Be genuine when you speak. For a time, I worked with a business partner to help promote my services. He convinced me to follow one of the popular marketing leaders of the day and to design my talk around their blueprint. But, what he failed to understand, is that that style is not done in healthcare. I delivered the talk, at a cancer hospital where I was invited to speak and I was so uncomfortable to be selling like that from the stage when none of the other health professionals were. You have to be true to yourself!
Developing a signature talk will help you to confidently speak in front of audiences. Especially one that can be given without relying on power point. Just be captivating and people will listen.
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 Jean LaMantia.
Jean LaMantia, registered dietitian, cancer survivor and public speaker has written three books, all in the nutrition field. Her first book, published in 2012 is The Essential Cancer Treatment Nutrition Guide and Cookbook. Her second book, published in 2019 The Complete Lymphedema Management and Nutrition Guide and her 2020 publication, Complete Intermittent Fasting have allowed LaMantia to establish her credentials as a registered dietitian with advanced knowledge in cancer, lymphedema and intermittent fasting. The books have provided opportunities for her to speak at medical conferences, and to be a leader in the nutrition field. Because of the books, she has developed a following of both professionals and lay public that want to continue to learn from her by following her blog, her on-line programs and public speaking.
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?
When my father was sick with cancer, I felt like my mom and I were constantly putting out fires. It seemed every hospital visit brought a new set of issues. Whether it was his rapid weight loss, his cachexia, his lack of appetite, my response was always the same — to start researching what I could do about it. It always seemed like a frantic scramble to figure out a solution, especially when there wasn’t one coming from his medical team.
When the opportunity arose to write a book for other cancer patient’s I knew what I wanted to create- something that could provide all those answers that my mom and I needed. I did all the research, so that patients and caregivers didn’t have to.
Can you share a pivotal story that shaped the course of your career?
Because of my expertise in the cancer nutrition field, I was invited by a physical therapist to join her practice which specialized in cancer rehabilitation and lymphedema (lymphedema is a swelling condition, that can occur for many reasons, including as a result of cancer treatment).
Not having much experience with lymphedema, my instinct was to hit the research. Despite the fact that lymphedema affects 10 million Americans, there wasn’t much research, but there was enough that I could devise a strategy to use nutrition to help these people.
What I realized is that people with lymphedema often go years, sometimes decades without a proper diagnosis and there is very little credible nutrition advice to help them. This inspired me to co-author The Complete Lymphedema Management and Nutrition Guide.
I knew nutrition could make a positive difference in the lives of people with lymphedema and writing this book was my way of getting that valuable information out into the world. Since then, the book has sold out and is now in its second printing, with very positive reviews from patients and practitioners.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Are you working on any new writing projects?
This year has been so amazing for me. After the success of my Lymphedema book, I created an on-line program to provide direct coaching and support for small groups of people with lymphedema, called Lymphedema Nutrition School.
At this time, I have had one group complete the program and it’s was so inspiring to see all the great outcomes that people were able to achieve. The students enjoyed the program so much, that I created an alumni group so that we can continue to meet and support each other. My second group is underway, and they are another inspiring group of people.
Living with lymphedema requires a great deal of daily self-care and they inspire me with their strength to keep moving forward despite all the challenges of the condition. I have almost completed the self-study version of the program and I want to create both a live and self-study program to help cancer patients and survivors too!
As far as writing projects, I continue to dig deep into the research and write my blogs every month and I have ideas for two more books that I would love to write!
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?
This is a passage from The Essential Cancer Treatment Nutrition Guide and Cookbook;
“Despite everything that happened to me during my cancer — the fear, the pain, the worry, the countless side effects — I see my cancer as a gift. I will never take my health for granted again. I live my life in a different way — a better way, I think. Even with my father’s cancer and death, there was a gift there, too. I was able to communicate with my father in a way that had not been possible up until that point in our lives. I hope that you and your loved ones are able to find a gift in your experience as well. I trust there is something in these pages that makes your cancer journey a little easier.”
While there are lots of books that tell you how to eat to avoid cancer, this book is a real hand holding experience and has a detailed A to Z list of nutrition strategies to help with all those chemotherapy and radiation side-effects. I’m in the trenches with my readers and sharing research but also personal experience and the experience of my fellow survivors.
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?
When it came to launching my book, the first character trait that comes to mind is to be open to opportunities. I was asked to speak at a variety of events and I said yes to as many of them as I could. Some were small support groups and others were medical conferences, and I remained open minded to every opportunity.
I think the second character trait was my willingness to be vulnerable. While it’s not easy sometimes to talk to an audience about my experience with cancer or with caring for my dad when he was sick, but I think so many people can relate to the vulnerability.
The third character trait that comes to mind is integrity. I do not feel right to be telling other people what to do if I am not doing it myself. Expecting my readers or audiences to eat in a certain way, or practice other health strategies that I wasn’t at least attempting would be disingenuous. While I’m not perfect, I do try on a daily basis to practice what I preach.
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?
I think the most obvious example of that for me, was with my lymphedema book. Within a few months of it being published, I was a speaker at the National Lymphedema Network conference and the Canadian Lymphedema Framework conference. Without writing such a well-researched, high quality book, I would not have been featured in such a prominent way in that industry. This has allowed me to grow my brand as the lymphedema dietitian.
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?
One big benefit for me, is the investment in research. When you write a non-fiction, health book, there is honestly more reading than writing involved. For all three of my books, I read about 100 research studies each. I love the feeling that gives me — the knowledge and confidence that I really understand a subject at such a deep level.
Without the books, it would have been difficult to justify the huge time investment to find and read that research. Publishing the book of course then provides the credibility and exposure. I also, just love seeing my name on the cover of these books that I am so proud of, it’s such a great feeling to create something, especially something that helps other people.
In my field, I don’t offer a tangible service — what I offer is my knowledge and experience, which I use when I council my clients or teach my group programs. By investing my resources and energy into researching and writing my books, it has increased by ability to help others exponentially. I really and truly understand my subject matter because I have invested so much into the research, and that feeling is priceless.
When I invested my time in researching my subject matter and writing my books, I immediately utilized that information by writing comprehensive fully cited blog posts and detailed presentations. I have several page one blog posts that I wrote from the research that I did on my books.
These popular posts have increased my blog traffic and helped to promote my nutrition counselling services. I also used that same research to create presentations that I then presented to professional groups that are interested in paying for continuing education for their members. There is no question that my busines and my brand have grown from researching, writing and publishing my books.
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?
The promotion is definitely not my strong suit. I think one lesson I have learned is to start promoting early and build up the anticipation for the book. For me, that was difficult, as I was so absorbed in the research, it was hard to pull away from that to focus on social media, once I got my nose into the research I just wanted to keep digging.
I would say, one good lesson would be to get your book into the hands of other respected leaders in your industry. I remember reading my first dietitian book review. It was such a glowing, positive review to receive from a peer, it helped me to remember how expert I had become on my subject matter. When you commit to know a subject so deeply, you are not just doing it for your readers, you are elevating the entire profession.
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?
Based on my experience, but also my interests, I would say, write comprehensive amazing blog posts! You are a writer after all, so write! While I focus on blog writing, I would gladly hand over social media promotion to a book publicist or marketing expert. I don’t enjoy putting together social media posts or researching the best hash tags and the other tasks that come with social media so I am happy to let people that love social media to do that work.
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 to successfully promote and market a book would be;
- Start developing your audience! Even before you have the book proposal written, find your people. You can do this with a blog or social following
- Be genuine when you speak. For a time, I worked with a business partner to help promote my services. He convinced me to follow one of the popular marketing leaders of the day and to design my talk around their blueprint. But, what he failed to understand, is that that style is not done in healthcare. I delivered the talk, at a cancer hospital where I was invited to speak and I was so uncomfortable to be selling like that from the stage when none of the other health professionals were. You have to be true to yourself!
- Developing a signature talk will help you to confidently speak in front of audiences. Especially one that can be given without relying on power point. Just be captivating and people will listen.
- Get public speaking training. Unlike most people, I enjoy public speaking, but I still got training with both a private coach and with Toastmasters. I’ve attended a lot of conferences and what I have observed is that, while someone might be a subject matter expert, that does not make them a good speaker.
- If you speak well, people will buy your book. I’ve been to many events, where I have a table to sell my books. A few people might wander over and buy a book before the event. But, once I’m done my speaking at the event, my table gets flooded. I know if people hear me speak, they will buy my books.
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 🙂
The first person that comes to mind is Kathy Bates. While I do admire her work as an actor, the reason I am thinking of her is because of all the great work she does as an advocate for lymphedema. She has publicly shared her experience as a cancer survivor and that lives with lymphedema.
She has done so much to help create awareness for lymphedema and to advocate congress to pass the Lymphedema Treatment Act. I would love for her to read my book The Complete Lymphedema Management and Nutrition Guide.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
The best way to do this would be to visit my website https://jeanlamantia.com and join my community. You will receive my Immune Boosting Quick Start Guide, you won’t miss a blog, you’ll have first alert on when I’m speaking and when my programs are welcoming new students…plus when I do write my new books…you’ll be the first to know!
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.
Thank you so much. I’ve really enjoyed your questions and be able to think back on my experience with my books. I know there are a lot of people that are wavering about whether to write a book or not. Vernon Jordan, the American civil rights activist said, “we exist temporarily through what we take but we live forever through what we give.” The book that you are considering writing can be one of the gifts that you give to the world.