That’s what happened to my guest in today’s episode of the Go For Launch podcast, Ken Dunn. As you will hear in his story, after losing $80,000 publishing his first book, he knew there must be a better way for authors to maintain control over their publishing destiny. He set about building a business of books, starting not one but two fast-growing entities that are challenging long-establishing players in the publishing industry.
As CEO and Founder of Next Century Publishing and Reader’s Legacy, Ken is currently leading the charge in changing the way people write, read and experience books.
After spending 14 years in investigative and tactical policing, Dunn was able to hone deep organization and leadership skills, but also spark an entrepreneurial fire that lay deep inside. Next Century Publishing has been recognized by Publishers Weekly as one of the fastest growing hybrid book publishing companies in the United States. Dunn has also founded Reader’s Legacy, a platform where authors and book lovers to come together. Joe Wikert, a legend in publishing, has noted that, “ReadersLegacy.com is to GoodReads like Facebook was to MySpace.”
Topics we discuss on the show include:
- How Ken went from police work to founding his first company
- The impact of an early mentor as well as Og Mandino’s book, The Greatest Salesman In The World (and why his interrogation skills in police work translated to the business world)
- He has since started four businesses in the past 18 years that have grossed over $750 million in revenue. He says, “Cultivating an idea for a business is probably the absolute most exciting thing to happen to a founder or entrepreneur….unfortunately, that raw excitement is where the biggest mistakes are made.”
- The new book he is writing called The Secret To Picking A Winner: The DOVE Principle (which stands for Dream, Organize, Validate and Execute)
- Why you need to dream and be audacious—then how to start to organize your ideas, dig in on what you are going to sell and validate it
- How he formulated a new business concept (Readers Legacy) that is like a combination of Amazon and Facebook, then got advice and validation from someone he know who was formerly with Goodreads as well as three of their original venture capital funders—before he launched it
- Why it’s easy to get advice from others (even potential competitors)—and why many entrepreneurs are naive to think that everyone is out to “steal their ideas”
- How he wrote his first book and lost $80,000 on a bad publisher—which led to the formation of another company, Next Century Publishing
- The services Next Century Publishing provides to help self-published authors get into mainstream bookstores
- Why the biggest traditional publishing firms are struggling—and why they do not have the resources now to help even well-known authors promote their new books
- What Readers Legacy provides (a virtual personal library for book lovers, book sales, promotional services for authors and more—“it’s Facebook for people who love books”)
- Great quote from Ken: “There is a pivotal point that every founder will come to. When you start your business, you have to work in it. You have to be the sales guy if you’re a salesman-type founder. You have to be the technology guy, as Mark Zuckerberg was when he started Facebook. But there will be a magical time when you realize that you have to work on your business, not in it. If you’re a natural sales guy, you have to get yourself out of sales. If you’re a programmer, you’ve got to get yourself out of that. Because your company needs you to be the CEO. And CEOs can’t work in their businesses. They have to be working on strategic planning, and they have to be working on opportunities to bring attention to their business and help close the big deals. You can’t do both.”
- Some of the best business books he recommends:
Photo credit: Pietro Bellini
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