#ALB 61 Colette Mason
Ambitious Lifestyle Business Podcast #61
This episode we welcome Colette Mason as our guest, Colette is a book coach and publisher, who has helped create more 3,000 titles, she has also worked with 13 best-selling authors, including John Lamerton.
But book coaches are all boring right?…… Wrong …… click play to find out.
Colette has created some simple, effective systems to help you plan, write, edit, format, publish, and promote your book. Turning it from a simple idea into the finished article.
Colette helps in her words “Badass business owners rapidly publish a top-notch book without cutting corners”.
Let’s meet Colette, shall we?
Today’s guest is Colette Mason, a book coach and publisher, who has helped create more 3,000 titles, and who has worked with 13 best-selling authors, including our very own John Lamerton.
She has created some simple, effective systems to help you plan, write, edit, format, publish, and promote your book.
Turning it from a simple idea into the finished article.
Having escaped from the corporate world, Colette isn’t what you might call a traditional publisher.
Her LinkedIn profile proudly showcases her with bright purple hair, a heavy metal t-shirt, and the slogan “Colette, probably “the least boring book coach in the world.”
She helps “Badass business owners “rapidly publish a top-notch book without cutting corners.” Something John can attest to personally, having attempted to cut a corner or two with his very first best-selling book.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the podcast, Colette Mason.
– Hello everyone.
– I’m glad to see when I wrote this introduction about bright purple hair and rock star t-shirts, you’ve come in uniform today.
– Yes, and I’ve made a Royal Republic t-shirt. A cast off of the disco. A bit of a, you know, juxtaposition there, but yes, I’m here with the purple hair.
– Definitely, but so, again, I think people may have a preconceived idea of book publishers. That, yes, they are pin-striped suits, grey hair, in offices, somewhere in the city of London. Very very stuffy, very very corporate, and you are the complete antithesis of this, aren’t you?
– Yes, I don’t like the way people are silenced by the grammar police. Yes, what you write has to be, I call it of a standard. I do not like to say perfect; I say of a standard. And what you produce has to be, you know, you have to care about what you’ve made, but you can get help with that.
And I got really annoyed when, you know, the grammar police or publishers would just turn down ideas, because it wasn’t because it wasn’t mainstream enough, or you weren’t polished enough, or, and I thought that was a bit silly, really. Lots of people got great things to share.
They can solve big problems for other people. They can inspire other people. So, let’s make sure they can tell those techniques, tell their stories, and inspire people to change, and that was what me think “Yes I’ve got “to work out a way of solving this.” So that’s what I did.
– You were in that corporate world to begin with, weren’t you?
– Yes, yeah, I think the biggest projects I have responsibility for 497 million, so fairly big corporate projects, global projects. And I did that for a long time, and a lot of it in government, which where a lot of the publishing came in.
We had to share a lot of guidance for how civil servants or the public should act. So, lots of things had to come out and really, you know, all the time, you know government was like, “Let’s write about that!” So then loads of things that need doing. I mean, we had to make sure that they were all good enough, So that’s where I kind of honed my craft.
– Coo, speaking of good enough, let’s talk then about how we first met. So, take you back to the early spring of 2017, when I’d finished my manuscript for Big Ideas for Small Businesses. I proudly announced on a Facebook entrepreneurs’ group “Hey, guess what guys, I’ve finished my manuscript. “My book is done. “I am done. “All I need to do now is get the cover designed “and get someone to proofread it, edit it,”
– “Market it. Bish-bash-bosh, it’s done. And about 15 people tagged Colette Mason in this post and said “Oh, you need to speak to Colette. “She is “the book coach.” So, I think we arranged a phone call?
– And had a brief chat. You asked me about 50 questions, which usually led with, have you done X, have you considered Y, what about Z. And my answers were, no, no, what’s Z?
– And there was a spreadsheet, wasn’t there? Wasn’t there a spreadsheet or something you gave to me?.
– It was incredible wasn’t it?
– It was something, I remember, and John went “I thought I finished, “and here is my list of 130 jobs I got left to do.”
– “I’m crying!”
– Yeah, yeah, I remember that, yes. I think part of the problem is you just start off with an idea and file ‘new’ and then people start writing, and that’s lovely. But people who are used to creating information got maybe a slightly different way of going about things.
And certainly ethicists when they look, you know, at how something’s written, they want to tweak lots of bits and pieces, like, just, a lot of things that let them self-published books, in my opinion, is what’s called house-style, so people have got like words and numbers mixed up in the text, and it just looks like you’ve not really checked.
And the capitalization of titles, and just little bits and bobs like that. Just kind of let it down, and I say it’s like, you know, serving up a meal. But you’ve done it on chipped plates. So, the meal might taste lovely, and you’ve gone through a lot and you’ve tried to make it nice, but it’s on chipped plates, and it’s just took the edge off it that little bit, you know, and
– And so, I don’t like people doing that, so that’s why I had the list and because civil servants are brilliant at wanting to produce reams of stuff. And they all have their own way of doing it, because it was a, you know, the government a national thing, so in different parts of the country they all have different ways of doing things. And it was my job to make it consistent. And that is what I saw in a lot of the books that come to me. It’s like, you just need that bit of a polish, you just need slightly better plates for this, and then it’ll be really good.
– Yeah, I think, you know, my preconceived notion was actually, we just get it proofread, get the obvious typos corrected, and, yeah, things like capitalization. Overuse of ellipses was my big thing. As you said mixing up
– Capital letters.
– The numbers, capital letters, yeah, it’s all over the place, and that’s because I’ve always written copy. I’ve written marketing copy, or sales letters for webpages, for emails, for social media posts. I’ve never written books before. And it is a completely different beast, isn’t it?
– Yes, I think so, yeah. And you are competing against, you know where a sales page isn’t really competing against anything else, but if Waterstones and see a book, I’ve got a really good expectation of what a quality book looks like. And I didn’t want people shooting themselves in the foot, because they didn’t quite finish it off. So, it’s much easier to make a comparison I think with a book. And all the things that get one-star reviews its typos, “Did anybody edit this?”, “This formatting is horrific.”, just really kind of simple things that you can get help with, whether you’re bartering or you’re paying or whatever. People can help you with those bits and make sure you turn a proper bowl.
– Yeah, definitely. So, have you recovered from the summer of 2017 now? Because I recall–
– I have, yes. You know, there was a lot going on in my personal life then. It was quite difficult to focus on other things. I had some really bad things going on. But it was nice having a little bit of a background of professionalism running through this dark time and so–
– I doubt I could bring some professionalism into your life; I have to say.
– Instead I feel like you’re from my side. “I’ve got this deadline and I’ve given it to her, “and then she saying, ‘There’s no way on Earth we can do it “‘in that short amount of time.’ “But I’ve got this deadline and we’re gonna do this.”
– Got a bit of
– It was some, I think it was one of the first conversations we had, was “Okay you’ve got a lot to do here, John. “But it’s good news, it can all be done, “it’s just a process, work through it. “I’ve got a format for this. “This is what I do. “Brilliant news. “We can do this, and we can it in just 12 weeks.” And then I think that’s when I dropped the bombshell that I booked a yacht club for five weeks’ time, and then the press would come in.
– Yes, I felt like I was on like a You’ve Been Framed sketch and somebody’s going to jump out and go “I’m only joking!” and it’s like, “Oh you’re not joking are you.” This is for real. And I was like, we can do that if all the stars align, and all the ducks are in a row, that’s completely feasible.
But if we hit one bump in the road, it’s not feasible and what are we going to do. But obviously I always make sure, and no matter how unfeasible something is, I will work, and work, and work just to make sure that it happens. It’s like, “Got it down. “We will do it!” But yes, so that meant, because we wanted to do with all our numbers and like have it agree and properly. And we had to create an intermediate version, didn’t we, that we gave out on a night.
And it was like that special limited edition one with the slightly more mistakes in it than the finished one. So, we did it twice, and those books are slightly different sizes, something like a couple millimetres. It’s like “Oh no! “I’m going to have to reformat this all again, “’cause it’s going to shuffle out over to the next pages.” or whatever so it’s like. Yeah, it’s character building, yeah, but we did it.
– Character building, yeah, I like that.
– The good thing is you had a process in place, and actually that was a process, although you needed to speed that process up a bit. And, you know, there wasn’t any cutting of corners, because they needed to be, take any of those steps out of it. Because if you did that everything would fall apart. So, you’ve got this perfectly headed system that you just have to follow and yeah.
– Yeah, you can speed up lots a bit, like having a baby in a way. You can’t have nine months all having one month of pregnancy. Some bits you can’t squash down, or, like, you have to let your eye rest. Your eye for details goes if you try to squash too much in. But something like formatting which is a lot less brain power intensive.
You can just rappel through that in like two, three hours and just do it. But other bits need to percolate a little bit, you know. That’s where the six weeks kind of vanishes in the percolation process.
– It is, and see, I could’ve sped it up to about three weeks by just going “Yeah, screw it, that’ll do.”
– It’s good enough.
– But that was the thing, I definitely–
– I still feels my nerves.
– I mean I think I may at some point during one of our conversations in 2017 uttered the line “Yeah, but good is good enough isn’t it.”
– Yeah and that’s like, yeah, I’m known for being a bit of a Gordon Ramsey person. I try and like to bring the best out of people and do what the best they can and like they’re “Aw, please” you know “please don’t let this.”
– With lots of swear words.
– Oh yes, yeah very much so.
– At the time you said, “Well we can do it in that timeframe, “but you’re not putting my name on it.”
– Oh yeah, oh yeah.
– Yeah, that’s been quite a big, all the books I’ve done, there’s always been this, well I kind of want it here, and you sort of want it there, and you want to go and do it this way ’cause this is your first. And I want to do it that way ’cause I’ve done 3,000. And there is always this little bit of, with all the projects, it’s been a little bit of jiggling around to try and find the way through.
– Yeah if you pick up one of those, I called it the Director’s Cut Edition of the book. It’ll be with all the original typos as intended.
– Is that a normal thing for new authors to come to you with that, and they all have that same kind of direction as John kind of had really, and any expectations and is it a kind of and have to meet with them every time.
– Yeah, they sort of fall into two camps. One’s a “This’ll be really good; I’ll do it in a weekend. “I’ll just have a bottle of Gin, and away off we go.” And then the other people are this sort of tortured genius gang, where it’s “Oh, this is going to take two years, “and I’m going to get a special moleskine book “to write my ideas in.” And staring out the window and all that kind of thing. So, they tend to come with the two conceptions, of both which aren’t really appropriate to get the best result quickly.
– Fab, I notice that’s lots of our small businesses that we work with kind of thing, always have problems with their customers, and actually customers following what they think should be the right process. Whatever they may be selling and doing that. And it’s really interesting to find out how your take on actually getting them to follow your process, because that’s the best thing to do.
And lots of business owners have this issue, because they go “But they’re the client. “They’re the ones you’re paying, “and we should do what they want to do.” And actually, that’s not the right thing to do, is it?
– Yeah, I did start being accommodating, because obviously it’s an important milestone. It’s like a child or a house or job.
Your first book is quite an important thing. So I didn’t want to be too draconian, but equally the more people I met, the more I felt my patience was ebbing away, and I was just like “Look if you want to make an omelette, “and not put any eggs in, that’s up to you. “But I won’t be stood by you by the cooker. “I’m not in it.”
And I got a bit fed up with it in the end, if I was honest. ‘Cause you think well you come to me, or a lot of people come to me because I’ve got a recipe. And then they go “Oh, can we change like most of.” And it’s like, well, not with me you can’t, no. I can’t do it. I haven’t got the patience, haven’t got the will. There are not enough chocolate biscuits that are going to get me through the end of this project. If we do it that way.
And so, I’ve just started turning people down who didn’t want to it my way. I thought that being a business book coach would kind of narrow it down a bit. It wasn’t children, or fiction, or things like that.
But if you still got people who wanted to do things in a very different way. Things I didn’t necessarily agree with, like, giving people half of the process, and not giving them the whole. If I bought a book that taught me how to make better video, and they didn’t tell me how to edit video, I’d be really annoyed. It’s like “Well then come on my video editing course.” it’s like, “I don’t think they will mate. “They’re just going to give you a one-star review, “and think you’re a bit of an idiot.”
That’s what they’re going to do, they’re not going to come on… They might come up with the advance editing course, but they don’t want just half of the system, and that a lot of frictions start with that, with the people I just turn down, out right. I just thought we have to give people results when they read the book, otherwise what’s the point of writing it, you know.
– Yeah, to talk about the point of writing it, does everybody have a book in them?
– I think so. We’ve all got experiences that we’ve learned from that we can teach. The thing is that people have got a munged up, mangled book in them, and it’s like how much of that experience we can put in, how much are we going to leave out, what results we want for the person. Especially people who can teach several things.
Like say fitness and nutrition. You can’t really do a book on both. It’s probably going to be one or the other. Then it like which of my babies do I kill off. And that what’s more of a problem for people I think is how little I can put in. They want to put everything they know in, thinking that’ll be brilliant. But it’s like giving 18 burgers. They only probably want to eat one, and then they’re going to feel full. If you give them 18 burgers, they’re going to feel sick, and it’s going to be stodgy and not nice.
So, it’s also like how little can we get me. Because they always think got to be, the longer my book is the better it is. Well, that’s not necessarily the case. A poetry book could be really thin. A book on the history of the Second World War could be massive. It just depends on the subject how long the book is. It’s not quality that it effects, it’s the length, it’s the subject.
– Quality not quantity.
– Mm, there you go mate–
– Yeah definitely with books, you know, I think if I was reading a business book, say I wanted to get a website up and running in an afternoon, I want to read the book in the afternoon, and spend the evening doing the work kind of thing. I wouldn’t want to spend, you know, a couple weeks reading the book before I action it.
So, I always to think if I spent the afternoon in the coffee shop with somebody, and they taught me the ropes, I’d want to go off and do that, I want to get home. And that’s how felt, that’s what needs to be in the book. Just enough to get the result for the person and encourage them.
– Yeah definitely. I’ve done a lot on the business end as we speak too. You would feel, yeah, you’ve got a book in you. You’ve got some stories. You’ve got some expertise. You’ve got something in that brain of yours that you can share with others, and I’ve talked about my books as being the best business card I’ve ever had.
Because ultimately people pay me to work my nine to five, to read my business card, and then they either self-deselect and I never hear from them again. “I’ve got that well pay nine to five, thank you very much.” Or they say “God, John, you’re a genius, “let’s work together.” And that’s the first I hear from them is “Can I send you some money please?”
– Let’s work together. That’s genius. But a lot of work to get to that stage.
– Yeah, it’s like, you know, many people talk about making a lead magnet, you know. Some people just look at what’s on their hard disc, and “Oh, I’ll just give that away.” And it’s this lame thing that doesn’t.
They might just want a little checklist and they get something really good within five minutes. People want the result with their information, and I think it’s important to always remember that when you’re creating something. It’s got to have a point and not just be churn.
– Yeah, it’s creating it for the reason, and I howd off writing that first book for years and years and years, because I kept having these coaches and mentors say to me “Oh, you’ve got this great story. “You should write a book.” And I just remember thinking I didn’t want to write a book. You know, why would I want to do that. And it was only when we’d exited on my business, and we had some time freed up. It was like, let’s scratch this itch now, because I’m never going to do it again.
And I’ve stood on stage at the yacht club when I’m never writing another book again. I’m not going through this process again. It’s far too painful. And then, like what, 12 months later. I decided yeah, let’s write the second book.
– I think the biggest tip I can give people who are listening is, try not to write your book, but to use a dictation tool. Because A, you can speak 150 words a minute, and you can only type at 40, 45. And when you’re typing, your mind is thinking about what you’ve just said, and it’s like “Oh, did I want to say that word there?” And you start editing what you put, and it becomes quite a torturous thing. So, with dictation you can get through 8,000 words an hour with no trouble at all. And if the book’s say 30,000 words then, you know, then you’re talking a weekend. You know, a pretty intense weekend, quite a lot of coffee. But you can–
– The more coffee you have, the more words per hour you get out.
– Yeah. And so, it doesn’t have to be this long-tortured genius thing. You could do it in a week or a fortnight, if you’re going about it pretty relaxed. As long as you’ve got a plan, and you know what you can teach people. Just like we’re talking now. You just do that but record it and turn that into the book. And you get a good, you get a much easier result. And especially if your explaining’s not too good, or if you’ve got dyslexia and other things that might slow you down. It frees up a lot of things, doing it that way.
– Yeah, probably say in this kind of format, almost an interview. If you can get someone to just sit down with you and give them the questions, they need to ask you. Okay so why’s that correct. Why are you the expert on this. What is your experience of that?
– That means there’s a bit more editing, ’cause you got to kind of, whereas if you’ve got silent prompts with some text, then you can just look at the prompt, much like giving a presentation. And then there’s a lot less editing to take out, ’cause it’s the editing that’s really boring, and you don’t just edit it once. You kind of go through several times.
– Oh yeah.
– And you pick out a tonne of mistakes, fewer mistakes, fewer mistakes, fewer mistakes, fewer mistakes and then the holes stop missing. And so, you’ll be going through it several times, and so that’s the bit that’s slow and tiring. So, if you can cut that out by being a bit more organised up front, then that’s better for your sanity and your life force.
– Yeah definitely, I mean, when I first sat down to write Big Ideas, and someone had told me exactly that. You need to get, you know, dictation software out. “Use this.” Brilliant. And I just remember sitting there and turning on the software and going “Okay… “Um… “Hello? “This is my book, no that’s what I want to say, oh God.” Suddenly, all of a sudden, I had complete brain freeze, and my tongue didn’t work.
– There was a pressure then, wasn’t there.
– Yeah, but there was no structure. I was just sat there, and I press record, big flashing red
– Light appears, and I’m like. I’m on.
– The way I try to explain this to people is I think, let’s say I was programming my Sat Nav, and I was going to go from one big city to another.
Let’s say London to Glasgow. That route that my Sat Nav gives me will give me every single turn along the route. And that’s what you want your book outline to be like. It’s like when I come to the roundabout I turn left; at the traffic lights I go straight on. And that’s how you want to explain your points. And then you don’t get stuck. ‘Cause just like you can visualise driving to somewhere you know looking at the Sat Nav route, you can visualise your route through your expertise.
And then it’s a lot easier and you get a lot less kind of moments. You still get some. So, I get people to say things like, just say the word whirlies, or something you’re not going to say in the rest of the text. And if you just go back, look where all the times you mentioned the word whirlies, “Uh, there’s a proper word there.” And you can quickly fix those little bits where you stuttered. And that makes people a bit more efficient.
– Definitely, I like that. I like the idea of let’s say just blocking out some time. For me I blocked out a week, and then three days per month. That’s how I wrote Routine Machine. And say others have done retreats. And they said “Oh, I’m going to go away for a weekend. “Going to book a week in a hotel.” I know some people have done train journeys. They’ve done London to Edinburgh and back. And by the time they’ve done that, they’ve actually written the manuscript.
– Yeah, I did one book with a lad called Damien Fogg. He was a financial advisor. And it’s like, that’s going to be the dullest topic ever, and we did it with a pint of, it was his idea, peach schnapps and lemonade in pints, you had one of those each. And I had some sort of sword in his flat, ’cause I ducked in his house to the recording. And he got a big sword there so only if he is slows down, I’ll get the sword out and kind of threaten him a bit. I only did that at the editing stage when he ran out to the pub for a little bit. I remember with colds as well, but we still got it done, and we did 29,000 words in 26 hours.
– So, it was pretty intense. But if you go for it you can definitely do it that way.
– Yeah, I think when I broke the back of Routine Machine in that first week. I think I did 31,000 words in about yeah, 28 hours, 27, 28 hours. And it just broke the back of the book. I just looked and said, “Okay that’s half of my manuscript done.” And that was just vomiting words onto a page. There was no thought about structure, flow, editing, capitalization, correct use of numbers versus some spell type words, you know.
– This isn’t the advert for the book. It’s actually a really good book. It isn’t just a load of words vomited out on a page.
– But that was where I started. Without vomiting words on the page, you don’t end up with a polished article. Where you get to that is through the editing stage, where you mentioned just now. Where actually that is a huge amount I think when we work–
– Lots of small work really. You think chorusing the words is the work, actually making the words good enough is where the work is. The good is that you can outsource that. But that’s why when people look at how much it costs to do a book they get but you think “Well some may be on minimum wage.” if they do though, if they judge what you think it should be, they’ll be on minimum wage. because it is, let’s say a couple of hundred hours of work to kind of finish it off. It’s a lot of work.
– And it’s not really a £5 an hour job, it’s–
– Not at all, and I mean, big shout out to Greg who did the editing for Routine Machine. We had so many comments from people saying, “Oh my God, the writing’s so much better.” And I was like “Yeah, that’s all thanks to Greg. “It’s nothing–“
– He’s a good guy. He is excellent. Yes, he’s very good and he writes his own fiction books at the moment.
– Yes, I’ve read Greg’s book, Ball or Nothing, very very good read. But I remember the conversations, or the email to and fro Greg and I had, probably over the first one or two of the seven draughts that we worked through. So that’s how he helped out a bit.
– Seven drafts! He didn’t go easy on you then.
– Yep, seven drafts.
– Yeah, yeah.
– Seven! The first thing he would come back with a list of, let’s say 60 changes. And we’d have some dialogue. Much of our close listeners are, who will be familiar with the old football manager Brian Clough.
Well, we sat down. We had a discussion, and we decided I was right.
Well, that was my take on it, I’d look at what Greg suggested. I thought well that’s a very good suggestion there Greg. But I think you’ll find that my original intent with this paragraph was correct.
And then I’d reread it and go, “No, he’s right, the bastard. “He’s absolutely correct. “It does work better his way.”
– Yes, yeah.
– But again, that went through seven edits, so I looked at it. It would go back to Greg. Greg would make some changes. I’d reread the whole thing again. I’d come up with another 14 changes that we hadn’t spotted. It would go back to Greg; he would find more things. By the seventh edit, I would find two things. Greg would find three things.
– And then we’d say that’s great! A month after publishing, someone says to me “Hey, there’s a typo on page 199.” I’m like what! And it was like a reader finds a typo.
– I think that’s the important thing for the listeners to know, because I am a perfectionist on the end of the scale, and there will always be something in there. No matter how many times you go through, use Grammarly, and you spell check in Word, and your mate reads it, there will always be something in there. So, don’t beat yourself up when you find that.
People forgive two or three typos in a book, because everybody’s human. They won’t forgive a hundred, and so you just have to bear that in mind, and not get too downhearted and it’s quick to fix, you know, it’s a couple hours work, coming in–
– That is the beauty of self-publishing, isn’t it? Is that we can just release a new version and immediately it’s as if that typo never existed.
– Yeah, exactly, yeah. Because I’ve heard stories of traditional publishers, where’ve they got the author’s name wrong, and the books gone out with a typo in their name.
– It’s one thing you want to get right is your own name.
– So, yeah. So, it’s lovely you get all this prestige, but also you get a big straight jacket. And I think people, you know, underestimate how strong that straight jacket is.
– Yeah definitely. I think Big Ideas is just a perfect example of typos, because we put the book out it was fine, it was edited. We proofread it again, many, many times. And I think we spotted some typos when the printed version arrived. And then I recorded the audio book for Big Ideas about nine months after publication, so we’d sold a good few thousand copies. When I’m narrating the audio book, I spotted another typo, maybe two. Two typos it’s like “Oh, there’s a typo here.” which nobody had mentioned. That’s interesting.
– And then I think another three months later, I remember exactly. I remember even what house I was outside of walking the dog, listening to my own audio book. Yes, I like the sound of my own voice. So, I’m listening to my own audio book, and I hear a typo and I’m like “My God!”
So, I read it.
Again, I’ve proofread it God knows how many times.
Thousands of people have read that book. No one’s picked up on it. I narrated it and didn’t pick up on it. And now listening back we’re all like “My math doesn’t add up on that section.” And I just thought I read it wrong. I came home, I opened a printed version. No, it’s wrong in there as well.
I just wrote it wrong and, it was a maths problem that I had my place value wrong, so I put a hundred thousand rather than a million or something like that. Nobody picked up the fact that my maths was wrong. Until I was out walking the dog going “That doesn’t add up.”
– Yeah, I think your mind does freshen its own, again if you’re doing stuff on a limited, tight budget, just make your book writing process a bit longer. Leave it a week or longer, and then have another read and then you’ll find mistakes. That’s a nice way to do it if you are–
We naturally assume that we don’t make mistakes and you see what you think is on the page rather than what is on the page and things like that. So, you know there’s sort of some psychological things and it can get tricky to do it yourself without those long gaps in between.
– Fab. So, should we talk launch day?
– Yeah, let’s go through launch day strategies.
– 13 best-selling authors or 12 plus myself. How many two-time best-selling authors have you got there?
– I don’t really pay much attention to, if I’m honest, I don’t write it for the best seller status.
– And like one book has been in the top 10 for, well it was 2011 and I threw my mate under a bus, and I said you’re doing a book. And she went “Am I!” and that one, we did a second edition of it, ’cause the subject moved on a little bit.
And that still is in the top 10 along with, it’s a travel guide and it’s in with all the Lonely Planet ones, ’cause her goal was to make it really good.
It was never to, ’cause I’m not a marketer. I own antichristmarketing.com, genuinely own that mate. ‘Cause I hate it so much, and the sales aren’t interesting to me. What’s interesting to me is the book gets the result. And be somebody on social media “I just read this book!” And I’m trying that out and that one’s really good.
And that’s what kind of brought the sales really. It was proof and wanting to correct this good result for the reader. And so, people get very anxious when it comes to like, I do have a different job, honestly.
But a lot of people are very reticent at launch time, because they feel like they’re going to be judged. And they don’t really want to say anything, and I end up going “This is out, it’s really.” And I like to get people friends going “You’re mates with so and so. “Tell him what he is really good.” you know.
– And it just kind of came from there. And, you know, realistically you don’t need to get many sales in particular categories.
Like entrepreneurship is a hard one ’cause it’s huge.
I did another book about fire safety which is pretty, but it’s a book about how to make firemen have a better time in the fire station together, ’cause they’re like family. And it’s always going to be a dusty little category.
It probably would be a best seller, because they can only shift a few thousand books a year in that topic probably. But if you’re in a fire station that book becomes a lot of use to you. And it’s helped save people’s lives and stuff.
So, it was worth, you know, that’s what worth for me. But mainly it’s sharing secrets from the book. You can go to, if you go on Five Ed, there’s a really good service on there, where you can get a 3D model of your book before it exists. On a Kindle or as a print book. And you can start sharing that and get people interested.
And the usual stuff.
Giving away a chapter to get people to make a start on the book when it comes out. But a lot of it just literally came from people saying it’s out there now. But that was enough to get the best sellers, which is another reason why I said, I didn’t really want to say that anymore. But people always come to me first.
They want the glory, “Yeah we want the best seller.” A, you can’t guarantee that anyway. B, they might write something really horrific and ignore everything I say. So, I just couldn’t ever make that result for people. It just, the cards fell that way. So that’s how it worked, yeah.
– It’s interesting actually, because you actually said there’s two kind of different sorts of people, I guess, when it comes to book launch day. There’s the kind of, John and I have written a book. Buy it now. Here’s all the stuff you need do and actually it’s going to be really good.
And there’s guys “I wonder if anybody’s going to buy this. “I don’t know how. “Why does anybody want to hear my words. “Why does anybody want to read this.” There’s kind of completely two people, isn’t there out there that kind of act like this. Did you have any of that when? Did you feel that way when you first published the first book? Actually, I know you had the bravado of actually, I’ve done and you’re going to buy it, because it’s really good but did you ever go “What if nobody does” or?
– I was absolutely bricking myself until the first few reviews came in.
And particularly when they were reviews from people I didn’t know. ‘Cause like, all right my friends, you know, people I’ve worked with for days have left me nice reviews. That’s great. They probably haven’t even read the book. And then all of the sudden I get a review from someone I’ve never heard of. And it’s like “Oh, all right.” And people are reading it. They are finding it useful, because again, I’ve had it with both books, you know. As soon as I put out Routine Machine it’s like, the world does not need another book on morning routines.
– Why the hell are they going to read mine? And people listen to this and think “We’ll read the book.” “What the hell is this guy talking about. “Why is he talking to us about routines. “Oh my God, it’s a pile of rubbish.” Well actually, what are we now, four months in, five months in. We’ve got 30 odd five-star reviews. It’s, you know, reviewing very well.
– And again, it’s from people who I don’t know. Who have just said “I read the book.” “I followed the instructions, “and I’m getting good results from it.”
– That’s what it’s about. And from there, the sales come from there, because people say, “I read that, and it worked for me.” That’s you know, that’s how you can make it do really well. It’s your last kind of proof.
– Yeah ’cause if you look at, all right, so let’s go back to Big Ideas. I am a best-selling author because on the 13th of July 2017, I sold a couple hundred copies of that book. That’s all that happened. I sold a few hundred copies of a book one day, a couple of years ago.
– Yeah, and I think people might’ve seen a chap called Mike Rinnette I think his name is, and he wrote a book How to be an Amazon Best Seller, and every page in that book he says, “This page is intentionally blank.” or something like that.
That’s what every page in the book says. And he just got all his mates to buy it to prove that this, you know, people can, they can rig the New York Time’s Best Seller List just as well or The Sunday Times List.
You just pay a lot people to go into Spencer’s and buy a book. And if you got the money, you can fake it, and force it, and everything, so. Yeah that was awful, it was a hollow victory for me, yeah. But if you are selling units and you’re helping people, that’s still good. It’s a shame for people like you and others, who’ve tried really hard to make a difference. And it’s got a bit tarnished by the shysters.
– Yeah, absolutely. It’s a good example. So, we’ve recently recorded, we? I’ve recently recorded the audio book for Routine Machine. And so–
– Pirates got into two Routine Machines.
– The pirates got the Routine, yeah. So, we were having a conversation with the publisher about release dates, when it’s coming out, how the marketing launch is going to happens. So, the book is coming out just before Christmas.
– That’s just not really an opportune time for the book. So, we’re actually going to do a very very soft launch, which for me as a marketer is completely flipping things on its head. Just go “Yeah my new audio book’s out. “If you want to buy it, it’s there.”
But then, as you listen to this podcast, you’ll be like “What are you talking about John. “I’ve heard you marketing it all over the place.” Because, as soon as Christmas is out of the way and its new year new me, well, that’s very much about routine change, because I want people to listen to this book and actually make a change in their life. The time of year they’re likely to do that is between Christmas and New Year, when they’re off work, they shut down.
And they’re thinking about “Oh my God, “I’ve got to go back to that job I hate. “Why am I still smoking? “Why am I three stone overweight? “Why is my golf swing not as good as it should be. “Why don’t I spend more time with the kids. “Why don’t I get on with the wife. “I’m going to change things. “This is the year, it’s a new year, it’s a new decade. “This is when things are going to change. “So, let me pick up a copy of Routine Machine “available at audible right now.”
– It’s interesting actually, because when you’re looking at like our sensitivities, as we’ve already said that, you know, writing is a big thing. We got to get a book written, because you’ve got nothing if you haven’t done that. And then you went to say well editing takes longer than writing the book. It’s actually more work in the editing than the actual. Now he says he’s going to market as well, so actually there’s another percentage, right? Off of the actual writing mitt.
– Yeah, I think I’ve got a couple things to think about with marketing. John you mentioned you were a bit anxious before the book was launched, you know. What are people going to say? So, if you do feel like that, get your friends to read the book.
Ideally in the target market it’s aimed at. And just get them to rate each chapter out of 10 and say why they gave it that score. And most of the time if you put the effort in, you’ll get really good scores, and you’ll feel good about what you’ve made, and it will chip away at that anxious feeling. And then you could interview them a little bit, and create a little bit of blurb and buzz, say, you know, “The advanced readers have said this is really good.” And so, you can start talking about it, and marketing it, and using that afterwards. That kind of solves a couple little problems for both the promotion and the nerves, yeah.
– Yeah, you never know the difference between what’s going on your head versus what actual people would think of it. It’s completely different. I remember one, there’s one chapter of Routine Machine that I almost cut, and I thought, “I’m not sure if this chapter works. “I don’t know if I like it. “I’m going to leave it in there, whatever.”
And I mentioned to a few people “What do you think of this.” you know, I didn’t say what chapter it was. I said it’s in there. There’s one chapter I’m not happy with and then a few of the advanced readers said “Oh, I really like this chapter.” I’m like “That’s the chapter I was going to cut! “And that was your favourite chapter? “Really?” Okay then, what do I know?
I think a lot of people might relate to this if you do things like, you build websites for people, you do social media campaigns for people. Their work and their results are part of your portfolio. And I kept bumping into these people who didn’t have the same vision as me.
And I was getting a bit tired with it. Or people would go “Well that’s good enough.” And I think well it’s not really good enough. My name is going to be on this, so I’m going to have to. I’m going to have to pick up the slack here. And I just did it all the time, because the result was the most important thing to me.
And I got more, you know, 35 books now with the entrepreneurial gang. And I was getting more and more tired with that carrying people across no man’s land while lighting up your fag you know. And I thought I’ve got to stop doing this, I’m done. And it’s like going up Everest 35 times and putting me flag in. I didn’t want to get frostbite again for somebody else. I’d had enough.
And I thought well what do I do? I’m like effectively I started this in 2011 with the lady with the travel guide and I thought, well I’ve actually been doing this for quite a long time now.
Should I bin it off or should I change it. I didn’t need, honest, I don’t need the money from this. And so, there wasn’t that financial pressure, that, you know, if I stopped, I’ll be living under a railway arch, and so I thought “uh” this is a, because I just got in a mess for quite some time. And I did officially say I’m not doing any more one’s from those people, because I can’t do the no man’s land thing. Dragging you across with my nameless project.
– I just thought, yeah. I was looking to pack a sack for my next adventure and I thought do I want to do that a 36th time?
And I have come to the conclusion that I do want to do it that way. But I had to split, making a book is like one process, and getting it out there to the right standard was the bit that was getting me down, ’cause a lot of people just couldn’t be asked, if I’m honest. So, I thought well I’ll just help them plan a really good book.
That means they’ll get off to a stronger start, and they’re less likely to make a mistake, and my names not on it at the end. And that was the decision I had to come to. So, I’ve got another friend who edits videos with people, and they would all be telling him “Couldn’t we cut it like this? “Cut it like that. “Well we don’t like that music.” And he just got the same burnt out feeling as I got as well. And that I thought, yeah, I don’t want to stop doing this, but I can’t carry on that way.
And I was lucky I found a way of doing it. Since then three more books have come out just from my courses rather than me babysitting people. And they’re just as good. People still like them. And I was worrying. I’ve probably overstated my involvement, you know. They were quite happy to carry on with just the course. They didn’t need me sweating for them as I thought they did. Which was quite an interesting thing to understand.
– I love the fact that you used the term babysitting just now, because I don’t know many people that babysit with a machete, and a bottle of, what was it, tequila?
– People there say, “Oh Colette’s gone full Gordon on me.” Meaning that I’m full Gordon Ramsey. You know when he opens the fridge and they’ll be a bucket of like seep and slurry, and you’ll go “Ah!”
– You know then “She’s just gone full Gordon” you know, because I found something. You could kill people with that you know?
– Yeah, it’s not Gordon’s Kitchen Nightmares unless he is vomiting into a bucket somewhere is it?
– Yeah, and I just thought I want to help people, but I just can’t do it this way. And it was very, ’cause I’m a naturally helpful person. It was very difficult to turn my back on people when I had the ability to help them. That was a moral thing that I didn’t find easy at all.
– I love it to be fair, because, you now, building this ambitious lifestyle business as we’re doing, which speaks a lot to business owners on these podcasts, and obviously working with the one percenters. And actually, to be able to identify an area of business which you really don’t enjoy and actually you want to do something that you really want to do and there’s another way of doing it. Finding that pivot, creating that different way of doing things is just amazing and then you end up with your ambitious lifestyle business, because you continue to do that, because you’re enjoying it which is interesting. It’s kind of weird when it’s the other way around, isn’t it?
– I think that the problem is I’m built a bit like a Terminator, and I will just go and go and go at something until it works, until it’s done, and–
– Have I seen you? They just had a film of it made. Didn’t they do a film of it?
– Yeah, the purple haired one, yeah?
– I believe it was her yeah. Can’t remember her name now but yeah.
– And it’s not always, you know, is that the answer. Yeah, you can be stoic, and you can force yourself to do something.
But what happens when that nagging voice keep going “Oi.” Consistency’s not working. Stoicism’s not working. You’re not enjoying what you’re doing, what you got to do. So, I started to hang out with all the groups I meet tend to be recruits of people of the bish-bash-bosh gang you know “All right, let’s do it!” And so, I started hanging out in more gentle groups where people will go “Well just try your best.” It’s like “Uh!” you know?
But it was very useful, and it helped me, you know, it helped me work out what and why I was feeling like I did, and why I wasn’t forcing through and fixing it like it always does.
– And naturally cause you’re surrounding yourself with the people that, even though they weren’t the people you’d normally be associating with, you’ve found yourself finding the right group that you could actually get what you needed from ’em. Emotional and psychological and that sort of thing. In order to get you into the right positions to be able to do that pivot and to credit on how you put it and stuff.
– Yeah, definitely, yeah. So, I decided to write. Another thing I did was I decided to take the authors out of the equation which sounds awful. But I thought I’d have a go at writing my own books, because I know what I’m doing. I can do it reasonable quickly. And so, I decided I’m a certificate junkie.
A really bad certificate junkie. But I decided to learn Hatma’s Teaching, which is a foreign language, because I thought I could help people who didn’t want their people to transcribe but wanted to up their game a little bit with their English. And I could help them. I thought well that might be interesting.
Maybe that’s the answer. And then I thought well actually I could create some books that help foreign business owners improve their English and improve their understanding of our culture. So, I talk about meetings in one of the books I’ve just written. And you’ve got to take your doodling paper in case the meeting’s really boring. Whereas all the other books that teach you business English are like “Hello I’d like to book a hotel room.” But really, you know, it’s the doodling paper and the cups in the sink that also makes your English better when you understand that kind of cultural thing that goes on in some of our offices. So that’s been an interesting experience trying that out.
– Definitely, so what certificates have you collected?
– Qualified hypnotherapist, Master in LP Practitioner, gastric band, I can fit a gastric band. Not that I would ever want to do that at somebody.
– You can fit a gastric band?
– Gastric band, yeah gastric band hypnosis, therapy, diving instructor, setup administrator, ISEB, I’ve got ITL actually, a government IT procedural qualification ITL. So yeah, you name it. I just love it.
– So, have you got a book on book publishing?
– I did think about it, but it’s a bit of a poison chalice. It’s like having those websites, where they say, “How to build a brilliant website.” And everyone goes “Well I think their websites pretty awful.”
And I just thought because I’m so thorough, I just thought there’s going to be a bunch of people going “Na, bang it out in a weekend love.” you know. I didn’t need the money. I didn’t need the credibility. I’ve kind of got that through the results.
And I thought I’ll just do it as a course, ’cause it’s you know, I can demonstrate things a bit better. I can encourage people with my voice. Sounds a bit egotistical, but I think people latch onto my enthusiasm. And if I believe in them, they’ve suddenly got more petrol in their tank.
And so, I thought well I can do that a little bit better with a course than possibly a book. And that was the other reason. I thought choose the right format for the information to get the result. And so that was the reason why I didn’t do it. So yeah, it was a bit of a poison chalice. I did actually write it and then I turned it into the course.
– It was 80,000 words to start, ’cause I’m so thorough. I thought nobody’s going to read 80,000 words you idiot. Yeah and that’s why you get somebody to help you in way, ’cause it’s like well that is really important.
And I’m going to put that in, and put that in, and put that in. And you need somebody else to go “Nobody’s ever going to worry about, you know, “what density your JPEGs are particularly.” Don’t worry about it, don’t bother teaching that, it’ll look fuzzy or it won’t lay a damn line, you know.
– Yeah. That’s why I tried to give them everything, yeah.
– But out of that 80,000-word book would deselect a lot of the quick-buck brigade who are like “Na, there was big heavy tome from Colette Mason. “And then there was this Kindle book “of how to write a bestselling book in 20 hours.”
– Take all your blog posts and put them together! Oh God. Those blog post books, it’s like going to the fridge and just emptying out. Let’s add a bit of tomato sauce, some a bit of mustard, ooh peanut butter, let’s throw a bit of that in.
Yay, I’ve made a meal. No, you haven’t, have you. You’ve just emptied your fridge into a bowl. And that’s what the blog post books feel to me like. Just a dumping ground of words that is hopefully long enough, you hope. No!
– I think if there’s one thing I think people can take from today is that as we enter the new year and the new decade, you are going to be thinking about changing things and doing things in a different way. And starting the new year planning or the new decade planning does not need to start with how do I 10x businesses.
It does not need to be how do I earn more money. How do I do more. It can actually start with what do I not enjoy about what I’m doing right now. And what can I cut. What can I take away?
– Yes, who needs to go, what needs to go, what activities need to go. And also, I think there’s a lot of value in building the fun bits in life, and slotting the work around it and, you know, so, building in a couple hours playing the guitar, or learning or whatever.
And then fitting in, you know, updating me about me page or whatever. I think there’s a lot of value in building in fun into life and not just building in hustle and outcomes, you know.
– Definitely, I think Routine Machine launch was planned around Download festival if I’m not mistaken.
– It was, yeah! I loved it.no Signal ’cause there’s 100,000 people in the field, all fighting for Signal so yeah. Best time ever to launch something. There’s never a right time. There’s always something that goes on.
– Yeah. Definitely. Coo, thank you very much for joining us today, Colette. For those who are interested in learning more about book publishing and are not expecting to write their bestselling book in 12 hours and get it out there immediately, what’s the best way people to get into touch with you?
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