Interview with Erin Myers
Your head is bubbling with thoughts but the idea of publishing a book sounds terrifying. What if I told you that publishing your own book and turning it into a passive source of income is within an easy reach for you.
You don’t need a publishing agent.
You don’t need to invest thousands of dollars into printing books.
You don’t even need to market your book (no guilt-tripping your family into buying extra copies or stalking your Facebook “friends” with your “Buy my book” posts.)
Publishing a book can add a continuous source of passive income to your Pilates business.
Passive income is money earned with minimal activity through a variety of ventures which require little daily effort or upkeep on the individual’s part.
One of the biggest financial challenges for Pilates teachers is the fact that we make money only when we teach. There is nothing “passive” about running a studio or teaching clients. I don’t need to convince you that adding financial freedom to your Pilates business is a good thing (click here to find more ways to generate additional revenue for Pilates business)
Can a busy Pilates teacher and a studio owner (plus wife and a mother of young kids) find time to write and publish a book?
Ask Erin Myers, the author of 3 books that she self-published on Amazon, owner of the Spiral Spine Pilates studio, mother, wife and a Pilates teacher educator. Her latest book, Analyzing Scoliosis: The Pilates Instructor’s Guide to Scoliosis, is a true gem for any teacher working with scoli clients (make sure to listen to our talk about Pilates and Scoliosis). I could not find a better person to ask all the nitty-gritty questions about publishing a Pilates book. In this interview she shares her process of writing a book, how much it helps her family financially and how much work she has to put into promotion on a daily basis.
How to Publish a Pilates Bestseller Book through Amazon
1. Erin, How did you come up with the idea for your first book?
I had just given birth to my second son and had also just sold my first Pilates studio, so I had time on my hands while my little boys were napping during the day. I decided I’d write down experiences I had while working with clients with scoliosis. It involved tips, stories, and experiences with my own scoliotic body.
The book was barely edited, but I decided to throw it up on Amazon anyways. I called it The Beautiful Scoliotic Back and that year if you typed in the word “scoliosis” on Amazon, it was the number one book that popped up. I didn’t do any marketing for it. The word “scoliosis” isn’t even in the title of the book! That was the beginning of my writing career.
2. What inspired you to write your second book?
A few years later I redid The Beautiful Scoliotic Back and made a second edition of it because of the feedback I had received from people on it. I quickly published another book called My Scoli Journal, for teenagers to journal about both the emotional and physical side of their scoli. It was the same concepts I’d been using with my young teenage scoli clients in the Pilates studio, but now it was in a bound book.
3. How much time did you spend preparing the content for your book?
My Pilates studio staff makes a lot of fun of me because I’m constantly writing down notes, thoughts, and stories on scrap paper I find around the studio. I’ll bring those chicken scratch notes home at the end of the day and throw them into a manila folder, knowing that those thoughts could be gems in another book.
My latest book, Analyzing Scoliosis: The Pilates Instructor’s Guide to Scoliosis, was literally eight years of chicken scratch notes that I was able to put into a cohesive book. I have about eight other bulging manila folders that will eventually make up future books. I’ll see a fascinating piece of research and will print it off and throw it into a folder. I’ll type out a lightbulb moment with a scoli client, print it off, and throw it into a folder. If you do this, you’ll have all the content you need to write a book.
4. What was the most difficult part of writing a book?
I’m a really big picture thinker, so editing things down, proof-reading, and formatting the book is the hardest part of the process for me. I’ve learned that I can get products to market a lot quicker if I outsource that, so I no longer do the “micro” work on my books, but outsource it.
5. What do you think is the best part of writing and publishing a book?
Writing a book is an automatic credibility booster. You could be a great Pilates instructor, but the minute your clients finds out you’re an author they put you on a whole new pedestal. And because almost no one in the Pilates industry publishes their writings, word about you quickly spreads around the world.
6. Could you please give a roadmap of writing and publishing a book?
Some authors can just sit down and write a book. I cannot. I need thoughts, research, and stories that I’ve already complied to work with when I sit down to write.
I’ll figure out the concept for the overall book and breakdown what the chapters will be.
Then, I’ll get my manila folder out and start organizing.
Soon, I’ll have cohesive chapters written.
I’ll work on the flow of the book a bit and then send those typed out documents to trusted friends to comment on.They’ll send them back to me about a month later with mounds of comments on them. I’ll work through them and tighten everything up.
I’ll repeat that process a few times with different people. I’ll have an editor friend go over it with a fine-toothed comb at the end and then send it off to my formatter guy.
Once that process is done and I’m happy with everything, I’ll upload it to Amazon’s self-publishing site, Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), and request a proof of the book. I’ll usually have to go through a few rounds of tweaking to make sure the cover and inside of the book are just as I imagined, and then I’ll approve the book on Amazon’s site and it’s published.
7. How hard was it to actually publish your book? What did you have to do?
Over the last eight years that I’ve been writing, Amazon keeps making it easier and easier to publish. The process with the self-publishing arm of the business, KDP, is phenomenal. The process is easier than you think it is.
All their books are Print On Demand (POD) so you don’t have to fork over thousands of dollars to buy 5,000 books, store them, and send one out every time someone purchases one. Instead, Amazon has all your print ready files stored and when someone buys a book, they print that book, ship it off, and send you royalties for it. Those files can also easily be tweaked for people wanting to read it on their Kindles by uploading your book in a different format. Again, it’s much easier than you may think.
They even do POD DVDs, which I’ve done twice now for scoliosis workout and training videos (Hard Core Scoli and Untwisting Scoli: Maya), which they’ll also stream on their site. Amazon is giving big publishing houses a run for their money by totally changing how publishing happens.
8. Did you have to invest a lot into writing/publishing your book? (talking about finances here. I know that it was a huge investment of time!)
If you pay someone to format your book, which I choose to do, you can get away with paying as little as a few hundred dollars to get your book published. Amazon also gives you the tools to format it yourself, so you could even do it for free if you wanted to put the time in.
My last book, Analyzing Scoliosis: The Pilates Instructor’s Guide to Scoliosis, was a massive project with over 50 pictures of different sizes and 61 endnotes. It took me about six months of going back and forth with the formatter to get everything just right, and I paid about $2,000 for his services, but it was worth every penny.
If your book is formatted well, and looks like a “real book”, you should recoup the cost of formatting within the first month of the book being on the market.
9. From the financial perspective, was publishing a book a lucrative investment of time for you?
Oh my goodness, YES! The reality is that as Pilates instructors we usually only make money if we are teaching. There’s a cap to what we can make as a Pilates instructor because there’s a limit to how much we can (or want to) teach. With products, there is no cap. The sky’s the limit.
My husband is a finance guy and was recently looking over our family finances. He actually told me to not teach for one whole day during the week (and not make the income from teaching) so I could devote that time solely to creating more products because the money was that good. It is mailbox money, and as Pilates instructors, we don’t get that just from teaching. Depending on the product and the choices you make when publishing with Amazon, you can make a 30-50% royalty on your product.
10. What is the most rewarding part of being an author?
We are Pilates instructors because we want to help people. But, there’s a limit to how much we can teach and therefore how many people we can help. I find so much fulfillment from being an author because my span of reach for helping people is so much larger as an author.
When I get an email from a worried mom of a child recently diagnosed with scoliosis in another state, or another country, and they say they love my books and want to talk to me about the specifics about their child…well, there truly is nothing better than that for me. I simply couldn’t help the amount of people I’m helping if I was just a Pilates instructor.
11. What piece of advice would you give to anyone interested in publishing their own book?
Writing a book is messy and it’s not going to be perfect the first go-round. Many of us as Pilates instructors are perfectionists, myself included. The words you type out the first time will not be perfect. And that’s OK. If you go back and fix it immediately, you’ll never write anything.
I don’t let myself go back and edit until I get all my thoughts out for the book. Words are misspelled, the grammar is horrible, and some of the paragraphs don’t make sense. I can get people to fix all that stuff, but I can’t get anyone to get those ideas out of my head. You must find a way to have “thought dumps” without being too critical on yourself initially. If you can find a way to do that, the reward can be so great!
Resources that you can find helpful:
- Analyzing Scoliosis: The Pilates Instructor’s Guide to Scoliosis by Erin Myers, excellent resource for Pilates teachers who work with Scoliosis clients
- Spiral Spine Online Store, includes links to the online workshops by Erin Myers
- Pilates for Scoliosis: Research-Based Pilates Programming for Scoli Clients – video interview with Erin Myers, free to watch.
- Kindle Direct Publishing – self-publishing platform by Amazon
- 11 Ways to Add Revenue Streams to Fitness/Pilates Business – article with real examples of adding both passive and active income streams to a Pilates business.