Me, my book and how to be a people person - by Lara Cullen

Some people have always known they’d write a book; others have no desire to, or they know with just as much certainty that they never will. And then there’s a middle gang – those who are drawn to the idea but question whether they’ve got it in them.

Until I wrote How to be a People Person, I was in that middle lane. For years I’d thought it would be something that would be very cool to do but I didn’t really know how, about what, or if I was capable of it.

I run a business called The People Person – an executive coaching, training and leadership development consultancy based in London, UK. Until March 2020, most of my work was in person. When the coronavirus hit the UK, the majority of that work screeched to a halt while people and companies reigned in costs, stopped going into offices and prioritised day-to-day survival over long term growth and development. All of a sudden, I had the requirement and the opportunity to re-evaluate what I did and how I served my clients. I began compiling my people development knowledge and experiences into a methodology called the People Person’s Way, based around three key ways of being – be kind, be brave and be brilliant – with the intention of using it to design, deliver and promote training and development workshops to help people bring out the best in themselves and others.

At the time I was working with strategic marketing expert, Bryony Thomas, who’d used The Right Book Company to publish her own best-selling book, Watertight Marketing. She saw the potential in the idea and in me as a writer before I did and insisted that, with the People Person’s Way, I had the makings of a really good book on my hands – one that could bring enormous value to people and raise my business profile. Bryony forwarded me a link to one of Sue’s webinars. I attended, I liked what I heard and I warmed to Sue.  I booked a follow-up free consultation with her right away.

During the consultation, Sue took great care to understand what my book was for and what it was about, my overall aims for writing it, what was important to me and any concerns I had. We then booked a strategy session where we got into the nitty-gritty of my seedling idea. Accepting that this was, in fact, a book and maybe I did have it in me to write, I looked into different publishing routes. Self-publishing was never an option for me personally – I knew if I was going to put the required effort and commitment into writing a book, I wanted it to be done expertly and beautifully – not only in terms of the inner content but also the finished product. I simply didn’t have the knowledge or contacts to do that myself. I also knew I’d need someone to hold me accountable and, as a first-time author, someone to offer guidance and support through the writing process.

I considered the traditional publishing route but I sought more control and ownership of my material than that would allow me. It was also very important to me to get my book published quickly and have the final say on the finished product – things that I learned would be unlikely for a first-time author with a traditional publisher. I wanted writing the book to be something I enjoyed. I wanted to have someone alongside me who’d care about my book as much as I did (being a writer, I’ve learned, can be a lonely experience). My gut kept taking me back to The Right Book Company.

I wrote my book over the course of just over six months and three lockdowns here in the UK. That was followed by a thorough editing and proofing phase, which took another few months. One year and one day after signing the contract with The Right Book Company, my book How to be a People Person: Be Kind. Be Brave. Be Brilliant was out in the world, available online through all major retailers and to any bookstore that wanted to stock it. At the time of writing this blog, it’s only been out a few weeks, but I already see benefits. I’ve had several press and radio features in the UK, Ireland and even Australia. These have raised my profile and already resulted in new business. I’ve been able to send copies of my book out with client proposals. I have loads of content to share with my audience in newsletters, blogs and social media. And on a personal level, it’s massively boosted my confidence in terms of what I can and can’t achieve when I set my mind to it.

Writing a book is a big investment – time, energy, reputation and, unless you win a big deal, money.  Although it dominated nearly a year of my life, I have no regrets about doing it or about doing it with The Right Book Company. I made an investment in them, but they invested in me too – energetically and emotionally, and that was the difference that made the difference. By the end of the process, it really did feel like ‘our’ book. They showed as much love to my little lockdown baby as I did (in fact, often being nicer to it and believing in it more than I did).

If I was to give some advice to someone considering writing a business book, I’d say go in with your eyes open. Be really clear about what you want and need both during the writing process and after. Be realistic about what it’ll involve from you and whether you can give it, and do your research – including talking to authors who’ve worked with that publisher. Finally, if you go for it, partner with someone you can have fun with and who’s going to be on your side from start to finish.

It’s incredibly rewarding when you do! 

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