EP 61 - Otakara Klettke - An Inspiring Self-Publishing Success Story
|Awesomers Origin - We'll talk to an Awesomer about where they came from, the triumphs and tribulations they have faced and how they are doing today. An Awesomer Origin story is the chance to hear the backstory about the journey our guest took on their road to become awesomer. These stories are incredibly varied and the takeaway is that awesomers come in all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, creeds, colors and every other variation possible. On your awesomer road you will face adversity. That’s just part of life. The question as always is how YOU choose to deal with it.
|Otakara Klettke was a very sickly child who couldn’t even carry her books to school. She managed to escape special diets, constant visits to a doctor, surgeries and hospital stays and become a personal fitness trainer, adventurer and TV reporter while keeping her body in top shape since growing up.
She talks to and listens to her body. In her book, “Hear Your Body Whisper,” she shares how she said no to the limitations of her health problems, left doctors in the dust, and started living life to the fullest.
Currently, she lives on a ranch with her husband and daughter by the beautiful Cascade mountain range in Oregon, raising too many pets and taking every chance to go on road trips with her home-schooled daughter.
An Inspiring Self-Publishing Success Story
Not everyone is born into equal circumstances but as long as you have passion, faith and dedication, you can do anything you want in this life.
On today’s podcast, we are joined by Otakara Klettke, author of the book Hear Your Body Whisper. Otakara shares her transformative story as a young girl from what was then Czechoslovakia, coming to a foreign country, and fulfilling her dream of becoming an author. Here are more awesome takeaways on today’s episode:
The inspiring story of Otakara’s father as a musician in World War II
How she self-published her first book
Her advice to aspiring authors
And why you have to take action one day at a time and stop worrying about things you don’t have control over.
So put on your headphones and be inspired by Otakara’s amazing story of survival and success.
01:17 (Steve introduces today’s guest, Otakara Klettke author of the book Hear Your Body Whisper.)
05:29 (Otakara shares how she came up with her first book.)
14:28 (Otakara talks about her origin story.)
26:14 (The defining moment in Otakara’s life that put her in the path she is in today.)
35:09 (The production lessons Otakara had to learn working on her first book.)
Welcome to the Awesomers.com podcast. If you love to learn and if you're motivated to expand your mind and heck if you desire to break through those traditional paradigms and find your own version of success, you are in the right place. Awesomers around the world are on a journey to improve their lives and the lives of those around them. We believe in paying it forward and we fundamentally try to live up to the great Zig Ziglar quote where he said, "You can have everything in your life you want if you help enough other people get what they want." It doesn't matter where you came from. It only matters where you're going. My name is Steve Simonson and I hope that you will join me on this Awesomer journey.
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01:17 (Steve introduces today’s guest, Otakara Klettke, author of the book Hear Your Body Whisper.)
Steve: You are listening to episode number 61 of the Awesomers.com podcast series. Now what does that mean? That means you can go to Awesomers.com/61 to find any of the show notes and details related to today's episode. Now today my special guest is Otakara Klettke. And she as a young child was very sickly so much so that she couldn't even carry her own books to school. Now she wrote a book called Hear Your Body Whisper where she shares how she basically said no to the limitations of her own health problems, left doctors in the dust and started to live her own life to the fullest. Currently, she lives on a ranch with her husband and daughter, a beautiful cascade mountain range in Oregon raising lots and lots of pets. We're going to talk about that for sure. And taking every chance possible to go on road trips with her homeschooled daughter. Now how'd she do it? She basically you know said no and she escaped that special diet, constant visits to the doctors, surgeries, hospital stays and she went on to become a fitness trainer, adventurer and even a TV reporter all while keeping her body in top shape since growing up. So this is a really transformative story and I'm glad that you guys are here to join us. And I know that you're going to take something away from Otakara’s story. I do want to mention that we had some technical issues with bandwidth here so some of the audio is a little choppy and it was a little tough for us to do because of some bandwidth issues but it's still very tight overall and I know that the engineering team will do everything they can to make it sound as good as we can for you. But just know that it's not up to our our usual standards and we're doing the very best we can.
Hey Awesomers, welcome back. It's me Steve Simonson and we're back again on the Awesomers.com podcast and today I have a very special guest, Otakara Klettke. Otakara, is that right?
Otakara: That’s correct. Good job. It's lovely to be here.
Steve: It's not only my pleasure but I would like to mark another name down in the win column for me because I'm not that good at names and I feel like I got close enough for you to say that it’s in the zone, so thank you for that. So Otakara I want to just ask you to tell us even though I've just read in your bio and the audience kind of has a sense of who you are from the big picture, in your own words maybe you could share kind of what you're doing day to day? What takes your time up as we are speaking today?
Otakara: I am a self-published author, self-publishing author so that's my main, what I call my main work, my main job. I've also been homeschooling my daughter so besides of actually like being the authorpreneur, I also am a mom who is just homeschooling her 11 year old daughter and we have unhealthy amount of pets almost.
Steve: Unhealthy amount of pets. Now I was going to draw the line at maybe five there but I'm honored, is it plus or minus five?
Otakara: Well we have five dogs then we have things like three guinea pigs, snake, two aquariums, frog and outside we have beehives and chickens.
Steve: Wow that is, well you got a whole menagerie going there. Obviously it sounds like it's something that's fun for you and may be fun for your daughter too. Is that a family affair taking care of all the animals?
Steve: So we're going to dive a little bit into your background and and I love this idea and that I haven't really actually heard that phrase very often, the authorpreneur, right? Because you're a self-published author, more than one book, and you've been able to do it - just kind of learning the ropes as you go and this is a classic way entrepreneurs learn. We just do. Can you just, before we kind of dive into your background, could you give me what the lightning strike was for your first book? What was the idea that hit you to do your first book?
05:29 (Otakara shares how she came up with her first book.)
Otakara: I wanted to be an officer. If you ask me when I was five years old, what I want to be when I grow up, I would say an author and illustrator. I always wanted to write books and illustrate. But I don't illustrate now, just to be clear but I do write. And so I always wanted to write and then it was going on through my probably entire elementary school then the puberty hit and then like the school and the peer pressure and everything, it kind of went a little different, you almost forget your own dreams, it feels like. And they always say to do what you really love and I'm really fortunate and really grateful that you know when I was in my 30s and I kind of was like lost in my life, I always had the idea that I always wanted to write. And I was lucky that once I got out of high school, I tried to go study journalism, I didn't manage to get in the university for that but I did work a little bit in newspapers. And I managed to get, this was back in the Czech Republic where I'm from, and I managed to become a TV reporter so I worked on a national television. So it gave me some similarities that actually go along with being an author, that's being able to deliver a story, no matter whatever that story is. Whether you work in nonfiction, fiction, you have to have the capability of understanding how you deliver the story to your audience. And I worked on a little like short documentary program so I had to learn within a certain time frame, how do you go from point A to point B and how do you deliver it in a way that the audience is happy with that. But then later on I traveled because I was an incurable traveler and I ended up eventually in the United States. Then I had my daughter and I stayed at home with my daughter since she’s three. And so the dream of writing was always there, I never lost it but it kind of went away and then it started fading and fading more. And in my 30s, I stayed at home, became a stay at home mom and it was like so different from coming from you know being on TV and doing these things. And I move into middle of Oregon, like middle of the woods, beautiful nature but no social existence basically. And especially being a mom of a young baby, you like really get stuck in that life and it's beautiful, that's beautiful to be a mother in motherhood but at the same time, it somewhat like eats out a different part of you. And so when I was like crossing closer to my 40s, I thought at the time that I'm no longer good enough in Czech, in my origin language, to write a book and that English is not good enough yet because it's not my native language. Because it was my second language, I didn't feel my vocabulary was good enough, my grammar was good enough. It still isn’t and it just was like kind of going like there is like nothing until I hit that point when I was like who cares? Like I have absolutely nothing to lose and this was, I was like 39 and a half and I decided I’ll start writing my book at midnight between 2015 and 2016. It was very much was a midnight decision of the new year. I will write myself a book for my 40th birthday and I will cross in my 40s with something else. And I call it I gave myself permission to suck. I totally said like, “I know.” I didn't expect the book to be good, to be honest people say I wrote that book to help those people, I wrote my book for myself. It was my present to my own 40th birthday. It was just that I will have that book one day and I just like said who cares? It can suck. And I did publish it. I didn’t publish it on my birthday like I hope to publish two weeks later but I went through that process like you said, like making every step and like literally pushing forward in the dark but the moment you land, the light shows up. And you start to learn to stand where you're at and I had no idea where I'm heading but I knew like there is a way. I bought a course and there was a way. So the course showed me the path, what has to happen you know for me to have a book out. And so it took about seven months to publish the eBook version, two more months it took me to get a paperback and another two months to get out the audiobook of the same book. So the first time it took me longer, it definitely was the hardest book to produce on the production side, maybe even to write. There was a lot of learning steps throughout the course and somehow I was able to publish then it got really successful. It really spoke to the audience, people loved it, so it was almost kind of a surprise because I did not... I was hoping, everybody hopes but I would say like my hopes were actually like overblown, like out of a ceiling. I did not expect the level of what happened so it helped me. And I stick with books and I was just happy. Actually I realized that it was two things - that I always wanted writing and I love making the information and bringing the information out. And the fact that English was my second language, I believe was on the end. It was an enormous benefit, it was the best thing that could have happened because I was able to take complicated subject and because my vocabulary isn't that big, I broke it down very simply for everyone. So it was very simple read for people which you know I was getting back you know like, “She does not have the perfect English.” You know it's very simple but at the same time I was getting the other people who were going, “This was so easy to read and so easy to understand and so easy to comprehend.” And so actually it was a huge benefit. And so I published the first book and I realized I not only lack the aspect of writing but I actually have this possessive need to be in charge of the name of the book, which if you go through traditional publisher, necessarily not. I love being in charge of my cover that nobody was... like basically any kind of failure in the process of formatting, it doesn't mean that I don't... I still hire my formatters for a book but it comes next to me so if I okay it, it's my fault. Like I've learnt to take basically a responsibility for every single aspect but having the responsibility also gives me the power. And so I love the fact that if I realize there would be a flaw anywhere in the process, the only person I can blame was me.
Steve: I'm just going to say it's a classic way to overcome the objectives of you know, you want to make all the decisions and the way to do that is to you know, you're calling all the shots. You get to say, “Yes, this is the title. Yes, this is the cover.” But the risk is “Yes, I'm self-publishing and I can only either succeed or I fail on my own.” I like that, that's a great story and I loved all the layers in there about how you had to overcome and about how you're like you know at a certain point - I give myself permission to suck. If it doesn't work, who cares? I got nothing else going at the moment. And I can imagine the culture shock going from Prague and you know being on TV and having journalistic deadlines to being a mom in the middle of the Oregon, you know forests or whatever, that culture shock must have been massive. So I could appreciate the differences. So before we dive into your background a little bit more, we're going to take a quick break and we're going to be right back after this.
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Steve: Okay, we're back everybody. Steve Simonson on the Awesomers.com podcast and I'm joined by Otakara Klettke…
Steve: I’m sticking out right on the the naming so I like to dive in right from the very beginning. You talked about Czech Republic earlier but where were you born precisely? Was it in Prague or Czech Republic?
14:28 (Otakara talks about her origin story.)
Otakara: No, I was born about 100 miles away from Prague, more close to Brno which is the second biggest town but I was born in a... well, not born since I was 2 years old basically so my childhood that I remember since I was 2 years old, I grew up in a little village there. It was not a big city. Definitely not a big city. I grew up in a small small town of about you know like six hundred people.
Steve: That is small. That's for sure. Now, what kind of work did your parents do? Where they authors or entrepreneurs? What kind of work were they in?
Otakara: Well at that time when I grew up it was still Czechoslovakia, it was communism so you don’t know any kind of business. That was pretty much impossible. So my father was a musician. hHe was a violin player. He was quite a bit old when I was born. He was 54 years old and so his active career pretty much ended as I was growing up. And he had a great story as a musician, amazing life story. And my mom, she actually had two universities. She had two PhDs, she was an agricultural engineer. Like a doctor for plants basically, so kind of a vet but like in the same level of like for the plants. And then before I was born or when I was born, I think she did not have a chance to apply her job. So she became a teacher and a professor.
Steve: Yes, a plant doctor. I like that. So how about any siblings? Any brothers or sisters growing up?
Otakara: I have a nine year older brother and 10 years older sisters so it was kind of like, my parents were very good at like shoving us out the door as soon as we hit high school. We were all in a boarding school, every one of us. So pretty much, I grew up like pretty much without my siblings because they were so much older and when they hit 14 they were out of the house and so did I. So I more grew up, more by myself than I would say necessarily as the youngest sibling in the family.
Steve: Yes, that's interesting so and particularly you know the boarding experience, starting it at 14. Now did you after boarding school, did you go to university?
Otakara: I did very briefly. I went to study Information Management in college but at that time, I was already 18. And so when I was 13, what happened was communism failed and even my first book is basically about my health issues. I had a lot of health struggles growing up and so I started getting myself out of it because I was very limited by my family with what I was allowed to do or not allowed to do. And there was one part of the story, so I wanted to sort of read or I wanted to move. I was never allowed to do PE class because I could not be tired, like I could not be exhausted. It was always like they were worried that I could have health issues if I got even like heavy panting so there was a lot of activities I wasn't allowed to do which brought me to read books. That's why I love books. One thing was the communism, there was nothing on TV so I became a voracious reader and I was really lucky that I came from the family where you know we have so many books on our walls that my mommy, she used to call it the best insulation. We just had big bookshelves from bottom to the ceilings. She said, “It's too cold, we need all those books.” And so you know I had an extremely huge amount of quality literature. That was a whole other thing. My mom was a very good reader and so did my dad. He had a different taste but he had great stuff to read as well. And so I read a lot. And then when I was 13, communism failed and all of a sudden people were allowed to travel. And because I was like so nurtured and had so many health issues, the need of travel or moving or doing things, that was always there. And my parents even found me a preparatory school but I was boarded. It was a good preparatory school but everybody would be looking after me so again I was even like controlled and I just wanted to get out and do things and rebel. It was that age and so when I hit 18, I started traveling. And so when I went to college, it was very hard to come by in college when you have all those countries to travel to and there is the entire world and you can't kind of do everything. So I managed to do two semesters and then I basically quit. I was not coming back. I realized that I was there studying under teachers who were making less money than I was while traveling abroad and doing basically nothing. Just kind of like trying here and there, trying some opportunity. It wasn't like I had a steady job. It was more like, “Oh this, I could use to make money there so I can buy my flight ticket.”
Otakara: And I was always very, you know, I was a stingy person. I never spent money. I was very good at like everything because I wanted to travel. So everything was afforded for flight tickets and so I started traveling and didn't want to really come back because when I was younger, I don't think that program exists, but it was like you could get very cheap flight tickets. They were cheaper and they were almost free to exchange for the day and this was only possible for someone who was under 26 years old. So I knew I had a very limited time frame when I could do this relatively cheaply and once I hit 26. So school would really hinder me and so I left and I was mostly traveling.
Steve: I liked it. Well you know, full disclosure, you made it one more semester than I did. So kudos to you on the two semesters. Now, how about you know, I don't know how long you traveled or whatever, but what would you define is your first proper job? Maybe the first job after University or you know when you maybe you started settling in? Was there any job that stood out in your mind as the proper first job?
Otakara: Well what I consider my own personal... it's not really after, since I was like fifth grade I used to have terrier dogs and we had a breeding station. So we bred and I went to shows and that dog needed to have a haircut but the breeding part, that was much more of my parents. But I started since I was like fifth or sixth grade, I've learned how to cut the dog's hair.
Steve: Grooming, nice.
Otakara: Grooming and it was specifically for this breed so it was very much specific but because we had dogs that we bred, we had our puppies, they would come back. So my first like really earned money came from my middle school age when I would actually have, and it was a good job because it was you know it's quite a lot of money to actually get your dog groomed. And they all actually loved that I was a kid so they would like give me the extra tips. So I actually did not need much. Like one dog you know one or twice a month would give me plenty of money as a kid to kind of function on. And so that was my first, that was probably the first one that I consider like a job. And then after I quit school, the truth is in my entire life I was an employee for about five months and that was just a few years ago when I was a waitress here in Oregon. So all my jobs, I used to teach in English so I had private clients but none I would necessarily consider like a big job. It was more of like a solopreneur. I mean I didn't have any employees but I always say, as my brother and my sister - all three of us, we always say that we are unemployable. We just are not good employee material.
Steve: I like that. So it sounds like your siblings also have that entrepreneurial... they don't want to be controlled. They want to kind of set their own course as well.
Otakara: Very much. I’m nothing compared to them really.
Steve: It's really interesting. How much, if any of this, do you think is related to the communism that was in the Czech Republic or Czechoslovakia at the time as I recall? Was that a part of it? Or do you think it was just the parents? What drove you to this sense that you want to be kind of free and and do what you want?
Otakara: I wish somebody would break it down. We talked about it with my brother and my sister and we have no idea. Because we grew up in communism where it groomed you to have a job. My parents, you know my dad in the second world war, he was drafted and like incredibly put him in a forced working camp and then when they find out that he was a musician and a violin player, Hitler - he loved musicians. They loved music and they brought him basically to what was something like a concentration camp and they brought him out to 5-star hotel. But he was basically presented to battle. The rest of the war, he played for all the Nazi officers. It was extremely scary but it was his skill that actually made him survive the war.
Otakara: It is. Isn't it? And so then later on in life, like music saved his life and he stayed playing in orchestras and things. So he kind of followed... although he moved more but my mom, we got from them, like you have to have one thing that you do really well and that you have a job. So I think my parents they tried with us that we would have a job and and be very stable. So I don't really know. We never know why. I'd have no idea where it went wrong. Maybe they tried too much. Maybe they just insisted to the point that we wanted to rebel, like I wanted to rebel. My brother wanted to rebel, my sister wanted to rebel. None of us wanted it. They tried to push us. The one thing they always did especially my mom, was the education. She overeducated. None of the three of us; you know - not my brother, not my sister, not me. Nobody of us has university degree but my mom had two.
Steve: I guess she got all that the family needed. That is an interesting question. I was just curious how related that maybe, if at all. It doesn't sound like it is but you know one of the things that you've struck me as we started talking about is, you know the idea that your parents could have been entrepreneurs was not possible really in the old days under communism. That's just not a thing that happens and this is one of those things that I want you know the Awesomers out there listening to remember. We take for granted how flexible things are and how easy it is today even in the communist places like China, you could still start companies. You can still make things happen. It's a much more entrepreneurial-friendly world that we live in today. So I love where we're headed here. Was there any defining moment that puts you kind of from then to now that put you on the road to becoming an author? Can you think of anything that you know, you talked about earlier, you know your birthday. It sounds like turning 40, that was a defining moment for you. Was there anything else that stood out in your mind?
26:14 (The defining moment in Otakara’s life that put her in the path she is in today.)
Otakara: I just wanted to have something because I spend like I said, like my entire thirties I was mom at home and maybe that really helped too because it was hard. Maybe if I was in a big city, I would create some friends and some kind of a group but again like you said you have the culture shock. Where my culture was different than the local culture and I never blamed... I lived in other countries; I lived in Brazil, I lived in Austria and I travelled to bunch of places around the world. So I never hold against local people that they are not really trying to reach out to foreigners. It was never my thing but it was in a place where I live, it was kind of hard to create any kind of like meaningful relationship. It was not like at my house where you could just go to me, just have a cup of coffee and sit down. The culture was different. And being in a little mountain town here, it was you know basically, there is not even any other race than Caucasian race. There are a few Mexicans with few Mexican restaurants but that's about as far as it comes to having anyone who's foreign. I just never developed any kind of deeper and it was kind of struggling at the time for me and so I spent much more energy into researching, learning, educating myself and reading and then like going into the book and I created an online community of other authors, of other people who were fantastic. And I realized I started connecting with people who were amazing from around the world and they basically lived in this virtual space. When I was writing, so all of my work like moved there. So I think that was like the combined pressure of being so long alone.
Steve: Yes, you kind of isolated and then you found the online world and you're able to bridge some of those... You know, this is an important lesson for all the Awesomers out there. Once you find your tribe, things get easier. And I think both men and women can appreciate your story of feeling isolated you know that for any number of reasons. You don't even need the culture shock. There's all kinds of reasons where people could feel alone right. But being able to kind of just one day, just draw a line in the sand and say you know what I'm going to do something. I'm going to find my tribe and today it's so much easier with online communities and Facebook and this and that. It's so much easier to find it. When you start finding the people online to communicate with, and you know as an author and writer and so forth was it something that resonated with you, did you feel like you're more in touch with people at that point?
Otakara: Absolutely, absolutely. For me in a way how things were for me in my life. Absolutely. Before I was so lonely. I mean I had a husband but he was working and then in the evening he comes home, he’s tired and he doesn't want to hear about whatever - diapers or something.
Steve: Yes, husbands are generally worthless, anyway, let me just say on behalf of all husband's out there. So I understand but like give me an example of like in the forums, is that how it worked? Were you guys doing forums or chats or how was it working?
Otakara: There is a lot of author groups and some Facebook author groups better than others so I definitely was finding friends, where we were going like whatever, I'm dealing with this thing at this time. I don't know how to do it. How do you do it? And so I would keep myself just to see how people, because I was going through it for the first time in my life and so I was sharing also my story and they were sharing their story and somehow it resonated with many people and I started creating that and it felt really really good. Because before the book, I was just seeing myself heading downhill that was like sort of the depression. There was no more will, that it felt like there was a feeling like nothing is happening and in some ways I felt like I hit bottom and I needed that in order to really want to because if I had some mediocre job, I'm sure I would probably stick with it but I didn't. So I had to go through this. Absolutely no idea. Plus again like you come from another country, it didn't matter my education because my education would be like nothing. So basically here in United States, I could only apply for the jobs I wouldn't even care for and speaking that I've never ever had a job before in my life. It was just like nothing. There was nothing. I did not see any other way out and I just was looking like - what would be the thing that I can do at home and stay at home with Mikey that I would love and be fun and would possibly bring me money or some sort of revenue? And so then I did a book but like I said the very first reasons for my book weren't necessarily financial. It did benefit me and the book did amazing and still does but it was not my goal. My goal definitely was not to start making big money. My goal was just to do something that I felt better about myself that I wanted to do what I love to do and that I would fit in some sort of category of like a human being and it was finding these other authors. And I love authors. I love the people who are around me. I love you know my narrator, I worked with the illustrator. I love the energy of co-creation where I'm going through the book and he has some defining word which is very nice but I have the final word. But I love finding people with talent and working with them and like doing the best and seeing their time and see what the best that I can bring out of that time. And this brings you this co-creation of some sort of project, brings you a huge fulfillment. And I remember like when I launched my first book, when it came out, I was so over filled with gratitude. I could not do anything but just walk outside and just like put my hands up to the sky and just go, “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” Like, “Universe, you're amazing.” I just could not feel more humble and appreciative and the level of gratitude was not like gratitude to you, just kind of reminding you of something. It was just going inside my veins and it was just bursting out and it became extremely addictive - this feeling of being able to co-create and create something that comes out and the gratitude level - it is like an addiction. Like it was something that I knew I wanted to experience again and I wanted to stick with it.
Steve: But it's really the best and most healthy kind of addiction right - to create, to collaborate and to be addicted to the idea of gratitude and the feeling of accomplishment. That's a pretty good thing you've talked about, this process of building the book. When we come back from this next break, we're going to talk a little bit more in depth about how you launch your first book, some of the challenges you had to overcome and some of the lessons for those folks out there. There's many people out there who want to write a book and they think to themselves it would be nice to do and I kind of want to do it. Maybe even it's a dream of mine but I don't know how to do it so they're kind of paralyzed with the the uncertainty of it all. So we're going to talk about that after this break. We'll be right back.
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Steve: Okay, here we are. We're back again. It's Steve Simonson talking with Otakara Klettke which is you know, now easy for me to say. I don't know how well I'm doing but I'm going to just push through and before the break I teased this idea of you know your first book. You mentioned that it was a very arduous process. There's a lot of learning involved and and it took a long time but still I want to give kudos to you. Still you almost hit that deadline right. If your birthday was kind of the deadline, your journalistic instincts and so forth, you're able to release the E-book just two weeks after your birthday. I'm going to call that on time. That's amazing, especially for your first book. Can you tell us a little bit more about the production lessons you had to learn?
35:09 (The production lessons Otakara had to learn working on her first book.)
Otakara: So discipline, that's the number one lesson. If you have the self-discipline to show up and be willing, you can do it. Anyone can do it and that's the absolute heart of this thing. I had this thing, it’s to show up. If you show up every single day and then it became my mantra. It was like no matter how long, it doesn't matter. Because I do have the vigilance, pets and a kid and a husband and a household and a lot of things that sometimes it becomes extremely hard and unless there was a day that we will be traveling or was absolutely impossible that it would be to really try. With my first book, the best thing was that I actually started writing it in a way that I felt I was scared I'm not going to do it. I was scared I'm going to like tell everybody that I'm writing a book and then it won't happen because many times in my life I started something like I never finished it. And so I had all these like startups and I know many writers who are not authors who started something and I called them closet writers because they have all this sorted material they never released and a lot of times they don't finish. And so I never finished anything and so I was afraid, like there was something inside me that was telling me you will finish this book and I knew it. But at the same time all you know 25 years of experience of trying to write and finish something was not there you know. So that was hard. So I actually started getting up super early before anyone in my family woke up and I started writing in hiding and I didn't tell anybody. And until I actually had my entire manuscript finished, I would get up every single day and I would get up so early and then I would write and it actually took like until my daughter figured out and she told my husband but at that time I actually passed the writing stage. And that was really good. It was really good. I was given an advice not to ever look forward so that was one of the best advice. If anybody wants to write a book is to (A) do not write more than one book at a time. Do one and if there is a stage that you’re in if you're writing a book, don't worry about marketing. I see it all the time. I see these are the people who fail most likely. Most people actually fail. Most people will never finish. It's only like 1% of people who started and finished. It's because, not because but a lot of times, I see it. I can see it in a person ahead of its time. Because if you're writing a book and you don't have the book and this is my big advice to anyone who asked like, “How did you do marketing?” and “What are you going to do about the cover?” And I ask them, “Do you have the manuscript finished?” And they go, “No, I'm working on a manuscript.” I'm like, “Don't bug me now. You don't have a book. Until you have a book, I'm happy to.” I always help any author who comes to me with a question. I help anyone, I help lots of people but whoever is writing, that's my thing. Like until you actually have at least three drafts finished and your book is finished, that's your job. You do not look, you don't go after anything else and this is the biggest thing that I find distracting for a lot of people. Because they start writing and then have their head in the clouds and all of a sudden they start to think, “Oh and when I have this book, I'm going to go market it. Shall I go on a book tour or do I do that?” And their heads get lost and the work that they have to sit down and show up, they don't show up no longer. Their head is in a cloud and they don't show up at the time, in the morning or whatever that time is when they want to show up and they supposed to write. Then that's what they need to do. And so once they are finished writing, then comes the production and then there is more things to deal with at the same time so when you actually are doing more things... [inaudible]. If somebody’s writing... [inaudible].
Steve: We had a little glitch in our, in our giddyup there, with the bandwidth but you know one of the key lessons that I heard you deliver was - you have to take action you have to show up and get the book done before you start worrying about the cover and all the marketing nonsense right. Because if you put the cart before the horse, nobody's going anywhere. And I think that's a very valuable lesson and a particularly salient point and this goes for entrepreneurs of any kind. If you're writing a book, that's a very on point message. But if you're developing a product, how about this - pick the products before you start worrying about packaging and all the rest of it. You know let's get one thing done at a time otherwise you described it well you know where you just, everything kind of blows up. I call that the mushroom cloud effect right. It starts out and the center of it, it's kind of a small stem of the mushroom. By the time you're at the top, it's just a giant problem and your head is cloudy. You don't know what to do. It's a catastrophe and these mushroom cloud problems, all of us should do our very best to stay away from. So I think very, very good advice there. How about you know, once you started, once you got the book done and you started picking out the cover and things like that, did you find that that you started to get momentum? That you know it started to get a little easier or maybe with your next book you're like all the lessons learned, it got easier? How'd you find it?
Otakara: So after writing the rough draft, between the rough draft and actually finishing the manuscript, that is the whole part of editing and beta reading. And so what happened to me is that I finished the rough draft, I sort of like self edited it and I took it to a critic group. And I said this is the first time I'm ever sharing anything in public. Please be nice. My very first critic was a guy who told me that I torment the English language and that I should not write and that it's absolutely horrible. And I was just stunned. I felt like it was wind taken out of my life. I finished that manuscript. Okay I have the whole manuscript finished for the book then I realized I had nothing finished. And then he hated it and he was the first person. I specifically asked him and I asked the other ones and everybody just giving me this thing and I felt like I was being skinned alive. And I wasn't feeling lucky but it was this editor who was about 70. She told me, “You know what? These are editorial mistakes. She actually has a good book together. I think it's a good book. She just needs some editor who's going to teach her how to do it.” So the manuscript took me about 36 days to write. The first one, the rough draft but then I spent four months with her going over like seven rounds of edit where she was like teaching me how do you put materials together? How do you structure the book to be a good book? And and so there was a lot of learning and there was a lot of beating I had to take. So it was the the hardest part by far and it still always is, the editing. I no longer take it personally. I no longer take it as my own beating and obviously I'm better than I used to be because I practice. But the first time it was just, it was unbelievable. I was I felt I was a skinned alive and I had to regrow the new skin. And so four months later after this and five months into the book, I finally had a manuscript. At that point I know there is no way I was going to quit because I had that and so I did not have much skills as far as like computer. I had never heard of white people telling like you have to put a landing page. Like what is the landing page? What is a lead magnet? I have no idea and they're like, “Okay you gotta build it there and there.” And there is something like a MailChimp and it sends out a bunch of emails. You gotta create your audience and I had absolutely no game, never heard of any of that. So all of it was like there and all I had to learn was not necessarily my skills or desire to learn, but I had that manuscript that I just poured my blood sweat and tears and there was no way anyone is going to like something like will learn some technical skills or hire somebody to do it. Who's going to stop me at that point? And so it was not easy especially the technical aspects to get things done and for me to learn. But at that point, the determination was there on a scale that I was absolutely sure that no matter what, the book will happen. So it was easier in that sense. I was no longer doubting that it will not happen. At that point, it was just like how do I learn? I mean do I need to hire somebody? Do I need to hire somebody to teach me how I do it in the future? And so all these things just had to fall and I knew what tasks I had to do to form book. I knew I had to have the art cover done. I knew I have to assemble a launch team to launch the book and I knew I had to do like some sort of marketing. So all that happened and then it was a hard time to just basically launch the book because right before the launch, you realize that like you're basically asking everybody to write you a review and the world to see your book. So it became very intimidating and sort of almost like depressing like to make that leap to bring it out to the world. But when I did and I started to get all the reactions, the immediate reactions, that's when gratitude came and I just could not believe that it was actually the book that I produced.
Steve: I loved it. Well you know, it doesn't really matter whether it's a book or a podcast or a product you're launching or a new business service - all of these, the process and the challenges that will show up, it's all very similar right. And we all have to find is what is the process? How do we get from here to there? The resolution in your mind, where you're at that point - all of the guts and you know the gut-wrenching problems you had to go through and as you call - the skin being torn off by your critic group. You know all of that made you say, “Nothing is going to stop me now.” That level of persistence and commitment was undeniable at that stage. And I think that's a point for Awesomers out there, once you finally get over that tipping point that I'm going all-in I don't care if I fail. I'm jumping off the cliff. I don't know what's down below but it's happening. That's both terrifying but necessary at various times. And then when you actually get it to come together and you start getting some nice feedback or nice reviews or you know positive customer sales, whatever the case is, that's when it all feels really worthwhile. And it sounds like that's when that gratitude started happening for you right?
Otakara: Absolutely, absolutely. When our launch came together and I just realized that like since then the launching itself, it's almost addictive like I said. Like it's just that addictive to spend especially if you're doing work like I do, it literally takes me months to create that product that I bring out. And so it's not something that I do and I bring out next day. It's something that I take one book and I spend months working on it without anyone seeing it. So I started having you know small beta groups now when I do like beta reading groups which came right after my first book, then the second and third group. And like getting the first feedback but actually to finally launch it and it's super exciting, it's super exciting times to see it come to life. And I love helping other authors. I went through launch with so many other people to just kind of like go through what I have to do. You know when you have to pick up your categories on Amazon and how do you do all that things like the whole technicalities. But basically I love seeing people when they bring their product out like it lights my eyes.
Steve: Energy, sure. Yes, it's like you're going through that first experience again. In some ways right. And I definitely understand that you know your first book was called Hear Your body Whisper. Is that right?
Steve: And that was a success really from the very beginning. It continues to be here years later. We're going to make sure that we have links to any of your books as well as, you have something you do with your sister, if I'm not mistaken. Is that right?
Otakara: Right and finally because I had a lot of times other authors are telling me to do something and one of the things that I have to attribute the success of my books to are the covers. Throughout all the learning and everything I had to learn, I had one peaceful moment because my sister she's been in advertising for 30 years. So she's a really amazing graphic designer and she worked for companies like, she worked with like Young & Rubicam which is one of the most iconic, it's one of the world's largest advertising agencies. She had clients like IKEA for 20 years.
Steve: That's a big one.
Otakara: Yes, she's working for the past 15 years for French television TV5 that actually broadcasts all over Europe so her work can be seen in 22 countries across Europe. So she actually really understands what audience wants and how do you bring it in a cover. Her advertisement is basically the graphic design. She's not a specialist in like radio or TV. Hers is actually like the training, the visual advertisement. And so all of my covers are done under her supervision and so when a lot of authors were asking me where was my success was because the marketing was something that I always said, like my book was really good for me because it was really successful without me being much. It took me about six months to even learn the marketing that was on some sort of musical level. There was a lot of flops in between and a lot of like mistakes and money spent badly.
Steve: I think that sounds familiar to a lot of us.
Otakara: Yes, so it took about six months to actually get to the point where I actually realized that the marketing, I was handling in a level that was actually making me money. And so I was really lucky I had a book that did not need it. And this doesn't often happen to many authors and so I was lucky this way and so I started offering the service of like not making book covers, but actually doing a critique and because I understand how crazy can be destructive, what we do is we actually help authors if they come to us with their book cover or what is their book about. We either give them a creative idea and send them to some different graphic designer to do it because my sister does not have that much time. She's pretty much booked year ahead, all year ahead or I don't think they could afford. This is a really fun thing to take or sometimes maybe authors whose books are not selling or are just about to launch it and I actually show them where it could have some type of graphic mistakes but with this modern age and everybody's just started thinking that they can create things for themselves on their own a lot of times or getting some sort of cheap graphic design. Which a lot of times it's really just a person who bought a program so they like, the computer has the capability but they don't have the understanding and till recent history, typography goes arc on its own, which is basically how do you structure letters in a way that it would be hitting nicely and taking nicely in your brain and to understand that the book cover is the advertisement for your book. The book cover is nothing else but the advertisement. And you need to look at it, the authors need to see it as such. It's not just like a lot of authors are unfortunately sort of going against themselves by not understanding that and going, “Okay, this is my idea.” Or looking to other authors. But to me if an author looks to another for answer or an advice for a book cover, it's kind of as if I came to you to give me an advice on how to build a house because you own a house.
Steve: Yes, that's right. You should go to the specialist. I'm a big believer in experts and I think it's really neat that you have this critiquing service that you're able to help authors get out there and have an objective point of view with probably, with less brutality than some of your past critiques may have been. Even though you need to give them the truth, you can do it instead of being brutally honest you can just be honest and nice and and say you know, “Hey, here's what needs to be done.” So I really love that and I think that you know there's a lot of authors out there who maybe thought about you know, “Can I write a book?” And now you've proven, yes, you could write a book and that you could figure out and you could solve the problems and there's help for you. There's Facebook groups. They may be able to find you online as well.
Otakara: Absolutely and people are very nice. That's a nice thing about authors. I find that everybody is very helpful and other things we do with the critique, we don't only point out mistakes. Actually a couple times I had an author coming to me almost in tears, practically going like, “I just don't know like this is completely screwed up.” And the truth was it wasn't. It was just like she just didn't have the direction how to solve it. And that's what makes it different like in our critique we don't only point out the mistakes. Which is funny because the moment you point them out, I love it with my sister, like I might not see it right away but once she actually showed me it's impossible to not see it afterwards. You cannot not see it, you always see it. From that moment on, it's there. And so you open up to the idea but we also realize there is a mistake. We also say exactly what needs to be done to correct it. And so there is a very easy path, that we give the pathway. We give the recipe, give the book cover and give the recipe and here is the book cover back with the recipe. How do you fix your problem? And we work with them like later on if they bring it back. We'll say, “Okay this is now finalized to the point where it should look like that.”
Steve: I love it. I definitely think that is a highly in demand service. I think that’s been very instructive for me. You know I have friends and relatives who want to write a book. I'm going to make sure that they listen to this podcast and take your advice. Otakara, thank you very much for taking the time to join us today. It's been very inspiring.
Otakara: Well thank you very much for having me. It was lovely. Thank you. It's absolutely lovely to be here. It's always nice to talk to fellow people with the entrepreneurial blood.
Steve: Yes, we love it. Well, I love entrepreneurs and we love creators so Awesomers listening at home, we will be right back after this.
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Steve: As always, I'm a huge fan of origin stories and it's just so tremendous to be able to hear somebody like Otakara come and talk to us about you know not just her own life but even the life of her father who was in a concentration camp. And then because he was a musician, went on to to play for Nazi officers, just as a matter of survival. And then growing up in Czechoslovakia or the you know now called the Czech Republic and under part of it being communist and then later, you know the wall falling and you know communism going away, all of that stuff. I know the wall was in Germany but that was a historic, memorable time where all of that kind of set in motion. It's just an incredible story and I'd love a good origin story. And she went on to write books in English and had those books do very well and it's because her message is so powerful and so important for each of us. Let's not forget. You know we often talk about having the right mindset but let's not forget that our body is equally important. There's no point in living a long life if we're not going to have it be a valuable fruitful and healthy life right. There's just no point in trying to you know aspire to have this wonderful long life, if we're miserable the whole time. And I know we talked about this a lot but I really want you guys to consider you know mind, body, soul - the whole package as part of what needs to be maintained in that very important you know unit that you have, which is you - it's your health, your body, it's your soul and your spirit. All of these things are really important and too often entrepreneurs don’t pay attention to that stuff. So I'm glad you were here to join us. I hope you got a lot out of today's episode and don't forget this was Awesomers.com podcast episode number 61 and all you have to do is go on to Awesomers.com/61 to find any of the show notes and details and links and things like that that we've discussed here today.
Well we've done it again everybody. We have another episode of the Awesomers podcast ready for the world. Thank you for joining us and we hope that you've enjoyed our program today. Now is a good time to take a moment to subscribe, like and share this podcast. Heck you can even leave a review if you wanted. Awesomers around you will appreciate your help. It's only with your participation and sharing that we'll be able to achieve our goals. Our success is literally in your hands. Thank you again for joining us. We are at your service. Find out more about me, Steve Simonson, our guest, team and all the other Awesomers involved at Awesomers.com. Thank you again.