packaging and all those sorts of things, to be their own little mini publishers. I think those will go on for quite a while, and then I think- But I think the big dogs in the space are gonna be service companies, which is why my company is positioned the way it is.
We’re not trying to own the IP. We work with authors that wanna own their own books and they wanna own their own ideas and they want … They just want someone to help them turn their ideas into a book, and then they use that book.
Roger Dooley: So Tucker, I don’t know if you know Mark Schafer, sort of a social media expert and digital marketing guy. He was a guest couple months ago, and a few years back he popularized the idea of content shock. So when everybody was talking about content marketing, he saw this sorta tidal wave of content coming down that would make it very difficult for even good content to be discovered or get much traction. Do you think we’re in an era or approaching an era of book shock? When anybody can take a word document and throw it into some formatting software and upload it to Amazon, as a book. Does that create issues for discovering good content?
Tucker Max: No. In fact I think it goes the other way around. So let me say first off, absolutely I do agree that book discovery is broken. And whoever can solve book discovery will be a billionaire and will deserve it. So that is broken, but I actually think the more books we have, not only will that make more smart people try and solve book discovery which will be a great sort of thing, but I think people … Again, it’s the old mindset around books, the scarcity mindset around books. “Oh, well there’s too many.” Right?
Well the assumption there is that there’s too many for a physical space or for one person to know them all, right? But no one would say there’s too many websites. It doesn’t make sense. Well what if we think of books as just a different form of media, so when I need to know a specific set of knowledge, I can go scour the internet and try and put together a bunch of blog posts and figure stuff out or, what’s the better way to do it? Well if someone wrote the definitive book on what I’m trying to learn or understand then I just go to that book.
That’s actually where we push most of our clients. Is not as a book as, “Oh look at me.” It’s not a signaling device, for authority. It’s much more of a device for conveying expertise, for teaching people a specific thing that you know, and then it becomes an all-purpose marketing tool. Right? So for example if I want to learn about negotiation, then I can look at a bunch of books on negotiation. I can realize, “Oh, there’s this book called ‘Never Split the Difference’ that’s way better,” and then I read that, and I’m like, “This Chris Voss guy is really smart.” I go look up, “Oh he’s got this company called Black Swan Group. I’m gonna get them to train all my employees and blah blah blah.” And now, he’s made $25,000 off of me off of one book. Right?
And it doesn’t matter how many books he sells, and it doesn’t matter if anyone knows about the book ahead of time. As long as his book is positioned as the place to go to get negotiation training, when I need to know about negotiation training, then I will find it. Does that make sense?
Roger Dooley: Yeah. A lot of sense. So, you work I know a lot with entrepreneurs and some of them may have the skill to write a book, others may have difficulty sorta getting their ideas in some readable cohesive fashion but it seems to me that time is probably a bigger issue. It’s a sort of classic Stephen Covey urgent versus important trade-off where writing the book is important to your career even what you want to accomplish in life, but it’s not urgent. You can write the book tomorrow but today you’ve got emails to answer and the phone’s ringing and some products needs to get out the door and so on.
Now, I would guess that one benefit of a service like yours is that you impose a timeline and not only provide the support so that it doesn’t take as much of the author’s time because you’re providing some of the services that normally have to be done by the author, but you’re also imposing a timeline too. What does that timeline look like in a typical process, for your company?
Tucker Max: The total timeline for a book is about six to seven months. In our process. If you go at our speed. We’ve done it as quickly as five months, where the author really wanted to burn through, and to be honest there are authors who are two years in and still chuggin’ along. But that’s what they want. But yeah generally speaking if you know what you’re talking about, and you can spare about an hour and a half a week, we can get it done in six months.
Roger Dooley: And that’s compares pretty favorably with traditional publishers of course.
Tucker Max: Well they don’t even support you. It’s like you have to do it yourself.
Roger Dooley: Well, right. That too, yeah.
Tucker Max: Do not underestimate the difficulty of actually … We have a lot of authors who are good writers, maybe not great writers but good, solid writers, and who can write blog posts, and they can write emails, but they sit down to write a book and then shit goes sideways on them and they don’t understand why. Because it really is a difference. It’s the difference between … I bet you can cook … I can cook a great meal, for my family, but if you ask me to run the kitchen, at a restaurant and do 250 covers, I’m totally in the weeds. I’m done. There’s no possible way. It’s a fundamentally different thing to cook a great meal for four people than it is 400. And a book operates the same way.
Roger Dooley: Yeah I can certainly testify to that. I sat down to write a book even though I’d been blogging for years and writing all kinds of content for years, it was definitely tough to get going until finally I sort of … Things came together and I had a plan, a design for it. Then it went pretty quickly but up to that point, yeah it was … I wouldn’t call it writer’s block. It was just sort of, “Gee, how do I fit all this knowledge into something that’s gonna make sense to people?” So, yeah I totally agree.
One last question. If you were talking to an entrepreneur who had aspirations to be an author is there any particular advice that you would give them?
Tucker Max: Yes. So-
Roger Dooley: Other than hire Book in a Box. Which is good advice no doubt.
Tucker Max: It’s good for some people. We’re not right for everybody. Our process is 25 grand which is … It’s actually a great value for what we do but it’s still not … It’s not like it’s so cheap you forget you’ve spent 25 grand on something. It’s a real sum of money so you need to be serious about it. But yeah, I mean I can tell you the process that we use in our sort of … Our sales calls are not really even sales calls. They’re honestly more like qualification or discovery calls because how they work, but it’s the same process you would use if you’re deciding whether you should write a book or not.
That’s the question you need to ask yourself. “Should I write this book and why?” Right? Which is exactly what we do on our first call. And so let me walk you through that ’cause I think it’d be really valuable to your listeners. If you think you want to write a book, the first question you have to be able to ask yourself is why. “Why do I wanna write a book?” And there are a lot of reasons to write a book. Some are valid, some are foolish, some are business, some are personal. You need to be very clear though what are all the reasons you have, and what is the one or two dispositive reasons. What are the real reasons and what are the reasons that make it worthwhile, right?
You need to understand that. Then, why you’re doing it. Then you need to understand what you’re hoping to get out of this. What do you … And those two things should be aligned. If you’re writing it because you think you have something to say, okay fine. And you want to share it with people, okay great. What are you hoping to get out of that? You can say it’s totally altruistic, I just wanna share that. Okay that’s fine. But most people say that and that’s not true. They want to be a speaker, or they want to be famous, or they want to get on podcasts, and those are fine. It’s cool to want that, you just need to admit it. And be upfront about it. And accept that.
Because if you do, then you can usually get the goal but if you pretend you’re writing it for other people, not for yourself and really it’s all for yourself, then it’s gonna be actually really hard to get that goal. So, why are you writing it? What are you hoping to accomplish? Then the next one is super crucial.
Who is this book for? Because you’re not writing a book for yourself. Unless you’re writing a memoir, and really you just want to get this down, that’s cool. If you’re only writing a book for yourself, then just don’t publish it. It’s called a diary, and there’s nothing wrong with that right? But just accept that and do it. So you need to understand, for you to get any … Achieve anything you want with your book, other people have got to read it. That’s the point of a book. Books are about sharing your knowledge and wisdom with other people, not with yourself.
So who is the audience? One. And two, why are they going to care? Not why do you think they should care, not why do you care, it’s why are they going to care. So I’ll give you a great example. Just really simple so your readers can understand. I just actually talked to someone this morning, a guy I know. He kinda realized what he really wants is to be able to keynote tech conferences. He’s got a big software company. He wants to keynote tech conferences. He thin- It’ll help him in his industry, it’ll help drive sales. For big executives, CEO’s, entrepreneurs, having some modicum of thought leadership is beneficial in a lot of ways.
So, makes total sense. His goal was keynoting tech conferences. So who’s his audience? His audience are people that go to those tech conferences, that he wants to keynote, and the people who book speakers for those tech conferences. That’s his only two audiences. Are the people who will be … For the book. The people who are gonna listen to the speeches and the people who book the speeches. So then what does he have to say that’s interesting to those people? Well, his company does this thing with software that would be too boring to talk about here, but it’s super interesting. It’s new and innovative, and it’s super interesting to those people. Right?
He wanted to talk about the history of his company, and how smart he was in creating it and how he raised money, but I was like, “Dude, are the people in your audience, are the people booking speakers, for those audiences, do they care about this?” He’s like, “No, they really don’t.” I’m like, “Okay great. Let’s focus on what they care about.” So instead his book is now on this one very specific niche topic, but he knows it’s gonna kill with them. This is a big thing for that audience. He’s already signed on. Just based on this book being in development, he thinks he can get keynotes, because he’s had people ask him to write this book. But in his head he still thought he had to do a book or he kinda wanted to do a book that was about him, and his story.
And what I told him is, “Dude, you’re 46 man. You have at least 20 more years of baller business ahead of you. You can write your memoir in 20 years. Let’s do the book now that’ll get you the keynoting gigs now, so that people will actually wanna read your memoir in 20 years.” He’s like, “Oh, yeah. You’re totally right. Okay, great. I’m in.” But that’s the process you have to go through, to really make sure 1 you should write a book and 2 you’re gonna write the book that’s gonna get you what you want.
Roger Dooley: Mm-hmm (affirmative). That’s great advice Tucker. Let me remind our audience that we’re speaking with Tucker Max, the one New York Times Best Selling Author who strikes fear into the heart of Malcolm Gladwell, and the founder of the author support and publishing firm, Book in a Box. Tucker how can our listeners find you and your content online?
Tucker Max: Probably the best way is bookinabox.com. If you’re interested in the service. If you want to talk to me, just email me. [email protected]. Easiest way.
Roger Dooley: Great. Well, we will link there and to any other resources we mentioned in our conversation on the show notes page at rogerdooley.com/podcast, and we’ll have a text version of our conversation there as well. Tucker it’s been a real pleasure. Thanks for being on the show.
Tucker Max: Definitely, thank you man.
Thank you for joining me for this episode of the Brainfluence Podcast. To continue the discussion and to find your own path to brainy success, please visit us at RogerDooley.com.
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