182: “Landing a Book Publishing Deal” with Jadah Sellner

The Single Biggest Mistake Most Authors Make

“There are no unique messages, only unique messengers.” – Jadah Sellner

Are you curious about what goes into writing and how to pour your heart onto the page? Would you like to know how to have a deeper relationship with your book and find its core essence?

Your book is more than just words on a page. It’s a reflection of who you are in the world as a unique person — your story, your upbringing and the choices you make.

On this week’s episode of “Authors Who Lead,” I am so excited to share a recording that my friend Jadah Sellner and I did for her podcast, “Lead With Love.” We have another behind-the-scenes conversation about her book writing process (and mine, too). To get caught up, listen to part one of our conversation here and part two here.

Getting to Your Core Message

The core message of your book needs to come from deep within you. You might have already been talking about your message, but until you allow the book to transform you, it won’t be clarified.

Digging deep into your message will also help you focus on who the message is for. 

While writing the early drafts of my book, I thought the core message was for me and how we’re not listening to students. But after the third draft, I realized that the message was for the reader — the teacher who wants to be a good teacher for their students.

It’s the joyful outcome that I wanted the reader to leave with, not the details of my rant against education systems.


In the first couple of iterations of my book, I had so much information that it was overwhelming. I turned to a tool that I call “BE W.I.L.D.,” which helps instructors learn how to become great teachers. It’s more than simply asking kids questions. It’s about understanding how they learn and what they need from you as a teacher.

Then, once you’ve listened to their intent and not just heard their words, you’ll have a better grasp on what will truly help them.

Writing a Book From Your Soul 

Jadah didn’t want to write a book she thought she “should” write. She wanted to write a book that her “soul wanted to write,” she said.

She also wanted it to make sense for her community and clients. This is why she highly recommends that authors find a program, group, or community to write with and talk to about their books. And so, she not only hired me as a book coach, but she also brought on a soul coach to get to the core of her own essence.

I like to tell my authors to think on the page, which allows you to write your first draft quickly while reassessing your thoughts along the way. We are always changing and evolving, and as Jadah experienced, when we work through our books, we build a deeper relationship with them.

Obstacles in Writing a Book

Jadah asks me during our discussion about some of the obstacles I’ve faced while writing my book. Coaching other authors over the years has shown me what kind of resistance can come up while writing a book — yet, as an author, I still experience all those insecurities that other authors feel. They sound like: “This is terrible, no one’s going to like this, this isn’t going to be any good.”

To combat those intrusive thoughts, I keep a post-it on my computer that says “I am an author” to remind myself that these feelings are normal. I also remind myself of my successes, like that my TEDx talk has done really well, fetching over 2.7 million views. So when the voices in my head — I like to call them “The Committee” — start talking about how bad my book is going to be, I tell myself that it has nothing to do with my book.

I learned from the TEDx talk that it’s important not to get too big or too complex in my book. We need to keep our messages simple so that the complexity comes from their own thinking. The mundane and simple are actually what interest readers the most.

The Biggest Mistakes Authors Make

As we write our books, we grow as authors. If we wrote our book 10 years ago and picked it up again to rewrite it now, it would be a very different book because we are different.

“The biggest mistake I see authors make is thinking that they have to be perfect or their message has to be so clear because they are changing in the middle of writing,” I said to Jadah. 

This is why we need to be present on the page every day we write and not worry if it’s perfect — because it will change. It is your truth, heart and soul at the time of writing, and that is what your readers need.

I’ve also noticed that authors try to hoard their stories, with the intention of saving them for a future memoir or a different book. But we shouldn’t be afraid to tell our stories more than once, as the meaning and understanding of the story might change. We also can get more clues, visual memories, and sensory details as we tell the story again.

If you are working through the heart and soul of your book, keep in mind my greatest takeaways from my conversation with Jadah:

  1. Don’t make the common mistake of writing what you know. Consider writing who you are as a unique person.
  2. Give yourself a chance to breathe in your writing. Even if you write your book fairly quickly, you still need to let it breathe and allow it to become its own.
  3. Dream big and write that book or proposal, and share your message with the world.

What was your biggest takeaway from this episode? Do you have a book in your heart and soul you want to write? Share in the comments below!

Episode Resources:

» Authors Who Lead

» Azul’s TEDx Talk, “What Makes a Good Teacher Great?” 

» “The Art of Apprenticeship: How to Hack Your Way into Any Industry, Land a Kick-Ass Mentor, and Make A Killing Doing What You Love” by Azul Terronez

» “The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level” by Gay Hendricks 

» “How to Help Your Anxious Teen: Discovering the Surprising Sources of Their Worries and Fears” by Jessica Thompson

» Lead with Love #156: #BTS: Behind the scenes of my next book part 1

» Lead with Love #145: Writing a book that changes you first with Azul Terronez

» NaNoWriMo

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