Richard Jacobs: Hello, this is Richard Jacobs with the future tech and future tech health podcast. I have Tony Guerra. He’s a pharmacist. He’s also a professor at Des Moines area community college in Iowa, so Tony, thanks for coming. How are you doing?
Dr. Tony Guerra: Hey, I’m doing pretty good. It’s a pretty good afternoon here. And excited to be on.
Richard Jacobs: Well, great. Tell me a little bit about you know, you’re a pharmacist and a professor, but what are your interests? What are you working on and what engages you?
Dr. Tony Guerra: Mostly it’s turning books into audiobooks. I think people are really busy and it started maybe 2016 where I wrote and created my first audiobook. And this was back when Amazon was providing significant revenue streams or audible was providing significant revenue streams to authors in terms of if they got someone to join audible then they would get this bonus or whatever. And at first I made 10, $15,000 the first year, but then it kind of blew up to closer to 50,000 a year. And I recycled that money into writing more books. And so now I’m closer to 20 audiobooks. And now instead of just helping with pharmacology, one of the classes that I teach in college, I’ve worked with other people Eric Christianson for Med Ed 101 on pharmacotherapy books, two of them, TLDR pharmacy’s Brandon Dyson worked on a residency interview book of him, Blair Tila Meyer, a pharmacy consulting business book with her. And then really just the four biggies, pharmacology, pharmacotherapy, your career. And then for some people getting into pharmacy school, but that’s not really the priority. It’s really helping with people’s entrepreneurship and their entrepreneurial road as their kind of very busy with both their job and their side hustle.
Richard Jacobs: Are you reading the books or are you taking the existing books and voicing them over for audio?
Dr. Tony Guerra: I’ve written all but three of them. I didn’t write the two that Eric Christianson wrote and I didn’t write the one that Blair wrote and I co-wrote the one with Brandon Dyson. But all the other ones I’ve written. And really it’s just, I’ll put up a YouTube video that’s maybe helpful and all of a sudden it gets a certain number of thousand views and I’m like, Oh, that’s maybe a road I should take. And some of them work out and some of them don’t. So for example recently I wrote a strong residency letter of intent. I had put up a video on letters of intent and it got a couple of hundred then a couple of thousand views in just a couple of weeks or so. And I’ve got close to 20,000 YouTube subscribers. So that’s somewhat significant when you have a significant portion of your group watching it. So but I’ve written them for the most part. And then like partnering with people as well, if it makes sense. And it’s something that they don’t want to do. I take over the audio and then we just kind of split the revenue after.
Richard Jacobs: I’m a very auditory learner as you probably are too. And it always is frustrating when there’s a book that’s only available on Kindle and hardcover. I think all books should be audio too cause a lot of people just want to listen instead.
Dr. Tony Guerra: Yeah and kind of a hack in terms of the technology that Amazon uses are that if you are an author, especially if you’re like an author speaker and you only have a book, then there’s no voice when you go to the Amazon page. But if you have an audiobook, you get up to a five-minute introduction and it doesn’t have to actually even have to be part of your book. It can just be an introduction to the book or to your topic and you just can’t compete If you got two equal books, one book gets to talk to the person and one book doesn’t then you certainly get an advantage. So not only because people want to hear audio, but also because it really gives you a tremendous advantage. If you’re having, trying to get organic traffic to your book if it can talk to you, it’s going to be a much better position.
Richard Jacobs: What would you recommend an author talks about? Should they just read a sample from the book? Or how should they frame that five-minute audio to make it more effective?
Dr. Tony Guerra: So I only write nonfiction books, but you want to take kind of a lesson out of fiction, which is not to start in the middle and you want to start in the most exciting thing and what authors are usually afraid of is that someone’s going to take their big idea and then they’re going to steal it and then they’re going to run with it and then they’re going to lose it. But what you do is you just take, well, you’ve got these seven great tips and you give them two and a half of them. And then just like when you’re going down a Facebook page and you only get half the page, you got to see what the next half of the page is. And the next half of the page. And so you want to not only have a great hook, have a great engaging story, but also stop in the middle of that story. So they have to pick up the book to get the rest of the story or maybe even the end of the story or at least that third tip.
Richard Jacobs: So here are two tips if you want to get the rest to get my book ABC blah blah blah. Okay, it makes sense. It’s good. So Amazon’s platform lets you do five minutes and put it up there for free. Is that what the benefit is or just, how did that work if I were to do that for a book I did?
Dr. Tony Guerra: Right. So you would have to create the audiobook and as part of the upload process, you’ve got your introduction, which is your title and author and publisher and all that stuff. And then you’ve got your outro, but then you’ve also got a five minute retail sample. And that five-minute retail sample is where you put in that other part to kind of introduce them to you. But it doesn’t have to be so much about the book. It can also be about your public speaking. It can also be about what value you give. It can also be about a number of other things. So you can be very strategic about what you want because what you’re basically doing is giving them a five-minute intro to you and you can lead them to a site or you can lead them to a funnel or whatever you want to, but it doesn’t have to end there. And what you can do is you can give them something else that’s free, that’s maybe longer that they can continue to listen to. Then they can buy into whatever it is that you want to provide. The only service I provide is everything else. I just sell books. But the only service I provide is helping graduate students with their letters of intent. And statements of purpose. But otherwise, everything I do is the product.
Richard Jacobs: Do you recommend that the author reads their own book or is it better to have a professional voiceover for you?
Dr. Tony Guerra: It depends on your voice, but in general, if you’re nonfiction, you want to read your own book, but because it does take a ton of time and I’m cash-heavy and time-poor because I’ve got three kids and I’ve got a lot going on. So I’ve had all of the books read by someone else except for their most recent one, which I did. And it was only an hour long. But if you’re in consulting, if you’re in speaking, you should absolutely read your own book. But because I’m really not in consulting and speaking, I’m in the product really then it makes more sense for me to hire a professional. And it’s not uncommon for three to $400 per finished hour to be what it costs. So a seven-hour book will run you about 2100 2,400. And then in terms of what it would cost you if you recorded it yourself, that’s about $75 an hour or so you’re talking, you know, just a fraction of that maybe, you know, get closer to $700 or $800. So if you are first time author, you’re not sure I’d recorded myself for sure for two reasons. One, it’s cheaper. And two, because your audience wants to hear from you. They don’t necessarily want to hear a great version of you.
Richard Jacobs: Well, what if there’s someone famous in your field and they’re willing to read it and they have a good voice? Or if there’s a, you know, someone that’s just kind of like a fantastic voice, like, you know, like James Earl Jones used to.
Dr. Tony Guerra: Yeah, Darth Vader comes over once to read it. No, and that’s kind of a benefit reward. If you happen to have a friend in your circle that has that kind of gravitas and people would want to hear them, then they also become kind of the target of the book. So it takes attention away from you or it might take away attention from you. It kind of depends. But in general, if I had access to a celebrity, I would probably actually work with them to write the book in such a way that it would make sense for their persona as well as mine rather than just saying, Hey here, famous can you read my book? But you really want it to be an extension of yourself. And then one mistake I see authors making is they assume that an audiobook is just a red version of an eBook or a print book. A print book should have its own audience. Maybe it’s back of the house sales for a public speaker and an electronic book should have an audience in terms of clicking to certain sites that you want them to go to. And then the audio audience is for the person on the go. So it should be cut up in such a way that they could do it. Just like a podcast like yours, 20 minutes at a time, very short a chapter so that they can continue to follow along and not get lost in the details. So three different books are what you want to make sure that you get out of print eBook and audiobook.
Richard Jacobs: Well that’s interesting. So how different would you make an audiobook? Can you call it the same title, but how much of it has to be the same in order to be the same title and you just say, Oh, it’s the audio version of your book. And I mean, I can say more about that with some of the ways to do it, right?
Dr. Tony Guerra: I’ll give you an example. For example, the pharmacology books that I sell, the audiobook would be terrible if it followed the book. Literally word for word. So what you have to add to the book is more story and kind of frame in facts within it. Like, okay, well this mnemonic comes from this and it makes it a little bit more interesting. But if you’re naturally writing kind of stories of people that maybe you’ve helped with your business or you’ve helped with your technology, then that already lends to an audiobook. And what you might want to do is do it word for word because it’ll sell better if it’s identical to the book, because then you’ll get a cheaper price on Amazon. It’ll be linked up as whisper sync to the eBook. So you can stop reading the eBook, go right to the audiobook where you left off at the eBook. So it really depends on the topic and if it makes sense. But if you’re telling stories and you’re a business person, you’re telling great stories of people you’ve helped, then probably read it yourself and read it word for word, and write it as a script when you’re writing the original book.
Richard Jacobs: So ideally you do the book, you write it, you speak it exactly, to do an audiobook version. Then you alter it and then you do it. I guess. I don’t know what you’d call it. Again, you want the exact replica and audio, but then you also want this additional thing you were saying, right?
Dr. Tony Guerra: Yeah, and I always start with the eBook because what I do is when I’m creating the audiobook, it also filters this kind of an editing process like, wow, when I said that it didn’t really sound very good, or man, it just kind of muddle here. Okay, let’s change the audiobook. Let’s cut this out, or let’s change the eBook. Let’s cut this out of the eBook. Let’s work this into the audio. Okay, so now the eBook is perfect. The audio is perfect. Now we’ll put the print book out there because it’s a lot more difficult to fix a print book. So while traditionally people think, Oh, I’m going to create this print book, then I’ll keep creating e-version. Then I’ll create an audio version. You actually want to go electronic first. Use that audio time to listen to how it works and get other people to listen to it and see where it kind of stops. And maybe the energy kind of dips a little bit and punch it up, whatever you need to do. Then after that, then you get the print book and do the print run. So again, it may be counterintuitive, but that’s what I found works the best in terms of sharpening what you’ve already created. And then making that process of working with a professional narrator even more profitable by making it just sound so much better when you can change the script as they’re kind of going through it.
Richard Jacobs: Oh, that’s the good stuff. I really want the non-obvious stuff that’ll help. So that’s great. That’s great advice. How about the promotion part of it? Do you work in that area or is that left to other people?
Dr. Tony Guerra: Yeah, so I’m just a little guy. I’m closer to a hundred a year in terms of my side hustle. So I’m not really pulling in seven figures and things like that. I have a strong YouTube presence. I have a strong Twitter presence, but obviously that’s kind of not really the platform to be on. Where I’m a bit weak is certainly Instagram. But I’m somewhat strong on Facebook too. So in terms of promotion, I really use my podcast to kind of promote the book, but also talk to people that would be using it. And then in terms of YouTube, that’s when I do my launches. Every time you write a book for audible, if you keep it as an audible exclusive, they’ll give you 200 free codes to give away. So that’s a ton of people. If you’ve got a list of even a couple of hundred people, that’s a lot of people that can write reviews for you. That’s a lot of people that can talk to other people about it. And you still get paid for the book as if it got sold. So that really starts you off with basically 200 sales from whatever book, whatever length. So they’ve really kind of set it up in such a way now that if you’ve got a list, you’re going to be successful with a book regardless.
Richard Jacobs: Well, when you say Audible exclusive, does that mean the audio versions audible exclusive?
Dr. Tony Guerra: No, no. That means the audio. You can either go audible exclusive, which means that only goes on Audible and iTunes and you get 40% of any revenue from it or you can go wide. That is, you can sell it anywhere in the world and then you only get 25% of the revenue instead of 40%. But I’ve been exclusive with all of my books just because I don’t really have a tremendous wide reach. Although my podcast does go to like 50 or 60 countries. I really niche to US nursing pharmacy and medical students. So because of that, it doesn’t necessarily make sense for me to go wide. But if you stay with audible, they’ll give you enough free codes and enough revenue from those books that you actually can, if you read them yourself, you actually make a small profit by creating a book, reading it yourself and getting it to your list and getting those 200 sales in.
Richard Jacobs: Hmm. Okay. Interesting. That makes a lot of sense. I guess there’s a whole world of doing these the right way and promoting them and everything. So that’s a good insight. What about the topics you talk about like you said, they’re very niche. What’s an example of some of your audiences? Like who would want to read things about let’s say pharmacology?
Dr. Tony Guerra: Oh yeah, so that was kind of the first big quotation fingers hit where nursing students don’t generally have chemistry before pharmacology. So there’s a big kind of gap in between. And because of that gap, this kind of fills it in so that as they’re going to school, as they’re going to classes, as they’re commuting, they can kind of listen to it. And there are 3 million nurses. So although that’s not the number of nursing students, that’s a much bigger population than the 300,000 pharmacists. So the reason that does well is that there are just so many nursing students and pharmacology was really, it’s really one of the two classes that really are tough for them. The other big hit, if you want to call it a hit, is the residency interview and then a phone interview, survival trip tips because an interview, much like public speaking is something that is very time-dependent and the consequences of doing poorly are tremendous. You don’t get the job, you lose all that money and all that stuff. So failing pharmacology is a fear, failing the interview is a fear. And I don’t write to people’s fears, but what I’m finding is that if you want to solve a problem and you want the book to sell, then you find something that is really, really hurting someone and, or really, really scaring someone and you just go in and do your best to help them with it. And that’s what the two bestselling books I have are, they’re there to help students who are worried about pharmacology and failing it. And we’ve been able to increase the pass rates just this is anecdotally, but by about 10% with just listening to the book on the way in back to school. And then in terms of the interviews, we’re hearing good reports that people are getting residencies, people are getting jobs by not making some small mistakes that maybe they didn’t think about as they were kind of going into it and then they’re a little bit better prepared.
Richard Jacobs: Yeah, that’s great.
Dr. Tony Guerra: But my best advice is to pick something that’s really a pain point.
Richard Jacobs: Yeah. Makes sense. So what is it specifically that you’ll do? You’ll do the reading for people or were you do the, you know, the method of actually creating the book. Like again, what do you do for people?
Dr. Tony Guerra: Oh, it depends. Like I just write my own books, but if for example, if I was working with you on a book, then I would take an existing book that you have that you didn’t make into audio. And I would either hire a narrator or I can narrate it myself. I would also do the editing to make it for the ear, I guess is the industry buzz word. If I wanted to do that and then we would just share revenue of just the audio portion of it. But really the only service I provide really is again, that doing residency letter of intents, helping with editing of something like that, or a statement of purpose. That’s just something that I can do relatively within a window of time. There’s a season for it. And it’s not something that doesn’t take too much away from my regular job. So really the audiobooks were a side hustle that just happens to make a full-time income.
Richard Jacobs: Okay, that’s great. That would be a good book for you to write. How to make a side hustle into a full-time makeup.
Dr. Tony Guerra: I’m writing that as we speak.
Richard Jacobs: Well if you do it, it’s a great proof point and it’s a cool story too.
Dr. Tony Guerra: No, I know, I just never actually said it out loud, but as I’m reading I’m like, wow, how do I make a side hustle that makes a fulltime living? Okay. I’ll work on the title, but.
Richard Jacobs: Yeah. Well very cool. So what’s the best way for people to get in touch and to avail themselves of your services?
Dr. Tony Guerra: memorizingphrm.com is my website and there are a ton of free book codes that your audience can get there. Just go to memorizingphrm.com/freebookcodes, other books in pharmacology, pharmacotherapy, residency and career, college interviews. And there are a ton of book codes that they can get there.
Richard Jacobs: All right. That’s great. Well, Tony, I appreciate you coming on and we’ll talk about maybe having you back to talk also about pharmacology and the technical work that you do, so I appreciate it.
Dr. Tony Guerra: Yeah, sounds good. I appreciate it. Thank you.