Becoming an author is another level of prestige. Sure, you’re really good at what you do, and you tell people that. But writing a book conveys it on a different level. Giving people a copy of your book gives them a tangible item that they see and think of you, and reminds them of your expertise.
As a part of our series about “How You Can Grow Your Business or Brand By Writing A Book”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Don Hammond.
Don Hammond is the founder of Criminal Defense Heroes, P.C., located in Torrance, California. Don has a B.A. in Philosophy from Occidental College and a law degree from USC (Fight On!). He has been defending people accused of crimes for over 10 years, with a substantial focus on DUI defense. He has more training than the average police officer in DUI investigations and field sobriety testing, and he has spent time in a lab testing human blood samples for alcohol on a gas chromatograph. So, Don is uniquely qualified to dig into the science and procedures of DUI cases. This training and experience led Don to write a book, to help prospective clients understand the DUI process.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share a story about what motivated you to become an expert in the particular area that you are writing about?
Like many others, I used to think that DUI cases were impossible to fight, the government technology was infallible, and a conviction was a forgone conclusion. Then, I started digging. I talked to forensic experts. I talked to highly trained police officers. I read the validation studies for Standardized Field Sobriety Testing and other research about the science of DUIs. And the more I pulled back that curtain, the less certain I became that the government is handling these cases correctly. Ultimately, I sought out former officers would give me the police training, and professional organizations that would help me get lab experience. Writing a book became a next logical step to market my knowledge and experience to potential clients and referral partners.
Can you share a pivotal story that shaped the course of your career?
When I was 21 years old, I was attending the L.A. County Sheriff’s Academy. I thought I was too cool for school and figured law enforcement was a solid career choice that didn’t require higher education. In my off hours, I had a bit too much time on my hands and ended up getting into some trouble. When I got arrested, my police career went out the window, and that was one step on the path to figuring out that education wasn’t such a bad idea. The first expungement I ever did was my own, so I understand the long-term implications of an arrest, and I can give clients hope that they can make a mistake and still go on to be successful.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Are you working on any new writing projects?
I have a busy criminal defense practice in Los Angeles, so we have all kinds of interesting cases open. Marijuana DUI is a hot topic since legalization, so we’re seeing more of those cases. The government has a very difficult time proving drug DUI cases, and there are particular scientific issues with proving a Marijuana DUI case, so we’re getting great results in those cases. Most prosecutors can’t even spell “counterclockwise hysteresis,” which describes how THC is metabolized.
I’m also working on writing a new book about California post-conviction processes including expungements, sealing petitions, certificates of rehabilitation, and petitions for removal from the sex offender registry. This area of law is changing pretty rapidly right now, so I have to take that into consideration when I’m working on the book.
Thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. Can you please tell us a bit about your book? Can you please share a specific passage or story that illustrates the main theme of your book?
I wrote the book, DUI Arrest: What Now? A Primer for the Accused. It outlines the court and DMV processes that a person faces after being arrested for DUI. It goes through several possible defenses, and helps people understand that there is hope for a bright future despite the arrest.
Most people don’t know how to interact with the police when they are suspected of DUI. They should be polite, but they should not answer questions or perform field sobriety tests. After they are arrested, most people should choose a blood test. However, if a blood test will show drugs and alcohol, a breath test is probably the better option. Then, as soon as they are released from custody, they should call a great DUI attorney to start working on the case. In California, once someone is arrested for DUI, they only have 10 days to request a DMV hearing or else their license can be automatically suspended.
You are a successful author and thought leader. Which three character traits do you feel were most instrumental to your success when launching your book? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Three character traits: Tenacity, compassion, and focus. My firm is committed to being the best criminal defense law firm in the Los Angeles metro area. Marketing is key to getting the word out and making the phone ring. We are tenacious marketers — we have billboards, coasters at local bars, bottle openers for bartenders, YouTube videos, and more. Once someone calls, they get compassion for the very difficult situation they find themselves in — we listen to the details of the situation and start looking for ways to help them get through it. We are focused in our defense of clients, filing strategic motions to get the best possible results.
In my work, I have found that writing a book can be a great way to grow a brand. Can you share some stories or examples from your own experience about how you helped your own business or brand grow by writing a book?
People in my business network have been very impressed that I wrote a book. It enhanced my credibility immediately. I give copies of the book to networking partners and to potential clients. My email signature has a link to the book and a short video about the book. So, everyone I interact with sees that I have expertise to help my clients succeed. People I’ve known for years suddenly wanted to meet up so they can get an autographed copy of the book. It really enhanced my image in the referral community.
Can you talk to our readers a bit about the benefits of becoming an author and promoting a book? Can you explain to other leaders why they should invest resources and energy into this? Can you share a few examples of how writing a book in particular and thought leadership in general can create lucrative opportunities and help a business or brand grow?
Becoming an author is another level of prestige. Sure, you’re really good at what you do, and you tell people that. But writing a book conveys it on a different level. Giving people a copy of your book gives them a tangible item that they see and think of you, and reminds them of your expertise. People are more likely to refer business to you when they respect your expertise in your field. Few businesspeople are willing to invest the time, effort, and money that it takes to publish a book, so those who are willing to do it stand out from their peers. When a potential client contacts my firm about a DUI case, and I respond by sending them a book the covers their specific issue, they know that they are dealing with someone who is serious about helping them. This has resulted in increased fees per case and increased revenue to the firm.
What are the things that you wish you knew about promoting a book before you started? What did you learn the hard way? Can you share a story about that which other aspiring writers can learn from?
It helps to go into writing and publishing with the right mindset. I don’t care if anyone ever buys my book. That’s not the point. I want people to see the book and know that they are dealing with a professional who has been down this road before, and can help them. The logistics of getting a book listed on Amazon and Barnes & Noble can be trying, but there are great professionals out there who can help with that. Getting the book listed on these popular sites adds more prestige over the typical self-published author, and it’s not too difficult.
Based on your experience, which promotional elements would you recommend to an author to cover on their own and when would you recommend engaging a book publicist or marketing expert?
Authors should reach out to their own network to promote the book, and make sure it’s listed on Amazon. Beyond that, if you want to do a book tour or something, hire a professional to coordinate the publicity.
Wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your own experience and success, what are the “five things an author needs to know to successfully promote and market a book?” If you can, please share a story or example for each.
Five things an author needs to know:
- Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. If you keep editing until the book is “perfect,” you will never publish it.
- Create collateral to promote the book. Blog post about the book. Record videos about the book. Mention the book in your podcast.
- Print hard copies to give out to your network — they’ll want autographed copies!
- Know when to hire a professional. Use a graphic designer for the cover. Run the copy by an editor. Let someone else do the legwork of setting up campaigns to promote the book.
- Don’t stress too much — this is supposed to be fun!
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
My number one person that I would want to spend some time with is Colin Powell. I am in awe of his long career in public service, his commitment to integrity, and unfortunate resolve to not run for president.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you for these excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent. We wish you continued success with your book promotion and growing your brand.