Lead with Love® Podcast

Creativity. Business. Life.

How to Write a Must-Read Book that Changes Lives  

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I’ve been sharing a lot of behind-the-scenes of what it takes to write, publish, and promote a book. But one thing that often gets overlooked in the writing process is editing. I like this quote from Mike Lee where he says, “The first draft reveals the art; revision reveals the artist.”

Today, I get cozy with editor and publishing strategist AJ Harper. In this episode, we talk about how authors can find their voice, write books based on the change you want to see in the world, and why it's important not to give up in the dip when marketing your book.

AJ Harper helps authors write transformational books that enable them to build readership, grow their brand, and make a significant impact on the world. As ghostwriter and as developmental editor, she has worked with hundreds of authors, from newbies to New York Times bestselling authors with millions of books sold. AJ teaches her method in Top Three Book Workshop and the Must-Read Editing Workshop at https://ajharper.com.

I personally had an opportunity to participate in one of AJ’s editing retreats and it was amazing! She is the Head Writing Coach for Heroic Public Speaking, the premier speaker training program created by Michael and Amy Port. She is writing partner to business author, Mike Michalowicz. Together they’ve written nine books, including Profit First.

“I’m not motivated by accolades; it just doesn’t interest me. What I am motivated by is figuring out how to help an author find their voice and realize their vision, and that drives me, and I love it.”


What you'll hear (and don't want to miss!)

  • Defining what “career authorship” is all about [16:04]
  • How AJ mixes leading with love into her practice and craft of writing [4:52]
  • Her special invitation to really deep dive into your craft of authorship [8:38]
  • Why she wants others to realize that writing a book is scary, and the impact that having a long timeline will have on the author [11:07]
  • Why it’s important to keep your writing close until you are ready and the time is right to share it with others [31:08]
  • AJ’s expert tips for choosing an editor that is right for you and what you need to consider with this decision [36:24]
  • How gaining clarity in your book and editing process will allow you to stand up for your book with conviction [41:28]
  • Her own experience as a ghostwriter and co-writer, and how that compares to now writing her very own book and the pressures that come with doing this [37:50]
  • Why identifying your core message is essential in book writing, and what AJ’s core message was in her own book [47:03]

Resources + links mentioned:

» AJ’s Book, Write a Must-Read: Craft a Book That Changes Lives―Including Your Own & Free Tools 

» AJ Harper’s Facebook, Instagram & LinkedIn

» AJ’s Top Three Book Workshop 

» Heroic Public Speaking 

» Great Work: Do What Matters Most Without Sacrificing Everything Else by Amanda Crowell 

» My new book, She Builds: The Anti-Hustle Guide to Grow Your Business and Nourish Your Life

» My Recent Forbes Feature, How To Build Your Entrepreneurial Support Squad

» Ten Year Career by Jodie Cook

» Daddy Daughter Day Isabelle Bridges-Boesch

» LWL 139: “Protecting the Queen Bee in Your Business” with Mike Michalowicz

» Leave a Review for She Builds on Amazon! 

Key Quotes:

  • “People are always doing their very best, and that’s how I approach everything. Whether it’s leadership in my business or leadership with my students, I always think people are doing the very best they can in that moment, and I think that’s a loving way to look at things.” [AJ,18:28]
  • “People in your world don’t have the same frame of reference or education. They don’t understand how to put a book together, and they’re probably not your ideal reader. Your cousin isn’t, your best friend isn’t, so they don’t realize that by saying something that they’d think is helpful they are actually moving you in a direction you shouldn’t go, and they sometimes genuinely hurt your feelings.” [AJ, 22:30]
  • “It’s always the case that when an author knows more about the book than the editor does, it’s going to be ok. The problem is that we don’t actually have as much clarity as we think we do, and that is essential. To me, it is one of the most important things that you can do as an author, and that’s why I have it right upfront in my book.” [AJ, 40:09]
  • “I’m not motivated by accolades; it just doesn’t interest me. What I am motivated by is figuring out how to help an author find their voice and realize their vision, and that drives me, and I love it.” [AJ, 39:34]
  • “You have to get through the dip and keep marketing through it, because you have to let people read and tell other folks about [your book]. If you write a book that’s great, they’re going to tell everyone and it will pick back up, but a lot of people just give up in the dip.” [AJ, 64:13]
  • “I just think really big about how I can get the book out over 10 years, and I invite everybody to think about that. Create a sales goal that’s based on the change you want to see in the world. How many books do you have to sell to make that change happen, and who can help you facilitate that change?” [AJ, 72:55]

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