The last sound you want to hear after releasing a new project into the world is silence. What if there was a way to launch a book (or blog or business) to a crowd of raving fans instead?
Many people don’t think military deserter and cosmetology instructor belong in the same sentence let alone in the same Twitter bio.
David Mike is an author who self-published his story of being dishonorably discharged, prison time, drug dealing, and redemption.
This week on The Portfolio Life, Andy and I talk how David self-published his story of being dishonorably discharged to a cheering community of fans. Listen in as we discuss facing fear, not letting your past define your future, and how to create connection through vulnerability.
Listen to the podcast
To listen to the show, click the player below (If you’re reading this via email, please click here).
In this episode, we discuss:
- Counter-intuitive strategies to building a book launch
- Leveraging Facebook groups to create momentum
- What it takes to get 84 5-star Amazon reviews
- The power of practicing in public to engage your tribe
- Let people peek behind the curtain of your work to create early buy-in.
- Build a community where we can help each other.
- Come to the table ready to generously share.
- Being small makes you big sometimes.
- We all want characters we can empathize with. No one wants to empathize with someone who is perfect.
I’m not building community so I have someone to sell to. I’m doing it so that we all have each other’s support.
- Dishonor by David Mike
- Show Your Work by Austin Kleon
- What Most Self-Published Authors Do Wrong (and What This One Did Instead)
Click here to download a PDF of the full transcript or scroll down to read it below.
What is your story of redemption? How are you showing up authentically for your audience? Share in the comments.
[0:00:17.9] AT: Welcome to the Portfolio Life Podcast with Jeff Goins. I’m your host Andy Traub. Jeff believes that every creative should live a portfolio life,a life full of pursuing work that matters, making a difference with your art, and discovering your true voice. Jeff’s committed to helping you find, develop, and live out your unique world view so that you too can live a portfolio life.
Today, Jeff and I are going to tell you about a dishonored man. An author who successfully self- published his story of a dishonorable discharge. You’ll learn about facing fear but not letting your past define your future and how to create connection through vulnerability. Here’s our conversation about author David Mike.
[0:01:04.9] AT: Jeff, I noticed you mentioned a name and recent post of someone that I know and have sort of connected with through that Tribe Writer’s community, that was David Mike, when did you first get connected with him? Do you remember how?
[0:01:19.9] JG: Yeah, it was through Tribe Writers, my online course for writers and he was a student. He is a member of that community and we’ve been in touch for a while now. In fact, we actually connected over a coaching call early on and I remember seeing this book come out and I just realized like he was just super eager to get it into people’s hands without — but he wasn’t desperate. I was like, you know, you see people launch books every year, lots of people and I was kind of watching from afar, a little bit skeptically.
Because I see this happen often, people kind of launch a book and then they go, you know, it just sort of fizzles out and they don’t really do the work and I was amazed to see David not do that. like he went for it. He did some really smart things with his book launch that are kind of counter-intuitive even counter-intuitive to some of the things that I teach and what I mean by that is he didn’t spend a bunch of time building an email list or like just creating an online marketing funnel or something. He did something even better than that, which is really at the heart of what it takes to build a tribe and the results speak for themselves. Within two months of publishing the book, he’s got 84 five star reviews. I’m looking at the reviews and it’s 99% of the reviews are five star. It doesn’t even show, and one percent is
[0:02:46.9]AT: That one four star downer, let’s read the way they ripped him a new one and a that one, right?
[0:02:54.1] JG: Yeah, so it’s just incredible. I mean, the story is amazing, he ended up going to prison, just crazy, crazy stuff.
[0:03:03.0] AT: Because he deserted the US Army, I believe. I mean, he didn’t just go to Prison because he robbed a liquor store like — and that’s the really interesting thing about this is that he got discharged for desertion. So you kind of start the whole thing of with like, “What a jerk. Wait a minute, this is redemption, right? Redemption.” So, what did he do that worked?
[0:03:24.1] JG: Right, so I’ve got to go back to when he started his blog and he didn’t have a huge email list, wasn’t getting a bunch of traffic to his blog and one of the smart things that he was doing is he was using Facebook groups to share kind of his progress of his blog and his blog was basically his story.
He was doing what I call applying this rule of how you build an audience which is by practicing in public. He was practicing in public by basically trying to tell his story on a blog and then he adapted a lot of that content and turned it into a book and really built on that, edited it, and turned it into more than just a collection of blog post. But initially, he was just sharing his story of this very compelling, fascinating story of loss and redemption and just really cool stuff.
Initially, he built his audience by just sharing his work in these different Facebook groups that he was a member of and what that did kind of behind-the-scenes is it got people bought into him into his story. I mean, I bought into it because it was compelling and interesting. He was very openly and vulnerably sharing, “Here’s where I’m at with my process right now. I’m trying to tell my story, I’ve got something interesting to say, but nobody’s necessarily listening right now. Not a lot of people are listening except people that I know.”
So, he was sharing that with other communities, particularly the tribe writer’s community and then other Facebook groups that he was a part of and people started buying into it so that when his book launched, man, I have not seen people support a book launch like that in a long time. It was at the level that like, you know, a Michael Hyatt or something in terms of everybody is just talking about this. But instead of having half a million email subscribers, David had a few hundred, maybe. But he had this community of people who were cheering him on, who wanted to see him win.
He said, you know, he was publishing pieces of his book on his blog and then sharing it with different groups and he leveraged that into a launch group. So he got several hundred people to say, “I actually want to help you launch this book.” So these people were giving him feedback, he was using that feedback to make the book better and by the time the book came out — and you know this Andy because you’ve done this too — he had this whole army of people, hundreds of people who weren’t just like passively in his audience, waiting for him to say, “Go buy my book.”
They were going out like a street team and saying, “Everybody needs to go buy this book,” and I love what he said about this and you can read this in the post that I wrote about the story and he says, “I’m not building community so I have someone to sell to. I am doing it so that we all have each other’s support.” So I think there’s something really important here to kind of take note of which, is he didn’t like build an email list or get a bunch of people to buy into his book launch so that he could sell them a book.
He really genuinely did it so that he could get help from them and he could help them just by saying, “Hey, let’s build a community where we can help each other.” Yes, he gets something out of it but he came to the table ready to generously share something, and I think when you build a community of any kind, people can intuitively sense what your motives are pretty easily and if your primary motivation is “I’m going to get something out of this”, it’s going to be a turnoff to people. You might get some people involved but you don’t get the kind of raving fans.
David had when he launched his book where everybody just wanted him to win, everybody was cheering him on and it worked.
[0:07:19.8] AT: Yeah, it worked because he treated a situation really well like, if anyone has every pinned a dishonorable position. and again the name of the book is Dishonor, and he didn’t say, “I’m a hero.” He said, “I messed up and this is how I redeem my life,” and he was very vulnerable throughout the process and it’s very ironic that being small and humble in that way draws people to you, right?
[0:07:47.6] JG: Yeah, being small makes you big sometimes. But yeah, it’s a story about being dishonorably discharged, facing jail time for that, then drugs and addiction and all kinds of criminal activity, then faith. You know, it’s got this whole hero’s journey arc and so we all want characters that we can empathize with and nobody wants to empathize with somebody who is perfect. We want to empathize with somebody who is kind of messed up like we are, but we also want to believe that transformation is possible and so through David’s transformation, you see, “Wow, maybe that could be true to me?”
I mean this is the secret to all great stories, especially a great memoire, which is what I would classify Dishonor as, and he’s just sharing his whole story not just like, “Hey, I lived through this at one time.” But he’s also sharing this story that he’s living now, which is, “I’m a hairdresser who has this really interesting back story. It’s kind of this unlikely hero that everybody wants to root for, help my book, help my story reach more people.” That in and of itself is an underdog story and lots of people came to his side to help him win and that’s exactly what happened.
[0:09:06.0] AT: Exactly what happened. Yeah, you can read more about David Mike at goinswriter.com/self-publishing-success and I love the title, What Most Self-Published Authors Do Wrong and What This One Did Instead. So, be sure to check out that post, we’ll link to it in the show notes of today’s episode. Congratulations David, I’m believing you’re going to listen to this at some point and way to ship and make it happen and to be brave and we’re honored to be able to talk about your story. Jeff, as always, thanks for your time.
[0:09:39.5] JG: Yeah, thank you.
[0:09:47.0] AT: So what did you learn today about your own writing? About your mindset? About vulnerability and a path to success? You can let us know by going to Goinswriter.com/129 or message Jeff on Twitter @jeffgoins. We do appreciate the time you take to listen to our show. I’m Andy Traub and on behalf of Jeff Goins, thanks for spending some time with us.
Now, go build your portfolio.