PP 578: The Book You Were Born to Write with Kelly Notaras
“If there is that impulse inside of you to write a book, there’s a really good reason for it and I suggest you follow it. Just take baby steps. You don’t have to think about writing the whole book and what your publishing plan will be… Just take that one first step that’s showing you that you’re meeting life halfway.”– Kelly Notaras
Having trouble putting your thoughts into words and onto paper? Kelly Notaras, CEO and Founder of kn literary arts, had been in the literary world for 20 years when she found herself wondering when it would be time to write her book. It wasn’t that she lacked the skills, but she was facing barriers many of today’s aspiring writers also encounter. Listen to hear Kelly share her story, and learn how she can help you pen your message and share it with the world!
02:32 Kelly Was Born to Write
05:32 Why Write a Book
09:15 When and Where to Write a Book
11:45 How to Write a Book- Outline is a Must
22:52 What to Write in your Book
27:37 Stages of Book Writing
34:53 Finding an Agent
39:13 Working with Clients
41:46 Going on Retreats
43:34 Care to be in the Best-Seller List?
Connect with Kelly Notaras:
Connect with kn literary arts:
Company Website: https://knliterary.com/
07:32 “Time is not actually the problem but we convince ourselves it is.” -Kelly Notaras
14:53 “The truth is that we teach what we need to learn.” -Kelly Notaras
27:49 “Write the book now edit it later.” -Kelly Notaras
28:04 “You’re writing the book for your heart or your art.” -Kelly Notaras
33:34 “People get so overly focused on endorsements. Endorsements do not sell books; they preach to the choir.” -Kelly Notaras
36:03 “You can trust life, and you are part of life, and your focus right now is part of life.”-Kelly Notaras
37:30 “Let’s just follow our heart for change instead of following the calendar.” –Kim Sutton
38:09 “Have yourself well set up for the moment when life tells you now’s the time.”-Kelly Notaras
42:07 “People need a time where they feel they’re being held accountable for actually doing the writing.”-Kelly Notaras
46:53 “You can be proud of yourself just for writing and publishing the book.”-Kelly Notaras
If there is that impulse inside of you to write a book, there’s a really good reason for it and I suggest you follow it. Just take baby steps. You don’t have to think about writing the whole book and what your publishing plan will be. You can literally just purchase Scrivener (I don’t even get a kickback for that) or watch a video or get your outline underway. Just take that one first step that’s showing you that you’re meeting life halfway.
KIM: Welcome back to another episode of Positive Productivity! This is your host Kim Sutton. Today I am thrilled to introduce you to our guest, Kelly Notaras. Oh my gosh, I just asked you how to properly pronounce it.
KELLY: You got it right. You got it right. No prob.
KIM: When I said it, Kelly, I had to tell you the first thing I thought of was Atari. I can’t tell you why except for my husband’s a video game designer and I was like, that can’t be right.
KELLY: [laughing ]That’s so funny.
KIM: But listeners –
KELLY: I usually get notorious or, you know something. Yeah, exactly. There’s a lot of different funny ways people pronounce it, but you got it just right. Well done.
KIM: Well, people get Sutton wrong.
KIM: Yeah, people and I won’t put any stereotypes on here, but they’re generally not from America. That’s all I say about that.
KELLY: Got it.
KIM: And they’ll ask for Kimberly Suttan or –
KELLY: That is very elegant.
KIM: Yes it is. Or Sultan.
KELLY: Okay. Yeah.
KIM: I hate that one too. Can I hear the magic that goes along with it?
KELLY: Exactly, that’s great.
KIM: Listeners, Kelly is the CEO and Founder of kn literary arts. We have already been chatting about my chronic idea disorder and how that book has been stuck in my head. For those of you who have been with me since the beginning, you know that I’ve been talking about it for close to three years now, so I’m so excited to dive in and learn more about what Kelly does. Well Kelly, welcome. I’m so happy to have you here!
KELLY: Thank you. I’m super happy to be here.
KIM: How did you get started on this journey and, well actually I told you I jumble like 18 questions altogether.
KELLY: No problem. Bring them.
KIM: I would love to know first, what was your childhood dream? What did you think you wanted to be?
KELLY: You know, the truth is I wanted to be an actress when I was little, for sure. Actress, singer, Madonna, somewhere in the range of being both. I was always in performing arts growing up, but I was also loving reading and loving my English classes. I did great in English and ended up, funny enough, testing out of it so I didn’t have to take it in college, but then really missing it. My friends were all taking English and reading books and I remember saying, I’m going to take it. I ended up dropping out of another class and I needed to take something – I thought ‘what I’m going to take?’ A really great English class of some sort as an elective. That just rolled me right into a wonderful Literature and Communication minor that went with my Law major in college.
How I got into the business was that after college, as any liberal arts student knows, I had no idea what my skillset was good for except for being a lawyer. I was pretty sure that I wasn’t going to be happy as a lawyer so I went to a Communications professor of mine and asked “What do you think I should do?” He said “You are a great writer. One of the best that I’ve ever seen, even with my grad students. I think you should be writing books.” Of course at 23, I had no idea what kind of books I would be writing. What stories I might be telling. You know, I think at the time, I heard that and thought I’ll be a novelist. That is definitely not my strength as it turns out, but I decided to go and get a job in the book publishing business right out of school to see what it took to become a published author.
That was really my goal. I wanted to know the inside scoop. I wanted to be able to beat the game because I knew that people were always trying to get their books published and having a hard time and so I thought if I learned how it was done and make connections, then I would be set up for the time when I wanted to actually publish my own book – which I just did! Twenty years later, my very first book, The Book You Were Born To Write, came out in November and that is exactly how it came out. It was through my connections in the book business and my friends I had made over many years of being in that business that that book got published. It all came to fruition and the book itself is actually the cheater’s guide so that other people don’t have to do what I did, which is basically get a career in the book publishing business in order to know how to get their book published when the time came. It’s actually all right there in the book now.
KIM: Oh, I was about to say thank you. I feel suddenly not so bad about three years under my belt.
KELLY: Yes, exactly right? I just spent 20 years. [laughing] Yup, absolutely.
KIM: Are people already asking you when the book number two coming out?
KELLY: They are. They actually are, which is great. I actually have a really wonderful relationship with the man who runs Hay House, the publisher that I used for my book. I asked him “When is the time for me to write a book yet?” He’s like “I’ll tell you when it’s time for you to write a book.” I was like “Yes sir.” For right now he’s having me – and I think this is really important and makes a lot of sense – really focus on growing my audience and using this book as part of that growth plan. It’s what has me get podcasts. What has me writing a blog and starting a YouTube channel and all these things. I’m working to get people to know about my book.
And of course, you know, for those of the listeners who are also entrepreneurs, having that book in the world has done an amazing thing for my business. I have an editorial studio where we help people write and edit their books and we have tripled the number of sales calls that we’ve done since the book came out in November. That is one of the really, really good reasons why any entrepreneur should consider writing a book, because it does get the word out beyond the people that already know you. Also, it establishes your expertise. You’re very clearly an expert, most people, before they write their book but somehow people look at that and say to write a full length book, it is not an easy endeavor. If you’ve done it, then it kind of makes you look like a superhero to most people and they believe that you’re even more of an expert than someone who hasn’t written a book. That is a really good reason why someone like you and many of your listeners I’m sure are in the process of writing one because you know that it gives you a certain credibility you don’t get otherwise.
KIM: If I can be totally transparent, which I’m going to give myself the right to be here. If I could put a laptop desk in the bathroom.
KELLY: Yes. [laughs]
KIM: I know that’s gross, but that’s about the only alone time that I get when I’m not working with clients.
KIM: Right. And I’ve tried to figure out, okay, how can I take a bubble bath with my laptop? I mean I know I could Siri it, but Siri and I, oh, I say that too loud because then she decided that she needs to be a part of this conversation.
KELLY: Yes, exactly.
KIM: You know, we don’t always get along and the gibberish, which comes out of her fingers and not mine is laughable sometimes.
KELLY: Right. Yup. I totally hear that. And you know, actually I am not someone who uses Siri for writing my books and a lot of people I know do. It really is about finding the methodology that’s best for you. But of course, so this is an interesting thing Kim, if you’ll let me be honest, I oftentimes tell people that time is not actually the problem that we convince ourselves it is, that oftentimes when we are trying to write a book and it’s not happening and we think it’s because we don’t have the time or we’re not able to do it. You know, not always, but most of the time there’s actually something else going on. There’s really one of two things going on. One is that you are not yet at a place where life is ready for you to have a book for some reason or another.
So for me, I was trying to write a book for 20 years, all different types. I told you I’m not very good at writing fiction. I tried my head at fiction, short stories, poetry. Then I was going to write a ‘how to’ book about meditation. I was going to write a ‘how to’ book about how to be on a spiritual journey and all the different things that I’ve experienced over the course of my life. The truth is that it was not until I was sitting at a writer’s workshop and saw the number of people sitting there who needed the information I had, that I felt the genuine motivation that was actually outside of – they had a bigger purpose than what I had even thought my purpose for writing a book was. And then life said, now you’ll write it and it was actually extremely easy to write it. I found the time, even though I had a very busy life and had been going through a really difficult time period in my life at that time. I found the time. It wasn’t that I hadn’t been there before. It’s just that the noise was actually not loud enough for me to say “Okay, I’m not going to do this. I’m not going to do this and I’m not going to do this, which included, I’m not going to exercise. I’m not going to meditate, which I did every morning.” I’m going to put those things that are very, very important on hold while I write this book for that, you know, four to five months that it took me to really get the book down on a paper. And then I was able to reintegrate those things back into my life. But when the time is right in life, you will find a way and you’ll be motivated enough to let go of those things that look too important right now to let go of. So that’s one, one reason why you might not be writing.
The second reason is, and this is a really, really important reason that is I have great reverence for, is that there is some way in which writing a book is in opposition to the strategies that we put in place as children to stay safe. To maintain the love of our parents and our families. To belong with our group, our pack, so to speak and to stay safe. This is a place that requires a deep dive around our old patterns. It’s something that not everyone is ready for, they’re not. And not everyone is at a time in their life where they are ready to sort of go deep into, how did I stay safe and how did I belong and how did I learn to be loved as a child. That might be an opposition, like staying invisible, not ever doing anything that dad wanted to do, that he didn’t actually do, not being better than my sister. Whatever the thing might be, there is definitely a deep dive that’s required there to know what the resistance might be.
And it’s really important to stay in rapport with the version of yourself that actually made those choices because they made them for a really good reason. So I have a whole chapter in the book on this particular piece on working with resistance. So sometimes it’s just that we really don’t have the time. There’s things going on in our life that are actually more important than us writing the book. But more often than not, there’s a resistance that’s standing in the way.
KIM: See, the crazy thing for me is, and maybe this is another topic of your book, but this might surprise some listeners. I’m rebellious. You tell me that I need to do something and I will do anything to not do it. So I’ve had people tell me, listeners and Kelly, please forgive kids in the background. They’re so excited because our groceries just got delivered.
KELLY: Very exciting.
KIM: And there’s dessert in there and they’re like: “Oh!”
KELLY: Got it.
KIM: But I’ve been told you need to write an outline and I just think back to high school English.
KELLY: Yes. I know.
KIM: I did not like high school English. Let me tell you, I signed – I gave up my lunch so I could take art and not have an outline.
KELLY: Right. Yes.
KIM: So being told that I need to write an outline is like, ugh!
KELLY: Yes. You are not the only one. I often say that I get the most eye rolls of anyone that I talk to when I bring up the topic of writing an outline. The thing of it is that there are a lot of things that can be written without an outline. A blog can be written without an outline. A poem could be written without an outline. Even a children’s book can be written without an outline. But the problem with trying to write a full length book without an outline is that it’s just too big for the human brain to hold it all. So when you sit down to write, you think “I’m writing my book now.” You don’t think “I’m writing chapter six, subheading three.” Which only needs to be three paragraphs long. That is a chunk size that your brain can actually manage and it can feel like a tiny little homework assignment. Almost like a little mini blog, right?
KELLY: That’s very different than I have to write my whole book. Your brain is going to go crazy, firing in panic because it can’t actually hold the whole vision of your book. Which is why an outline is, in my view, I’ve never met anyone except for one person who is the illustrious Wayne Dyer, Dr. Wayne Dyer, who had the number one bestselling book of all of the 70’s and at least one bestseller in every decade between then and the time that he passed away three years ago. I think now, he used to write without an outline, but he was one of those people who had the whole thing just literally wired in from the beyond in a way I’ve never encountered any of my own authors to have that same line. Everyone else that I’ve ever worked with who’s successfully completed a book has started with an outline. Now here’s a –
KIM: Interesting. Can I –
KIM: Can I ask you one other question?
KIM: The other challenge, and this is external, but I allowed it to go internal, was that somebody told me it’s not time to write my book yet because I have not yet figured out how to fully conquer chronic idea disorder.
KIM: And I had to say, I will never figure out how to, you know, fully conquer chronic ideas.
KELLY: No, stop it. Yes.
KIM: I know how to handle it on a day-to-day basis. It’s like sometimes unhealthy, but a lot of time healthy addiction. I just have ideas.
KIM: I mean, I had to get out of bed at 1:30 this morning, 2:30 maybe, I don’t know, late, you know, before the birds started making those noises –
KIM: – outside. Yes. Thank you. I like that word a lot better, chirping.
KELLY: Yeah, chirping.
KIM: But because I had a blog article on my head –
KIM: Or on my mind and I just had to do it and that’s how it’s always going to be. I have to get it out. And that’s part of chronic idea disorder though. Do you really? Can you just, Oh, I’m getting all types of content right now. But how do you feel about that though? Somebody who says you’re not ready to write the book yet because you haven’t figured it out yourself.
KELLY: You know by figured it out. It sounds like what they were saying was that you aren’t perfect yet, right?
KIM: Oh, I am imperfectly perfect or perfectly imperfect, however you want to look at it, and I am quite proud of that.
KELLY: Exactly. So this is the thing is that anyone who would say that is somebody who is probably in their own life struggling with perfectionism because none of us does it perfectly. I mean the truth is that we teach what we need to learn, full stop. So the fact is I am supposed to be writing books. There is no question about that. I’ve known that since I was in college. And I have – since I was in college, being an editor at some of the biggest houses in the US, I was learning how to write books by editing them. I now know roughly how to write books, but by teaching people how to do it, I am learning the inner workings of it. Just the other day, I had to do a bunch of research on writing memoirs, because so many of my clients want to write memoir.
I’ve been a memoir editor for 20 years. I’ve edited dozens of memoirs, but when it comes to writing them, it’s different. How do you explain in words how to write a memoir? Well, guess what is the next book I need to write? A memoir.
KIM: A memoir.
KELLY: Of course and so I need to learn. So what am I doing? I’m doing research and I’m making YouTube videos about how to write a memoir. … (I’m looking at) The two things every one of the biggest bestselling memoirs has in common and I had to do the research on that. I had to actually go in and think about how am I going to talk about it, and it’s really all in service of me writing a memoir that people are going to want to read at some point.
So I’m here to tell you that writing the book is part of the process. It’s part of developing the thing that you are meant to offer to the world. You do not have to wait until the thing is concrete, but you do have to write an outline. If I’m going to tell you anything you have to do, you have to write an outline. Now, here’s something that I found interesting in your story about getting up in the middle of the night. Writing blogs is an excellent, excellent way to be writing your book before you’re actually writing your book. So when I sat down to actually put my book into form, the very first thing I did was I went into my blogs and I pulled out the content of all those blogs that I felt like was a good fit for the book. And then I used this program, which I cannot speak more highly of. It’s called Scrivener. Have you been using Scrivener by chance in writing?
KIM: No, but I’ve heard of it. I just don’t remember what it is.
KELLY: Okay. So what Scrivener is, it is a piece of writing software that is specifically focused on writing long form content. So it’s meant to write things longer than a blog, for example. Most people are writing either in Google docs or in Microsoft word. Microsoft word is definitely the standard in the industry in terms of when you start working with an editor on your actual finished manuscript and when you start submitting it to agents and editors, etc. But before then, you can write it however you like. The thing that I love about Scrivener is that you never have to go looking for where you need to start today. You build out your outline in this… there’s a lot of jargon that you don’t have to know. There’s a left hand column on your page and your outline is there and each of the different chapters and then subheadings in the chapter that you have crafted in your outline is a live link that you click through and the document that it contains, that particular section, pops up in front of you.
So you can work on one section in chapter two and then immediately jump to a section in chapter six without having to scroll down through that document that you’ve been writing in, in word or go back to some file and find the document that’s for chapter eight and then scroll through that. You can just look on the left, find chapter eight, find the third subheading, which is what you want to look at or work on and click it and it opens right away. Then if you want to move that section from chapter eight back to chapter two, all you have to do is drag it and drop it from that left hand column.
KIM: Oh my gosh.
KIM: That’s like book writing for people with Chronic Idea Disorder.
KIM: Right, there.
KELLY: Yes, exactly. It’s so wonderful. It’s called Scrivener.
KIM: Because there is no set path for me, because I’m jumping all over and I’ll have an idea for chapter eight, subheading three today, but I might go back to chapter one tomorrow.
KELLY: Exactly, yes. And that is what this is so good for because every writer who’s writing a long form piece, whether it’s a book or a screenplay or a play, they do that. They do what you’re doing. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just that we haven’t had a piece of software that was built by authors before Scrivener that allows you to do that with ease. That’s why it’s built that way because that is the way that authors and by authors, I also mean screenwriters and playwrights, et cetera. People who were writing long format pieces. That’s the way we operate. We need to be able to (easily move words around). We’re like “Wow, did I cover this already in chapter two? I’m working on chapter four and it’s a similar topic. I can go back and look really, really easily without having to scroll (through) it all.”
And then something that used to happen to me when I was ghostwriting for people. Oh my gosh, before I knew about Scrivener, I would cut and paste a section thinking I was going to take it from chapter two to chapter eight. I go look for the chapter eight document. As I’m scrolling through, I find something that I’m like, oh, that sentence isn’t right. I’m going to cut and paste that and then I would lose the chunk that I had just cut and pasted.
KIM: Oh my gosh!
KELLY: That is another one of the reasons why I say Scrivener is the way to write your book because there’s almost no chance of content loss that way. There’s no cutting and pasting required, except to get things into the document. So back to the question of blogs. I had built out my outline in Scrivener and then I went back to my website, just straight to my website, cut and paste the blog content. So let’s say you know how to blog about ghost writing. So I cut in place the section about ghost writing, cut or not cut it, but you know, copied it and then went to Scrivener, found the section in my outline where I want to talk about ghost writing. Click the button, you know, click the little thing that says ghostwriting. It pops open a brand new document. I drop in that content. Go back to my blog, find another piece that I want to move in.
So in that way, writing your blog is actually preparing you to write your book. I did not ever, not one time, leave that content as it was from the blog in my book. I always rewrote it, whether it was just rewriting transitions so that it fit into the flow of the chapter or rewriting it entirely. But what’s so great about doing that is that you have starter material. When you get to that section and I like to think of each one of those little subheadings as a mini homework assignment. So, because I’m somebody who liked homework in high school, dork, and I like knowing today I’m going to write the ghost writing section andI know it doesn’t need to be long, it only needs to be in the printed book, maybe one and a half pages.
So it’s a doable amount to write today. And not only that, but when I opened the document “Oh there’s all this content that I’ve already written. I’ve spent the time to write it some time three years ago, I might as well use that time now. And I have started a content. How much of this is going to work? Oh well, this worked. I really liked my bulleted list here. I’m going to keep that, I’m going to.” And so you have something to start with. It just makes life so much easier. So I want to say to you, Kim, that you have probably a ton of content you may not even realize you have towards your book and writing that outline is the way that you will be able to see what of your blogs is actually already ready to just drop into your quote book.
KIM: Well, now thinking I’m also a journaler.
KIM: So I have about eight journals on my shelf.
KIM: And there’s content in there. I probably have, I mean the book has got to be across three different Google docs because I forgot that I started it once and then I it started again. And I think I even have pages in Microsoft word docs as well with where I started, but then I would get tired of it. Oh, I’m over here laughing because, and I’ve shared this a couple times on podcasts recently, but my sister is now part of my team and she’s very instrumental. She’s the one who, and I told you this Kelly before we got on, she was like “Kim, you need to talk to Kelly. You need to talk to her and be ready.” But she’s also monitoring purchases that I make because we’re bootstrapping.
KIM: So she’s watching everything. But if Scrivener’s not free, then she’s probably –
KELLY: It’s $45.
KIM: Oh my gosh.
KELLY: I know. I am 100% serious. Scrivener is $45. I don’t know who – it’s a British man who invented it as far as I know. I don’t know where but that man is getting his wings in heaven. That is all I have to say. He is getting his –
KELLY: $45 for the download lifetime purchase.
KIM: Oh my gosh! I am going like –
KELLY: Yes. Yes.
KIM: I’m actually looking at my calendar, I’m hoping I don’t have a call when we wrap because –
KELLY: Exactly. The website where you can find it is called Literature and Latte. Funny –
KIM: Oh, it’s a great title!
KELLY: It’s a great title. You can also just Google Scrivener and you will find it. This is another thing I’ll say. It has a lot of functionality and a lot of its’ functionality is specific to fiction or screenwriting, et cetera. What I would suggest is go to YouTube and look up the Literature and Latte videos. There’s tons of people that have done videos on Scrivener and they are better and worse. Skip all of the people that are not actually Literature and Latte. They’ve done a huge series of videos. Find the one that’s “Introduction to Scrivener.” It’s a 10 minute video. That video will tell you everything you need if you’re writing nonfiction. Every single thing you need is in that video.
KIM: Oh my goodness!
KELLY: So don’t get overwhelmed when you open it. People do. They’re like “Oh my gosh, I don’t know where to start.” Just go to that video. The Literature and Latte YouTube Channel. Find “Scrivener for beginners” or whatever it might be. Just get started with Scrivener, the beginner 10 minute video. Watch the video. You’ll have everything you need.
KIM: Okay. Can I ask you a couple of other questions? I am so excited about that.
KELLY: Please, please, please. Yes. Yes.
KIM: Okay. So people who have met me in person tend to realize that I am a bit more reserved in person than I am on a call or when you get to know me.
KIM: I have a dry sense of humor and it can be quite witty and a lot of people don’t even realize I have tattoos.
KIM: You know, it’s just this surprising little quirk that people don’t realize. Kelly, I have a tattoo of a cow jumping over my moon. I don’t think I’ve ever admitted that on the podcast before.
KELLY: [laughing] That’s hilarious.
KIM: I was supposed to be at church with my mom on my 18th birthday and instead, I was at the tattoo parlor getting that. So –
KELLY: That is hilarious. Nice.
KIM: So I think another part of my reservation is wanting to please everyone, but you know, we’ve all heard it before. If you try to please everyone, you’re going to please no one. I don’t want to be afraid to show my true colors in my book.
KELLY: Yeah, exactly. Yep. So this is one thing. I just did a video on this for Mother’s Day because so often I hear from our authors that they’re like “I know I need to write my story but my mom is still alive and what do I do?” What I say is you need to write it first. Just write it. You can decide what parts of it you’re going to censor later. So, just write the book right now as per your own desire. If you could write it however you want it, if you could say everything, if you could put in every story, if you didn’t have to worry about anyone’s feelings, if you didn’t have to worry about your listeners, half of them getting annoyed and half of them loving you, then what would you write?
Write that book and then you have plenty of time and you ought to, I say this very strongly, ought to work with a content editor before you ever let this book see the light of day to make sure from the perspective of someone who works with books for a living, that the book is working and you can bring to them “here are my reservations, here are my hesitations.” And you let them – with their clear eyes that are not as close to the book as you are – read it through and give you their best advice. If there’s something that you’re worried about, you might actually get sued for saying, you need to talk to a publishing lawyer. But if it’s not about that, if it’s more about just mom being upset with you, have an editor give you their advice. And then together you can decide what you’re going to keep and what you’re going to let go of. So write the book now, edit it later.
KIM: Okay. Yeah, you know, that book that talks about my mom or my ex husband will come further down the road.
KELLY: Yeah, exactly.
KIM: Yeah. No, totally not worried about that. It was actually just my off color sense of humor. You know, do I hold it back or do I let it shine?
KELLY: You know –
KIM: I know I’ll let it shine and –
KELLY: Let it shine.
KIM: let the content editors see it.
KELLY: Yes, that’s it. Let it shine. Let someone else tell you whether it’s working or not.
KIM: Yeah. So then my next question, because I know a lot of listeners may be curious about this, I know I’m curious. I’ve been building my platform for four years now, so it’s healthy. It’s –
KIM: – 60,000 plus.
KIM: But for people who do not have a platform –
KIM: Should they worry about the platform before they write the book or does it not matter?
KELLY: Well, so here’s the thing. It really depends on where you are on your journey of becoming a thought leader. So, I think of it as bigger than an author. If you are writing a book and you think it’s just because you need to get something onto the page, out of your body, you’ve known you had the story to tell for a really long time, but you’re not somebody who’s interested in building a business around it, then I say you’re kind of at what I call stage one, which is you’re writing the book for your heart or your art. And that is totally valid and in fact, required. I think for all the other stages on the journey, you need to be rooted in that desire. But you don’t need a platform at all. You’re just going to be self publishing it. You’re just, or you’re maybe not even, publishing it. Maybe just putting it in a drawer. We don’t know yet.
But you’re writing for your heart or your art. Don’t worry at all about a platform. Then there’s kind of a big leap to stages two, three, and four and these all are stages where you are planning to become a thought leader. That is what you would like. That is where you’re headed. You’re building a business and you want to have a book as part of that process. So in any of those stages, you do need to have your eye on the platform. Stage two is what I call creating a thing out of your work. So you are somebody who – perhaps you’re a therapist, you’re a healer, you’re somebody who works with entrepreneurs online, whatever it might be. – you don’t yet know what your thing is. You’re not sure what your book is about.
So you Kim, you know what your book is about. So that’s great. You already know your title and all of these things, but a lot of people come to me, they’re like “I know I should be writing a book, but I don’t know what it’s about.” That’s stage two, at that point, you’re still in self-publishing territory. But it makes sense to write the book because the book helps you build your platform. It gives you the credibility, the expertise. It gives you a good excuse to contact podcasters. It’s just a great way to have something that’s a low price point to sell, so it’s good for your funnel. It’s a great thing to do. You’re going to be self-publishing. The book needs to be good, so just to be clear, you need to work with an editor, okay? At stage one you don’t, but every other stage you need to work with people who understand how to put a book together. It’s a really different thing than writing a blog. Okay?
Stage three is where you already have a well established thing and you’re wanting to get further adoption of that thing. At that point, you already have a platform underway. You’ve been teaching this thing, whatever it might be. For years, it’s like you’re on your podcast, you’re talking about it all the time. People know it. They’ve been asking for the book. They’re waiting for it. They’re ready. At this point, depending on how much of a platform you’ve already built, you may still want to self-publish because publishers are looking for a big platform or you may want to start looking for a publisher. Generally, I would say that if you haven’t yet felt like your platform is really raging and you’re making millions of dollars a year with your platform already, you’re probably still in the territory of the smaller publishers, the ones who have a more specific list.
There are people who are looking for books that are specifically about productivity or they’re looking for books that are specifically about spirituality or specifically about self help. And in that way, you become a bigger fish in a smaller pond and so they don’t need the ‘ginormous’ platform that they’re going to be looking for with the big houses. You’re looking for what I call independent smaller publishers. On our website, knliterary.com, we actually have a free download that’s “25 Publishers Who Want Your Book – Get a List of 25 publishers who accept submissions directly from authors.” That would be good for somebody who is at this sort of stage three level. Then if you want to be published by one of the big five publishers, these are folks who absolutely must have a platform. You must have an agent. They’re not gonna accept submissions directly from authors. This is a place where I say you’re taking you’re already well established thing and you’re making yourself a household name.
That sort of that level. That’s what happens. That’s the way in the door at one of those big publishing companies. So do you need a platform? The answer is no, if you don’t necessarily need to sell a lot of books. And no, if you have an eye to building your platform and you want to use your book to do it, that’s great, but you’re going to be self-publishing. And yes, as you have your eye on being published traditionally by houses, your platform has to get bigger and bigger and bigger.
KIM: I’m blown away. … I want to take this to a much bigger scale. Because Kelly, I was suicidal in 2016, I was letting chronic idea disorder take me away. I was chasing everybody else’s goals and dreams and doing –
KIM: – everything that the big guru said to do.
KIM: And I know that there’s a lot of entrepreneurs out there who fall into the same trap. They’re sacrificing sleep and then they go –
KIM: – that horrible road of anxiety and depression.
KIM: And this for some, it’s just unrecoverable and that’s why I am personally passionate about taking you to the next level. But aside from that, I mean my whole business is around business and marketing automation.
KELLY: Right. Yes.
KIM: Which is very systematized compared to chronic idea disorder.
KELLY: Right. [laughing]
KIM: I mean, I can build the funnel no problem. And then I think that’s the last challenge that I’ve had is: “Oh my gosh! Am I really going to have time to launch this book?” And yes, I will have time. You already covered that. I will have time if I make the time.
KELLY: Yes, exactly.
KIM: But then you know, it’s just been there or this I look at books, well I’m just going to take a name that you and I talked about in the pre chat.
KIM: I mean, I read Worthy by Nancy Levin last year and I see all these fabulous recommendations for the book in the intro or I don’t even know what the proper section is called.
KELLY: Yes. The endorsements.
KIM: I want those, but I realized that you don’t necessarily get those if you’ve never written before.
KELLY: So here’s the thing, Nancy started her career as the Event Director at Hay House.
KIM: Yeah, at Hay House. I love that story.
KELLY: Right? So it’s amazing. So those people are her friends and that is how you get endorsements on your books. Every endorsement on my book is from a friend. Every single one of them. So the thing is that there is – an endorsement is something, I have video on this too because people get so overly focused on endorsements. Endorsements do not sell books. They preach to the choir. People who already love you are like, well of course so and so has been given you an endorsement because I’m super excited about this. They might tip the scale for like a tiny percentage of people who are already pretty inclined to buy your book. And then they see that and they’re like: “Well, one of my favorite authors gave them an endorsement, so of course I’m gonna buy it.” But they really don’t sell books because by the time someone is on your Amazon page reading your endorsements, they’re pretty bought in with you. So don’t worry about those. But I will say it’s interesting that right here is one of those places where my little spidey sense went up. So you said 60,000 names, I just want to say that is no joke. That’s amazing. It is possible you could find a traditional publisher who would want to take you on. That is very possible. I can make no guarantees, there are so many different factors that factor in there, but the first thing you would need to do is find an agent for yourself. Which you may very well be able to do at 60,000 names on your email list. Very important –
KIM: Oh, I already had two who are bugging me for the proposal.
KELLY: Fabulous. There you go. Beautiful.
KIM: They’re the only two that I reached out to and they were both like: “Yeah, how fast can you get us the proposal?” But that was like a year ago and I’m like, ah, you know. So I’m not worried about getting an agent.
KELLY: Here’s my question is whether or not, so you have a passion for getting this message out in a really big way, and my question is where you are right now, it’s very possible you could find a publisher, but it may not be the biggest publisher out there, the dream publisher that you have. Okay? You might, and again, everything is so dependent on what the market is like that year, that month, that week. Do you land on an editor’s desk who hasn’t made it, hasn’t purchased anything in a while or acquired a book in awhile? They’re going to be a little bit more lenient. Or are you landing on all these desks of people who’ve already just bought all these books and they need the next book they buy has to be really extraordinary in terms of its platform.
So it’s all really like there’s no guarantees. If any agent ever makes you a guarantee, walk away because they don’t know. However, there is a definitely a possibility that you could do that. But if you were to wait, let’s say another year, you would probably be at 100,000 names to different level than 60,000 right? And in that year, you might learn some things that you didn’t know before. What I’m saying is you can trust life and you are part of life and your focus right now is part of life. So I have a really hard time being able to support my authors beating themselves up over not writing their book yet. I’m saying it may be that your book needs to land on exactly this one editor’s desk, but that editor’s not going to be ready for it until 18 months from now.
How about just trust the process and feed into “wow, I didn’t know about Scrivener until today. Maybe I needed to learn about Scrivener today.”
KELLY: And just let go of the shame. There’s no shame in being where you are. You are being, you are a badass lady. 60,000 names is not easy to come by. You’re doing great. You’re doing amazingly. You’re putting your attention where it needs to be right now and yes, you’ve got a book that you are going to write. I have no doubt that you’re going to write this book and I also have no doubt that it’s going to be written and be published at exactly the right time in exactly the right place in exactly the right manner. I just trust it completely. So –
KIM: Oh, I so appreciate you saying that because actually when I came out of that depression, one of the first, well I told a friend, even when I was in the depression before I told my husband who is my best friend, but I didn’t want to scare him.
KIM: So I told a friend first and she introduced me, not personally, but to the work of Danielle LaPorte who –
KELLY: Hhmmm. Yes.
KIM: – talks a lot about that. You know, we have to, let’s just follow our heart for a change instead of following the calendar. And you’re totally right. And now that I’m thinking about it, I mean the list started no’s, I don’t think I’ve even talked about it on the podcast yet. I mean my team is working on two courses.
KIM: And got affiliates waiting for those courses. So you are so dead on, I mean 18 months, these programs will launch three times in the next 18 months.
KIM: I mean with a great affiliate base that’s going to add – hopefully – tens of thousands of people to just the email list alone, never mind social media following. Oh! But I’m still getting Scrivener today because –
KELLY: Get it today. Have yourself well set up for the moment when life tells you ‘now’s the time.’
KIM: Well, for those 2:00 am times when I can’t sleep, I was about to say, well I can’t say that because that would be inappropriate. Okay, if there’s little kids in the car listening with you, you might just want to turn down for 15 seconds. Okay, we have five kids, you know how you get to five kids and it’s after those activities that the idea’s like, “bang!” They come out.
KELLY: Love it.
KIM: I’m sorry, I just had to put that out there.
KELLY: Yes. Yes.
KIM: But my husband, he’s like “Well, am I just supposed to stop doing that now?” And I’m like, no, [laughing] beating me creatively.
KELLY: Exactly. Beautiful. I love it.
KIM: Okay, well I guess I did that sort of discreetly with kids.
KELLY: You did. I think it will be perfectly fine.
KIM: Oh, thank you. Oh my gosh. And how do you work with clients? You know, we haven’t even discussed that yet. And listeners, I want you to know that I really don’t know the answer to this so I’m genuinely curious.
KELLY: Yeah, absolutely. So I have been an editor for 20 years. At this point, I am … so this is part of the thing. Sometimes we have to put a pause on things that we love and do other things. Right now, I’m paused on actually editing people’s books. I am working on being the CEO of my company at this point and that’s been awesome and I’ve gotten my ass handed to me. Pardon me. I did it again multiple times over the course of the past six years that I’ve had this company, but the company itself now is set up to provide very hand tailored support for every author wherever you are on the path from the very beginning trying to get your idea worked out, working on your outline, figuring out how you’re going to start building your platform, even building your platform for you.
We have a whole marketing team that does that as well to get it started while you’re writing your book, all the way through to editing your final draft, content editing, meaning helping you figure out “Does it all hang together?” Or “What are the global issues?” Getting into the line by line editing and then even the technical editing if you’re going to be self-publishing. We also have a service where we help people get set up to find an agent. We don’t introduce you to agents, but we will give you a list of the agents we think would be best for you and how you can go about reaching out to them. So we work at every stage, at every level. We’re very much a boutique company in terms of we listen to you, we find out what you think, were you are in your process.
And then we suggest/say to you, this is what we would suggest you do next whether you do it with us or somebody else. We have free calls for everybody. If you want to work with me directly, I offer one thing right now, actually I offer two things right now. The one thing is I do a book consultation. So I’ll read through whatever you have, your blog, your outline, a couple of chapters and a fairly intense content form that I’ll send you that will – I need to hear from you – will tell me what your goals and dreams are and tell me what you want to do with this book. Then we’ll do an hour long call where I will give you my suggestions on what your hook for your book should be, how you should structure it, or how it’s working now, if you’ve already written it. What your next step should be, etc. So that’s one service that I offer.
And then I also do five day retreats. I have one coming up in October at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York and I have one in February at 1440 multiversity out in Santa Cruz. I’m just booking one from March at Kripalu in western Massachusetts. So those are the two different places you can work with me directly, but my company itself is totally open and available at kn literary arts. You can find out a ton more there.
KIM: Okay. I need to know more about five day retreats.
KELLY: Yes. Right? Yes.
KIM: Would you mind just diving into that for a little bit? Because we have five kids that sounds like heaven.
KELLY: Heaven, right, exactly. So yes. So it is a place where there’s a lot of structured writing time. Because that’s one of the things that I feel I’ve found is the most important piece is that people need a time where they feel they’re being held accountable for actually doing the writing. But I’m also there because a lot of people come into the room, one of the students at my very first retreat I taught of this type, he said “Wow, we’re in a one room schoolhouse.” Because everyone’s at a different level, right? Some people have a draft well under way, other people don’t even know what they’re writing about.
So I try to provide service and what’s needed for every single person. But yes, they’re at these wonderful retreat centers that know how to really hold space. The food is amazing. The accommodations can be amazing if you want to go for the high level accommodations. It can also be relatively affordable if you want to go for a dorm-style accommodation. But either way, the point of the week is to give you that time, that sacred away time to write, to really get started. The idea being that you will know what your next step is and how you’re going to get there and you’ll feel confident in your writing skill by the time you leave. Because we’re going to set things up so that you are held and all your questions get answered and you also have time to write.
KIM: I just need to tell you, it would still sound amazing to me if it was at a motel six with my own bathroom. [laughing]
KELLY: [laughing] So true. I know for the moms among us, yes, I totally understand that, yeah.
KIM: Yeah, yeah. Oh my gosh. Okay. One last question, actually, two last questions. Should people be at all concerned about making the best sellers lists in your opinion?
KELLY: I mean, in my opinion, not at all, honestly. The reason for that, there’s a couple different reasons. Number one, depending on what genre you’re in. The bestseller lists may not actually reflect how many copies you sold, believe it or not. And in the genre that I work in most, which is sort of self help, personal growth, wellness, that sort of, it’s the New York Times list is the ‘Advice, How To Be and Miscellaneous list.’ You actually have to sell so many copies to even get on that list that most authors never even have that many copies in the marketplace. So for example, my book was published in November. They printed 10,000 copies. You need to sell about 10,000 copies a week to hit the ‘Advice, How To Be and Miscellaneous list’ on the New York Times list. I knew from the beginning that’s not even a chance. That’s okay. Right? So for me, when I’m working with people, I ask what is their goal? What is their outcome for – what did they think they’re going to get by the New York Times list? Generally they either say, well that would mean quote unquote “that I sold enough copies or that my work is really impacting a lot of people, etc.”
But underneath it, the thing that they really want is some sort of applause and validation, which I can totally understand. I am number one in line when the applause gifts are being given out. I want as much applause as I can get, but having been in the business, I know that it’s such a thin margin of people that would even have enough books printed to make that list that I mostly tell people don’t even think about it. Now that’s the New York Times list. That’s the big list. New York Times will say USA Today, Wall Street Journal, that kind of thing. People then started asking me about Amazon list. And on Amazon list, sure it’s nice that at some point I was number one in authorship reference with my book. Right? Great.
I mean that’s fine, but that doesn’t mean really very much at all. We don’t even know what it means because no one, even the publishers, has access to the Amazon Algorithms. I have personally seen authors who’ve gotten 50 of their friends to buy the book at the same time and they become number one in one of those sub categories. We call them like a micro category. Those micro categories really do not mean much at all. To anyone who knows how Amazon works, the only sales figure that matters is your sales ranking, your overall sales ranking. That means where you stand in the rank of all books sold today. Okay and if you’ve managed to get under 10,000 on the overall sales ranking, you’re doing quite well with your book, your publisher is going to be happy with you.
Ideally, you know, it stays there for months and maybe even years. That depends on how much you’re promoting it, what your platform looks like, how many of them already bought the book, things like that. Then there’s these perennial bestsellers that are going to be in the Amazon hot 100 for weeks or years on end. I hope for everyone listening to this podcast that their book becomes one of those, but whether it will or not is really kind of, again, up to life. And all I say is do your best. Do the best that you know how to do and then be really proud of yourself for actually doing something that 85% of people say they want to do, which is write and publish a book and only like a single digit fraction of those people ever get done. You can be proud of yourself just for writing and publishing the book.
KIM: Yeah, You know, I don’t really even care about the bestseller lists. I just want to be able to tell myself I got it done.
KIM: And then it will be awesome to hear that that it helps people so that’s –
KELLY: Yes, exactly.
KIM: Well Kelly, you have been amazing and I have to tell you I’m itching to go get Scrivener. Like right now.
KELLY: Yey. Great. I love that.
KIM: I would love if you would share one more time where listeners can go to find out more about you and your agency.
KELLY: Yes. Awesome. Thank you. Yes, you can go to kn literary arts, that’s my initials, Kelly Notoras, knliterary.com. You can also go to YouTube and look me up under kn literary there. I have tons of videos that try to explain each of the steps in the process for you because I really do believe that if you are interested enough to take that next step and go looking for resources that that says something about what life is wanting from you and I want to support that. So anything I can do, please don’t hesitate to be in touch. Sign up for a call on our website. We are always very happy to talk to you and we will tell you what your next best step is and sometimes it’s not even to work with us honestly. So, we’re really honest about it and no hard sell ever is our policy. So you can feel free to call anytime. And of course my book is The Book You Were Born To Write and it’s available wherever books are sold.
KIM: Oh my gosh. Thank you for the no hard sell. Listeners, if you are trying not to burn dinner, if you’re driving, if you’re – Kelly, I burn every single meal I tried to cook.
KELLY: [laughing] Oh no.
KIM: If you don’t want to fall off the elliptical, you can go to thekimsutton.com/pp578 I believe.
KELLY: Mmmhhmmm that’s what you said –
KIM: [inaudible] episode name for this, and you’ll know which pp it is, but I’m pretty sure it’s 578.
KELLY: Which pp?
KIM: Oh! My kids make fun of me every time I say that.
KELLY: Say pp? [laughing] I love that.
KIM: Yes. Yes, it is pp578 so thekimsutton pp578 and you’ll be able to find all the links including the link to Kelly’s book. But Kelly, thank you so much again. This has been an absolute pleasure. I can’t wait to have many more conversations with you.
KELLY: I look forward to it. Yes, it’s been wonderful.
KIM: Before we go, do you have a parting piece of advice or a golden nugget that you can share with listeners?
KELLY: Yeah, I mean, the thing that I would say is what I’ve said up until now. If there is that impulse inside of you to write a book, there’s a really good reason for it and I suggest you follow it. Just take the next baby step. You don’t have to think about writing the whole book or what you’re publishing plan is going to be. You can literally just purchased Scrivener (I don’t even get a kickback for that) or watch a video or get your outline underway. Just take that one first step that’s showing you that you’re meeting life halfway, and then I’ve always found that life will double up the next time and get you to the next level.