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

Anna David 12:32

Well, when I was before I got sober, I was just a disaster. I was fired from that job. I’ve actually been fired from every job ever. I was fired from Premier,

John Corcoran 12:41

that, by the way, should be a title of a book. From every job ever.

Anna David 12:47

No, I mean, starting with at 16 at the yogurt shop. The company I started four years ago. So I am a born entrepreneur or writer, because I clearly can’t work for anybody. And so I was I was a disaster. I couldn’t. I was unemployable. And then when I got sober, it was like the universe had been waiting for me to show up. Suddenly, I’d always wanted to work at premiere, I was a real movie buff. So suddenly, it’s like, hey, do you want your dream job? Hey, do you want to be on TV? Hey, do you this, this and that, and it was really like, Great run. And then and then it shifted. So I’ve been sober. It’ll be 21 years in November, and my career has had peaks and valleys throughout that time. And, and, you know, writing about addiction, I, you know, I’m a writer in LA. So everybody would assume I’m an addict, it never crossed my mind that there was anything to be ashamed about. So I started writing about it before. Now. It’s tons of people, there’s sober bloggers, or sober podcasters. And I really was the first person doing that, without any awareness that I was helping people. I was just like, Oh, this is really interesting. Let me talk about this. Let me write about this. And I inadvertently became sort of a spokesperson in that world. And then I added about 15 years of sobriety. I’m like, I got, I’ve said, Everything I’ve got to say about this. I got nothing more interesting to say as to like, let me pass the mantle on. And I will say my business attracts a lot of people in recovery, who want to do recovery memoirs. So so it does play into current business, but that’s really the only way it does.

John Corcoran 14:30

Yeah. And let’s talk about you mentioned you highlighted it a second ago, around when you met Joe Polish, but you stepped gradually into helping others with writing their books, and talk a little bit about some of those early clients and how you got into that.

Anna David 14:48

Yes, what happened is a sports agent named Darren Prince came to me and said, will you write my book and because I had written this book that had become a New York Times bestseller A lot of people came to me and it was such I hated the experience. I hated the person I wrote that book for. So I always said no. And Jaron is really insistent. So he kept asking me. And finally I said, Well, I guess a friend had just said that she needed work a writer friend. So I was like, well, I could ask my friend to do it. And he said, Well, if you edit it, that’s all I care about is what you associated with it. So we she writes this book, I edit it. And then he said, Oh, I, I need it published. And I said, I don’t know how to do that. And he said, okay, cool, I’ll pay you to figure it out. So it was really given to me because of Derek. And what he taught me because I didn’t know this having published six books of my own. I watched the take this, I watched him launch his speaking career, I lot I watched him, you know, suddenly just blow up, become the recovery advocate, spokesperson. And I saw, wow, this can just transform a life a book, if you use it, right. My second client did the same thing. It was it’s this woman, Emily Lynn Austin, she came to me, she said, I want to be a recovery advocate. And I have watched her over the years just do incredible things she’s now quoted in the New York Times, she’s on it today. And through those two clients, I learned what was possible. And from there, I basically have been very lucky, we have, you know, really never promoted. It’s all referrals. And we’ve been busy since then.

John Corcoran 16:31

Well, wow, wow. And what have some of the challenges has been for you with building out the business as you’ve grown, brought on other writers?

Anna David 16:39

Well, I had, I had a terrible, that person that wrote that first book ended up Oh, man, believing which was fine, getting started doing very substandard work left started a competing business, which I don’t care, that’s fine. There was no non compete, but then held books, collateral wouldn’t, basically wouldn’t give me the books that I had paid her I paid her in advance, it was all a disaster. So she really almost put us under. So that was horrible. We got through, we ended up financially benefiting and, you know, you know, whatever. That was the biggest challenge. It’s, it’s, um, some clients are very challenging. Some are a dream. Yeah, some require a lot of work. The challenge I’m having now is stepping back a little bit. And I think it can be hard. And I and I bet you relate to this, when you’re sort of the face of it. clients come in, and they want to work with you. Yeah. And it can be very, it can be very hard to step out. So that’s what I’m trying to do. And I’m trying to, you know, include we have more people reach out to us than we can take on. And that’s how my team grows, is I don’t want to say no to a great client. So I just add someone else to the team so that we can take them on.

John Corcoran 18:06

Right, right? And how do you ensure that quality with the writers and editors that you that do the work for you?

Anna David 18:14

Well, luckily, I’ve been employing writers and editors for years, because those three years that I was trying to figure it all out, I was I created a website, which I sold. So we were posting 12 stories a day. So I had three editors, and I had you know, 20 writers. So I’ve vetted everybody. So most of my team has worked with me for a long time. And then I really only do what I need a new writer, I don’t go posted an ad or take blind submissions, I go to my team, and I go who’s good. And you know what my team members just brought in to two writers who write for the New York Times great. I know they’re going to be great. But um, you know, I struggled with that I had a in addition to that one team member, I had another writer, she news writer, so good. And, and the problem with some genius writers is that they’re challenging. You know, I’ve got the double challenge, because a lot of people I know who work for me are in recovery. So so we’re crazy addicts sober and writers and, and it can cause a neurosis. stew of neuroses. So I would say those those have been my challenges.

John Corcoran 19:31

Yeah. And then how do you figure out how to balance that there’s two elements to it. There’s the client services piece to it. And then there’s the creative side to it. Do you have different team members who do do different parts of that? How have you figured out how to manage that process?

Anna David 19:50

Yeah, we have. It’s just writers, editors and project managers and the project managers don’t write and the writers don’t project manage and some people can be both writers and editors. As long as it’s not on the same book, but can

John Corcoran 20:06

be your own Rafi for sure.

Anna David 20:08

Yes, I can work. But when I started, Ryan, who’s like my right hand, Ryan eliopoulos, who’s worked for me forever, he was doing both project managing and writing and that was crazy making he did not have a breakdown, but I don’t know how. So but now it’s different people doing?

John Corcoran 20:26

Yeah, yeah, what gets you most excited about this business? Now?

Anna David 20:31

The most exciting things for me, hands down is coming up with new offers. I don’t know what that says about me. Sometimes I worry that the most exciting thing to me is not editing. It’s not even selling. It’s not even landing clients. It’s going, Oh, my God, I have this thing people are gonna want let’s develop that that feels so creative to me. And, you know, recently, we’ve come up with all these things I told you about this VIP party, and I’m so excited about it. And I’m like, Am I secretly a party planner? Why am I so excited about this, but I just love new. And I love growth. And so it’s really getting that what I want is I got some great clients, let’s keep giving them things, rather than risking going out and finding new people who may not be so easy to work with.

John Corcoran 21:25

Yeah, yeah. Or, I mean, it’s interesting, because as a lot of these different forms of medium kind of converge, I’m finding that there’s not that much separation between these different forms of media, you know, you hear now, audible books that are really series of podcasts, interviews, or you have a convergence of books that were published originally as blog posts, posts are individually and then compiled together as chapters, which then become an ebook, which becomes a physical book, you know, these different things. Are you noticing that in your business?

Anna David 22:05

Oh, completely. And, you know, for instance, my new offering is a paperback, you can get an ebook, or you can get the paid the ebook, the paperback and the app, I now have an app for why not. And, and, you know, you and I talked about how I had this idea, I really wanted to make podcasts into books, I wanted that to be an offer. And I really did try to put it out there and nobody seemed to buy. So it might be too early for its time, because I think it is a great idea in a certain way. The sad reality is a lot of people aren’t going to read the books. So if it’s somebody you know, like Dean Jackson tree, you know, has this, I forget what he calls it. But you know, it’s a $2,000 product where he shows you how to write a book. And his thing is, it doesn’t matter if it’s good. It just matters that people know you wrote a book. So what I obsess over every word, I want our books to just be, you know, perfect and exquisitely printed. And the sad reality is that most people don’t read books. The statistics are terribly depressing. People, people who complete reading books. Yeah, yeah. What I’ve, you know, what matters a lot of times is that somebody wrote, not the content.

John Corcoran 23:25

Right? Right. And yet, right then yet you still approach it like every word matters.

Anna David 23:30

I do because it’s what I care about so much. I am fully a words person. I you know, if I see signs that are grammatically incorrect, I correct them in my brain. I’m totally violated by like, the Oxford comma. I have really strong feelings about these things that don’t matter. But it’s just how my brain works. So even though I know it, quote, doesn’t matter, I still do it. Our books go through, you know, like five rounds of editing because it’ll kill me if there’s a typo. And it happens. It happens. It just kills me.

John Corcoran 24:08

Well, I will have to make sure that you never receive an email from my business partner who’s a doctor and he writes like a doctor does, which is chicken scratch, even if it’s by email.

Anna David 24:20

boyfriend doesn’t use commas in his texts. And it’s been so hard. It’s been three years I’m still grappling with it.

John Corcoran 24:26

I go back, I use the voice to text feature frequently with Tex. So I’ll narrate it out. But then I’ll go back and fix and put the punctuation in there. Yeah, annually after I put it together. Yeah.

Anna David 24:38

Yeah, I could not see you as someone who has typos in his text. I just don’t see it. Yeah, it’s pretty off brand.

John Corcoran 24:45

It’s off brand. Yeah. Yeah. What else are you excited about as we you know, that we’re recording this is such a interesting time we’re emerging from over a year. The pandemic. This is June 2021, for those who are listening to this in the future, and I can’t it’s been so weird how some businesses have struggled, other businesses have thrived. What are you excited about as we emerge during this time period?

Anna David 25:16

Well, I’m a massive extrovert. So I am so excited to be out in the world again, it is just a treat. So I love that. And I love you know, I don’t know if you’re too modest for me to talk about this, but it’s like, okay, so you know, we were talking for you know, about how I connected with you, right? This is the stuff I love. I loved this podcast, I set you have like a free friend requests or whatever you call it on LinkedIn and just said, Hey, I’m from your, you know, my hometown is where you live and, and I love your podcast, and then we set up a call and immediately, you’re just providing value. You’re just giving me feedback. you’re introducing me to people. And, and I do think part of it is I joined eo a, and it’s like this, you know, fraternity sorority, where it’s suddenly like you’re in this club, and people want to help other people in it. So I’m super excited about that. And I just, you know, because like that conversation with you gave me a month’s worth of exciting new projects to develop and offers and so I’m excited about that. I’m back to traveling. I’m going to go speak it up, masterminding to loom. So Oh, wow, that I know that doesn’t suck. Does not suck. I’m also going to eo Detroit. So never been there. I used to speak at colleges in about recovery in you know, real small towns, and I kind of loved it going to these bizarre towns, I’d never go to and hanging out for a couple days. So I just like new, like new places I haven’t been.

John Corcoran 26:49

That’s great. That’s great. And EO Accelerator is a wonderful program have been part of it for the last couple of years. I actually just had my learning day yesterday, and I started moderating panels for it. So it’s really fun, I get to take some of our some of my past podcast guests, so maybe you’ll be one of them, come and join a panel. So for those of you who are entrepreneurs who are curious about support programs, check out EO Accelerator, it’s a great program. I want to wrap things up with a last question. So I’m a big fan of gratitude. I’m a big fan of expressing gratitude, especially to your peers and contemporaries. So as you look around your peers and contemporaries, however, you want to define that could be other writers could be other entrepreneurs, publishers, you name it. Who do you respect? Who do you admire is out there doing good work these days?

Anna David 27:37

Well, a lot of people, we talked about Joe Polish, and I’ll never stop talking about him as my mentor and person who has just radically transformed my life. But a lot of people I know through him, I should mention, I have this podcast where I interview entrepreneurs and authors and Chris Voss, oh, that man is just a king. You know, somebody’s so brilliant in what he does, which is, you know, he was hostage negotiator. And now he’s, you know, showing people how to apply those skills in business. I, that’s exactly what I love this idea that you can take what you know, no matter how obscure, become an expert in it, and then sell it. That is what I admire. And that’s what people can do with a book. That’s no matter what your book topic is. If you can find a business that supports it, please don’t go get excited about the money you’re gonna make from books out because you’re not. There’s a study out that just said, the average New York Times bestselling author makes between $18,000 and $180,000. So all everybody dreaming of Oh, I’m gonna get rich getting a New York Times list. No, no, no. So it’s, it’s really those people who have books and can build businesses from them.

John Corcoran 28:58

Yeah, and I think that’s what’s most fascinating to me is people who are writers and entrepreneurs, and they’ve come up with creative ways to, you know, make art and commerce at the same time. And Chris Voss boy, what a great example, Never Split the Difference, that book has really put him on the map. You know, if he hadn’t come out with that book, there’s no way that his name would be as well known as it is, of course, there’s a lot more to it than that a lot of media attention, a lot of podcast appearances and various different interviews that he did, but the book definitely put him on the map. And it’s a great book.

Anna David 29:37

Yeah, and I will say in my interview with him, he breaks down exactly how he did it, and how he’s like, the book was the best thing I ever did. And it’s now sold millions of copies. And he had a really particular system and how he promoted it and how he approached it and all of the things so I do pay them episode

John Corcoran 29:58

I also think is fascinating and You bring this to the work that you do is that he is contrarian advice, right? Because everyone talks about getting to splitting the difference when it comes to negotiation. And he said, No, when you negotiate, you shouldn’t split the difference. And so a lot of the advice in that book is goes against the grain from what we’ve been told. And I think that’s part of the reason that it stood out so much in the market. Do you do approach things similarly with your authors?

Anna David 30:30

Yeah, well, I’m very opinionated about traditional publishing is dead. And as somebody who has published six books with HarperCollins, that’s a pretty, you know, contrarian point of view. So So I agree with that. I will say Also, I’ve tried Chris’s thing at hotels. Read, you know, this one to get an update.

John Corcoran 30:52

Yeah, I forget exactly what the advice was. What is it? He says, you say?

Anna David 30:58

You go up to the front desk, and you say, I’m about to make your day really hard? Yes. They’re expecting something horrible, right? Yeah. I just did it in Catalina to switch rooms. We were in a loud room, and I’m like, I’m gonna make your day awful. Like, what? Can we just switch rooms are like, absolutely.

John Corcoran 31:18

into sweet, please. Yeah. Oh, yeah. Totally fine. Yeah, it is a good tip. And this has been such a pleasure. Where can people go to check out the podcast and learn more about you?

Anna David 31:32

So the podcast is called Launch Your Book with Anna David. It’s wherever you can find podcasts. And if you go, I do have a great cheat sheet, 20 ways to launch a best selling. We get at the world’s longest URL, and I’m on Instagram. I’m in all the places. 

John Corcoran 31:53

Awesome, Anna. Great. Thank you so much. 

Anna David 3:56

Thank you so much. This was really fun.

Outro 32:03

Thank you for listening to the Smart Business Revolution Podcast with John Corcoran. Find out more at And while you’re there, sign up for our email list and join the revolution. And be listening for the next episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast.