Scott LeRette shares his best tips for aspiring authors about how to write, publish, and promote a book during this insider interview with Mark Malatesta, a former literary agent turned author coach. Scott is the author of the memoir, The Unbreakable Boy: A Father’s Fear, a Son’s Courage, and a Story of Unconditional Love, published by Thomas Nelson, an imprint of Harper Collins. Scott worked with Mark Malatesta, founder of The Bestselling Author and Literary Agent Undercover, to secure agency representation with Stephany Evans and Becky Vinter of FinePrint Lit. Scroll below to read text transcript of Scott’s interview. Click here to see Scott LeRette’s Review of Mark Malatesta. And click here to see all Mark Malatesta reviews.
Scott LeRette Interview with Mark Malatesta
Mark: Scott LeRette is an ordinary man with an extraordinary son. His wife Teresa and their son, Austin, both suffer from a very rare bone disease called osteogenesis imperfecta, resulting in countless broken bones. Austin also has multiple heart defects, and autism. Scott wrote his memoir, The Unbreakable Boy, based on his popular blog to share his redemptive story of faith, love, and addiction. It’s the story of a son teaching his father to embrace all things–and live. The Unbreakable Boy created a bidding war with publishers and it’s now published by Thomas Nelson, a division of Harper Collins.
In addition to being an author, Scott is a sales executive with GE Capital. Before that, Scott served as an officer in the US Navy. Think An Officer and a Gentleman. Scott holds a business degree from the University of Oklahoma and he lives in Red Oak, Iowa. When he’s not working or writing, Scott can be found hanging out with the family pets: Boomer (a tiger rescue cat), Mason (an Australian shepherd), and Stella (a French bulldog). Scott also plays guitar in a band and he’s involved with his church, where he helps organize youth and high school missions and community service projects.
So welcome Scott, it’s wonderful to have you here today!
Scott: How are you?
Mark: I’m fantastic. I’ve been waiting forever to do this with you and this whole journey of getting the book done and out there takes a while. Boy it’s fun to be able to tell everyone about the journey and promote your book.
Scott: It’s definitely a lesson in patients for sure.
Mark: But worth it?
Scott: Absolutley! We still have a long way to go but it will be here before I know it.
Mark: Yeah, once the book is available for orders online and you’re there now it all changes. Let’s get to it. I like to start these author success story interviews with giving you the floor and tell everyone what your book is about. Also, make sure you let everyone know how they can learn more about the book online while they’re listening and, of course, order the book.
Scott: First, my intention wasn’t to write a book. It’s actually part of the story and I think one day I would love to share how the book came to be and write a book about that because I think it’s been fascinating.
But it goes back almost 20 years ago when I met my wife. We met in January and had a baby boy in November and I kid and tell everyone that I didn’t even know my wife’s last name when we had our son. He was born with broken ribs and we didn’t know it. From the get go it was a lesson in craziness from Day 1 with broken bones, a man and woman who didn’t know each other trying to make a family overnight.
Over the years we noticed things with Austin and the diagnosis was slow in coming and I was in denial and we had another son 2 years later. They’re now 17 and 19 and Austin just graduated this Sunday from high school. I think it was about 6 or 7 years ago when my brother Kevin asked me why don’t you write about this? Because there was a moment when, I believe, Austin got the cast off his right humorous, his right upper arm and we got home later that day and he tripped and broke a tibia or fibula I can’t recall and Kevin said holy cow and my brother Brian called and said you guys don’t go through a rough patch in life, you guys are a rough patch.
Another way I like to explain it and my writing mentor, Susy, told me Scott if you guys weren’t crazy you’d be insane. It’s always stuck with me and I think it’s totally apropos for me and my family and our story. So I started writing on, I think, 3 x 5 size spiral notebooks the small ones and I still have the original one. I did that for several months and then stumbled upon blogging. I don’t even recall how it happened.
I created a free account with Google Blog Spot and it took off. I started writing at least 5 times a week and it was addictive and I found I loved it. What’s interesting my writing skill I can tell if I look at some of the first times I wrote posts and compare them to some of my stories 1 or 5 years later it’s astounding how much a person can learn about honing their craft. It was so much fun but I could never do that today, write 5 or 6 stories a week. I can’t do it. But my blog was noticed by Autism Speaks as well as Babble which is a Disney online presence. They voted my blog the #1 dad blog in 2011, which was cool cause it opened doors and I was able to write stories and recently I wrote for Everyday Health which is a popular health website and it was picked up by AOL and since contacted by the Huffington Post and they want a story.
Let me back up. I determined about 3 years ago I started looking at the thought of possibly putting this down on paper and turning my stories into a long form story. I bought some books and you know the big thick book with all the agents and publishers in it and I bought 2 of them. Jeff Herman was one of them and the other was by Writer’s Digest.
Scott: I think most people listening probably know which books I’m talking about. I think I stumbled upon your wife, Ingrid, and that’s how I found you.
Mark: I didn’t realize that.
Scott: Yeah I saw her on Twitter. Folks who haven’t really embraced social media, in this case it was very telling and helped. I found Ingrid and it connected me to you and I followed a link over to Literary Agent Undercover. I listened to one of your calls and figured why not. You had a special for a 1 on 1 for an hour and I did that.
At this time I realized I’m going to put this to paper because enough people told me this story is something people would like to hear. The blog is popular and people like the stories and also I’m writing about something I’m passionate about and I love to do. I’m learning as I do it. It was really easy for me to continue and write.
Mark: Let me back up because there are some important things I want to make sure we get in here. Number one, if someone is listening and want to check out the book and your website do you want them going to your main website?
Scott: Yeah www.UnbreakableBoy.com is…the final version at Harper Collins we have a goal to have that done by the end of June.
Mark: But even now you have links where people can buy the book.
Scott: You can go to it cause it’s up on Barnes & Noble Books and Amazon. Other than that my blog and Facebook page anyone I meet I tell them to Google my name. You can put in my name, the Unbreakable Boy, and you’ll find me. It’s kind of scary when I think about it sometimes because when I do rarely Google my name it’s weird to see pages of results of different things and how easy it is to learn about my family but it’s one of the things I chose to do.
Scott: My book is an open book so people will know a lot about me and my family. So yes it’s www.UnbreakableBoy.com and…
Mark: And people can Google you.
Scott: Right you’ll find it. There’s all kinds of audio, video, TV, all those things are up there and you can find out more than you probably ever want to know about me and my family.
Mark: I also want to make sure everyone understands, it’s a great book and as much as I want people to get some of your insight from your perspective on some tips to go about writing and promoting a book, I also want people to read your book because it’s good.
In a nutshell would you say it’s fair and I know you can add to this and I’ll butcher it but what I think is one of the most powerful things about your book which is like when you were talking about where you’ve been through such incredible things with your family and challenges you face that your story and I know from reading it, it’s where you can’t read the story and feel sorry for yourself. It’s like if you can deal with that and come through it on the other side and stay positive and stay driven and do everything you need to do, then we all can do it. That’s one of the things I walk away with from the book and why I think it has such broad appeal.
What are some of the other things you think a reader would get out of it?
Scott: I think the first thing is a lot of folks and even family members and folks who know me might think that my book is the blog. My book is not a book about special needs. Special needs is a pivotal and integral part of the story but my book is about faith and love. It’s a love story. It’s about a lot of pain and struggle and failure but more importantly it’s an inspiring story and there is a thread in there for me personally that is extremely redemptive and, like you said in one of your initial lines…I have to be straight with you that a lot of folks think it’s a book about Austin.
One thing to this day that fascinates me is as I was rewriting the entire manuscript for the 2nd time I learned more and more everyday that this book is as much about me as it is about Austin and my family.
Mark: I remember that from our earliest conversations. The obvious thing on the surface is it’s about him and the title The Unbreakable Boy. But you, as the author, it’s him and how the journey effected and changed you and transformed you is the real story and for the reader it’s ultimately the reader’s story and you kept all 3 of those things and juggled all 3 trying to connect it so the reader could see how the book could transform them. To me that’s what makes a great book.
Scott: That’s part of what actually happened in the rewriting of the story. I should back up cause the manuscript initially went out as 36 short stories and the agent wanted me to change it more into a chronological from 20 years ago to today. In the rewriting you can see the ark of how when you read it you’re reading this book about this boy and how unreal it is and how rare and unique this boy who there are only a few people quite like him in the world.
The ark is multifaceted and changes and then I’m brought into it more up front. Yeah it’s a very dynamic setting and pretty cool.
Mark: I want to touch on that point for a minute and I want everyone to understand it because I don’t think they get it. I know you have a deep appreciation for this now of how much a book evolves. This isn’t just while you’re writing it but you get to one level on your own and then if you work with someone like me or a marketing or writing coach it evolves. Then when you joined forces with your writing partner who became a co-author it evolved again. Then when it went to the publisher it evolved again. It keeps deepening and that took you by surprise, right?
Scott: Yeah. Let me address something I think you want me to talk about cause I think you mentioned this in the past. 3 years ago you made a comment to me regarding publishing and self-publishing and you said you can self publish any time anyway, why not go for traditional and see what happens? If it doesn’t you can always self publish and that’s why I did what I did.
Now if, for me, if I would have self-published I would have had 36 stories across the board scattered, just stories and the evolution never would have occurred. The evolution with my agent and my mentor it never would have happened and I never would be where I am today if I self-published.
Mark: Since you brought it up, what do you see as the upside in addition to the book becoming better, what do you think are some of the other benefits for you? I believe in self-publishing too but I always believe it’s better to start traditional and see if you can. What are some reasons you wanted to do that other then it being a better book?
Scott: I think you’ve got to appreciate the business aspect because Harper Collins/Thomas Nelson was one of 3 publishers who showed interest and definitely affected the way the book was purchased. And whoever it is they have a lot more money to market my book than I do.
Mark: That’s true.
Scott: It’s a fact. Sure they get a lot more of the book but I don’t care. I want people to read my story. As a friend of mine told me they said, in terms of helping…you’re going to be able to help people and wouldn’t it be cool to help a million people vs. 500 people? Your chances of doing that for a first time no name author which is what I am is traditional publishing. So it made no sense to continue cause I was looking at self-publishing.
Mark: Yeah and I’m glad you brought up that you did get multiple offers from publishers and they bid against each other. And with you being an unpublished author there’s so many myths and misconceptions out there about that and I hear this all the time…as an unpublished author why should I do that cause I’m only going to get a $5,000 advance? That’s not true.
I don’t know if you want to share what your advance was but let’s say for everyone listening…what was the quote and I think it was, “Somebody who’s well published in the industry who’s had bestsellers told you they don’t even sometimes get advances like that.”
Scott: Actually I think the best way to look at it is if you look at Publisher’s Marketplace they categorize the sales and there’s 5 levels. It was the mid-level, the 3rd one which was a very nice deal.
Scott: I was shocked and surprised. I guess there are ups and downs for selling it for a good number, but to me well I’m fine with it. It tells me especially with what I know now and what they’re doing with the marketing already that they have a lot of hope and a lot invested…
Mark: They’re all in yeah.
Scott: Yeah so they’re in and that’s really good.
Mark: One reason I love doing these calls Scott is to inspire people. Can you give people a little fantasy and spend a minute to describe to everyone where you were. How was it exactly when you got the call from your agent? Walk us through the moment when you knew you had the deal.
Scott: I guess I’m spoiled and you know this. I think there’s a reason for it all happening. Every step that’s happened, everything I’ve envisioned every single thing from getting an agent to…what I did it took me 6 months to look through those books and determine what genre, what type of agent. And on a Friday afternoon at 1:00 I electronically sent out 15 queries and some required sample chapters and some the entire manuscript and within 2 hours 11 of 15 responded.
I responded back with the further appropriate materials and it came down to a few. The one I went with which was Fine Print Literary was 1 of the top 3 I wanted. They reached out and it was a marriage made in heaven. I knew they were taking a risk on me because they didn’t want the manuscript the way it was. So they put me with a rookie agent and…
Mark: At first with the rookie.
Scott: Right, and now the President…well there’s Peter Rubie and Stephanie Evans. One is the owner/founder and the other is the President, which is Stephanie, and she’s my agent now because Becky Vinter, my original agent, she got moved up and moved on and is doing wonderful things.
But they wanted me to rewrite the manuscript and… let’s see I have to answer your question. They asked me to call them and I called them and it clicked. I didn’t get a call while I was in a Starbucks saying we love you… no… it went back and forth electronically and I ended up calling them and I was ecstatic. I don’t know where I was but I was giddy and I’m sure people around me were like what’s that guy doing.
I think this is an important thing Mark; to this day I have a hard time describing to people how solitary the entire experience has been. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been amazing the whole last 3 years, it’s awesome and amazing. But at the same time, nobody can experience you writing and rewriting and doing the queries and talking with the agents. Nobody does it, it’s me. There is no one else on my team that’s changed, I have an agent and now there’s editors, publicists and marketing people and I have a writing partner who is amazing and I never knew how that was going to go. I actually had to go through a couple of months interviewing writers. I’m not a writer and I now know I am a writer and I’m not too bad. I write good stories.
I’m not tooting my own horn but regardless of how rough or smooth they are people like to read my stories. So putting me with the right person was really important. I don’t know if you want me to share how that happened…
Mark: Yeah. There’s so many things I love about your story that I know are interesting and unique. I definitely want to talk about the co-author or writing partner but first let’s back up. I love the part of you that always felt you’re not a writer. At least that’s how you felt before, I have this blog…
Mark: There’s so many people listening to this that do feel that way. I guess what made you see you’re really a writer that maybe someone else could grab onto to help them?
Scott: I’m glad you re-mentioned that because it’s something I wanted to touch on. I’m the typical person that when they start something they want to soak up as much information as possible. I was reading Writer’s Digest and the Poet’s book and all the different magazines and online forums and researching everything on writing a book. There are always lists in these books like the Top 10 Things a Writer Needs To Do, etc.
One thing that kept coming up in this list of Top 5 things every writer should do or whatever was write about what you know.
Mark: I thought you were going to say was actually spend time writing. That’s another good one.
Scott: Yes, it was on those lists but that one always came up – write about what you know. Hey nobody is a better expert on my son and family then me. I know you couldn’t write my story. I thought I can do this and it evolved that way.
It’s hard to describe when you’re in the process of it and there’s all these mountains and peaks and valleys cause it’s been exciting and I have 6 more months to go. But I truly appreciate it now when someone says it took me 10 years to write a book. I get it.
Mark: Right. And 6 more months to go means until the book is in the bookstores right? But it’s available for pre-orders now on Amazon.
Scott: Right. It’s kind of crazy and some things happened with Thomas Nelson and they were shocked because it went up on Amazon about 3 weeks ago and the pre-orders have been…the word they used is they were “taken aback” by the amount of pre-orders that already occurred and there’s been no promotion.
As I said earlier, everything that’s happened, if I could have chosen A, B or C everything that’s happened would have been what I wanted to choose. It’s coming out as hardback, it’s a large book and got either an 8 or 16 page color photo insert and they told me they didn’t anticipate doing this but we want to do this and that. And they kept the name, they had a titling meeting about 3 or 4 months ago and it was the first time they came to me and said this is unusual, nobody wants to change your name. So The Unbreakable Boy is what the name of the book is and what it was from Day 1.
Mark: It’s funny. I so take that stuff for granted in the work I do with my clients. Of course they’re going to take the titles we come up with together cause they’re the best ones. I’m still irritated they tweaked the subtitle but its okay I’ll get over it and at least they used the title.
Scott: I like it.
Mark: It’s good. I have to throw out there one thing because I don’t want you to come off just as lucky or it’s the hand of God making it all happen so well each time you describe everything along the way happened the way it happened for you. It’s true but on some level maybe it’s partly divine, maybe it’s was just meant to be but I also want to give you 100% credit for being patient and doing every single thing in detail the right way along the way to get here.
This is what I love so much about your story. Then what I want everyone to take away is at each step you didn’t take the short cut and self publish the version of the blog of 36 short stories. You took advice from professionals, including me, and said okay let’s add story art and you took months to rewrite and organize the book and put things in a different chronological order and then you did a ton of things to work on your platform and work on a really detailed book proposal.
There were so many steps along the way where you could have got lazy or took the short cut and you didn’t. It’s the same with the agent research and number of submissions you sent out and then making sure you chose the best agent. You could have opted out and tried to do it without a ghostwriter or co-author and you didn’t. So every time you took that right choice.
I want to give you credit for that because I think that’s the thing people listening need to hear because that’s hard. What made you do that?
Scott: That’s totally fair and I should also say I failed a lot. I wrote lots and lots of letters and wrote to people just to tell them about my stories – celebrities, entertainers, authors and I met a lot of them but for every one I meet or connect with there’s probably 100 I didn’t.
Yeah I had a lot of doors that didn’t get opened and lots of no’s of people who didn’t want my story. In fact, there were agents that I thought this is perfect for them that told me straight up it wasn’t their style or what they wanted.
Scott: I just lost my train of thought Mark.
Mark: It’s okay. So if you had one tip to share with everybody, something you haven’t talked about yet…so in 60 seconds this is my best advice for anyone in the process of writing a book regardless of the genre, what would that be?
Scott: In general, I think you have to really be in love with what you’re writing about. That would be the overarching sentiment, you have to be totally connected and married to what you’re writing about.
Mark: Is that because from your point of view the process takes so long and there is so much rewriting to get it there that that’s the only way you’ll make it?
Scott: If you are that then there is no one who can’t say you weren’t honest about it. I think if you’re connected and totally in love with what you do I think all you have to do is simply tell your stories. Everyone will be different, but I really liked writing and I didn’t know I would like it. I’ve come to realize…I guess on a philosophical level it was something cathartic as well as I was writing it was helping me to deal and cope and that’s one of the threads of the story as well. Because my wife and our other son, Logan, we all dealt with it and it’s represented in the story with everything and we still do today.
Mark: I have to ask for anyone when they go to your site and check things out and “meet” Austin that way, he’s such a character. What’s his take on all this? He’s in a book about him and there’s a website about him and he’s doing some appearances with you…how is he dealing with all that?
Scott: He’s the first one to give out my website to someone. I just had really neat business cards made up for him and prior to that he’d just write on scraps of paper but at the same time, I don’t think he’s read a story off my blog.
He knows what’s going on and I’m writing a book and…
Mark: And he’s a ham.
Scott: Yeah he’s a ham. I love to have him with me because he always ensures there will be something memorable to talk about.
Mark: Let me quickly circle back to your advice for authors in the process of writing a book. I always like to get one tip on the genre. So for someone writing memoirs what is your best tip specific to that genre that you think might help people?
Scott: Again, I bought all the books on memoirs from Stephen King to…you actually sent me a couple of books. One of them is my favorite on writing that I have and #2 would be the Stephen King memoir and #1 is Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. Those books I read here’s what I’m writing about and here’s what I want to learn as much as I can and those books helped. Some weren’t that great but others touched me.
I have to say I’m very surprised that in a relatively short amount of time any person can get better at writing by simply writing. It’s works. Everybody writes differently but I try to learn as much as I can about the genre and I still do that, always when I go into Barnes & Noble or somewhere, I’m always looking for books on writing and things like that.
Mark: It’s a good point. It’s one of my favorite things about writing, now that you mentioned it, and I’ve become conscious of it is in some ways there’s no rules. You really have the complete freedom to find your own voice and style. Yeah it has to be effective and be a story well told and makes sense whatever you’re writing but there’s so much room to find your way and be you and enjoy it.
Scott: Mark there’s one thing that I circle back to regarding a writing partner…
Mark: Oh that was it!! Right, right, right yeah let’s talk about that.
Scott: Here’s the deal. I’m so happy but initially I thought gosh someone else will be on my book with me and in hindsight I’m like wow I’m so happy I have the co-writer with me, Susy Flory. We determined we wanted to interview writers and I did something and I think I talked with you as well as my agent and others about this, but I actually had a writer we interviewed who is a multi-million selling co-writer and I was so enthralled with him because if you look at the list of books he’s co-written it’s all entertainers and celebrities, every name you’d know and I went with Susy. I turned this gentleman down.
I did it and the reason was multi-faceted for not choosing him and going with Susy. Initially it was the gentleman wanted so much of the book in perpetuity.
Mark: Financially so everyone is clear.
Scott: Right. I got good advice from Becky and I’m glad I took that advice but still it was my decision, which was neat. Knowing with my agent that everything I do, including Susy, decisions are still mine and are still mine even though both of them would tell me I know you don’t want to do this but consider this or that.
The reason I went with Susy was because of her voice. I looked at samples and things they wrote as well as talking on the phone. It came down to these 2 people and we had a couple of phone calls with each and I thought Susy’s voice is a better match for me. That’s it in a nutshell and it was the best decision I ever made.
Mark: Let’s do a couple of the nuts and bolts here because I know people have questions and I think I’ll get this right but you can correct me if I screw up. Basically, the way ghostwriters or co-authors work on a book, one there is no set time when you can partner up with someone; if you partner up with someone early on you’ll be paying them a lot more if you don’t have an agent yet.
When we talked Scott, I think the way we talked about it is you might want to partner up with someone but your writing was good enough that you might not need or want to, so let’s wait and see what happens. The benefit in waiting was if you get a really good agent they’ll line up half a dozen authors or point you in the right direction and you get to interview them and pick the one that’s the best fit.
Is that how you remember it happening?
Scott: Basically and you mentioned earlier my success and not luck so much. There was luck, an element of luck.
Mark: There always is.
Scott: Right and I think the biggest thing that’s so refreshing is I think Fine Print took a leap with me because that was the big thing initially was my writing of these individual stories. We know we don’t want to go to market with it but we think we have the bones of something we can work with.
I did have to do a write for them and that’s what they required me to do initially. Stephanie Evans, the President of Fine Print and Peter Ruby, the owner, had said have him send in 3 stories and add a story he doesn’t have which is how they met. I did it and we never looked back. I signed with them after I turned that in.
Mark: Let’s talk about what is your best advice for authors, 1 or 2 quick tips on how to market a book. Again, I’ll give you room to play and so you can pick something that feels good to you. So the second you knew you had a publisher what were you doing to market and prepare for launching the book? Or you can talk about some things you’re planning to do once the book comes out.
Scott: I think initially it was online, which was my blog, Facebook and Twitter and to this day those are still important parts. However, I also realized that Facebook and Twitter will only get you so far. I was probably guilty for a while in thinking this whole Facebook thing will make my book and sell my book. I know now it’s only one tool because over the last few years we’ve had radio interviews, been on CBS once and I have newspaper interviews and articles.
Currently waiting we have about a half dozen newscasts I’m going to be on in various parts of the country as well as radio and newspaper. They are all like right around when it’s published we want to do this and that’s smart. We want to have all this publicity that first week in November as it’s coming out.
I’m just continuing to try and get myself on…I’ve been on some regional radio shows that are popular and some are syndicated nationally. It’s neat cause some things grow off that like getting picked up by Huffington Post wanting to see my story and AOL picking it up off another site and running it.
What I thought was neat was I had a friend call and tell me they opened their browser, a few weeks ago, and their Home page is AOL and they opened it up and there was a picture of me and Austin.
Mark: On the home page?
Mark: Yeah that’s huge.
Scott: Yeah AOL ran the story. I think right now in terms of going forward that’s all in process. I’d have to say it’s one of the things in going with one of the big publishers is their access from their stable of writers to whatever else is something …from the media is something I’d never have been able to do. That’s all in progress right now and its super exciting.
I have to tell you and this might be what you’re looking for too, one thing and I think I’m a regular down to earth guy. I don’t have much of an ego; however, I’m passionate about my story and I want people to know about it. I’m sharing a lot but I’ve chosen to do this. One thing also I’ve done is I have no problem reaching out and we’ve reached out and we’re knee deep in endorsements right now. The endorsements that are already secured just humbles me because they’re names people know and they’re really neat people.
So a lot of this is simply I’ve tracked down on the Internet phone numbers and addresses and I’ve written letters and made phone calls and just bugged people to death. Can I send this to you to read a couple of chapters?
Mark: I love it. What gets you geared up to do that? I’m always preaching to my clients to do this because you have to hustle. I’m so glad you’re still doing that even though you have the big agent and publisher and all this stuff is happening organically you’re still hustling and working it to go bigger.
Scott: That’s a great point and I want to illustrate something. I go down to my basement office and I’ll determine 2 or 3 people I want to write to. Thomas Nelson in this regard, we have a multi-faceted marketing plan and part of it includes me. There are people I’m reaching out to and vice versa. I think one thing they appreciate is I’m as engaged as I am because I guess when it comes to this point some writers don’t want to get involved with marketing. They write their book and are done and if they get picked up by a publisher they leave it in their hands.
Scott: I’ve inserted myself into everything and I think that’s one of the reasons that I have such a nice relationship with my publisher, editor and everyone else at Thomas Nelson.
Mark: Yeah I love it. It’s like the progression of a writer so often its focus obsessively and narrowly on getting the book done and it’s great. But the second it’s done you have to start growing in the area of marketing and your platforms and learning. Then once you have the publisher you have to suck it up and say okay now I have to take it to the next level with marketing. We’re always growing. If we can make it fun and accept it, it all works but everything dies the other way.
And for you especially the first book this is everything and you have to go all in. If this book is successful there’s another one coming.
Scott: Right and that’s one thing Susy, my mentor and writing partner and Stephanie, my agent, both said this at different times. They said Scott enjoy every minute of this because you’ll only have one time where you get a book published and it’s your first book. Enjoy everything that’s happening and what made being patient not that big of a deal. The whole process has been breathtaking, amazing and humbling.
Mark: Right. Let’s talk a bit about what we actually did together. Up to this point we’ve given a lot of back story and explaining the book and your tips. I want people to understand how author coaching works.
What’s unique about your story and maybe this is the angle we take, you already had some decent things going for you with potential endorsement or endorsements in the bag already from well-known people. You could have tried to get an agent without doing anything with me. What pushed you over the edge to decide to work with an author coach?
Scott: Like I said earlier I found you indirectly through and I don’t know how I stumbled upon Ingrid’s Twitter feed and I clicked on it and it was a connection to your feed and I found your website. I watched it for a short while and you put up about a 1 on 1 call and I was like why not. I believe I listened to a call you did where there were a lot of people on it initially, I think. Then I got on the phone with you and I think what we talked about was you wanted to know about my story. That first call was you wanting to understand more about me and my story and what it entailed and what I’d been doing up until then.
You’re a great cheerleader but I knew there were things I needed to do…I love this phrase and I’m sure you’ve heard it but, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” There was so much I didn’t know. In terms of working with you, you helped me understand a lot of things.
Mark: So that’s a lot of stuff that came out during that first intro call and seeing some gaps. So then it made sense to invest the time and money to do more and give yourself an edge.
Mark: I don’t know how long we worked together and I started doing this author coaching about 3 years in August and I don’t know how long we spent on everything. But can you walk everyone through if someone says Scott what did you guys do together during that time between the intro call and the project went out to agents? How would you describe the process we did?
Scott: I think a lot was spent on, for example, academic things like in terms of what’s the best way to approach an agent. Initially, it was getting an agent that was such a big part. So it was all the logistics on how to look for the right one and what to write, etc. and, of course, the stand out would be us working together to create the document I’d use to send out.
Mark: The query letter and book proposal right?
Scott: Right but the query letter is the rock star. It still to this day amazes me because I had all the pieces I just didn’t know how to put them together. You did such a fine job helping me understand how to put them together. In fact, I think a funny one was there was a particular paragraph or sentence actually where I said that’s a really cool sentence and you said…well you wrote it. I didn’t realize it by the context and way we rearranged it that it was what it was.
That was one of the biggest things we did together and it was great.
Mark: Yeah I tell people I’m nothing special, my authors are the rock stars. All I do is pull all the good stuff out of you and I finesse that and that’s where the magic happens. I probably do 4 or 5 of those intro calls every Tuesday when I do them mostly with new people and it’s probably 1 out of 4 people I invite to do more stuff with me in a program like we did together because they don’t have the raw material.
It doesn’t matter what ability I have, I’m only as good as the client. If you have the raw ingredients we can do stuff but I can’t spin nothing into something. It’s not possible.
Scott: Right and I think that also gets back to your point about my story. Hopefully it’s a good story and a story and I’m probably jumping off base Mark, but one thing and another reason I think it was appealing to publishers and I know it was cause they all said it, it was the cross marketability of my story. Whether you’re a Christian, Atheist, addict, single, young or old everything was in there from the problems I struggled with to my children, me almost killing them twice to the inevitable love and faith component. That was a big selling point for my story because the publisher felt so many different people would read it.
Mark: Right. I have a curve ball question. I get nerdy proud of the people I work with and so…what are you the most proud of as an author at this point?
Scott: It’s not necessarily what happened from the book, but the stories and when I have a father or mother or teenager in the speaking I do, it’s the people who tell me I helped them. That is probably the biggest thing and I think on a personal level I realize that I’ve just been published and it’s a reality. So from a selfish perspective that is super exciting. Am I proud of that? It’s really cool and come November it’s going to take it to another level.
Yeah it’s helping people and being able to know my stories are stories people will read. When someone tells you…here is an example from a gentlemen in his 40’s. He said you made me go home after reading that story and look at my children and think differently. It gave me chills because the way Austin and Logan make me live is different. What’s crazy is the writing and rewriting of the story has also affected everything because I’ve relived so much of the past 20 years over and over again. It’s had a profound impact on me.
I guess I’m really proud to just share the story and have it touch people.
Mark: That gives me goose bumps and perfect answer for wrapping up. And so I’m reminding everybody to go to www.TheUnbreakableBoy.com or Google The Unbreakable Boy or Scott LeRette to get the book. I think you eloquently explained why everyone should without realizing it. That was a great pitch.
Thank you so much Scott for doing this. Do you have any last thoughts or bits of wisdom for everybody?
Scott: I think you definitely have to believe in what you’re doing. It’s beating a dead horse but really believe in the story you have and write about it honestly and sometimes you may become vulnerable because of it. I think it will enable you to present the best portrayal of what you’re trying to get across. You are essentially the proverbial open book when sharing and it will get the best product when you put it down on paper.
Oh I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention there is the Facebook page and Twitter feed and website and everything else.
Mark: Right. All right everyone this is Mark Malatesta founder of The Bestselling Author signing off. Remember getting published isn’t luck it’s a decision.
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