When Edmonton-based financial expert Kelley Keehn couldn’t find a publisher for her first book, The Prosperity Factor for Women, she made a decision to publish it herself. She was convinced that she had a perspective on financial management that “needed to be told.” She decided to self publish her first book because, “without a publisher’s support, it was the only other option I knew of at the time.” She had no idea then how right this decision turned out to be.
The success of her self published book in March 2005, resulted in Insomniac Press selecting her next six books for publication including her newest book THE Money Book slated for publication March 2011. But finding a publisher for her books is not the best part of Kelley’s story. The best part of her story is that, in addition to being right about the interest in her financial perspective, along the way she also became a media darling.
Kelly is now a regular sought after media guest, appearing as a contributor, columnist or panelist on TV and radio in Canada and the United states on CNBC, CBC, CTV, Sun Media, Alberta Primetime and the Globe and Mail. She has published and appeared more than 95 times in local, national and international newspapers, radio and television shows. In November 2009, she was even quoted in Oprah’s O Magazine for her financial expertise. Most recently she auditioned and was selected as the co-host on the reality tv show “Burn My Mortgage” that premiered on the W Network in October 2010.
Along the way Kelley learned some things that now guide her decisions. She learned that she could buy books from her publisher cheaper than she could produce them herself even if she produced them by print-on-demand (i.e. printing and shipping copies to the buyers after they were paid for). She already knew that whether she self published her books or not, she was expected to market her books herself. What she didn’t know is how much support a publisher provides an author in editing, proofing, design, layout, and distribution of their books. She points out that, as a self publisher it would be unlikely that she would find her books for sale in a small bookstore in Granville Island as she did last year. Would she self publish again? “Not unless I had a sponsor’s commitment that they would buy large volumes of my book.”
Kelley attributes her success as a media darling to “hitting the sweet spot in media trends” including the increasing demand for tv networks to seek out hosts who are not only experienced and good on camera but are experts in their field for reality tv show hosts and to social media for promoting, enhancing and monitoring publicity. She’s had a website since her first book in 2005 that she constantly updates. Since 2007 she’s been publishing a blog, Keehn on Money, and, over the last couple of years, has also launched a YouTube channel, a Facebook Page and a Twitter account.
While Kelley laments that she doesn’t have the time to actively participate in social media, the one thing she admits to watching closely “to the point of obsession,” is the activity on her website which she claims “is my most effective marketing vehicle by far”. She checks her Google Analytics dashboard two or three times a day, no matter where she is. “Who would have thought that a Globe and Mail article published across Canada would result in 500 views of my website the first day it was published while a segment on Breakfast Television in Toronto would result in 2000 views within the first hour after it was aired?” She points to the fact that that the money show on CNBC, considered the “top of the heap” for financial experts in North America draws 200,000 viewers across North America while Breakfast Television in Toronto is watched by a million viewers in Ontario. Her website, Google Analytics and the reach, audience profile and location of the newspapers, television, cable and radio stations are now guiding Kelley’s decisions about the best use of her time.
What’s next for Kelley? From April to August 2011, she is undertaking another private speaking tour in eight cities across Canada for BMO/Harris Private Banking. BMO buys copies of Kelley’s books to provide to the participants and underwrites the cost of her speaking tour. She’s also developing a secret project for the Canadian market that “I’ve never done before” related speaking and corporate training which is “the nucleus of my company.” Whatever the project, Kelley will no doubt remain a media darling and a personality that is as classy and smart on the inside as she is on the outside.
What has Kelley learned from her experience? She learned that “self publishing made me a better author, speaker and marketer”, that “I would never self publish any more books without the full commitment of a sponsor” and that despite the bumps and bruises along the way, “I wouldn’t have changed anything on the path I took to get where I am now. It’s been a great learning experience!” Self publishing has paid dividends for Kelly Keehn.