What does it take to write a successful book? Rejection, patience & personal growth.
What does it take to write a successful book? Today’s guest, John David Mann, shares how he stepped into his career as a writer in his 50s and had his first book rejected over 20 times by publishers! He shares how he is grateful for these rejections because it allowed him to write a better book and become the writer he is today. John shares the story of his upcoming title Cold Fear, releasing June 7th, including the trials along the way!
In this episode we chat about:
John’s journey from writing parables to a crime thriller.
How leadership and leaders can make all the difference, good or bad.
Rejection, patience & personal growth.
Behind the scenes of writing a novel.
Growing your empathy through research and experience.
Why you should read “Cold Fear”.
And so much more!
John David Mann is coauthor of more than thirty books, including four New York Times bestsellers and five national bestsellers. His writing has won multiple awards, including the Living Now Book Awards Evergreen Medal for its “contributions to positive global change.” His first thriller, Steel Fear, has been nominated for a Barry Award. This year’s sequel, Cold Fear, was hailed by Jeffrey Deaver as “one of the best crime novels of the year.”
Connect with John David Mann!
(02:29) John introduces the difference between writing a parable and a thriller or crime novel.
(05:57) Steel Fear is both a thriller and a leadership novel, based upon real events.
(11:14) How leadership and leaders can make all the difference, good or bad.
(13:01) Why it took 13 years from the initial idea to launching the book.
(15:18) John’s first Go Giver book was rejected by 21 publishers!
(19:09) The challenge of writing a sequel to a best selling novel.
(21:00) The things you don’t see behind the scenes of writing a novel.
(25:00) Embracing patience in business and in writing.
(29:40) How research and experience creates empathy and pays off in writing.
(32:05) John began writing as a career in his 50s and dealing with disappointment.
(36:55) Why you should read Cold Fear.
book, write, people, fear, crime novel, brandon, finn, story, aircraft carrier, parable, iceland, books, read, pond, year, leader, character, steel, called, thought
John David Mann, Paula Shepherd
Paula Shepherd 00:01
Hi, I'm Paula Shepherd, I went to college to get a good job and make a lot of money. Back then, no one talked about doing what you love. And while I successfully climbed the corporate ladder, I felt like there was something missing. So I left the seemingly comfortable corporate world at 40 years old for the freedom of full time entrepreneurship. Today, I get to help ambitious women go from entrepreneur to competent CEO of their lives and businesses. I created this podcast to share what I've learned with you to make your journey just a little easier, and to connect you with other incredible business owners who took a chance on themselves and who they are becoming. So whether you're just getting started, are all in or just when you hear friendly voice, come on in and sit with us. Now, let's dive in. Welcome to another episode of the competent sessions. And today, I have the honour of reintroducing you to the incredible John David Mann. And if you remember from a couple of episodes back, he is the co author of more than 30 books, including four New York Times best sellers. You heard that right. And five national bestsellers. His classic 2008 parable, the Go Giver, which is co authored with Bob Berg earned the 2017 living now Book Awards, Evergreen metal for its contribution to positive global change. And today, he's here to talk to us about his upcoming release. Cold fear. Welcome to the competent sessions are back to the competence sessions, John.
John David Mann 01:55
Thank you. It's really, really good to be here.
Paula Shepherd 01:58
Oh my gosh. Okay, so this book is something really new for you. And it's a shift into writing a thriller, a new type of novel, I know that you've done a lot of parables before in the past. And before we hit record, you described this book, and this series steel fear was the first as a gigantic parable can give us a little bit of background and insight into what that means.
John David Mann 02:28
Yeah, I mean, well, first of all it is it is hugely different. I didn't even know I think when I started just just how different a path this is. This isn't like reading a different kind of book. This is like a whole different kind of career, different kind of activity, sort of like climbing. I was saying to you earlier climbing and the you know, the gentle sloping hill in your neighbourhood Park, versus scaling Mount Everest. For years, my wife used to tell me you'd be graded as a novelist. And I would think you've got to be kidding me. It seemed. To me the idea of writing a novel seemed like an insurmountable mountain. How do people do that? I couldn't imagine it. I honestly was so intimidated by the idea, like 400 pages, you keep track of all these characters and all these plot lines, and you make up all this stuff. And how do you do that? So I thought it was an impossible thing. And now here I am, I'm, you know, I'm working on my third right now I'm about to release the second. It is different. I've, as you say, over 30 books, and they were all nonfiction though I wrote memoirs, I will business books, I wrote parables, as you know, which are like little stories that illustrate particular principles. This is a whole new whole new beast. And I came into it really through my friendship with Brandon Webb, former Navy SEAL, we'd written a bunch of nonfiction books together. I wrote his memoir red circle, which was my first New York Times bestseller actually. And we wrote, I think, seven books. And you know, one after the other, all nonfiction, memoirs of other seals, he'd known military memoirs, books about principles to apply in life in business. One about mastering fear, one about total focus. But way back when we first started talking, he said to me one day, would you ever be interested in writing a novel writing a thriller? And I immediately my voice said, Yes, of course. And my brain was going no, you don't know how to do that. Possible. But so we kind of held that thought for a decade and then we finally we co wrote steel fear the first one last year, and we co wrote this one we're a writing team for these these thrillers. And it's funny they, so they are in a way, like gigantic parables to me, steel theory, the first one that came out a year ago. It's on the face of it. It's a thriller. It's a crime novel. It's a story about a disgraced traumatised Navy SEAL who stole serial killer, aboard an aircraft carrier in the midst of the Pacific Ocean. It's like a gigantic locked room mystery. Only the locked room is a ship the size of the Empire State Building with 6000 people on board. Wow. So this is a crime novel. But it's also a leadership parable. It's also a book about leadership disguised as a crime novel. So yeah, I wrote a piece in, in crime rates, the online journal about my descent into crime fiction. And now it's kind of like it's kind of like a parable.
Paula Shepherd 05:42
All right, so you mentioned that this novel is a leadership novel, that is actually disguised as a crime novel, which I'm having a really hard time wrapping my head around.
John David Mann 05:59
Yeah, yeah. So this is the first book, steal fear that we're talking about. And it's, it was inspired by a series of true events, inspired by it's it's, it's takes them quite a bit further in fiction than they were in fact, but Brandon was serving on a on an aircraft carrier back in the mid 90s. Before he was a seal. He was a rescue swimmer, and a sonar operator on a on a helicopter crew. And it was when women had just been integrated on board on ships cruise back in, say, the mid 90s. So he was in one of the very first deployments where they had female jet aircraft, pilots, fighter fighter pilots, who were who are women. And they had this whole sort of cultural dilemma or they shifted, they were grappling with, you know, how do you how do you house, hundreds of women along with 1000s of men aboard this ship for months at a time, they hadn't done this before. So it was a culture shock in some ways. And on that deployment, there was a series of strange events, there was a sexual predator on board, there was a guy who would sneak into the women's restroom, bathroom areas, switch off the lights, shower areas, switch off the lights and go in and grab somebody and then run oh my gosh, and it was It was horrifying. And what made it even he did this over and over 567 times. What made her even more horrifying once they never caught him. They never knew who it was. And eventually it stopped. And that was it. I was never, you know, never went anywhere after that. And at the time, Brandon thought, what if these were murderers, because as as buttoned down as the as a naval culture is they were in no way shape or form equipped to deal with sort of domestic violent crime or assaults of crime like that. So it was it was just a horrifying situation. So he had this idea of a serial killer on an aircraft carrier that he carried, you know, for a couple of decades, until he and I put it into into action. So on that carry on that deployment, Brandon experienced just all kinds of misery. Place was a wreck that people were miserable, there was fighting there was bickering place wasn't kept, well, it was kind of dirty, it was just really an awful experience. A year later, he went on a second tour on a different aircraft carrier. And he thought, Oh, this is going to be just 1000 times worse. The first carrier was a brand new nuclear vessel, you know, he's like the best in his class. And that was going to was really terrible. This was an a much older carrier, an oil burner, not a not a new carrier, and it was just going to be miserable. And it was fantastic. It was great. It was the six months of like heaven, he was just stunned at how time flew and what a fantastic experience it was. And he thought about it later. And he realised the only difference was the captain. That was it. The captain and the second carrier took time out every day to get on the PA system, the one MC they call it and talk to the whole crew until it may alert them inspire them and tell them what was going on where they were going that day what they were doing. highlight certain individuals or departments the unit for praise and give them a pep talk and just basically include them in what it was this mission was all about. When that first deployment, he never heard the captain's voice once on the PA system. The guy was just a weak leader. He wasn't a villain, but he was just mediocre leader. And Brandon's you know, Brandon saw was the same thing that I've seen in business, which is that the person at the top of the organisation can completely determine the spirit quality behaviour, attitude and culture of the whole organisation. It's just such a powerful position. So, we brought I brought that into the store and we brought that into this story. You know, in steel fear, there is a real villain. There is a seriously evil character or who is doing very, very terrible things to innocent people. Yeah, he's a serial killer. But there's another villain two different kinds of villain, which is the captain who's not an evil man. But he's a mediocre leader. And it's his abdication of leadership, his default of leadership. That is what allows this this horrifying plot to unfold. Yeah, so it's leadership Great and Terrible. That's kind of the the, the subtext of the novel,
Paula Shepherd 10:34
and I was getting getting chills while you're talking about it, because I've had experiences with leaders like that. And leaders do make all of the difference when you can pull the right people together. And the the connection that you just made to the way that when people run businesses, yeah, it's really probably made people's ears perked up while they're listening to this. The lesson in that is so powerful. And I think what your sounds like what your novel is really, demonstrating is just how bad things can get when people don't step in, that have that power and responsibility.
John David Mann 11:13
People who step in who seriously put the interests of their people of the crew first, like that's their first priority. And in the in the book and steal fear and the original book, I'll give an audio visual aid, steel fear for those of you at home who are saying this steel fear. There's not only the captain, who is a terrible leader, but there's also a finish the hero of the story finished the CEO of the damaged traumatised CEO. Finn also has memory of an of another captain, in his past, who was the opposite who was exemplar who was fantastic. That's modelled very much on the captain that Brandon actually experienced in real life, we've been given the same name, actually. So there's these two different captains one, the President and one in his flashbacks in the story. There's also a command master chief in the story, he was another kind of leader, there's a there's a helicopter, Squadron CEO, commanding officer, who is another kind of leader, there about half a dozen different leaders, people in leadership positions in the book, that are kind of a range of different qualities and examples of leader. So it's almost like an operating manual of leadership, The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly.
Paula Shepherd 12:25
Oh, so for everybody that's listening to personal development books and reading those, nothing wrong with it. But here's your opportunity to shift and get the same theme, and a lot of lessons in between. I am really actually very curious and want to kind of go back to something that you said when we first started, which was when you and Brandon first chatted. And he asked you if you would write this book use found yourself saying yes, and your head said no. And then it took 10 years to actually get the first book written and off the ground. Why such a long delay? You know,
John David Mann 13:01
great question. And I guess there's really a couple of reasons. And I wouldn't, I wouldn't know which is primary. One of them is we needed to clear our calendar. I mean, for me to write that first novel, it was like a two year enterprise. Maybe even more than that, really, because it wasn't just writing the book, it was learning how to write a novel and writing the book. I had written over two dozen and almost three dozen books at that point. So I had a feeling for how to write a book, but not this kind of book. So it took me two years to write this thing. And I needed to have the runway clear. And I think that the other reason is that I needed to be a more matured writer, I needed to just develop my chops. I don't think that when Brandon first said it, I don't think I was ready to write a novel out of the ghost writer right into that novel, I think I needed the time. And the growth really to, to grip onto it and and carry it off. That's fine. So that that one took two years, then now we're about to bring up the second one, which has taken one year called cold fear. That was coming out on June 7. So it's imminent. We'll talk about that one too. And right now I'm working on the manuscript for the third one, which I have about six months to write. So this is a telescoping timeframe.
Paula Shepherd 14:23
But you're obviously getting better at it. So the overall not there's no you're doing it. Look at it. Look at your track record.
John David Mann 14:32
That's right. These are the confidence sessions, not the hopes, yes, the
Paula Shepherd 14:35
confidence sessions, not the doubtful sessions. Exactly. But but you so it took 10 years, and I'm sure that there were some things that you wrestled with and now one year for this second book. And now you said you're writing another one and so for people that are listening to understand that one, people are not always an overnight success. I think it's probably easy to look at You and your accomplishments and say, oh my gosh, I, I want that. And I want it next week, or I want it in three months. And the reality is it does take time, and it does take some self discovery to get to that point.
John David Mann 15:18
Let me give you a great example. The you know, I've told this story before, possibly on your podcast, I can't recall. But the first go giver book, which was really my first published book, back in the late 2000s 2008. That book, when we first brought it to publishers, was turned down 21 times 21 different editors in New York said, love it. But no, it's not for us, or I like to wait storage, but it kind of falls in the middle or I like where you're going with this, but I'm not sure the ending works. Or they also have various ways of saying no, go away. We don't want your book. We're not publishing it as a 21 rejections. And, you know, the, the moral of that story is not just be persistent. And eventually you'll succeed. The moral of the story is those 21 editors were right, actually, because the book wasn't ready. If one of them had said, Yes, you never would have heard of it, we wouldn't be doing this podcast, I wouldn't have this career. Because the book wasn't ready. It had good ideas in it, it had the potential of that book in that manuscript, it was like a gem that was still really rough and muddy and dirty and scuffed. And we spent, you know, 910 months, covering every page with red ink, revising that book, distilling it down, focusing it, getting it clear up taking out a lot. And then eventually, number 22 says yes, and the book has sold over a million copies. So that was an overnight success that took that long to to create, and this million copies didn't happen in year one, by the way, they have been over a decade. So fast forward to steal fear, the first novel, when I finished the manuscript, first draft. I showed it to our agent, and she said, this is this is great, you know, you know, you have to cut it. It was 151,000 words. She said you got to cut up to 1000 100,000. Well, wait a second, do that math 150,000 to 100,000. I said You mean like we're taking every third word. How does that work? It was so far from ready. Thank God, we had that agent who was also a brilliant editor. If if any publisher had said yes to that manuscript, which they wouldn't have. But if they had, it wouldn't have been nominated for a very award. Publishers Weekly would not have called it one of the best crime novels of the year, it would not have made a splash and really only child would have not put the endorsement on the cover. You would have never heard of it. And again, I would not have a career as a novelist. It wasn't ready. It was good. But it wasn't ready. And so we had to take it from 150,000 words to 100,000 words. I cut out whole characters, whole plotlines, there's some characters that I love dearly, with all my heart some scenes that I thought were the best scenes in the book. But they weren't the best scenes in the book. They were extraneous. They were superfluous. They were unneeded. And they, they hit the floor. And so paring it down to 100,000 words felt like cutting flesh off my arms and legs sometimes. But it made a better book, it made a better book. And that's what it's, you know, that's what kind of personal growth is like, you know, you sometimes you pare away parts of yourself that you're really attached to, but you end up a better person. And so that was the story of of steel fear. It was my graduate course, in how to write a novel, and also writing a novel. So with a second book now, here we are the sequel called fear. The challenge with that was, well, what do you do for an encore? You know, after the first book, can you do it again? So it's been really it's been challenging, but it's been an absolute joy to write. And it didn't take two years. And it didn't take the first draft that I turned in. We had to make some changes, but there were no nowhere near as draconian as in the first book.
Paula Shepherd 19:30
Did you know when you wrote steel fear, when you you and Brandon wrote co wrote it that you were going to have a sequel that this was going to be a series?
John David Mann 19:38
We absolutely planned for it. We intend that was our intention. When the publisher made us an offer, made first made the offer to buy the book, they said we wanted to book deal. So they actually came to us with a two book deal which we were so thrilled about that because that's what we wanted to do. We wanted this to be a series. This is a big story, the story of Finn the seal is is a real it's a quest. It's it's a hero's quest. It's a saga. And every one of the books, individual books has its own plotline. It's like it's like a season of a television show. It has its own arc that gets resolved. There's there's a series of murders that gets worked out, there's a killer who's found their, you know, mysteries to be solved and clues to be unravelled. But there's also a larger arc defends whole story, which I don't know how many books that's going to take to work out, maybe five, maybe six, maybe seven, I just I'm not sure yet. But we're going to number three right now. And number two is about to hit the shelves.
Paula Shepherd 20:39
Oh my gosh, what surprised you most about the book in general cold fear. Whether it's the characters, something that came out as you were writing some collaborative experience, I mean, give us all the juicy goodness that we don't see when we read the words on the page.
John David Mann 21:00
So some of this is tough to do without spoilers, but I'll say this, to start with steel fear all took place on an aircraft carrier, which is, by the way, one of the most bizarre alien environments you can imagine, most people don't have any idea what that including me any idea what that environment is, like 6000 people showed up in a steel tube, the size of the Empire State Building, laying on his side and dropped in the water for six months. So one of the big challenges in that book was to describe and accurately describe the environment of the aircraft carry the physical environment, the cultural environment, the social environment, to describe that, in such a way that people in the military who live that life would go Yeah, yeah, he got it right. And also so that you and I, and people who'd never experienced that would really experience it would feel it would get it, you know, I needed to put the reader on that aircraft carrier. So Book Two, we were looking for what's the strange environment we're gonna go to here. And Brandon told me about a trip he'd taken to Iceland, where he'd gone diving down into a crevasse, which is between deep in the water, ice cold water in a spot where he could touch with his two hands, the two continental plates that hold up the Americas and Eurasia. It's the only place on the planet Earth, where you can literally touch two continents at once. And Iceland, I thought this is that's our next book, Iceland. Iceland is such an unusual, strange, alien environment, both physically, like the volcanoes and the glaciers and the and the earthquakes. And also, culturally, it's a fascinating place. The language is fascinating that people are passing, oldest functioning democracy on the planet. first female head of state on the planet, lowest crime rate on the on the planet, which we had fun with, because we took that crime rate up by
Paula Shepherd 23:04
John David Mann 23:07
So we set the book in Iceland, and one of the big challenges for me was, I've never been to Iceland, your writing is the middle of COVID I couldn't fly to Iceland. I had to learn Iceland get into that culture and and give it to you so accurately that people who live in Iceland would go Yeah, I recognise this. And people like you and me would say, Now I know what Iceland is like. So that was really, it's like in the first book, the aircraft carrier almost became a character in the novel. In this book, Iceland becomes a character in the novel called fear. It takes place during the week between Christmas and New Year's, during a cold snap in Reykjavik, which is the northern most capital city in the world, just almost touching the Arctic Circle. And Finn is there on a mission hunting for answers to his troubled past and to memory gaps that he has. When he gets embroiled in a in a mysterious drowning of a young woman that happens on in the prologue of the book.
Paula Shepherd 24:14
Oh my gosh. So one thing that I am hearing you say without you saying it out loud, is you have an incredible amount of patience, something something I have been learning my entire life. Whether it's the writing of the book, the collaborative piece of it, the research that you've had to do, how have you managed Have you always been patient first of all, and how have you managed to become more patient so that you can write these amazing novels and the nonfiction books and parables that you've written over the years?
John David Mann 24:56
First of all, you're absolutely right that it does take to me it takes great pay Since I am not one of these writers who sits down on page one and just starts spitting and it goes bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum bum, the way Mozart used to write music, I'm more like the way Brahms used to write music torturing over a feline. And sometimes it flows. But it mostly, it's a fairly difficult process to, you know, Stephen King describes I interrupt myself, but Stephen King describes the writing process reading stories, he says, To him, a story is an already existing artefact, it's almost like you're an archaeologist, where you're carefully scrambling the dirt to unearth something that's already there intact. And your task is to get it out of the earth without without breaking it without messing it up. That is exactly how it feels, to me only is less out of the earth and more out of the air, it feels to me like I'm trying to come up with a story like this, that I am trying to pull this thing that already exists, there's like a story that has its integrity to it, I'm trying to pull it out of the ether out of the atmosphere out of the air. And, and, and give it substance, get it down onto the page, without messing it up without destroying the process. It's like putting smoke in your pocket. And it feels to me excruciating ly difficult, particularly in the early stages of the process. So part of the fun in a novel is the research. Because while you're going through this process of of trying to get a sense of what the story is, what is the plot? Why did this woman die? Where is Finn search going? What is this character all about? While you're trying to kind of get those and nobody can tell you, you can't go look it up. You have to just sort of sit there patiently and grope for it try to feel it. It's like It's like throwing a fishing line in a pond. It's poke totally still waiting for the bite. While you're doing that, you can also be over here, digging through reams of material just learning and learning and learning and learning about this strange alien environment. Which is which is really fun. Because there and I think that a huge part for me of writing a novel is research. Partly to get fats, but partly because when you bump into strange ideas that you didn't expect, they give you ideas for the story. And I'll give you an example. I knew that cold fear opened with somebody drowning. I just had the sense of that. I've always been afraid of the water. I'm not a swimmer. I don't love swimming. I can do it. But I don't love it. I've always and Brandon, my Navy SEAL friend is a seal these guys like we're born in the water. Right? And he was he grew up on the shore and he just water is like his natural element. I find that bizarre and so I you know, drowning fascinates me. So I knew that the story began with this woman, this young woman drowning, didn't know why. And I knew that at the end of the story, there was a titanic struggle that took place in a frozen lake in an effort not to drown. But I wasn't sure know where she's going to drown. I started researching Reykjavik in the middle of the winter, and I discovered that there was this pond right in the middle of the town. But of course the pond is frozen, thick ice, how are you going to drown in a pond is covered with ice. And I was poking around this pond online. And I stumbled upon this really cool fact that keep the northeast corner of the of the pond thought all through the winter for the ducks. I thought oh, that's where she goes, she goes she slipped into that northwest corner under the ice and drowns. And in the prologue of the book, that's what you see. That's what happens. And it kicked off the whole plot this weird fact that I stumbled on this duck pond kicked off the whole thread that unravelled through the rest of the planet. So it's it's a really fun process. It's almost like a treasure hunt.
Paula Shepherd 28:59
It sounds like it I'm I'm already like I have to go I have to read the rest of the book because I have the pleasure of reading you know a little bit of it but not finishing it. I don't like to do a tonne of research when I'm having conversations with people for this reason I love hearing the way that you approach things versus me kind of looking at at it from surface level and the fact that you don't particularly enjoy swimming and have always been fascinated with drowning, but then had to research what that felt like. Do you have to almost like an actor would feel the feelings of the character in order to write that piece and make it believable?
John David Mann 29:39
Yeah, I think you absolutely do. One of the things the early reviews of the book one thing has been really gratifying for me is that some reviewers have especially pointed out the female characters said really really well drawn female characters. And I love that because I don't happen to be be a female character myself. And yeah, and what do you know and it's it's mean it's, it's, you know, people have asked how do you write? How do you write? You know, a woman so convincingly and you can just as easily ask how do you write, you know, an old person, a young person A, you know, a black person, an Asian person, a paraplegic, an astronaut, surgeon? I mean, how do you write anybody who isn't you? And make a convincing? I think the answer is empathy. I think that you really need to it's not study per se, it's not an intellectual process. I think to be to be a convincing writer probably is the same tricks. You need to have to be a convincing actor, although I don't know about acting. That's not my field, but and that is, you have empathy. I don't I don't I look back at myself as a young man. And I don't see a particularly empathetic person you asked about, I've always been patient. No, I look at my 20 year old self as a very impatient, impetuous, ambitious, not particularly empathetic person, not cruel, but I don't think I'd really developed much. I didn't have a lot of self knowledge. I don't think and I don't think I had a lot of other knowledge of people. So, you know, catastrophes and tragedies and hardships, I think, have kind of blunted some of that early impetuousness and, you know, made me feel more for people. You get people more, when you go through hard experiences in life, rejections and failures and deaths of people close to you, and betrayals and things like that. All those things, I think they can make you just bitter. But if you embrace them, they make you more empathetic. They make you more appreciative of the human condition. And I think that's what it's, you know, that's the primary toolkit you need as a writer.
Paula Shepherd 31:56
How young were you when you started writing professionally,
John David Mann 32:00
you know, actually came late to it. I've sort of been dabbling. I've been editing other people's stuff my whole life. You know, in all the other careers I've been in, I've been in nutrition and health, and I was a classical musician was my original career. And I've done I've been in sales, and I've been an entrepreneur, and I've been in publishing, I've done a whole bunch of different things. But I always seem to be the guy who was editing other people's stuff, editing the newsletter editing the circular editing the article. I didn't really start writing myself my own stuff until, you know, after the year 2000. It's been in my second half of my life. In my 50s, yeah. It's a new career. For me this writing thing?
Paula Shepherd 32:44
Did you ever imagine that you would have success with your writing that you love doing so much?
John David Mann 32:52
When we wrote the Go Giver? Yes. We both Bob and I co authored that with a friend named Bob. Bob Berg. Yes, we both imagined that that would that wouldn't be be huge. We didn't have any any reasonable expectation, any reasonable evidence that that would be the case. But we absolutely expect that I expect that of the Facebook's, I always expect my my books to be to be huge. They aren't all. So I get disappointed.
Paula Shepherd 33:18
How do you deal with disappointment?
John David Mann 33:21
You know, it is painful sometimes after, you know, as I said, the Go Giver has sold over a million copies. That's lovely. But I've also had books that didn't sell over a million copies didn't sell anywhere close to that, you know, didn't sell over 10,000 copies. Dealing with a disappointment is very difficult, because I love every one of these books are like my children. If I didn't love it, I wouldn't write it in the first place. I know writers who say Oh, I can't read my own stuff, and I have no comprehension of what they're talking about what you can't read your own. If you didn't, I love every sentence and steal fear and cold fear. If I didn't, if I didn't love them, I wouldn't put them on paper or I wouldn't leave them there for you to read. So when when when a book doesn't reach a big audience, I'm grievously disappointed. And it's just like all the disappointments in life, you just embrace it. And it becomes a part of deepening your character and giving you motivation to do better.
Paula Shepherd 34:15
But I think when you believe in what you're doing, and what you're writing, whether it's writing or you know, anything else that people are doing that are listening to this episode, if you have to believe in it first before anybody else does, and you have to be doing it because that's what you love and not because you're you want some recognition or something from someone else. And I think that really makes all the difference. It doesn't mean that your books I am a firm believer and truly believe that there are probably books that you have written that didn't do as well John that have the potential with cold fear to re ignite people's fascination and desire to read more of your things for It doesn't mean that it won't ever happen. It just means that wasn't the right moment for it. But we see that happen so often with with people and artists and musicians.
John David Mann 35:11
Absolutely, absolutely. You know, one of my favourite stories in the publishing world is John Grisham, you know, his first novel at time to kill? You know, I don't think I don't think it sold over 5000 copies. I mean, it was it made barely a ripple in the pond of publishing. And then the second book came out a little, a little novel called The firm which got made into a movie, which probably every every breathing soul on the planet has seen. And the movie was, it was a huge hit. And when the firm became a hit, people went back and read the time to kill, and then it became a hit. And then they made that into a movie, which was a phenomenal movie with Samuel Jackson. And Matthew McConaughey. And so and so yeah, sometimes, you know, a later a later, breakthrough sheds new light on on earlier efforts. That's true in business. That's true. And just in life, it's certainly true in publishing. But that's okay. Every every new writing experience is a new opportunity to I don't know how to say it's definitely but just get better. Just get better. You know, Neil Gaiman says this beautiful thing, wonderful novelist that he admired very much was talking to him once and asked me Oh, how it was going. He was reading American Gods, I think. And he said, I think I'm I think I've learned how to write how to write novels. And his friends said to him, hold on. No, no, no, You never learn how to write novels, you only learn how to write the novel you're writing.
Paula Shepherd 36:34
John David Mann 36:37
I think there's great wisdom in that.
Paula Shepherd 36:40
It's so true. I think that's true with pretty much everything in life. This is incredible. All right, so cold fear. Why should we read it? Why should we read it? We're jumping back there. Why should we read it? This is
John David Mann 36:53
well, a couple of reasons. If you read steel fear, then you really want to know what happened, what's going to happen with Finn, where's his life going? Finn is a is a, in some ways, he's a lost soul. And in some ways, he's a hero. And he's becoming more and more fascinating to me every time. Coming up with a character of Finn took me a couple of years. And that and the, the inspiration of Finn, or the birth of Finn, was what set writing the book in motion. That's what got Brandon and me actually in gear to write the first book was Finn the character. So yeah, you want to be called fear, because you want to know what happened to Finn. But here's another reason. When you read the prologue, and if you're if you get steel fear, by the way, steel fear is coming out in paperback in a couple of weeks. The original book, so once, if you get steel fear, in the back of the book that are the first few chapters of cold fear, Book Two, if you read the beginning of cold fear, you can read about this woman who drowns in the pond, you're gonna want to know, why does she do this? Why did why did this poor, poor thing drown? And, uh, you don't find out till the end of the book, you're gonna have to read the whole book to find out why she drowned. And I, but I will tell you this. It's a tragedy. But it's also there's also phenomenal redemption in that there's it's also phenomenally heroic. And neither Finn nor the reader is going to really know what that what that's all about until you get to you get right to the end. So
Paula Shepherd 38:27
it's already been nominated already been nominated for a very award. If if someone's not sure, and they haven't hit the Google search bar yet to figure out what that is. Can you just share with us what that means for this novel?
John David Mann 38:40
The Burien word? Yeah, it's a it's an award. This is it has several categories, as so many awards do. This is that in particular, this is actually for for steel fear, the first novel, and this is we were we're one of 10 books nominated for Best first crime novel in, you know, I guess it's in the world, but probably English language. And it's, it's a award created by readers, not by not by, you know, publishers or by any big institution. So yeah, it's kind of like Screen Actors award sad awards for actors, the SAG Awards,
Paula Shepherd 39:17
incredible, incredible. All right, so you're going to be going on tour, you're gonna go on a book tour, this book is releasing cold fear on June 7, which is not that far off from
John David Mann 39:29
not that far off.
Paula Shepherd 39:31
Where can people go to preorder called fear?
John David Mann 39:36
Well, we've got a site for the book simply called cold fear, the book.com called fear the book.com. You can also get it you know, wherever books are sold, and we are going on a book tour. It's not a huge tour. Like I've been inundated with letters from friends saying, Why are you coming to my city? We're very sorry, we can't go to every city. We're going to New York City. We're going to Houston going to Dallas, Miami. A Portland it's all on the site called fear the book.com. The tour is actually on the site. And we are actually adding new events continuously. So that will that will continue to grow but, but the book itself you can find on the site. And wherever you'd like to buy books
Paula Shepherd 40:15
called fear the book.com. Go check out all of John's books, including steel fear, and his newest book, releasing June 7, cold fear and go see if you can check him out at one of his book tour locations. John, it is always such a pleasure to connect with you have a conversation and just really learn from you.
John David Mann 40:37
It's always a pleasure, Paula, thank you for having me back.
Paula Shepherd 40:39
You're so welcome. All right, everyone. I will see you next week on another episode of the competence sessions. Don't forget to go check those show notes and get your copy of cold fear. Thank you for listening to this episode of the competence sessions. I know there are hundreds of 1000s of podcasts and I'm so grateful that you chose to spend your time today with me. Head on over to the courage blueprint.com forward slash podcast to check out the show notes from today's episode, and grab links to all the amazing goodies mentioned today. If you love this episode, as much as I love making it, make sure you don't miss out on any future ones by hitting the subscribe button right now. See you next time.