We interviewed 18 women at a podcasting conference and in the process made new friends, sparked collaboration, created podcast episodes, and wrote a fabulous book. The best news of all is you can do it, too! Join Shelley Carney and Toby Younis and we’ll share the simple steps we took to compile, write, edit and publish a book on Amazon. It took about four months and it was so easy and fun that we want to share our “Leverage Interviews to Write a Book” process with you.
The title of this chapter is The Easy, Fun Way to Publish a Book While Making Friends. All good things. We’re going to be talking about putting a book together. This is our second time doing it. This is our first time publishing a non-fiction compilation where we take interviews and create a book out of it.
We always knew it could be done and Toby’s done similar things in the past, creating white papers and case studies. If you look at his documentary work, it’s pretty much the same process. It’s like making a documentary, but there is a lot less time spent on editing. We want to take the content and get it distributed as quickly as we possibly can.
Was it easy?
There were so many contributors to this book, so that made the content an easy thing to produce. There was detailed editing because it starts with people having a conversation and you have to take out a lot of filler words and repetition. We tend to speak in run-on sentences especially when we’re trying to get a whole lot of words out as the thoughts appear in our brain. We say it fast so we don’t forget or get sidetracked. That means the editing process can be a little more challenging.
What you’re going to end up with in a book like this is more of a conversational style and that’s okay. This is a faster, more casual, and friendly way to make content. If you’re going to sit down and write a book by tapping away at the keyboard, it’s all got to come out of your brain and your brain is going to complain, “This is hard!”
The preparation of creating tools to manage the process along with writing and revising the questions kept us very involved in the structure of the book. We learned a lot from creating content out in the field together.
At the end of the conference, we had 18 audio recordings. We had photos that we took during the interviews and of the conference itself and we had stories to tell.
From concept to creation
Writing a book based on interviews didn’t become an idea for us until one day we were speaking to each other about what are we going to get out of this conference?
Of course, there are great talks and a lot of people there to meet. We’ll learn about podcasting and meet other podcasters. It’s a great experience to attend a podcasting conference.
One of the benefits of being a podcaster is you can reach out to people that you’ve always wanted to speak with and learn from and say, “I have a podcast. Would you be a guest on my podcast?”
We took that piece of the puzzle and decided how about while we’re at the conference with all these other podcasters, we reach out to people and set up interviews with them while we’re one-on-one with them?
How do we do that?
Outreach was made easier because of the Whova app. The Whova app is something that a lot of conferences are using nowadays, especially hybrid conferences. It’s an app that you get before the conference begins and you can start to meet people. You can start looking at who’s going to be speaking and what they’re talking about. You can start setting up your agenda using the Whova app.
With that Whova app, we could put up a post to say, we want to do interviews of people while we’re there. So if you’re interested, contact us. Reaching out in that way we could start scheduling those interviews.
We also decided to print up some rack cards to hand out during the event so people could see what they were getting into. It gave us additional visibility and credibility to have professionally printed rack cards with us at the event. On the front, you can see a picture of Shelley talking to another woman. That represents what it’s going to look like when they interview with her. It gives them information about our show and then on the back, it has contact information and there is a place to write when you make your appointment.
We set up interviews by pre-scheduling them, asking in person, and then handing the cards to the people who interviewed with us and saying if you meet somebody or know somebody who would also like to interview with us, give them this card. They could then text us and we could set up an appointment during the conference.
Goals we set before the conference
- Schedule interviews
- Record interviews
- Have conversations
- Make connections
- Produce podcast episodes and a book
We had set a perfectly reasonable objective of 10 interviews. Shelley scheduled eight of those interviews before we hit the road. So we were on track to achieve our primary objective. If we could get 10 interviews out of this event, we’d feel pretty good about it.
This is how we leverage our content
We start with the interviews. From that, we get:
- Audio file
From the audio file, we created podcast episodes that would play for as many weeks as we had interviews.
Then we take the audio file and have it transcribed through Descript so we have a text version. We add our own stories in the introduction and epilogue. We do a pre-edit and send it off to an editor. It’s a lot of editing of the text, but we want it to be really valuable content for our audience. Then we add the photos and format it into a paperback and Kindle book.
We asked the women we interviewed during the conference to be a guest on our live show. Several of them did accept our invitation and we got extra promotion from that. They invited people to watch the live show. They shared the live show before, during, and after their appearance.
We also spoke about the recorded podcast episode so they could direct people they knew to that podcast episode, as well as the live show. This would give us audience growth and it also grew our network. We now know an additional eighteen people in the podcasting arena whom we connected with and interviewed.
We initiated collaboration projects. Shelley started co-hosting another podcast, Women Conquer Business, with Jen McFarland, a digital marketing consultant we met and interviewed at the She Podcasts Live conference.
We received speaking invitations to be a guest on other podcasts because they met us at the conference.
We’re also looking forward to our book sales bringing us income in the future.
The key is you collect content by doing interviews and taking pictures. The creativity comes in when you figure out how many different ways you can use that content to market yourself and your business. Because that’s what this is all about.
Planning and preparation
Our planning and preparation included a Google spreadsheet that kept all our information in one place. We could always refer to this document throughout the entire process. We set it up as we started scheduling interviews and refined it all the way through formatting the book.
We put together a notebook that held the agenda, the list of interviews, the subject information forms, and the talent releases. We had the subject information form so we could contact them in the future and they could add any links or information they wanted in the show notes.
We tell everybody in advance of the interview what we’re doing with the content. We’re going to put it out as a podcast episode, transcribe it, and put it together as a book. The number one response we got was excitement. They were delighted to be a part of this project and it was easy to ask them to sign the release.
We wrote a list of 10 questions that were specific to the conference and the podcasters we would be talking to, and then we added some different questions for people who were in ancillary businesses or organizers of the event.
Toby had recording notes where he could write down things like the file name, file number, and the person’s name and make any notes about edits he might need to do.
Two people producing these interviews at the same time was ideal. One is interviewing and the other is taking notes and pushing buttons.
The chapters in the book are based upon the order in which we interviewed folks. It’s not about alphabetical or who’s more important.
Why do you want to write and publish a book?
If you’re a small business owner, why would you want to put all that time and effort into writing a book?
Writing a book is a learning opportunity. It helps you to know yourself, your business, and the world better. We heard from people about their stories, why they were podcasting, and why they feel it’s important. We got a lot of information to compile into knowledge that we can carry forward with us.
The book will position you as an expert. If somebody sees you holding a book with your name listed as the author, they’re going to trust you have a lot of knowledge about that topic. They will want you to speak at a conference or talk to their online mastermind group and share this information. It positions you as an expert and gives you authority and visibility in your industry.
It’s a calling card with thump value, right? You take your book and you thump it on the desk and you say, yeah, I wrote a book! People are impressed by that because it takes a lot of commitment and effort to write and publish your book. It builds your brand and creates great social proof for your projects in your business.
You can confidently state:
“I can do a project from start to finish and all of these people who are featured in the book are excited to be a part of it. I gathered them all together. I was the leader that made this happen!”
The book helps you grow your audience and attract more clients. All the people who are featured in the book are going to want to own the book. They’re going to want to share it with their family, their friends, and their audience.
Photos and oral history
We stopped after the interview and took some photographs, one of each individual and one of Shelley and the individual subject together. We added those individual portraits to the book and we’re printing the book in color.
If you’re concerned about whether or not this is a valuable promotional or marketing strategy, think about a gentleman whose name is Studs Terkel. You may have heard his name because he is a well-published author. He published over his lifetime twenty-five books, 12 of which were oral histories. Ultimately he won a Pulitzer Prize for his work. He received the literary medal of freedom from President Bill Clinton.
This is a credible methodology for producing content and it’s especially more credible for us because we have the recordings. The only distribution that Studs Terkel had was to put the recordings on his radio show. He didn’t have the internet, he didn’t have live streaming. He didn’t have podcasting. He didn’t have transcription applications. Technology and tools are readily available to make this process a lot easier for us today.
Processing the content
Once you have all the content, you have to process it. We released each interview as a podcast episode and released an episode every week, starting the first week of November. Then we used Descript, which is a program that does transcription of audio and video, to create the text. Shelley did a preliminary edit, removed filler words, removed the intro and the outro, which were in the podcast, and that is the draft edit. Toby hired an editor who he found on Fiverr to make sure that everything was grammatically correct. Before this, we hadn’t hired an editor for any of our work and we regret not doing it sooner.
We did some minor editing in terms of word construct, but nothing that would change the thought process of the interview subject. We don’t want to change the intent of what they were trying to say.
If you’re good at editing, do it. If you have a tool like Descript, count on it to do some of the editing for you because in one fell swoop it will remove all the filler words. Then Word has its version of grammatical and textual editing. Editing is a good thing, but you don’t want to let it keep you from moving forward. By the time we’ve run it through Google docs and Word and had an editor work on it, it’s going to be as good as we can make it.
Formatting and cover art
Toby does most of the formatting. After it’s all been edited, he takes care of the formatting and turns it from single chapters into a complete book. We initially keep the introduction, the epilogue, and all the interviews, separate documents in Google Drive. We download them as separate Word documents and then combine them into a single Word document in the order of how they were produced. Starting with the introduction, then each of the interviews, and the epilogue.
Amazon KDP has a specific format to upload the finished document. The first thing to do is adjust the layout in Word from the standard 8 1/2 x 11 to the 6 x 9 trim size. Then set the margins and add headers and footers.
We added the photos that we collected during the event of each of the subjects. Then we add what is referred to as the front matter and the back matter. The front matter is the cover page, copyright page, acknowledgments, dedications, and the table of contents. The back matter could be anything from stories about the author, to how to get in touch with us.
When you’ve got all that done, you create the table of contents using Word’s table of contents feature. It puts your table of contents together with the correct pages based on your formatting. Now I know this book will be between 275 and 300 pages so I can set the cover size.
The final step after you’re confident that it’s as good as it can get in the format that Amazon expects is to save it as a PDF. That’s how you upload it to Amazon. Once you’ve uploaded it to Amazon it takes them a couple of days to determine whether or not it is accepted. It’ll tell you immediately if you’re off in your formatting. The fact that they upgraded Amazon KDP so you can use Microsoft Word and save it as a PDF out of Microsoft is a great improvement.
Then you create your cover. To create your cover, you need to know how many pages are going to be in the book, because that’s how they calculate the size of the spine. I had estimated 300 and I think we’re going to come in right at that. We had an idea of what we wanted the book cover to look like. Together we created a photograph that we put into Book Brush and created the cover using that online application.
Toby took the photo and he’s a professional photographer. If you ever come to a point where you need a specific kind of photo for a project that you’re doing, you can contact Toby. We can create a small set photograph that you can use for a book cover or a product shot whenever you need it. You can find a portfolio of Toby’s photography work at https://www.pexels.com/@tyounis
You upload the cover and they check to make sure it’s sized correctly. Then they run it through a two to three business day process, where they check and make sure that your writing is reasonable. That you’re on the topic. That it’s sellable on Amazon and that your cover fits.
Then they ask if you want any proofs and you can get up to five proofs of the paperback with a watermark that says Not For Resale. They’ll send you up to five of those. You can order coupons if you want to give away digital copies. You can buy the paperback books yourself at the discounted wholesale price from Amazon. You can order up to 50 at a time. You could use those as giveaways, or sell them at book signings or a conference.
We’re going to publish both in paperback and the Kindle book.
Creating chapters from live shows
When we prepare our live presentation shows, we design a set of slides so we know what we’re going to talk about. When we have a finished show, we have the transcription text and we have the slides. So instead of just writing an introduction and an epilogue, we use the slides and the transcription text. We add that into the introduction and epilogue so the writing process is quicker and simpler.
Let’s talk about marketing
Once the book is formatted and accepted into KDP as an Amazon book, you’ve got it up for sale. What we like to do is add it to Kindle Unlimited. So if you have the Kindle Unlimited reading program from Amazon, then you can read the book for free. We try to price reasonably so people can say I’m in that book. I want to buy that book. I want to give that book to my mom! If they want to do that, they should be able to afford to buy the paperback.
To continue with the marketing, we’re going to recruit people through email. We write to everybody who contributed to the book to let them know the book is available and provide the link to the Amazon book page. We ask Would you please leave a review of the book? That’s 18 reviews that we hope to receive from those who were interviewed and are featured in the book. We’ll remind them to also recruit family, friends, and audience members of theirs to do the same. Reviews will spur more action from Amazon so our book will be presented more frequently to other possible buyers. We’ll share it on our podcast and encourage others to talk about it on their podcast.
We’ll tell everybody the book is out there and it’s about women in podcasting. We’re going to post it on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and all over social media that the book is available and share our best reviews. We’ll make sure to tag the She Podcasts group and page when we post on Facebook because there’s a very large group of women podcasters who will see it there. Interested people might think Oh, I wish I had gone to that event. I know that person and listen to her podcast. I want to read that book.
We’ll put out an email blast and ask everybody to read and share the book. We can offer them a sample email and request if they have an email list, they use the sample email to let their list know that the book is available. We’ll send out free Kindle copies to prospective reviewers. For instance, we want to make sure that Elsie Escobar and Jessica Kupferman, who are the organizers and the leaders of She Podcasts, will get a free book so they can review it. Not only might they review it on Amazon but also on their podcasts so that people who listen to their podcasts will hear about it.
We can have giveaways for signed copies to create some excitement and buzz about it. It’s a good idea to incentivize people with that free book to take a specific action that’s going to benefit us as well. For instance, we can have them sign up for our newsletter and they’ll be entered in a drawing to win a book.
Credibility and trust
We committed to producing the book. We want to make sure that our interview subjects know about the book so that when they see it, they can say, here’s the result of that entire effort that Shelley and Toby went through and I helped!
That also adds to our credibility because we have the physical evidence of something we said we were going to do. We gain credibility and trust for completing that mission.
Three and a half months from event to publishing on Amazon. That’s impressive when you can do it this way and do it that quickly and it’s out there before the next conference. They could invite us and say, Hey, want to do that again? Free VIP tickets this time. Or a similar conference planner might bring us in to promote their speakers and conference by creating a book of interviews.
What you get
When you get the book, you will have all of the information about how we put together the whole leveraging your content interview process to create a book. You also get all 18 delightful conversations and it’s an excellent guide for people who currently podcast or want to start a podcast.
You’re going to get a lot of great information about what’s working well for podcasting consistently. Why people experienced podfade and how they came back from that. Statistics from Laura Ivey from Edison Research about who listens to what and why, and for how long and why advertisers should invest in podcasts from Laurel Earhart of Advertisecast. Information about working with Libsyn from Cori Fry. There is information about podcast editing from Jennifer Longworth of Bourbon Barrel Podcasting and Molly Ruland talks about producing a podcast to grow your business, brand, and income.
Look for this exciting book and get on our email list to make sure you get all the information about it and maybe even win a signed copy. All you need to do to get on our email list is go to our website AGKmedia.studio, and there’s a sign-up form there.
Are you at or near retirement and thinking about launching a home-based business? Or do you want to create a legacy of wisdom you can share through live streaming or podcasting? Work with Shelley and Toby at AGK Media Studio and you can live stream videos, podcast and blog all at the same time and learn how to do it in only 5 days!
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