Writing a book isn’t exactly at the top of the to-do list for many entrepreneurs. But today, we’re learning why it should be. In this episode, we welcome Chana Mason to the podcast to share her expertise in book writing, self-publishing, and personal development.
Together, we talk about how a book can be one of the most effective lead-generation tools for entrepreneurs and why you don’t have to be a best-selling author to break into the industry. Mason also shares her actionable tips for writing and what you need to know before you begin.
Topics covered in the interview
- What the book-writing process looks like
- Why writing a book may be more doable than you think
- Thinking of a book as a means to serve current and future clients/customers
- Key components of a well-written book
- How books can be a lead magnet
About Chana Mason
Chana Mason is the founder of a successful business strategy and life coaching practice and the author of multiple personal development books. She works with a diverse range of clients around the globe, providing practical guidance and support as they uncover their vision, target limiting thought patterns, and actualize their dreams.
Chana holds a BA in Theater and Engineering from Dartmouth College. After working for Bain & Co. management consulting in Sydney, she worked in business development, technology, education, and graphic design.
Following decades as a personal development mentor, Mason dove into life coaching as a way to utilize her knowledge and experiences to help others.
She is the author of Hold That Thought, a book that teaches readers how to gain Clarity, Peace, and Joy by gaining Mastery over their Thinking; The Size of Your Dreams teaches the tools needed for Manifesting your Dreams; and The Cash Machine, a tale of Passion, Persistence, and Financial Independence.
Follow Chana Mason
Susan Sly 00:02
So, what's up Raw and Real Entrepreneurs, wherever you are in the world, I just hope you're having an amazing, amazing day. And I have a question for you. Have you ever had that inkling to write a book? And then there was part of you that was like, oh, but what would I really say? Or should I even write a book or who wants to hear my story? And that imposter syndrome kicks in and you're wondering, Well, should I do it? Or should I not? Well, my guest today is going to talk you off that ledge and get you in a place where you are going to leave this episode and say, I'm writing my book, I'm writing my book. Anyway, before I bring her out. And I'm so excited to talk to her, I just want to do a couple of quick announcements. So number one, at Susansly.com, we have a brand new checklist. So if you're an employee who wants to become an entrepreneur, I've created a checklist for you. So all you have to do is check off those boxes and get yourself started. I have also updated the Power Presentation. So if you are in startup mode, you're looking to raise money. Believe me, I know all about that. I have taken all of my strategies that I use to help raise millions of dollars for Radius and put them in a white paper just for you. So head on over to Susansly.com. So with that, my guest today has an incredible story of triumph. She is someone who is using her superpowers for good to empower entrepreneurs to help them take their stories to the world. She's been featured in Medium, which is no small feat, my friends, and on top of all of that, she's just incredible. So my guest today is Chana Mason, Chana. Thank you. Welcome
Susan Sly 01:44
to Ron and Real Entrepreneurship.
Chana Mason 01:46
Thank you so much for having me. It's a pleasure to be here.
Susan Sly 01:49
Well, Chana, as we were saying before the show, so it is Raw and Real Entrepreneurship. So the listeners know, so I'm in the middle of the move, right? And so we sold our house, and we decided we were going to, I just woke up one day, and I'm like, this house is too big, and kids are moving out and I would come home and I'm like, there's too much to do. And so we sold our house, and then we're renovating another house. And despite like, all the best intentions and everything, it's of course taking longer. So we're living in this, Airbnb. I've done episodes from hotel rooms, I've done episodes from, you know, wherever. So anyway, that's what's going on in my life. Right now for all of you. So have you been listening for the last few years? But anyway, Chana, I want to jump right in. What do you say to that person who says, you know, I've thought of writing a book, but who's gonna read it?
Chana Mason 02:40
So it's actually really interesting, because as I was hearing you talk about, like, Oh, what if I don't have anything to say? My experience is that actually people have too much to say. Not too much, but they have more than one book in them. And particularly if they've really become experts in their field, somebody who's a coach like me, or someone who's even an accountant, or an attorney, or any kind of service provider, or somebody who has really specialized in a type of tech, and really wants people to be able to understand what it is they do. Their challenge is they want to pack too much information into a book. And it makes the book kind of information dense. And it actually makes it a little bit harder to learn. We learn best through story and repetition. And if you just get one story after the other nailing in the point that you want to deliver, so somebody might come out with one really solid lesson that because they experienced it through so many stories and anecdotes, they really digested it and had a much easier time integrating it. That's much better than if you pack a book with hundreds of lessons, which we've done. But then sometimes things get lost along the way. So don't feel like oh my gosh, you have to be the greatest expert in the world. chances are, you are a much bigger expert than the average person. And even though there might be let's say, 150 books on how to make the perfect widget, Nobody wrote that, Like all the people who wrote that book, weren't you. And nobody has your unique way of delivering that widget material the way you can. And everybody resonates with different types of teachers in different ways, or different types of anecdotes, or different presentation styles. So I oftentimes teach other people's personal growth tools, but I do it through my voice and in my way and through my examples, and I get clients who come my way and say, I actually studied under the original teacher that you're teaching, and I like you more. And I'm like, very complimented by it. My ego has a field day but the reality is that there's just something about my energy that resonates better than that person's energy and that's okay.
Susan Sly 04:58
Chana, I've never heard anyone say that, you know, and we've had, you know, amazing entrepreneurs, authors, New York Times bestsellers on the show, I've never heard anyone say people have too much to say. So I love this. It's like an episode of Mythbusters. So you don't have a book at you. I love what you said, you're probably lots of books with you. And, and so what about that person who says, Well, okay, I get it. But what if no one buys it.
Chana Mason 05:28
So to be perfectly frank, the average self published book, I work with a lot of people who self publish, because people who have small businesses and are service providers, the energy that it takes to, to get a book published by a big publisher is oftentimes not worth it, partly because it can take two years for the book to come to market. And oftentimes, you end up having to hire your own publicist anyway. So a lot of people end up just self publishing. And that I just suddenly realized I forgot the question. aAsk me the question again.
Susan Sly 06:03
It is is Raw and Real Entrepreneurship. We're human, right? Yeah. And if it's, if it's any consolation, last night, we had a business dinner, and I definitely, I don't normally drink during the week, but I definitely had a glass extra of wine. And it was one glass too many. So the question was, and all the listeners remember, this is one of your favorite shows. So we're real, we're raw, we want that five star rating regardless. The question was, what if the person you know says, Hey, who's gonna buy it?
Chana Mason 06:32
Oh, who's gonna buy, okay, so the reality is in self published books, the average book only sells 250 copies. That's the average book, right? So there's some self published books that do amazingly well, for example, The Martian, The Martian was literally originally just posted on the author's on Andy Weir, I think his last name is on his website, and people are just reading it off of his website. And eventually, long story short, when it got a movie contract, then it got picked up by a publisher. But originally, it was totally self published. So many people read it. But then you get some self published books, and only five people read. If you're using it as a lead magnet, so the goal is not to sell books, the goal is to get books into people's hands. So I have a book called Hold That Thought. And I have 10s of 1000s, of free downloads of that book, as opposed to individual 1000s of actual book sales. And if your goal is to sell books, then you have to get to be a really good author. And you know, which I happen to be super passionate about writing between my husband and myself, we have six books, this is something we're you know, really into, and we are constantly producing more books. But if you just want to use a book as a lead magnet, as a brand builder, and business builder, you don't need to be the most fabulous writer in the world, you just need to strategically place your book as something that lots of people can get their hands on. One thing that's really interesting is that, in addition to Amazon being a place where people can get free digital downloads, and things like that, there are hundreds of websites all over the world, where people can get digital books for free, in addition to the fact that you can put one on your website for free. And I get emails from people in Pakistan, from people in Latin America, in Africa, in Australia, who found one of these websites, downloaded my book for free and want to tell me all about how the book changed their life. Like, that's crazy. Like, that's such a, it's so mind blowing. I get to service all of these people who I'll never meet. And in third world countries, they can't afford my coaching. And that's totally fine. But I'm happy to be of service to them anyway. So the books, when, when I self published books, I make it such an inexpensive process that I don't care how many books I sell. It's not, that's not really the point. But what I can do is I can give it to a client, so that they can learn much faster than they do, just in the one on one time we have together and I can use it as a calling card. It's just like a much better business card than a little piece of cardboard.
Susan Sly 09:13
I love the paradigm shift as well, because the purpose of writing, unless well thinking about, I can't even remember her name, the gal who wrote Twilight, right, the vampire series. So Arizona housewife sitting there, you know, thinking I'm gonna just do this creative process and look what happened with her versus so the gentleman who wrote the book, The Shack, that was self published, and they went on to sell millions and millions of copies, right? And one of the things I've always thought about writing, you know, in my first book, I tried to put too much into that book, that was in 2007. I wrote that, but the, that whole process, Chana, about this concept of the book, as a tool, as a business card, as a validation piece, right? And, and that it doesn't matter what business you're in, it makes sense. And if you start to think about it as a way to serve your clients and customers or your future clients and customers, that begins to change that narrative, so I'm very curious. So when you're coaching an entrepreneur who wants to write a book, what does that process look like?
Chana Mason 10:27
So I have a book coaching program called Power Publishing. And I really take them from clarifying, okay, what is this book going to be about? So remember how you said, you tried to shove too much into that book? That's, so I've totally been there. And the last book I had, I actually had to sit down with my husband. And every time basically what happens is, every time I come up with a new insight from working with a client, my husband says, Did you write it down, and I'm like, No. And he says, Go write it down. Right now put into Scrivener, which is the writing software I recommend to everybody buy. So I pop it into Scrivener. And what basically happened is when I was looking at all of the new insights that I had, my husband's like, keep it simple. So I realized I had three books where I thought I had one. And when you slow things down, that also, that also means you have to slow down your thinking, because one of the challenges we have as authors is we suffer from the curse of knowledge. We're experts in our fields, so we know so much. So we often take leaps in logic, that for our customers, they're like, ooh, whoa, slow down. Can you explain that again? Can you really break it down step by step? So that's the first thing is they tell me a little bit about what you know, what it is their expertise is in, and I help them break it down into, okay, let's take this book, let's cut it into, let's say, three sections, or five sections. And in each section, we're going to have a handful of chapters. And you're going to break things down in every single chapter. For me, this is central, every single chapter has a story. It can be short, it can be long, but it has to have a story because we learn through story best. And ideally, it doesn't always have to be this way. But ideally, the story is one where people are able to better connect to you as an expert. So that happens one of two ways. Either the stories about you, yourself, where you're being vulnerable, and raw and real, like we're talking about here right now. And when you're vulnerable and raw and real, then people understand that you've been in their shoes, and that you're a real human being. And they can connect to you in a deep way. So it's really rapport building. The other way that you can do it is by positioning yourself as the hero of the story. So one of the ways I do that, in my, in my books is I'll present actual coaching situations, obviously, I, you know, protect my clients by changing the circumstances, and the names and all of that. But I make the coaching conversation look like a dialogue from a place script. So you see my name, Chana, colon, and what I said, and then you see, let's say, Melissa, colon, and what Melissa said, and it just keeps going like that. So people are seeing my name, hundreds of times while they're reading the book. And I didn't even realize until after I wrote wrote the book, I'm like, Oh my gosh, they're just being planted. My name over and over and over again, no one who reads my books forgets my name. And I see why. Because it's just like so in their heads, because they keep seeing it. But also through the dialogue process, they're learning so much. Dialogues are really great, because they're very, very fast to write. We think in terms of dialogue, when you actually have to write description, it takes a lot longer. And so if you're just putting in a dialogue, you don't have to do any of that detailed description, which I happen to be super passionate about as a, as a fiction author also. But most people really struggle with that stuff. So that's like a sort of a secret, sort of cut away. So we break it down, and I say, okay, find an anecdote or a story to fit every single scene. And once you do that, it's like, oh, now I know what I'm writing. So when I sit down to write, I'm writing a chapter that's titled, How to build a widget. And I'm gonna have an anecdote about my widget making machine and the time that it broke, and how everyone in the company teamed up together to fix it. I don't know, I'm just making something up, right? Yeah. And, and there you go. And now you're like, Oh, I'm just writing this one chapter. And writing this one chapter is kind of like writing an article. And there's a concept of my husband and I talk about a lot, which is, ideally what you want to be doing over the course of the book is bringing people back to the map. So the map is, we're starting at section one, we're ending at section five. And I'm taking you on a journey from section one to Section Five a journey of growth or journey of process, whatever you want to call it. So within each chapter, somehow bring people back to that map. Okay, so now that we've done A, let's look at B. So now you can see how A leads to B. Now let's look at how C gets us there, for example. So those are the key writing components. And then it gets into, should I just keep going? Or do you have a question?
Susan Sly 15:17
Oh, yeah, no, I was. So I was curious about the, from the process, and I love how you're breaking down. I love that you get that pro tip there, too. That was, that was like excellent insider information. So let's say someone listening, they have an idea, or they have many ideas. And now they're like, Okay, I'm gonna do what Chana says. And I'm now got one idea, right? And so let's say they reach out to you, and they want to go through the process. How long does it take them to go from ideation to I have a book?
Chana Mason 15:51
I get that question a lot. And it really comes down to how much time people have, I get a lot of female entrepreneurs who are also moms. And they're juggling a lot of different things, the clients that they see and the business development that they're doing. And this happens to be the one part of their business that in the short run, doesn't bring any revenue. It's a long play activity. And so and so Oh, yeah. And in the short run, their babies are, you know, calling for their attention. So. So it really just depends on how much time you have to sit and write. Because creating this structure takes two to four hours. And once you have that down, then it's just how much time do you have to sit and write, you know, most people can do 2000 words in a sitting. It's very long to get to a book.
Susan Sly 16:40
The length of book has changed, because it used to be like, you know, War and Peace style, like massive, you know, hundreds of 1000s of words. So in, you know, what is the average word count you're seeing now for the writers you're working with?
Chana Mason 16:55
So for nonfiction, you can really do 30,000 to 120,000. But for this type of thing, where you're, you're really just using it as a business card. If you have 30 to 40,000 words, that is totally enough. And most people don't think in terms of word count. But if you think about the typical online article, is usually two to 5000 words. You know, the typical blog post is like one to 3000 words, something like that. So to kind of wrap your head around that it doesn't take that long to get to 30 to 40,000 words, you can do that in 15 to 20 sittings. And then you just have to edit it. So it's not totally impossible. It can be done in six months, if you dedicate yourself to it. So the last book that I wrote, I had my outline done, but the actual sitting and writing took me two months. And that was putting in, I don't know, six to seven hours a week, not a huge amount of time.
Susan Sly 17:57
No. And to that point I, my husband and I were, we were in Koh Samui in Thailand. And I wrote a book in a week. I just got up at four in the morning and busted out this book. It was like very industry specific. It was a short book. And yeah, in a week in Thailand, it was done just with coffee early in the morning while he was sleeping. And I think to your point, it, it's having the outline. It's the key. It's like anything, right? Going back to high school or college. It's like, if you have the outline, you are good. But if you sit there and just try and start writing and do a brain dump, that's going to be all over the map. Let me ask you this. So, Mark Victor Hansen is a great friend of mine. And you know, and I've done speaking events with Jack Canfield, the Chicken Soup for the Soul authors. And when they wrote that book Chana, they were rejected by 125 publishers, you said no one wants a book of short feel good stories.
Chana Mason 19:00
I'm so into those books, it's so funny to hear.
Susan Sly 19:03
Yeah, well, and Mark laughs about it, he still tells the story. Right. So one of the, one of the things that I think about, say for my next book, is the concept of using interviews to expedite the process because the interviews validate the position. So can you talk about that, especially with an entrepreneurial book, like client stories, you know, all of those things.
Chana Mason 19:27
I think there's nothing like actual real world applications of the principles that you are teaching. That's part of why for me also writing is just so fast, because I'll have a client session that went really well. Or that really elucidated a certain type of lesson and I just write two sentences about what that session was about. And I have my notes from the session. And then you know, I just write, I just write the chapter and outcomes and it's so helpful to already have like a real world example. And then along the way, I can sort of pull out of the dialog sort of pan out of the scene and talk directly to the reader and say, Okay, I want you to see what's going on in my head right now, I'm going to break down my process. This is why I decided to ask the client this specific question, or this is why I decided to use this specific tool. Oh, remember that tool that we introduced three chapters ago? Here it is, again, you know, and, and, of course, I'm using my tools in every single dialogue, I'm using multiple tools. And so I'm reminding them, hey, look, look, here, we're using this tool, and some reminding them of the name of the tool, which brings me to something I think, is really key. So where I fit in as a coach is I'm not doing the writing for them. And I'm not teaching them how to write. The the core stuff is really helping people clarify that outline, which is so helpful to have somebody mirror that back to, somebody really hear you, create structure, that's been the most helpful piece that I do. That piece, and also understanding branding. So the tools that you teach, if you can brand those tools with really sticky, clever titles, then you can not only use them in your business, they become a way that people are like, Oh, wow, this person really knows what they're talking about. Because they have all of these tools. I've never heard those things before said in any, in that way anywhere else. So I talked about a thought bank, and then going to the ATM to pull your thoughts from the thought bank. And, you know, I have something called Resource replay, like all sorts of tools that just, they're sticky. And then when I teach workshops, I use those names. And it also helps people to remember. Another thing that's really important with books that you want to use as a lead magnet, if you know the book is a lead magnet, plan that in advance that comes with your outline. So as you're writing your outline already planned, where am I putting my note to the reader to go to my website, to download the bonus materials that come with this book. So in my first book, hold that thought, I have 10 different places in the book, where I say, hey, this chapter comes with bonus materials, you can access that at automation.com/whatever bonus materials, you know, and they might not click on the link the first time. But by the fifth time, they're clicking on that link. And now they're my lead, which is a really big deal because most people who self publish, do so through a platform like Amazon. And they're Amazon's customer, I don't have their name, I don't have their address, I don't have their email address, I have no idea where they came from. I know they're from like the United States or France or something like that. But that's about it. And so, this way, they become my customer, because they go to my website, they put in their name, they put in their email address, they get valuable content. But now I have their email address. And now I can also pitch them on upsells, courses, and coaching and all sorts of things like that. So that's really how I use the book. So the book might make me, a sale of a book might make me $5. But if the person buys coaching, that's 1000s of dollars. So the goal is really not the $5 from the book, like that's why, that's why I'm perfectly happy to give it away for free, because I'm hoping that enough of those freebies are going to lead me to enough, you know, multi thousand dollar coaching packages.
Susan Sly 23:25
I love that. So thinking, thinking about someone listening right now, what I'm hearing is, you're writing a book, it's your business card, it's a lead magnet, or if you're using it as a credibility piece, then know that in advance, right? But one thing we didn't talk about, which is unless you are a Chicken Soup for the sole author, or you are JK Rowling, who says I'm putting out you know, a, you know, a new Harry Potter series or whatever, you're not likely to make millions of dollars as an author, just you know, out of the gate, right? So you really have to start with the end in mind, which is what I teach in fundraising. So when I'm working with startups, Chana, the first thing I say is, what's your exit strategy? And in one of the shows I did, I was interviewing a billionaire founder. And he said, Well, I never asked people what their exit strategy is. And I said, Well, that's crazy. Because if you don't know what your exit strategy is, you don't know how to structure yourself corporately. You don't know what kind of fundraising you're gonna do. You don't know what kind of optics you need to have all sorts of different things. Right. And what I'm hearing from you is the book is, and I love that, that perspective, the book is the exact same way. It's like, figure out the purpose of the book first. Yeah.
Chana Mason 24:48
It's almost like what's the exit strategy for the customer? In a way, like how, what, what are you hoping to get out of, out of that book? So everyone's like, looking to be really altruistic with boiks is I'm just trying to teach or I'm trying to entertain. But even with my fiction author, I said, Okay, how do you get your readers from Amazon? How do you get those readers of which there are, she sells 1000s of books. And then every time she publishes a new book, she has to put ads up on Amazon all over again. Like, that's ridiculous. Get those people on your list, so you can advertise to them directly for free. That's huge. So now, every time I come out with a new book, my readers already know about it. Another thing that you can do so my first book was Hold That Thought, for my personal business, my second book is called Inner Voices. At the end of Hold That Thought there are four chapters from Inner Voices. So Hold That Thought is free but Inner Voices is not. The Inner Voices is now like, Hold That Thought as a lead magnet to Inner Voices, but they're both lead magnets to my bigger business. And the other piece, it's like a big deal that most people don't get, because I'm sitting here talking about oh, most people self publish on Amazon. And everyone's like, how do you do that? It seems like the biggest thing. So I'm gonna be super transparent. My book Hold ThatTthought. I paid $50 for the cover of that book. And that cover works really well. And I know that because when I go to fairs, almost everyone who picks it up buys it, which means that the cover's effectively communicating what the book is about, that once they look at the cover, it pulls their attention. And then they read the back. And they're like, yeah, what I thought it was, it is, which is a really good sign. 50 bucks. Oh, I'm so sorry.
Susan Sly 26:40
And I love that you mentioned that. And for the listeners, if you, we did a, we did a show with Jessica Leichtweisz who did a self published book on Amazon. And she had multiple contributors, she took it to number one in her vertical because it was very specialized on autism. And there's a whole, there's a whole show, you can go back and listen to I don't know what show number it is. But that you go, if you listen to Jessica's show, she walks you through all of that. And it's a very same story, the only thing she paid for was the cover art. That's it. And because she had multiple authors, she had multiple people mailing their list, super, super, very secular and was able to go to number one. And so there's a whole strategy for that, if that's what you want to claim as an Amazon number one best seller. That's not for this show. What I'm going to suggest to everyone, if you're sitting here listening, and I am, because I took a page of notes, and then I came up with a title for a new book, I've been deciding on what book number eight is going to be for me because I'm half Asian. So it's a lucky number. Anyway, like, you know, thinking about it. But if you're sitting here thinking about it and going, oh, yeah, I could write a book, go to Chana Mason, and it spelled CHANAmason.com. and hire her. Hire her to help you get your infrastructure done for your book. And then just coming from that place of once that outline is done, sit your behind in a chair, write your book, give yourself the credibility. And if you're you know, for those of you who are entrepreneurs, you want to make money speaking, when you have a book, you can build more as a speaker, there are all sorts of things, it's going to help you with clients, it's going to help you. Even my dentist Chana, has a book that's called The Holistic Dental Matrix and he gives it out to all of his patients. He's holistic, but he charges 30% more than any other dentist but you go in and your new patient orientation you get this hardcover book. So to your point,
Chana Mason 28:47
So valuable, Wow. He wrote about this stuff and totally, even though we know how easy it is to self publish, we're so suckers for it. Like it totally works.
Susan Sly 28:55
Yeah, and then a $3,000 dental visit later, but I got a book right? I got a book and a toothbrush and some charcoal toothpaste and I'm feeling good.
Chana Mason 29:06
Little plastic toy and then you know you're really good.
Susan Sly 29:09
Yeah, you're, you're winning all the light. Well, Chana, it's so great to have you on the show. And for everyone who's listening, please go ahead and share the show. We'd love to hear in the comment section what you're taking away. Tag Chana and I on social media. And if this episode has been helpful, share it, share it with friends, share it with all your entrepreneurial friends. So with that, Chana thanks so much for being here.
Chana Mason 29:32
Such a pleasure. Thanks so much for having me.
Susan Sly 29:34
All right, my friends. This is another episode of Raw and Real Entrepreneurship in the books and I will see you in the next episode.