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126 - Don't Be A Copycat!


Season 4 - Episode 126
Hey Guys! Nicole Gabriel here! I’m the host of the Let’s Get Your Book Published podcast. I’m also the author multiple books, a Book Designer, and a Publishing Coach as well as an intuitive Business Coach.

I’ve been in the book business for awhile now and I’ve helped many clients get their book published over the years. On this podcast I share personal stories, client stories, and the truths about the publishing industry….

Today’s Topic: Don’t Be A Copy Cat - Writing A Book in An Authentic Voice

On occasion I have a client come through from a referral coaching system and, generally…as a result, some tend to follow (nearly verbatim) the methodology of the coach that referred them. I guess, when you hire a coach, you listen to what they have to say and take their advice if you like the direction they have led you in to date. But, I’ve been watching some clients come through taking poor advice or many more that are unable to break through the mold. And, one after another, I see the same book being produced. I’m generally pretty bored with the copy cat author! But, recently I have been troubled by some of the poor advice given that has cost the author far more than it should to produce (and especially print) their book.

I have worked with many of the same vendors for awhile and even though you establish a working relationship with some over many years, every now and again you have to reevaluate their performance, customer service, and/or pricing. Not only was one of my main printers cyber-hacked, but they were also victims to the fires in 2020 out in Oregon. They were indefinitely shut down after the cyber attack and it was actually quite a godsend that I had to go on an emergency hunt to find a new printer. I was happy with this new level of customer service I was now able to give my clients. There was some kind of strange game going on with the old printer. I’m far too busy for whatever the game is and I was always concerned at what point there would be a lack of professionalism with one of my clients. The day finally came where I had an opportunity to try someone new… and sometimes when that happens you realize you had no idea how much better something could be! It’s like all failed relationships - there is always something better on the other side when you step out of something not working.

For clients that are new authors, sometimes a bit more hand-holding is needed to understand how the printing process works and what the additional options are. I want to know that I can send my clients over to a printer and that the printer will work with me to get the proper files, work through errors and issues, and just give good customer service to nervous new authors. I don’t want to deal with price-gouging and I could care less about getting a referral commission if it means we have to charge a new author more to do so. I want my authors happy and I want to teach them how to be fiscally responsible during the process because so many want-to-be authors get taken advantage of in the process of producing their book. My end goal is always customer satisfaction, but sometimes I have to intervene somewhere in the process to make sure the end product is professional and didn’t break the bank.

I end up finding a great new printer with great customer service and even lower overall pricing and I begin sending clients over once a few pilot jobs go through their system. So, in comes a copycat author and his coach tells him to go back to the original printer and he gets a quote of $7,700 for the printing of 500 hard copy books. I’m thinking to myself - that’s outrageous! The last client the coach sent over there was $6,500 for 500 books and the book was ridiculously high-priced then! Why did the cost go up another $1,200?

Before the copycat author, I sent the $6500 client over to the new printer for a nearly $1,500 cost savings so I knew the new printer had to give the copycat a better price. He did ask me for the printers number when I told him he would do a better job for a lower cost. I called the printer and asked if he contacted him for a quote. I just assumed I’d be sending my files over there for him because I knew the quality and price wouldn’t be beat. But, because he was a copycat author, and following the advice of his coach, he spent nearly $2,100 more for nearly the same book! In fact, I’d say it was even lower quality.

The day came where the printer requested the print files from me and I grit my teeth and proceeded to release them. Of course, I did respond to the author by saying “I’m surprised you decided to go with them” and he had no response and continued.

He had done everything just like his coach told him to. He was a great student. But, now it was coasting more and I was troubled by the direction he chose. I realized all I could do was give him another option. It’s kinda like leading a horse to water. I couldn’t make him drink. I lost a bit of sleep over it. I also lost some sleep when I realized this same author was claiming to be a publishing coach but didn’t seem to have any experience at any point in the process. He literally took the same website his coach had and changed just one word and now he’s off to be a publishing coach. I may have missed something along the way, but I’ve been doing this for awhile now and at no place in the process did I ever recognize a talent in the publishing industry but, I guess we all have to start somewhere. Regardless, there didn’t seem to be an obvious talent or passion being displayed in his content that indicated he was his own unique individual. He seemed to just want to produce a book… a book just like his coaches!

There’s a quote that says: “who’s more foolish; the fool, or the fool who follows him?”

If you’re writing the same book as your coach or you’re creating the same program or system, where has your own voice gone?

Some coaching systems will teach to follow their proven success until the student grows wings of their own, but every individual has their own story to tell, their own truth and path to teach or preach, and it really can never be assumed that the model their following is lucrative. I’ve met plenty of people in the speaking or motivating business that appear to be very successful or live a glamorous life but they only have a nice stage presence. Not many of them are actually very successful. So, it’s really very important not to follow too closely and to be sure to clearly identify your own strengths and define your own individual platform with your book.

Whether it’s an overpaid printing bill or a mis-guided approach to developing a platform, being a copycat is really, in the end, plagiarism!

There is a quote that says:  “Be a voice, not an echo.” Every single one of us was put here to find our gifts and go forth sharing them. For some it takes a bit longer to find our gift than for others, but we all have a particular gift we’ve been born to feed, enhance, and grow in this lifetime.

After a lifetime of trial and error…and careful observation, I have found that the things that are a persons weakness often become the thing they seek mastery in. For me, I’ve always been challenged with how I relay my inner most thoughts and feelings to another. I often struggle with communication issues. Isn’t that funny that I’m speaking to you now on a podcast and have become an author of multiple books? I was even held back in school for being anti-social. I honestly didn’t realize back then that something was expected of me. I was basically told I didn’t conform. I was told I wasn’t like everyone else. I was more or less told it was a weakness and I should improve upon it and learn to conform or communicate appropriately with others. It’s funny that even when I dated (or married) I was also told to be like everyone else. My ex husband would ask: “Why don’t you eat like everyone else?” (I’ve been vegan and a non-drinker for most of my life.) Or, an ex boyfriend would ask: “Why do you try so hard to be different?” The fact is that I’m just not wired to be a copycat.

Some of us require a bit more re-programming than others and since we were told to conform most of our lives, being an author with an authentic voice can be tricky. When you become a self-published author you are given a clean slate to showcase who you are and yet so many need some kind of permission or a set of guidelines to follow. I know I was guilty when I first wrote. I thought there was going to be someone on the other end of my manuscript grading me or telling me what I can or can’t say. It wasn’t really until I was well into the process where I realized that no one was ever going to do that. And, all authors write with the idea of fortune and fame regardless of what they tell you. Most people just want a platform for a voice… a voice they never had before.

What is rather unique about a writer is at some point in the process an author realizes they are out there exposing themself and complaints or opinions mean nothing until you take a stand and do something about it. Once you write a book filled with thoughts and opinions you’ve solidified yourself for that moment in time behind an ideology. If I have a particular argument to be had (and… I mean this in the form of a discussion) then I’d probably point someone in the direction of one of my well-thought-out and researched areas of conversation in one of my books. It gives one the ability to showcase what you’d put in the time to specialize in. I am an expert of this thing, because, see… I wrote about it. It does keep people a bit grounded or set them in their place when you can say - yeah… that topic is in my book - you should read it!

I want to talk about your authentic voice. I had in interesting morning the other day that ended with someone telling me I needed to be more authentic. The irony in this is that I really can’t be any more authentic than I already am. I was told to be proud of my story, not a victim. Funny how I’ve always been proud of my story and how I have handled things in life, but for this one moment we talked I was judged for not standing strongly behind my story. I mean, my story is my story. I have found that many view how I convey the story from their own life experiences and wounds and regardless of how I tell the story, I will be viewed my their mirror.

I’ve really been judged lately and I’ve been under more stress than the usual. Because of that I didn’t fight harder for my copycat client. He clearly didn’t find value in my opinion or connections either so perhaps it just wasn’t worth the discussion. Really, you can only do so much, but I do get hard on myself for not being able to be a more prominent voice in a noisy world. And, today with the over-tuning of Roe vs Wade, its noisier than ever. So many things have been under fire lately and God is really our true voice.

Recently my dad’s cancer has come back - he’s been in remission for 13 years. I’ve been trying to find my voice to produce a podcast. I’ve had to rewire my brain to focus on business now and life going forward and how dad fits into that. Sometimes there are points in life where you just wish you had someone to hold your hand and say “let’s get through this together” and for me, dad has always been that one person that had my back when the rest of the world didn’t. He’s seen how hard I’ve worked and how dedicated I am to everything I put my energy toward. Not everyone puts in the time to understand why you approach anything the way you do or where you can help better guide them. To some you may appear weak, ungrounded, uncentered, and to others you may appear unengaged, too bossy, or your story may just not be worthwhile for them to invest time and energy toward. But, for the copycat author, they pretty much want to emulate what they are copying. I guess this is where you learn to become relatable in how you engage with readers or anywhere that you show up. There’s someone for everyone, but sometimes it can be a bit harder to find your tribe if you are not speaking with an authentic voice and not playing by the rules.

I used to say that some people run a marathon for others to see and others run an internal marathon that only they, or those close to them, acknowledge. I have conquered more internal marathons than most people realize. But, to conquer or discover the spiritual self, the aware self, the conscious self it doesn’t always have a matching resonance. Someone unaware would not deem this a worthwhile journey or, in fact be completely oblivious, to the battles you have overcome. But, the multi-mile physical marathon might be a cause for celebration for someone conquering an aspect of self. A conquering of self can happen in numerous ways. I’ve been told in life people support you with their level of understanding. And, just because someone is engaged in your life doesn’t mean they will always understand. In fact, there can be much space for ridicule. Someone of my depth will see my depth, but someone else will never understand.

Authenticity and the author’s voice… how we represent our story… how we stand, not as a victim or a survivor, but as a protagonist (or lead character) - this was the conversation I had with someone the other morning… sharing our story as a hero. Up until this chat I had always shared my story in this way. But, the ridicule and shame pushed my direction as of late… from telling my authentic story… made me feel, not so much ashamed or blamed, but there is a certain understanding and depth required that not many perceive, so I decided to share with a broader scope in an… I’ll say… more “mainstream” fashion… removing myself from emotional attachment and releasing whatever thoughts, opinions, or judgements were about to come my way from telling it… because everyone is entitled to an opinion.

I’ve had many mock me in judgement “oh my god! With you everything is a freaking story!” I’ve always shared my stories enthusiastically and this one morning I shared differently because I wondered if I’d be more effective sharing it in a way that prepared the listener, but to this listener it was presented in a way that apparently scared and depressed them and they developed some kind of pity on me.

The way I had shared the answer to the questions before didn’t seem to be effective or work in my favor so I tried to prepare for how I’d answer the same questions again in the future…differently. I get asked often, why did you leave Hawaii? I could say that it just didn’t work out but then there is always a follow up “why?” I’ve never known how to answer this question without it provoking more questions. My partner wasn’t the person I thought he was. Might be my next response. Or I’d say “well, I had to break off my engagement.” But, when the rest of the story comes out and I’m authentic with my answer I’m pitied. The answer is dramatic. This morning the listener prepared for my story because I said there was one. How they prepared seemed to set them up like I was expecting negative judgement. There is a saying that says “not everyone deserves to hear your story”. I don’t plan to tell my story for reaction, but depending on a listeners life experiences they might take that stand. If someone tells you it’s ok to share your story then turns around and uses it against you… well then, that’s just narcissistic. And that’s what happened to me on this morning I dove a bit deeper when someone asked a simple question. I’m always looking to perfect how a story is told… not to be manipulative, but to be sure it is received in a way that allows me some compassion and grace. The reality is, no matter how you tell your story - it’s not for everyone no matter how much time goes into crafting the expression of your journey.

If I answer without emotion I’m cold, but if I answer with too much emotion I’m unstable. In a book you have to ask how you want to make people feel. If I was going to showcase myself as a hero I’d have a prepared answer that would leave me empowered. With this particular example - why I left Hawaii - I was left unfulfilled and seeking more than the relationship could give me. Yet, it wasn’t all my choice. Being authentic is one thing but showcasing yourself as a hero in positive light is another. If you are writing a self-help book you do want to showcase yourself in a healed state because you want your reader to believe if you can conquer adversity they can too. But, perhaps I want to relate to my reader with emotion and showcase the depths of my sorrow and pain. Regardless, the best thing you can do for yourself is be authentic and don’t be a copycat!

When you become a copycat author you aren’t too concerned with telling a story or showcasing any emotion, I mean, how could you. None of this was your thinking! Being authentic to me me means sharing raw thoughts and feelings as they arise and it’s not to say there can’t be a variety of manipulations to sway an outcome but, this is where it comes down to knowing your goals. I’ve never written to manipulate thoughts or emotions and perhaps that’s why I’m not a best-seller novelist. I have no particular agenda to bend thoughts in my writing. I’ve always written or spoken to share a genuine and authentic me. If you write a copycat book how can you stand behind the concepts? Is it authentically you?

Theres a line of thinking I see often in the metaphysical and business worlds where you are supposed to fake it til you make it. You have to program your mind into believing that you are already a success. You already have the million dollar home and fancy car and posh location you live in. For me, this has never been something I desired. Not only do I suggest writing authentically, but living authentically. People will discover you as a fraud one way or another if you don’t.

I’ve always wanted to write because it was a method of healing and if it could change a life in the process then it was a success. But, there is also a way to write to be in alignment with the thing you enjoy or do for a living - to enhance what you do for income or joy. Since I’m in the business of helping people write books it only made sense that at some point I would write a book to enhance my ability to effectively help others do the same. If you are self-employed you should always write a book on the thing you do. It will always solidify the joy or knowledge you have doing it. But, to write a book about a thing you have yet to perfect or master could put you in a bit of a pickle. For my copycat author, if he writes a book and claims himself as a publishing coach but has never really performed in that role he may realize he’s really just not that good at it, or perhaps he doesn’t even like to do to it, but now he’s just produced 500 very expensive books telling the world he does this thing he’s clearly never done before. Of course, his coach should have persuaded him otherwise and suggested he perform that role for a bit before he claims mastery in the subject. But, perhaps they had that talk already.

Everything you do in life as an author will end up circling back around to what you do in your free time or work life. You truly will end up unhappy when you are not living authentically your topic. If you find that life is a moving target and you can’t decide where to put a stake in it for the sake of a book and that stops you from completing it, then you have to simply understand that there is likely another book in your future. My life has been in the constant state of massive flux for many years now. I’ve wanted to sit down and write my next book but I’ve hesitated because I’d like it to be more positioned for what I step into next. Understanding that a book is always a mirror to your audience means that no one not intended for your topic will likely read it. Someone might be curious to hear your story, but in the end, have you either informed or entertained your reader? The value you provide has to be authentic. I’m not for everyone and neither are you, but whatever you do - don’t be a copycat! You’re far too unique to do that!

I have a bunch of jobs in production and I’ll do my best to keep updating my portfolio over on my design pages on my website so you can check in there as they go into print. Topics range from life lessons from an airplane executive from Bowing, a few relationship guides, a parenting guide, and a guide on self-leadership.

Alright guys…for now…wishing you peace, love, and light.

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