Writing a Book to Share Thought Leadership with Jodi Brandon

Jodi Brandon in a black shirt and blue jeans sits at a white round table with books and a pen on it, smiling at the camera. It appears she's writing a book. The background shows a white brick wall.

Have you ever thought about writing a book for your business? It’s a powerful way to solidify your expertise, share your knowledge with a wider audience, and establish yourself as a thought leader.

But where do you even begin? And how do you know this goal is the right goal to take action on at this precise moment?

This episode of Talk Copy to Me dives deep into the world of writing a thought leadership book. Joining us is Jodi Brandon, a book coach and editor, to unpack what goes into writing a book and publishing your thought leadership.

Brace yourself for the emotional ride of writing and the vulnerability of sharing your thought leadership in print. Jodi and I will navigate the long-term strategy of book publishing, address the challenges of educating your audience, and explore the art of balancing intellect and creativity in crafting a impactful business book.

Copy says: Listen in to this episode of the Talk Copy to Me podcast

Here is what Jodi and Erin want you to know about writing a book

  • How thought leadership involves sharing a unique perspective that adds value for your audience
  • Why a successful book starts with narrowing down topics so you have impactful messaging
  • How self-publishing offers viable, flexible options that give authors more control
  • The importance of investing in professionals to help with editing, design, and production
  • Who the essential members of a writing team are, including copy editors, structural editors, and designers
  • Why it’s vital to set clear goals before starting your book to guide your efforts effectively
  • How focusing on long-term benefits like brand building and credibility can be more valuable than immediate sales
  • The necessity of long-term marketing efforts for sustained success after launch
  • How balancing the sharing of successes with lessons learned can build trust with readers
  • Why editing initial drafts to focus on core messages is a natural and crucial part of the writing process
quotes from this episode of the Talk Copy to Me copywriting podcast

Quotes about writing a book to share thought leadership from Jodi and Erin

  • “Where thought leadership goes wrong — from my perspective — is people trying to lead with too many thoughts.” – Erin Ollila

  • “Self publishing and and or hybrid publishing are good choices because it they both enable the author to maintain so much more control than they maintain with traditional publishing.” – Jodi Brandon

  • “What do you want out of this project? If you’re trying to fulfill a lifelong dream of pursuing this creative endeavor, but you don’t have a goal beyond that, it’s not good enough.” – Jodi Brandon

  • “Stay in your lane and hire people who are in their zone of genius and can help you.” – Jodi Brandon

  • “If you find somebody to work with that you trust…they know which buttons to push. They know when to back off. They figure out how you best receive criticism and advice and all of that to really strengthen your manuscript before it becomes a book, and…help you rise to the occasion.” – Jodi Brandon

  • You have to sit down and do the throat clearing to get to the, drum roll, thought leadership.” – Erin Ollila

  • “You still need to allow the flexibility to figure out what you’re actually saying while you’re doing the work of writing.” – Erin Ollila

  • “What is your north star? What problem are you trying to solve with your book? Even if you’re trying to share information, you’re trying to solve a problem. Answer a question, figure out what that is, and that’s your north star.” – Jodi Brandon

  • “People trust fallible people. People trust business owners who can also reflect on maybe lessons that they’ve learned or times where they did not share the best customer experience and how they adjusted.” – Erin Ollila

Meet this episodes guest expert on Talk Coy to Me

Jodi Brandon is a book coach, editor, and publishing educator for business owners and entrepreneurs. Jodi has partnered with more than 500 business owners around the world to write, publish, and market a book to grow their business via self, hybrid, and traditional publishing. Jodi is the author of Write.Publish.Market., 2nd edition, the host of the Write Publish Market podcast, and the founder and host of the Author-Entrepreneurs Lab.

There’s a few ways you can get to know Jodi better. First, visit her website and listen to her podcast. Then, connect with her on LinkedIn and Instagram. And finally, check out her resource Book Brain Dump to organize your thoughts if you’re considering writing a book of your own!

Get to Know the Host of the Talk Copy to Me Podcast Erin Ollila

Learn more about your host, Erin Ollila

Erin Ollila believes in the power of words and how a message can inform – and even transform – its intended audience. She graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, and went on to co-found Spry, an award-winning online literary journal.

When Erin’s not helping her clients understand their website data or improve their website copy, you can catch her hosting the Talk Copy to Me podcast and guesting on shows such as Profit is a Choice, The Driven Woman Entrepreneur, Go Pitch Yourself, and Counsel Cast.

Stay in touch with Erin Ollila, SEO website copywriter:

Here’s the transcript for episode 124 on writing a book with guest expert Jodi Brandon

NOTE: This podcast was transcribed by an AI tool. Please forgive any typos or errors. Episode 124 with Jodi Brandon Erin Ollila: [00:00:00] Okay, Jodi, let us jump right into the deep end. What, what do you think thought leadership is? How would you define it or what do you want to share with our audience today about thought leadership in general? Jodi Brandon: So this is an interesting question because it’s something I think a lot of us have been thinking about a lot in the online business world, especially with all of the changes that have come. So I would say the way I think about thought leadership is that it’s, you know, sort of like, Leadership on steroids. ? You know what I mean? Like, it’s not just about your title or your position, you know, within an organization, something like that. But there’s got to be something more to it. Jodi Brandon: There’s got to be some intentionality at the risk of using another word. That’s probably being used too much, but I think it’s about having that intention, like whether it’s, you know, maybe it’s my unique perspective on something, maybe it’s a hot take on my industry, that’s something I’m accused of, accused of, I’m using air quotes a lot, is having maybe a different, you know, [00:01:00] take on the book publishing world than a lot of traditional book publishing people. So for me, I think it’s that, I think it’s having that Almost like a niche, and it’s, whether it’s topic based or, you know, opinion, perspective, etc. based. Cause, you know, there’s very few, like, true gurus out there, right? You’ve got to figure out like where you’re spotted. You know, where’s your line in the sand? And for me, I think that’s where, that’s what I think of when I think of thought leadership. Erin Ollila: Yeah, I think that’s a really valuable point because, where thought leadership goes wrong in my perspective is people trying to lead with too many thoughts, right? So, you know, a lot of the times what I’ll see is an expert in a niche, let’s say. So they will. want to share more thought leadership, whether, you know, in many various forms, content, books, public speaking, all of these things, but they don’t have an, it narrowed down enough where their message is impactful. Erin Ollila: So, it’s, you know, I like that [00:02:00] you approached it from that way to kind of like, to say that, um, It’s narrowing down on something. And one thing I thought was a really interesting segue into our, our actual topic today, which is, you know, creating, writing a book, publishing a book as thought leadership, is that you mentioned that you’re known for your hot takes in comparison to a lot of the writing community. Erin Ollila: So maybe we’ll jump, we’ll go there for a second. Like, where do you think you differ specifically from the writing community when it comes to writing books? Um, and. Yeah, let’s just let’s do that. We’ll just we’ll stay there before I jump ask you 14 questions in one Jodi Brandon: Well, I think my, my original background is in traditional book publishing, right? So moved to New York, work for a big publishing house, like that was my path. And a lot of my colleagues who still work day in, day out in traditional book publishing, 100 percent still have the view that anything else is not real [00:03:00] publishing. , Jodi Brandon: which. Erin Ollila: I come from the MFA world and that was when I jumped into you know again creative writing I thought I would be a writer and an educator and when I came into the online business world and and I would hear, to be honest, at the time, because this was a long time ago, really horrific advice on self publishing. Erin Ollila: It kind of solidified a lot of my thoughts to be like, oh, self publishing is bad. Jodi Brandon: Yes. Erin Ollila: there have been drastic changes since I got my MFA in the past 10 years, and I think that’s, I’m interrupting you, I’m empathizing, I’m agreeing, and I think it’s really important for our audiences to understand that self publishing has changed. Erin Ollila: Really changed and is a very dynamic and potential good opportunity for Jodi Brandon: 100%. It’s a 100 percent valid path. And I think the problem is that there are still vanity presses out there who are trying to scam people, unfortunately. . There’s no gatekeeping. So, right, anybody can call themselves [00:04:00] Anybody can throw something up on Amazon. Jodi Brandon: Anybody can call themselves a book editor. Anybody can call themselves anything in the publishing world. And so I think that, unfortunately, it’s gonna, you know, it’s, it’s taken a long time. It’s gonna take even longer to get rid of some of those, horror stories. But we have the, we have an organization, the Independent Book Library. Publishers Association, the IBPA,\ they have standards now for self publishing authors, for hybrid publishing companies, self publishing companies to follow, so that books being produced on the self publishing path, on the hybrid publishing path, are professionally produced, published, distributed, all the things, you know. So we’re getting there. There’s still work to do, but we’re getting there. But that’s, I mean, I think that’s where my hot take comes in, because I 100 percent believe, especially for business owners who, that’s who I work with all day, every day. [00:05:00] Self publishing and, and, or hybrid publishing are good choices because it, They both enable the author to maintain so much more control than they maintain with traditional publishing. , so a lot of my former colleagues, don’t like this take. They think that I should Jodi Brandon: be encouraging everyone to pursue a traditional book publishing deal, which one, is silly because there aren’t that many deals to go around. Two, the industry does not, the industry is not keeping up, in my opinion. Erin Ollila: No. Jodi Brandon: With anything, you know, that we have so much work to do, like understanding AI. You know, I went to a conference last spring. So about a year ago and the take of the conference was, you know, we’ve got it. Like, we’ve got to get on board and figure out the AI thing. The AI thing is coming and it’s going to change the industry. And I’m like, Hey. Hey everyone! No, it’s here, it’s already changing the industry, you just don’t realize it here in Manhattan. [00:06:00] So, I think, you know, I think that there’s more room in the industry for more authors, more paths to publication, more everything, but, you know, that’s, that is very much frowned upon in the traditional book world. Erin Ollila: know, I think that’s a, it’s too bad because if we think about just general return on investment for any business decisions that we’re making, I don’t think people understand how difficult it is to get a book deal in a traditional publishing sense and how little you’re going to make. Erin Ollila: from your book deal. Erin Ollila: , you know, the, yes, of course, we all know, like, the Jodie Piekoltz, the Nicholas Sparks, you know, like, all the, like, top name, , I mean, I’m saying fiction writers at this point, but, like, we, we hear these names, we, we assume they’re making tons of money, which they are, you know, but that is so far removed from the average traditionally published book. Erin Ollila: So, the amount of time and effort it goes into writing a book compared to the [00:07:00] effort it takes to even get noticed, the time process of, editing to publication and all of these things, and the effort that, even the investments that you as an individual have to make into things like the marketing, it’s just so far removed from what an average business owner can do. Erin Ollila: , there’s this difficult conundrum, right? If everyone can publish a book via self publishing, then it kind of takes away the, importance or like, you know, of, of you publishing your own book. Erin Ollila: However, if you want to get your thought leadership out there, the fastest, quickest, smartest, best return on investment is owning your own, um, intellectual property. by publishing a book that you have written, right? So, I think maybe it’s just a mindset thing of saying, I’m going to forget about everyone else because their books, regardless of their skill, their ability, you know, like, they don’t matter compared to my book. Erin Ollila: Because this [00:08:00] is not a comparison thing. Thought leadership should not be. You know, I think if we’re looking at Everyone having intelligence and everyone being able to share their opinion. That’s not thought leadership. Thought leadership is like a well honed and developed opinion. So forget what everyone else is doing. Erin Ollila: And I think if the idea of writing and having a book is important to you as a business owner, you know, self or hybrid publishing is really truly the best return on investment for your time and your effort that you’re putting into writing a book. Jodi Brandon: Yeah, I, well, I a thousand percent agree with all of that, for sure. I think where people sometimes, and it’s human nature to do so, get caught up in that comparison, comparison game, like you were saying a little bit, is when I talk to business owners, they are very clear, you know, no, I understand that I don’t want to be a professional writer. Jodi Brandon: I’m not looking to make a living from my writing. I want [00:09:00] to get my message out to this core group of people. And use this book to grow my business that way, which is great until, you know, publication comes and then they’re like, but wait, but wait, because they see, you know, the bestseller lists and they’re not on it and they’re not selling, you know, millions of copies. And I think also the book, the traditional book publishing world is very, um, it’s very mysterious and exciting for people. So once they get into the process. Even though they’ve said, this is my plan, this is what my goals are, it’s very easy to get caught up in those vanity metrics and those other things. Jodi Brandon: Um, Jodi Brandon: just because they see, see it happening for so few other people in the grand scheme, Jodi Brandon: but it feels in that moment like it’s everyone but them. Erin Ollila: Well, and I think this is a very, uh, uh, a very important subject to kind of stay on for a second because can anyone write a book? [00:10:00] Yes, they can. Should they? People write a book? Well, maybe. That’s a total, it depends. Even if you actually are a true thought leader in your field, in your niche, and you know, you’re recognized, you have important information to share, maybe even actual intellectual property around your specific, um, topic. Erin Ollila: You know, writing a book is a big investment. So, if someone’s listening and they’re, um, toying with the idea of maybe this could be good for me personally and professionally. How do you suggest someone start to like, ideate and ruminate on whether writing a book is a good decision for their business? Jodi Brandon: I think it has to start with your goal. Like, what do you want out of this project? Um, if you’re trying to fulfill a lifelong dream of, you know, pursuing this creative endeavor, but you don’t have a goal beyond that, as a business owner, that’s not good enough. [00:11:00] Um, that’s great to be able to check that box of creative fulfillment. Um, but you need to be darn clear about what this book is, the role the book is going to have within your business ecosystem. What do you want it to do for you? I mean, that’s where, Jodi Brandon: that’s where I have people start. Like, let’s, you obviously, you know, if you own a business, you have some expertise, right? You are a leader in some way, even if you’re not at the thought leader status yet. Um, so yes, you can, you’re able to write a book, but should you? Like you’re saying, it’s a big investment of time. It’s often a big investment monetarily, financially, you know, depending on what your book team is going to look like and all of that. So you really need to make sure that you’re clear on what you want it to do so that you complete the process in a way that supports that goal. Erin Ollila: Yeah, there is so much here. I’d like to talk about the investment. Because, again, a lot of people [00:12:00] think, well, I’m just going to write the book and then publish it. And they might get the idea that in publishing, they have to pay for the paper. paper that they buy, right? Erin Ollila: Like, pay for the printing of the book. But , when you mention team, that’s such a key thing that I think we should reframe for people, is that self publishing does not mean sitting down and then printing the books. There is a lot of people that you should be considering on your team. Erin Ollila: So, When someone decides they want to try self publishing or hybrid publishing, who are they going to have to consider onboarding to help them write this book? Jodi Brandon: So, I mean, the beauty and Bane of self publishing is, you know, that you can bootstrap things all the way up to investing tens of thousands of dollars. So you’ve got to figure out one, realistically, what makes the most sense for you and your business, you know, and that sometimes is determined by timing also. But you’ve for sure want to be looking at A copy editor, a good copy editor, and [00:13:00] probably a typesetter. Um, a lot of people think that they’re just, you know, that they can do one or the other. Um, and you, again, you want to go back to those IBPA standards I mentioned. You know, you want to be, what you want is for your book to be on, someone to hold up your book and someone to hold up a traditionally published book. And it, there not to be a difference in the way they look, right? And the way you achieve that is by hiring the people who, you know, That’s their zone of genius. So you know what your zone of genius is. So you want to bring on people who can help you. Get to that end goal. So for sure, a copy editor, maybe a developmental structural editor. Jodi Brandon: , sometimes that’s called a book coach. Sometimes that’s someone who will come in after you’ve written a draft, but look at like a big picture kind of idea versus, you know, line editing, which is what copy editing, , is more like the seventh grade English that you’re thinking of, probably, you know, getting a paperback with red markup all over the place. , that’s what most people are thinking of. Yeah. So you [00:14:00] obviously want all of that because you don’t want, you know, silly typos and things like that to slow down your reader and make the book look unprofessional. But you also want to make sure topically, structurally, your book is sound. You know, am I covering the right topics? Jodi Brandon: Is material in the right order? All of those sort of big picture things that sometimes it’s hard for you to see yourself because you’re in it every single day. So, Erin Ollila: Yeah, it’s absolutely hard to see yourself. So if I could just echo anything you said, I would highly recommend both the copy editing Jodi Brandon: you can afford both, absolutely both. Erin Ollila: even if it’s as simple as, like, hiring the developmental editor before you start for, like, a one off brainstorming strategy session, a guide on, on how to do this yourself, and then maybe hiring someone to review, you know, at the end, if you cannot work with someone the entire time. Erin Ollila: But I think that’s something where people, , don’t see the importance of, and then they, invest an immense amount of time [00:15:00] and maybe even money in, in people working with them while they’re writing. They get to the copy editing stage, and then they realize it’s very, very, very likely there’s a lot of scrapping and starting over that they have to do because the end result is not exactly, , marketable or it doesn’t say what it is that they’re actually hoping for. Jodi Brandon: Yeah. Well, and exactly. And at that point of the process, you have probably, you know, maybe announced a launch date, and you’ve contracted Jodi Brandon: with all of these other people. So it’s easier then to Ignore some of those problems and go forward. And then you end up disappointed because, again, Jodi Brandon: you’re not going to reach your goals then, right? Jodi Brandon: Because you Jodi Brandon: probably are not putting out a product that is going to achieve the goals that you set. So, yeah, I think that you can have a team of 10 people. You can have a, you know, you can hire a project manager. You can hire an indexer. You can hire a proofreader. You can hire, you know, all of these little specialists. . And if you have [00:16:00] someone on your team already, a virtual assistant, , OBMs don’t tend to do this, but virtual assistants do, to act as a project manager. Jodi Brandon: Then you don’t need to hire out all of these people. So you want to figure out what’s your budget going to be and where are you going to spend those dollars. Jodi Brandon: One of the biggest mistakes I see people make, business owners in particular, is that they think that their designer for their business We work Jodi Brandon: really well together. You know, they, she speaks my language. Whatever the case may be. Book design is very different from other types of graphic design. Jodi Brandon: , book cover design is very specific and has to do Jodi Brandon: specific things. So you want to Jodi Brandon: be sure that you’re working with someone who works in books. Erin Ollila: . Can we talk about unpaid advice for a second? Because, you know, you mentioning the cover design, I have a few clients who have written books, , either before, during, or after working with me and working with a website designer, , where they’ve had either their website designer be [00:17:00] the, the, The Graphic Cover Designer or another graphics person do it for them. Erin Ollila: And I see this all the time about it not working well. They’re then they invest more and more money for fixes for adjustments Erin Ollila: only to then have to hire someone actually who knows how to do this, but the unpaid advice thing that really popped up in all of those situations is asking their audience to make decisions for them. Erin Ollila: Now, do I think that audience involvement is a potential good thing? Sure! Like, and it’s, it’s a great marketing, , tactic, right? To, to get people excited. However, your audience does not necessarily, even if they are your ideal buyer or reader, that doesn’t mean they are your buyer, and they are also not the experts that publish books. Jodi Brandon: You’re 100 percent Right. , Yeah, Jodi Brandon: the book cover is so important. That is, I’m all about, you know, sharing your process, but no, you don’t, you don’t let them choose your cover. Nope. [00:18:00] Mm Erin Ollila: seen people, like, say things like, Oh, you know, should I involve, include this topic? Would you like to learn more about this? Like, I have a, like, here’s my book, should I have a couple of these additions? And I’m like, yeah. You cannot let your audience make these decisions for you. If you are paying, like let’s say you’re not DIYing, if you are paying there is a key reason why you need to trust the experts to make decisions for you. Erin Ollila: And if you are DIYing, yes, the , the Overall, polling , , may help you work towards a decision, but there has to still be, , you as the expert trusting in the choices that you’re making, because no one in the audience is involved in book publishing, and that’s really the big difference. Jodi Brandon: Right. I think the other place where I’ve seen this go wrong is that you’re polling your audience, but your audience is made up of maybe, you know, DIYers and people who are, you know, I mean, I have people who follow me who are never ever going to work with me because they’re just interested in the [00:19:00] writing advice piece, not the writing advice for business owners. Jodi Brandon: And that’s fine, but if they’re the people voting on something that I’m going to include in the next version or edition of my book, guess what? They’re not the people that are going to buy that book anyway. So you’ve got to be Jodi Brandon: clear on your, there’s probably people in your audience who are not part of your primary book audience. So if those are not in alignment, then you are going to end up with faulty information. So yes, stay, stay in your lane and hire people who, you know, are in their zone of genius and can help you. Erin Ollila: Okay, so we talked about investment. Let’s move over to goals. So we talked about the idea that you need to understand what your goal is to before you even start what are some goals that people could set, though? Because I think that’s where a lot of people tend to struggle on making the decision of whether or not they should do this is because they don’t actually know what that potential end result could Jodi Brandon: Right. Well, and a lot of those, a lot of the ROIs, , it’s not measured numerically as a lot of, Jodi Brandon: you know, [00:20:00] like if I, okay, my good, better, best goals for course sales are Jodi Brandon: You know, X number of sales. Whereas a book, it’s a lot more long term, , and a lot of times harder to measure. So there, I mean, it could be for lead generation, in which case you’re looking at, you know, a shorter book, lower price. Jodi Brandon: Like, that’s what my book is, which you can see behind me there. It’s a, it’s a 9. 99 paperback. It’s 140 pages. It is meant to give people an overview of what I do. And then they can either take it from there or like, Go further with me and get into my, get into my, you know, my, my funnel, my email sequences, all of the things. So that’s how a lot of people use it. , a lot of other people use it to build a speaking arm to their business. Because a lot of conference and event planners, love the idea that their author or their speakers are also authors. , so then in which case you’re, it’s going to look a little bit different because then you’re probably looking [00:21:00] for more, you know, bulk sales, for example. So you’ve got to figure out how the book is going to work with your speaking, you know, what your, your topic is, your signature presentation. Is it a piece of the book? Is it the whole book? , Things like that. Is it to share a message? Absolutely nothing wrong with that. Obviously a lot harder to measure, right? Jodi Brandon: Share, you know, share a message. Then your process is going to look maybe more, you know, heavier on the investment post launch. Maybe hiring a publicist or a publicity firm or a marketing services firm, something like that, to help you, you know, get, get your word out to the media with contacts that they have and you don’t have. So, I mean, it really. And it is, it’s a long game, Aaron, you know, it’s, it’s very different from the, you know, some of that vanity stuff we talked about before. Like, you know, you see, Jodi Brandon: you know, famous authors and saying, you know, Oh, you know, launch day I sold, you know, 5, 000 books. We’re ordering a second [00:22:00] printing, something like that. That’s not realistic for most people, even like the names you were mentioning, right? Jodi Pico, for example. I worked at the publisher where Jodi Pico’s first few books were published. Jodi Pico was not getting the money she’s getting now. She wasn’t Jodi Brandon: getting the printing runs she’s getting now. Her name is getting bigger and bigger and bigger on her book covers. Jodi Brandon: So if you look at it, Look at old book covers. The title’s huge and Jodi Brandon: her name’s tiny at the bottom. Like, that’s one of the tricks. that’s Jodi Brandon: one of the secrets of book publishing. Look how big the author’s name is compared to the title. But those authors are so few and far between. So comparing yourself to them absolutely does no good. Jodi Brandon: Except, you know, hurt your ego. So, Jodi Brandon: , so it’s really, again, about figuring out what those goals are and then building that plan around that. But I would say Jodi Brandon: lead generation is a real big one for, Jodi Brandon: For business owners. And then, you know, figuring out that, that sort of hybrid lead generation with the thought leadership [00:23:00] element. Jodi Brandon: Because you, I mean, you’re writing nonfiction, right? You’re writing Jodi Brandon: prescriptive nonfiction. The, at its most basic level is to solve a problem for readers. Erin Ollila: Yeah. Jodi Brandon: what is that problem you’re solving and why are you the person to solve it? Erin Ollila: Yeah. Which, actually, one thing I was thinking about when you were talking about goals, and it’s actually exactly what you’re saying here in a different way, is that the book goal could also be to educate your audience. You know, if you need them to learn something before hiring you for a higher priced offer. Erin Ollila: If you need them to learn something so they can implement that. product or whatever that you offer. That’s another approach you could take. So it’s kind of like, again, distilling the thought leadership into an educational element Jodi Brandon: the bonus is that, you know, you’re also, while you’re educating, you’re giving people a taste of how you teach. Jodi Brandon: You know, so they’re sort of, you’re, you’re, you’re giving them that know, like, trust, , I’m very casual, for example, when I, with my [00:24:00] Programs with my one on one work with clients, etc. That’s not for everybody. But if you pick up my book, you can tell that within the first couple of pages. And it’s not for everybody, and that’s fine. But look at that. You know that while spending 9. 99 on a paperback book versus, Jodi Brandon: you know, hundreds of dollars on a consulting session or some package or something like that. Erin Ollila: Yeah, and I think that’s so important. You know, a lot of what I talk about on this podcast, especially in regard to copywriting, website copy, sales copy, emails, whatever, is the idea of, like, personality, brand messaging, and all of that. How do you determine what yours is as a business? And how do you determine how you put that into these different elements of your marketing? Erin Ollila: Well, the beauty here, friends, is with thought leadership and a book, you have so much. So much more space and words and opportunity to develop that because you know on a website One thing i’m constantly challenging my clients to do I talk about on the podcast , [00:25:00] and it’s so You think people would know this, but they, it’s the opposite. Erin Ollila: Everyone wants to write a million words on their website pages, but they don’t want to read it as a consumer. And that struggle exists because business owners know their business in their brains. They know their objections, the client’s objections. They know their needs, they know their pain points, they know their process, and they want to get it. Erin Ollila: All out on the page. What they’re not factoring in is that the words that we use on our website, just as an example, are, we have to present them in a way for someone to make a conversion based decision. That could just literally be to book a call, right? We’re not talking about like, you know, working together long term here. Erin Ollila: We just need to present them with the right information to get them to take the next step. There’s not a lot of room in words to be able to do that, do it well, have it be concise, and input your personality and brand messaging. Obviously, the end result should do those things. Which is why it’s important to hire someone, but it is very difficult [00:26:00] to do that with a small amount of words. Erin Ollila: Now if we’re talking thought leadership and brand messaging, a book is a wonderful place for you to actually introduce your readers into like the ecosystem of you and your business, ? Every time someone says personality I think they think like pops of color and fun and you know rambunctiousness and wildness and that is Personality is just a thing right? Erin Ollila: I have a client and I’ll share her book in the show notes who Wrote an extremely professional book based on an extreme amount of research that she did so while she was Absolutely to get her own unique personality and Like, showcase that she’s not, like, a stodgy, like, educator who has no personality. It is created for people who want to read a research based book. Erin Ollila: It is not created as , a summer beach read. Erin Ollila: So, y the idea is that I’m trying to promote You have [00:27:00] so much more room and space to allow people to get to know you, to invite them in, whether your personality is more buttoned up and professional, or wild and rambunctious. Jodi Brandon: right. Erin Ollila: Both ends of the spectrum can really use the amount of pages that they have to showcase that. Jodi Brandon: I, yeah, I very much agree with that. And everything in between too, right? And Jodi Brandon: I think that if you’re, if you’re writing your book in the person, in your personality, it’s, I mean, a lot of people will say like, oh, there’s so many words in a book, Jodi Brandon: you know, and I’m just going to sit there and stare at the blank cursor. Jodi Brandon: I promise you’re not. Jodi Brandon: You’re going to end up almost without fail. I like, don’t like to use, Jodi Brandon: Always and never, but almost without fail, almost always, the opposite problem is what happens. Jodi Brandon: That, You know, yeah, because Jodi Brandon: once you get going, you realize how much you have to [00:28:00] say, how much Jodi Brandon: knowledge you have that you want to share, Jodi Brandon: and then, Yeah. Jodi Brandon: decisions have to be made. Erin Ollila: Well, and I think what people don’t understand if they’re not truly in the writing or publishing world is that there is an immense amount of throat clearing that happens in writing. And, I mean, I’ve, I’ve been a writer for, like, way If I told you how long, you would know I was an old lady, right? Erin Ollila: So, what I can say is my entire writing career And I rebelled, and I still hate this now, but I just accept it, is that a lot of what I write in the beginning does not ever get seen. So as a business owner who does not have a background in writing, what you’re, what’s going to happen, and it is a good thing, this is not something you have to try to like manipulate the system to avoid. Erin Ollila: You have to sit down and do the throat clearing to get to the, drum roll, Right? Like, that’s where the good stuff comes if you’re willing [00:29:00] to do the work and then cut your darlings later so the good stuff gets in the Jodi Brandon: yeah. Throat clearing is a great way to put it. Jodi Brandon: I’m working with someone right now, a one on one book coaching client, and every single week, so we meet weekly, and every single week she says, I know what you’re going to say. I should be starting this chapter in the middle of page three. And I’m like, yep. Uh, yeah, because it’s, it’s in our nature, right? To think that, oh, I have to explain this. Jodi Brandon: Oh, I have to explain this. I have to set this up. They won’t, they won’t be able to follow it. , let’s Jodi Brandon: give our readers a little bit of credit, our audience a little bit of credit. , again, those people that you hire who are experts in the book publishing world are not going to let you put out something that people aren’t going to be able to understand. Jodi Brandon: You’re also going to get, you know, alpha feedback, beta feedback from people, you know, who would be your readers, , who are in your audience, and you can Jodi Brandon: certainly, if that’s something you’re concerned about, you, you ask that [00:30:00] question, Jodi Brandon: just to make sure that you have, you know, those T’s crossed and I’s dotted and all of that. But, yeah, you’re not sharing everything. Unless you want to write an 800 page, you know, 400, 000 book, 400, 000 Jodi Brandon: word book. You’re not sharing everything in your book. Jodi Brandon: And that’s not, that shouldn’t be your goal, to share every single Jodi Brandon: thing that you know in your book. Erin Ollila: Yeah, so much here. Again, two things I really want to talk about. One, the idea that everything can’t go in a book. I might jump back there in a second. , but two, I think what people don’t ever consider when it comes to writing, creative writing, is the, , constant battle that happens between intellect and creativity. Erin Ollila: So, you know, let’s say someone meets with you, Jodi, and they say, I want to write a business book about accounting. You know, I’m an accountant. My clients are small business owners. So I want to get a, like an educational book out there. Do they know accounting? Of course. They are certified in accounting. Do they know how to talk to their clients about it? Erin Ollila: Of course, because they have clients and they talk about it. So I. I’m not gonna say I [00:31:00] assume. This is what happens. They go to Jodi. They say, here’s the book I want to write. I want to cover these, let’s say, seven things within this book. And they assume that because the intellect is there and the outline is there that the book gets written based on that as if it were like a college, , essay that they’re writing. Erin Ollila: That is absolutely not factoring into the create the creative process. Like, I I’m sorry, again, I’ve fought against this myself for 20 years. I like to think I can sit down with an outline and fill it in and then I’m done. And that’s not how it works, right? Like your brain processes things differently. Erin Ollila: And I think the idea of having too much copy. So again, we’re not talking about putting everything in the book. We’re talking about sitting down and just doing the work of writing here. But if you have too much, sometimes you don’t even really, really realize the point you want to make until you’ve made the point you think you should make in writing. Erin Ollila: So, that’s the battle, I think, between intellect and creativity. You can go into writing a book with a great game plan, [00:32:00] with a great outline, with um, really well designed, like, key points to make in each of the chapters you’re writing and stuff, but you still need to allow the flexibility to figure out what you’re actually saying while you’re doing the work of writing. Erin Ollila: And I think in, in this case, that’s where I really want to like also encourage people to not think of rewriting or scrapping huge chunks of their writing as a negative thing. I’ve had a lot of clients who have been in the process of writing a book and they’ve said like, Oh, I’m so depressed. My editor just asked me to cut like half of the book. Erin Ollila: And, and I only have this, like this background because of, um, running a literary journal and having the MFA. But like, That is a blessing, friends. Like, it seems like a bad thing and it’s frustrating because you’ve invested so much emotional effort, but it is a beautiful thing to scrap the right amount of words and, and [00:33:00] know then the direction that you should take. Jodi Brandon: 100%. And I also encourage people in those situations, don’t throw it away, because you never know Jodi Brandon: what you’re going to need. Maybe not in the book, but when Jodi Brandon: you’re talking about the book, when you need another Jodi Brandon: story to tell about, you know, this topic or whatever, or maybe it’s even part of another book down the road. But there It’s not time wasted, , which Jodi Brandon: I know is, you know, very easy for you and me to say. That’s, Jodi Brandon: , I, listen, I’ve been there too, like on the other side of the, you Jodi Brandon: know, as the client with an editor being told, you know, this isn’t working or, you know, , and it is, it’s hard, it’s frustrating because you have invested all of this time and effort and you’re being vulnerable when you’re writing. Jodi Brandon: Even if you’re writing academically, it’s a vulnerable. , Jodi Brandon: and it Erin Ollila: and think about it with thought leadership, right? Like, even if it’s academic, like, you’re, you’re putting your own intellectual property there. You’re [00:34:00] putting your own take on things. That is vulnerable. Jodi Brandon: yeah, and Erin Ollila: to be judged. People can read it and have their opinions on what you did. Like, whoa! Erin Ollila: You’re opening a can of worms if you decide to publish your book with thought leadership. It’s Understandable that there’s so many feelings Jodi Brandon: I find fascinating is how many business owners don’t expect that. When the Jodi Brandon: feelings come up, I mean, when I first started book coaching, I was shocked. Every coaching call, it felt like, ended up with me, you know, sort of like hand holding along. And I was like, I just was not prepared for that. Jodi Brandon: I thought it was going to be very Jodi Brandon: much buttoned up. You know, this is how you Jodi Brandon: self publish. Like, this is what you actually Jodi Brandon: do. Step one. Step two. No, there’s a lot more, , A lot more about the feelings and being in the feels and all of that. And I get it, again, as someone who Jodi Brandon: also has written. But yeah, it’s, it’s about finding, I think, if you find somebody to work with that you [00:35:00] trust. That is very helpful, because it helps, they, they know which buttons to push, they know when to back off, they know, they figure out how you, you know, best receive criticism Jodi Brandon: and advice and all of that to really strengthen your book, strengthen your manuscript before it becomes a book, um, and, you know, really sort of help you rise to the occasion, which is what you really want, because again, you’re not a professional writer. But it’s easy to get caught up in that while you’re in the throes of book writing. Erin Ollila: Totally. And you know, this really, I mean, it goes back to the second point I wanted to cover before we ended today, which is the idea that not everything goes in a book. You know, because, again, thinking about feelings and thinking about, um, Intellect, maybe? You know, if you’re writing a book for your business where you know what needs to get across to the reader, and that it is your developed thought leadership, [00:36:00] it’s hard to understand that you cannot explain every precise piece. Erin Ollila: Like minutiae Erin Ollila: of that thought leadership because I think we all understand that you know You have to do some place setting first you have to kind of like describe why this is important before you can describe why that is important and When it comes time Well, I think in two instances is really important to pay attention to this before you write and then after you’ve completed your first draft you have to I guess before you write, maybe look at what, what goes in, right? Erin Ollila: Like, what of this knowledge I have, this thought leadership that I have, deserves to be in the book? And then at the end, and I, this is Erin talking here, like, you are well more better prepared to describe this, but I think at the end, then you have to look at it, and then it’s, that’s again, it’s the killing the darlings of like, okay, I have put this in, but it is also I can’t share all of it. Erin Ollila: So I don’t know if you [00:37:00] have advice or just an overall glimpse of what that process looks like for how someone can approach not putting everything of their thought leadership into the book. Jodi Brandon: Well, I think one thing that, that helps actually more than you would ever in a million years think is to show, physically show someone what a five, six hundred page book looks like. Because Jodi Brandon: then they, they immediately are like, that’s not what I’m trying to do. Jodi Brandon: Okay, so if we’re not trying to do that, we’ve gotta, you know, we’ve gotta work backwards then. I think it’s going back to that, your goals. What is your North Star? What problem are you trying to solve with your book? Even if you’re trying to share information, you’re trying to solve a problem. Answer a question, figure out what that is, and that’s your North Star. Once, I think it’s. Like you’re saying, after that first draft is written is when it’s really, it’s go time with, with getting the structure where we need it to be. Um, cause we can massage a few hundred words here and [00:38:00] there, but we’ve got to get generally what we’re looking for at this point. So, I mean, it is, you, it’s ruthless, you know, sentence by sentence, paragraph, you know, I start big picture and then go down, you know, chapter, um, section, paragraph, sentence. Is this getting us to solve that reader’s problem? Jodi Brandon: To answer that reader’s question? And if not, then why are, how are we justifying keeping it in here? And that’s the tricky thing with self publishing, too, because technically you’re in charge, so you can keep in anything you want. So, but is it Erin Ollila: That doesn’t mean you Jodi Brandon: yeah, right, right. but so is this in here because this is a story I like to tell of a good client experience, or is it in here because it’s serving the reader in some way? Because as much as Jodi Brandon: you want to write this book, yeah, right, as much as you want to write this book, and you have these goals, whoever’s picking up that book has a goal also. And your Jodi Brandon: job, maybe not your goal, [00:39:00] but your job with your book is to solve that problem, to answer that question, to share that whatever message. So you’ve got to Jodi Brandon: make sure that sentence by sentence you’re doing that. Erin Ollila: You know, I did not think we’d go here today, but it brings up the idea of a reliable narrator, and some things that I’ve seen in business books published by, especially smaller businesses like, you know, like us, or like the audience that listens to this podcast, is , vanity. And there is a difference between vanity and thought leadership. Erin Ollila: So some people assume if I share the best case scenarios, if I share the great client testimonials within the book, right? Like, as examples, that is better because it’s making me a more reliable business owner. I’m showing my expertise. And that is potentially, I was gonna say, that is farthest from the truth. Erin Ollila: Not really. I mean, yes, of course you want to have great, , examples within what you’re sharing. But what I see done very wrong [00:40:00] is there creates a distance between the narrator and the reader because they are only showcasing wins. Oftentimes those wins feel, , Untrue? Or like, you know, there, there becomes like this doubt that’s built in because they’re showcasing it’s like, , you know, patting themself on the back the entire time. Erin Ollila: So not that I’m saying that people are listening are going to be doing that, but I think that from an editing perspective, when you do look at the entire draft that you’ve written, remember that People trust fallible people, right? People trust, , business owners who can also reflect on maybe lessons that they’ve learned or times where they did not share the best customer experience and how they adjusted, right? Erin Ollila: So, a reliable narrator is definitely really important in a book particularly. But even looking at some of the other topics we’ve talked about in this thought leadership series, you know, if you’re on stage doing public speaking and let’s say you’re that keynote speaker, right? Erin Ollila: , the audience does not relate to [00:41:00] a person who cannot also share, you know, some of that hero’s journey, some of that, that story, which also includes struggle and mistakes and things. Erin Ollila: So in thought leadership, don’t forget that a thought leader does not have to be an ultimate expert, right? That they need to find a way to relate to whatever audience that they have. Jodi Brandon: I think what that does is it, one, it almost feels too good to be true for the person reading the Jodi Brandon: book, right? And it, , probably makes them feel bad about themselves and their problem, Jodi Brandon: which is not going to endear them. I mean, maybe it’ll be too embarrassed to reach out to you to want to work together one on one. Jodi Brandon: You want there to be separation between you as the thought leader and your audience. But you want to mind what that separation looks like, I think. Jodi Brandon: And presenting that perfect, you know, look what I’ve done every single time. Jodi Brandon: Really widens that gap. When really, Jodi Brandon: I think you more often than not want to be shrinking that gap. Erin Ollila: , this relates to what we said earlier in the conversation. This is an It Depends [00:42:00] situation as well, depending on the topic, depending on what you’re, what the actual thing is you’re saying. . But, again, considering you as a narrator, which I don’t think gets talked about as much in the business writing world, , But do consider you are still a narrator to the story that you’re telling. Erin Ollila: We’re getting short on time for our lovely discussion here today. Sorry, audience. Sorry, Jodi. , obviously I’m interested and passionate in this conversation. , but one thing I want to discuss is what happens after. Quickly, and not that we need to get into the details of, like, developing a marketing plan or anything, but you had just said something about determining what of that thought leadership goes into a book. Erin Ollila: And earlier in the conversation, you said that you can use what doesn’t go in in different ways, like public speaking. So, I want to encourage people to consider that, especially if they’re listening to the entire series of like, how do you choose what you put in each bucket? Erin Ollila: But I think you have a great perspective of [00:43:00] saying, okay, the book is done. There is a lot that goes into publishing a book after it’s completed, so maybe just a quick overview on what to consider and how maybe they can use that thought leadership in other ways. Jodi Brandon: Yeah. Jodi Brandon: The good news is the book is out there. The bad news is the book is out there, right? Jodi Brandon: So it’s, it’s out there now. Yeah. Erin Ollila: you have thought leadership, Everything Jodi just said. It exists, and ooh, that stings. It exists. Jodi Brandon: So, I mean, the good news is you’ve got lots of, you know, runway to, uh, Experiment with what you want to do, how you want to, you know, work on your messaging for the book. You want to remember, again, this is a piece of your business. So now we’re back into your area of expertise, like your zone of genius, right? What things have worked well for you? Is it going on podcast interviews? Is it, you know, going on, like, local regional news stories on a human interest topic? , in which case, [00:44:00] some of those cut stories and case studies and things, those are perfect examples for that, because then you’re not telling the same story over and over again, right? , so I think it’s about taking that time to figure out. You set those goals, you know, and again, they’re going to be longer term than, you know, four weeks out from launch. Certainly you want to pay attention to what happens during that launch, but the book is out there. You’ve got time now to tweak the messaging, to experiment with different, you know, marketing things, ads, all that kind of stuff, , and then figure out, yeah, what makes, what makes the most sense, what’s working, what’s not, what are people resonating with, and then, you know, just sort of like build up that portfolio. after the launch happens. So yeah, there’s so much focus on the launch itself, but I, I argue that once the book is out there, there’s always ways to be sharing your message, whatever it is. Erin Ollila: Yeah, and it’s so important. I mean, I liken this again even to websites as people get so excited to share their website with their [00:45:00] audience and then Never gets discussed again, which is the absolute opposite thing that needs to happen. Once it exists, it needs to be nurtured It’s like it’s like a pregnancy, right? Erin Ollila: You have a baby You can’t just leave it at the hospital when you’re done right No, like you have to raise that child so it’s the same, same thing I think for a book, right? Alright, so, Jodi, to end this episode, if you could give any advice to anyone who’s, like, listening and they’re like, you two ladies have my brain spinning right now, um, and they’re just considering the idea, do you have any advice on what they should think about before they jump right in? Jodi Brandon: I would think about what that North Star is. Think about Jodi Brandon: that North Star. the problem that you would want to solve, and then how you see it fitting into your business. Have a real reason and plan, and then it’s just a matter, I mean, I say it’s just a matter of, you know, It’s so simple, everybody. Jodi Brandon: Yeah, absolutely. You’re going to be staring at 40, 000 words before you know [00:46:00] it. , set it out like a, the long term project that it is. Think about who you would want on your book team. Jodi Brandon: Start talking to some people in the book world and let them help you see the things that you’re not thinking of yet. Set a budget and then you’ll start with, I mean, I, I always say there’s the five W’s like, you know, again, seventh grade English, you know, who, what, where, when, why. Think about your audience. Jodi Brandon: That’s the who. Think about your topic. That’s the what. Think about your goals. That’s the why. And then the where and when are sort of the logistics, you know, the writing calendar, the timing, all of that sort of thing. But start with the why, those goals, and then fill in the rest of the five W’s. Erin Ollila: Alright, that’s your homework for the day, everyone. You’ve got five W’s to figure out. No sitting down and typing until you’ve figured out those five W’s. And, , thank you so much, Jodi, for your time. I really appreciate everything that you shared today. I think it was going to be really help people determine if this is right for them, and then kind of teach them. Erin Ollila: Determine how they step into choosing to do this for their business. Jodi Brandon: Thanks for inviting me, Erin. This was a fun [00:47:00] conversation.

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