What would you do if you, an only child, discovered you have a sister all along and the man you called and have known as your biological father does not match your DNA? Deb Landry has unlocked this life-long secret and reveals the journey she went through in her book, Independence: A Memoir of Secrets, Discovery, and Forgiveness. In this episode, she joins Juliet Clark to share with us the story behind it all and how she dealt with the discovery and forgiveness. Also running a nonprofit and a publishing company, Deb then talks about how we can build that audience and publish and market a book that is going to give you the visibility you need.
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Discovering Secrets And Publishing A Book With Deb Landry
We have something a little different. I think you guys are going to find this interesting. Before we get started, I want to send you guys over to YouTube. You can subscribe to our channel if you would like to see all of these interviews in action. We’ve got every single one of them over there, and that’s okay if you don’t too because I know a lot of you guys read to this. Also, don’t forget to go over and take our Promote Profit Publish Quiz and find out if you’re ready to publish. Do you have your marketing pieces in place? Do you have your platform build? Go over and find that because there’s nothing worse than publishing your book and nobody reads it.
In this episode, we’re going to switch it up a little. I know we mostly have entrepreneurs on here, but we have someone who runs a nonprofit and has written a book. All of this is based around some life experiences that she had and a nonprofit is in a way like a business. Deb Landry is a best-selling, award-winning children’s author of Sticks Stones and Stumped, and the podcast co-host for Raising Cain. Her other books include Independence: A Memoir of Secrets, Discovery, and Forgiveness, Snapdragon Princess, and Yankee Go Home. With many years of experience in business administration, management, coaching, and consulting, she specialized in behavioral, operational, organizational management, and hold several postgraduate coaching certifications.
She is the President and Executive Director of Bryson Taylor Inc., a medical and consulting firm. As a professional consultant and coach, Deb specializes in social awareness behaviors, personal growth, professional development, and character education with a focus on developmental education to raise resilient and respectful youth humanitarian. She is the co-founder, President, and Executive Director of Crossroads Youth Center, a 501(c)(3), nonprofit scholarship community art-based and volunteer organization. Welcome, Deb. It’s great to have you.
Thank you. You and I met doing self-publishing and cross-promoting each other because I also own a publishing company, which is a subsidiary of my Bryson Taylor.
We were over on LinkedIn. My big project connecting with more people over on LinkedIn. I’ve given up on the other social media platforms because they’ve gotten toxic. LinkedIn is my safe space if I was a safe space person.
If you’re going to run a business, be on the one that’s about business.
This book that you wrote is interesting. You tripped into the information for this book in an odd way and spun it off into a nonprofit. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
I have a son. One of my children is adopted. When Ancestry first came out and the Recreational DNA testing, we decided to do his DNA test. We were most concerned about what his nationality was because he was Hispanic. We had adopted him from El Paso, Texas, and we wanted to see if he was 100% Hispanic because his skin color was white. We did that to see what he came up as and there were no surprises, he was Hispanic 100%. At the time, his wife and I decided to do it as well, and the surprise was I always grew up thinking I was French-Canadian. I’m in Maine and found out that I was mostly Italian. There is no big influx of Italians in Maine. It opened up a door and it started everything in my life prior to that moment. I was 60 at the time I did this. It opened up a door that who am I and where did I come from. This answers all the questions I had in my past about my upbringing and things like that. It’s an interesting subject.
I talk about this in my book and I thought I was all for, “Let’s do a recreational test, see how much French we are, and how much this we are.” You watch the commercials on TV and they say, “My ancestors are these and that.” That wasn’t what it was like for me. It was different. If you were to ask if you wanted to do a DNA test for fun, I would ask you some questions first. I wouldn’t say, “Go do it,” because many people are finding out that dad is not their dad. Depending on which personality, it puts people in a tailspin. I find it fascinating but I didn’t find it too fascinating at first.
Did you find some extra family members?
I did, a sister, which is amazing. I have a brother, and to find out that I’m an only child. There’s only one of me. What I thought was my brother is my half-brother. I have a half-sister. I have three other siblings. I’ve become close to my sister who ended up living one town away from me. We found each other through ancestry and they said we were related. It didn’t say how we related, just said that she was my first cousin, sister, or something like that. We went on and did 23andMe and did a test. Their tests are more scientific and they both have something they’re good at.
We did that test, we were half-sisters. We shared the same father. She also thought that the specific man was her father all her whole life and he was not. It’s been great having a sibling. You get a lot of doors slammed in your face. You have to respect people’s privacy about things like this. Some people aren’t excited to find out that dad had another child. I would say, “Is there anything in your past you don’t want anybody to know or mom doesn’t want anybody to know before you would go ahead and jump on that wagon?”
I can’t even imagine finding out that I have extra siblings. You grow up admiring your parents. When you get to be an adult, you realize that they’re people too. You don’t find out how messy life can be until you do something like this, and the secrets and lies. Talk a little bit about in the book, it’s a memoir of secrets, which you’ve covered discovery. What about the forgiveness aspect of all of this?
That’s the hard part and that’s what makes a long time, but people don’t realize that to forgive is not to forget. If you forget, then things will happen to you over and over again until you start to remember. I had to learn to forgive my mother. I went for several years without even speaking to her because this book also spends a lot of time on narcissism and mental illness. I spent a lot of time trying to understand her and trying to pull away from her until I finally had to make the point that it was toxic to be in the relationship, but nobody wants to pull away from their parents. I thought I was a bad person for wanting to do that. Psychologically and for the sake of myself, I couldn’t do it so much for myself. I did it for my children and I moved away from that. That was helpful.
I had to understand the choices she made and why she acted the way she did. I had to realize that she was mentally ill and had a personality disorder. She was narcissistic. I can’t diagnose her. I’m not a doctor, but she had a lot of issues. You don’t leave people if they have diabetes and they won’t stop eating sugar or they have COPD, and they won’t stop smoking, but it’s different when it’s mental health. That took me a long time to say, “These are choices she made. She made these choices because that’s what she thought her choices were, and just forgiving what she did, but I don’t forget what she did.” My mother is no longer alive. That’s a moot point but still, you have to live with that and understand that it wasn’t so much about me as it was about her.
I can relate to this in a big way. I was the recipient of one of those bank boxes after my mother passed away and I’m the last remaining person in our family. I remember reading the things in there and being angry. I had to go talk to somebody about it, so you had to separate that for me. What happens here is different than the mother you love. That was my big awareness that sometimes parents are messy and they don’t share things with you. You do have to get in that forgiveness mode with it and understand and separate all that.
I was born in the ‘50s, and that time is different from now. If somebody gets pregnant, they don’t get married. You don’t talk like, “This guy is the father but I’m married to this guy, or I’m going to marry this guy, or I’m not going to get married at all.” It’s accepted in today’s society and it wasn’t accepted back then. Everything was a big secret, but so much could be taken care of if people would honest. It festers like a disease, just honesty and that’s the basis for our nonprofit. Our nonprofits are going for many years and we spend most of our time on social awareness issues teaching people how to raise resilient children, how to be honest, how to be kind, how to be a nice person, and be respectful. My big tagline is “If you have self-respect and you have mutual respect for others, then we wouldn’t have all these problems.” It’s that simple and it’s not difficult. We spend a lot of time in our nonprofit about that.
I spent a lot of time on bullying prevention, which I thought was because one of my children was bullied in school. I decided to go right to our Capitol and start lobbying for laws, which I did and we got. I started doing it across the US, helping other people get laws in their state thinking that I was doing that for my son, being a real tough mom and an activist. What I found out, in the end, is, I was doing it because that’s the way I was treated as a child. I was constantly bullied by a person who had a mental illness. I was always told I wasn’t any good, I wasn’t going to amount to anything, on and on all these different things that people go through. I finally realized I was doing it for myself. I wasn’t focused on doing it for my child, which I thought I was.
That is interesting in today’s world because look what’s going on around us, the rioting, the burning down of other people’s property, and hurting other people. I wonder if we haven’t spent many years raising our children that it’s the external that’s important instead of the internal that’s important. In the sense that we have many suicides from social media. There was this great book called What You Think of Me is None of My Business. I wish that the world could live like that because when you can focus on your inner world and get that peace within you and not blame other people for what’s going on in your world, the world becomes a much better place. Your generation in mind, you’re slightly older than me, but not much to personal responsibility for your own inner health and wellbeing.
A lot of that is parenting style too. I spend a lot of time in schools. I have three children’s books and I’m working on my fourth. I go into the schools or we read at different places about bullying prevention and social awareness issues but it does not start in school. That might be where you go and people start making fun of you, teasing you, or bullying you but all of this starts right in the home. It’s the parenting style, the lack of parenting style, or the severity of parenting style. If you were to look at kids nowadays in their late teens and twenties, they’re so entitled. They think they’re owed everything and they weren’t taught to help and to volunteer. They were taught that there was nobody better than them. We made a narcissist.
It’s not like when you and I were growing up. I always gave parenting a lot of thought because I already said I’m not going to parent like my mother. There are different styles, but I’m more of an authoritative parent where these are the rules and these you have to follow. If you break them, then there are consequences, but I love you very much and I’ll always forgive you for everything you do. I’m here no matter what you need. That type of parenting, which I found out later on, was that’s the type of parenting we should be doing. We are in control. We are the parent. We are not their friend and they can’t have everything in life. If they have everything in life, they feel entitled.
When it comes to bullying, one of my kids was a good soccer player and the bullying went on parentally on those teams. I feel sorry for anybody who’s a coach out there because you’re going to get a blast-off, “My kids are the best,” on a regular basis. I lived in California when my kids were growing up and I made my kids go to college out of state because I realized that California has this little bubble, all of in itself. I’d traveled enough to know there’s a whole big wide world out there and you better find out how the other part lives. For the most part, my kids get it that there are both sides to every situation because of that but I don’t think many people realize that. My world is the only world.
You get to look at all this stuff going on with Black Lives Matter and things like that. Everybody has to understand everybody’s space in this world. It’s not all that you think. You have to be open to what other people are doing, be kind, respectful, and be curious. I’m always curious about what everybody’s doing. I might not do it here in my own little world, but I want to know and I welcome all that. That was the right choice for me and the right road to go when we started our nonprofit. To relate to what you’re doing with what I’m doing when you talk about people like, “Should you publish your book, and do you have a story?”
I spent about a year or two deciding whether a subsidiary of my company was going to be a publishing company or was I going to go traditional publishing? After a lot of research, I decided to do neither and start my own traditional publishing company, which I did. I published my first book then I stopped and published everybody else’s. Everybody’s got a story and those stories are wonderful. There are many wonderful books out there. However, if you can’t market that book, then it’s going nowhere. You’ve wasted your time. People have to get out there. When you look at the bestseller list on Amazon, you see where you lie, but if you don’t do anything, you might be six million that’s being purchased. That’s what authors have to know. It’s like, “You need to go after the professionals to help you get that book out there or you’ve got to be pedaling that book everywhere you go.” Just because you publish it, it is not going to become famous.
I came from traditional publishing. I went into advertising, but when I published my first book just like you did, I went with a self-publishing company, a big well-known one out there, I was stunned. It’s a factory and they’re like, “Bring me your manuscript. We’ll set it up. We’ll put it on Amazon.” They’ll give you social media tips. They’ll give you things here and there, but they don’t give you much time and attention. It’s like, “It’s paying me a fee. It’ll be out there.” You have to pay attention, especially if you have a business. Have you built that audience? What tools have you built that audience with? Do you have a bestseller campaign that’s going to give you visibility? What they on there? We do those free shipping funnels to lead people back to your business because most people never sell much beyond that launch. If they do a marketing effort, they launch it and then nothing. You have to have a plan.
When anybody submits a book to my publishing company, they have to give me their marketing plan. My job is to help you publish it and coach you where to go. I am not a marketing company. I might go to you and you market it for them. That’s not my job. My job is to publish it and get it out for you. Where are you going to go with it? With my first book when I did Sticks Stones and Stumped, I self-published that. That was back in the day where it’s nothing like it is now. Doing that self-publishing was part of the reason I decided to open a publishing company because I enjoyed the process of being a business person.
I enjoyed the process more than I did writing. That was in 2007. That is still my biggest selling book. I have other books. I hope this one new one out is as good and as big. I market that book and I’ve been marketing it for many years and people still buy it. I can even tell you when that book is going to sell the most copies. When kids get back to school and all the bullying starts, everybody buys my book. After school breaks in the spring, those are my busiest seasons in school. Can you come in and teach our kids how to get along? This mask thing is ruining my business, put a mask on them and they’re not bullying anymore, and keeping six feet apart, that seems to be working better than all my years of bullying prevention.
Back when I published in 2009, it was different. I would consider my mystery novels and crappy books, and I sold a ton of them. It wasn’t an environment where you can manipulate to get on a bestseller list. There was a mystery, there was one category. My third book ended up between Sue Grafton and Janet Evanovich for about a week, which was tremendous for me because I used to read both of them. It’s not like now where you can choose categories and you can do all those things. I do still sell mystery novels, although I’m shocked that anybody reads them.
I have the same thing. I hit number two on the bestseller list in children’s books for about a week or two. It stayed there for quite a while right in number 2 and number 3. I never could get to number one because I launched my book at the wrong time. I launched it in mid-May. In front of me at number one was Dr. Suits, all over the places where we can go. That was graduation time. Behind me was the new Pokémon book. In between Pokémon and Dr. Suits, I felt good.
In my last book, Pitchslapped, I considered Wendy Pizer who sells book deals. She’s not an agent, but she and her partner can get books in with a traditional publisher. She told me when I told her about the book, “I could get you a contract.” I had to make a decision like, “Do I want that credibility? What does that credibility say about me having a self-publishing company when I’m not willing to self-publish my own book?” I went back and forth about that for 2 or 3 months thinking about what does that says about me as a person when I won’t walk in what I sell every day? I finally ended up that I did self-published my own. It was a little bit of a dilemma. You probably have the same thing because you’ve been on a bestseller list. You want that credibility.
I went through the same thing over the last year, trying to think about, “Do I want to go after traditional publishing?” I came down to asking myself, “If I was running for president, will I vote for myself or will I vote for the other guy?” I’m going to vote for myself. I’m going to do my own publishing. As sales go down or something else happens that different, when you do a Kindle book or you do an audiobook, my book is available in all three but audio will be out. What do I want to do? I got them in all places. I’m a publisher. I know what to do with them. I don’t need that. In the end, you got to stand behind yourself.
The audiobooks are super popular. As a podcaster, did you record your own book? Did you have somebody else?
I did not for a couple of reasons. First of all, I am not a great reader and I don’t think you’d want to listen to this voice. Being a publisher, we read a lot. If I read a book, I can find every mistake. The period is in the wrong place. It stops me and I go back and reread it. I enjoy audiobooks. When you self-publish or your publisher, I did mine through Audible. I went on and I picked the categories that I wanted. I picked the sound of the voice that I wanted, the age of the wonder woman. I wanted it to sound like it was me. I picked all those things and I listened to 248 women speak. I narrowed it down to three people and that was it.
I don’t know if I would do that. I might give a client 10 or 15 people. I was doing a publisher, author, and personal work all at the same time. I got it down to three people. I contacted two of them, one got right back to me and I ended up hiring her. She’s recording it. As a professional, not an author, I would say unless you’ve got a beautiful voice, you can read and your eloquent, then go ahead and do your own book, but I will listen to somebody’s voice before I buy a book. I don’t want to listen to you for 7 or 8 hours if I don’t like the sound of the voice. It’s very important. A lot of medical people will do their own book. A lot of actors do their own book because the actors are good at it. They can do anything. That’s the main thing for me listening to an audiobook.
I listened to several every month. For podcasters, a lot of times we recommend they read their own books because people are used to their voice as well. I know what you’re saying about that, that you won’t listen to them. Many years ago, I bought a Jackie Collins book, there were several actors acting out the audiobook. It sounded like Jackie Collins read one character and she had a list. I couldn’t finish the book. It was driving me crazy. I couldn’t believe that someone didn’t tell her that that was going on and that it was difficult to listen to.
If they know that you can throw this on the market and it’s going to sell, you don’t have to get into the details.
Where can we find you and find out more about your nonprofit?
You can find me at DebLandry.com. On my website is also my podcast, which is RaisingCainPodcast.com. Our nonprofit is CYCSaco.org. Everything is there on my website. The book is called Independence. It’s available anywhere books are sold. It will be out on audio and I cannot wait.
Thank you for inviting me.
- YouTube – Superbrand Publishing
- Promote Profit Publish Quiz
- Sticks Stones and Stumped
- Independence: A Memoir of Secrets, Discovery, and Forgiveness
- Snapdragon Princess
- Yankee Go Home
- Bryson Taylor Inc.
- Crossroads Youth Center
- What You Think of Me is None of My Business