This edited transcript is the second in a four-part series from an interview on April 2, 2015. Dr. Judith Briles asks me about how authors can become experts and promote their expertise. Prefer audio? You can download it here or listen on iTunes. Part 3 will be published here tomorrow. Also let them know about my free cheat sheet for authors on “10 Profitable Ways to Use Email to Create SuperFans Who Help You Sell Books.”
Judith: With me today is the awesome Publicity Hound, Joan Stewart, and we’re talking about how you become an expert, which is going to be a series of baby steps. I’ve always said that publishing is a marathon. Stop thinking you’re going to sprint through it. Actually, it’s more than one marathon. It’s a lot of marathons that are strung together and that’a what Joan was talking about.
Before we went to break, I threw out the issue of how do you take a controversial topic that you’re expertise is in—something that is contrarian or might tick off a lot of people or raise their eyebrows and you get challenges.
So Joan, what do you do when you’re doing that? Is there some positioning that an author can do?
The Media Loves Controversy
Joan: Sure, absolutely. You mentioned controversy. If you want publicity, the best way to get it is to be controversial because the media absolutely loves controversy. Especially the big media—like say you want to be in a big radio talk show? Be controversial.
There’s a media trainer in Los Angeles who says that big radio shows don’t like light. They like heat. They don’t like these touchy-feely, feel-good topics. They want heat. They want topics that make people so mad that they pull over to the side of the road during rush hour and whip out their mobile phones and call the station.
If you can take a position on a controversial topic that ties into your expertise, you will get far more attention than if you refuse to take a position.
Let me pluck an example out of the air. Take a look at the fear that has erupted over the topic of autistic children and whether they should be immunized. If you’ve written a book on autism and you can take a position one way or the other—that children either should be immunized or shouldn’t be immunized—you’re going to get a lot more attention.
Now you’re going to have people arguing with you. But that’s going to attract a lot more attention. So what if you’re stirring up controversy? Once that starts to happen, the people who are on your side are going to start to join in the conversation.
I’m all for it. I’m all for taking a position on controversial topics, except for—and we’re taught this when we become professional speakers—I would never go on the platform and start a political conversation about whether I’m from a blue state or a red state and how I feel about politics or religion or some of the other things that really don’t have anything to do whatsoever with my topic. You want to stay away from those types of things. But you want to take positions on controversial issues that tie into your expertise.
Women and Sabatoge
Judith: Let me add to that. When I was controversial with my book Women and Sabotage, my hook was, contrary to popular belief, men don’t discriminate. [Laughs] That got their attention.
Judith: Absolutely. Then they would say, “Tell me more.” I would say, “Well, women do. If they’re going to sabotage or shaft someone, they’re going to primarily do it to their own gender.” “Tell me more!” I was all over Timbuktu with that.
Joan: There you go. What year was this approximately, when this came out? Do you remember what year it was?
Judith: Oh, it was 1987, that was the first book. Then I had five books, it kept going. I’m [kiss smack] to Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky and the saboteur of all time, Linda Tripp, and I really had strong feelings. I was very opinionated on what was going on and I would say what I thought about Clinton. I would say what I thought about Lewinsky. But Linda Tripp got my attention.
Joan: Excellent! Did you, by any chance, speaking of Monica Lewinsky, see her TED Talk?
Judith: I did and it was excellent. I was going to add into that because she was talking about cyberbullying and some of her mistakes, and I thought it was superb. I would encourage all our listeners to go to watch it.
Judith: One side of me wanted to jump in again because I was all over that and I had the pioneering book on this. And then I deep dove into healthcare and the toxicity of women. I’m not doing that anymore. I’m not writing about women and betrayal anymore. I don’t want to reposition myself because I am mouthy. I do have opinion. I can really position it and I know how to talk to the media. I don’t want to be there because all I’m doing is publishing now.
Maybe, Joan, you would say, “No, no, Judith, go after it,” but it redirects me where I don’t want to be.
Set Business and Publicity Goals
Joan: Exactly. I know that you mean. Every time I turn around, you’ve got a book coming out. You’re either working on a book or you’re launching a book or you’re doing something with a book and you’re hosting events and you’re hosting a cruise and you’re doing the Extravaganza and you’re doing all this stuff—and you’re right. What that does is it takes time away from all of the other things.
So I think you have to ask yourself, what are the goals that I’m going toward in my business? Where am I trying to get with this business and what do I need to do to get there? And will I get media attention?
When to Turn Down Publicity
Joan: I mean, what if the “Today” show called you and they wanted you to come to the studio for an on-air interview? Would you really take off two days?
Joan: To go to New York, to sit on the “Today” show set and maybe talk for four minutes on the topic of how women sabotage each other?
Joan: Of course not, because it wouldn’t get you anywhere.
Judith: No, it doesn’t take me anywhere. I think that all of you, as authors, have to really look at another side of this, because this is where the publicity side comes in.
Say you’re working on your book but it’s not out yet and the “Today” show gets wind that you’re working on this and they say, “Oh, you’ve got to be here!” The producer is wining and dining you over the phone and sending you all these kudos that you’re just the best thing and you need to come back here and you get seduced and you go back there. You know what? Your four minutes are up. When your book comes out three months later or four months later, the odds of them paying any attention to you, of bringing you back, are almost zilch.
Joan: Yeah, yeah.
Judith: You’ve got to be tuned into that—it’s very important, your timing.
Joan: That’s a good point. Ask yourself, where do you want to go with this book? What do you want this book to do for you?
Judith: That’s critical. You need to stay where you’re going to be, but you can start, as Joan says, with baby steps.
What Experts Do
OK, so what are some of the other things now? I know you have a laundry list of things that can happen in creating your expertise? Maybe we should start with what exactly is an expert?
Joan: An expert is—and it depends on whose definition you go by—a person who has a great deal of knowledge about a particular topic. My definition is anyone who also uses that expertise to further teach other people. That’s what I think an expert is. In other words, you’re doing, you’re not just learning. You don’t just have it in your brain, you’re doing things aside from just learning about the topic.
Let me tick off a couple of other things that experts can do. So you’ve got a body of knowledge in your head. Judith, we know this because we’ve both been in business a long time. You’re always learning. I’ve got to tell you, I am just always learning and fighting technology. I have so many problems with technology so I have never “arrived,” I’ve never graduated from technology school—ever. I’m always learning. You should always be learning about your topic, I don’t care what it is.
Here are some of the things you can do as an expert: Have you thought about consulting? A lot of authors out there don’t realize that they can sell an hour of their time talking to somebody over the telephone on how to solve a problem.
Joan: What about being active in a trade association? That will give you visibility. Not only among people within the association, but among people who do business with the association.
Create Your Own Media Empire
Have you thought about hosting a podcast or a radio show? Are you creating videos for YouTube? Do you have your own YouTube channel?
What about publishing an email tip of the week? It doesn’t even have to be a long newsletter, just a quick tip of the week. So many authors are missing the boat on email. They don’t like email, they get too much spam, and what they don’t realize is that if you do it right, you can really earn a reputation as a valuable resource who sends great content via email and actually get your audience to look forward to receiving it, once a week or once every other week.
Judith: You know, Joan, what I learned from you also is your expertise is really perfectly designed to create multiple cheat sheets within that realm of expertise. There are so many roots and branches that can come off that you can just pepper those out there and people gobble them up.
Joan: Oh, yeah. As we’ve talked, a lot of what you do, you don’t have to start it from scratch. I can take this one-hour radio show that we’re doing right now, Judith, and I can probably create a half a dozen cheat sheets from it.
Judith: And you will. You know what? When we come back, let’s talk about that expertise cheat sheet. We have another break. Joan Stewart is my guest, and a lot is happening in expertise land.