Catch Liz Lawless on the #PirateBroadcast
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Welcome to the #PirateBroadcast, where we interview #interestingpeople doing #interestingthings. Where you can expand your connections, your community, #kindnessiscool and #smilesarefree. Let’s get this party started.
Russ Johns 0:19
Hey, everyone, it's a perfect day for a #piratebroadcast. I'm #RussJohns. I want to make an announcement before we get started here that LinkedIn has been a great place for for me, personally, and allowed me to make friends, build relationships and really grow. I mean, everything in my life. There's a lot of people that I met that have just really enriched my life and helped me along the way and made my life even better than it already was. We are hosting along with Kenyatta Turner. Art Jones and myself are hosting a #LinkedInLive pop up event this afternoon, Pacific Time 3pm. And I wanted to reach out and let everybody in the pirate community know that that event is taking place. In social media, sometimes we see notifications, sometimes we don't. We put a few things out there. So if you would be so kind to join us today, there's a #LinkedInLive pop up event. Listed in LinkedIn itself. You can join there, it's listed on Facebook, and I've posted it on Twitter. I'll continue to post it again today on Twitter, as well. Wherever you like to find it, wherever you'd like to go to receive that information, would love to have you join us. It's going to be a casual conversation. We're going to be talking about storytelling, and entrepreneurship and pop ups and community and a lot of things that we can do as a community to make sure that we're reaching out, making these connections and helping each other out. On the theme of helping each other out, I want to introduce our speaker today. Our guest, our new pirate, our brand new pirate. Liz Lawless. She's been on a journey of publishing, entrepreneurship and we want to talk about the creativity and the creative process that she's gone through, and make sure that we share another pirate in the pirate community. Good morning, Liz. How are you doing?
Liz Lawless 2:53
I'm doing great. Thanks for having me. I'm so jealous that I didn't think of it sooner. I mean, I have some of that outlaw in me. In my early days when I was first starting my business, I used all that renegade thinking and that's the name and everybody always asked me, they said, that can't be your real name. Your name can't be Lawless and you can't be from Texas, you had to have made that up. I come by it honestly, but probably my English great grandfather probably was a pirate or was kicked out at least.
Russ Johns 3:32
Liz Lawless 3:33
He took his ship far, far away. So anyway, thanks for having me.
Russ Johns 3:39
I'm so glad that you're here. Listen, I love your name. It's Liz lawless. That's, poetic, from Texas as well. Right?
Liz Lawless 3:47
Right. It's really fun, especially when I go other places. We all kind of talk the same down here. But if I go north, or even in California or somewhere, it's like that can't be right.
Russ Johns 4:02
It can't be right, but it is. Yeah. I want to talk a little bit about your journey, some of the things that you've been doing with publishing and how you got into the entrepreneurial space, because of your publishing journey, if you will.
Liz Lawless 4:23
Russ Johns 4:24
I know you're helping people publish and do some things in writing, Which came first the entrepreneur or the publisher?
Liz Lawless 4:35
Well, the entrepreneurship because basically what happened...I was always a reader. I wasn't a writer, I didn't get it. I don't get up and write every day and I don't do that today. I was a reader I always read. I loved the library. I had access to books early on, and I'll talk about that in a minute, but basically, when I went to school, I started as a Spanish major and ended up in journalism and speech. I feel like I learned how to write when I went to college and I was on the school newspaper for three years. I worked all the jobs from reporter up to editor and did all that kind of stuff. But when I got out of school, it was really, could I write creatively? I wanted to write books. I mean, I had that in the back of my mind that I wanted to write books, but I really didn't know if I was creative enough to do that, because I kind of felt like, journalism is kind of who, what, when, where...real factual. I took a creative writing class with my mother after college. I wrote this story and it was the most difficult story I had to write. We had to write a monster story and she gave us the assignments up front. I was dreading it and dreading it and dreading it because I'm not a horror person. I don't watch horror films. I don't like those kind of books. I mean, I've got friends that write it and I try to read their stuff but it's really difficult for me,but I was watching the series on the brain that PBS had a 13 part series on the brain It was probably one of the very first things back, this was late 80s, that came out on the brain. We know so much more today. So, I sat down that night, Sunday night because the assignment was due on Monday and wrote this story about the creative monster, which was the creative spark that was living in my head that I was fighting with all the time. Trying to get the creative process and try to figure out a creative process and how the brain work. I was just fascinated with that behavior. So she said, I think this could be a children's book. I was stunned, I mean, because I was so uncomfortable with it. She said, That's why it's the best thing you've written. So that's the first point. If you're a little uncomfortable with something, it's probably better than you think it is. We don't share the things that we're uncomfortable about and with people as much, so that would be my first little secret or tip to share with your audience. The second thing is, back then, you had to do things traditionally. You had the word, self publishing was really just barely starting, there was no internet, you had to go the traditional route you had or send a query letter with your manuscript. And you had to go to the library and look up all the publishers and find out who did children's books and then send them out. I'm a rah rah kind of girl as you tell, so I send out 50 letters, no 50 queries and was waiting and you wait, and you wait, and you wait to hear back and then the letters started coming in. Rejection, rejection. Thanks, but no thanks, and then I got 47 rejections out of 50. Man, it was like getting stabbed in the heart. I was like, you're kidding me because it gotten a little encouragement but a couple of them said well, it's different, we liked it, We're just not buying anything. If you ever self publish, we can put in our catalog. So I got a little bit, a little bit out. But I said , well, I guess this book thing is not for me, like most people do. I put it away. I put it on the shelf and said, I guess I'm going to do something else. So I jumped feet first in the entrepreneurship, I opened a credit services firm, which was similar. I was doing newsletters and annual reports and got into advertising, event management, PR and all of that kind of stuff. Because when you're asked, can you do this part? When you answer of course, yes, I'd be happy to do that for you. Then you figure out how. That's what enterpreneurs do, okay? We take action, without knowing where we're going or where we're going to end up.
Russ Johns 8:36
You may not have all of the answers.
Liz Lawless 8:39
We get on the ship and we push away from shore and we say, okay, we're going somewhere and we're here for the ride. You have to set your goals and stuff, but that's what happened to me. So,I put it away like most people, but as life happens, about five years later, one of my clients, who was African American Museum, the first African American Museum in the country, it is in Dallas. They said, well, we're doing this children's book festival with a big public library downtown. Don't you have a book? You've got a children's book, don't you? Well, I've got a manuscript. No, I don't have a book. It wasn't published, it was just a piece of paper. It was just a story. But guess what I did have? I had basically an advertising agency. So I had a printer. I had an artist, I had cash flow. So publishing was becoming a little bit better known. People were beginning to do that and I said, I can do this myself, not having a clue. I was understanding a little bit of the business I'm interested in history, but not really. Back then, you had to print 5000 copies to get your price down to a couple of dollars, so you could make some money. You had to invest your $10,000 and then yeah, those 2500 copies sitting. But I went and sold my first hundred copies and, baby, I was off and running. I said, I can do this, then I looked around. I had those other 2400 copies. I said, what am I going to do with these 2400 copies of books, sitting in my garage or in my office. That's the part that people don't tell you. So fun stuff, but I always did my own publishing up to about seven or eight years ago. Then I started helping friends because I had actually had one friend, that doctor who got taken advantage of drastically to the 10s or hundreds of thousands of dollars by vanity press, and then I went to a meeting about 30 days later, and another doctor stood up that I didn't know but he stood up and mentioned the same company. So of course, I have to go over and say, well, how's that PR and marketing working out for you? Because I knew from my friend of 30 years, that I've known all my life, and he laid his head on the table and went like this, and I said, well, this is what we do, because we could just start helping because I was helping my friend and he said, I got 4000 books. They're sitting in a warehouse. They're charging me every month. I don't know what to do with them, Liz, can you help me? And so that's kind of how I got into helping other people publish. Now we have 99, straight Amazon bestsellers, number one bestseller consecutively over the past six years. I do mostly nonfiction and children's books. Because most of the people I work with are entrepreneurs, they use publishing to leverage their business or to market. That's just another marketing tool that you can use. So that's kind of how I got in it. Interestingly enough, I had a guy ask me, we were on a call probably about a month ago and I said, well, I've been in publishing a long time now, kind of all sides of it. He said, well, you must have started really young and I said, well that's an interesting question. So I started thinking about it and I said, I actually stopped at 11 years old because my parents owned a Christian bookstore. My mother opened a Christian bookstore, a brick and mortar store in 1972. I had never made the connection. Can you imagine that, that in all these years, but at 12 I was doing inventory the old fashioned way, we had to count the books and I was counting the children's book section, that was my area, and we had to write down the name of the book, Dr. Seuss, three copies, $4.99 or whatever the price was, because that's how you did inventory in the early days. None of this other stuff/technology existed So, really funny. So I'd say, well, I've been in this longer than I thought I'd been in it, but the good news is that both sides of it because I saw the traditional catalogs and we had all the publishers and we bought books so I understand the book store process, because I lived with that for 27 years. When my dad got sick, we closed our brick and mortar store. My dad was a coach, and he was the only state championship baseball coach in Dallas in the Dallas ISD and the Dallas School District. Won in 1965 still holds the record. 113 to zero, still holds that record. My mother had opened the bookstore. We were one of the first shops on Amazon. I had seen that when Amazon came on the same but early 2005, I think, I put my books up for sale because I've always published my own stuff. I have seven books through the year, but, I didn't help other people because I was doing marketing and PR and event management...
Russ Johns 13:51
You're doing your stuff.
Liz Lawless 13:52
Right. I was doing the business because the business took off and that was much more profitable than the publisher. I learned to sell the schools, I sold to the military, I learned to sell to corporations, I learned to sell to nonprofits, and I run a nonprofit, an educational nonprofit myself, in honor my dad, that we started. Because I'm an entrepreneur, serial entrepreneur, I'm not intimidated by something new, or trying something new or doing something else. You learn by doing, you learn by doing and there are secrets, and it's so much easier today. The public, I think it's the best time in the world.
Russ Johns 14:39
I want to unpack a couple of things that you brought up, because I think it's important for us to understand that you don't have to do it alone. You have people out there that have experience and like yourself, you didn't even realize how much experience you actually had, until you actually started implementing it for other people and being around the industry, being involved and understanding the inventory process, the brick and mortar, the Amazon space and everything else. A lot of people would tell you that having a book is one of the best business cards you can have, if you're a speaker or author, a coach. You're going out there in public and having conversations, starting conversations, even online, it's important to understand that you can have a book, you can self publish and the process is easier today than it was 20 years ago.
Liz Lawless 16:00
It's the same thing in business, it comes back to two things, Russ, you either got time or you have money. If you don't have the money, guess what? You have to spend the time. You have to learn it yourself or you have to partner with somebody or you got to barder with somebody, you got to work out some kind of deal. You got to figure something out. If can't invest the money. Today, like you say, it doesn't cost a lot, but you still probably have to think about investing a couple of thousand dollars. I don't edit my own stuff. I send my stuff out to be edited because I read it right. I know what it's supposed to say. So when I'm reading it, I read it right. And then I give it to somebody else, I give it to you to read and you read it and you go, Liz?
Russ Johns 16:41
I can't read the label in the pickle jar, right?
Liz Lawless 16:45
I don't think you meant to say that. That sounds kind of funny to me. You read it back to me and I go, no, I didn't. I didn't mean to say that and you had to correct it. So always pay for editing. Always pay for a good cover and a book cover design. I mean, if you're a graphic designer, I'm not going to tell you not to design your own stuff, but I am going to tell you to look at other people's books because there is a process and there are things that work better than other things and what people don't understand is their book is not going to be seen as a five and a half by eight and a half or a six by nine, which is the standard trade size a half of a half, eight and a half by 11 page. It's going to be seen like a postage stamp because it's going to be on the page on Amazon with 50 other books.
Russ Johns 17:32
Yeah, you really have to understand page layout and the foreword and all of the things. There's 1000 different details that you need to go through. I've published before, in the past, and I do have a an Amazon bestseller, international bestseller actually in the marketing field. I went through that process and so I have some experience with that and I just really love the creativity and the the journey of going through this process and saying...
Yeah, but you learned so much, didn't you? Didn't you learn a lot about yourself and you learned a lot about the process and the market and your audience?
Yeah. Oh, yeah. And I'll probably do it again, I'll probably do it again at some point in time, but I did it to help some other people and build acommunity around this subject of marketing. It's a process that you go through and it's like, okay, I did that. Been there, done that?
Liz Lawless 18:41
People need to understand this. It's a process and I'm not saying you can't write something in a week or in a weekend or whatever. But the reality is, is writing is a process and your brain. That's why you need to set it down and walk away and come back to it. That's why you let other people read it because while you're away from it, your brain is still working on it. So we have this marvelous thing that we carry around with us every day that we ignore. And 95% of people ignore it and don't call on it for help when it when it's right there with us, but it works certain ways. And part of that is it needs time to percolate. It needs time to take all the things you've kind of brought together and piece together and this story here with this experience over here and these three points or this process, so you have to allow that time for creativity, too, for it to be better. It gets better. I'm not saying it's not gonna be good, but it's gonna be better.
Russ Johns 19:41
I want to give a shout out to some of the people in the community here, Liz. We've got Petros here and he says, love LinkedIn. Thank you, Petros for being here. It's awesome. Hiett, he was in here yesterday. He was talking about it and he's a published author. He's published more than once. I hope that I hope the photo shoot went well, Hiett. Stay in touch. I know that he's he's just south of you, Liz, he lives in Houston.
Liz Lawless 20:07
Okay great. Yeah, perfect.
Russ Johns 20:08
I was in Houston for a number of years and lived there. Babcock Ben says, I'm glad to hear you out. Thank you so much. Donnie Ray Wilson. Hi, Russ and Liz, Donnie here in Germany. Thanks for showing up, Donny. Appreciate that. Gabriel. If you're not familiar with Gabriel, he's a producer just like I am. He produces live TV and live broadcasts, live streaming everything else. Then Petro says, everything about this site is awesome. Well, thank you so much, Petros. Very cool. I love it.
Liz Lawless 20:47
Russ Johns 20:47
Hiett asks, what time? The time you're referring to, Hiett is 3pm Pacific Standard Time. So if you're available and you're open, it would be great. love to see you there. Ben says, my connection is breaking, I hope it's not only me that's experiencing this. I hope so, too. I hope it's not problem. Kon says, good morning Russ and Liz. Ahoy pirates. Thank you, Kon. Kon's an amazing individual. He's a pirate, Liz. So yeah, hopefully you're connected with some of these pirates here. Kon says, love your "can do" entrepreneurial spirit, Liz. I do too. Howard says, great energy instant "espresso!"
Cathi Spooner says, good morning. Thank you so much, Cathi. Thank you for being here. Also. So true. Liz, you either have time or you have money. Absolutely factual.
Liz Lawless 21:53
Yeah, a part of that is obviously is resources, people, but we will talk about that later.
Russ Johns 21:59
Sure. Hiett says, Liz probably knows Sandy Lawrence here in Houston. Perceptive Public Relations
Liz Lawless 22:05
I've heard of her. I know the name.
Russ Johns 22:09
Perceptive Public Relations. Yeah, Sandy's an icon and she's been in marketing and publishing and media in Houston for years. For years. Paula Goodman says, hello. just dropping in. Thank you so much for dropping in, Paula. Thank you for being a pirate and being part of the pirate community. I love that. Oh, great topic, she says. And I'm recording these. I'm reading this off, Liz because by this afternoon, this will be a podcast and broadcast anywhere podcasts can be found. Cathi Spooner says, my first book is due to be released next month. Congratulations. It took me five years to get it written and the production process has taken another six months. Well, that's fantastic. I love the fact that you're doing that. Congratulations, Cathi. That's fantastic.
Liz Lawless 23:10
Yay, Cathi! Congratulations, for sure. It is fantastic. It's a hard thing and that's the thing, some of the worries are, it costs too much, it takes too long. It's too overwhelming and there are a lot of moving parts. But there's really nothing you can't learn today, from somebody on the internet. There are a number of professional people out there besides me that know how to do this or know how to publish books. You just you got to find somebody that you can relate to and that you can work with. It's really like any business you want to partner with people that are fun that are interesting, that like the same things that you like, that you feel a connection with. Sometimes you see, I mean sometimes you just feel a connection with people and other times you don't. Even for business or reading you have to decide who do you want to help the most. Who's the audience. Who's the person you want to help the most? Because the two or three things you probably hear, too, with marketing, my markets, everybody. Well, now, listen, I'm here to tell you that now that's not true. Your book is not for everybody, your business is not for everybody. The earlier you get that idea out of your head, the better off you're going to be. But it comes back to me, as we talked about. You don't have another month to market everybody so choose a primary market and spend what money you've got marketing to them. Go after them.
Russ Johns 24:46
There's a book. I forget the author's name. It's called Big Magic. The idea is that sometimes you get an idea, you get a creative idea. It comes and it lands in your head and then you don't do anything with it. That idea will go to somebody else and then later on you'll say, I had that idea a year ago, two years ago, 10 years ago. You didn't do anything with it.
Liz Lawless 25:17
He didn't do anything with it.
Russ Johns 25:19
It fell in somebody else's creative process and they did something with it.
Liz Lawless 25:23
Yeah and I believe that too. I don't know what we can, call it whatever you want, I call it God. But God offers you the opportunity and if you don't take advantage of that opportunity given to you, then he'll offer that opportunity to somebody else. Most of us aren't Jonah. He's not chasing us for years and dragging us back to Nineveh, putting us in the belly of the whale. We feel like that sometimes. We feel like we are, but whether you call it the universe, spirit or whatever creativity exists, and we're creative human beings, and we exist to create things, whether it's business, whether it's families, whether it's communities, whether it's whatever that might be for you. For you and your particular area, we need to honor that, we need to give time to creativity and I'm bad about it myself. I can talk about it because I don't do it enough. Now, getting to the point where I'm setting aside that creativity, time away from the electronics, time away from the phone. I mean, I'm on all the social media. I'm on the phone all the time, I'm on the computer all the time. I really had to say, because I need to write my next book, and I never do my stuff because I'm always helping other people.
Russ Johns 26:43
Paula Goodman says, oh, I think I need to hear more here. I've had a hard time figuring out the best route to publish. So that brings up a great thing. Good question. God gives gifts we and we have to share it. Absolutely. So, let's, before we wrap up here, Liz, and I know this has gone so quickly. How do people get ahold of you? How do you like to have people approach you and ask you questions and talk about the publishing process.
Liz Lawless 27:18
My email is Lizbookcatalyst@gmail.com. My Facebook is facebook.com/bookcatalyst. That's my business page. There you'll find publishing tips. You'll find out how to organize your writing. I'll be adding other stuff to that, publishing. We just did a five day writing challenge where we had people write five critical pieces that they need to write to be a successful author. That helps people get started because, that's the thing, you just got to write. You gotta start. Pick a topic, give it some kind of a title, even if that's not the final title, it will help you get started and help you work. If you can do an outline of your table of contents that's gives you some kind of structure and that can change, too. But then to publish we always start with ebooks. It's the easiest and the least expensive. Then you go to paperback. Then you go to audiobook. Then you go to hardback or, depending on what you're doing, if you're doing a cookbook or sometimes a children's book or something you might want a hardback. That's the best way and then my lizlawless.com or lizbookcatalyst com is the website. Facebook is probably the easiest.
Russ Johns 28:37
It's your name. It's not too difficult to track down.
Liz Lawless 28:42
Yeah, if you search author, Liz lawless, all my stuff's gonna come up.
Russ Johns 28:48
Yeah and you're on LinkedIn, as well. I sent you a connection request. Howard says, great point, reminds me of an early mentor's quote: "creativity is never on time."
Liz Lawless 29:02
I love it. I love it. Yeah, it's good.
Russ Johns 29:07
Thank you so much, Liz. I just wanted to give you a shout out there.
Liz Lawless 29:11
Yeah. Thanks, Paula. I appreciate you and I'm happy to talk anytime. You can private message me on author Liz lawless or Facebook or any LinkedIn or whatever.
Russ Johns 29:20
Fantastic. Well, thank you, Liz so much for being here. I really appreciate you and the work that you're doing and the creativity and a couple of ideas about creativity and taking time to be creative. I want to remind everybody that all of this information and the links that Liz mentioned will be on russjohns.com/piratebroadcast and her episode will be there later today. You can always reach out and find this information in the future, if you're listening to this on replay or your watching it in the future, anytime If you want to listen, the podcasts are available on russjohns.com, as well.
Liz Lawless 30:08
Great, go listen to the other podcasts. Russ has some great podcasts, go listen.
Russ Johns 30:13
Thank you so much, Liz. I really appreciate that. Alright, and as always, thank you. Thank you, Liz, any last words that you want to share. Words of wisdom or legacy thoughts?
Liz Lawless 30:25
Yeah, I guess. like you said, the main thing is if you want to write, don't let anybody steal your dream, not even yourself. Okay? So deal with those negative thoughts. You can do this, anybody can do it. Today is the best time to write, just get started. Finally, if you don't know something, ask somebody. Find somebody to help you because there are plenty of people that are willing to help you. Authors like to share, we think we'd be intimidated. You could call up the most famous person you know and say I want to write a book and I would tell you all about it, because that's what we do, as creators, as authors, we like to share our gifts with you. So I appreciate it very much, Russ. This has been so fun. I will have to return the favor and we'll talk some more maybe hopefully,
Russ Johns 31:09
We'll talk again in the future, Liz. Thank you. As always, #kindnessiscool, #smilesarefree and you #enjoytheday. Take care.
Liz Lawless 31:21
Thank you. Bye bye. Be creative!
Russ Johns 31:25
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