Anna David | How to Become a NY Times Best-Selling Author
Smart Business Revolution

Anna David is the Founder and CEO of Launch Pad Publishing, a company that helps people share their stories and increase their credibility through book publishing. She is a New York Times best-selling author of eight books and has been a featured speaker at three different TEDx events. 

Anna has been published in The New York Times, Time, and The LA Times among many others. She has appeared repeatedly on The Today Show, The Talk, The CBS Morning Show, and dozens of other programs and has been written about in Entrepreneur, Forbes, and Martha Stewart Living. Anna is also the host of the Launch Your Book podcast.

In this episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, John Corcoran is joined by Anna David, an author and the Founder and CEO of Launch Pad Publishing, to talk about the journey to become a New York Times best-selling author. Anna discusses the challenges she faced building her writing career and publishing company, as well as her experience battling addiction. Plus, Anna shares how Launch Pad Publishing can help you produce your book and grow your business from there!

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • How Anna David realized she wanted to become a writer
  • Anna talks about Matt Damon’s early writing works, her experience as a freelance writer, and how HuffPost impacted the writing industry
  • How Anna transitioned to writing books
  • The point Anna felt she had made it as a writer, the challenges she faced in her writing career, and her journey battling addiction
  • How Anna started helping others write their own books and the struggles she endured while growing her publishing business
  • How Anna ensures she hires great writers, how she balances providing client services with writing services, and what excites her most about her business
  • Anna’s thoughts on the emergence of different forms of media
  • The peers Anna respects and how to get in touch with her

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Sponsor: Rise25

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Cofounders Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran credit podcasting as being the best thing they have ever done for their businesses. Podcasting connected them with the founders/CEOs of P90xAtariEinstein BagelsMattelRx BarsYPO, EO, Lending Tree, Freshdesk,  and many more.  

The relationships you form through podcasting run deep. Jeremy and John became business partners through podcasting. They have even gone on family vacations and attended weddings of guests who have been on the podcast.

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Rise25 Cofounders, Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran, have been podcasting and advising about podcasting since 2008.

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:14

Welcome to the revolution, the Smart Business Revolution Podcast where we asked today’s most successful entrepreneurs to share the tools and strategies they use to build relationships and connections to grow their revenue. Now, your host for the revolution, John Corcoran.

John Corcoran 0:40

All right. Welcome, everyone. John Corcoran here. I’m the host of this show. Every week I get to talk to interesting CEOs, founders, entrepreneurs, and writers and authors from all kinds of organizations ranging from YPO to Activision Blizzard, LendingTree, OpenTable, Netflix, Ace Software. I’m also the Co-founder of Rise25, where we help connect b2b business owners to their ideal prospects. And my guest this week is Anna David. She’s the Founder of Launch Pad Publishing and the host of the Launch Your Book podcast as well. And a New York Times bestselling author of eight books, she’s been a featured speaker at three different TED events and published in the New York Times, Time, and the LA Times, among many others. She has appeared repeatedly on the Today Show, The Talk, The CBS Morning Show and does other programs and has been written about on Entrepreneur, Forbes and Martha Stewart Living to name a few. 

Anna, such a pleasure to have you we’re going to hop into that in a moment. Of course, this episode is brought to you by Rise 25 Media where we help b2b businesses to get clients referrals and strategic partnerships with done for your podcast and content marketing, you have any questions about how to do a podcast, send us an email at [email protected], or you can also connect with us there on the web. Anna, such a pleasure to have you here today. And you know, it’s funny, a few years back in my parent’s garage, and I’d forgotten about this, a art project that I’d created. I think I was 10 years old. And it said what I want to do when I grow up and I said I want to be a writer. And I didn’t even realize or remember that I knew this at such a young age. And I’ve been very fortunate to do a lot writing throughout my career. How about for you that usually I launched these podcasts interviews, and I asked people about when they realized they wanted to be an entrepreneur, but writer, writer, and entrepreneur, entrepreneur, I’m curious for you, when did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

Anna David 2:36

First of all, that is a horrible job. That is just a very cute visual, I got it. Honestly, writing is the only thing I ever knew how to do. It was the only thing I wanted to do. I recently found something where in first grade, I wrote what I want to do and I wrote I will go to Paris I spell Paris pa r IC E and I will write and I will a shop. So I don’t know if that was open a shop or go to a shop. I you know, I was sick. So I just started writing and my mom was an English professor. She’s retired now. And her dissertation was published. So I saw her with her hands flying over the keyboard. And it was all I ever wanted to do. I started submitting I have a rejection letter from 1978 I think before you were born, that before you were born. I was born in 75. So yeah, I was eight and I was already submitting things to highlights magazine. Nice, nice.

John Corcoran 3:44

I often used to say when I was younger that I wanted to wallpaper a bathroom with rejection letters. Because if you’re getting that many rejection letters, you must be doing something right.

Anna David 3:56

Yet not too dangerous to early on in this but my college boyfriend was Matt Damon and he was you know a striving after at that point. And he aimed rejection, the first rejection letter he got from this big casting director Howard something and I’m keeping it because when I’m really like successful, I will always have this.

John Corcoran 4:16

That’s awesome. That’s awesome. I wonder if he has it framed in his house. In his many houses now I know he was a writer as well. Did you guys share passion for writing?

Anna David 4:32

Yeah, it kind of kills me. I actually have this picture of us where he’s reading all my short stories because I majored in writing in college. And I remember him just going You are such a brilliant writer. And then when he won the Academy Award for writing, I’m like, something went wrong here. You know, I’m the writer, but I remember when they were writing script. We had all graduated from college I he actually dropped out but It was a couple years after we get out, we were out of college. And he and Ben were living in Eagle Rock. And I remember they were driving me to the airport once. And they were reading the script out loud. And I was like, I don’t know this sounds okay. Yeah, what do I know? But yeah,

John Corcoran 5:17

you’re like, you can just get Robin Williams he’ll be fine.

Anna David 5:22

They and they tried to they had so many people lined up, and I never thought it would happen. I certainly obviously didn’t think what did end up happening with them, which

John Corcoran 5:30

is a pretty phenomenal story. Yeah, but let’s focus on you. So you, you were a freelance writer for many years? Not an easy gig. Tell me a little bit about like the struggle years were like?

Anna David 5:47

Well, it actually was an easy gig when I did it. So I started. I worked in magazines. It was easy if you were ever on staff at a magazine. So I started on staff at People Magazine. Then I went to Us Weekly. Then I upgraded I went to premier magazine. And then I had enough big clips, as we called them in that those days that I could I could pitch almost any magazine, and they would say yes, so I started writing for Cosmo and red book. And back there, all those ad mats, bags, stuff, Maxim. And then I got something in the New York Times, I got a modern love and the New York Times, and Vanity Fair. And so and it was a great living, I would get a cover story for Cosmo, I would sit down with a famous person for an hour, do an interview and make like, you know, $4,000 or something. And then it just changed overnight. It changed with the Huffington Post, is what changed it all.

John Corcoran 6:41

Yeah. And for those who don’t know, what did Huffington Post do that was different. And how did it change the profession so dramatically?

Anna David 6:49

Well, they started aggregating content. So nobody had really seen that before. So rates were going from writers like me who got like, $2, a word, were suddenly with internet writing, going down to $1 a word. And then suddenly, this website comes along, that’s aggregating content, which is basically just like reprinting content or summarizing content from other websites, and celebrities are writing for them. And the celebrities are writing for free. Or so we were told, and this transformation happened, or many of us were very slow to realize, oh, we’re not going to get paid for this anymore. This is volunteer work. And I for many years thought those were the lean years were fighting the reality. And then I really realized, and I’m so grateful, this is over. This is John, and my former colleagues are all scrambling the ones who didn’t get out the ones who are trying to get substack newsletter deals and, and still struggling. So yeah, it radically transformed while I was doing it.

John Corcoran 7:49

Yeah, in many ways of forced writers to become entrepreneurs to get scrappy, and to be advocates for their own business. It was less of a vocation more of entrepreneurship and getting creative. And you started writing books as well. So how did you make that transition into book writing?

Anna David 8:08

Well, and that changed a lot as I was doing it. What happened is, I always wanted to write a book, and then a girl I knew who’s not that smart, published a book and I said, if she can do it, I know I can’t, it can’t be that hard. And I sat down and I wrote a novel. And I did I had no training. You know, I just read short stories in college. I never. And I got very lucky. I had agents coming after me because they had so many magazine stories out there that people that agents were already coming to me. My the one I went with, sold it in a week to my top choice publisher, and it was the Cinderella story. And that was a party girl. And then it was a heartbreaking experience. Because due to three again, my publisher was fired and the biggest scandal to ever hit publishing several months before my book came out. And it was they talk publishing about getting orphaned when your daughter leaves and I always say it was like getting orphaned. And then the orphanage was burned to the ground because there was nobody there. So my book didn’t really have a shot. There was no one to put in bookstores, there was no publicity there. I got a ton of press work because I was still in the media. So I got on the Today Show and I did all the things but press doesn’t sell books. doesn’t at all. Man, cast you a little bit but not TV.

John Corcoran 9:26

Yeah, that’s brutal. What do you know, as I you know, I started I was fortunate I was 22 years old. I was a paid writer. And I you know, I interned in the White House speech writing office, did a little bit of writing there. And then came back after in the Clinton years at the end tail end of the administration. I was writing presidential letters and messages and I remember just having this I still have it. This name is in my office nameplate that’s a John Corcoran, Writer which went on my office at the White House and feeling like I’d made it How about for you? Where did you feel like you made it was that for people job? Was there something other kind of marker that made you feel like you’ve made it as a writer?

Anna David 10:10

I think well, at premiere I had, I didn’t have a nameplate, but I had a door that closed, I made it out of the cubicle, and I was a staff writer. And that was a big moment. And then, and then selling party girl to regain books. And I distinctly remember when it’s sold, no, the week when we were, I didn’t know if it was going to sell. I said to myself, if I God, if I sell this, I will be happy for the rest of my life. And I was for about two weeks. And then I had that epiphany that, you know, those who get what they want have, which is Oh my god, no thing is actually going to be the thing. And that that’s a brutal thing. Because having been raised on the value that if you get the stuff, you know, you’re going to, you know, be happy every day. So, so that was really interesting. And it really helped me with publishing. Yeah, it’s such an undemocratic system, where basically publishers put all your effort behind a few books that don’t need that effort, and then none behind everybody else. So it really inspires jealousy. And, you know, to realize, like, Oh, I’m on my path and even think that I would just want more. If I was Elizabeth Gilbert, I probably just want more. So let’s get really happy with what I have said, when I was completely broke in 2010. And here, I had a New York Times bestselling book. No, I didn’t have the New York Times bestseller hadn’t happened yet. But I was I was a writer, I was living in New York, and I was like, this is not going to work. I’m 39 years old. And I don’t know how to do anything but. And I really floundered for a few years. And then it was meeting Joe Polish and learning about marketing, and setting up my business where I realized, you know, cuz I was like, Oh, the world doesn’t value writing skills. And I had the realization the world very much values writing skill, he doesn’t value writers. But if you have the skills, and you can provide them for the people who need them, they’re very, very valued. And that was how I was able to start my business.

John Corcoran 12:16

And you also, you know, have written a lot about your addictions. How did those two worlds collide with your career, and the struggles you had in your career, making it real profitable, and your addictions?