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Episode # 515   How To Land A Book Deal - Zhena Muzyka

About The Episode:

Have you ever read a gripping, fascinating, mind-blowing book, and thought to yourself: "If only I could write something like that!”. If you have a book inside you, or a message that you want to share with the world, then today’s exclusive episode of The Inspiration Show was made for you. During the show, social entrepreneur Zhena Muzyka, shares her insider tips for publishing a book, and landing a book deal. Plus, she reveals the most common mistakes authors make and how you can avoid them.

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Episode # 515 How To Land A Book Deal - Zhena Muzyka

NL: Hi everyone! My name is Natalie Ledwell and this is The Inspiration Show. Today on the show I have a special guest, who is also a very close friend of mine. This is going to be specifically for you if you have a book inside of you, if you have a book that you would love to get out there, or a message that you would like to get out in the world, and you feel that the book would be an amazing way to do so. I have an extremely amazing expert that’s going to talk to us all about that. But, before I get into the show and introduce my special guest, I want to just remind you that once the show is finished- after the show is over- if you’re watching this live on Facebook, or on our YouTube channel, don’t forget to click the link below this video to take my 30 second quiz so we can see what’s holding you back from success. So, please let me introduce my special guest today, Zhena Muzyka. How are you Zhena?

ZM: Hey, I’m good. How are you?

NL: Fantastic. Zhena runs an amazing program called the Authors Academy, which we’re going to talk a little bit about in a moment. But, how she got into doing this work and knowing so much about the publishing world is quite the story. So, Zhee, can you share a little bit about your journey as to how you got into doing this type of work?

ZM:  Yeah. Well it has to do with a kiss and getting fired from a job, so it’s a good story. It has all the makings of a great chiclet novel. I’m an entrepreneur and I built a multi-million dollar tea business from nothing - from- I had $6 a day when I started. During my time building that business, I discovered the power of fair-trade and the power of serving others as a means of success. So I brought fair trade tea to Kroger, and Walmart, and Super Value- and all the major grocery stores in the US. People loved it because they loved giving back and my business became a huge success. And during 2008-2009, I don’t know if any of you guys remember that - maybe you’re all too young-, but the entire economy crashed and burned. I was in the middle of that crash and burn with my beautiful fair trade, fairly premium tea. I had to run out and raise millions of dollars of capital to save my business during that time. I had to bring on these big investors from New York and it was all very exciting. I was able to pull it off using definitely the law of attraction and so- but in that I had sold the majority of my company. Then, when I figured out I was working for these big investors in New York, I decided it really wasn’t my thing. I’m much more of an entrepreneur and I’m not good at following other people’s orders. I pretty much follow the orders of the universe. So I left that company and I was sad, and worried, and I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life. I didn’t know who I was. One day I was walking in New York and I saw this big building and I had- and it said Simon and Schuster on it. I was compelled. I had this like- I just ran up to it and kissed it. I don’t know why, what it was. My son who was 11 at that time said, “Mom! Oh my God! What are you doing? You’re embarrassing me”. I said, “I have no idea. I just feel so much love around this building. I don’t know what’s going on”. So fast- forward a couple years later, I get a publishing deal with a group called Atrium. I go to sign my contract and it says Simon and Schuster. So it turns out Simon and Schuster was the parent company. Not only that, but my publisher who published The Secret at Atria was beyond words. She became a dear friend of mine. One day we were sitting and I said, “I don’t really know what to do. I’m writing this great book for you, but I want to do something more with my life”. She said, “Why don’t you become a publisher? You have what it takes”. So I started working there and I founded my own publishing house at Simon and Schuster called Enliven Books. So I get to go visit that building all the time where I first made out with the Golden sign. Anyway- so it changed my entire life. It brought you into my life, brought a lot of people into my life that I wouldn’t have otherwise had access to, or even known existed. There’s gonna be a plane I’m in my backyard. But, what ended up happening was I fell in love with the publishing world and I also realized that if you publish a book, it’s so much more than just saying you’re an author. It brings new circles of people to you. It brings more wealth to you. It helps build your business. The book I wrote, “Life by the Cup”, boosted sales at the tea company.- two and a half million dollars that month from all the press it garnered. So I love the idea of getting your voice out, making it heard, and also seeing what sorts of rewards it brings back to your life. So I teach people how to do that now, both as an author and as an entrepreneur- and now also as a publisher.

NL: Yeah. So, Life by the Cup is an incredible book. So tell me what the publishing experience was like for you as an author.

ZM:  Super confusing. I went all in. I mean- I took every penny I had because I thought “Oh. This is my chance to reinvent my life”. I’m going from selling tea to selling me. I have no idea how to do that, but my book is obviously a good first step. So I did campaigns. I did email blast campaigns. I did videos. Now the technology’s gotten even better. So, at Authors Academy - it’s so fun because every time I teach it I update it because everything changes so quickly- but I learned that I didn’t know an enormous amount. I didn’t know how the editorial process worked. I didn’t know how the marketing process worked. I didn’t know what the salespeople at the publishing house did, or what I was expected to do. There was just a lot. It can be a little overwhelming and then I also didn’t know- I mean I kind of wanted to self- publish at the same time. So I learned a lot about self-publishing while I was learning a lot about being an author at a publishing house. But, what I think I most missed, or what I wished I would have known was that there was a way to be empowered through the process. I didn’t have to be deer-in-the-headlights. I didn’t have to be confused. I actually could own my campaign, own my book launch and do a lot more than I felt I could because I thought- I just had a lot of ignorance around the subject of who is going to do what, between me and the publisher. So there was a lot I didn’t know that could take 10 hours to list, but yeah.

NL: You know the publishing of my first book was pretty much the same as well. I didn’t know-  I didn’t even know anything. Yes, we know how to do an online campaign, which we did. But then after that, it’s like now what? Like- there was so much confusion and then not a lot of communication.

ZM: Yes.

NL: We talked a little bit earlier about the Authors Academy, of which I have participated in and I’m telling you now… It’s just like, “Oh my God! If I had only known back then”. But, tell me, what was your inspiration, or what was your motivation behind creating Authors Academy?

ZM: Well, Authors Academy for me is to empower people to not let anything stop them from publishing a book- whether it’s self-published, published it through a big publishing house, or a smaller hybrid publishing house. But, what I find is a lot of people- 80% of Americans say they want to write a book and less than 5% of them will. I want to ensure everyone that even if you just write a book that your family reads, that’s part of your history, it’s a life changer. It’s a game changer not only for those who read it, but also for you. And it’s- number one it’s very healing. Number two: it’s extremely gratifying. It lets people into your heart in a way that you wouldn’t otherwise have that chance to have. And I started Authors Academy because I just felt really bad for first time, and even second and third time, authors who- really it’s a lot easier to know what you’re in for, than not. Then you can pick and choose, and be empowered, and have a choice in the publishing process. I believe that if we know what we don’t know we’ll be way more successful. We’ll also get to pick what we don’t want to know. So instead of reacting to things happening to you, you can then look out and say, “Oh, yes. I want to publish this way, this way, and this way. Oh, yes. I understand the editorial process, there’s a difference between an acquisitions editor, an editorial, an editor that does developmental, and then a line editor, and then a copy editor”. Like, just knowing all of that, understanding the lingo, understanding how the process works, puts you in a position of power instead of feeling like everything’s happening at you, or to you. So that’s really why I did it. As a fair trade activist and a lover of artists and authors, and wanting people to be empowered, it just seemed a natural thing to do.

NL: So, as a publisher, what are some of the mistakes that you see that authors are making out there?

ZM: Oh, goodness. Well… So the Authors Academy teaches how to write a book business plan. So whether or not- no matter where you end up with your book- even if you self-publish it or even if you do nothing with it- you understand how you’re going to get it to market, how you’re going to communicate with your target reader, how you will find them, how to budget it. All of that. You’ll… So you write a book business plan, as well as a book proposal. It all happens in two days, or online. Basically one of the things with that is that it just gives you an understanding of what you want because so many of us don’t know what we want. So what I see with lot of authors that come to me, and who I either sign or not sign, I see that they want to make a positive impact in the world, but they don’t understand the steps from here to here on how to make that positive impact. They don’t understand the different channels of online marketing, the different channels of bookseller marketing, the different channels of speaking engagements and podcasts, publicity and all of that. So, what I find is, if they just knew all the options, they’d be able to pick which ones they want to do. Instead a lot of them look at everything once they’ve got a publishing deal, or once they’re trying to get a publishing deal, and they kind of go blank. They go paralyzed because there are so many channels of social media, so many ways to market, so many things to write about. If we can get that narrowed down and get really, really clear on who your target reader is, you will be able to write like a killer book business plan and go to market- whether or not you get a big publisher, or a small publisher, or no publisher. So, even for my authors at Enliven, I make them all go through it so that they understand what the system is like, and they understand what I can and can’t do. Then they can be empowered to pick up what they would like to do, or walk away from things they don’t want to do. So it’s really about empowerment.

NL: Yeah, the biggest take away from the program is knowing what my strengths are.

ZM: Yeah, we all know what your strengths are.

NL: But, with the last book- I think this is especially where a lot of people go “we do the initial launch and you know the release and with my last book, I’m like “Well now what?” With going through the Academy it’s like, “Oh, I have a 12 month plan”. It’s not just like the one thing; it’s this- the consistent things that I’m going to be doing to be reaching more people with this message.

ZM: Yeah, and the 12 month plan- with most publishers, basically, you get two weeks of attention during the launch period. Then they have to go on to the next book. So what the 12- month plan does is… It’s exciting because it gives you new opportunities to market a book. Even with The Secret book… It took a year for that one to take off and now it’s 30 million copies. You know, some of our books, they take a little while to catch on. But if the author doesn’t know what to do, and what to do about getting out there, then the book has less of a chance of staying in people’s minds. So the 12-month plan is key because there are 355 thousand books a year that are self-published in the United States. Then there are probably altogether a million and a half books published in the United States every year. Now, there’s only 310 million people here and so for- and globally! Oh my gosh. The market is huge globally and we talked about that at Authors Academy too. You could find a niche audience that you market to for the rest of your life and you’ve got this beautiful little book that’s a moneymaker and build your business. You wouldn’t even know if you didn’t get past the first weeks at launch. So, yeah, I agree. It’s… I love the longer- term plan.

NL: So, you have another Authors Academy coming up soon. Tell us the dates and all the details about it.

ZM: Yeah. It’s September 9th and 10th of 2017. It’s going to be live- streamed, so wherever people are in the world they can live stream it. It’s also the live event is in Ojai, California, where I live, where Byron Katie lives, where game Katie Hendrix lives. It’s at a place called Meditation Mount, which is my favorite location in Ojai besides my house. It is a beautiful place overlooking the whole valley with meditation gardens. We’re very excited and the live stream is fun. It’s like you’re there; you get to ask questions. We’ve got people answering and you get to be engaged- and that’s also fun too. But, September 9th and 10th 2017.  Then after that, it’ll be online. This is our last live event. I’m switching courses since I’ve taught it 13 times! So I’m going be doing it online to make sure everyone in the world gets a chance to do it.

NL: Absolutely. So who are the people that would benefit the most from Authors Academy?

ZM: I really- people with a message for the world. Somebody who has been through a lot, who really has gotten through it, you know? Just like with you, Natalie. I love all of your stories of you, and Glen, and slogging it out. You know- becoming entrepreneurs against all odds and all the debt. Then, it’s anyone who really feels that their story can help other people. I highly recommend those people arrive. First-time authors really benefit because they get information that- I mean as a publisher and an author- they get information that normally you just don’t get even after your fifth, or sixth books sometimes. Also repeat authors, repeat offenders, repeat authors who really want to have some new tools of marketing and how to get to their target market. Also, I would say people who blog and - who are coaches- who are out in the world with a book that would benefit their business because, once you have a book out, it gives you such a great way to get through the press and new clients. It really will build your business. So there’s really the four categories and we help people coming in from all over the world; this time Africa- an African writer coming from South Africa. We have writers from the East Coast of the US, Hawaii. So it’s going be a really great group of folks this time.

NL: Well, darling. I know that you have a link here for us so we’re going to be posting that with the video- so you’ve got the banner to the side here to go through because they just put together a special package for us. Or, you can click the link below this video, which would go straight to Zhena’s website, talking all about the Authors Academy.  Darling, thank you so much for joining me today. It’s always always a pleasure talking to you!

ZM: Love you, sweetie. I’ll see you soon.

NL: Alright.

ZM: And bye everyone!

NL: Guys, I encourage you to share this video. You can do that by clicking the Facebook and the Twitter share buttons on this page. Don’t forget to click the link underneath the video to take my 30-second quiz, so we can figure out what’s sabotaging your success. Until next time, remember to live large, choose courageously and love without limits.

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