Many years ago in my twenties I remember waiting in line to get an autograph from a book author. The man was Peter Daniels and he was Australia’s version of Donald Trump, at least in real estate. Unlike Trump he’d stayed married to the same woman for 30 years, didn’t have orange, spray-tanned skin and wasn’t planning to run for political office. He gave a very inspirational talk at the church I attended in Warren Michigan on a Wednesday evening.
I purchased his book and stood in line waiting.
I blurted out, “To write a book.”
“That’s all?” he shot back.
My cheeks flushed bright red. To me what seemed like the highest mountain was child’s play in his eyes. I was supposed to aspire to something far greater and yet writing a book seemed huge at the time.
Parents want what they believe is in their child’s best interest. Unfortunately they come to it with their own fears, doubts, biases and concerns. In my teens my parents clearly said, “Denise, you’re a very good writer. But no one really makes a living as a writer.”
I nibbled around the edges of my goals to pacify them. I got a degree in Journalism but also in Business – Marketing. My first jobs out of school I was an Ad Copywriter for what was the largest retailer in America at the time. It was fairly dry work writing about boys blue jeans, Foster Grant sunglasses, sporting goods and shampoo – all in the space of about what decades later would be called a tweet.
The Advertising Department was considered filled with the crazy loons in the building and that’s where I worked. There was no path to growth, so long story short – after three years I got out and spent years not writing. I remember thinking, I need to focus on making money because there’s no income to be made in writing.
Cue the Peter Daniels moment above.
Several years later I started my own little writing agency. I wrote web copy (fairly new at the time), media releases, newsletters and more for business clients where I now lived in San Diego, CA. In the process of working to build a reputation I spent most of my daytime hours marketing and I’d write at night. It wasn’t ideal. So I asked a very successful businessman I respected, “How do I do this?”
He knew my passion was for writing. He replied, “You need to be the face of the business out there talking about it and you hire other writers.”
Exactly the answer I didn’t want to hear. I wanted to write. Maybe Mom and Dad were right.
Finally, I got the opportunity to work with a mega-bestselling author. I went to his house for the job interview and it was beautiful and spacious with designer touches everywhere and a view of the ocean. “Wow – so writers CAN make a living!” I surmised. Hope sprang forth again.
I dedicated myself to not just be of service in the job but to also absorb everything I could possibly learn about writing as a business.
A couple months into working with him he told me, “Denise, writing the book is the easy part. Getting it out to the world is the big deal.”
I also learned with how-to and personal growth books (his expertise was in personal finance and real estate) you make some money on book sales. The real money is about the leverage a book creates. That results in making much more on things like consulting, coaching, seminars, speaking engagements and more.
I could live with that.
I wrote my book, “Testosterone-Free Marketing: the Yin and Yang of Marketing for Women” and published it in 2005. It became a business bestseller and sold in 16 countries. I was well into my forties by now and living in Las Vegas, Nevada, but I was on my way. The book brought me clients, sold out seminars, speaking engagements and all the things you’ve heard about. It was true.
I figured I’d write another in two or three years. It didn’t happen. Not because I didn’t have great ideas but because I was spending buckets of time marketing and promoting and had no time left to write.
When I sat down to write my goals in December 2011 for the new year, it felt like more of the same goals I’d written since my book was released. There was no joy or excitement in those words. I thought, “It’s time to re-calibrate.” I threw away the journal I’d written those goals in.
For the first time since I graduated college I decided to have no goals. It seemed irresponsible but I decided instead to be open and receptive to whatever happens.
Recalibrating was like turning around a massive cruise ship in the ocean. A slow, gradual process. But now I write books for others as a Ghostwriter. Plus, I help others write their own books as a Book Coach. Currently I’m working on books about
- Entrepreneurship and Starting a Business
- Personal Finance for Minorities (almost finished)
- Relationships for People Who’ve Been Through Divorce
- Life Success and Spirituality for Millennials (just finished)
- Real Estate Investing (finished just before the holidays)
I realized for all the years I “tried” to make a living as a writer I heard Mom and Dad’s words in my head far too many times. In fact it was no longer my parents’ words. I internalized their message and it was me saying, “Even if you’re a good writer you can’t make an income doing that.”
It took a long time but now I’m living my big, hairy audacious goal of writing books. My parents thought it was impossible. Peter Daniels thought it wasn’t big enough. It’s all good. The path made me a far better writer for the life experiences I’ve had including:
- I’ve run a speakers bureau and broke sales records.
- Planned big events that were always profitable.
- Been on radio numerous times, TV a few times
- Spoken in front of audiences of thousands
- Started and run my own successful businesses.
- Done a lot of successful marketing and selling.
- Traveled around the world and much more.
Along the way I learned the secrets to writing books for my clients that are marketing savvy, not salesy. Books that build a relationship of know, like and trust with readers. Then, readers want to check out your website, attend an event where you’re speaking or connect with you in some meaningful way.
Chances are you had a big, hairy, audacious goal years ago, too. Did you manifest it into your life or did you give up on it somewhere along the way because it seemed impractical or unrealistic?
Okay, my dream of becoming an Olympic figure skater will never happen. Maybe you once had a dream of playing professional sports that was sidelined early due to an injury.
However, I believe in my heart of hearts most of us have dreams inside that seem silly or ridiculous. Perhaps someone told you – you can’t do it. Can’t have it. What would happen if you dusted it off and looked at it in light of who you are now? What would make you unique and better compared to anyone else because you took a different path – not in spite of it? What experiences do you bring to the table now that make living your big, hairy, audacious goal more doable than you ever imagined before?
Denise M. Michaels is a ghostwriter and book coach. She helps CEOs, entrepreneurs, therapists, speakers and aspiring authors become more recognizable, influential and in-demand. Using the leverage a book provides you can become the go-to expert in your niche. To contact Denise click here now.