Janine: Hi, welcome to The Writers Hour Creative Conversations. I’m Janine Bolon and I am the lucky one. I’m the interviewer that gets to chat with amazing authors. And a lot of times, these authors have some really good tips on how to write your book and then sometimes it’s on how to market the book. And so today we have somebody who can help us, not only with how they started writing their book but also how they helped with the promotion of it and what they’ve learned in the process. Because writing a book, yeah, you think that that’s the hardest part. Well, not in this case. In this case, sometimes it’s the marketing of the book that can really throw you for a loop.
Today, we have Dawn Santoriello who is a certified financial planner and speaker who basically just wants to help as many women as possible get on track to reach, not only their financial goals but also she wants them to reach it faster than they ever thought it was possible. So she recovered from the failure of three successful businesses and a multi six-figure income. She’s been featured in Forbes, Market Watch, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and [inaudible]. She has been published in the CPA Client Advisor, Wealth Planner Advisor, Investment Advisor, South Jersey Mom, Route 422 Business Advisor, and my favorite, Let’s Talk Philadelphia. You can also find her on Financial Friday’s with Dawn on YouTube. She is a formal host of the Conquer Your Finances, Conquer Your Life on RVN TV. I am thrilled that we get her on our podcast show. Thank you so much, Dawn, for coming to us today.
Dawn: Oh, you’re welcome. I’m excited to be here and I want to share what I know with everyone else out there, because if I could do this, anybody could do this.
Janine: Yeah, I know, right? Because you and I, like, I was trained as an analytical biochemist. Author was nowhere anywhere in my field of anything I was thinking about, because I was told by multiple college professors and several people that I really wasn’t a very good writer. And so, I had to get over that. In your case, you are right. Your book title is “The Spiritual Path to Prosperity… The Truth About Money Revealed”. So, in case anybody doesn’t know, when you start talking about money and then you talk about spirituality, these are two conflicting topics in most people’s worldview. Now, that’s an incorrect assumption.
For people like myself and Dawn, to us, they fit hand in hand. Your spiritual goals and your financial goals should be in harmony. However, they’re both things that we don’t like to talk about publicly. It’s a very intimate subject: money and spirituality. Both very private, very intimate. So, Dawn, talk to us a little bit about number one, why you decided to even start writing about this and taking the bull literally by the horn, spirituality and money and how some of the things that you learned about, not only the writing process, but what authors put up with when it comes to the finances of their book. So take it away. Talk to us.
Dawn: Okay. Sure. Well, this needed to be told. I’m kind of like a rebel, like a leader. So I’m like, “You know what, let’s get the two most controversial topics and put it out there. Put it in a book.” Because my mission is to show the people the truth about how money really works, and my whole life is a perfect example. I was born with a plastic spoon, not a silver spoon. I’ve been at the bottom and made it to the top, and I’m still climbing. There are always levels. You’re always going up to different levels. But as far as the book goes, well, the one thing is yes, it’s kind of like… Which should I start with? Start with the whole writing process or the financial side of it?
Janine: Definitely, let’s talk about how you wrote it because it wasn’t like you were just sitting on your heels kind of going, “Oh, what am I going to do next?” You had business you are running and you manage to write a book in the middle of this. Talk to us a little bit about how you carved out time to do that.
Dawn: Sure. It started like in 2018, I wrote two pages because I was just completely frustrated with my industry, all the hypocrisy. And I was like, “You know what?” So I just went and vented. And then I put it down because then I was studying for the CFP exam. So I was like, “I don’t have time for anything.” And then the pandemic hit and I was like, “You know what, it’s time to embrace myself, be who I really am, and I’m going to write a book. I’m going to finish the book.” So I started writing. I started sharing my story, which I got brave enough to do that because I realized here’s something else. Your story is your glory. So if you don’t know that yet, now you know it. So embrace your story. Don’t be embarrassed by it. Just love it, and that’s who you are.
Then I started going, “Okay. What am I going to write about? I need to know the truth about money, but I don’t want to write just another boring old financial planning book. Everybody has those out.” I’m like, “Let’s bring the spirituality into it. Let’s talk about my woo side. Let’s do a manifestation tool.” Which I learned from my spiritual coach, which totally transformed my life in ways I can’t even imagine. It’s just I’m living the dream and I’m still grateful for all that she taught me in that prayer. Then I was like, “Okay, let’s talk about money blocks because we need to know the proper tools to clear these. And then let’s get down to business.”
We talked about how to invest, and that’s very controversial because I make it so simple where other advisors want to complicate it. Oh, put this, put that in your portfolio. Do this. No, I’ll just gave you the simple tips. And the most important is, you want to work with an advisor too because we actually add 3% to your bottom line. So that’s kind of what I drive home. Even though it’s simple, you still need an advisor because it’s so simple that it’s hard to do. And the hard part is the emotions. Your emotions. You are to attach to your money. So you are going to be way too emotionally involved and make really bad decisions. So, my story talks about that. Then I talk about the basic, and it’s like for all levels of people. People who are living in scarcity mindset, I have advice for you. People who are now in the next stage like okay, they cleared the scarcity blocks. Now, what the hell they do with this money that they have?
I talked about creating a spending plan and getting out of debt. Then when you got that all figured out and you’re rolling in the dough, I talked about how to really supercharge your money and make it tax-efficient and creating your own bank. Then I give examples of how I’ve done this for other people. So we know it’s real. It’s not just pie in the sky. And it was tough. So that was August 2020. I started like really going on and I don’t really structure when I’m doing stuff because I’m such a creative and the spiritual side is like, oh, I got to put down an outline. So I would just write and then go make the outline. So I did it backwards. I had ideas in my head to be like, yeah, put them on paper. I’m like, “I don’t operate that way. I have them in my head and I’ll write them down. Then if I got to do this stupid outline, let me go summarize what I just wrote down.”
Then come September. Like, you know what? I’m finishing this by September 30. Well, that didn’t happen because I kept procrastinating. So, one thing I learned, time blocking. Block out time. Don’t just say I’m going to write this book by the end of the month because that didn’t happen. Then it was, “Okay, October, I’m going to get it done. Before the end of the year, I’m getting it done.” It didn’t happen because in the process of that, I started going on an investigation of do I really want to include this one portion in my book. I’m like, “It’s been written about a thousand times. What do I have to add to the conversation?” So I added my stories and added why you wouldn’t want to do this and why you would. So I made it my own because, again, I didn’t want to copy other people, and then again I got busy with work and everything.
And then finally, April 1 came. I don’t know if it’s April 1 or April 4. That was in my accountability group and we’re like, “Pick your goals for the month.” And I’m like, “You know what, April 30, this book is getting done. That’s it.” It was more secure and stronger than it was the previous month. And that deadline, I reached it. I did it on April 14. So I was super proud. So, what I learned is you have to stick to it and force yourself to do it because I would just give it. I was overwhelmed. Like, “Oh my God, how many in all are these pages that I’m typing? I’ve never written something this long.” But I went back to old blogs that I used and it just kept coming. I was like, “Okay, this works and it all work itself out.” Do you want me to talk about the marketing part?
Janine: Well, the thing that I would definitely like to chat about next is, so that was your process and it was like a couple of false starts. And so, that’s one of the things we really want to encourage with authors is that you’re going to have false starts. I mean, I’ve written 10 books. I’m working on book number 11, and I still have false starts, and it’s okay. So, number one, that’s okay. And number two, when I get ready to write a book, unless I see the book cover, I can’t write the book. And so I go to Fiver and I get somebody to write up to do the book cover.
Now, is that the book cover that we end up with when we publish? Absolutely not. But you know what? I’ve got that book cover and it’s stupid, but this is the way I operate. I paid the $25-$45 to have some wonderful graphic designer create a beautiful book cover, and I pin that up on my computer and it’s like time to get this done. And I have some false starts sometimes, but like you said, time blocking. So for you, time blocking was really important when you decided April was when you were going to get it done. What does time blocking mean to you as a writer? And I’d like to share my perspective on time blocking as well.
Dawn: Sure. I said, “Okay, every day for an hour on because I don’t really structure so much.” I said, “Okay, whatever time I have that free hour, I’m going to sit and I’m going to write on my book.” So that help. It helped me with myself not being so strict on okay, 9:00 a.m. you got a right till 10:00 a.m. They gave me that day. It’s like within that day I have to take an hour and that was doable for me.
Janine: Exactly. And some people are like me where I would get up super early and I would write from 4:00 a.m. until the first child woke up, because I was always writing with young children in the house and people were like, “Oh my god. When did you sleep?” Well, I went to bed when the kids did. Now my husband at the time, he was a little grouchy about that. I’m like, “Look, Friday night, Saturday night, Sunday night, I don’t write.” I don’t write the following morning. So anytime like that, that’s how we kind of worked it out when I was married.
So, that’s one of the things I like to share with people is every author ends up having to block time. It doesn’t matter how you do it or what your personality requires of you. But as long as you say, “oh, I’ll get to it eventually”, you never will even if you set like you said. You had deadlines even, and you were unable to meet those deadlines because you hadn’t done the discipline. And I remember discipline is not a dirty word for a writer. Discipline means we put our butt in the chair. That’s all it means. It doesn’t necessarily mean we write. Because there were times I was sitting there and I had so much going on in my head. I couldn’t get it onto the page. And so I was sitting with my butt in the chair and I was just rambling “Mary had a little lamb. Its fleece was white as snow.” I was writing crap. But at least I was writing. So, did you ever have that? Or were you able to get your thoughts a little more cohesive?
Dawn: Yeah. I got my thoughts because I had a broken down spiritual stuff, practical stuff. My biggest thing, I think, was I was afraid of success or afraid of failure. I forget which one it is. Because I was like, here I am stepping out into the world as a certified financial planner, and I’m going to bring spirituality into the conversation. No one has done this before. So that was fierce. And then I use the excuse of the last part of the book to hold me back. I’m like, “Oh, well, I’m not sure. I’m going to go do more research.” Even though I’m lying to myself. I knew full well all that research I already had, but I want to double check because again, I was afraid to get out there and step out there. So I think that’s what my problem was.
So releasing that fear, anything holding me back, because I realized if I didn’t get this inspiration…. There was a reason I got this inspiration. I had to share it with the world. So I wouldn’t have gotten this. The timing was right, so just go out there. I’m glad I did. I was shocked by all this positive feedback I’m getting. It’s amazing.
Janine: It is good. You know that you’ve hit your sweet spot when you think of an idea for a book. You know you’re supposed to write that book when you get excited. And a lot of times what happens is, as authors, we will allow the analytical side of our brain to totally shut down that creative and say, “Well, who would want to listen to it? Nobody really wants to hear from me.” You start having a fear of failure. You start having a fear of success. Oh my gosh, what if this really gets out there? People will start looking at me. I’m a fraud. And then I love what you said that the next thing is to let me do more research. I have heard that over and over from authors and I just want to let you know that is a trap.
And just like Dawn, she really knew her stuff already. She didn’t need more research. She just needed to get the silly book out there. So let’s talk about that. All right. So you got the book written. You’ve had your editor look it over. You’ve had your beta readers say “yes, it’s good. Go. Ship it.” You set it up. You print it. And now it’s selling on Amazon. Let’s talk about the money regarding a book. Yeah.
Dawn: Well, I hit number one bestseller on my first day. I work my butt off.
Janine: Congratulations, by the way. I’m just going to interrupt. Ooh, congratulations. Pom-poms.
Dawn: Thanks. So you think, “oh my God, this girl’s going to be rich.” No. Do you know how much money I make for each book I sell on Amazon? $2.99 in my 1999 book. And that’s from anywhere, like barnesandnoble.com, target.com. Now, if I sell it from my publisher’s website, I make $7. But if I go by the book and here, I didn’t know this. I have to buy books. I got it on a special. It was like 7.57. But now if I order under 10 books, I think it’s like 12.99 or 13.99. So, I don’t get to keep a big profit. And then when you go to try to sell to bookstores, they want a discount. One place wanted a 40% discount. I guess the publisher gives 30. I’m like, okay, I’ll give you 40. I think I made $4.24. I was like, “Oh, so you’re not only going to make money off of selling books, unless you’re selling millions of copies.” By the way, which I emailed Oprah. I’m still waiting two weeks later. Now, if I get on that, it’s also millions. And this is what I learn. You have to have a business kind of plan for your book, too.
So I just actually started now. I’m going to have two VIP days. So that’s going to help bring in revenue based on the book. And someone asked…
Janine: Wait a second. Well, I’m going to slow you down just because you’re talking really fast. You’re super excited and we love that about authors. When you’re excited and you’re wanting to share, that is pure gold. Thank you. But you’re saying VIP days. Now, what is that?
Dawn: It’s basically when you take a couple hours and go deep dive into your book. So what I’m going to use it is basically the money blocks. Those five biggest money blocks. How to clear them, how to recognize them and so they don’t hold you back. And then I’ll use the powerful manifestation tool on that. So it’s a deep dive of what I talk about in the book and it’s personalized to you and your situation. So we could learn the tools that we need to get us to the next level. So that’s what the first VIP day is. There are other VIP days which I haven’t created yet, but they’re there on the horizon.
Janine: And so, this is a different stream of revenue that can help support the revenue you’re getting from the book. But this is a stream of revenue that you would then offer. But you’re a certified financial planner. So, what kind of price point are you putting on these sorts of things?
Dawn: Well, for the VIP day for the three-hour one, it’s only going to be 797 and then I’m also going to create a course like an online course, so that’s the other thing about a book. Because like I said, unless you’re selling million copies, you’re really not going to make a lot of money. So you want to make sure your book is powerful, and it’s a teaching point where you could go create these VIP days, create master classes, create online courses. So that way you expand your book to actual business as well.
Janine: And that’s something that’s very important. Now, just to put this into perspective, I have been printing and publishing. I’ve been a self-published author since 2005. When I was first approached by a publishing company, they were going to give me ten cents per book. Okay? So, I know that Dawn is complaining about getting… What was your highest level? It was like $4 a book, $7 a book?
Janine: That’s insanely high relative to what was being offered earlier. So, just know that by the time I had completed my sixth book, I had a publishing firm coming to me and say they would offer me $1.25 on my book. So I gone up from 10 cents to a $1.25 for the book. Now, they would say things like we can do more promotion, we can get you into bookstores, and blah blah blah. So I realize the publishing firm takes from the author, but then you get into bookstores, right? It’s easier to do book signings, that sort of thing. However, it’s a double-edged sword. You’re still having to do all the marketing.
Dawn: Yeah, I didn’t know that. I thought it was going to happen. I had to hire a publicist too.
Janine: So, just to know for all the authors out there, whether you’re writing the story just because you have a compulsion to write the story and it’s going to help somebody. Whether it’s fiction, nonfiction, it doesn’t matter. Just realize you do want to have a little bit of a business mindset. Meaning don’t go into debt on your book and building your book out thinking that if you sell a million copies, you’ll be able to make it big because only one or three percent of authors are able to make a living just on their books. Okay? So 3% of authors make a living just writing. The rest of us have multiple streams of income, like VIP days. Dawn as a certified financial planner, this is how she is helping bolster the revenue that she has coming in, not only from our full-time business but also using the book as a revenue stream. Anything else you would like to share with us that was surprising to you as an author?
Dawn: Yeah. You still have to market it even when you have a publisher. That was getting in my way. What am I doing? What am I paying for? And then this is the good thing. I don’t know if anyone else, like from my cover, the publisher designed the cover. I originally was going to do my picture, but I had people tell me and this was I had to step out of my ego is that, no, who do you think you are? You’re not famous. You don’t just put yourself, your mug, on the thing. And I’m like, “Oh, well, I saw other people do it.” And they’re like, “No, you’re not freaking like Oprah. You are somebody. You don’t trample yourself out there.” I was like, “Oh, okay.” And I am so glad because I’ve gotten so much compliments on this cover. Like, there’s a $100 bill. There’s the path like it’s water. So the cover, I think, is also selling the book, and with my mug. Yeah, I’m pretty, but I don’t think I would have sold as much as I did by having this beautiful cover now. So, listen to people who are offering you advice and get your ego out of the way if you are someone like me who wanted to use your face on the cover.
Janine: Well, this is a typical of financial books though. I do want to defend Dawn here just a moment as somebody who’s written about money and worked with money for over 30 years as I help people with debt free living. The reason why so many financial people want to put their face on it is they see their book as a business card on steroids. They know that you have to know them, you have to like them, and you have to trust them if you’re going to do anything with your money. So, in Dawn’s defense, it’s a very standard operating procedure for financial books to have people on the front cover so you see the person that’s writing the story or writing the book to you.
So it was very commonplace, but that’s what makes her book yet again unique. She talks about the spiritual path to prosperity, but then she also has the fact that she has money on the front cover with a very peaceful view as opposed to her mug shot. And her publicist knew this would be a calling card for her. And so, yeah, you can get her beautiful face on the back cover and that is good enough and we love that. And yes, she is cute, by the way. She is very cute. You can’t see her, but she’s brilliant. She’s very pretty and brains too.
A lot of people are probably very jealous and envious of you at periods of time just because of that. But, you also are good with money. So let’s get back to that, having to market yourself. Alright? You had a publicist that you were paying for and so you’re like, “what am I paying for?” So talk to us a little bit about what you have found to be effective money that you laid down for your book and things that maybe you wouldn’t do the same when you write the next book.
Dawn: So let’s see. Well, the one I would do, actually the biggest bang for my buck didn’t cost me anything. What you need is you need your tribe. I’m a part of this group called Femme City. If it wasn’t for these girls sharing my post on social media, I don’t think I would have hit best-selling status. And then also, this was surprising to me too. Every time I signed someone’s book, I’d say, “Let’s take a picture and post it on Facebook.” Well, I posted one this past weekend and three or four people want my book now. So that’s another good marketing technique. Take pictures and video your life. That’s what I’m doing. I’m getting people to know me because I’m building my brand. So, people want to know you on social media.
Now, with the publicist, this is good because she said she submitted me for The Drew Barrymore Show and also Tamron Hall and some other people. So, I don’t really have those contacts and connections. So that was helpful. That still remains to be seen. And she got me into medium.com, The Path, some other articles too. And I’m also pitching myself too. There’s something called Help a Reporter Out and they’re always looking for certified financial planners. I just wrote something for CNBC about emotional investing. So I’m hoping they pick up that pitch because basically I told them, “Hey, I wrote the book on emotional investing. That’s one of the chapters.”
Janine: Exactly, and that’s HARO, Help a Reporter Out. And believe it or not, that’s how I got on MSNBC was because I was the same thing. I went on to HARO and was doing that and also got an opportunity to talk to the Oprah Winfrey Show. I didn’t make it.
Dawn: You can help me go.
Janine: Yeah, I didn’t make it on. They told me I wasn’t sexy enough for the show that they were doing and they were absolutely right. No, no, those producers know what they’re doing and they said it as a joke to me. We were having a great time on the phone. I said, “Dude, just the opportunity that you called me and even did a pre-interview with me. Thank you. I appreciate that.” Some producers know what they’re looking for. So if you get a no, don’t take it as a bad sign. Even just being able to be asked to get into a pre-interview is pretty awesome, right? It’s so cool.
Dawn: Oh my god. We got to talk offline, girl.
Janine: So, the thing is, when you are promoting yourself, that is something that was very uncomfortable for me. Dawn, I don’t know about you. But for me, I wasn’t raised in the selfie generation. I wasn’t raised smiling for a camera. And so, it was challenging for me as a highly introverted person who worked really well with money and as a scientist to take pictures. Like, I just didn’t remember to take pictures all the time. So what do you recommend for somebody who’s a little more introverted, who’s not a selfie queen, like some people are? Some people are really good at it. I, not so much. What do you recommend?
Dawn: Since I’m the complete opposite, I jump in front of cameras. If I wasn’t introvert, what would I do? I guess I wouldn’t be so self-conscious. I have a friend kind of like when we’re out to snap pictures, would want to pose and just like ordinary pictures. So it’s like very natural looking and you’re not so self-conscious. I guess that’s the one tip that I would do and it’s kind of really hard for me to talk about what an introvert would do since I am so extroverted.
Janine: No, that’s a brilliant tip. Grab a friend who doesn’t mind taking pictures, who’s very comfortable with the cell phone, because the cell phones nowadays, they’re better than some of the cameras you can buy for hundreds of dollars. So go ahead and take somebody’s pictures. I love the idea of taking pictures of you in a very relaxed way. And every time you sign a book for anybody, take a picture. And if necessary, do a cheat that Janine does because so many of the people I work with are much younger than me when they’re buying my books. What I do is I have them take the selfie on their camera and post it to their social media and tag me. And I asked them to do that and I’m not lying. I’m saying, ‘You’re going to look better if you do this rather than me.” And they start laughing and they call me a boomer and that’s fine. I don’t care. I’m thrilled that they’re able to get that information.
Dawn: I was going to head on to that. What’s good about that too, is like your whole feed isn’t just you. Oh, look, I did this to someone else’s. It’s on their feed. So it’s like, you’re not constantly like, oh, look at this girl. She’s a show-off. She signs all these books. Like someone else is bragging about you, and it’s going on to their feed too, so it’s going to get exponential views.
Janine: Yes, and it’s fun. You make it a party. You don’t stress about this. You’re very relaxed about it. So okay, Dawn, I’d love for you to wrap things up for us. Tell us the points that you were the most surprised about when your book went out. Now, first of all, we have to say congratulations on reaching number one bestseller list. I’m sorry. That’s like woohoo, congratulations! That’s great. But, what are some of the biggest surprises you had, and then what are the things that you would do different to wrap up the show today?
Dawn: Okay. I was surprised by the amount of money I had to pay for my own books to sell it. I’m like, “what?” I was thinking I’d only have to pay $3-$4 a book. No, the cheapest I got was like $7. I’m like, “what?” And then I was surprised that the little amount I get from the book sales and that each place gives you a different amount. Like, what the heck is going on with that? So those are my biggest tooth. And then that I had to actually market the book myself. So I was like, “Well, what is a publisher really do?” So, maybe what I would do since I was like basically going blind. I did have a book coach that I work with, but maybe do some more investigation on…
Luckily, at the right time, I met this woman who’s coaching me now to help me turn it into like a seven-figure business. But yeah, I kind of maybe do a little bit more research on the different options for the book and don’t always jump at the first thing that comes your way. But I have to say I’m pretty happy I get all turned out really well. And another big piece is because I use that manifestation prayer that’s in my book before I even did anything. Because honestly, I don’t have a clue what I was doing, how to write a book. I’m not a writer. I’m a freaking CFA. So I just attracted everything, the tools and the people that I needed right at the moment. And then, like I said, I’m still learning about how to expand forward and for my next books too, if that’s going to be a thing.
Janine: Oh, yeah, it’ll be a thing mainly because one of the things you learn about being an author is that the second book sells more of the first book, and the third book sells more. And so it builds on itself, the more books that you write. I’m somebody who’s written in four different genres of nonfiction. They help build each other. And so that just another thing. But I never saw myself as an author. That was one of those things that was kind of surprising. So, I just wanted to say, Dawn, thank you so much for taking time out of your incredibly busy schedule as you run around and doing this marketing. I appreciate you being on The Writers Hour today.
Dawn: Thank you. I enjoyed this and I hope it’s inspirational to everyone else out there.
Janine: Oh, yeah. The truth always is inspirational, isn’t it? When you get people on talking real and raw about the money of things and their data points is always helpful. So, this is Janine Bolon with The Writers Hour Creative Conversations. Just wanted to say we broadcast every Friday. I want you to know that we are going to be changing our broadcast schedule in the future. Stay tuned. We’ll let you know what’s going to be going on with that. But today we want to say thank you so much to Dawn, who is the author of “The Spiritual Path to Prosperity… The Truth About Money Revealed”.
If you are having money troubles and challenges with emotional blocks, this is the book you want to go and pick up. She deals it to you real and raw. So keep your feet formally planted on the ground. Keep time blocking those writing assignments for yourself and don’t forget to reach for the stars because we know you’ll make it. Have a great day.