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Harvey Ardman 📚 the author with more than 5,000,000 answer views on Quora (#2).

Episode 2 🍍90×9.co

Harvey Ardman is a journalist and novelist with 50 years of experience. He has written 22 books, both fiction and non-fiction, along with dozens of documentary films for PBS and other television outlets. Now, Harvey can be found answering questions here on Quora on the topics of 20th century history, politics, scientific development, social change, religion and the Internet.

Harvey has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a master’s degree in journalism from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.



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Harvey Ardman answers your questions on the Female Founder's Knowledge Base

Harvey Ardman 📚 the author with more than 5,000,000 answer views on Quora (#2).

Harvey Ardman is a journalist and novelist with 50 years of experience. He has written 22 books, both fiction and non-fiction, along with dozens of documentary films for PBS and other television outlets. Now, Harvey can be found answering questions here on Quora on the topics of 20th century history, politics, scientific development, social change, religion and the Internet.

Harvey has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a master’s degree in journalism from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

IN THIS EPISODE, HE SHARES:

  1. How he discovered his calling
  2. How he structures his workflow to successfully complete each book
  3. How and when a new writer should self-publish
  4. His secrets to writing effectively and clearly
  5. How your emotions directly impact the success of your work. 




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Listen to this podcast on your favorite platform:

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Full transcript

Introduction

You’re listening to the 90×9 podcast, sponsored by The Million Dollar Pineapple. I’m your host Adi Fast Growth Executive at The Million Dollar Pineapple, the only growth hacking agency that grows startups to $1,000,000 in gross revenue within 2 years GUARANTEED. Welcome to the 90×9 podcast created by for and about female founders. 

Adi 🍍

Hi everyone, today we are going to be speaking with Mr. Harvey Ardman.

I met Harvey virtually via the social media platform Quora. The way he answered my questions about self publishing and getting started in the world of writing, were amazing. I immediately looked at The Million Dollar Pineapple’s social media calendar to see when we could feature his brilliance, either via podcast or a blog post. Now here we are, Harvey is going to kick off our Hindsight (is 2020) series, with stories from his lifelong career in writing. So Harvey, would you like to give everyone a quick overview of your story and your background?

Bonnie, thank you so much for coming on the show. I know you’re pressed for time. So let’s dive right in, last year her company ended with …

Harvey 📚 

Well, let’s see, I’m 81 years old. I have been a writer since I was 15, or so. I have pursued that career all of my life, without any deviation. Over time I’ve accomplished a fair amount, although it never seemed overwhelming when I was doing it. I was just doing stuff. It all adds up though.

I have written 22 books. I have written dozens of television documentaries for PBS and other outlets. I used to say that I’ve written everything but the constitution for an emerging nation. If it takes words I’m ready to write it.

Adi 🍍

What are you working on now?

Harvey 📚

I’m not writing for money anymore, I’m writing on Quora.

Adi 🍍

I know I love it. Quora is very glad to have you.

Harvey 📚

It turns out that I like to express my opinion, about everything and Quora allows me to do just that.

Adi 🍍

What I appreciate, is that unlike a lot of writers that we find on Quora, you actually have the knowledge and experience to backup your answers. If somebody asks you a question, they get a real answer that they can turn around and implement.

Harvey 📚

Well, I think there is one thing that characterizes my answers, is that they are utterly honest. I’ll tell you exactly what I think. You might not like it, but I’m going to tell you what I think.

Adi 🍍

Let’s go to a few of the questions that I had different startup founders ask me, when I told them that I’d be interviewing you.

You started writing at 15.

Harvey 📚

I did.

Adi 🍍

When did you realize that this was more than just a hobby, and this could actually be a skill, that you could monetize and build a lifelong career around?

Harvey 📚

When I discovered that I couldn’t do anything else.

It was the one thing that I did well, and people seemed to praise me, and nothing else fit that description. It seemed to be obvious to pursue that career. I got involved in my high school newspaper and I became the editor, and then I went to journalism school at Northwestern, and then I got my graduate degree in journalism from Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and I was off and running.

I never really deviated. I followed an absolute, straight line.

Adi 🍍

You are very lucky. A lot of us don’t even figure out where that line is, or realize that it exists, until we are in our 30s.

Harvey 📚

Every once in a while I said to myself, am I doing the right thing? But whenever I thought about changing it was to something else connected with writing. I thought, at one point, of going into advertising. I dabbled in publish relations for a while, which is also writing.

Adi 🍍

But you realized what your strong suit was, early on and played to your strengths consistently, making a lifelong career out of doing what you loved?

Harvey 📚

That’s right.

Adi 🍍

When you were about to write a book did you grab your typewriter and go on vacation somewhere? Did you just have an office that you went to every day, spent a specific amount of time writing, what was your process?

Harvey 📚

Well I’m a nine to five, or maybe even, eight to six writer. I come down to my office in the morning, I sit down at my computer and I write, every day, all day long. Frequently on weekends. It’s just what I do. When you do that, you’ll find that you’re producing stuff, whether you want to, or not.

Going on vacation? No, I don’t think so.

Now, some people will have full time jobs. They wonder how they’re going to write a book, well they’re going to have to find time on the weekends and in the evenings to do it and write it a little bit at a time.

But that’s how every book is written. Every book is written, a little bit at a time.

Harvey 📚

It’s a daunting project to think, “I’m going to write a book”. No you’re not. You’re going to write one page, but you’re going to do it 300 times. If you think of it that way, it becomes less daunting. 

Adi 🍍

That is so true. When I was creating the sales training manual, that we now use internally with my team, I was only aiming to create a three to four page document. But every time somebody would ask a question that I thought other people would like to know the answer to, I added it to the document. Before long I was looking at a 90 page book.

Harvey 📚

Um-hm and you had something, you had accomplished something, you created something and you didn’t even know you were going to do it. But that’s the way that books are always written, and the basic technique that I use and it is one that I think is absolutely essential, is outlining. 

Outlining is, to my mind, the secret to writing anything, from fiction to business books, anything you can think of. Because, once you know where you’re going, you can divide it into parts and you can do each part as you wish. In fact, you don’t have to do that parts in order. You can do them in any order you like. As long as the final order is logical and it carries the reader along to where he needs to be carried. 

I think that one of the problems that non-fiction writers have, is that they are not organized well. They think they can sit down at the computer and they’re going to start writing, and that’s not the way to do it. You have to figure out what the main points in your book are going to be. 

When you’re writing a chapter on something you have to forget about everything else, except as you need to connect it. You focus, like a laser, on each subject, and you go on from one subject to the next. 

You do it in order. For example, you don’t want to tell somebody about Z before you’ve told them about B. That’s just confusing, you have to get it in a logical order.

In fact, clarity is the single most important thing and it’s the easiest thing to mess up. 

Adi 🍍

Do you have any other advice for someone who’s sitting down, to write their first book? 

Harvey 📚

Well you have to think of who your audience is; who am I writing this for? Then the next question is, what am I trying to do? What’s the purpose of this thing? Who am I doing it for? If you’re doing it for Freshman in college, that’s a lot different than doing it for someone who’s 50 and a career person, who knows the subject. 

Adi 🍍

That is so true. I think way too often, creators of every type get wrapped up in what they want to share and lose sight of who they were originally creating their company, their book, their article, their works for. 

What tactics do you use to maintain a clear voice when writing? Earlier you mentioned that clarity in writing is imperative.

Harvey 📚

Read it aloud. What you write, read it aloud and you will soon see where the problems are. 

I have a somewhat different way of doing that, because I’m here in my office alone. I read it aloud silently, so at the end of the day my throat is dry but I haven’t uttered a sound. 

When you do that, you can tell the rhythm of your words, you can feel whether it flows easily or whether it’s clunky and that all reveals itself. And if you have to explain something that you’ve already written, you haven’t written it well enough. 

Adi 🍍

Based on your professional experience, do you believe it’s better to look for a publisher or to self publish when you’re just getting started with your first book?

Harvey 📚

That’s a tough question, and it’s a tough, competitive world out there. 

There are hundreds of thousands of books published every year in English. Hundreds and thousands of them. Getting a reputable publisher to take yours on, and put in a bookstore, or try and sell it in anyway. Is an extraordinary act. 

But you can skip all the competition by doing an electronic book. You can get yourself out there, you’re not going to make a lot of money, you may make a little. But you’ll have something you can point to. 

If somebody wants to know about you, you can say, “Well you can read my book. It’s on Amazon, if you have kindle, you can read my book and see what you think.” 

That’s not as good as mailing it to them, or handing it to them. But, it’s not bad. It’s a good thing, I think do, for somebody who has no experience and no record, they can establish themselves that way. 

Adi 🍍

Let’s say, an entrepreneur is sitting with her marketing team, and they are looking at all the different ways that they can promote her brand and establish her as a domain expert throughout the coming year. What is something that would indicate she is ready to write a book, and that a book would be the best way to increase her brand awareness?

Harvey 📚

You have to have an idea that is different from other people’s ideas. You have to be able to differentiate yourself from the crowd. If you don’t have that idea, if you don’t have a way to make yourself unusual or unique, you’re in trouble. You may not have the basis for writing a book. That’s absolutely the key, so you differentiate yourself, then you’ll do ok. Because someone will say, “Well I’ve never seen that before, that’s interesting.” 

That’s the reaction you want to get. 

Adi 🍍

Seth Godin states the same exact need throughout his book Purple Cow.  You need to have something unique that is going to stop people in their tracks and warrant a hard look. Because so many things today, are just a reinvention of the wheel, and they get nothing more than a passing glance.

Harvey 📚

Sometimes, on Quora, I get questions like, “I’m desperate, I want to write a book, I have it in me to write a book, but I don’t have any ideas. Can you tell me how to get ideas?”

It’s hard to respond to that kind of questions

Adi 🍍

People do the same thing with apps, they ask like, “What app should I develop?” And it’s like “No, you’re asking the wrong question.”

Harvey 📚

How should I develop the app I already have in mind? That’s a decent question. How should I write the book I already have in mind? Those are questions that are reasonable. But to ask for inspiration? No, that won’t work. 

Adi 🍍

I have a friend who works in branding and she’s amazing with her branding. But you can tell she loves what she does, because her emotion and her attention to detail leaks out of the design. Whereas when I’ve had people that resent the work, you can see it, you’re not pulled in. The emotion and the love you have for the project really leaks out: through the lines, through the design, through the words. If you’re not passionate about the book’s subject or about the app’s purpose, it shows. It really shows.

Harvey 📚

Absolutely right. Absolutely. To write a good book, it’s going to take everything you’ve got. You can’t hold back anything, and you better have quite a bit, because if it’s anything less than your best effort, you will fail. You might fail with your best effort, but if it’s anything less you will certainly fail. 

So, you have to be devoted to your subject, you have to be devoted to your idea. You have to really care about it, because you want other people to do that too.

I’ll give writers another piece of advice, too.  You should always think of your reader as right on the knife edge of boredom. If you’re not careful, the next sentence is going to push him over. Don’t bore him, his attention is wandering. You’ve gotta keep saying something that is going to compel him to read the next sentence.

Adi 🍍

That’s brilliant. That really is brilliant. Well, Harvey thank you so much for joining us today and thank you for sharing all of your wisdom and experience. 

Lads and Ladies, if you would like to hear more from Harvey, you can check out his Quora page. I will put the link to it directly in the show notes for today.

And, Harvey, do you have any closing remarks?

Harvey 📚

No Adi, that’s just to tell you that it has been a pleasure talking to you, and I wish everybody who wants to write a book, the best of luck. It’s hard work

Adi 🍍

Thank you so much and have a good day.

Outro

Hi All, thanks so much for joining us for another episode of 90×9, the female founder’s knowledge base which is sponsored by The Million Dollar Pineapple if you enjoy this content and would like to hear more, don’t forget to rate & review this podcast. It helps us to get more amazing guests on here to share their knowledge and experience. After you rate & review we have a special gift for you. visit 90×9.co/resources and confirm your review to gain access to some exclusive resources curated and created just for you and if you’d like to suggest a guest, simply head over to 90×9.co/suggest 




About your host Adi Pineapple 🍍

Adi Soozin, Adi Vaughn Soozin

Adi Soozin recently transitioned from working as the Fast Growth Executive at The Million Dollar Pineapple to the Head of Growth & Operations at 90×9. Over the past decade she has worked as an on-call consultant and marketing freelancer for more than 300 companies throughout 48 countries, across 6 continents. The fastest she has grown a company is from $0 to more than $100,000,000 in sales in less than 5 years.

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  1. […] In Episode 2 of the 90×9 podcast we were guided through the most effective strategies for someone looking to write their first book, once the book is written what would you suggest they do to really make their work stand out on the Eloquens platform? […]

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