Interview with author Richard Simmonds

Hello ladies and gentlemen! Glad you all could join us for today’s guest interview. We have with us today, author Rich Simmonds. Rich if you could start by telling my readers a little bit about yourself.

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Rich:
I am actually Richard Simmonds, but many people confused me with Richard Simmons. Just before I published my first book I decided to become known as Rich Simmonds – I am still on Facebook as Richard Rich Simmonds so old friends and family can find me.

I am from South Africa and live in Pretoria and have two sons Tyrone and Rory.
I am mainly involved with Leadership mentoring, coaching and training – focusing on Open Leadership, Crisis Communication and Emotional Intelligence.

Weekly I am a panelist on the Leadership Platform un-Radio show on @CliffCentralcom

The Writing Piazza:
You’ve got a lot going on! That all sounds super exciting! And you’ve also written a couple books, can you tell us a bit about those?

Rich:
I have published two books:

  • 5 Night Plan – The guide to strong and grounded relationships, which is a book on how to strengthen your personal relationships, whether you are just starting one or have known the person for more than 20 years. And,
  • Mug and Tweet – Social Communication in the Digital Age, which is a book about social communication (how we communicate as humans) with a little bit of Social Media in it. It is not a book about Twitter as the title may suggest.

                                                              

More information on both my books can be found on my website at richsimmondsza.com.

The Writing Piazza:
What was your publishing journey like?

Rich:
I tried the traditional publishing route first – find a publisher, submit the work, and so on. I soon realized that even if they did accept my book, it may still take another 12-15 months before it reaches the book shelves. If it ever does make it, I may only make a few cents per book sold and that did not seem worth the effort.

The Writing Piazza:
There are definitely pros and cons to both paths to publishing. You hit on some really great points. So you tried the traditional publishing route, then what did you do next?

Rich:
Before proceeding I had to ask myself ‘why am I writing this book and what will the book do for me? I soon discovered that there are basically two types of books:

  1. A book that does a lot for the book, but not much for the author. In other words the book sells itself and no one really cares about the author, or
  2. A book that does very little for itself and a lot for the author, it catapults the author to a position of influence, and the author is able to monetize this through talks and consulting work.

With option 2 in mind, I then decided to explore the self-publishing route – I realized that I was already known through my efforts on Social Media and a book would assist my efforts.

The Writing Piazza:
That’s such an interesting way to look at it. It’s a good tip too, to look at what you’d like to accomplish with your book. It can really help you make the decision about which publishing method you’d like to pursue.

What are some of the things your publishing journey taught you?

Rich:
POINTS I learnt along the way:

  • Don’t get sold down the river by the so called specialists who will help you publish your book. If they won’t pay you upfront for your script – they are bogus and chancers! If you want to self-publish then do it yourself, speak to and get free advice from whomever/wherever you can. There are many sites that will provide you with the information you need – everything is free if you take the time to look. It will save you thousands of dollars, which were never going to be well spent anyway.
  • There are editors and there are editors, the first question you should ask is ‘can I write?’ If you can, then write and find someone to proofread your work. Use more than one proofreader and grammar checker – friends are amazing before you go to the professionals – but don’t let them over-edit your work. This could lose your voice in the book and people are often expecting your emotions and tone to be present.
  • If you cannot write and you like the book option 2 so that you can brand yourself, dig deep into your pocket and pay the best ghost writer you can find. Hire someone like you so that at least people have some idea that you could’ve written the book when they meet you.
  • Try to sell the books yourself, through your own or reputable websites. Book distributors don’t pay well, if they pay at all.
  • Self – publishing is great but you will need to do all the hard work of promoting your book and yourself.
  • The average author never sells enough copies to pay for his time. So unless it is a passion to write, don’t pursue it thinking you are going to make money.

The Writing Piazza:
Phew! You certainly learned a lot along the way. Thank you so much for sharing that with us. We can learn so much from others who have gone before us if we just take the time to heed their lessons. Thank you for telling us about your experiences so we can take them to heart.

I have done a number of these interviews now but I am no expert in any sense of the term. So sometimes I like to ask (to help improve my interviewing prowess) when you get interviewed, what is a question you don’t get asked but you wish someone would ask you? And how would you answer?

Rich:
Most interviewers ask questions around what they think they want their viewers or listeners to hear. I would just like people to ask for my honest opinion and I think that in most cases that may disrupt their agreement with reality – that is just my RuleBreaker and ChangeMaker trait coming through. So I never get to say what I truly think about the subject in question. I am always polite and give the best advice possible (advice is always what they want to hear and not what I really want to tell them). They will often ask me after the interview for my honest opinion and after checking if they really want it, I will give them as much as I think they are able to digest.

The Writing Piazza:
Well I hope you feel you can be honest here with us. I’m a firm believer in honesty, I just ask that it be given out of a true desire to help others and not just to make them feel bad. I think your answers thus far have all fallen under the helpful category. Thank you for that.

Switching gears a bit (but hopefully keeping the honesty thing going) you were voted by Forbes as a Top 10 Influencer in Africa and Top 50 Influencer in the world! What would you attribute this success to?

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Rich:
One word comes to mind – consistency. Influence comes from serving and you need to consistently serve people to become influential. This is what people expect from you. They will only follow and keep supporting you if you remain relevant, giving them the message they want to hear and not what you feel like telling them. So the message changes constantly because you are getting consistent feedback. Listening is paramount for influence.

The Writing Piazza:
Now that’s interesting. Especially in today’s selfie society, it’s interesting to hear that listening is essential to influence. I think sometimes we’re too busy tweeting or posting Facebook statuses to really listen. That’s great advice, I can see how listening could be instrumental to influencing others. Definitely food for thought.

Speaking of social media, how would you say it affects authors today? How important is it for authors to be on social media?

Rich:
It is of paramount importance, things have really changed – the old saying is so true that they need to know you care before they will be interested in what you have to say – if you are unable to reach out to people on social media; though your blog, Facebook and other social platforms? Why would they ever consider buying your book?

The Writing Piazza:
More sage wisdom. I may start calling you Yoda, would that be ok? haha But seriously, there’s some great advice coming through this interview and I hope all of you out there reading this are basking in it like I am!

Rich what is one mistake you see a lot of people making when they use social media?

Rich:
Oh that’s an easy question – they think they are celebrities. Everything is about them and how good their book is. They want you to buy their book and they give nothing in return. The book must be seen as the final transaction and not the only transaction. What have you put into the relationship to get the person interested in what you have to say? Or are you only ever saying things about you? This is the main failing of authors on Social Media – I think the best is to remember on Social Media we all just people – not authors, not celebrities, actually title-less simply serving those who wish to listen.

Self Promotion does not work and the only rule is: YOU can promote anybody, but YOU cannot promote YOU. Authors should actually be promoting each other but not as authors, rather as normal people. (There is an intentional ambiguity in that line).

The Writing Piazza:
I like the idea of authors promoting one another. I love to see authors helping other authors. I have had the great fortune of “meeting” many wonderful authors who have helped me, that’s one of the reasons I started the Resources for Authors tab on my blog. I wanted to help other writers the way others have helped me. I always love to hear other people promoting the idea too!

What are some other good things that we should be doing on social media?

Rich:
We should be telling stories, real stories that involve real people – when we tell these stories they have the correct emotional loading in them. When we make up the stories they may work in fiction but not on Social Media, as social media is about people, for people.

The Writing Piazza:
Excellent, I wish I could play inspirational music behind your answers, I feel so positively motivated by them. Any last advice for authors hoping to build their social media presence?

Rich:
Did I mention you should be consistent? Post regularly and the more varied and more often the better. A tweet for instance has a lifespan of one hour, so that may give you some indication of how much effort you would like to put into Social Media. Oh and don’t worry, THEY won’t make the effort so your best efforts will work wonders for YOU.

The Writing Piazza:
It’s like voting in Illinois, “post early and post often” (for those of you not from Illinois or even the U.S., the tongue in cheek saying goes “vote early and vote often”) to build a healthy social media following, you should be posting regularly and as often as you can. And you should be varying the types of posts you do (like quotes, pictures, sharing article links, etc.). This is all something we can do if we’re willing to put in the work. Just make sure the content is relevant to what you do.

Now before I let you go, I have to ask, are you currently working on any new books?

Rich:
Yes I am currently writing a book on OPEN Leadership, which should be out by September.

The Writing Piazza:
Sounds intriguing. I’ll have to watch for it. How about any upcoming events? Do you have anything coming up soon?

Rich:
Yes indeed, I will be hosting International Bestselling Author Dr. Steve Maraboli who will be coming to South Africa in September to do a series of talks in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

The Writing Piazza:
If any of you fantastic readers out there would like to find out more about it and/or you would like to connect with Rich, you can do so on his website. Just click HERE to check it out.

Rich, thank you so much for being a guest here on The Writing Piazza. It was truly a motivational and insightful interview. To all you reading this out there across the internet, thank you for joining us and I hope you’ll come back next week for a new guest interview! You can also check out the other interviews we’ve done here on The Writing Piazza by clicking here Guest Interviews.

Until we meet again.

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