Up till today, people still ask me about my book publishing journey. In the midst of building up my new business, I went through all my archives and found a lot of information.
I structured this article in an interview format, covering most of the questions I’ve been asked over the years. It feels kinda weird because while doing up this piece, I’m like asking myself these questions and answering them at the same time, re-enacting the scene when I was on national radio or being interviewed by a journalist.
In Chinese, we call it 自导自演；playing the interviewee and interviewer role. But I thought structuring it in this format can help you get the most value from my personal experience.
It’s really comical, come to think of it. Nonetheless, hope you enjoy the read and don’t let this image of my mini role-play distract you from the valuable content 😛
1) What’s your book about?
My book is entitled “The Instant Entrepreneur; 10 Surefire Strategies to Guarantee Your Startup’s Success”. In this book, besides sharing the story of my personal entrepreneurial journey, I’ve also included strategies acquired through my experience and three key factors on how individuals can succeed in any new venture they launch.
2) How long did it take to publish your book?
It took me a total of eighteen months from the point of conceiving the idea of book publishing to the actual physical print of it. I must say, the feeling is surreal to be holding the very book that you wrote in your own hands. Definitely an experience I’ll remember for life.
3) How old were you when started your book publishing journey?
I was only twenty-one years old when I started my book publishing journey.
4) Where did you get your inspiration to write?
Entrepreneurship was a topic that I was really interested and passionate about so getting inspired to write was the easiest part for me. All I had to do was meet up with entrepreneurs and I’m all charged up and ready to write! Most of the time, I get so much input and content from them that I don’t even know how to put them down into words!
5) Why did you choose to tackle such a huge topic like entrepreneurship?
I’ve always found the word “entrepreneurship” fascinating because even though it’s just one word, it means many things to different people.
To some, it means taking risks and doing something that hasn’t been done before. For others, entrepreneurship is a “last resort” thing; when all else fails, then I’ll look into entrepreneurship as my last option for survival.
On the other hand, “entrepreneurship” can be one of the most feared words in the dictionary. This word can mean leaving a comfort zone to risk everything and stepping up to take the lead. The idea of entrepreneurship shakes the sense of safety, security and stability, three words that most people lead their lives by.
I personally know a lot of people that fall into the last category. They’ve never even considered becoming an entrepreneur and the thought of pursuing entrepreneurship is insane. Every day, I hear statements like,
“I’m not a ‘business’ type of person”
“I’m not good in sales”
“I can’t talk very well”
“I want to get a good job to have a stable income”
“working for people in my ‘dream job’ is my passion”
It’s the fear that people had towards entrepreneurship that drove me to shed some light on this topic once and for all. This was the main motivation for me to write this book.
6) What’s some of the challenges faced on the course of writing this book?
I think the greatest challenge I’ve faced was the lack of credentials and experience. Many ask me, “Ranford, what are some of the successful businesses or ventures you’ve done?” and I do not have an answer for that.
We live in a very practical society, especially in Singapore. Throughout the course of working on this book, I’ve come across many people who dissuaded me to continue embarking on this project, citing things like, “you don’t have enough experience on the topic of entrepreneurship, what makes you think you can write about it” and “who’s going to read your book if you don’t have experience and credentials to back up what you’re writing?”
Many gave me their two cents’ worth to finish my national service first, proceed to get my degree, secure a job and work to learn the ropes from my employer on entrepreneurship. Observe how they do it for a few years before leaving and striking it out on my own.
If my business is successful, write about my success. If I didn’t make it, I can write about my failure.
I nearly agreed with their train of thought because it seems like the logical thing to do. To be honest, I was extremely discouraged by these responses and I almost bought into their logic but I’m glad I didn’t. If I did, I wouldn’t be here sharing with you my story today.
That’s why the advice was only worth “two cents”!
a) How then, did you manage to overcome them?
As an avid reader myself, there’s one book which helped me reframed my thoughts to overcome this obstacle. The book was “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill.
At that time, Napoleon Hill was nobody but he decided to learn from successful people and document everything. Today, he’s better known than some people that he initially learned from. On top of that, his knowledge has been passed down through the generations of over eighty years, leaving a lasting legacy to his name and publication.
In the same way, I saw myself doing what he did.It’s not so much to achieve personal success but to learn from the experiences of the successful.
This journey was definitely not an easy one, maybe because of the fact that I was young and this topic was way out of my league. However, I held on to the belief that “when one is committed, providence moves to”.
7) Eventually what’s your reply when people asked about your successes?
I usually share that I’m just a messenger, not the message. The purpose of writing this book is to learn more about entrepreneurship and from successful entrepreneurs. I’ll also add that I’m really passionate and interested on this topic as well. The objective was to consolidate what I’ve learned into a book and to share this knowledge with others.
8) How did you manage to contact the entrepreneurs you wanted to interview?
I just called them up and shared with them what I was doing. Surprisingly, many agreed to meet me despite their busy schedule. They were more than willing to take time to sit down, talk with me and share their story.
I think one of the main factors on the ease of securing interviews was the fact that started from the people I personally know first. At the end of each meeting, these entrepreneurs will usually share with me another two or three people that I should meet and learn from. Subsequently, I just kept meeting and learning from the people who have been referred to me.
9) Who influenced you to think about entrepreneurship at your age?
From a young age, I knew I didn’t want to work for somebody. Because of this, I constantly looked out for various opportunities to strike out on my own.
I attended many courses and seminars along the way and to distil it down to a few key people who have influenced me to think about entrepreneurship, I’ll say it’ll most probably be Robert Kiyosaki, Timothy Ferriss and John C. Maxwell. They were the ones who made me feel that despite my age, it’s possible to be an entrepreneur too.
My parents also played an important role in developing the entrepreneurial spirit in me. Knowing how I was like from young, they didn’t restrict me what I could or couldn’t do. They gave me the space I needed to explore what suited me best. Not only that, they are very supportive of what I do even though it doesn’t fit the mould of a typical “Singaporean son”. My family have been the strongest pillar encouraging this area of my life and I’m truly grateful. If not for them, I will not be who I am today.
10) What are your reasons for going into entrepreneurship?
As cliché as it sounds, entrepreneurship is about pursuing your passion and doing what you love. However, one must be able to make a living out of it as well. If not, it wouldn’t be called entrepreneurship, it’ll just be considered as a hobby.
On top of that, entrepreneurship is an excellent platform to create flexibility and control of my own life, which allows me to spend more time with my family, loved ones and the people I care for the most. Through this course, I’ll also get to widen my network and meet different people.
In the pursuit of entrepreneurship, I learn so much more about myself; what makes me happy and what makes me tick. Most of all, know who I am as a person.
I’ve to admit, it’s not an easy journey. Many entrepreneurs describe this as a “roller coaster ride” but I’m sure they’ll also tell you that once you hop on it, you’ll never want to get off as it feels almost like an adventure!
11) Who is your publisher?
I’m a self-published author.
a) Oh, what are the differences between self-publishing and going through a publisher?
That’s a very good question. Initially, I didn’t know the answer too but as I did my research, there are clear distinctions between both.
I always like to use the example of renovating a new house that you’ve just moved to. You have two options; one’s to hire an interior designer who’ll do all the work for you or two, sub-contract all your renovation works out to individual contractors to do it for you.
There are definitely pros and cons to each option. By hiring an interior designer, they’ll be your one-stop solution to all your renovation needs. You can have a peace of mind that everything will be handled by only one source and it’s easy to communicate and manage if any issues were to arise. However, the downside of this option is higher cost and you lose control on specific areas which you want to change as the interior designer is the main person in charge.
On the other hand, if you were to sub-contract all the renovation works to individual contractors, it’ll definitely be more cost efficient and you have complete control over individual areas of your house. But this comes with a huge price because you have to put in extra time and effort to co-ordinate and executive various tasks, not forgetting the assumption that each sub-contractor you hire has to be reliable! If not, you’ll be in for trouble…
Going through a publisher is like engaging an interior designer while self-publishing is like sub-contracting all your work; writing, editing, proofreading, book cover design, marketing and so on to individual vendors.
b) So which method is better?
I won’t be able to comment which method is better as it really boils down to individual preferences.
12) What’s the most fulfilling part about your journey writing this book?
It’s the sense of accomplishment once the book is complete and printed. I’ve to tell you, writing a book was not as easy as I expected it to be. Before I plunged into this book project, I thought to myself, “How hard can writing a book be?” I’ve written so many twenty page reports in school so writing a book should be as easy as doing that for five to six times, slapping it all together and sending it for print.
I was soooo wrong.
There are 101 things to do besides that! As I chose the self-publishing route, that makes it 1001 thing instead! It was through this entire book project where I got to learn first-hand the experience of publishing my very own book and I’ve also learned three words from this process, “IT IS DIFICULT”.
So think twice if you really want to publish a book of your own.
Having said that, being able to finish what I’ve started despite its difficulty was the best part of writing a book of my own. This book is now something I look to whenever the going gets tough. I know that if I completed something like this, I can complete anything in life. Also, it’s nice to share my experiences with aspiring authors to inspire them that if I can do it, they can too.
13) What advice will you give other young aspiring writers who want to get published?
“Start now, don’t wait any longer.” If you have plans to publish a book, just take the necessary action to get your content out as soon as you can.
A good tip that I can give based on my experience is to do a mock up of your book cover, the table of contents and a preview chapter. Next, go out there and start taking pre-orders. Once you’ve made your first sale, you’re now forced to finish your book in order to deliver.This was exactly what happened to me when I first started.
With the pure intention of testing out my idea to see if anyone will be interested to read my book, I went out boldly and asked for pre-orders. To my surprise, people actually paid me money because they were interested to read my story. That was when I started to get serious with my book project.
I didn’t want to disappoint the people who supported and believed in me so I took this as a commitment to them to finish what I’ve promised.
14) Do you have plans to write another book? If yes, what will the new book be about?
Yes, I intend to publish two books this year.
The first one is for my new business, Storyaire. I’ll be sharing why storytelling is the business of the future and how individuals or organisations can ride on this wave to communicate more effectively to their clients.
The second book will be a community publication on motivation and inspiration. Your smile is the greatest gift of all so what better way to end 2017 with some nuggets of encouragement and kick start a brand new year? For this project, we’ll be gathering photographers, designers and writers to contribute to this publication and all profits from the sale of this book will be donated to charity.
— End of Interview —
There you have it, a summary of my eighteen month book publishing journey condensed into less than 3,000 words for your reading pleasure 🙂
Hope you find what I’ve shared useful and if you have any questions that I didn’t cover in this article, feel free to ask me in the comments section below or drop me a message here or through any of my social media platforms.
I’ll include a short synopsis of the book and how you can get it below. Let me promote it one last time, okkk? HAHA
Cheers and hope to hear from you soon 😉
The Instant Entrepreneur
10 Surefire Strategies to Guarantee Your Startup’s Success
What you will get out of this book:
The Instant Entrepreneur will debunk all the myths of entrepreneurship for you once and for all. Not only that, this book will also teach you:
- The True Definition of Entrepreneurship
- Major Differences Between an Entrepreneur and a Business Owner
- Ten Strategies That Will Turn You Into an Instant Entrepreneur
- Three Key Factors That Will Determine Your Success in Any New Venture Launched
and be blown away by how simple these concepts and strategies can be applied.
Let the author take you on a journey to learn about entrepreneurship in a way that you have never seen it before… Enjoy the ride!