We recently signed a contract with McGraw-Hill to re-release a book that Jeff Slutsky and I wrote back in 1996. The new book will be titled “The Toastmasters International 21st Century Guide to Successful Speaking.” The first book was a huge success and sold out, but Dearborn Publishing, who released the previous book, is no longer in business. Along comes McGraw-Hill, major publishers with major credentials. They feel the book easily has the potential to top 100,000 in sales, especially now with sales running about 10 to 1 of electronic versions. The earlier version did not offer that option. It is McGraw-Hill’s opinion that foreign rights will fly off the shelf for the new book. That’s a good thing because the last book was pirated word for character by the Chinese. We never saw a dime from that book and it would have cost more to defend the copyright than we could expect to recover. By having a local publisher in other countries, the advance is generally minimal but that publisher will defend the copyright in their respective domain, allowing us to see some residuals from the project. Finding foreign publishers is one of the major reasons for having a big name publisher as opposed to self publishing, a trend that has grown stronger in recent years. With on-demand publishing the order of the day, a writer can publish as little as one book and minimize their overhead. The downside… no advances for writing the book and practically no ability to get it translated into other languages, unless you’ve enjoyed previous experience in that arena. My seventh book, published by John Wiley & Sons, was titled “It’s the Customer, Stupid!” It was picked up in Portuguese and in Russian. John Wiley & Sons are major international publishers with most of their credits in the educational arena. Most college text books and e-books bear their name. Their contacts got me into international markets. Several years ago they ventured into the business book arena, and they used an unconventional approach to finding titles and authors. Publishers never contact an author to ask them to write a book, but that’s exactly what happened with “It’s the Customer, Stupid!” I remember getting the call on a Friday afternoon from Richard Narramore who represented Wiley & Sons. He asked me outright if I wanted to write this new book for them and I did what any reasonable guy would do… I hung up on the joker thinking it was one of my speaking buddies pulling a prank on me. He calls back and again and gave me his number. “Please call me back.” Realizing how badly I screwed up, I phoned him right back and point-blank asked him why he had selected me. “We know you speak on customer service because we’ve checked all our sources (agents, bureaus, former clients, internet searches and others) and your name keeps popping up,” he said. “We know you won the World Championship of Public Speaking for Toastmasters International. We know you have earned a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designation from the National Speakers Association. We know that you have been chosen as a member of the Speakers Hall of Fame (CPAE Speakers Hall of Fame) for NSA. We know you were awarded the George Morrissey Lifetime Achievement Award for NSA-Central Florida. We know you and Zig Ziglar were just awarded the Legends of the Speaking Profession award by the Veteran Speakers Retreat. But we could care less about all of that!” Stunned at his response, I asked “Those were about the only noteworthy things on my otherwise worthless resume.” He went on “We also found out that you are in the insurance business and that you’ve represented the same company for the past 40 years. That’s why we chose you!” I thought I missed something, but he went on. “We’re sick and tired of hiring authors to write books about things they’ve never done. You’ve lived your message for 40 years, and that’s what we want you to write about. We don’t need another book report by an author.” Fair enough. He went on, “Unless you can come up with a better title for the book, we’ve chosen ‘It’s the Customer, Stupid!’” I offered “Have I Gotta Beg to Buy?” which was the title to my customer service speech, but even I had to agree their title was better. And that’s how it happened. * * * * * Michael Aun is a syndicated columnist and writes a weekly column for this newspaper. To contact Michael Aun, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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