188: “When to Write a Book and Change Your Career” with Cory Jenks

How to Double Your Book Sales with This One Tactic

“And I said to myself, well, I can’t push myself out of my current profession into a speaking career right now. That’s just not an option. So how can I adapt?” —Cory Jenks

As a pharmacist and improv comedian, Cory Jenks had ideas he wanted to share with the healthcare community to improve their interactions with patients. He was geared up to speak all around the country before the pandemic hit in 2020 and derailed his plans. But his training as an improv comedian taught him how to adapt to any situation, which helped him pivot from speaking to writing a book.

While still working full time, Cory wrote down all his ideas and wrote his first draft for his book, Permission to Care: Building a Healthcare Culture That Thrives in Chaos. I got to know Cory when he brought his manuscript to us to publish through our Mandala Tree Press publishing company.

On this week’s episode of “Authors Who Lead,” I talk to Cory Jenks about his journey of writing his book and combining two different types of careers into something new.

How Improv and Medicine Mix

Even as a young boy, Cory was interested in improv comedy because he grew up watching The Simpsons and Saturday Night Live. In college, he decided to do the “responsible” thing and focused on pharmacy. However, his love for comedy followed him, and he became interested in a college improv group and later took improv classes. He ended up joining an improv company, and now he not only performs but teaches as well.

As a pharmacist, Cory stayed involved in the improv comedy scene, and over time, he started noticing that his interactions as a pharmacist improved. “We’re not known for being the warmest, most empathetic people,” he explains. As he interacted with his patients, he found he was using rules of improv to adapt to different situations.

Impact on Healthcare

As Cory saw the benefit of mixing improv with his interactions as a pharmacist, he was excited to see the bigger picture of how the rules of improv could enhance healthcare. “I think healthcare needs this. We need a little bit more empathy, a little bit more adaptability.” He started teaching workshops for his state association to share what he’d learned.

During these workshops, as well as inside his book, Cory teaches the rules of improv to help healthcare professionals work better with their patients. For example, the first rule he mentions is the idea of “Yes, And.” Anyone who has been to the doctor or a pharmacy knows that there are many times when you are denied healthcare or prescription coverage, treatments, or medicines. On the flip side, healthcare professionals encounter negative responses from other professionals and organizations. The “Yes, And” approach opens up a world of yes if the two sides can listen and work together as a team instead of fighting.

The Book Journey

As Cory worked with our team at Authors Who Lead to edit and publish his book, the message of the book changed and became more focused. Combining improv with healthcare seemed like an abstract concept at first. As he worked with our editors, it was evident that the book solved a bigger problem than just helping healthcare professionals get along better with people. It showed that the vision of using improv could actually help with the bigger healthcare culture crisis.

Book Sales

Once Cory’s book was written and edited, he needed to start thinking about selling the book in order to reach more people. He put it up on pre-order with “nifty” bonuses such as a PDF that tells how improv can help interactions with patients, a Spotify list of music he listened to while writing the book, and bonus material that was cut from the book.

During our conversation, I suggested other ideas that authors can use to bring in more book sales. I worked with Rob Angel, inventor of the game Pictionary and author of Game Changer: The Story of Pictionary and How I Turned a Simple Idea into the Bestselling Board Game in the World, and I advised him to stop asking people to buy his book. He was confused: “Well, wait for a second here. Like, how’s that going to help me?” I explained that he should instead start asking people to buy multiples of his book. Imagine if you doubled your sales by just stopping telling people to buy one book?

Also, if you are a corporate trainer or speaking to a large crowd, you could ask the organizer to order one of your books for each attendee. Whether or not you get a speaker’s fee, at least you will have sold more books than you might normally have in a month.

Just Do It

For anybody who’s inspired to write a book, Cory’s best advice is to get out of your head and just start writing. Whether you start writing on your phone, writing by hand or using a computer, just start writing your ideas down. You can edit later, but you need to get out as much writing as you can to fill up the blank space on your screen or paper.

As you start writing, you might feel like an imposter—like you’re a fraud or that maybe you’re not the expert you think you are. So you have doubts. But becoming an expert is more about saying, “I think I can help because here is how it’s helped me.” Expertise is not an award, a badge, or a degree. It’s a willingness to say, “I’m trying something that’s working that I want you to try as well.” An expert is more like a guide than a guru, meaning you can be an expert to somebody who is just a few steps behind you.

When you move forward and stand in your power, you will really help tons of people, just like Cory did when he decided to use his skill as a pharmacist and an improv comedian to help healthcare professionals become better at their jobs.

If you are ready to start your book journey, keep in mind my greatest takeaways from my conversation with Cory:

  1. The book journey can change you as an author. Narrowing down the ideas that you have found successful in your life can help you change or merge two different careers.
  2. Just do it. Get out of your head and just start writing down all your ideas.
  3. An expert is more like a guide than a guru. You can help those who are just a few steps behind you.

What was your biggest takeaway from this episode? Are you afraid you don’t have enough expertise to share? Remember that you have things you do better than other people, and sharing what you know could help them. Let us know what is holding you back in the comments below!

That’s all for this week. Remember to take action and write your expertise into a book!

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188: “When to Write a Book and Change Your Career” with Cory Jenks188: “When to Write a Book and Change Your Career” with Cory Jenks