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Are you too busy to write a book? You may have a dream of becoming a published author, but work, family, and the busyness of life just seem to get in the way. And instead of making your dream come true this year, you settle for next year. And the next year. And the next.
Today’s conversation is with Jerrad Lopes. He’s the author of the new devotional for men: Stop Behaving.
Jerrad Lopes gets it. He’s a devoted husband, father to three children, business owner, foster parent, and now a published author. And even through his busy life, he was able to make time to write his book. And in our conversation, he shares exactly how he did it.
So if you’re trying to figure out how to make time to write your book and finally become a published author, you need to watch this interview.
Simon Villeneuve: Welcome to the BookWorthy podcast Jerrad. It’s good to have you. How are you doing today?
Jerrad Lopes: I’m doing well man, thanks so much for having me.
Simon Villeneuve: Awesome.
Aaron Smith: Yeah, it’s awesome having you on. It’s been good getting to know you online. Have we met in person yet?
Jerrad Lopes: Never met in person yet, which seems crazy because I feel like-
Aaron Smith: Cause you’re only a couple of hours away. You haven’t come over the mountains. You just need to come say hi.
Jerrad Lopes: I literally haven’t been to Benton since I’ve met you. So it’s not like I’m avoiding you, I just haven’t been there.
Aaron Smith: Good. Well, you should come out soon.
Jerrad Lopes: Yup.
Aaron Smith: And we should see you in person.
Simon Villeneuve: Yes, yes. Tell us a little bit, give some context about your life. What does life look like right now? What do you spend your time doing? Tell us about your family.
Jerrad Lopes: Yeah, so I’m a husband and I’m a dad. I’m also a foster dad and I’m a business owner. So I own my own business. Try to be the best husband that I can be and the best dad that I can be. Like I said, we’re foster parents as well and so we try to help out by taking some foster kids in.
Aaron Smith: So, you have a lot going on.
Jerrad Lopes: A little bit, yes.
Aaron Smith: And the business that you run is not connected to your book that you’ve self-published is it?
Jerrad Lopes: It’s not. No. I run a business. It’s a video production business and we make videos for companies and then I have a nonprofit that I also run and the book kind of came out of running that nonprofit for a little bit.
Simon Villeneuve: Awesome. What’s the name of the book that you self-published?
Jerrad Lopes: The book is called, Stop Behaving, and it’s a devotional for men.
Aaron Smith: I like the title.
Jerrad Lopes: Thanks.
Aaron Smith: Especially when it comes to men, Stop Behaving.
Jerrad Lopes: Yeah.
Simon Villeneuve: Tell us about the process of writing your book. Where did you start and what was it like? What did it feel like to write a book?
Jerrad Lopes: I think I’m like a lot of people in the sense that I had kind of dreamed about writing a book for several years actually even as a teenager I thought that you know it would be cool to one day write a book, but that process felt so huge and daunting that I never even seriously considered doing it because it just felt totally overwhelming. It wasn’t until about nine months ago, maybe a year ago, that I was like I’m gonna really try to do this. I’m gonna like go for it and see what happens.
What I learned is getting to the starting line, which took me forever, but once I actually started I was able to write a lot faster than what I originally thought I could write.
Aaron Smith: So eight or nine months ago, what was the catalyst? You thought about it and you’re like oh I could never do that and then something changed. What changed that made you get to the starting line?
Jerrad Lopes: I was at the beach, which is always like a good place for me to kind of unwind and kind of dream a little bit. I was at the coast, we were there for a couple days, and I had just heard about this idea of mind mapping, the tool of mind mapping, where you basically don’t try to sit down and write, but you just write out all your ideas. Just put everything that could possibly go in the book just write it down on a piece of paper or a whiteboard. So I just tried it for the very first time. I just starting writing. Okay, here is every possible thing that could go in the book and I realized I had this huge piece of paper with all these ideas. I was like, oh my gosh, I have a lot more ideas in my head than I thought I did. My fear was that I’d start writing and get like one chapter in and not have enough to say.
Aaron Smith: Yeah that’s it. It’s a short book.
Jerad Lopes: Once I wrote it all out I was like oh geez, there’s actually a lot going on in my mind and then I saw it on paper I was like, maybe I can do this. Maybe I can actually start writing out.
Aaron Smith: So the mind mapping thing is pretty interesting. We actually talk about that in our eCourse because it’s so powerful. There’s many psychologists that use the technique for therapy. But, it works great for book writing. Do you feel like the mind mapping … did it essentially give you all the content and all the chapters? Did you just have to reorganize it or was it not complete?
Jerrad Lopes: Yeah so I’m sure you guys talk about this more in the course, but for me what it was I just took out every possible idea and then I started to look for themes and then I categorized those themes. Once I felt like I had kind of an outline of the book, then I did a mind map for each chapter. So I put the first chapter in there and then I mind mapped everything that could be in that first chapter and then so on and so forth. That process seriously sped up the writing so fast. I’ve tried to write blogs and I’ve tried to write stuff and it takes me forever, but when I mind mapped this thing, I busted it out really quickly.
Simon Villeneuve: That’s awesome. Yeah because you’re front-loading the work. You’re doing all the thinking ahead so when it comes to the writing it just kind of irons out.
Jerrad Lopes: It’s kind of like fill in the blank. You already have the structure there and then you’re just like put a sentence to fill in the blank and dude, it made the process go so much faster. And it’s encouraging. It’s encouraging because you realize I’ve got actually something to say, and it’s kind of organized, and it’s a huge tool.
Simon Villeneuve: That’s pretty rad. What did you do after that? You mind map, you got it all out, you felt really good about it, did you start writing? Or did you outline? Or did you take it to somebody? What were the next steps?
Jerrad Lopes: I knew nothing about writing a book. Like literally nothing about how to go about getting a book written, but what I did was I just wrote it all out on a Word doc. Just started writing things in a Word doc, and I kind of put it chapter by chapter, and I made so many mistakes. Then I was like where do I find an editor because I’m sure there are tons of mistakes in this. So I started researching and googling where do you find editors. And I did the process so backward. In my mind, it felt like if I send one chapter at a time to the editor that we would be going faster. Like I could write a chapter, send it to the editor, they would work on it while I write the next chapter and so forth. In my mind, that felt really efficient.
Aaron Smith: It sounds efficient.
Jerrad Lopes: But, it slowed the process down big time. What I would do again is write out the whole book, send them the whole book, edit it, and then send it all back.
Aaron Smith: Why? Why did it slow it down?
Jerrad Lopes: Because of the flow … I don’t think the editor could get a good flow of the book and then I would get a chapter back and I spent a bunch of time now working on chapter one when I was like in my mind trying to get on chapter three. So I’m just constantly going backward and forwards and backwards. It just muddied the process. I think if I were to give it all to them at once, and then all back, and we just kind of passed it back and forth in big chunks, it just would have been less messy.
Aaron Smith: That’s good advice actually. So the idea of getting the whole thing out I feel like it would do two things. Not only would it give the editor a full look at what you’re doing so that they can actually understand as they go through the editing, but it would also give you an opportunity to see the whole thing because you might think chapter by chapter it’s gonna flow, but as you move through it, you’re like wow that chapter is actually out of place or maybe isn’t even necessary. You get the same opportunity to see the whole thing in completion.
Simon Villeneuve: Was that frustrating when you felt like you were making mistakes? Was that discouraging along the process? Because you’re envisioning a book and were you thinking I’m never gonna get this done? I mean, what were you thinking?
Jerrad Lopes: Yeah, the whole process was discouraging. One, because I’m by myself. I’m just 100% trying to do it by myself. I didn’t really have a community helping me. I didn’t have a person to really help me other than Aaron. Sometimes I would reach out to Aaron and be like hey man-
Aaron Smith: We had a few phone calls, yeah.
Jerrad Lopes: I know you’ve written a book can you help me with this? Other than that it’s just late nights on Google just trying to figure out where do you go from here. There’s a million times where I’m like this is getting way to complicated, I don’t know what I’m doing. I feel like I could spend a lot more money than I need to-
Aaron Smith: So how many hours would you say was spent on figuring it out versus [inaudible 00:09:04].
Jerad Lopes: I don’t even know. There was probably realistically ten times the hours learning as there was writing. That’s probably a conservative estimate.
Aaron Smith: The reason I ask is because when Jennifer and I were first doing our book that 99% of the time spent on the book was figuring out how to do it. So I totally get that.
Jerrad Lopes: Totally.
Aaron Smith: Do you feel like your next book would be that much faster.
Jerrad Lopes: 100%. Yeah, I feel like I could bust out a book right now and obviously I’m gonna learn every time, but from where I started till now, I learned a lot about. Even just like how do I get this graphic design? Who do I go to find a designer? Or how do you lay out a book from Word into a document that you can put online? Even like from print to online version, to how do you get someone to design and format that. There was just so many questions that I knew nothing about.
Aaron Smith: Well it sounds like you’re exactly who we’re trying to reach.
Simon Villeneuve: Yeah.
Aaron Smith: And this is why we’re doing this because the potential for world changing stories to be published out there is enormous. I heard a quote once that “the graveyard’s filled with good ideas”. Right? They just take them to their graves and they never do anything with them. I believe it’s not because they don’t want to, I believe it’s because they don’t know how to. They’ve never been told they can. We all are waiting for permission and not just permission, but opportunity. We live in a generation where both permission and opportunity are in abundance. Anyone can be anything. Anyone can do anything. You can publish whatever you want. So our heart is that we make it accessible.
I feel for you when you tell me about how much struggle you went through in producing the book. I remember the phone calls we had and you’re just like I don’t know what’s going on. I’ll do this. I remember like thinking to myself like man I forgot how much work goes into this and how daunting it is when you have no clue if you’re doing it right. Then at the same time you’re comparing it to the world of traditional publishing. So I get it.
Jerrad Lopes: Yeah and that’s what’s cool about 2017. When I first started dreaming about a book you just think like well I hope one day a publisher might notice something I’m doing.
Aaron Smith: It’s all in their hands.
Jerad Lopes: But, in 2017 some of the biggest authors in the world right now are self-publishing. They’ve left the traditional publishing world and are self-publishing. So that’s super encouraging. Literally anybody can write out their story or what’s on their heart, and have it up and ready to read in like days/weeks you know. It’s incredible.
Simon Villeneuve: Yeah. In the traditional publishing world from idea to a book is like five years. You think of it as a massive project, tons of time, tons of dollars, and it’s crazy. How long did it take you to do the whole process?
Jerrad Lopes: I think the whole thing was like nine months.
Simon Villeneuve: Wow.
Jerrad Lopes: And that’s working at night. I could of busted it out way sooner, but like I said I’m a foster dad, and I own my own business, and I’m raising kids and stuff. Going kind of slow it took me about nine months working from midnight to one in the morning.
Aaron Smith: And eight months of it was learning.
Jerrad Lopes: Yes. Yeah, the writing didn’t take that long. It was the learning.
Aaron Smith: How long do you think it would take now?
Jerrad Lopes: I think I could probably write a book in like 90 days from start to finish.
Aaron Smith: And get it printed.
Jerrad Lopes: And get it printed.
Aaron Smith: And I believe that because we’ve done it. My wife and I got a book out in I think less than 60 days. Two books actually. Because once you have all the … we just templates we already had. We just had to fill in the pages, and put it up online, and get a sample. Now it takes longer to market it, but we got the book out that quick.
Jerrad Lopes: Right.
Simon Villeneuve: So are you still in presale mode right now?
Jerrad Lopes: We just out of presale mode which is exciting.
Simon Villeneuve: Okay.
Jerrad Lopes: Every order has been fulfilled, has been shipped out.
Aaron Smith: Can you share with us … First of all why did you do the pre sale marketing strategy where you sell the book before you have the book? How did you go about doing that? What was the benefit of that? How did you launch that?
Jerrad Lopes: That was a learning experience too because there’s a couple routes as we know to self-publish. One of the most popular ones is Amazon through CreateSpace. Just to upload through CreateSpace. Put your book out on and Amazon will take care of everything really for you. But, in exchange for taking care of everything for you, they take a pretty hefty cut out of any money that you’re trying to make on your book. You’re also pretty limited a lot. You’re kind of boxed in on a lot to things. You have to play by their rules. But, the benefit again of going through like CreateSpace or Amazon, is it doesn’t really require much money upfront. You can upload your book and they will print on demand.
What I decided was I wanted to do presales so that I could buy books in higher quantity which would allow me to get more of the cut first per book. Per sale I’m gonna get a bigger commission because I bought the book in quantity and we’re not doing print on demand. So the presales allowed me to buy a palate of books, a thousand books upfront, and I bought those at a significantly cheaper price than if I had bought a thousand books through Amazon which in turn-
Aaron Smith: The presales paid for that?
Jerrad Lopes: The presales paid for that, yeah. So people are buying the book upfront, I get the money, and then I can have enough money to buy the books in bulk.
Aaron Smith: Awesome.
Jerrad Lopes: So I didn’t pay anything out-of-pocket.
Aaron Smith: Yeah, it came from your readers-
Simon Villeneuve: That’s amazing.
Aaron Smith: It came from your readers, which is awesome. How did you distribute the books? You got a thousand books and you have all these orders, did you do it yourself?
Jerrad Lopes: No. I can’t imagine trying to do it myself. Although I guess it could be done if you want to spend a lot of time like packaging, and shipping, and handling orders. I’m using a company called Giving [inaudible 00:15:48]. I connected my online store to their account or they connected it so that every time an order comes in they see the order, they fulfill it. It cost extra money, again, I could have gone the route where I got a thousand books shipped to my house and me and my wife ship them out, which is a totally doable thing, but we just decided we didn’t want to spend the time to ship all those books ourselves and I’d rather put time towards other things.
Aaron Smith: Well it doesn’t sound like you have time to do all that stuff.
Jerrad Lopes: It’s more really late nights. They connect it to their system and they’re now shipping it out. I literally don’t have to do anything except get excited about what I’m excited about and tell people about the book. All of the shipping, and selling, and that stuff happens elsewhere.
Simon Villeneuve: That’s awesome. So you sell on your store, and you have bulk purchased those books, and the fulfillment being done, but you also have it on Amazon right?
Jerrad Lopes: Yeah.
Simon Villeneuve: So if people do want to buy and you print on demand, you also have that channel setup.
Jerrad Lopes: Yup, it’s set up on Amazon. Again, Amazon is pretty hefty on their cut and so as an author I’m not super excited to point people towards Amazon, but it’s also a huge marketplace and so we keep it on Amazon to try make some sells there as well.
Aaron Smith: What percentage of sales happen on Amazon versus through your own store?
Jerrad Lopes: It’s really really small. I haven’t seen all the Amazon numbers come through yet. I know that they just sent over some books to Amazon, [Giving Ten 00:17:25] sent over books to them, but I would say it’s less than 10% right now are going through Amazon.
Aaron Smith: It sounds like what you’re doing is a pretty advanced level though on a self-publishing level. Would you say that your way is viable for any person self-publishing? Do you think it’s necessary? Do you think that people can get away with doing less? You went this route because you’re very business savvy. What would you say to someone that isn’t as business savvy or isn’t interested in pre-marketing their books, but just want to get her book out? How would they do it?
Jerrad Lopes: I think they’re really two kinds of authors out there.
1. Who’s thinking I want to potentially make a career shift or provide a valid income for my family and I want to use a book to supplement that.
And there’s like the hobby. The person that has always had that book in their heart and they just want to get it out, and really accomplish a goal, and share their story that way, but it might just be some extra income or just a way to cross off maybe something off their bucket list.
So I went the first category. As a business owner I’m trying to think through like how do we grow businesses, and ministries, and nonprofit organizations. I saw the book as a tool to help that. I took probably more a professional route, but you can certainly spend way less time, money, energy if you were just kind of following the second category as someone who just want to accomplish writing the book and that’s enough for them.
Aaron Smith: I know you did the presale thing and you bought a palate of books, which I feel like with a little bit of training almost anyone could probably pull of that which is what’s exciting about the generation we live in. That as an individual you can literally become your own publisher and distributor. What’s another marketing strategy that you use that anyone could do that you’ve found some value in and how you’re getting your books in people’s hands?
Jerrad Lopes: One thing that I think was beneficial is I had started a blog and kind of pieced out like doing 400 words of writing at a time on the blog and so you kind of test the market so to say. I would put something out there and you just share with family, or friends, or your network, and when people start to say man you’re a great writer or I really enjoy reading what you’re saying, for lack of a better terms, you start to kind of build a fanbase. People enjoy reading what’s on your heart.
As you do that more people kind of get more excited about whatever you put out and then when you actually put together a full book, you’ve already created some “fan base”. People are excited to see what you put out because they’ve already read little nuggets for maybe months before.
Aaron Smith: So you’re talking about through digital means give content similar to what you’re going to write or want to write away? Let people know about it, let people experience it before the book’s even in their hands.
Jerrad Lopes: Yeah. If I had read a bunch of blogs from somebody that was like every time I’m reading it they’re giving me value, I’m anxious to hear what they say next. Then all of a sudden they wrote a book, I’m liked stoked to read the book because they’ve given me free nuggets of what their writing’s like.
Simon Villeneuve: Looking back on the process, what’s one thing that you wish you would’ve known going into it that you know now?
Jerrad Lopes: Everything. I mean the biggest thing, the overarching thing, is like it’s doable. It felt like a mountain that was too big to climb and now being on the other side of it, it’s like oh that’s a hikeable mountain. You can actually accomplish it. That’s probably the thing that paralyzed me the longest was this is a task or a dream that’s not realistic. This is something that only people with huge platforms or huge audiences can do and I don’t have a huge audience and yet I was able to figure it out and do it myself. And then there’s so many resources online. There are editors online, there are designers online, and they’re not that expensive. You can find graphic designers who will do great work and you’re not going to spend thousands and thousands of dollars. And you can find editors who will do great work and they’re not gonna cost you thousands and thousands of dollars. The resources to actually get it done, we’ve never lived in a greater time to do it than 2017.
Aaron Smith: So true. It makes me think of the story of the Eiffel Tower. I believe it was built during the world fair in Paris and it was one of the first times in history that man was able to see the world from that high. The only people that were able to see it like that we’re people that had balloons or things of that nature that they could go and see it and it was usually wealthy people. The Eiffel Tower was one of the first times that normal people were able to have that perspective on the world from that high up. I feel like that’s where we’re at right now. It used to be you had a platform, or be wealthy, or well known, or have the right connection, and it’s not that way anymore.
So are you gonna be publishing more books?
Jerrad Lopes: I hope so. I’ve already got like two or three planned. Like it said, now that I know the process, I’m excited to … it feels way less daunting to get after it.
Aaron Smith: I know. Isn’t it weird that the … I saw my son learn how to ride his bike for the first time a couple of weeks ago and now that he’s getting past the phase of getting on the bike and not falling over, he’s doing other things. He’s like look I can stand up on the seat, look I can stop and he makes these little skid marks in the ground, and you’ve gotten over that hurdle of figuring it out-
Jerrad Lopes: Yup.
Aaron Smith: and it actually gives you freedom for –
Jerrad Lopes: Yup.
Aaron Smith: Freedom to create more products. So I get what you’re saying. It felt impossible to do the one and now it all of a sudden you have multiple ideas and they don’t feel impossible at all.
Jerrad Lopes: Yup.
Aaron Smith: Now it’s just trying to find the time right?
Jerrad Lopes: Yeah. They say the hardest part … you know the quote that says, “the hardest part is not finishing the race, it’s just getting to the starting line”.
Aaron Smith: Yeah.
Jerrad Lopes: I eluded to that earlier. It just took me forever to get to the starting line, but once I did it, I finished. There’s nothing that feels cooler than having a dream and seeing it all the way through. Now there’s like a book in my house with my name on it and it’s like the weirdest, coolest feeling.
Aaron Smith: How did that feel when you got your first sample and your name was on the book, and it was tangible, and you could smell the paper, and you could flip through the pages? How did that feel?
Jerad Lopes: It was so surreal. So surreal. I just couldn’t believe it and I was really excited about it and my wife was like that’s awesome I hope people like it. I was like, oh crap I didn’t even think about that.
Aaron Smith: So encouraging.
Jerrad Lopes: She’s just very pragmatic.
Aaron Smith: But, then it’s true though. You have this part where you’re like I hope people like it, oh yeah.
Jerrad Lopes: I know. I had been so immersed in the details of it that I didn’t think like oh geez this is going to be in people’s hands, and then they’re going to review it, and my heart’s gonna be exposed, but-
Aaron Smith: Let me ask you this though. At the end of the day if you were the only one to hold it, would you still feel the same?
Jerrad Lopes: Totally, totally. Because my dream was back in high school to write a book and so I saw that through. There’s a book sitting on my shelf with my name on it.
Aaron Smith: So cool.
Jerrad Lopes: That’s enough. That was enough.
Aaron Smith: Yeah and then people buy it and that feels even better.
Jerrad Lopes: It feels good.
Aaron Smith: Awesome.
Simon Villeneuve: I had one last question that I was gonna ask. My other last question, you made me forget it. Oh, I know what it is.
As we close, for the people that we’re talking to, the dreamers who are wanting to still publish their first book, what would you say that would get them to the starting line?
Jerrad Lopes: I think the thing that holds most people back is the thought that somebody else has already done what they want to do. Somebody else already has this. There’s another author who writes better than me, who has a better story than me, who can say this better than I can, and what was the game changer for me is realizing that nobody will say like I would say it. Sure people may say it better or more eloquent or they’re certainly way better writers than I am, but nobody will say it the way that I’m wired. You just kind of have to be comfortable in your own skin. You are wired uniquely and differently than every other human on the planet and nobody would say, even the same topic, the same way that you would say it. So the world’s missing out if you don’t share your perspective.
Aaron Smith: Incredible.
Simon Villeneuve: Fruit falling right there.
Aaron Smith: That’s exactly why we started this.
Simon Villeneuve: That’s great man. So if there’s anybody listening that is interested in your book or just wants to check it out and learn from how you did it, where can they learn more about you, buy your book, read it, explore?
Jerrad Lopes: Yeah, I appreciate that. You can learn all about what I’m doing and the book at Dadtired.com.
Aaron Smith: Awesome. Dadtired.com. We’ll put a link with this video. Hey Jerad we appreciate you. We love what you’re doing and I think it’s incredible that you are passionate about self-publishing and that you are a published author because you chose to be.
Jerrad Lopes: Crazy. That feels weird even having you say that.
Simon Villeneuve is the Co-Founder of BookWorthy.com. He's also a marketing consultant who helps organizations tell a better story that inspires their customers to action.MORE ARTICLES