By writing and publishing a book, it shows that you have a strong passion for what you do and are serious about the industry in which you serve. It shows that you really want to impact more people, as that is just what writing a book allows you to do, reach more people with your message.
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 Sean Barker.
Sean Barker is a husband, father of two, foodie, fitness coach, and author of the two best-selling books The Easy Eating Diet and The Easy Eating Diet Cookbook. Sean rises up at 4 am every morning with energy and enthusiasm and has a burning desire for self-development, being a health hacker and over the last 25 years, has traveled the world to learn from the best in the health and fitness industry.
Through this time Sean has been successfully coaching clients online through body transformations with his Custom FIT Coaching. Offline he owns and operates KV FIT in New Brunswick Canada, a group fitness studio, where along with his team, he coaches busy parents and professionals to look and feel their best.
Sean was nominated runner-up by his industry peers for Personal Trainer of the Year in 2017 and 2015 at Fitness Business Summit in California. He was a keynote speaker at the same event the previous year. He has spoken on stage many times for many other corporate companies and organizations and always brings energy and enthusiasm to his audience.
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?
From an early age, I naturally gravitated towards two things. Writing and weight lifting.
My passion for writing came a little earlier, as it was easier to pick up a pencil (and eventually tap a keyboard) than it was to press a barbell off my chest!
My highest marks (and interest) in school always came from subjects and projects involving creative writing. That passion was fueled even more growing up in the computer age and dot com era as the revolution of the internet became a reality.
I always remember getting my first little blue screen NCR computer in my bedroom and every day just like Doogie Howser MD did (which was a popular TV show at the time played by Neil Patrick Harris) I would tap away at that keyboard many early mornings and late nights. Learning DOS commands (because there was no mouse) and using the only program that the computer had, Wordperfect 5.1.
A basic word processor that would magically bring words to life on this little pixel screen. But I would feverishly write in a daily journal or bring stories to life on that leap in technology at the time (making sure to save my work on those big 5 1/4 inch floppy disks!)
By 15 years old I also developed my passion for health and fitness once I followed my father into our town’s little weight room one day. That day would forever change my life as it did my body. I grew up spending so much time with my father there in that dingy dungeon-like weight room in the basement of a recreation centre. Filled with rusty barbells and dumbbells and mostly home-made exercise equipment made from the near by iron-ore mines.
As I grew up and graduated high-school we both became some of the fittest guys in our town. I learned from old-school championship power-lifters and bodybuilders and got mentored on all things muscle. Soaking up many life lessons of hands-on steel hard work, goal setting, consistency, patience, failure, and humility.
I really became bit by the iron and bodybuilding bug and I would go on to pursue it even more, becoming the first person from my small town to compete in a provincial bodybuilding contest and I also got featured in a fitness magazine and won a supplement endorsement contract for placing runner-up in a world-wide magazine transformation contest.
Quickly I became the go-to guy for all things health and fitness and then I made it official getting certified as a personal trainer and learning everything I could so I can help others.
At the same time I also kept my other passion for writing alive by writing almost daily, either through journaling, blogging, through my own websites and then articles for many other websites and print magazines in the health and fitness industry.
Can you share a pivotal story that shaped the course of your career?
As I continued to work as a personal trainer part-time and write for many magazines and popular publications in health and fitness I finally followed my dream to move away from my home town with my family and open my own gym as a full-time fitness professional. To become one of the best trainers and business owners (not mutually the same), for years I would travel on many weekends to cities all over North America to attend seminars and conferences to learn from the top mentors and coaches in the health and fitness industry.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Are you working on any new writing projects?
Right now as I continue to run my gym during the challenging restrictions of the pandemic, I am focusing on growing my Online Custom FIT Coaching business to meet the demands of this evolving area of fitness.
I am also taking on more in front of the camera projects and doing more media, auditions for movies and TV shows. After writing two books in three years, I am taking a little break from writing books, but I am still writing daily in some form, whether for articles, interviews or my email newsletters.
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?
In this follow-up book to my first book, The Easy Eating Diet, the most recent book, The Easy Eating Diet Cookbook, gives readers 150 fit food recipes for real life, to get leaner, lighter and healthier. The Easy Eating Diet Cookbook serves up tried and true healthy and tasty recipes without all the food fuss.
It includes features such as Carb Cheatsheets, Guides on Gluten, Super Smoothies, Emotional Eating, Food FODMAPS and many tasty tips and tricks in the kitchen that make healthy cooking faster and easier for you, whatever your goals and dietary preference. Plus gives you the truth on the healthiest cooking oils to put in your kitchen and in your body.
It’s a go-to guide for fast, family-friendly meals that taste great and are great for you. It’s time we end the food frustration and diet dogma that so many other diet books encourage. It’s time to enjoy delicious and nutritious food without complicated and time-consuming recipes.
A passage from the book shows readers not just what to eat but how to eat healthier and make it easier.
Skillpower Over Willpower
Do you want to know the secret to making eating healthy food easy and eating unhealthy food hard? It all starts at the grocery store and what you choose to bring home. If you bring healthy food home, you, or someone in your household, will eat it. If you bring junk food home, you, or someone in your household, will eat it. That one decision right there is the tipping point that determines if the chips fall in your favour or you end up eating chips. It’s not about having willpower, it’s about having skillpower, and setting up your eating environment around you so making better choices are easier, especially at home and even at work.
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?
Many of the character traits and habits I’ve built over the years with my own fitness, were instrumental and carried over to help publish both my books.
- Planning and Purpose
Just like if you don’t have a purpose and a plan to follow with your workouts you won’t accomplish much, you need the same with writing a book. What’s your idea and outcome for that idea? My first book, The Easy Eating Diet came from all the common questions from coaching fitness for 25 years and became 25 chapters answering those questions on health, diet, weight loss and motivation. My second book is more tactical and gives readers 150 recipes to eat healthier without the food fuss and diet dogma other diet books bring to the table.
2. Consistency over Intensity
Writing is like working out and building a fit body, you have to put in the reps, day after day, month after month, year after year, even when you don’t feel motivated or that you are making progress. I got up every morning at 4am to write my books, not because I “felt” like it but because I knew that is the best time to get it done before the distractions of the day demand my time and energy. It’s better to write a little bit every day consistently. Just like it’s better to workout 3 days a week and eat moderately well all year long instead of working out 6 days a week and dieting strict for just a couple months, only to quit because you chose intensity over consistency.
3. Help over Hustle
As a fitness coach myself I always believed in the power of coaching and getting help from mentors and other professionals in my field. Hustling on your own can only bring you so far so fast. This was just as important when I decided I wanted to publish my books, so I got the help of publishers, editors and other writers to help me achieve my goals of writing and publishing my books. Coaches and hired professionals not only give you the information you want, they also help you with the critical steps of implementation and accountability that you really need. When you invest in coaches and mentors, you become more invested in the process.
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?
By writing and publishing a book, it shows that you have a strong passion for what you do and are serious about the industry in which you serve. It shows that you really want to impact more people, as that is just what writing a book allows you to do, reach more people with your message. Writing my books has built my business and brand by exposing me and connecting me to many other readers and leaders around the world inside, and outside my industry. It has helped me grow other aspects of my fitness coaching business to online fitness coaching, speaking, media appearances and more writing opportunities.
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?
The biggest benefits becoming an author will give you is that extra edge of authority and professionalism in your field. Having a book is like having the biggest brightest business card in a crowded room of content creators, along with giving you a higher respected reputation that helps set you above other leaders in your field. You should only invest in writing a book if you truly have a passion for writing, as it’s a long and laborious process. Any author will tell you, even those who have sold millions of copies a book, that you don’t write a book for the money. You do it because you are passionate, persistent and a true professional in your field.
Any financial incentive for authors is not in the sales of the books themselves but in the extra authority and opportunities that it brings you to connect with other top leaders and organizations inside and even outside your industry. From speaking, to media appearances and brand collaborations, it helps open up doors of opportunity and attract the eyes of your prospects a little easier. It also gives you a personal lift of confidence as a professional, showing yourself and others that you went the extra mile to write a book and impact more people.
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?
Writing a book is only half the battle of publishing a book. As hard as writing a book is, publishing and promoting the book once it’s done and printed is incredibly demanding and is as challenging or even more so than actually writing it. A fellow author once told me, “writing a book is a full-time job and marketing it is another full-time job”, so be ready for that! Like most authors, my books took 1–2 years of daily dedicated writing to finish and then another year of intense marketing and promotion to get it in as many hands as possible. It’s not just about a strong book launch week and trying to make the best-seller list, it’s about maintaining a strong persistent presence for years after. Also make sure to always ask for online reviews, which is very important for visibility and credibility in a massive market of online book shopping.
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?
I wouldn’t recommend publishing and promoting a book on your own unless you have previous experience and a very large and engaged following. Book publishing used to have only two options for aspiring authors, 1. self-publishing or 2. getting a deal with a large publisher (which is very difficult).
But now there exists a third option which is what I chose, self-assisted publishing. Which is the more accessible blend of the previous two, where you work with smaller publishing companies that help with the creation, editing and even marketing of your book, but the author keeps more control of the process and can also get better royalties for book sales.
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.
- Who is this book for and who it is not for?
With so many books out there, your book has to stand up for an idea that supports a story or goes against the grain. The reason I wrote my first book The Easy Eating Diet, was because I was sick of all the trendy diet books filling up the shelfs at bookstores and all the clients I work with being frustrated with the diet dogma. So it’s not a typical diet book at all. I wanted to write one book for those that are sick of trying another quick fix diet, so it doesn’t force any specific diet on them. But gives them the proven principles, tools and autonomy to follow their own best diet, build healthier habits and get sustainable results for losing weight and feeling great.
2. What is the problem this book is helping solve?
Your reader is buying your book for a story or solution. For a non fiction book like The Easy Eating Diet and it’s followup Easy Eating Diet Cookbook, it is for busy parents and professionals to improve their health and happiness and make living a healthier lifestyle easier not harder.
3. What makes your book different than others in your field?
“If you go against the grain, you are bound to get a few splinters”. When you publish a book for your chosen niche market you have to accept that not everyone will like or agree with your point of view. But by doing so and focusing on the people who really need it, you can make a deeper impact with the people you reach. It’s better to have 1000 raving fans that love your idea, than 100,000 people who just like it.
4. How will you promote your book?
This is important because, no matter how good your book may be, if nobody reads it, there’s no point behind your purpose and passion. Do you already have your own channels of promoting a book, like an established brand, a brick and mortar business, or online with an email list, YouTube channel, podcast and social media platforms? Do you need to create them or grow those channels larger before you launch? If so, you have the choices of producing consistent organic content, which takes more time. Or also investing in paid marketing, media and ads.
5. Who will you get to help you promote your book?
No matter the size of your current audience that you can directly market your book to, your network can help with your net worth when promoting your book. The stronger network of support you can get from other industry leaders (especially if they have larger audiences) the faster and better your book will sell. Having and building good social and main media connections that will support your book, is like adding gasoline to a fire.
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 🙂
Dwayne Johnson, “The Rock”. His story of success and fighting failure by using years of hard work, humility and hustle is inspiring to me both personally and professionally.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
They can follow me on Instagram @sbarker78, on Facebook at Sean Barker, my Easy Eating Diet books are available on Amazon and I have over 100 free articles on Medium.com.
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.