Welcome back to Alchemy for Authors!
Whether you’re a sports fan or want to learn more about marketing non-fiction, I have a great show for you today. In this episode I talk with Kevin Bryant, author of Spies on the Sidelines: The High-Stakes World of NFL Espionage.
Some of the topics discussed in this episode include:
- Why Kevin structures his marketing plan around getting on podcasts and radio stations.
- How he got on 35+ podcasts and 20+ radio shows including ESPN and CBS.
- Why you should consider academic sales and how it can boost your profits.
- The pros and cons of being traditionally published versus self-published.
For NFL fans he also shares:
- Why the Big Game inspires increased spying as well as increased paranoia.
- Which NFL team hired eighteen Navy Seals to protect against spying.
- The ridiculous extent that some teams go to to learn about their opponents, including donning costumes and disguises.
- What Telephone Climbing Schools have to do with American Football.
If you’re ready to supercharge your marketing and enjoy stories about the high-stakes world of NFL espionage, then this is the episode for you!
Connect with Kevin on Instagram here.
Connect with Kevin on Facebook here.
Visit Kevin’s website and find links to purchase his book here: https://www.spiesonthesidelines.com/
Listen to Episode 22 of Alchemy for Authors – Whatever it Takes: Traditionally Publishing Non-Fiction with Kevin Bryant here.
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Find the full transcript of this episode below.
Episode 46: The Big Game Special: Marketing Books & NFL Espionage with Kevin Bryant
Jo: Hello, my lovelies. Thanks for joining me for Episode 46 of Alchemy for Authors. I can’t believe this is actually Episode 46. That’s so exciting. Now, whether you’re a sports fan or want to learn more about marketing nonfiction. I have such a great show for you today. But first I wanted to continue what I started last episode and give you a quick update about me.
So I am officially back at the day job after a hiatus for Christmas break. And wow, it’s such a transition going from feeling like a full-time author to being a full-time employee again. It’s um, it’s a lot. And so I’ve definitely been battling mindset issues around time. And working out how to fit in my writing goals into the time that’s actually available to me while I still have a full-time job. And how to do it without resentment and with a sense of accomplishment as well.
So in Episode 44: The Twenty Things I Learned in 2022, I talked about having to readjust my thinking this year around not trying to squeeze the output of a full-time author into a part-time calendar. And so it’s definitely a tricky one for me, for sure, because I have so many goals and so many things I want to be doing with Alchemy for authors and with my writing and book projects and that. But I have to put the brakes on just a little bit so that I don’t burn out. Uh, one of the things I’m going to be doing just to help with my mindset a bit is I’m going to be diving back into Marie Forleo’s Time Genius course, which I purchased last year. Just to make sure that my mindset is back on track. Particularly, because I really do believe it is our mindset that can make or break out author careers. And really all parts of our life. It’s also, I believe, paramount to being able to manifest our writing goals. So, you know, transforming them from just being ideas to actually being reality as well. So that is the headspace that I am in at the moment. And I wonder if any of you out there have been in a similar space and what you have done to kind of deal with any resistance that comes from pursuing your passions and still having to pay the mortgage with a day job as well. So do let me know if you’ve got any tips or tricks around that, for sure.
Now last episode, I talked about a collaborative reader magnet that I’ve been working on with six other authors. And there’s been a few delays birthing it into the world. But if you are interested in reading seven multi-genre stories by women authors, then make sure that you do sign up to my newsletter at https://jobuer.com. And you can get a free copy of that when it launches, which will hopefully just be in the next couple of weeks.
And in the meantime, if you enjoy Gothic Literary Fiction and you sign up to my newsletter, I’ll send you a copy of my own short story collection, Between the Shadows, as well. So you can check out the show notes for that link.
When you join my newsletter, I’ll also be able to keep you updated with the release of my first Paranormal Cozy, if that’s more your thing. So I’m expecting that back from the editor this week, which is both super exciting and horribly terrifying at the same time. But that’s really it for me in my writing world at the moment, I’m wrapping up those writing and book projects, and then I’m getting into the exciting job of drafting up my next. Yay.
But now let’s get into today’s episode. So today’s guest, Kevin Bryant, he was actually last on the show back in July with the release of his debut nonfiction book. So you can check out that episode it’s Episode 22: Whatever it Takes: Traditionally Publishing Nonfiction with Kevin Bryant just by checking out the link in the show notes.
So today’s episode is a special Big Game episode for those of you who are NFL or sports fans, or even if you’re just interested in marketing a non-fiction book. But I will tell you I’m not a huge sports fan myself. There’s my disclaimer. But I really do enjoy talking to Kevin and he has the most fascinating and interesting stories, so I think even if you’re a little bit like me and maybe not that into sports, I think you’re still really going to enjoy some of the stories he shares around the NFL and spying and espionage that goes on with it. So Kevin is the expert on that area.
And so some of the things that he talks about in today’s show, on the book side of things, it’s how he structures his marketing plan around getting on podcasts and radio. How he got on 35 plus podcasts and 20 plus radio shows, including ESPN and CBS. Why and how he got into academic sales. And the pros and cons of been traditionally published versus self-published as well.
And of course, if you are a NFL fan and you’re here because it’s a special Super Bowl episode, kevin has lots of cool stories to share. Including why the Super Bowl inspires increased spying within the NFL, as well as increased paranoia. He talks about who hired 18 Navy Seals to protect against spying. The ridiculous extent that some teams will go to, to learn about their opponents, including donning costumes and disguises. And what telephone climbing schools have to do with American Football. And how far back spying and American football goes, and who does it best?
So, like I said, I really do have a great show for you today. And I think for what ever reason you are joining me today, you are going to really get a lot out of this episode. So when you are ready, grab a drink, find a comfy chair, sit back and enjoy the show.
Hello, my lovelies. Welcome back to another episode of Alchemy for Authors. Today I am speaking with Kevin Bryant, author of Spies on the Sidelines: The High Stakes World of NFL Espionage. So Kevin is an army veteran with over 20 years of experience safeguarding and gathering information for the Department of Defense, including working as a special agent, during which time he conducted national security investigations and instructed federal agents in training. So Kevin’s book, Spies on the Sidelines, was published in July, 2022 and has since become a best book finalist in the 2022 American Book Fest Competition. And he has discussed his book and been featured on numerous ESPN, and other radio shows and podcasts, which I’m hoping we can talk about today.
So welcome back to the show, Kevin. It’s so good to have you here.
Kevin: Oh, thanks so much for having me again.
Jo: So you were on this show last year in July, right when your book Spies on the Sidelines debuted and went out into the world. So what has been going on for you since then?
Kevin: Yeah, man, it seems like a million years ago now. So yeah, it’s been a crazy ride. I’ve been very fortunate, I think I’ve been featured on 35 or 40 podcasts now, and, um, gosh, I don’t know, maybe 20 radio shows or so. Wow. If I had to guess off the top of my head. So yeah, I’ve been featured on a lot of, ESPN, CBS, all that kind of stuff, which is great. But at the same time, not as great as I thought it would be in, in the sense that it is tough to sell books. Yeah.
Jo: Yeah. As a first time author, yeah, it’s uh, it is tough. I’ve heard a lot of authors who have been out there in the world for a while say, the best thing that will sell your book is the next book. And so, your first book is just, you’re building that foundation. Mm-hmm. . But you have been really prolific out there promoting your book and talking about the contents of your book and that, do you think it has helped your book sales or has helped in some way?
Kevin: So it definitely has. But what I’ve learned is that, being on radio, being on ESPN, even in a big market, it’ll help sell some books. But what it does is it creates a name and some buzz for you. So while being on ESPN Chicago, for example, is going to sell you way less books than you thought, okay? Which is disappointing. What it does is when you put that in your next email that you send out, it gives you credibility. Yeah. And so when you wanna get on the next show or the next podcast, it makes the chances of getting to yes that much greater.
So what I’ve tried to do, because I’ve realized that being on podcast and radio shows is great, but it’s not gonna sell the number of books I want. How do I do that? So I kind of started shifting towards academic sales because I said, you know what, sports management courses for universities, you know, I think it’s a very unique subject. Spying in sports, mm-hmm, that hasn’t really been touched on much. And I went through a master’s program in sports management. So I started reaching out to university professors because if you can sell to a class of twenty and then multiply that by the number of semesters, number of classes it’s used for. Times the number of semesters, and suddenly you’re selling your book by the tens or the hundreds as opposed to one at a time. And being on an ESPN or a big name podcast definitely helps get you to that point where a professor’s going to go, okay, I’m willing to take a look at your book. I’m willing to read it to see if I wanna use it for my course. Which I probably would not get there if I was just sending out emails saying, Hey, I wrote a good book, um, just take my word for it and check it out.
Jo: That’s great. I love that idea about pivoting a little bit and looking at the education sector because, you’re absolutely right, I mean, you can have bulk sales in that arena if you can get in there. And building a name for yourself and building the credibility through being on these radio stations and podcasts and that, that’s really what it’s all about is setting yourself up for, possibly even your future books as well, which is really great. Mm-hmm. So, yeah, I, I like that you’ve been thinking about that. Now, you said you’ve been surprised by book sales or lack thereof with what your expectations were. Has that been the biggest surprise for you over the last six months since your book hit the shelves?
Kevin: Yeah. You know, I, I would say book sales were actually right about, probably about what I expected. Mm-hmm. It is just that I had more success getting on things, on shows than I thought I would, you know, and so, yeah, that was definitely one of the big ones. I don’t know if there’s been any huge surprises. There’s just been a lot of lessons learned, you know. So things that I’ve learned is that, while it’s tougher to sell books than I thought, it’s easier to be a repeat guest than I would’ve imagined, especially on radio.
Yeah. So there’s a few radio shows now that are like, Hey, come on back whenever. Whenever we have an incident that involves anything with spying on football, we just wanna have you back on and you can talk about it. You know? And these are some, you know, big name shows and I’m like, wow, that’s pretty cool and great. And I think that helps in the long term if you can set yourself up like that, because… well, right now, you know, the last big spying incident was really a spy gate or deflate gate, which is quite a ways in the past now. Yeah. What it does allow for is that when the next big thing strikes, and you’re the guy who wrote a book on the topic, while there isn’t, is, you know, a super heightened amount of desire you know, for the book, per se, right now on that topic, as soon as something happens, again, you wanna be the guy who wrote that book. And then you get on not only on that show, but you get on other shows. And that’s something that I found out during my research was just because a, a radio producer or a TV producer says, no, mm-hmm, don’t worry about it. Keep putting out the feelers out there. Some are gonna say yes, it’s just a numbers game, but what’s going to happen if you are the subject matter expert in your field? They’re gonna file your name away because when that day comes, when there is an incident, a big incident of spying in the NFL, it’s gonna be, oh, whoa, whoa, whoa. Who is that dude? We, he, he contacted us. And then they reach back out, or better yet, you’ve already been on the show. They’ve already, you know, and it’s easy. So it definitely helps. And for every time that I have felt, and I felt this a few times, like this is going nowhere, and then something happens. And you’re like, oh, well I, I guess it is going somewhere. And then you’re like, okay, well this is about the end of, oh no, it’s not. We’re going again. Okay.
And it’s a lot of work. Mm-hmm. And you have to keep yourself motivated. And that is definitely a, it’s a, it’s a challenge. It is a big job, especially with the first book. You know, when you get that second book, you’re not just selling your second book, you’re selling your first book. Yeah. Third book, you know, and it’s a, it’s a multiplication effect. And so for a first time author, it’s really, it’s tough. It’s really difficult and, and you have to do everything from scratch. I have to contact all the radio people, all the podcast people, all of the professors I wanna, you know, trying to sell this book to, everything is so much work to get it off the ground. I imagine once it’s the second book, especially since I’m writing on spying in College Football, mm-hmm , I’m gonna dust off the, all the same stuff again and just go down my list. Of course update things, but it will be a world simpler.
Jo: Oh yeah, absolutely. And I think it’s really important what you are doing with creating those relationships and that with different people on the radio stations and going on the shows, even if it’s not showing itself as huge amounts of sales or anything like that right now, There’s, there’s some term, I think, in marketing about like a magic seven or something that when people hear your name or come across something they need it about seven times before they really buy in. So just by putting yourself out there in the world and making yourself known and making yourself as the expert on this subject, mm-hmm, then you are sowing those seeds, so all you need is one little scandal and, and you’re gonna be rocking it. It’s gonna be great.
Kevin: Right, right. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So who knows, you know, I mean, I could be back on here, you know, a year or two from now and be like, exactly. It’s a huge success, you know? Yeah, exactly. You just don’t know. You just gotta keep working.
Jo: Yep. Yeah. Wonderful. So how is your second book coming along? Cuz when I talked to you last, I think you were still, um, researching and writing and you didn’t have an idea, you were just kind of going with the flow in regards to how long before you were going to kind of put a date on publishing it and things like that.
Kevin: Yeah. To be honest, I’ve put all of that on hold, um, during this marketing period. So I’m guessing probably about April timeframe, I will kind of shut down the big push for marketing, mm-hmm, for this one and switch over to back to writing, um, and researching book two. Yeah. So the advice that I read was generally take about a year to promote your book. Because, you know, they’re like, there’s no point writing a book if you’re not going to promote it, especially if you don’t already have, you know, the name and the following that established authors do. So yeah, so that’s what I’m in the process of doing. And, you know, working a full-time job. Yeah. And, you know, trying to have a, you know, social life before and all that kind of stuff, and. you know, raising a daughter. I just don’t have the time to do all of that. Promote a book and write another one. Mm-hmm. Yeah.
Jo: That’s a lot.
Kevin: Yeah. Yeah. I tried to do it for a while and I’m just like, I, this, everything’s failing at all stages across everything. And I’m like, I feel like a, a bad husband, a bad dad, a bad worker. Um, I’m not getting the time dedicated to the book writing that I want. I’m just like, I, I just, it was just too much. And so, and I want it to be something fun. You know, for me this is, it’s a hobby. It great, it, you know, it’s a hobby that pays, um, , which is, which is all the better, but, you know, I’m just, I’m doing this for fun. Most authors will tell you, unless you’re a big name, you could go get a job doing fast food that’s going to pay you more per hour than writing. And that’s, it’s true.
I mean, I don’t wanna know how many hours I have invested in just book one. Uh, it’s an insane amount. If you don’t love it, I would just say move on to something else. If you’re doing it for the money, it’s probably not the career field for you unless you’re just really incredible or really lucky. One of the two.
Jo: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I think whatever your goals for writing, you gotta have that passion behind it. Like if it’s not lighting you up, if you’re not loving the, the journey itself, mm-hmm, then like you said, what, what’s the point? Go do something that you do enjoy because, yeah, it can definitely be hard juggling all those different aspects of your life, with an author career going on in the background as well, or even, you know, a hobby writing books or anything like that. It, it’s a lot. So you’ve got to be, your heart’s got to be invested in it to, yeah, really pull it off. Yeah.
Kevin: Yeah, yeah, definitely.
Jo: So do you have any tips then on how people maybe listening to this could go about pitching themselves to different radio stations and podcasts and things like that? Like is there anything that you’ve learned that kind of works for you to get onto different shows?
Kevin: Yeah, so what I use is pretty much… I mean, essentially it’s a query letter, right? That you, what you’re sending out to agents if you’re trying to, you know, land one of them to get your book published. So it’s essentially what I have is a one page summary of here’s who I am, here’s what my book is about, and I would love to be on your radio show.
And it’s great, you know, the advice I’ve seen a lot of times is, Hey, you know, have listened to the radio show, know who you’re talking to and you’re marketing a book to and all that. Well that’s great, but I don’t have time to, you know, the reality is 90% of these people are gonna tell you no, even if you’re a good fit. Yeah. Right? And so it’s a numbers game, so you have to just, you have to send a bunch of these out and build up.
A strategy that worked really well for me and that I’m very happy that I followed with is start small and build. Mm-hmm. So, when I kind of started with a marketing plan before the book was ever published, I had a lot of stuff that was like, Hey, I wanna be on this, I wanna be on this, I wanna be on these big shows. These are the ones that’d be perfect. And I kind of, I started there, and then I sent a few emails to hear nothing, and it was like, yeah, this is dumb. What am I doing? They don’t know who I am. I haven’t built up to this like I need to build. And so I stopped doing that and I said, you know what? Okay, let’s start. I start with podcasts. Let’s start with podcasts. Right?
And I’ve was generally doing podcasts that had a thousand or less listeners, and I did that for a while. And then I stepped up to podcasts that had a few thousand, um, up to five. And then I started only hunting for ones that had like 5,000 to 10,000 followers on Twitter. And had a quite a bit of luck still at that level and even found some, like got on some podcasts on ESPN. And that worked really well. And then I said, okay, I’ve done this. I’ve been on, you know, 20 or 30 podcasts and now I can advertise that. So I switched over to radio and I started with some of the smaller radio, regional radio, that was non-big name. So I didn’t go for an ESPN, a Fox, a CBS show. Just get on radio. Just say I’ve been on radio now. Okay. Yeah. And I did that 5, 6, 7, maybe 10 times, and they said, okay, that’s enough of that. Now it’s time to, you know, jump it up and start to go after ESPN. So I went after ESPN in small markets, just to get the name, to say I’ve been on ESPN. It didn’t matter if it was ESPN in Desmoines, Iowa, that has a listenership of 2000 people, right? Mm-hmm. It didn’t matter. After you’ve been on ESPN it’s like, holy cow, you’ve been on ESPN. We want you. Okay? So it’s all about that name recognition. And then once I got on smaller ESPN, mid-levels ESPN, then started jumping up to the big cities and trying to get on those.
Even within big cities, the thing that I did was research. How big are the shows on a station? So just because you’re on ESPN Kansas City, there are some shows that have 10,000 listeners and there are some shows that have 250,000 listeners. Mm-hmm. So you have to be smart about how you do it and think about how you wanna do it. It’d be great to be on the 250,000 listener one, but are you gonna get on it? And so you have to think about all that. And then you have to rack and stack ’em. Because once you’re on one show, on a radio station, chances are other shows are not going to wanna have you on. At least until a bunch of time has passed. Yeah. Or you have something new to speak about. Mm-hmm. So if you really wanna be on show X, don’t ask to be on show Y first. Because if show Y says yes, we want you, you’re not gonna be on show X. So you have to be strategic about how you plan it out and think about it. And I think I’m a very strategic and, and very organized person, and I believe that was extremely helpful on planning how to get from where I was out at the beginning to how do I build this up marketing wise.
Jo: That’s such excellent advice, such good advice, like I love that. I appreciate you sharing that with my audience so much. I think that’s fantastic. Now, we talked about this a little bit last time you were on the show, but I just wanted to check in because it’s been six months. Now when we last talked, because you are traditionally published, you had mentioned that as far as promotion and marketing of your book, it felt very much like you were doing the majority of it. Is that still the case? Is your publisher helping out in any way? Or is this completely ball’s in your court, run with it?
Kevin: So, for the most part, the ball’s in my court. Where it helps. So like I mentioned before, I’m, I’m doing a lot of academic advertising. Mm-hmm. Where it helps is that, so my publisher has set up online where professors can request to get a free copy of an electronic book, which is great. Mm-hmm. Okay. But if someone says specifically, Hey, I want a hard copy, then I just send an email to my PR person back at the publishing house and say, Hey, can you please send a book to this person and this address? They’re thinking about using the book for the course and off it goes. And I get an email back two hours later. It says, oh yeah, sure, we’ll send the book out. And, for me, I can buy my own book for about 25 bucks a copy, I’ve probably requested, I don’t know, 30 or 40 free books to be sent out. Yeah. It saves me a lot of money. Yeah. Right? So that is very nice. But when it just comes to the advertising, marketing end of it, it is me. It is me.
What I will say is that for academia especially because, so my, my publisher, Roman and Littlefield, specializes in academic sales and books. Perfect. Yeah. It works really nicely. And so, and that’s how they’re built, right? So I said, you know what? I feel like I’m, I’m swimming upstream at times. Before, when I was trying to market to general audience, I said, you know, because Roman and Littlefield is built to market to academia. I said, why am I, why am I fighting this so hard? Why don’t I just market this to academia and go with what they’re built to do? And so I’ve done that and, you know, that’s a, it’s a long game. Mm-hmm. Because one, you’ve gotta get the Yes, we’re interested in it. Two, they have to read it, and professors are busy. And then you have to wait for them to integrate the book into your, into their course. Yeah. Right? Yeah. So when you’re, you’re looking at probably three to six month turnaround for the sales, which I haven’t yet seen this, right? I’ve got a list of everybody who said, yes, I’m interested, and then I, I follow up and just, you know, make sure things are moving along. But, I think it, I think in the long term that will pay nice dividends and, but yeah, it’s a lot of, you’re really on your own. Financially, I still don’t know. There’s a lot of times that I go, man, I wish I was just self-published. And then there’s times that I’m like, oh, I’m so glad I’m traditionally published.
I will say there’s a ton I learned being traditionally published that I, I would say if I’m going to, you know, if you’re going to continue to write and you want to write into the future, traditionally publish your first book. And if you’re not happy with how things turn out, you can switch to self-publishing. But you will learn a lot along the way working with the professionals from a publishing house. I think that was really good. When it comes to just sales and can you make more money self-publishing? Maybe. It depends. Because selling to academia, they wanna buy from a traditionally published author. Yeah, no doubt. It has helped me so much. And I’ve had professors come back to me and say, oh, we like Roman and Littlefield. We like your publisher. They’ve put out good stuff. We know that name and we’re comfortable with it, which is great. Right? Because that just helps you. But on the other hand, especially when it comes to just marketing with general audience, there’s times I would love to set my own price point for the book. There’s different things like that that I would love to be able to do, but I can’t. So I kind of flex with it. I have the rights to my audio. So if I wanna play with price, and wanna try to just sell more, you know, mass sell books then I can. If I wanna sell the book for 99 cent audiobook, I can do it. I don’t know how much my publisher would love that, but I, you know, it leaves me more options.
And so if you’re going to be traditionally published, one great thing to know, and your agent should do this for you. A lot of them, especially if you’re a first time author, they will give you the rights to your own audiobook, just kind of as a, Hey, we know you’re not gonna make money for this first book, but here’s the audio rights, as a we’re gonna throw you a bone. So, and take those and run with it.
Jo: Yeah. Yeah. That’s great because I can definitely see the pros and cons to both traditional publishing and indie publishing as well. I think different genres or types of books are definitely set up almost better for different routes of publishing. And it sounds like being in with Roman and Littlefield, like this is just absolutely perfect for the direction that you’re now looking into with academic in that, uh, academia, because I totally agree. I think it’s easier still at this day and age to be able to push traditionally published books to bigger organizations like that. It, it’s not like a flat out, like every case is like that, but I do still think there’s a little bit of that, generally speaking, it’s gonna be easier. Yes. And kind of what you’ve been talking all along so far, there’s something to be said for the credibility that is carried within a name, right? So you’ve got that traditionally published name that professors and that recognize with Roman and Littlefield. You’ve got, if you can get onto the shows like ESBN and that, that carries some credibility. The fact that you are putting your own name out there in the world by being repeatedly on different podcasts and radio shows, that’s creating your own brand too, which will pay dividends down the line. So, yeah. That’s really cool.
Kevin: Yeah. Yeah. If we have time, Jo, I’ve got another, the other big lesson I’ve learned deals with money. Oh yeah. You want me to talk about that? Money and marketing? Yeah. Okay. Absolutely. Yeah. You know, so first of all, I’ve tried to do this basically using none of my own money. Mm-hmm. How do you market your book for free? Okay. Not easy. Okay. So that’s why I’ve done so many podcasts and radio shows. Right? Yeah. So it absolutely helps if you can do your, you know, pay for marketing and have a good chunk stored up. I would recommend most authors try to do that when they launch their book, assess, especially if you’re going to self-publish. Mm-hmm.
Where the problem with being traditionally published is, so my book sells for about $32. Hard copy, right? Yeah. And, I make, well, eight, 8%, I think 8% of book sales. Okay? Mm-hmm. So I’m making roughly, you know, three bucks, we’ll call it three bucks a copy. Yeah. Okay. So if I try to market on Amazon and using my money to market the book, okay, I’m not going to make enough money from book sales to cover the marketing expenses that I pay for. Whereas if you control the book and you control your price point and you earn all the money back from being self-published, yeah, you can. And that is the big advantage of being self-published obviously. Right? But being traditionally published, no one’s gonna promote your book. Okay. And then furthermore, they’re not gonna promote it and you can’t pay, you’re going to, you’re gonna have a loss if you try to promote it yourself. So that’s a big catch 22 for a self-published author.
What I have seen with those who are successful, and I’ve had some companies reach out to me. So people who have some companies that absolutely are, they deal with marketing, they know how this business works, and they try to tie you in with all of the big name producers and radio and television. So if you wanna get on the Today Show, mm-hmm. Okay. If you wanna be featured on ESPN TV nationally. Yes. Right. They help train you how to do all these interviews. How to set up, you know, what does your email say? Basically, what’s your query letter? And then they practice these interviews with you. And then furthermore, they give you cheat sheets on all these professionals around saying exactly what these people are looking for. And furthermore, then set you up with interviews with them where you can pitch them one on. Which is awesome and is great, yeah. They went through the list of here’s all the big books that went through our service. And it was like big book after big book after big book. And I was like, oh my gosh, I wanna do this. Yeah. And then you find out it’s seven or $8,000 to get started. And that’s to begin. Yeah. And you’re listening to people saying, oh yeah, I spent, you know, I spent up to like $30,000 with this company, but it paid huge dividends. And I’m like, well, that’s awesome if you got $30,000. Yeah. And I can see where it go, you know. And a book about the NFL about spying in the NFL it’s a, it’s a sexy topic. Would people potentially grab onto it and it gets all this big exposure? Yeah, maybe. Yeah. But, right. It’s like, man, if you don’t have that kind of money Yeah. It’s, it’s hard, you know? And so it’s like everything else in life, it takes money to make money. Right? Yeah. Or you may just lose a lot of money like starting a business. You may, yeah, oh, okay. I’ve got $30,000. I’m gonna try to start my own business and we’ll see how it goes. And then six months later, you’re minus $30,000 and you got nothing to show for it. That is possible too. And these, these companies will tell you right away, we make no promises. We’ve had a lot of success in the past with people, but we make no promises because there are failures. And so it’s difficult. It’s hard to figure out. But if you wanna make it big, um, unless you are with a top five publishing company, at least here in the US. There’s five of ’em. Yeah. Right? I have a mid-tier publisher outside of the top five. Unless you’re in that top five, you need money. Yeah. You need money typically to be able to take your book to the level that you want right away. Without that you need to write book after book. You need years to build up your readership and to do it the slow way. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you think you’re gonna do it right off the bat with book one, um, maybe, but bring money to the table.
Jo: Yeah, I think unless you’ve already got that really established brand behind you or name behind you, you really are kind of starting from scratch. And being an author is, in many ways, like starting up a business. You can expect to be in a deficit for that first year at least, before you’re really starting to make some money. So you, I think it’s good to go in with those open eyes into doing this, that you are gonna have to have that passion to fuel you because you won’t necessarily have the money right off the bat. So I think that’s really, yeah. Yeah. That’s good.
Kevin: Yeah. You don’t want your plan to be I’m gonna hop outta college and be an author. Okay. Like, that’s a, a great way to plan on being poor for the next five to 10 years. Have something else and do it. And then write as something you love in your free time and you can build it up and hopefully one day you can make it a career and that’s great. Yeah. Um, but I would not suggest to anyone, unless you’ve really got a lot going for you to try to hop right in and try to make this a, a paying career right off the bat.
Jo: Yeah, and I think, I mean, cuz there are always those, you know, those unicorn stories where people do that, but just like in anything, I think there’s always a little bit of element of luck too, you know, like, yeah. So like you were saying, you could have spent the $30,000 and had all that extra help and prep to potentially end up getting on these shows, because you still had to do the work yourself. But even then, you’re not promised that that’s going to sell books or, um, help you in any way. There’s always a little element of luck, whether it’s the timing was right because something was happening in the world that related to your book or, you know. So there, there’s lots of different parts to being successful early in your career, I think.
Kevin: Yeah. And if you’re writing for money, I mean, given your writing cuz you’re enjoying it, but if you wanna see a payoff, what I would highly recommend doing is before you write your book, once you have your idea, one of the very first things you should do is form a marketing plan. Mm-hmm. And figure out how am I going to sell this book? Yeah. And if you reach the conclusion that it’s going to be hard to sell this book in the masses, like I want, then you either you need to reconsider your subject or reconsider if you maybe just wanna write for fun. Yeah. Versus writing for profit. It’s interesting. It’s interesting. I’ve learned a ton on the journey, but, I’ve enjoyed it. It’s just, um, yeah. It’s, it’s a, it’s a second job. Yeah. It really is. Yeah. And I always heard that once, you know, you spend as much time doing everything once someone has agreed to publish your book, as all the time you spent writing your book. And I thought, ah, yeah, that may be true in some cases, maybe for fiction writers, but not for non-fiction. Right? With all the research that goes into it? Yeah, no, it’s true. It is absolutely true. And writing is a lot more, can be a lot more fun at times than trying to do all of the marketing that comes in afterwards and doing all the just tedious cleanup and, um, administrative work that comes with trying to get published and trying to get on shows and all this. And doing podcasts and radio shows is fun. It’s great when you’re talking to people, but it’s the hours and hours and hours of sending out mindless emails saying, I would love to be on your show, and trying to research what is their email address. What do I, yeah, what are the, you know, how do I word this? How do I, you know. How do I get them to have me on the show? It’s work. Yeah.
Jo: Yeah, it is. Well, I’m so excited to see where you are at in a year’s time. Because, I mean, this is six months down the line of having your book out on the shelf. Mm-hmm. So it’d be interesting to see, like in another six months or a year or so. Well, I’m going to pivot a little bit because I’m releasing this episode as a bit of a special episode for the upcoming Super Bowl, and so I know that you’ve got some stories that you wanted to share with any of our NFL football sports fans out there who might be listening to this. So I would love to hear some of your stories that relate maybe to Super Bowls in the past, or things that you think might be going on behind the scenes maybe now? Sure. In the lead up?
Kevin: Sure. So I’ll just blab on for a while and Yeah, please do just, just jump in whenever you want. Steer me however you want. Okay. Cool. All right. So what I’ll say is that, you know, spying or collecting information on your opponents is really no different for the Super Bowl than it is for the rest of the year. However, right? It’s a big game and everybody wants to win it. Mm-hmm. And so there is all this incentive to spy. And there is also, you know, usually from week to week, you’ve got seven days to prepare for your next opponent. Well, really six days, right? So there’s not a lot of time. But when you have this Super Bowl, games before the Super Bowl, you’ve got an extra week. And so you’ve got all this extra time, and furthermore, your opponent has time to change things. Meaning from week to week, how much can you really change what your team is doing? Not a lot, but when you have an extra week, you can go, well, we can throw in some wrinkles, some special plays, and all this. So which gives your opponent, which gives, you know, whatever team you’re with, the incentive to say, oh, you know what, they’re gonna throw in some new stuff. How do we learn about that new stuff? It’s not on film, it’s not gonna be out there. Well, spying on their practices, right? One of the only ways potentially to be able to get that type of information. So there’s all that incentive and there’s a bunch of paranoia about it as well.
So what I will say is that, you know, there’s a lot of stories when it comes to the, I call ’em the dark arts. You know, the techniques that are prohibited by the NFL. There’s all this paranoia that these dark arts are being used and there is, um, that has taken place at times in the past for championship games. But for the most part, there’s a lot more stories about the ridiculous measures that teams use to try to prevent these spying efforts than there are actual stories about, you know, those, those techniques being employed.
So, I’ll give you example of just how extreme it can get. So before the 1998 Super Bowl between the Broncos, Denver Broncos and the Green Bay Packers. Uh, Denver’s coach, Mike Shanahan was really worried about his practice field, the practice field that they were using in San Diego, where the Super Bowl was being held, being spied upon by members of the Packer staff. So because there was this big hill overlooking the practice field. So what Shanahan did was he actually hired 18 Navy Seals, right? The premier of, you know, US special forces, to go and secure this hill and to make sure that no one was going to spy on it. Which he did effectively. The funny thing is, the Bronco’s owner at the time, Pat Bowlen, said that there was a news helicopter that flew over the practice. Which has always been a worry about coaches, you know? Mm-hmm. Oh, there’s gotta be a spy up in this helicopter or this plane, you know? And so, uh, Pat Bowlen, this is a quote from him, he said, uh, “Mike went crazy. I think he expected one of these guys to shoot a SAM missile at it and knock it out of the air.” So, you know, coaches, they get really, I mean, talk about paranoid. Yeah. I mean, that is, that is, you know, to the nth degree.
Jo: Yeah, that, it’s just amazing. I remember, like I know you’ve got this in your book, you had, uh, in a, the blurb or something like that, you’d mentioned that at one point, um, a little person dressed up as a baby and was pushed out onto the field or something, or during a practice or something like that. Is that something that happened?
Kevin: Right. So that was, um, let me get this right. I don’t wanna say it wrong, but Yes. That did indeed…
Jo: That image just sticks in my head. Yes. Yeah. For how ridiculous it is.
Kevin: Right, right. So it was, it was with George. George Allen was the coach at the time, and he was with the Rams and another team was practicing in Hollywood. Okay. So they were about to play the Rams. And they were doing their walkthrough practice before, the day before the game and all of that. And allegedly, the Rams coach, George Allen, wanted to know what this opponent was, what are they, what are they doing? Let’s spy on their practice and let’s, let’s figure this out. So, supposedly they put a little person in a stroller with a video camera and had a woman of mothering age push this little person past the field, the practice field where the opponent was practicing and, and recorded footage of the practice. And, you know, was it effective? Did they get anything out of this? No idea. And is it even a legitimate story? I can’t even tell you that either. I don’t know a hundred percent. But this story was basically a rumor. It was a, Hey, we played against the Rams and this is, this is what happened. You know. And George Allen, the Rams, never admitted to any of this, so it’s kind of always been, well, did it happen, did it not? Really, it doesn’t matter. The fact is an opponent believed this happened, a team was going to those extents, and this is what drives the paranoia in the league.
And there are plenty of other stories that I have in my book, in Spies on the Sidelines, about teams going to ridiculous extents, such as Al Davis, the coach of the Raiders, a famed coach. When he was on the Charger staff as an assistant coach, of him, like dressing up as a reporter and going into the Denver Bronco’s locker room after they played that team to debrief a player and say, Hey, so-and-so, what is the toughest thing for you to defend against? And that player taking, you know, taking out chalk and putting up on a chalkboard and saying, oh, this is what I hate to defend against. Man, when teams do this, it’s so hard. And, you know, and he’s just there taking notes. And so it may seem ridiculous that anyone would believe that a team would put a little person in a stroller and all of that. But when you think about how far teams have, how far they’ve been willing to go, it’s not as farfetched as you think.
Stories about coaches sending their own personnel, members of their coaching staff to go through telephone climbing schools so that they can be spies pretending to be working on telephone lines because they’ve got a great vantage point to spy on practices. So when you think about stuff like that, it’s, it’s pretty crazy the extent that teams are willing to go to. And so, the paranoia that goes on before the Super Bowl, it’s, it’s founded. It’s there for a reason. And if teams are not taking the measures to protect themselves, they’re gonna get burned and Yeah. And so they do.
Jo: So you are saying that, so this is still really prevalent today, so this is still probably going on, that’s what you’re saying?
Kevin: I’ll give you an example of it. So, um, before the, the Patriots played the Rams in the Super Bowl, right? We’re still talking about Bill Belichick, still coaching today. So before they played the Rams held their walkthrough, they were both practicing, um, at the Super Bowl location. And the Patriots practiced before the Rams took the field. Now, most of the Patriots staff left after their practice, but a couple of videographers stuck behind not filming anything, just there in the bleachers. Mm-hmm. Okay? And the Rams are even aware of this. They just didn’t think enough of it to kick him out. And so what happened was the Rams planned on using the running back Marshall Faulk in a few ways that were very different from how he had ever been employed during the rest of the season. Right? And the videographers that were in the crowd saw this. They saw how he was going to be employed. Yeah. And so one of those guys went back and was debriefed by the Patriots defensive coordinator. And said, Hey, here’s everything I saw. Here’s what they were doing. And then as such, the defensive coordinator adjusted the game plan accordingly to, to reflect, and to try to counter what the Rams we’re planning on doing. Because of that, the heavily favored Rams lost the game. They were very unsuccessful at doing everything that they planned on using Marshall Faulk to do, and it ended up being really a key turning point in the game.
Now the Rams believed, uh, at least a, a quite a few members of the Rams staff and players believed that the Patriots had actually taped the footage of the game, but it wasn’t the case. It was simply someone, you know, on their staff had had seen this. And the Patriots have a habit of this. Even Bill Belichick’s son who works on the Patriot’s staff has been caught being one of those people who linger behind while other teams practice. Right. So it is absolutely something that is part of the Patriots culture. Part of their plan to spy. And it goes on and it takes place and it takes place in Super Bowls.
Jo: So what team do you think then probably does all this spying and kind of underhanded stuff the best and is able to push the boundaries or has been able to push the boundaries the best and kind of get away with it? Do you have an opinion of that?
Kevin: Yeah, so if we’re talking modern day current football, it’s Bill Belichick and the Patriots. No doubt about it. Yeah. Okay. But what I saw through the research for this book was that there is always a Patriots version out there that is doing this stuff. It started with George Halas, who was, the first coach for the Bears, but he is also considered the founder of the league by many people. He was involved with this stuff. Sid Gillman with the Chargers. Weeb Ewbank with the Jets and the Colts later, um, Al Davis with the Raiders, you know, up to Bill Belichick today, and lots of other coaches that I could fill in, and then plenty more coaches that I’m not even aware of what they do.
Mm-hmm. Because here’s the thing. Think about it like with international spying, okay? So, you know, if it’s a, um, Australian passing secrets to China, right? You know, state level secrets. Mm-hmm. . . Okay. For every one person who’s caught doing something like that, how many people are doing something similar that never get caught? That’s true. Yeah. Okay. And then how long does it take for this one person to get caught? Yeah. You know, sometimes this type of stuff goes on for years or for decades. So same thing applies to the NFL. Right? Okay. We know Bill Belichick does it today. How many other coaches are involved?
So to give you an example, like when everything with Spygate came out, which was, you know, the Patriots illegally, or not illegally, but um, illicitly taping the signals of other teams of their opponents. Jimmy Johnson, who was the coach for the Cowboys, came out and said, oh yeah, we did the same thing a long time ago. We just, we didn’t find it beneficial. And then furthermore, I learned how to do it from a scout who was with Kansas City over a decade before that. Right? So all of this stuff, you know, there’s a long history of doing it. And Belichick got caught in doing it, but Jimmy Johnson didn’t get caught doing this. The Kansas City Chiefs beforehand weren’t caught doing it. So yeah, it just goes to show that, you know, for every one person that’s caught, there is a long line of teams and coaches that are involved in the same old stuff.
Jo: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Now, my husband wants me to ask you this, and I know because you are, um, even though it’s on hold at the moment, you’ve been working on writing a book on College Football. How much do you think this filters down then? These things that gets implemented with NFL and that, the kind of spying and that, are you seeing a strong pattern of that kind of filtering down into College Football as well?
Kevin: Absolutely. So most of it started with College Football. I see. So College Football was around from roughly the 1880s, so it had a 40 plus year start on the NFL. Yeah. So, it’s not a coincidence that George Halas who’s considered one of the founders of the NFL was one of the first ones doing all this type of stuff. Because it was around… it was around from right then for a reason, and George Halas didn’t invent all of it, right? So it is very applicable but there’s differences.
So a few of the differences that I find are, one, there’s a lot more teams. So when you come to the amount of stories that are out there about spying in College Football, you’ve got way more teams, and furthermore, you’ve got 40 to 50 more years of history about this type of stuff going on in a different time period. And so as technology evolves, spying evolves. So you’ve got stories back from the 1880s, you know, before television, and so how does that affect it? How does it change all of this? And it absolutely does, which I find very interesting.
And then furthermore, there are rules differences between the NFL and College Football. So to give you an example, in College Football, well, in Pro Football, there’s coach to player communication via headsets. In College Football, that is not allowed. So coaches have to hold up signs on the sidelines to basically send in the upcoming play. Which of course allows for teams to try to steal signals by deciphering, okay, what does that signal mean? But it’s not that easy because in College Football, there’s no advanced scouting allowed where a person from that team, from that coaching staff can go watch the games of their upcoming opponents. That is allowed in the N F L, but not allowed in college football. Now, of course you can watch their film, but that film is not going to show much about what’s taking place on the sideline and these signs being held up. So what are you gonna do? Well, your coaching staff can’t go to your opponents games, but your players can. Furthermore, fans and boosters can go to those same games. And do you think maybe after they come back from a game, they’re getting debriefed on what they saw and what they learned and that there aren’t people taking notes on all of this? Of course. But it changes, so it changes how spying is done and what teams have to do and, and how they go about it. So I think that’s a very interesting aspect of the game as well.
Jo: So fascinating. It’s just so mind boggling to me because, you know, well just, football, NFL, all of it, College Football, it’s such a huge part of Yeah, just sports. I mean, it’s known all around the world. I’m in New Zealand and I know about it. Right? But knowing that there’s all this scandal and that going beneath the scenes and this spying on each other and everything, it’s just absolutely mind boggling. Like just, yeah. Throws me. Absolutely. So I’d love for you to remind the audience, the listeners where they can find your book and learn more about you and listen to some of your other shows and things like that as well.
Kevin: Yeah. Great. So, um, so my website is www.spiesonthesidelines.com and it does sell in some New Zealand major bookstores online. But it’s available on Amazon and most, you know, American major book retailers as well. There is a hard copy version. There’s an ebook out there, and as well as the audiobook. And like I said, I have the audiobook rights, so I sell the audiobook at half the price of the hard copy. So if you’re looking to save a few bucks, it’s right there for you.
Jo: Well, it’s just been so wonderful having you back on the show and hearing how your book’s going and your promotion for it and having you just share some of those stories as well. My husband’s, I don’t know if he’s started listening to it or not, but I know he’s downloading the audio book from you, so that’s cool. Oh great. And yeah, and his brother as well cuz they’re big fans, so Yeah. So it’s awesome. So thank you so much for coming back on the show.
Kevin: That’s great. Yeah. Well thanks for having me again, Jo. Really appreciate it. It was great talking to you.
Jo: Here’s some takeaways from today’s show.
1. Getting on podcasts and radio helps build your credibility as a nonfiction subject matter expert, and increases your brand, which in turn will transfer into increased sales over time.
2. Consider reaching out to colleges and universities and other educational institutions for bulk sales.
3. Kevin’s advice is to consider spending a year promoting a new book, particularly as a new writer.
4. Create a solid marketing plan before you write your book. Make sure to scaffold it, to reach your goals.
5. Being traditionally published can help with selling to the educational sector. But self-publishing may get you higher royalties. Both forms of publishing have perks and drawbacks, so do your research.
6. Consider ensuring you have money put aside for marketing when launching your book. Kevin’s advice is it takes money to make money.
7. Most importantly, to be successful and not burn out as a writer, make sure you love what you are doing.
So I hope you enjoyed today’s show and took away some new ideas around marketing your non-fiction book. If you enjoy sports or fascinated by the spine and espionage that goes on behind the scenes in the NFL, make sure that you go check out Kevin’s book, Spies on the Sidelines, for a lot more shocking and humorous stories. It’s available as a Kindle eBook, hardcover, and at a great price as an audio book as well.
And as always, if you enjoyed this episode, there’s a myriad of ways that you can help support me to keep this podcast going. And I always really, really appreciate the support. You can follow me on social media or send me a DM. You can rate or leave a review on your favorite podcast platform. Or you can buy me a coffee at www.buymeacoffee.com/jobuer. So you will find all the links in the show notes and today’s transcript on my website as well. So until next time my friends enjoy the conference championships and happy writing.