Do you want to know how to use your imperfections to your advantage?
Listen as international best-selling author, Kelly Falardeau shares how she conquers the stigmas of people's drive to be perfect, and beautiful.
Do you want to know how to use your imperfections to your advantage?
Listen as international best-selling author, Kelly Falardeau shares how she conquers the stigmas of people's drive to be perfect, and beautiful.
In this week's powerful episode "How to Actually Use Your Imperfections to Your Advantage " you will discover...
Jam-packed with smart, easy, and simple ideas, Book Marketing Mentors features experts who share proven techniques to add power and zest to supercharge your book marketing plan. Hosted by Susan Friedmann, CSP, international bestselling author, and founder of Aviva Publishing, this exciting podcast aims to rev up your marketing efforts with fewer struggles, and more success. Start listening today and discover how to get noticed in a crowded marketplace.
Susan Friedmann: Welcome to Book Marketing Mentors, the weekly podcast, where you learn proven strategies, tools, ideas, and tips from the masters. Every week, I introduce you to a marketing master who will share their expertise to help you market and sell more books. Today my special guest is Kelly Falardeau. At age two, Kelly was horrifically burned in an accident. Since that day she's resisted being the ugly scar face girl and defined for herself, what beauty really means in a time of unprecedented social pressure.
She found a way to go from a near death experience to success, from the ugly scar face girl to one of the top 10, most powerful influential speakers. She's a four time international best-selling author, multiple TEDx speaker, recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, and a YWCA Woman of Distinction.
She's traveled to Africa to help burn survivors recover from that tragic injuries and her life story, Still Beautiful. Launched on national TV and has impacted over 10 million people. Through her speaking, writing, coaching, and online programs, she helps people love their imperfections, write and publish their book, as well as becoming a best-selling author. I recently heard Kelly speak and was blown away with her presence and overall philosophy of life. And I knew she'd make a great podcast guest. So Kelly, welcome to the show and thank you for being this week's guest expert and mentor.
Kelly Falardeau: Well thank you for having me. I was so honored when we met at that event and you just said, "I need you on my show." Thank you so much for having me.
Susan Friedmann: It's a pleasure. There's so many different paths that we can go down, Kelly. You're such a multi-talented woman. I want to start off with imperfections. I think this is something that, I don't know, I think that whole idea of social pressure that you've got to be perfect, but how should we embrace imperfections? What's your feeling about that?
Kelly Falardeau: That's an excellent topic and I'm really glad that you're bringing it up because nobody has ever asked me about imperfection. I've had to deal with that my whole life, because being a burn survivor, I was taught that in order to be beautiful, you had to be flawless and you have to be perfect. And you can't have scars on your face because if you have scars on your face, you are the ugly girl.
And I know that because when I was in grade five, I walked past my teacher's desk and someone had drawn a picture of me and it was a circle and it had scribbles all over it and it said scar face on it. And of course I knew it was about me because there was no other scar face girl in my class. I also know too, that when we're really young, we watched Snow White. As three, four or five year olds, we were watching the movie, snow white and we're seeing the evil queen talking to the mirror and then the mirror talked back.
And that's when we learn at such a very young age, that our mirror talks to us. So of course, when I would go in the mirror and I would say, I am beautiful. My mirror would say, no, you're not. You're the ugly girl, you've got scars on your face, you're not perfect, you're not flawless. You can't be beautiful. That was what my mirror would say to me.
And so my whole life, I struggled with that whole philosophy that we have to be perfect in order to be beautiful, in order to be successful, in order to have a marriage and kids and have a life. Over the years, time and time again, I have proven that you don't have to be perfect. In fact, if you strive for perfection, I believe it actually sets you up for failure. I had to shift my whole mindset and say, okay, I don't need to be perfect, but I can be near perfect. And if I strive for near perfection, I succeed every single time. But when I just strive for perfection, I fail.
Susan Friedmann: Oh, I love that. And the whole idea of looking in the mirror and having that inner voice, talk to you and say, no, you're really not beautiful, but you're beautiful from the inside out. I always remember my daughter saying that and talking about the inner beauty, rather than the external beauty. And I think you're saying that in the same way, that embrace who you are and you're beautiful in your own right. I'm sure your mother loved you despite all of the imperfections, so to speak.
What if your burns are how we should look? Who says that, that shouldn't be the norm? But any event, let's talk about that whole idea of the mindset and that inner voice and the effect that, that has and especially, I know that you work so much with authors and speakers. Talk to us about how that affects the way that they produce their work and then want to go out in the world or stop themselves from going out in the world.
Kelly Falardeau: Yeah. A lot of authors come to me and they have a couple of questions. One of course, is where to start. They don't know how to start writing their book. But the other question they have about themselves, who's going to want to read what I have to write? Is my story really going to be good enough? A lot of times people are so stuck on having to be perfect that they don't even want to start. They put such high expectations on themselves, again, that they don't want to start. Because they think that they have to compare themselves to me, being the seven time best-selling author. They think that, oh my God, Kelly is such an amazing writer and all this, I can't be as good as her.
But I love what Rachel Hollis said and in her book, she says, "Don't Compare Your Start to My Middle." I've been already an author for 11 years. In fact, my first book just came out January 8th, 11 years ago. So it was kind of cool how Facebook reminded me about that. So I always share with people like, if you're just starting a book, you can't compare yourself to me, who's been an author for 11 years. You're just starting. Just do it anyways, because you never know what impact your story is going to have on somebody.
Susan Friedmann: Oh, and that's important because when I work with my authors and we talk about the whole idea of their message and the value that that message has, you're right. You just never know how you're going to impact somebody, what you say. And it could even be just a throw away line, but it just impacts somebody so much. I always remember that after a speaking gig that I had many years ago, somebody came up to me and said, "Oh my goodness, you made such a difference in my life. I heard you two years ago. And my life hasn't been the same since," you know, whatever you said. And I'm like, what did I say? What did I say? And she says, "I can't remember, but it made such an impact."
And I'm like, in the end of the day, I suppose it doesn't really matter what it was exactly, but the fact that it did have an impact and it did have value for this one particular person. I think we're trying to affect too many people at any one time, rather than your message has value with one person. And that one person will create the ripples to affect other people as well. What are your thoughts on that?
Kelly Falardeau: I love what you're talking about and it reminds me of Christmas day. So on Christmas day, I got notified by my local television station because they had interviewed me last February for an event that we had done. I had spoken at a school with another burn survivor friend of mine, and they named him and I, two of the most inspirational people of Alberta, of 2020. I watched the interview that they played on TV and it was a two minute clip. And I was like, oh my God, that's so cool.
I was so inspired that I won this and they showed the picture of me showing the scar face picture. And then what happened is right after that, they zoomed in on a little girl, nine or 10 years old. I don't know how old she is. In that clip she says, "I am so glad I got to hear Kelly speak. I now feel more beautiful about myself." And I was like, Oh my God.
When I heard that, it hit me. It was just like, that's the impact that my story had on a little girl. And that's my purpose, that's what my message is, that's what I want to be doing. And I want that nine or 10 year old little girl, to look in the mirror and say, I am beautiful. I don't want her to say, I am ugly. I want her to say, I am beautiful. And that's all because I became an author. I became a speaker, pushed myself to get out and share my message.
Susan Friedmann: Yeah. And that takes a lot of courage. It really does. Now I know that you've got this documentary about your life story. Talk to us about how that happened, because I know that so many authors are like, oh, my book should be a screenplay or a documentary. How did that happen for you?
Kelly Falardeau: You're absolutely right. And I love that you bring that up because a lot of times people think they write a book or they don't even start a book because sometimes people will say to them, well, a book is just an expensive business card, so there's no money in books. Right. Have you heard that, Susan?
Susan Friedmann: Oh, many times.
Kelly Falardeau: Yeah, exactly. So what happened was that I said to myself, I want to meet Wayne Dyer and Doreen Virtue. At that time, they were my two favorite authors. I want to meet them. So up popped up on Facebook, a conference that Hay House was putting on, called Writing for the Soul. In that conference, they were teaching people how to write book proposals so that publishers would be interested in them. Then they were also putting on a contest. And in this contest, you could win a publishing contract with them and you would get, right off the bat, a $10,000 publishing advance with them.
And I thought, oh my gosh, this is amazing, right? Like, who doesn't want to win a publishing contract? And the contest was only open to the people who attended the conference. And there was only like 500 people at this conference. I thought, okay, this is awesome because I'm not competing against the whole internet. I'm just competing against 500 people.
I decide to go to this conference, I write the book proposal, submit it to the contest and I didn't win. And I was disappointed and I thought, what the heck? There was only 135 entries out of the 500. And I thought, oh geez. I thought I did amazing with that book proposal. And I wrote the book proposal from my book, Still beautiful. I thought, what the heck? Okay. Why else did I write this book proposal? There's obviously another reason why I had to do that.
And I heard that little voice in my head say, email Brian. Now Brian works for a broadcaster here in Canada. They're all across Canada. It's called AMI, and it means Accessible Media Inc. And they're a broadcaster that loves stories and content about people with disabilities. Now, even though I don't consider myself disabled because I'm a burn survivor, there are a lot of burn survivors that do consider themselves disabled.
So anyways I emailed Brian and I said, "Hey, Brian, I wrote this book proposal and now I'm being encouraged to make a documentary out of it. I don't know if this is something you're interested in or not, but I thought I would just run it past you and see what you think. Maybe it's a stupid idea." He emailed me back within the hour and he said, "Kelly, there are no stupid ideas. Send over the book proposal."
I sent it over to them and then he sent me another email and he said, "Okay, Kelly, I put you in touch with our original programming content manager. He wants to have a meeting with you." And I was excited and I was so super nervous, right? Like, this is a broadcaster that is like, we love your story. I had the meeting with him and he says to me, "Okay, Kelly, we love your story. We love your book proposal."
I sent him a copy of my other book that I had, No Risk No Rewards, which is my story of my journey of getting burned as a two year old and growing up. He says to me, "Do you want to produce this documentary by yourself, like you did before," because I did another documentary, "Or do you want to co-produce it with us and we will put money into the pot?"
I of course wanted the money, right? Like, I want to work with someone that's got money to put into the pot because I knew I was going to need at least $100,000 to do this documentary, because another producer, that's what they had told me. Anyways, to make a long story short, they put money in the pot. They hired a production company that they wanted to work with.
Then they started writing my documentary. They bought the rights to the Still Beautiful book. And they also bought the right to my No Risk No Rewards book. Then the documentary was produced. It took about two years from concept to being on TV. Yeah. And so we've got this documentary, we've got a 48 minute version. We've got a 73 minute version. And then we also have Christian versions of both of those.
Susan Friedmann: That's an amazing story. Now, if we boil that down, Kelly, what might be the steps that our authors might take, who think that they have a story that deserves being a documentary?
Kelly Falardeau: The first thing is to write a book proposal. What are broadcasters looking for? They're looking for a compelling story, for sure. I mean, it's all about their audience. So when you're writing it, you can't just say, I have this amazing story, I think it should be on TV. They hear thousands of proposals like that. What you have to do is you have to turn it around and say, this story would be a great fit for your audience because, and then whatever that may be.
Now, the reason my story was a great fit for them is because here I am, I'm a burn survivor who got burnt, who had to struggle through school and hospitals and surgeries, and then became a best-selling author and speaker, inspiring teenagers around the world. They wanted that story because they knew that that story would inspire their audience, who is primarily disabled to have a great life.
So that was the angle that I went at. Too many people just say, I have a great story. It needs to be a movie. People even say that to me, where they say, look, I have a great story and I should write a book about it. Okay. Well, what makes you think you have a great story? There's tons of great stories out there, but what is it that the audience is going to get out of your story? That is more important than your great story.
Susan Friedmann: I fully agree with that and that whole idea of your message, your value that we were talking about earlier. What came out for me while you were telling the story was that you absolutely need to know and understand the audience, that if you're going to go to a producer of a certain program that you know who their audience is and what they're looking for, rather than just to pitch for the sake of pitching your story. Would you agree?
Kelly Falardeau: No, absolutely. And that's the whole thing is that you're not going to go and pitch a children's book or a children's documentary to a broadcaster that is all about sports, right? It doesn't make any sense. They're going to say no, we're not even interested. But because that broadcaster was specifically interested in stories about disabled people, I was an excellent fit. So it was like a no brainer for them. And what they loved about it was that they got to create the documentary to be what their audience would want to see. Here's the other cool thing about this particular broadcaster. Have you ever heard of described video?
Susan Friedmann: I personally have not, but that doesn't mean anything.
Kelly Falardeau: Yeah, what it means is that when you watch TV, there's a voice in the background that describes what is going on in the scene, so that people who are blind can still watch TV.
Susan Friedmann: Got it.
Kelly Falardeau: It's incredible. Well, what we did, we took it one step further. So my documentary is integrated described video. What that means is that nobody has to translate it because everything is designed so that a blind person can watch it and they're going to know exactly what's going on. How they did that is let's say, in the documentary, I'm saying, Susan, we're going to go over there. Well, a blind person doesn't know what over there means, but instead, what we had to say is, I would say, Susan, let's go for a walk in the forest. Well, a blind person can imagine what that means. Our documentary was really specialized, which was awesome.
Susan Friedmann: That sounds incredible. Now let's talk about mistakes because I'm sure that there are many, when it comes to the whole idea of mindset, imperfection, looking to get your book into a documentary. Where do you want to go with the mistakes area? Kelly, I'll let you take it.
Kelly Falardeau: I don't think we're ever going to be totally perfect. We're going to make mistakes. My sister actually gave me a book at Christmas time from a local author in the same province that I live in. I read it when I was on my Christmas holidays and I could not believe how many mistakes were in the book. Even pages of it were repeated. And I was like, oh my gosh, I can't believe they published this book, but they did. But we're all going to make mistakes, and the big thing is what are we going to learn from those mistakes and how are we going to change so that we take that mistake and we make it into something better?
Susan Friedmann: I think that's so true because I often tell my authors, when they say, oh, I've had it edited and we didn't pick up this mistake or that mistake and they get so upset about it. I was like, I guarantee there are going to be mistakes in the book. However thorough you are with it, there's going to be something, be it a coma to a misspelled word that gets overlooked or a word that gets missed. It's inevitable and it's no big deal. At the end of the day, it's still the value of the message and what the book contains.
Kelly Falardeau: I totally agree with you. I mean, I was reading one of Wayne Dyer's books that published by Hay House and I was shocked. I found a mistake and it was a blatant mistake. And it was like, oh my gosh, I can't believe that. Like, this would have been professionally edited a million times and there was still a mistake, but you know what? I still love the book.
Susan Friedmann: Yes. It didn't take away from the value of the book. It just made you think, oh my goodness, if a traditional publisher can do this, hey, if we self-publish or go with a hybrid publisher, then it doesn't really matter.
Kelly Falardeau: It doesn't really matter because you still got the book done.
Susan Friedmann: Yes.
Kelly Falardeau: And if you're self-publishing and you don't like the mistake you made, then go fix it. Go fix it and resubmit it, then you're fine.
Susan Friedmann: And especially now when we do print on demand or just an ebook, well, not just an ebook, but an ebook. The fact is that you can make that correction so easily. It's not that you've got a thousand books in your garage that haven't been sold.
Kelly Falardeau: Exactly. I totally agree with you, totally agree with you. And that's the whole thing is, you don't have to buy 1,000 books. And that's the same as when I started 11 years ago, in order to be a best-selling author, you had to get 500 books published and then you had to ship them to all the Amazon warehouses. And there was what, five at the time. And then if your books didn't sell, they would charge you a warehouse fee.
Susan Friedmann: Wow.
Kelly Falardeau: You don't have to do that anymore.
Susan Friedmann: Thank goodness they don't do that. Kelly, if our listeners wanted to find out more about you and your services, how could they do that?
Kelly Falardeau: Well, what they can do is they can get in touch with me a couple of ways. I have a free blueprint. If they want the blueprint on the seventh steps on how to get their book published, it's sevenstepsauthor.com, or if they just want to email me, ask them questions, they can just go to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Susan Friedmann: And I'll put that all in the show notes, Kelly. So I know sometimes our listeners are multitasking and don't necessarily have a pen and paper handy, so we can do that. And if you were to leave our listeners with a golden nugget, what would that be?
Kelly Falardeau: My golden nugget is a quote that I came up with and it's, Dreams are meant to be found, not tucked away in dreamland."
Susan Friedmann: I love that. That's beautiful. And we'll definitely put that in the show notes as well. I always highlight a quote from our guests, so that'll be a perfect one to put in there. Kelly, thank you. I know we could go on for so much longer because you have so much great information to share, but I appreciate you sharing your wisdom. And thank you all for taking time out of your precious day to listen to this interview. And I sincerely hope that it sparks some ideas you can use to sell more books. Here's wishing you much book marketing success.