Too often, what stops an otherwise confident entrepreneur from even penning, let alone publishing, their expertise-based, nonfiction book, is the momentous task of decoding and understanding the mysterious world of publishing. While, in many ways, publishing has become more accessible, new publishing options have confused what used to be a clear, if gate-kept, path to publication.
In this episode of The Entrepreneur to Author Podcast, your host Scott MacMillan speaks with Jesse Krieger, best-selling author, publisher and publishing consultant about the many paths to publication.
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Please note: The transcript is produced by a third-party company from an audio recording and may include transcription errors.
Scott MacMillan 0:00
You're listening to the Entrepreneur to Author Podcast.
Welcome to the Entrepreneur to Author Podcast, the podcast that brings you practical strategies for building authority and growing your business. And now, here's your host, Scott Macmillan.
Scott MacMillan 0:20
My guest today is Jesse Krieger. Jessie sits squarely at the intersection of publishing and promotion. Having signed to publishing deals on two different continents, and navigated the world of becoming a best selling author twice. He's published more than 100 books as founder and publisher at lifestyle entrepreneurs press. And he's now managing partner at the publishing consultants and associate publisher at Morgan James Publishing. In addition to being featured on over 100 media outlets for his best selling book, lifestyle, entrepreneur, and his entrepreneurial endeavors, Jesse has been an entrepreneur his entire adult life and holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, as well as National Taiwan University, and Beijing Normal University. Jessie, welcome to the entrepreneur to author podcast.
Jesse Krieger 1:08
Thanks so much, Scott. I'm really excited to be here.
Scott MacMillan 1:11
Wonderful. Now, Jessie, as is often the case in this industry, we met through mutual acquaintances and quickly realized that our networks overlap significantly. But what drew me to you, I think, is that we share a common philosophy around not just the value of publishing for entrepreneurs, but the importance of excellence in that endeavor. So to start, I'd love if you could share a little bit about your entrepreneurial journey and how you arrived to the publishing world and to where you're at today.
Jesse Krieger 1:41
Sure, happy to I mean, my entrepreneurial journey started through music. As it turns out, from a young age, I got a electric guitar, fell in love with Jimi Hendrix, and didn't really care so much about high school, but rather was playing in rock bands and just was completely enamored with music. And so after high school, I moved to Los Angeles, went to Los Angeles Music Academy for a year, I met, like 80% of the student body was international.
Jesse Krieger 2:13
So I started to get this exposure to different music styles, people from all walks of life. And after that, I traveled to Europe with some friends for a couple months, and I ended up never coming home, or I didn't come home when I was originally scheduled.
Jesse Krieger 2:28
And I considered that really kind of the start of my entrepreneurial life at 19/20, I was living in Europe, created a recording studio in the basement of the student dorm we lived in, was hosting parties for travelers and eventually got exposed to audio engineering, and moved to Nashville. After a whole year, I could do a whole podcast on just that year. But it was in Nashville wherHe I was studying audio engineering, I met my first business partner and my bandmates name's Jake Harsh. And we were doing music production, we're writing our own songs and eventually performing out and saw this kind of fork in the road. Whereas either pursue a record deal and like sign a contract with a record label. Or I had the crazy idea to start our own record, label and administer our band's career.
Jesse Krieger 3:19
So I kind of convinced my partner if I did all the business stuff that would he let us do it this way. And so my first business was 21 years old, formed a record label, brought together a brain trust of advisors and people with different expertise raised about $115,000. And that led us executive producer an album and hire a team. Ultimately, that band was called Harsh Krieger. And we had songs on 300 Plus radio stations, nine songs on MTV toured America twice. And like really had an amazing experience.
Jesse Krieger 3:56
So, to kind of bring us up to present somewhere in touring the country, I had this voice in my head was like, There's no way you're going to be doing this when you're 40. At the time, I was 22/23. Now I'm actually 40. But I was like, well, if I'm not doing the only thing I ever wanted to do, what would I be doing? And that existential thought ended up playing out with founding or co-founding a variety of businesses from renewable energy, promotional products, had a stint in investment banking, ultimately did study Chinese in Taiwan and China and Berkeley. And an eventually wrote my first book Lifestyle Entrepreneur based on that philosophy of like, what does it mean to use the skills of entrepreneurship to have a really fun and interesting lifestyle? And that experience itself catalyzed the last eight or nine years of working in book publishing, working with, as you mentioned, over 100 authors to help their dream of writing and publishing a book come true. And that's the short version.
Scott MacMillan 5:04
Wow. Well, what a fascinating and diverse background. You know, I think that type of diversity and background really serves an entrepreneur well. And, you know, it's really interesting to kind of get that get under the hood of, of what's brought you to where you are today.
Scott MacMillan 5:20
Now, this is a question that I always like to pose, to publishing professionals that I bring on the podcast, you know, you've had experience with a variety of different publishing models. So when when thinking about the range of possible options, everything from, you know, an author, do it yourself in self publishing, through to professional service, or assisted self publishing all the way to the more traditional publishing model. In your view, how should first time authors, especially entrepreneurs, think about which model is right for them?
Jesse Krieger 5:52
That's a great question. So I do view the publishing options on a spectrum. And let's just say on one end is self publishing, where, you know, you basically do it yourself, you've got to figure out how to get your book, edited, designed, laid out, format it, get it set up on self publishing platforms, figure out how you're going to market it and promote it, that can really lend itself well to entrepreneurs, because, hey, they like figuring things out and have started businesses, you know, by following that line of inquiry, so self publishing can be a good option for entrepreneurs, what I caution people is, you're you're trying to do something at a professional level of quality, for the first time that others do, as a business. And so, you know, an equivalent in music would be like, Hey, I'm gonna write my first song and become a Grammy nominated artist, right? It doesn't always work out that way. And so with self publishing, like, if you go that route, you want to at least have a standard for excellence. And I think that's something we share, you know, a passion for, you know, I can spot an independently published book from a mile away, because there's so many little tells that somebody in the industry or even a casual reader, that doesn't think of it in those terms, it looks a little bit off. So, there's the some of the pros and cons of self publishing, right? If you self published through Amazon, you'll keep 70% max of the list price. And it's available. I mean, it's never been easier, in a sense.
Jesse Krieger 7:25
So, on the complete other end of the spectrum is traditional publishing. That's where, you know, you can write a book proposal, try and engage a literary agent, shop it around, try to get interest from publishers who then either compete, or one of them submits an offer. So then you get paid in advance. And if you go that route, you just have to be aware of that. One, it's a lot longer, like you could spend 6-12 months or more just getting interest from a publisher, and then another year or two, before the book itself comes out. So kind of have that expectation, but also, if you get an advance, and this was something I've learned in the music industry as well, that's an advance against future royalties, it's not just a cash payment. So you're expected to earn that back through book sales. So it creates a dynamic where if you're not promoting your book, like 100%, for months and months, either the publisher could take issue and say, Hey, we need you to do more to sell copies, we wrote you a check for an advance and/or your your earning potential from the book is somewhat limited.
Jesse Krieger 8:36
So I, I tend to think that traditional publishing deals are appropriate, if someone has a national platform, like if you truly have a nationwide or an international audience, in the tens or hundreds of thousands, or into the millions, then that could be a good option. Or if you're, you know, a CEO of a large company are running for or holding political office. Those are the kinds of people that in the nonfiction space, or a PhD that has topical expertise, and maybe as a university professor, those are just some examples of like, who traditional publishing could be a good fit for.
Jesse Krieger 9:10
In the middle, somewhere in the middle of that spectrum is hybrid, or independent publishing. And that was the business I ran for many years. And ultimately, that's a combination of having a team that's supporting you, and having access to distribution and in store retail, but still having creative control. And, you know, all hybrid publishers kind of work differently. But I think in the best case, it's is a mutual interest between the author and the publisher, where hey, let's do this together. Let's both bring our best ideas, strategy, support resources, and try and make it as successful of a book as possible. So yeah, I could dive into any one of those more, but there's no one size fits all solution. So I think it's worth taking the time to look at each of those as an author or potential author. And think about where you which way you'd be happiest like, do you want support? Or do you want to have the fun of figuring it out and being in the driver's seat or find a partner that believes in you, and that will work alongside you to bring it to reality?
Scott MacMillan 10:17
Yeah, that that all makes a ton of sense. And like you say it, what's I think really great in this era of publishing, is that there are options right there, there was a time when there was no other option other than maybe on one end, you know, taking taking your manuscript to a printing press and printing a bunch of copies and, you know, selling them, selling them door to door. That versus, you know, the big publishing houses. But now there are a bunch of different ways to go to market. And authors have the the benefit of being able to cater, that go to market strategy to what their goals are, and the position that they're in. I like the point that you made around, you know, those with a national platform in place, that that is a really important piece of that traditional publishing. Economics. So, so thank you for that. I was wondering, in your experience, what do you think are the biggest or whether biggest or most common mistakes that you see entrepreneurs making when they're writing and publishing their first book?
Unknown Speaker 11:24
Yeah, that's a good question. Well, I would say, you know, one big mistake is, is is confusing writing a book with like personal therapy. If you want the therapeutic process of like, digging into your own history and telling your story and making it more autobiographical, then you can do that. But I think the right approach to take with a book unless it's specifically a memoir, or an autobiography, is to harvest some of the lessons from your experience and figure out how you've helped clients get results, and then give it like a name or a method or a process, something that's really beneficial to the end reader. So I think a mistake is to speak too much and like the first person and just talk about themselves, instead of thinking what would be valuable to somebody who's maybe where I was five or 10 years ago, like, when I was, when I wrote my book, Lifestyle Entrepreneur, I was like, What's the book that I should have read when I was 18, or 19, and tried to harvest the lessons from eight or nine years of starting businesses and traveling the world to more of a process that other people could follow.
Jesse Krieger 12:40
And as such, then it has value to the reader instead of just being like the story of Jesse, which, by definition, kind of has a more limited audience, unless I'm already a famous person. So that's one common mistake is like making it more about you than about the reader. I feel like, in the best case, a nonfiction book is an act of service to the reader, where you're really going to help them shorten their learning curve, shave some years off of trial and error, and give them a proven strategy, which does come from your own experience as an entrepreneur. That's what you draw from.
Jesse Krieger 13:18
And the other goes back to our last question of, you know, just assuming, because you're an entrepreneur that you want to Self Publish, and then realizing that it's twice the work, right, there's writing a great book, and then there's everything that goes into publishing, and then getting a little burnt out, or, you know, I've seen many times where by the time the book actually comes out, thought there's like, Oh, my God, thank goodness, thank goodness, I'm done. When that should be the beginning of like, a three, six or 12 month promotional campaign, not like the finish line. That's the starting line in many respects, once the books actually out in the market.
Scott MacMillan 13:57
Yeah, that's a really good transition to what one thing I really wanted to talk to you about, because I know you've got a lot of experience in this area is promotion. And, you know, apart from that, kind of the core publishing related activities, what do you think that authors should be thinking about when it comes to marketing promotion, especially if their ultimate goal is to use their book to build their authority and grow their business? Obviously, they likely want to sell some copies of the book as well. But if their core objective is to really establish their own authority and impact their business, what what should they be thinking about when it comes to marketing and promotion?
Jesse Krieger 14:36
Sure, well, since you use the magic word authority, I'm fond of pointing out that the root word of authority is author. And so authoring a book is your opportunity to really have authority on whatever your book is about your area of expertise, your topic of relevance, right? So it's a huge opportunity. I think a book can become your best bet. In this development tool, and, you know, I think with that there's a front end and a back end side of the promotion, it's always a good time to be building an audience. And specifically, if you're leading up to a book launch, you want to be building and engaging your audience around the ideas in the book, and perhaps involving them in the process, whether that's, you know, having advanced readers or circulating sample chapters, or getting people's feedback on what topics you should cover.
Jesse Krieger 15:30
In short, if if your existing audience feels engaged in the process, then you're more apt to have some real raving fans. Whereas like, if you do the Spider Man approach of work on your book and silence, and then you're like, hey, guess what, I've been working on a book for the last six months, and here it is, go buy a copy, then there's no lead up. It's just like, boom, here it is. So you've got an opportunity for 6-12 months before the book comes out to build an audience give away sample chapters, ask people's opinion of what they most want to learn about sourcing stories or case studies from your client base or from your audience and to build your audience proactively leading up to the book launch.
Jesse Krieger 16:09
Once the books out, the back end opportunity is...I'm fond of creating like a sample chapter campaign where you basically say, Hey, start reading my book right now, tell me where to send the first three chapters. Plus, I'm going to give you an implementation guide. And so then you give somebody sample chapters, but then unpack it over five or seven emails, where you introduce the first couple of key ideas to the book. And then from their point to where they can buy the whole book, and then also highlight what else it is that you do as an entrepreneur or business owner. So I think there's a missed opportunity to have even a five or seven email sequence that gives away sample chapters, introduces people to a few key ideas or stories in the book, encourages them to buy the book, and then says, Hey, here's what else I do, in addition to having this book, if this sounds like a fit, let's get in touch and talk. Now that becomes an onramp, or uses the book as both a business development tool and authority positioning piece, and an on ramp into your broader business.
Scott MacMillan 17:14
That's so smart, because, you know, it's yes, it's about getting people, you know, giving them the sample of that book, and, and enticing them to read the book. But what I love about what you just described, is, you know, the broader picture, converting that into a longer term relationship through that, through that email series, and then ultimately into a deeper business relationship. Backing up for a moment, I wanted to chat a little bit to about some of the challenges or obstacles that entrepreneurs often have, when they want to write a book. You know, I don't think it's any secret that a lot of people, a lot of entrepreneurs have an idea that they want to write a book. But so so few actually get to the finish line. Do you have any advice for those who want to get their book written? But perhaps they've they've run into roadblocks along the way?
Jesse Krieger 18:10
Yeah, definitely. My best advice, if you feel like, confused about what to write about, or how to take your knowledge and experience and turn it into a book, is to really mirror the customer journey that you take people through within your business. So I mean, we're on the entrepreneur to author podcast, right? This is for business owners. This is for people that help their clients get results in whatever shape or form, try to unpack that too, a step by step process. And to give that a little context, if you think of the first three chapters of your book, just think of what are the three things that your ideal client would need to know to be a great fit for your business, there's your first three chapters, then the next five to eight chapters, is your actual methodology, the step by step process that your business uses, or that you use within your company, to help people get results, chunk it down to 5, 6, 7, 8 actionable steps, and then that's the meat of the book, that's the middle, you know, five or eight chapters, whatever it ends up being. And then the final two to three chapters is where you tie it all together, zoom back out and go, big picture. And then position the next step. So now that you've learned this methodology, now that you've put this into practice, and started getting some results, where are you at today? And what's, you know, what's next for you after you finish the last chapter of this book?
Jesse Krieger 19:40
And that's a good arc. That's general but anybody listening could apply that to your own business and think of how do I set up the perfect client for my business? How do I deliver and show them the methodology that we use to get results and to actually deliver it not to hold? Don't hold anything back is My advice. But then if you really do deliver the goods, of course, somebody would rather work with the author who just broke it all down for them and help them shift their perspective, get new results, win more clients overcome business challenges, whatever it is. And so that's your authority positioning within the book itself.
Scott MacMillan 20:22
Wonderful. So it's really about getting that structure up front. And, and having that connection between how you approach getting results for your clients. And linking that to the journey that you're taking your reader on really, really smart.
Jesse Krieger 20:37
And if I may, one other things God is, you know, within that, if that's just a framework of like taking someone through your customer journey, but step by step in a book, you illustrate it with stories from your own life, current and in the background. And it's a chance to highlight 357 case studies, from clients you've actually worked with. And that gives the context for like having a methodology or a process. But people love stories and people, and it's beneficial to highlight a few different types of case studies. So someone's like, oh, I resonate with that person like, and that way you cover all the bases, because, you know, if you have five case studies, then one person may really resonate with one or two more than the others and vice versa.
Scott MacMillan 21:24
So that really kind of gives that engagement that brings the lessons to life by telling the stories. Yeah, absolutely. Now, you've recently shaken things up a little bit professionally, right. After about a decade, you've moved on from lifestyle entrepreneurs press. You've now founded the publishing consultants, and you've partnered with someone who's a friend of the podcast, Morgan, James Publishing. Can you talk a little bit about why you've moved in this direction? And then also about the ways that you're supporting authors through this new model?
Jesse Krieger 21:56
Yeah, I mean, I'll start with the second one. First, it's kind of a coming full circle, because Morgan James Publishing, published my book Lifestyle Entrepreneur back in 2014. So David Hancock is to this day, my publisher, he also helped me get my start in book publishing and, and for that, I'm very grateful. And so yeah, I spent seven, eight years building up a publishing company all the way to where we had international distribution and function sort of like a traditional, but I always placed this emphasis on the front end work, like if we signed an author, sometimes we'd work six, nine, or even 12 months on the book itself before actually publishing it. And so the transition, one, it's very difficult to run a traditional type of publishing company, it's complex, it's expensive. That was my experience. And so this transition was really to segment out the publishing Consultants is just very clean, like service model for a fee, where we do full service, publishing, work, editing, design, and layout, formatting, marketing and launch strategy, build an author website, things that we talked about, build an email sequence that promotes the book and highlights the author's business offerings, and just deliver that either, where we set everything up in a self publishing format, so they keep all the proceeds, or if it's appropriate, then walk it in the front door at Morgan, James, because they as a traditional want a finished book. There, they're not doing you know, months and months of developmental work with the author to get to that finish point. So it really works well. Because, you know, within Morgan James, I can find and help, you know, bring in authors into the publishing family, but also through the publishing consultants, I can help create the perfect kind of book that they'd want to publish. If the author feels it's the right fit. And, and it's in the topics that Morgan James publishes on. So I'm pretty happy. It's, it's, it was more of like getting married to every client when I ran the press, and we'd signed an author and then 14 months later, the book comes out. And then we're responsible for years and years and years of that relationship. Now, it's a little more clean cut. And, and I appreciate it, I'm having fun so far.
Scott MacMillan 24:24
Wonderful. And I love that focus on the front end, you know, I think that's something that is, is rare, in in the area that you serve, and that we serve. I think a lot of publishers, service publishers, ignore that front end, right. And they're really just focused on that transactional bit of, you know, getting getting the publishing contract and then getting the book out the door. But it's so important to get that front end, right, because all of the follow on benefits for the author really, really come out of the quality Get the book. Jessie. That's great. Finally, what's the best way for people to learn more about you and get in touch with you? There are a few different places that that you are online, where is the best place to send people?
Jesse Krieger 25:12
Sure, you're welcome to check out thepublishingconsultants.com and learn about all of our consultancy work and support there, as well as Morgan-James-Publishing.com. And perhaps we can link those up here. And then if you're interested to hear more of my thoughts, just Google Jesse Krieger podcast episode, and I've got a ton of content that's out there available for free and dives into all sorts of author related info for you.
Scott MacMillan 25:40
That's wonderful. And yes, we'll be sure to put those links in the show notes. Thank you so much for joining us today, Jesse. I'm conscious that the publishing industry can feel very opaque and confusing for the uninitiated. And so you know, I'm always thrilled to meet knowledgeable experts with professional integrity, who are genuinely helping people navigate it all, and elevating the quality of the titles on the market. So it means a lot that you've shared your time with us. Thank you again for being here. Thank you so much.
Scott MacMillan 26:11
As we wrap up this episode of entrepreneur to author remember, now is the time time to write, time to publish and time to grow. I'm Scott Macmillan. Until next time.