Season 2 Episode 8: Founder of Morgan James, The Entrepreneurial Publisher
Derek: Ladies and gentlemen welcome to another episode of the Business Book Podcast. I’m your host Derek and it’s my pleasure to have as a guest today David. David is the publisher of excuse me, not just the publisher he’s the founder of the publisher Morgan James Publishing, also if you’ve done anything in small business marketing grid and in book marketing, you’ve come across Guerrilla Marketing, he’s the chairman of Guerrilla Marketing International, not only is he a publisher, he’s co-authored 12 books of his own including Performance Driven Thinking that we were just talking about before we got on the call. Then as well as the entrepreneurial author, this blew mind Nasdaq, the Nasdaq, cited David as one of the World’s Most Prestigious Business Leaders and he’s reported to be the future of publishing. As the founder of Morgan James, he’s named a finalist in the Best Chairman category in the American Business and Works held by the New York Post as the Business Worlds on Oscars. He was also selected for Fast Company’s Fast Fifty for his leadership in the publishing industry over a decade. He also serves as the president of the Executive Board for Habitat for Humanity Peninsula and Greater Williamsburg. And he’s on the Chairman of the Board for The National Center for the Prevention of Community Violence. And if all of that weren’t enough, Publisher’s Weekly also named Morgan James Publishing as one of the fastest growing small press list for five years. David that is, that’s quite
Derek: That’s quite team full
David: That’s a lot right there (laughing)
Derek: Yeah that’s a lot of work in just a few years, you’ve been busy.
David: Oh my gosh we’ve had so much fun, I appreciate you sharing that with everybody, but I’m humbled because it really has been a lot of fun. I tell you that Nasdaq thing was a lot of fun, that was actually 2008 so we were still left behind the years, we were founded in 2003, by 2008 we were starting to figure out who we were, you know as a publisher but they actually caught, or we caught their eye because of our giving back. We are Habitat for Humanity Building Partner which literally just means we love to raise awareness, we donate funds to habitat, we donate a library of books to the new home owners. We just, we do it because we were thinking it’s a great give back. But it’s really been a great benefit for us too, to be able to share that with you know those in our circles. But we caught their eye because that day if I just go out there to New York City and ring the opening bell on December, I think 18th 2008, it was so much fun. I had some time to spend with them, it was amazing. (laughing)
Derek: (laughing) That’s too cool. Yeah how is that for humanitarian, very great, great organization, I am, I haven’t had the opportunity to do a project with them directly, but I’ve worked with a lot of people who have. And I’ve never heard anything but the best of praise for Habitat for Humanity’s management as well as their volunteers. It’s a really well put together career.
David: Yeah I agree, I was a, I won’t go back to far, I won’t go back to burst how is that. But for me
David: I was a home builder in the 90s and built homes, I was such a huge fan of home owners, and I bought my first house when I was 19, but then after I was a builder I became a banker, I was a mortgage banker for years and that’s when I actually wrote my first book which would be a part of my story as I end up writing a book just to gain some extra edge in competitive, is that a word to be competitive. Cause I was competing with a thousand people just like me, offering basically the same products and services as everybody else. We all have different names but basically we all had regulated products so I had to figure out what could I do to stand out and stay on top. And it wasn’t until I discovered a book called Guerrilla Marketing, and there’s what the beginning of that story, that I realized that I had to do things unconventionally, I had to do things with using my time, my energy, and my imagination instead of the bank account. Now generally that’s for people who doesn’t, who don’t have access to funds for marketing or don’t have the extra money to spend and be creative with marketing or advertising. Even though as one of the you know the banks that I’ve worked for, we best, we have an unlimited ad budget, I could spend a hundred thousand dollars a month in marketing and advertising if I wanted to but so did all of my competitions so it just didn’t work. (laughing) So I had to figure out ways to stand out and hired Jay Levinson as a coach. And the first thing that he said that I needed to do was well second thing he said I need to keep doing what I’m doing cause it was working but he said and then you need to add a book (laughing). So I end up after struggling with the whole concept of who on the world would want to listen to me, I ended up writing a book, and it doubled my income as a banker. Just the whole perception of me being the authority and being their only one
David: in my space that have written a book on the topic, you know the media called me on a regular basis. The competition looked at me and couldn’t figure it out and all their clients were calling me (laughing) it’s all because of that crazy business book. (laughing)
Derek: I still don’t think that so many potential business authors or would be business book authors understand just how powerful of a tool a business book can be. It’s that you know they talk of they discount you know the knowledge. Well like you said there’s a thousand other people offering the same thing that you do, and from the outside looking in, it’s a commodity. So how you know how do you stand out? But from the inside from you know being standing in the expert shoes looking out, oh I have about and that’s the same thing I do there’s nothing new, or there’s nothing different about the way I do things. But it doesn’t matter, having that book helps you differentiate you, helps you stand apart from the crowd, just the fact that you wrote a book and much less whenever they get into it and they realize that well all the things that go into a, well that go into a book, (crosstalk) I don’t yeah
David: I was just gonna say the three things Jay used to compel me were very simple; now the first thing he said is to do it if and it was all of us entrepreneurs and small business people out there need to pick into this because its important he said yes, if you wanted to charge more and negotiate less, he said you got to keep doing what you’re doing cause it’s working and basically continue the hustle, but you needed to add the one more thing and that one more thing ended up being the book you know that extra edge and credibility that made people recognize that you are the authority, you’re the leader in this space because you wrote a book on it. And then people would want to negotiate with you quite so much, and for me I literally just doubled on my fees and nobody’s asked for discount anymore, it’s amazing. And then he went on to say, he said that David if you want to have those people that would never give you the time of the day, those clients that you wish you could work with. He said that if you wanted those people to start banging on your door and begging you to take their business you need to keep doing what you’re doing but need to add one more thing and the thing concepted was a book. And sure enough, you know, in this sea of people offering the same services as I was or maybe just like your audience was, the one thing that stood everybody, that stood me out of everybody else was I was the authority, I was the one that they could trust, that I knew what I was doing. Now I didn’t necessarily know more than my competition, I was just perceived at this point now as an author to know more than my competitions. And then the last thing which really where I didn’t really expect but it was very significant, and it helped with the first two things, and he said David if you wanted to have the media call you when something happened in the space you’ve got to keep doing what you’re doing cause it’s working but he said then once you add the book you know they’ll need and want a local go to person to air on their radius versus the bobble head that they get from their corporate office as an you know what not. And sure enough as soon as I wrote the book and started to leverage the fact that I was the author of and the authority of and did a couple of press releases and you know the media was calling me on a regular basis. I was on the radio or television or in print weekly cause something always happen in the banking space back then, it was all because I was on a local yahoo, had the authority quote unquote to talk about it. It was laughable; I mean it really was. It was amazing. And I bet as you can imagine I caught the fever for writing books so, it gets in your system but it really, really can work. So even though we myself included, don’t think that I, I don’t think I didn’t have anything good to say, in fact I haven’t thought I’ve didn’t have enough content to even fill a book. But realized that you know after start just kind of fleshing off a rough outline at, if some knuckle had to sit down with me I can share these 10 things with them and if you haven’t kicked me out yet maybe I could get 12 out of it you know this kind of things, but then realized
David: (laughing) So I thought maybe I could do that you know and I ended up filling out the outline with just a paragraph at a time as something happened or as I discovered I have some content or you know post or articles I’ve written in the past and ended up putting together the book pretty simple but it was a, that was the easy part (laughing) but it can work, it really can, from a huge fan of leverage of books. It’s got to be a good book you obviously got to put your best stuff in the book and the reader needs to benefit from it but oh my gosh from an entrepreneurial perspective, the book is the most powerful weapon you can have in your arsenal of things to do to gain market share. It’s amazing.
Derek: You know there’s something that you said over and over again, number 1 do what you’re doing but I’d like to, I’d like to point out what’s so powerful about that is that a lot of authors, they don’t have any kind of marketing platform, and they write the book and then they get the book published, or they self-publish. But they don’t really have any idea of what to do with it.
David: (laughing) Right
Derek: And I think that the fact that you were already doing marketing that the book is you know was gasoline, you know you throw it on the fire and there’s plenty of authors that you know start with the book and then they use the book to build their platform but I’ve always found that it’s a lot easier if you start marketing and then you use the book rather than use the book to jumpstart. Because even after you write the book you still have to market as Jay you know kept on telling, you do what you’re doing and have the book.
David: That’s right, and it is a funny little catch 22 cause its, the reality is most publishers won’t talk to you until you have a platform that they’re jealous of, but then sometimes
David: nothing can give you the platform that you deserve until you have a book. (laughing) But I will say the worst thing that you can do as an author, self-publishing authors are usually the ones to do this the most, again I’m a huge fan of self-publishing, I think it’s certainly better than doing nothing at all but just treat it with the respect that it deserves. To give example the worst thing to do is to today not have a book and be you know doing the thing, same thing that you’ve been doing all along whatever that might be and then tomorrow you announce you have a book and you have it available for sale for 20 bucks right now. That’s the worst thing to do. You wanna build the audience up with you down that path to becoming the authority, to becoming that published author. There’s a great book that I highly recommend, many of you probably have already read it but this is a recap, you definitely should read and start implementing it today, right now if not yesterday, if you do it yesterday that’s even best but it’s a book called Platform by Michael Hyatt.
David: It’s just a very, yeah you’ve heard it. It’s this very simple book about how to get noticed in a very noisy world, and it talks about things that we’re already kind of familiar with, you know social media, blogging, podcast, things like that but it just reiterates how important these things are. We take them all for granted or we say ah yeah everybody’s doing that or I’m not really sure that’s working for me, it’s the consistency in doing those multiple things at the same time and being consistent with it can make a huge difference in growing your platform. And but then you have an audience to kind of test your ideas or share your ideas out with but also bring along with you down this path till you’re rising to that becoming the authority in your space. So as you’re trying to blog and share it through social media, just about your regular content, the fact that you are knowledgeable in your field. You plant seeds that hey I’m deciding or thinking about writing a book to help my audience with this whatever, and then you bring them along the process. I submitted a book proposal, I drafted an outline, I’ve got friends looking at it or I’ve you know as like said submitted it to a publisher you know I’ve got turned down, I’ve got picked out by a publisher and then you kind of bring them down this path no matter how many weeks or months it takes, you know I’ve got a contract now, I’ve just got accepted by a publisher, I just signed, it’s coming out in the fall, and then share that process with your audience and you know and still 90% of your communication is about what they’re gonna get out of knowing you. So you’re still got to educate them and encourage them, inspire them, maybe even entertain them a little bit but the other 10% got to be about the book. And then once the book comes out then you have an audience that’s been invested with you during this process, they’ll be more than willing to buy the book, more than willing to share it, more than willing to promote it because you’ve already earned that right. But you bring them to the process so that you become the authority in their eyes because they’re with you, or they see it, or they can see you that your history in your blog or what not. And that helps you really leverage the fact that yes you are the authority now, you have the book and then you can you know sell the book, or they will say it’s really hard to sell a book and I don’t encourage authors to just go peddle books cause it’s very discouraging and nobody wants to buy your book. But as you continue to
David: coach them that you’re the authority (laughing) I kind of spanned through that (laughing) but that’s a key nobody wants to buy my book, I can tell them why they should you know why they should listen to me. Then they want to buy the book (laughing) then they’re compelled to buy.
Derek: That’s a great way to put it; yeah I’ve never quite heard it like that but you were right.
Derek: That’s the, nobody actually wants to buy a book, nobody actually wants to read a book, they want a solution to their problem and once you’ve given them a compelling reason why your book is the answer to what they’re facing, then they have a reason to read.
Derek: But that’s very different than just someone just wanting to buy it yeah.
David: And very different from someone just trying to sell a product too. And the reality is 70%, this is from publishers weekly, 70% of the book buyers only read 30% of the book, so you’ve really got to leverage the fact that you’re the authority even before they finish the book or start the book because that’s where it’s hanging.
David: Just to expect them to read the book and go oh he’s the authority or she’s the authority, it’s not gonna happen. You’ve got to be in that space already and be delivering great content to whatever medium you’re using whether speaking, or social media, or blogging, or all of the above. The book is just a powerful tool, now we hope that they finish the book, we hope they read it and they hire you as a speaker or buy all your other products but the reality is you’ll make more money because of the book than you ever will from the book. (laughing)
Derek: (laughing) Yeah I wrote in my book that authors don’t count on their book sale, they count on what they’re book’s selling.
David: That’s right
Derek: Yes, I hadn’t, Thank you. I hadn’t come across that statistic, the 70 a 30% of the readers only read; you know the 70% of the readers only read 30% of the book. And I, intuitively know that most people don’t finish most of the books that they pick up. I mean you know I love to read and I don’t finish most of the books that I pick up, well not most, I don’t finish a lot of them because they’re boring or because a better book comes along, or because I feel I’ve got most of the stuff out of it. But I’m glad that you shared that statistic that the last any kind of fact like that, little factoid that I’ve come across was Dan Pointer had quoted he never did say the name source, I’ve never could trace it down, but he said in a study that he read or that he saw, that most people, the vast majority of people only read the first 18 pages of every given book. And so you’ve got to do a lot of work on the packaging of the book, the position of the book, the title, and the table of contents, and especially that first chapter because that’s where most of your, most of your bang guest is going to be cause it’s not gonna get to the rest of it.
Derek: It’s disheartening especially when we put our heart and souls into a book, that’s the truth isn’t it?
David: Oh yeah absolutely, and also to be careful not to put all your best meat in the introduction cause most readers skip the introduction (laughing)
Derek: I hate introductions
David: I know, I’m just, I’m one of those. I’ll for any reason I’ll skip introduction, I wanna get into the meat even though a lot of authors put a lot of great meat in the introduction. You know we pray it gets read as an author but just keep in mind if you have some great wisdom open some concept, open some mind set concept of something in the introduction, you know things like that but make sure your meat is discoverable in the table of contents and discoverable in Chapter 1 and beyond
David: prologue all the introductions (laughing)
Derek: Yeah, in fact I counsel my authors not to do an introduction because it’s an outdated convention; in fact I’ve had to argue with a couple of publishers
Derek: One of them I won the argument, the other one I lost the argument.
Derek: We had to confuse the authors and throw in there, but it just, that’s one of my little pet peeves for intros and preferences and in the forward, well not forward cause there is a usually actually really great because they’re written by someone else right. So it’s a different take on the author’s book. And then
David: In fact on the forward side, they can be very powerful from a bookstore buyer and a sales rep perception
David: They help, the forward helps gain that additional credibility and recognition to
David: an author who’s still being discovered, if the forward’s written by somebody that a sales rep or the Barnes and Noble category buyer recognizes it can make a significant impact on their perception of the book.
David: The best forwards are very short and they are more about the author than they are about the book or the content
David: or about why the author is the best person is to bring it to the market, and then presently somebody that’s in that space but definitely somebody that’s got a national recognition (laughing) and I would coach authors as you may not feel like you need one or really want one but it’s always a good thing to have and never stop asking. Cause three years from now you come need someone that’s willing to write a forward for the second edition so never stop asking someone for those endorsements or potential forwards from the day you can sieve the idea of the book to the day you die. (laughing)
David: Or until it’s no longer relevant to you, one of those things, whichever comes first (laughing)
Derek: Well yeah a book is like having a baby in many ways and one of them is that once it’s born it’s with you for life (laughing)
David: That’s right, and speaking of which you have just like you as a parent wouldn’t just burst a child and then just ignore it, you know a lot of authors will generate a book or publish a book and then they’re tired of it or their own circle influence is tired of it so they just ignore it or don’t give it the attention. You wouldn’t do that to your own child so you have to treat your book just like a child by nurturing it, raising it, and helping it succeed in life after it comes out after the pub date (laughing)
Derek: Yeah speaking of that shelled on it certainly a little bit of reading to figure out why you’re the founder of Morgan James but name is David and I finally read in your bio or somewhere that you named it after your two sons, that’s pretty sweet.
David: Yeah it’s right. It meant something to me, sounded like a real company name, and it indefinitely a well I should say it definitely meant something to me but you Morgan is my platinum blonde, blue eyed baby girl who’s now 16 and James is now 18 and he’s my little Einstein, he’s so much smarter than me. Well so is Morgan but yeah just it sound like a good name, it felt right, and I could be proud of it. (laughing)
Derek: Yeah that’s a
David: Thanks for noticing
Derek: Oh well, I mean I’ve got a round little blonde haired girl and then a cute little toddled boy so I, yeah kind of turned on my heart strings a little bit yeah close to home.
Derek: So let’s talk about Morgan James, let’s talk about you know let’s do this David, well could you talk to us about your typical author’s journey. Now I know that Morgan James does a number of different titles and a number of different genres, let’s talk about if you would your business authors, let’s talk about your typical business authors journey from whenever you want to start over their journey and then how they can, how they come to find Morgan James and how they work with Morgan James and then all the way to the other side of like you said until you know until the day you die.
David: (laughing) yeah that’s right
Derek: Yeah. Yeah just give us that nice life long journey
David: Oh cool so yeah you’re right we do publish a number of different genres over the last 15 years. We kind of carved out some really neat things that we’re having fun with. All of our books are designed to either educate encourage or inspire and maybe even entertain the audience like I mentioned earlier. But the common core is no matter what book you’re writing and what genre it might go into, our authors tend to be entrepreneur on nature and the book is part of something bigger. So even our clean fiction division, our phased division, even our kids division they’re all part of something bigger, and usually it’s because of the business or the opportunity or nonprofit or something that’s driving that author to create the product to change the world in some aspect or another. But our typical business author is an entrepreneur, they may have a desk job you know as like I did, I had a W tube desk job working at a bank back in the 90s but I was you know missioned. My overall success deeply depended on how hard I worked (laughing), so that’s our typical author. Somebody who’s very passionate about a topic, they’ve got some great content they can share, they know something, a secret or a tactic or something that somebody else could use to benefit themselves to grow their you know their business, they love giving back and they’re very passionate I think I already mentioned that but very passionate about their work. They’re not necessarily authors per se, they may have a book or be compelled to write a book but they weren’t necessarily find themselves or labeled themselves as an author initially, but they’re just very passionate about their topic. And then they get compelled to or learn about how to leverage that you know that knowledge in the form of a book to grow their business. So you’re my perfect author or a typical Morgan James business author is just like me when I was a banker you know, I had something, I was doing so I was working something very unique, I was creating value and relationships and trying to add value and trying to help others meet their needs and ended up writing a book that transformed my life. so that’s the exact same thing that we publish typically, it doesn’t have to be the best most literary renowned work of art, it just needs to be their best work in the book. Most of our books are short; they’re short enough to compel the reader that they’re paying attention to the right person but very still affordable so even 5 years ago when most publishers and authors are bringing out 300 page hard cover books, that’s changed. Now books or buyers say we consumers are looking for shorter, more affordable, easy to skim books now more than ever. So we’re looking at authors now who are doing 40 to 60,000 words a good 180 to 220 page books and doing primarily paperback for the book store market right cause that’s what the consumer is asking for. So we’re working with authors trying to help them figure out ways to leverage those things or they’re authors are looking for us because they wanna figure out ways to leverage things as well. and then our process of discovery is pretty fun we got a handful of acquiring editors that go out there to you know business conferences and they meet great people who are passionate about their topic and we try to fall in love with them. And then we have a 5% publication board internally that helps us figure out which books could we really get excited about, which authors can we fall in love with and get and catch their passion and their enthusiasm because that’s, it’s needed you know. An author can have the best book in the world but is not passionate, enthusiastic, and you know motivated to hustle with the book, it’s really hard to get the sales rep to be passionate and enthusiastic about it because it’s got to be contagious, and then you know same thing the sales reps are gonna get the bookstore buyers you know passionate and enthusiastic about their products so it’s got to fall all away down took it all of it down from the author. And then for us 80% of our decision is the author, you know who are they, what are they doing, why are they doing it, and will the reader benefit from it, and are they coachable, are they willing to hustle in a good way, willing to follow the best practices of other authors that have gone before them are they entrepreneurs as well, you know. It doesn’t mean that we as a publisher are looking for authors that are willing to spend money (laughing) or you know buy every title because those thing don’t work long term (laughing)
Derek: I’m sorry I’m laughing
Derek: I’m laughing at the word coachable I was just talking to an editor at a publisher a couple of weeks ago and she was talking about her problems in work and they are authors who are interns, authors who are unwilling to, you know whenever you’re working with a publisher I mean you know this better than I do but it’s a partnership. And in any partnership there is give and take there is compromise and you know the author brings that passion and the knowledge brings so much to the table but the publisher brings a wealth of information, a wealth of experience and also usually has a pulse on what’s actually going on in the market. So it’s this to give and take and I think whenever you use the word coachable I think you’re saying that you got to, you’re actually looking for authors who understand that it’s a
Derek: that’s a collaboration it’s a partnership.
David: It really is, if were asked we’ve been blessed with 28 New York Times Bestsellers most of which in the last 5 years which is just amazing. Most publishers our size never gets one.
Derek: Congratulations, that’s amazing.
David: But we learn a lot from this authors that are breaking those boundaries and we try to share those down to the rest of our authors, and we get talk to an author who doesn’t seem to understand that you just, you’re building blocks you do this, this, and this and you’ll gain this. (laughing) Eventually you know, so it’s very frustrating and part of the weeding out process for us when we come across an author that doesn’t seem to be coachable we’ll just be spinning our wheels and we may not recoup our investment in the process. But an author that’s willing to learn what he doesn’t already know and willing to share that passion and that enthusiasm to their audience, we can make a big difference, absolutely. (laughing) and just like I mentioned earlier it’s a you know bringing the author to the understanding that it’s a process, just like giving birth, the process is a much they’re sharing the process with your fans, leveraging your audience or building your audience as you’re going down this path, the publishing. Granted it only takes a publisher 90 days or less to plan it, the book or we go, we usually go from you know finished manuscripts of book in hand at about 90 days. It takes another you know 10 months to get it into bookstores typically. But during that time authors can still leverage the fact that they’ve got the book coming out and a lot of authors want to use that book for further speaking of their website and share you know advance reader copies of the book or special pre-publication copies of the book making it special, and just kind of continuing to build the fact that they’re the authority behind the book so that when it comes time to launch the book they’re still, they’re out there and they’re willing. One of the fun things that we get to do is all my fun times playing in the Guerrilla Marketing space, you know I discovered Jay when I was on my search of figuring out what could I do to stay on top and I discovered Guerrilla Marketing when it was in its 3rd edition and I end up reading the book and I realized I was a guerrilla and just didn’t know it. Then I reached out to Jay because he encouraged me to do so in his book which is another thing we all should do as authors. And I ended up hiring Jay as a coach and he coached me on the things that I should do, and then the things that I shouldn’t do and I haven’t followed those instructions you and I wouldn’t be having this conversation right now. (laughing) Of course I was paying him a lot of money back then too but we became fast friends. And it’s all about the surrounding yourself with people that are smarter than you so you can take you’re a, your business further but also you know learn something or two. (laughing)
Derek: yeah and that a, I think that’s one of the thing I love about being an entrepreneur is that the challenge, here the challenges arise naturally and in trying to adapt to those challenges, in trying to conquer those challenges, it forces you to get out of your comfort zone, it forces you to reach out to other people, to other sources and to grow, right? To grow so that you have the skill set and the mind set to confront the challenge and the problems that are before you. I mean that’s one of the reasons that I started reading business books in the first place, and that’s one of the reasons that I, I still love seeing great business books come out into the world. Because they, if done right, they matter they help people. They help I mean he could double your income but almost more importantly than that, maybe more importantly than that change the course of your life. You know I mean you work from being a mortgage banker to now being a publisher ringing the Nasdaq bell. I mean I don’t know if you’ve been ringing the Nasdaq bell if you’d have stayed a mortgage lender.
David: No I don’t. (laughing)
Derek: And it’s because, yeah, and it’s because you came across a great business book written by a great business author, you learned a lot and you know you’ve made decisions and it changed the, forever changed your destiny and then the fate of your children you know. Its you’re a different person now so you’re a different father, and that different father is gonna advise and be able to give his children different insights and advise than you would have if you’d have been on another path.
David: That’s right, absolutely. So I would recommend see yeah
Derek: So I think it is , yeah go ahead
David: (laughing) I would, I was just I would recommend definitely that all of your audience if they haven’t already done so, shame on them if they haven’t. But hey if they just discovered this guy then they should go ahead and get a copy of Guerrilla Marketing and read it, it’s in its 4th edition now, published by Houghton Mifflin, it has the same publisher that published Mark Lane in case you wondered (laughing) but a I think it might still only be the only business book they ever published was Guerrilla Marketing but it sold well over 21 million copies now 65 million copies when you look at all the different versions of Guerrilla Marketing
David: But the 4th edition is actually dedicated to me (laughing) and then from a
David: I know right
Derek: Wow congratulations, that’s amazing
David: Thank you so much, I’d like to say he and I became dear friends, he was on our advisory board from the day we started to the day he passed away (laughing) we we’re good friends. But I also recommend the book called Guerrilla Marketing for Writers
David: Which any of us can use from a business book perspective, I’m but blessed to be a co-author of that book with Jay and Rick Frishman and Michael Larsen.
Derek: Are you serious? I’ve got that where is that on my assistant just made my bookshelves pretty and I can’t find anything
Derek: But I completely missed that, I didn’t put the pieces together, I’ve got the book I didn’t realize you were one of the co-authors, small world.
David: It really is, cause it’s a fun book too, cause it first came out in 2000, 3 years before we started the publishing house and I used it as my go to book with in my marketing my book. And then when the authors decided, when Jay and the other authors decided to do a second edition, they not only brought it to Morgan James to publish but he asked if I would go on as a co-author and hope that I shared some wisdom. So the fact that issue came out in 2010 it is still selling phenomenally now it’s about time for another update but oh my gosh, it’s so much, it’s such a good book even before I got involved with it.(laughing)
Derek: Yeah it is, it is. Yeah and there you are David L. Hancock
David: That’s right (laughing)
Derek: Cool. I took us down the rabbit hole, David we were talking about the typical journey of your authors so you were in the war room we all are talking about which authors are coachable and how to pick and so then what, what happens next?
David: (laughing) So we do a hundred and twenty nonfiction books a year not a hundred twenty business books a year and they’re each hand selected with, they’re done on purpose we wanna work with authors that are like I said passionate and enthusiastic and got something really good to say and but our process is kind of unique. Definitely unique in publishing but those of you who are Guerrilla Marketers at heart you’ll appreciate this. So for every book that we end up accepting, the first thing that we do, and I think it’s part of the reason why we’ve been so successful, but the first thing we do is that we create what we call is this entrepreneurial vision mastermind group. And in this mastermind group which is really the 2 teams coming together for the benefit of the book of course and the audience who reads it and the author who writes it. The author’s team may just be them, it could be them and it could be their editor, it could be their agent, their publicist, or business partner, or spouse, neighbor’s dog, whoever is important to them is gonna be part of that.
David: (laughing) I’m not gonna judge them but you know, who is important to them is gonna be important to them. And our team we’ve got a Guerrilla Marketing expert, a branding expert, a PR expert, and a design expert, what I’d like to bring into the table and together we flesh out all the details. Obviously the reason why we write in the book and we want the author or should be we want the reader to do with it once they start reading it, that’s important. But we also flesh things like do we have to write title, is it the best one, can it be better, and do we have the right subtitle, is it enough to get them to the back cover cause that’s really the whole purpose of the subtitle is to share the premise or the promise of the book.
David: It could be as long as necessary but as short as possible, but ultimately just it is designed just to catch that attention to get them to read more. (laughing) We’d flesh out those things, is it great, you know when should it come out, what time of the year you know, what season, what price should it be at. Obviously you can’t charge what it’s worth (laughing) but you can certainly get close to you know maximizing the profit for that particular genre but we talk about the price. We talk about the size and the format you know, what does it smell like, and look like, and feel like, all those details we make together. Whereas most publishers make those decisions without the author or including the author very, in very little aspect of it.
David: I remember that most publishers buy the intellectual property and take over and do as they please or as they see fit. The way that we work
David: is that the authors still hold the intellectual property and we make decisions together (laughing)
Derek: Yeah I’m kind of sitting over here with my mouth back bit a little bit because I’ve never heard of that, certainly not with this, that level of collaboration. Then have a design expert and branding expert, publishers have those things, but to bring to one to have a dedicated person in reach of those rules and then to bring the author’s team in to make those together, those decisions together that’s some, that is a level of cooperation that I’ve not heard of. That’s quite remarkable.
David: It was what I expected when I first published my book but it’s definitely not what I got (laughing)
David: So I have to come make fit
David: And I understood, I was an unknown first time author but still (laughing) and you know once the book is done that mastermind graduates to a marketing mastermind. And it’s like oh god what do we do now? So we talk about the things that the author could do, should do, and funny it’s a we actually spend just as much time on the things that the authors shouldn’t do because you could waste a lot of time and money
Derek: Oh yeah
David: On doing stuff that doesn’t work. And then we flesh out really for the life of the book, how can we continue to be relevant. How can we continue to make this book you know work in that space and how the authors can leverage it and you know that now one, it’s very, very important.
Derek: David can you talk a little bit
David: And then
Derek: Oh go ahead you’re not finished sorry
David: I’ll keep on talking until you tell me to stop
David: So I was just saying, until the book is no longer relevant or we’re dead, whichever one comes first. (laughing)
Derek: Whichever comes first, can you talk about, so I mean obviously you all approach publishing different than a typical publisher, so one of the things a, I know that one of the ways that you have promoted your company is to call it the entrepreneurial publisher. I think your current tagline is the future of publishing. So talk about your, the business model and not giving up or not taking intellectual property, I mean that’s a, that just turns the whole publishing industry on its head. Talk about how what Morgan James does is different than traditional publishing as well as different than straight up self-publishing.
David: Sure, so great notice there. And you’re right, from our perspective nobody knows this stuff better than you as an author, you’re the authority in this space and not us, so we don’t buy or take over the intellectual property of the authors and for most cases the bigger houses with a lot of their authors that’s not a problem, they can own the intellectual property and they can do with it what they want. But for most entrepreneurs it’s not okay, you know most entrepreneurs, that’s their livelihood
David: that’s not only the book but it’s also their secret sauce to what makes them successful as an entrepreneur or me as a banker. It was discussed that yeah that really helps us create other products and other services, or other you know speaking gigs or anything that we entrepreneurs take and create because of that content. I found out really really quickly that I was limited to what I could do with my content cause I sold it to the publisher.
David: And I no longer have the right to do so
Derek: It was no longer your content it was formally gone
David: That’s right and I’ve got friends and I’ve experienced this but I’ve got friends in the publishing space, published by big names who wanted to do conferences, and wanted to do other things around their book. And I realized that they couldn’t well or they have to revenue share with them or they just ran into and they’re blocked just the publisher getting in the way. And I was like you know, there’s got to be a place out there somebody said just will stay out of my way, you know as an entrepreneur but there wasn’t. I’ve even got friends who had multi-million dollar advances from one of the top 5 publishers and the publishers just arguing over the content and trying to get in the way of the content, one of my friends actually gave the multi-million dollar advance back and got out of his contract because it was too restrictive, they’re getting to much work, yeah, yeah so it’s crazy so i’ve, I always saw the value of the authors being in control (laughing)
Derek: (laughing) come down on instinct integrity, and he literally can’t put a price tag on his books integrity. (laughing)
David: That’s right (laughing)
David: Not everybody could you have that but to be you’re right yeah, so for us
Derek: I would have spent the money, I couldn’t give it back (laughing)
David: (laughing) good thing he was still on this other programs so he still had some money left over (laughing) well it’s all good but yeah that’s important to us and then the other ways that we work with the authors is just like them holding the intellectual property and being in control of the content, we make the decisions together. So one of the things I also didn’t like about one of my and really my second publisher won’t name names but I had so my first book my publisher added 3 chapters to it and I didn’t even know it was there till I got my copies in the mail. And I didn’t like the book at all because I had no input in the cover
David: It was just, I was a good, the book worked don’t get me wrong it was a good book but I had no control over there or
Derek: But still
David: I know right
Derek: they should have at least consulted with you right, three whole chapters
David: Exactly yeah
Derek: without your input even your knowledge that’s a (unintelligible) it was yours
David: I know right, but I also had no input in the cover, and no input in the final title or subtitle, and neither one of them title or subtitle that I don’t even think the subtitle did had nothing to do had no words of banking or mortgage, it didn’t have it in there. You have to read the description to find out oh this is a banking book or look at the description by the category of the back of the book to realize this is a book on marketing or banking business.
David: It is ridiculous. And then on my 2nd book it was a co-authored book with Jay Levinson called Guerrilla Marketing for Mortgage Brokers, we fought with the publisher on using the word internet (laughing) cause it’s too much of a fad. It wasn’t gonna be around, now they told us this via email which well you know came to us via the internet (laughing)
David: Imagine that
Derek: Yeah we’re gonna, this email thing, but this look the next note we send you it’s gonna be back on our fax machine okay cause this internet things gonna be going so
Derek: make sure you have the right fax number
David: (laughing) that’s right, I would have laughed so hard if it did come over via fax but it was in email (laughing)
David: That’s why we do what we do, we make all the decisions together because you know we want the authors to be vested in this process, we also wanna be proud of it and go out there and market themselves as that authority and display the book you know and sell it cause that’s where we make our money. But it’s hard to do when you saw something you don’t like.
Derek: So Morgan James is still a royalty based model like traditional publishing but, but the intellectual property remains with the author, is that right?
David: It is and the good news is even though we’re unconventional on how we do what we do and what we’ve done is we try to blend the best of what we loved about traditional publishing, credibility, distribution, exclusivity
David: you know reach, education, but then also blend with things we loved about the self-publishing side. Author owning it, being involved in the process, speed to market, thing all on those lines, you know we try to blend the best of both worlds. Well the good news now 15 years later yeah well, it happened a long time ago but 15 years later you know the industry sees us as a typical traditional New York house, and that’s wonderful but also both can say terrifying. Cause we don’t want to be a typical traditional New York house, but the good news is that we do have that full bookstore distribution which is important. We’ve had timeless excuse me countless stories where several authors who got their biggest client who just happened to pick up the book at the airport, Hudson store, at the Barnes and Noble in Timbuktu North Carolina, that they would have never met or come across if it hadn’t been in a bookstore somewhere here, but we also have that exclusivity, we only do a handful of this books a year. And then again we fight our fair share of successes with the New York Times hits, we even pay small advances to our authors I don’t know if you knew that, we pay a hundred dollar advance, for us it’s political, did you get one, yes cause if you say anything other than yes people start to look down upon you (laughing) and then from a publishing perspective if we don’t pay advances there are certain things we can and can’t do and the space well on that depends on whether we did or didn’t pay in advance, it’s kind of funny but we pay it even though we don’t buy anything we it. We make up for the little tiny advance by paying larger royalties than most publishers, difference if you went to entrepreneur press with your business startup book you could get you know maybe 7-12%, we pay 20-30% to our authors. But we also don’t have any fees, there’s no services or offers that we sell, there’s no upsells when somebody gets that contract with us, there’s no packages that we offer. We make money by selling books. (laughing)
Derek: you see I think
David: There are however oh go ahead
Derek: No go ahead
David: I was just gonna say there are three things that we duly ask of our authors should your book get accepted and I think they all make sense cause it’s been working for us. One of them definitely a little entrepreneurial skin on the game but if they are thinking big picture they’re definitely appreciating it. The first thing we want of our authors or ask of our authors is ultimately we want them to bring to us what they consider to be a fully edited, proof read manuscript that if the world read and it had their name on it, they’d be proud of it (laughing) cause it’s their baby, their content, we don’t wanna get in the way. Now we do of course flip it one more time to make sure that we don’t look stupid but we’re not gonna make any deletions or editions or I can change the manuscript, that’s the authors job but were gonna try to make sure that we all look as good as possible. And then the second thing that we ask of our authors is really that most important thing to us really we want them to be coachable, we want to try to discover or feel that they’re willing to go out there and have us along and be coachable and be fun to work with and be passionate and enthusiastic about their topic. And the last thing that we may ask of them is we may ask them to commit to buying a small number of books for their own platform. And that’s something that’s a, tends to be a little unconventional although a lot of the big publishers do it but in larger numbers. Now we may ask an author to commit to buying a certain number of books for the next 50 years or whatever however long it takes. The most that we would ask an author to buy is like 2500 copies but we don’t ask them to buy in or retail or just get of retail, I mean they’ll hopefully, hopefully they’ll sell that in their first speaking gigs (laughing) we say just give us a couple dollars over the print cost and were happy campers (laughing). So pretty simple and then that commitment is worth to us more than anything and they get the life of the agreement to fulfill that commitment for however long that might be, and they can even fire us at any time if we’re not serving their needs or wherever getting in the way, we wanna get out of the way and is very unconventional.
David: But it’s been working yeah
Derek: I’m blown away David, I mean you know what we’ve been following each other and I love you know the stuff that you post and
David: Oh thanks
Derek: I didn’t, I’ve never had the chance to have this conversation to understand quite how Morgan James Publishing model works. And for everybody listening, this is fundamentally different than self-publishing services which is where companies, they don’t make money off of you selling copies of your book, they make money from you being their customer, from you paying them to do distribution, you paying them to create the cover, you paying them to merch your book that’s different than a traditional publishing model which is where if you don’t make money, the publisher doesn’t make money, and that’s really, that’s really the big divide right, who makes money, how, I mean follow the money that’s the old adage.
David: (laughing) that’s right
Derek: I’m kind of blown away David this is like you all have really rendered them best of both worlds
David: Usually it’s to say that is exactly what we set out to do. I had a good coach, jay helped me write the basically the core foundation of what we’re doing as a entrepreneurial publisher and it’s been so much fun.
Derek: Well David I mean you’ve got a company to run and authors to coach, I don’t wanna take up much more of your time, we’re coming to the end of the time that you so graciously agreed to give me
Derek: If people want to learn more about Morgan Publishing if they want to talk about submission and those kinds of things, what’s the best way to reach you?
David: Really we’re very discoverable online, just go to morganjamespublishing.com I’m also on twitter as David or Morgan James Pub and there also on Facebook at facebook.com/facebook but as far as submitting we do have a great submission process online. It’s gonna make you work a little bit so we gonna ask and answer some great questions but because of our connection never have they just to throw me an email and say hey I met you on the podcast I’d love to get your feedback, I am more than happy to accept those emails and encourage you in the best way that I can. No matter if it’s for, if it’s right for us or not, I’m happy to do that.
Derek: That’s gracious of you David
David: …lutely my email is just simply firstname.lastname@example.org and I do do all my own emails, but definitely mention how you discovered me cause it would be one of the first questions that I ask (laughing) so I just kind of make sure that a you know I’m serving everybody right but I’ll be honored to answer questions and encourage you as necessary.
Derek: Again David thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience, share the insights and the share the education on publishing options and what it’s like to work with the Morgan James and what authors need to be doing no matter who or how they’re publishing, I appreciate it.
David: oh absolutely, it’s been great to get to know you a little better and I appreciate your audience for listening (laughing) thank you
Derek: Thank you