Friday, August 22, 2008

Promomtional Interview with Hugh Ballou

Your Name: Hugh Ballou

1. Where you are from and where are you now?
I grew up in Atlanta, GA in the neighborhood where “Driving Miss Daisy” was filmed. I have lived in the South all my life in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and now in Virginia. Now, I am living in Blacksburg, VA with my wife, Leigh Anne Taylor, who is a pastoral church musician as I was for 40 years.

2. How did you get started writing?
Writing for church publications was a regular discipline for many years. It was a challenge for me to put facts, processes and theory into words that people would actually read and understand. Then, I began writing articles for other publications. Once I began to receive feedback on the articles, I realized that I could put together larger sections of information and then ended up with the idea for my first book. I received a rejection from a publisher, so I decided to self-publish that book to get it into the hands of people who would appreciate the information. I am now in the third printing of that book and it is included in the online catalogue of the publisher that rejected it.

3. What do you do when you are not writing?
I teach leaders basic leadership concepts from my writing and learn more about how to communicate fundamental concepts of leadership. I also continue to work with other conductors of musical ensembles to promote good music and great musical events worldwide. I love the passion of making great music with great musicians. In fact, I learned my leadership skills in my 40-year career as conductor.

4. What would readers like to know about you?
I help leaders create new paradigms for leadership. Presenting leadership skills from the perspective of a musical conductor is a fresh approach to a subject that may be stale in some training arenas. I am also passionate about cooking for my family! Both of the passions are me sharing the best of my God-given skills.

5. What inspired your first book?
After talking to many leaders who struggled with the same issues, I was inspired to share my story with them verbally. Once I discovered that the same issues were coming up again and again, I realized that it was time to write about those topics so I could touch more people. I do not consider myself to be a writer, so to overcome the feeling of inadequacy on that subject I began to write!

6. How many books have you written?
I have written 5 books. Transforming Power is actually the 5th book. It jumped over the 4th book, which is in its final stages. The 4th book, Leaders Transform, will be out early in the fall along with the 6th book, which is a companion workbook for #5.

7. What are the titles of your books and what genres are they?
All of my books are about Transformational Leadership. Leaders seeking to transform organizations, systems, and people’s lives need a constant source of inspiration and a resource for new and revised skills. My books can be categorized as “Leadership Tools” for those who want to keep “sharpening the saw,” as Stephen Covey puts it. I write books for people like me. People who want to read a brief chapter or illustration and get back to work - for people who want practical ideas that are immediately applicable – and for people who want realistic, not academic solutions.

8. How do you decide on that topic or genre? Why are you specially qualified to write about this topic?
Having working in many different situations as leader, I made all the classic mistakes and some really creative mistakes. I want to share the knowledge I gained from my mistakes. I wish I had had a resource like this so I could have made some better choices along the way as a leader! I actually developed and perfected systems and processed that worked. They worked really well! People would ask me, “How did you get that result?” So, I tell then through my writing. Some read, some don’t - some listen, some don’t - some succeed, some don’t – I’m happy if anybody applies anything is suggest and succeed.

9. How do you manage to keep yourself focused and on track when you’re writing a book?
I outlined my first book and put away the outline for 2 years. Once I left a job with a regular paycheck, I needed to get clients. So I needed some credibility and decided to bring out the outline and write the book. In looking over the outline, I decided to start with the chapter “Getting Things Done: Choosing priorities, running meetings and ordering our time.” I knew what to do; I just needed to apply what I already knew. Once I finished that chapter I was obligated to follow what I had suggested to others. My credibility rested in being able to focus and manage my time. So, I scheduled writing appointments with myself and kept the appointments. I finished the book in 30-days, sent it to the printer and was selling it a month later!

10. Do you write to make money, for the love of writing or both?

11. What are some traditional methods of marketing you have used? Which were the most successful?
Word-of-mouth is the most traditional, most successful and most cost effective! People telling people becomes a powerful system. This not only sells books, but it also validates me in my position as mentor of success. Word-of-mouth is also fastest and most thorough, especially when combined with an online viral marketing program such as a blog tour. I have been on a blog tour for the past month and I can see measurable results with book sales online.

12. What are some unique methods of marketing you have used? Which were the most successful?
I asked some business owner who are in similar or compatible businesses to give the purchasers of my book a gift that will assist them in their leadership journey. Everyone that I asked responded positively! So, I created a gift list of over $4,000 worth of leadership resources that are free or are major discounts on products or services – most are free. Each of these businesses also agreed to send out my message about the book to their contact list on a specific day. This is currently bringing wonderful results and a lot of traffic to my site as well as the sites for each of the contributors of gifts. When you ask people to share resources and you are willing to share with them, it works!

13. Do you sell through a website? If so, what’s the address? If not, why not?
I created a website just for the book -
On this site I placed reasons people should have my book and told them about the free gifts. I also made a welcome video and told them what I had, why I was good for them and what to do next. I think simplicity is powerful! I can track who comes, how long they stay, if they purchase and were they come from.

14. Where can people order your books?
On there’s a link to the book on Amazon.

15. What format are your books – e-book, print, audio etc?
Transforming Power is in print. My other books and in print and also available as eBooks from
I am moving toward recording each book in various audio formats for ease of use – just like the books – short and to the point!

16. Will you write more books?
Leaders Transform: A Guide for Transformational Leaders and Leaders Transform: An Expanded Workbook for Transformational Leaders are due out this fall. Also, A Devotional Guide for Christian Transformational Leaders is in the works for next year. All these books follow my leadership coaching model, which groups leadership processes and skills into 4 areas: Foundations, Relationships, Systems and Balance. In my experience, the simplicity of categorizing everything about leadership into 4 topics can help to focus and unify strategies for leaders.

17. What do you have in the works now?
I am working on a 12-month teleseminar with study guide for leaders wanting to transform and organization, systems or people’s lives. This online and at home program will be announced through my online training site, Leadership TeleSeminar ( ) and will begin in the fall. This is a way for organizations to get a jump-start on a strategic plan that usually costs $25,000 to $50,000! In addition, many organizations with a strategic plan have parked it on a shelf or in a drawer and that plan is not a part of the DNA of the organization, so it is doing them no good al all! My strategy is to provide traction for plans so that organizations can transform!

18. What does the future hold for you and your books?
I am hoping to get more books into the hands of more leaders. Bloom’s Taxonomy ( tells us that knowledge is at the base of the learning pyramid. I am currently working with the Cooperative Leadership Institute ( to put my training into an online, interactive process. There are many things that leaders can study in books and online to stretch themselves and build some basic skills.

19. What was the most successful thing you did to promote your books?
Contract with viral marketing specialists who understand how to get a process started and build momentum. It is also important that authors participate in their own marketing efforts – either with viral programs or programs with publishers. It’s important to adequately describe what’s so good about the book, why people need it and what you want them to do next (tell them to buy it!).

20. What was the least successful thing you did to promote your books?
Running tradition print ads is like gambling. Most of the money is wasted unless it is in a form that connects with specific, targeted audiences.

21. Tell us about your most recent book.
Transforming Power: Stories from Transformational Leaders for Inspiration and Encouragement is a unique collection of stories that demonstrate the effectiveness of visionary leaders. Every story has a valuable perspective and provides good leadership principles that can be applied in any type of organization. Good leadership is applicable wherever people lead. Each contributing author shares insights from their perspective. My first books are the “How To” of leadership giving strategies and systems for leaders. This book teaches through stories. We all learn in different ways, so it’s important to have a variety of methods for learning. I learn from the “how to” resources, however, I am empowered to observe or to read about accomplishments.

22. What makes this book special to you?
Each author wanted to share from his or her own experience and, almost without exception, these authors responded with a resounding “Yes” when asked to contribute. I know each of these authors and I understand their passion for leadership and for changing people’s lives. As I read and reread each story, I remember, with gratitude, my conversations with each author and their response to my request. This book, in itself, represents transformation. I was able to transform an idea into reality. Once I was able to articulate my goal and share that goal with others, the idea began to manifest itself into physical form. I was the Transformational Leader in this instance.

23. What sort of comments have you gotten about the content of the book?
Several people important to me have written or called to tell me how they loved this book and many have used the same comment – “This is a really good book!”

24. What makes this a book that other people MUST read and WHY?
I get tired of the same old stuff! I know that other people must feel the same way. These are some fresh and exciting perspectives on leadership. Organizations fail because of lack of visionary leadership. Transformational Leaders lead with charisma with a clearly articulated vision. What new leaders and especially older, more mature leaders need most is passion and inspiration! This book provides the fire for that passion!

25. What people NEED to read this book and WHY?
This book is for leaders of organizations, leaders of teams, future leaders, and people who know leaders. Basically, this book helps promote good leadership for everyone. In fact, we are all called to lead somewhere at sometime in our lives, so, why not be ready before that opportunity comes? We each impact others in a positive, negative or neutral way – the choice is ours! Reading Transforming Power will equip people with the positive mental attitude to be that positive influence with everyone they meet. This not theory – it works!

26. What sparks your creativity? Any tips to help others spark their own creativity?
I feel empowered by the words, “I don’t think you can accomplish that.” My response is, “Watch me, and get out of the way!” Barriers and obstacles are opportunities for problem solving. The difference in barrier and opportunity in usually defined as perspective. My motivation is solving problems and helping leaders find ways to strengthen skills to solve their problems. I am empowered by each leader that succeeds – so, hearing that I have made a difference in someone’s live sparks my enthusiasm and creativity.

27. What do you think motivates people to become authors? What motivated you to get into this unusual industry?
It is with great fear of rejection and ridicule that keeps some people from sharing their thoughts with others. I knew that this could be a possibility, however, I also know that I would grow in my own skills when becoming vulnerable and transparent. I teach leaders to be vulnerable in order to be effective, and to lead by example. In order to be effective in leadership myself, I wanted to set the example. People may not think that I am always correct, however, many say that they have learned something of value. Writing let’s me share with more people at the same time.

28. Tell me about the most unusual things you have done to promote any books?
I have loaned books to people for a week and asked them to respond to a specific chapter or point in the book. When I return to collect the loaned book, they write me a check about 90% of the time.

29. If a potential reader thinks that your book wouldn't interest them, what would you say to convince them to buy? I'm thinking something better than "Its the greatest book ever." Give me something more specific :)
If one story in this book could help you thing about creative solutions for your organization or change your life, would it be worth having the book? If you didn’t want to keep the book, could you think of someone who could benefit from some good leadership suggestions? Either way, it’s worth having a copy to read and to share.

30. Why does the topic of your book interest you? Why would it interest potential readers? Give us a hook to reel in new readers.
If an organization is stagnant because the leader is stale this can be an empowering resource. It’s also for leaders who are just “stuck.” It’s worth having the book to get just one idea that could ultimately change someone’s life – it might be the reader who is changed – how powerful is that?

This interview was done in conjunction with Nikki Leigh, author of the Book Promo 101 series and owner of Promo 101 Virtual Blog Tours. For more information, visit – and

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