“The Most Important Book of All”

by Joel Friedlander on April 8, 2013 · 5 comments

Post image for “The Most Important Book of All”

Sometimes it’s hard to get going, you know? You know what you want to do but doubts, fears, or inertia seem to pull you down.

I don’t want you to get tripped up by these negative attitudes. If you listen to them, you’ll never get anywhere. At a certain point you have to start concentrating on reasons why you should publish, not on reasons why you shouldn’t.

Self-publishing is one of the most rewarding things you can do if you’re a writer. But when you’re stuck in negative thinking, you might miss the great things that can come from publishing your own book, stuff you couldn’t even imagine.

I’ve lost count of how many books I’ve worked on over the years, but I want to tell you about the one book that made the biggest difference in my life, that really transformed me. You could say, it was the most important book of all.

Long Ago in New York City

A long time ago when I was living in New York City, Jill and I were studying this neat system of types. No, I don’t mean typefaces. It was a system that claimed you could tell just by looking at someone what type of person they were, and it was kind of fascinating.

Anyway, there weren’t any books on the subject, so every time Jill wanted to know something, she would come and ask me and I would explain it to her, since I’d been studying it a little longer than she had.

So one day Jill said, “Hey Joel. Maybe you should write all this down. I bet other people would be interested.” So I sat down and wrote the book she asked for. Well, not just like that, it took me almost a year to get it done.

Since I was working in publishing and graphic arts, I knew who to hire to get a professional looking book. I set up a publishing company with a mailbox at the post office in Grand Central Terminal, and we started marketing the book.

Now, you have to realize, we were publishing a book about a subject that was basically unknown. That has plusses and minuses to it. But by spreading the word, doing basic book marketing and publicity, the book started to sell.

Keep in mind this was before print on demand, before the internet and social media. We just followed the plan for basic book marketing, but it took longer and cost a lot more money.

Seeing Results


Within a few months I could walk into almost any kind of new age bookstore in the country, and they would have the book on the shelf. It was the only one on the topic, you know? Sales weren’t making us rich, but they were steady.

Now, as a writer, this was incredibly gratifying. I remember to this day walking into the East-West bookstore in lower Manhattan, just strolling in very casually and hunting down my book. There it was on the shelf, just like a real book!

Wow, that was amazing, but it was just the beginning.

Pretty soon I started to get invitations to speak to groups about this strange body type thing. As the idea spread, I started to get amazing offers. I was asked to teach a course at the New York Open Center, a popular and prestigious educational center in Soho in downtown New York, where people went to learn about stuff like that.

Body-Types by Joel FriedlanderThe course was a big hit and sold out, and I was asked to do another, longer course and that really jump-started a whole new world of teaching and doing presentations that I had never experienced before.

Then I was invited to be on the faculty of the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York. This is a beautiful retreat center in the Hudson River valley where, every summer top authors and experts in transformational subjects come to teach and interact with students in this beautiful residential setting.

I spent a week there teaching a workshop and sold a lot of books through the bookstore, and indirectly through the catalog mailings that went out to tens of thousands of people on their mailing lists. It was a great experience.

When we moved to California a little while later, I started running 7 week courses in Body Types. I met people who gave me lots of ideas for connecting this odd idea to other, more popular systems.

Becoming a Publisher

Eventually we decided to grow the publishing company I had started to publish my book, and started signing up authors, some of whom were already pretty successful. We were able to do this based on the success we had had with Body Types.

Next we got a real distributor, one who could put our books in stores all over the country, and started putting out catalogs. We even exhibited at the big BEA book show for several years.

Over time we built up a mailing list of over 10,000 people, selling more than a hundred products through a newsletter aimed at people interested in the stuff we were publishing, that little niche. In fact, those newsletter sales were the most profitable part of the business, not the book sales, and I learned an important lesson from that.

As a publisher I wrote contracts, arranged foreign rights sales, scouted books for other publishers, hired editors and designers and all the rest. I travelled and met with authors and read piles of manuscripts.

We developed a review program that landed one of our books on the front page of the Sunday New York Times Book Review, probably the most sacred spot in the whole book world, and it was quite a thrill for me, working out of a spare bedroom in our house. What an education!

I still run into people who know me as the author of that book, who have it on their bookshelf. Although Body Types has sold over 10,000 copies, it’s taken years to do that, it’s a true niche book and has not, in itself, been a huge money maker.

But within a few years of publishing that book my whole life had changed. I now had speaking opportunities, connections with other authors and experts in my field, a publishing company with books in distribution everywhere, a book on the front page of the New York Times book review, and a steady flow of new manuscripts from really good authors who wanted us to publish their books.

And it all started with that question Jill had asked me: “Why don’t you write it all down to help other people learn this?”

Taking That First Step

But you know what? None of it would have happened if I hadn’t taken that first step, risked money, and possibly failure, and published Body Types. And that’s why I call it the most important book of all.

What about you? If you start publishing, what will happen to you? Will you go on to become a real publisher? Will you hit the top of the Amazon charts? Find new opportunities everywhere? Get a contract from a traditional publisher? Or make your family and friends very happy? It can be life-changing for you, too.

That’s why I put together my training course for authors, the Self-Publishing Roadmap. Registration for a new class is going on right now, but it won’t be open much longer. On Tuesday night at midnight it will close down.

If you’d like to dive into publishing, marketing, book distribution and all the other things that go into successful book publishing, we’re going to spend the next 6 weeks getting quite an education.

I’ve come up with three ways for you to get this training. Go over to the registration page and see if one of them is right for you. Here’s the link:
Self-Publishing Roadmap Registration Page.

Photo: bigstockphoto.com

Be Sociable, Share!

    { 5 comments… read them below or add one }

    Frances April 9, 2013 at 8:20 am

    It’s amazing how one book can thrust our lives in a new direction. I’m glad you wrote that book!

    Reply

    Ros Nelson April 8, 2013 at 7:50 am

    The sentence I love most in this article is: “There it was on the shelf, just like a real book!”
    Acting from passion and taking the 1-2-3 steps to “get there” are the most gratifying lessons I have ever learned. I know now that as long as I am alive and kicking, and factoring in that plans mature along the way, that I will reach my goals. It is that simple.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander April 8, 2013 at 10:49 am

    Yes, realizing that we have it within our power to move towards our goals was an incredible lesson for me too, Ros. Things have never been the same since.

    Reply

    Ros Nelson April 8, 2013 at 10:58 am

    No kidding!
    FYI, I am in the final stage of editing and formatting a novel. Because I co-sponsored two reading events where this author shined, she is weeks from seeing her first book in print, has received a grant and has won first place/fiction in a reading event. I HELPED.
    THAT is the other side of the goal-setting coin. One can empower others to an amazing degree.
    (At this rate, there will be something nice to say at my funeral!)

    Reply

    Michael N. Marcus April 8, 2013 at 3:33 am

    I, too, became an accidental publisher.

    In the 1950s and 60s there were no “student rights.” Parents insisted that teachers should not be criticized, and must be respected no matter how evil, incompetent or deranged they were.

    When I was in the sixth grade, way back in 1958, I was the victim of the one of those terrible teachers. I promised myself that someday I would tell the world what the kids’ parents refused to listen to. It took me 50 years, but I kept the promise.

    In 2008 I formed Silver Sands Books with the intention to publish exactly one book, Stories I’d Tell My Children (but maybe not until they’re adults), which included the story about that teacher. http://www.amazon.com/Stories-Children-Theyre-Adults-ebook/dp/B004UOH71C/

    I had previously been published by Doubleday and a tiny, long-gone publisher. In both cases I did not like the books or my income.

    I bought dozens of books about publishing, registered a name, set up a website, got business cards and I was a publisher — of one book.

    Publishing became addicting. I’ve now published about 40 books. I have readers worldwide. Money comes in every month. I love what I’m doing.

    In college I became a journalism major by accident. That’s another story — also in the book.

    Michael N. Marcus
    http://www.CreateBetterBooks.com

    Reply

    Leave a Comment


    4 + four =