The Critical 1st Step to Writing a Book

The Critical 1st Step to Writing a Book

Check out the latest episode below. Mr.Biz Radio provides business owners with the knowledge and insights needed to drive their companies forward.

Mr. Biz Radio: The Critical 1st Step to Writing a Book

Unedited transcription of the show is included below:

Welcome to Mr. Biz Radio BizTalk for biz owners during the next half hour, Mr. Biz, Ken Wentworth, a leading business advisor, and two time bestselling author we'll cover topics that will help business owners run their companies more profitably and more efficiently. If you're ready to stop faking the funk and take your business onward and upward, this show is for you. And now here's Mr. Biz, Ken Wentworth.

All right. All right. Welcome to another episode of Mr. Biz Radio, the Mr. Biz, Ken Wentworth, and we have a very interesting guest for you this week, and it's someone who I quote unquote met via Netflix of all places. I get that one, right? So I was I love documentaries and I was scanning around looking for a new documentary to watch. And this was, I want to say November, December of last year, timeframe of 2020, and I found this documentary called saving capitalism. For those of you may have seen it. Robert Reich is the, is the main person in the documentary, but a person who was in the documentary really resonated with me. And so I, I found her on LinkedIn. I connected with her and I asked her, I said, gosh, I got to have you on the show. So this week's guest is none other than Annie Presley against you.

She was in the Netflix show, “Saving Capitalism”. She's the co author of the read this series of guided journals, including the award-winning read this when I'm dead. We're going to ask her about that later. Interesting title. And she's the author of the same series of books for early readers. So without further ado, Annie, welcome to the show. Hi, thanks for having me, Mr. Biz. Absolutely. So that's the sort of the backstory there. So let's just, let's dive right in and get started with you. You have a very interesting background. And so tell us a little bit about your entrepreneurial journey.

Goodness, I started as a youngster, working hard mowing lawns, throwing papers, doing stuff like that. And I just always loved having an extra bucket in my pocket and I learned how much freedom and independence it gave me to be able to do and buy whatever I wanted, even before I could drive a car, but I always had the coolest bike and I always had the coolest stuff because it's what money bought you. And I just learned to at work at a very early age and I basically never stopped.

Right. And so, so interesting. So I, I mowed lawns and I, I was a newspaper delivery boy too, which is funny when I mentioned it on the show, Annie, I'm sure a lot of the listeners out there like newspapers delivered newspapers. What the heck is that

Exactly? Well, I knew I was going to be an entrepreneur and I pursued a career that, that gave me that opportunity. And I th I, I oftentimes suggest to people who talk, want to talk about entrepreneurial-ism to be sure and keep their option to open, always be looking for opportunity, because if you have options, then decisions are, are far easier to, and I had an opportunity pretty early in my career to start a business that did not exist in my hometown of Kansas City. And I jumped at the opportunity and was able to build, and the first independent peer legal agency and from me doing all the work to 28 employees in about six years, and I sold that company and I was just about 30 years old. So that was a pretty great start for me. And I just have continued along that path, seeking opportunities, evaluating my options and doing pretty much whatever I wanted to do that I could, you know, make it work. So it's been a great career.

Yeah. Interesting. So, and I know you touched on some of this in, in the, in the documentary on Netflix “Saving Capitalism”, but so what did you do from there? So you sell your, you exit your first business at the age of 30, obviously very successful. You had to be on cloud nine at that point, thinking like, Hey, I'm doing pretty well here, especially from humble beginnings, as, as you mentioned in the documentary. So where did you go from there?

Yeah, I was pretty proud to be an American that day. It was awesome. Well, interestingly, my husband and I were going to start our family and he got hit by a car as a pedestrian and that wreck those plans. And I went back to work and I ended up starting a fundraising company because I had been volunteering in politics as a fundraiser, and I also enjoyed nonprofits. And so I decided to go ahead and just start a fundraising company and combine politics with nonprofits. And that turned out to be a very, very successful agency as well. I didn't have nearly as many employees that didn't need that many, we had about 12 or 15 at the height of that company and did all kinds of really amazing projects for businesses and nonprofits all over the Midwest. It was very, very fascinating,

So interesting. How how deep into politics did you get with that, that type of role in, in that type of company?

Gosh, I ended up, well, I started as a volunteer in high school and by the time I was nearly 40, I was a deputy finance director for George W’s, 2000 campaign for president. So I w I went to the show as they say, and we raised money all over the country and had a successful campaign, as you know, and that was pretty exciting. It was very, very difficult. It's a hard, hard job, complicated high pressure. And really just great. When I look back on it, I volunteered for the reelect in 2004, cause I didn't want to do the work anymore. I just wanted to volunteer and I had my company up and going again. So it worked out beautifully.

And then from there, where did you go? I think you had you, you started another business or two after that. Right? Right. So then I decided

Fred and I decided we wanted to write a book called read this when I'm dead. And because there's so much control over content and what the cover looks like, we decided to start our own publishing company. So we did that and we wrote the book and then we wrote three more books in that read this series. So now it's publishing my children's books and I'm on the third one of those. So that's been a successful company as well. Although I wouldn't recommend it if you really want to make a lot of money because there's not a ton of money in books.

Yeah. Well, it's interesting you say that because I've got a couple of bestselling books myself and, you know, people just, I think when they hear that you're an author and then hear that, you know, you're, you're a best-selling author. Like I think they think of like Harry Potter and things like that. Like, Oh my gosh, you must be making a million dollars from these books. And it's like, you know, I, I self-published, but a district distributes through Amazon, which as I'm sure you're well aware. I mean, they take a large chunk in royalties which is fine. I didn't write the books. I mean, it's a, it's a minor revenue stream for me, not major, but I didn't write them for that reason. I wrote them for many other reasons, which I'm sure you oil as well. And we're going to talk about that a little bit more in the second segment about your publishing business and running a book and then for the listeners out there.

So we're going to talk so you can hear, Annie's got all kinds of great experience. We're going to talk to her because of what she's been doing now for the last several years, being a publisher and an author of where she's going to give us some tips for those of you out there that have been thinking, gosh, I have a book in me I'd really like to write a book, but I don't even know where to start. She is going to give us some tips on how, for those thinking of writing a book, some tips, where do we even start? What are some things we should watch out for? Should you self-publish, should you try to find a publisher? Like how should you go about that? So we're going to talk through that in the third segment, before we get to that though. And then I've got a question for you, all of your vast experience, looking back now, what advice would you give to your 25 year old self

Drew to your own life? I have counseled many, many classes and different, again, given different opportunities to talk to young people and you have to know your own truth. You have to believe I never worked for a politician. I didn't agree with, or I didn't like their policies. I never worked for a non-profit that I didn't agree with, or didn't like their policies. I was able to sleep at night. I was able to get up in the morning and tackle my work with a clear head and a happy heart. And I can't stress enough how important it is to know your own truth and be where you need to be so that you don't have to question or second guess any activity that you take on as a result.

I love that. And I can tell your passion, not only by the way you set it any, but I barely got the last word of my question out and you're already answering me like that was right there. Right? It's obvious. It's a very very passionate for you. And I think it's great advice as well. We're going to hit a break here guys. Come back after the break. We're talking with Annie Presley of

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All right. Welcome back to the show. Speaking of cash flow business owners out there, do you lack the cash flow needed to expand your business, but maybe you don't meet the qualifications of a traditional bank? Well, if so, I would recommend considering invoice financing with a company like Porter Capital. They can help you get the working capital you need when you need it. And many times it's as little as 24 hours to find out more, visit that's to apply to have a meeting and discuss how they can help you with your cash flow.

All right, it's time for the Mr. Biz tip of the week. This week's tip is a quote. You guys have heard me mention this guy many times on the show before if you are loyal listener Mr. Jesse Itzler big fan of his, and it's a very short one, but simple don't negotiate your goals.

And what I love about that is, you know, it's, it's w you know, again, I'm not a big star Wars person. Another one of my favorite quotes is do or do not. There is no trial Yoda, right? When you commit to a goal, don't negotiate it. Don't give yourself a plan B don't lean back and say, well, we'll try to do this. Don't try to do anything, commit to something and make it happen. Don't negotiate. Don't give yourself an out, commit to a goal and make it happen. All right. That was a Mr. Biz tip of the week. Let's get back into talking with this week's guest, miss Ms. Annie, Mrs. Annie Presley, sorry about that. So you can find out more about her specifically, or as I mentioned right before the break to find out more about the books and publishing go to and you can follow them on Facebook and YouTube have a YouTube channel, and you can go to Read This Guru to follow her there and find out more about what she's doing. So Annie that's gets tied back into this. Tell us more about how you transition, as you mentioned, during the first segment into publishing and being an author, how did you do that? How did, what did that look like?

Well, a friend and I were working at my company and I was kind of winding it down. I was preparing to retire from the nonstop crazy fundraising. Professional fundraising is really fun and crazy. And we were winding that down and she was called away to tell her mother goodbye at her bedside. And we were sad and she came back the next day and her mother lived yay. And she had this huge notebook full of stuff that they had compiled over the course of many, many years. Her mom lives with a terrible disease and they have expected her to die. Now about 10 times, she's more than a nine life cat. And I was really curious about this notebook because my mother died when I was a child and we didn't have any information about her or from her in her handwriting. We never found the savings account.

We never found the life insurance. We didn't know where the dog went to the vet. I mean, we just, we were little kids, our bad was gone and we just didn't know anything.

And I've all I had always had on my heart to write a book that would help people capture this information for their people before they were gone. And so Christy had some of it already compiled with her mom and I had in my heart and on my brain, some portions that I wanted. And so we decided to write, read this when I'm dead and you fill it out, we prompt with questions, which is the goal of a guided journal.

You fill it out and utility your story, tell about yourself. And then you tell about your stuff. And that includes documents and important things. But it also includes things like who gets your collectibles and your favorite items. And then finally you finished the last section, which is your fabulous funeral. And you tell all about what you want. One of my memories is standing in front of the clot mother's closet with my baby sister on my hip. And didn't know if she would want to be buried in her blue dress or cowboy boots, or we just didn't know it's that kind of stuff that we just, this book helps people tell about themselves and what they want so that there are people left behind. Don't have to struggle through it.

I mean, I honestly, I think it's a fantastic idea because, you know, I've had that scenario play out within my own family as well, unfortunately. And you know, first of all, I think it serves two purposes. So first of all, you, once you're deceased, you can have things the way you want, right. As you had mentioned your funeral, et cetera. But I think more importantly, those that are left behind they're already grieving your loss. It makes it much easier for them.

They don't, as you mentioned, they don't have to guess how you want to be very nice stuff. And more importantly, again, they can pick up the pieces, they'll know about the life insurance and the bank account. And, you know, like you said, where the pet goes to the vet and all those sorts of things that, you know, just we take for granted in everyday life. But man, imagine, you know, again, as you did, you had to live through it. If losing someone close to you, you're already grieving. You're really upset. And now you have to try to figure out all these other moving parts. I can't even imagine a well actually I can't imagine. Cause again, we've, we've unfortunately gone through it in our family as well. So I think it's a fantastic idea. And I could see, you know, why it was an award winning journal.

Yes, it's been very, very popular and we have found that financial advisors like to buy them in bulk and give them through their clients to encourage them, to fill them out private banks, do bankers do the same thing. There's been a real hunger for this information on the professional side to encourage people to do it on the personal side so that everybody in the game will, will get the information they need to have, you know, a safe and happy conclusion. So it has been very, very rewarding.

Excellent. And so now you've branched out and you're working, you're almost completed your third in a series for early readers, correct? The same series, is that correct?

Same series. So in “Read This When I'm Dead”. We did this, read this on your anniversary, which you fill out every year, about four pages about what you did and what's working and what's not working. And then we did a birthday book for that. I didn't know. It fills out for a little kid every year on their birthday. And you tell about their friends and their goals and their what they want to be when they grow up and on their 21st birthday, you give it to them all filled out. And then the most recent one is Redis about my house, which tends to be your single biggest asset. And it, you track maintenance and changes, renovations, any kind of information that, you know, you just want to have at your fingertips. And that series has been very successful for a different number of reasons.

The children's book is about the older black mutt. My husband and I adopted with his stepchildren, wait with his children who are my stepchildren. And these are the dogs they get put down most often because they are seldom actually adopted so older, black muds. And it's just a sweet story about Sam and how Sam brought our family together. We got him when he was five and he was sad and lonely at the shelter. And it just tells the story about how to adopt a dog. And then each book in the series will be some other thing that some, that other adventure that we go on with Sam. So Sam goes, shopping, Sam goes on an airplane. He goes to the vet, he goes to the kennel. He has a birthday party. All these different adventures will be books in this series. So it's, it's very cute and fun.

That's interesting. I may have to I may to tap into that series. We just recently adopted or not adopted, but we got a, it's a, he's a puppy. He's not a rescue, but we it might be good for our ten-year-old to go through that series because we're, she's never had a dog before. So she's going through all these things as well. So it was probably very interesting for her again, this week, we're talking with Annie Presley. So you can find out more about her specifically at or about some of the books that she's mentioning. He can go to

We're going to hit a break here, coming up. And as I mentioned before, she's going to talk to us about, she's been an author, she's done all these things in her career and now is also a publisher. So she's going to tell us, you know, if you're thinking about a book, if you have a book in you and you've got you should, gosh, I don't even know where to start. What should I do? What are the things I should, some of the pitfalls and, you know inevitable bumps in the road I should watch out for.

She's going to help us navigate through that process and give us some tips for those who are wanting to write a book. So come back after the break on Mr. Biz Radio with Annie Presley and who, by the way, is the star of “Saving Capitalism” on Netflix.

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All right, the moment we've all been waiting for any. So so I, I look, I wish I would have talked to you, you know, a few ago before I wrote my first book because man, I, I made so many different mistakes and I made it so much more difficult. The second one was so much easier than the first, but I'm still learning obviously. So give us some of your tips for those thinking about writing book.

Well, first of all, I say, do it regardless of where you are in life, you need to start. And the easiest way to start is just to get a notebook or a an open document on your computer someplace where you're comfortable writing in and just start jotting down some ideas. There are lots of different techniques that all kinds of authors have recommended. And if you just Google, for example, J K Rowling who wrote Harry Potter her method of, of fleshing out her books, it's fascinating the way she has just this mess of names and lines all over a single sheet of paper. And it actually follows each character through the book. It's, it's absolutely fascinating. I actually use post-it notes when I get thoughts on perhaps a chapter and I just put post-it notes on the wall and I just keep moving around the idea until it fits somewhere.

And then you can actually start writing as to a topic I would write either what's on your heart. Something that is very important to you or something that you do want to know more about, or if you have just a curiosity about a single topic or a couple of topics that you hunger to do some research on, go ahead and choose that, but just choose and, and get started. And then I have a very specific how to platform that we use and we actually do a live webinar on it or zoom for audiences.

And it, it does kind of go step by step. And then you just have the, like, the next thing you do is decide whether or not you want an agent, if you want to self-publish, which has gotten easier and easier, how you might want to market it. Do you want to just give them to your family and friends, or do you want to become JK Rowling? You, you have to kind of sluice out where you want to be.

Now let's talk a little bit about that. So self publishing versus having a publisher, if you would talk through some of the, some of the challenges, the trials and tribulations that that are with both sides of that. Well,

It's interesting. It's about control truly. So if you're lucky enough to find an agent, an agent can hook you up with a publishing house, it's, it's a very traditional model that everyone kind of sorta understands it too has changed where you have less and less input. Once you sign up with the agent and the agent gets you into a publishing arrangement, we chose self-publish because we wanted to control the contents of the books. And we wanted particularly to control the title and the cover art.

So “Read This When I'm Dead” was our first. And when we shopped it around to a handful of publishers and a handful of agents, people we just knew, and people who recommended us to visit with them, they scoffed at our title and interesting, the title read this one, I'm dead is in a column and dead. The word dead is actually underground. It's very tasteful. It's very happy. It's a wonderfully happy book, you know, getting your stuff together for your loved ones, but that nobody seemed to like it.

And we thought, yeah, but you don't get it. And so we just did it ourselves and it turned out to be the right decision for us.

Well, that's true. Entrepreneurial-Ism right there. Right. You know, you guys had, you guys had an idea, you had a passion behind it and you believe in your idea and you weren't willing to take that and take no for an answer.

That's true. And we actually have gone all over the country doing book talks with the dead book. And as a result, we were able to continue publishing additional books in that series. And it has been very, very encouraging. And that the series is basically about the four most important elements in any person's life. And that would include marriage, children, home ownership, and retirement.

I mean, it's that in a capsule. And so as we traveled around and we're able to have enough money to make the next book, we went ahead and just did it and they, they have done well. It's been interesting, but don't do it. If you want to do it for the money, you just have to do it because it's on your heart.

Yeah. I agree. As we talked about a little bit for, I think you know, not to say that there aren't people that can do it, but I think, you know, it's, it's few and far between no matter how great your book is. And no matter how popular book is, you know, I used it to be able to reach folks in a different way to deliver my, some of my expertise in a different manner as I've found.

And I'm sure you would agree with this, Annie, everyone learns in different ways. Some people are audio learners. Some people like to read, some people want to, you know, watch a video especially in today's day and age. But so it was another method for me to get some of my thoughts out and be able to help and reach more people. So I have, you know, obviously Mr. Biz Radio, so I can reach people that way, the books were just another way to do that.

And so, you know, I use them, I pass out my books pretty freely, honestly. I mean, I'll, I'll send them out to, I'll meet with a prospective client and I'll send them a signed copy of the book and say, you know what? I think this, you know, regardless of we do business or not, I think this would be helpful for you in the future, that type of thing. So it's almost like a calling card. I mean, I think especially if you're a business owner out there, you're a quote unquote influencer or someone like that. I mean, I couldn't tell you how important it is to write a book and capture some of your expertise.

And I think the advice that Nana gave is great. Not only to just do it right, you got to start, stop trying to wait for the perfect moment. That's one of the pitfalls of being an entrepreneur sometimes as you're trying to wait for the perfect moment, and you've just got to go and do it and adjust along the way as she outlined, but, you know, think of something that's on your heart, or you're curious about, I think that's great advice because either one of those methods, you're going to have passion behind it and that's going to come through in your writing.

It is, and it you'll be surprised how elevating it is for your own emotion and for others who you talk with and say, Oh, I keep thinking I'm going to get started. And I never do. And the fact that you've actually started as so encouraging to yourself and to others, and it's just sort of a new element of life, but you're smart to abuse yours as a calling card. We do that to a certain extent, but we we don't give away very many books, mostly just to get people to you know, go ahead and buy them so we can get out and tell our story. Because once we start telling our story, it encourages people to fill out the books, which is what we're really after. That's our bigger goal.

And just note to self, the average number of books sold by self-published authors is 72. So once you get through your friends and your family members, and they've all bought the book, then you're on your own. And that's the real trick of it. If you, if you really want to make a big deal out of it is the marketing of the book after you've, you know, sold it to your closest pals.

Yeah. I think that's a great point. So if you don't go the historically traditional route of having you know, a traditional publisher and things like that, if you're going to self publish, if you're not willing to put in the sweat equity to, to, to promote your book and many different ways, you can do that. Gosh, you gotta, you gotta find someone who can help you do that because you don't want to waste all the efforts that you put into creating that book either. So I think that's really important. I would encourage everyone. First of all, go to to find out more about Annie specifically, but also go out to  and follow them on Facebook and YouTube Read This Guru is their YouTube channel and Facebook page, follow them out there any, I it's been a pleasure having you on your show. I'm really thankful and grateful that you came on.

Well, thank you so much for the invitation I'm delighted to visit with you. And I hope that we stay in touch.

Absolutely, absolutely. Anyone who has the spunk to give Robert Reich the business like you did on “Saving Capitalism” on Netflix. Again, I'll throw that out as a tease for everyone to go watch the show. It's a fantastic show. And so great, great stuff there. Listen guys. Thanks for listening. Thanks to our show. Sponsor Porter Capital have a great week. And as always, don't forget, cash flow is King.

This has been Mr. Biz Radio to learn how to become part of Mr. Biz Nation. Visit for access to free weekly content. Subscribe to the Mr. Biz YouTube channel and follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter, to listen to archive shows. You can find them on the Mr. Biz Solutions website.

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