Wednesday 27 May 2015

Michal Stawicki - Author Profile and Interview

Michal Stawicki is an author I recently discovered. I have read 4 of his 8 books and have two others in process. I have been incredibly impressed with his skill and talent in writing and motivating to change. In reviews I have compared him to Daniel Quinn, Robin Sharma, Dan Millman and others. Recently he took some time to answer some questions for readers here at Book Reviews and More. So here is Michal in his own words.

1. When did you realize that you wanted to be a writer? How did you nurture that dream?

This dream was deep in my heart since I was a child reading 1-3 books a day. I put myself in the books I read and imagined I'd change the story from inside.  But I have never pursued this dream up to the age of 33. It was nurtured only by the constant contact with a written word. In fact, I don't think I have ever read less than 20 books a year.

In October 2012 I was working on my personal mission statement and among other things I discovered inside my soul was this desire to write. I wrote down "I'm becoming a writer," but it took me a while. I started my first blog one month later and my first book 5 months later. A mere 11 months later I started purposefully writing every day.

2. English is not your native language, and yet all of your books are available in English. How did you make the decision to release your books in English and why?

At the beginning I was thinking about writing fiction in Polish. I finished my first short story and published it on the biggest Polish Science Fiction forum. The feedback wasn't very encouraging to say the least. I realized I would need to work very long on my craft before my fiction would get better. 

At the same time I was sharing bits and pieces of my transformation on a blog. I once wrote about my process of creating a personal mission statement (PMS) and one of my friends commented: 

"I was thinking about how you could create a small ebook on PMS from your process, Michal. Don't be shy, you have all the talent you could possibly need and people need the direction."

I was also looking for a way to start my own business. After 10 years of IT career in a corporate environment I decided this is a dead end. It wasn't fulfilling and it certainly wasn't making me rich. I had heard about something "Kindle" (at that time I was barely aware that Amazon existed). I decided to try.
It took me exactly 49 days from writing the first word to publishing "A Personal Mission Statement: Your Road Map to Happiness" on Amazon.

The first shock was when over 440 people downloaded the book during the initial free promo. One day I was nobody and had no track record of written work and the other day my book was in the hands of hundreds of people!
In the first month the book sold 31 copies. People were willing to pay for what I had to say! I was immediately hooked. My decision to publish in English was solidified: 

- I came away with the understanding that I could immediately monetize my work and turn my passion into business;
- The florid style in non-fiction is not necessary and might even be a hindrance, so the simplicity of my writing was an advantage;
- I'm passionately love to help people, so I find this kind of work very fulfilling.

3. Who were some of your biggest supporters and contributors to your early success?

My biggest supporters were my peers from an online Transformational Contest. I took part in it in the first quarter of 2013 and there met wonderful people from all over the world. One of them nudged me to write my first book, another helped me in editing them and all of them have never doubted that I was able to reach my dreams.

I also get a lot of indirect help from my mentor, Steve Scott. I painstakingly implemented all I could learn from him and that turned me from the life-long employee into authorpreneur.

I must also mention my friend Chris Bell, who edited my fifth book and designed a marketing campaign for it. "Master Your Time in 10 Minutes a Day" was my first bestseller. Its publication was really my first "early success."

4. If you had not become a writer what do you think you would be focusing on in your life?

Desperation and depression I suppose. Writing is my vocation. I have never felt so alive until I started discovering and sharing my passion for improving my readers' lives.

5. When you write do you write in Polish and translate into English or do you write and edit in English?

I write in English. I try to improve a raw manuscript a bit before sending it to an editor, but it still gives him a headache.

6. What does your writing process look like? Takes us through the steps from idea to publishing?

The idea is jotted down. Sometimes it waits to be developed into an outline for months, but usually the next day I start working on it. First I brainstorm: what I am able to say about the topic, what are my experiences, what sources I could use? The next step is crafting the message of the book. I answer several basic questions, like what the problem is and what's the solution I'll provide to solve  that problem. Once the message is ready I create an outline, which takes me usually a few days:

- I design 3 to 5 main parts (plus introduction and conclusion)
- I break each down into (usually) three chapters
- I break down each chapter into three sections
- I invent 3 questions for each section.

Having the outline ready, writing a book comes down to answering the questions. I write very untidily ignoring most of the grammar rules and the proper sentences' syntax. When the raw draft is ready I read it once again, then reverse-outline it, then I try to make it more precise and concise. What comes out of this process I call a first draft. It's sent to my editor, who makes it readable for native English speakers. I share the second draft with my beta-readers, incorporate their feedback and from that moment on, the work on the book become more hands-off:

- one more turn of edition done by a different editor
- I go through his changes and approve most of them and include some more changes based upon his feedback
- proofreading
- I go through proofreader's changes and approve most of them

In parallel to the editing process the book's title, description and cover are devised. Once everything is ready I upload the book on Amazon.

7. Which of your books is your favorite and why?

That's a tough challenge. How can I discern between my babies? Maybe the first one, because it opened for me the door to self-publishing. And it's the most "sticky" of my books. By that I mean that it has never sold less than 20 copies a month and it's 2 years old.

8. What of your books was the hardest to write and why?

The fourth one- "Release Your Kid's Dormant Genius." It's a short book about how I and my son were able to turn around his grades and school performance by a few simple daily practices. I felt very vulnerable sharing not only my own, but also his story.

9. What current projects are you working on or are in the back burner in some stage of development?

I always write another book. I have a few in the queue. The next one is about Kindle Gold Rush and is in the post-production stage. I plan to publish it about the beginning of June 2015. Another project in the late stage of development is a compilation of 100 real perseverance stories about people from different continents, nations, genders, religions and occupations. It is the first book where I co-author. And I work on the series of books under the code name "The Pursuit of Success." I had 4 volumes at the stage of raw draft and I'm writing the fifth one. I have also a few outlines and unfinished projects (read: only a few chapters written).

10. In your writing you frequently mention your faith community. Do you see yourself writing a book on spirituality or spiritual development? 

Frankly, no. I leave that for pastors and priests. The closest thing to the spiritual work I wrote is an article analyzing Catholic Church's teaching about progress. I wrote it in Polish to clarify my own thoughts upon the subject.

11. If you could only recommend 10 books to a reader looking to be a well-rounded and whole person what books would you suggest?

"The Slight Edge" which changed my personal philosophy. "The Science of Getting Rich" which taken literally is a bit of Law of Attraction kind of fairytale (and downright heretical), but conveys a solid philosophy on getting rich, which convinced me. "Manuscript on Purgatory", a very enlightening book about afterlife. From now on it starts to be difficult. I'm an avid reader I could spit of dozens of titles and I can't to constrict it to just 10.

12. All of your books are available in electronic formats, but with that comes bootleg distribution. What are your impressions of eBooks and the distribution of them through torrents and other illegal means?

I'm stoked about it! I want to put my books in hands of as many readers as possible. Torrents and such hopefully do for me the free advertisement. And believe me when I'm telling this, because I was on the "dark side" myself: people who download from such sources wouldn't have bought my books anyway. It's a pure free marketing.

13. Have you thought about releasing your books through Amazon's print on demand service for those who still prefer physical books?

Nowadays all of my books are available in print and can be ordered on Amazon or Create Space.

14. What fitness books or authors to you recommend?

None. When I was pursuing my weight loss quest I hadn't used any books, just the free resources on the Internet. I'm really not into fitness. I have a few friends in this kind of business and I know all of them are no-nonsense folks: Derek Doepker, Aquilah Norazman, James Mayfield, Matt Stone. But honestly, I didn't follow their advice when designing my own fitness regime.

15. Other than your own writings what books or authors would your recommend for personal development?

A few classics: Stephen R. Covey, Zig Ziglar, Jim Rohn, Brian Tracy. However Jim and Zig had both a knack for speaking and I prefer their audio programs.
And the whole new wave of indie authors. Learning from icons is fine and good, but you can relate much better to people who are just slightly ahead of you. Rob Leonardo has one book on self-confidence; which is like the distilled wisdom about the subject. Timo Kiander studies productivity and has a few books about this topic. S.J. Scott does a terrific job of teaching habits development. And there is a lot more such authors.

16. Outside of writing and fitness, what are some of your hobbies or pastimes? 

My writing is my passion. Aside from it I don't have other selfish pleasures. I consider them a waste of time. If I don't write or work, I spent time with my family or my church community.

17. What faith based books or authors would you recommend to readers who like your book?

Two kinds. First, what I said about new wave of indies in personal development is true also for spiritual reading. We need authenticity and integrity first and foremost. I believe that those who provide that are golden, whatever they write about. If you can feel a real person on the other side of the book, its message comes through more efficient and direct.

And "faith based books?" Learn from those who achieved. Read the works of saints. Not about them or the miracles they performed (however such books are valuable too), but the books actually written by saints. I most highly appreciate their diaries, journals and autobiographies.

18. If you were stuck on a desert island and could only have 10 books to read again and again, what books would you want with you?

I don't qualify the Bible as a common book, but in such case I would definitely have wanted to have it there. I read "The Science of Getting Rich" and "Manuscript on Purgatory" every day so they are the next two choices. 
The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz
The Diary by Saint Faustina Kowalska
Personal notes of Saint John Paul II. 
Story of a Soul by Saint Teresa
The Dialogue" by Saint Catherine of Siena
The Road by Cormak McCarthy

19. What advice would you give to aspiring authors and artists?

Start now. Persevere. Never stop.

This very morning I've referred to my vision board from two years ago. I had on it the cover of my first book and the mock cover of "The Fitness Expert Next Door," which hadn't been published yet at that moment. Now I have eight books which have been published. My beginnings were humble. In the first 5 months I sold just 145 copies of my books. I sold more than that in the last week. Nothing is instantaneous. Success is a process.

Work every day on your craft, that's the prerequisite and raw material of your success.

I know I am hooked on Michal's books and know you will be if you give them a chance. They range from 60-200 pages but are packed full of great information and advice much like this interview. So go grab one of his books and give it a try. 

Books by Michal Stawicki:
The Art of Persistence: Stop Quitting, Ignore Shiny Objects and Climb Your Way to Success
A Personal Mission Statement: Your Road Map to Happiness
Trickle Down Mindset: The Missing Element In Your Personal Success

Slicing the Hype
99 Perseverance Success Stories: Encouragement for Success in Every Walk of Life
Power up Your Self-Talk: 6 Simple Habits to Stop Beating Yourself Up and Reclaim Your Life
99 Habit Success Stories

Six Simple Steps to Success
Simplify Your Pursuit of Success - Book 1
Know Yourself Like Your Success Depends on It - Book 2
Bulletproof Health and Fitness: Your Secret to High Achievement - Book 3
Making Business Connections That Count - Book 4
Directed by Purpose: How to Focus on Work That Matters, Ignore Distractions and Manage Your Attention over the Long Haul - Book 5

How to Change Your Life in 10 Minutes a Day Series:
The Fitness Expert Next Door - Book 1
Learn to Read with Great Speed! Only 10 minutes a day! - Book 2
Release Your Kid's Dormant Genius In Just 10 Minutes a Day: Parenting Your Smart Underachiever With Consistency and Love - Book 3
Master Your Time In 10 Minutes a Day: Time Management Tips for Anyone Struggling With Work-Life Balance  - Book 4
From Shy to Hi: Tame Social Anxiety, Meet New People, and Build Self-Confidence  - Book 5

Author Profile and Interview with Michal Stawicki

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