Jason Gelios of ‘Think Like a REALTOR®’ On How To Grow Your Business or Brand By Writing A Book
An Interview With Theresa Albert
I can share one particular story of somebody I was having a conversation with in my neighborhood about topics that we shared an interest in. After speaking with this individual, we got on the topic of him possibly selling his home. I mentioned that I was a REALTOR and that I would love to help him if he had questions or was seriously considering a move. Towards the end of our conversation, I provided him with a copy of my book and business card. When his hands hit my book, he replied “Wow, you wrote a book”!
As a part of our series about “How You Can Grow Your Business or Brand By Writing A Book”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jason Gelios.
Jason Gelios is an Award Winning, Top Producing REALTOR® in Southeast Michigan. Author of the real estate book ‘Think Like a REALTOR®: A little book about buying and selling residential real estate through the eyes of a REALTOR®.
Creator of The AskJasonGelios Real Estate Show bringing answers to real estate questions weekly.
Expert Media Contributor of expertise all across the world to media outlets. Jason educates aspiring home buyers, sellers and existing homeowner’s tips and real world knowledge to help achieve their real estate goals. Jason is also a local speaker educating home buyers on the process of purchasing a home.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share a story about what motivated you to become an expert in the particular area that you are writing about?
Thank you for having me! In my early twenties I was really struggling with dead end jobs with no real opportunities, coasting through life and anticipating a paycheck. I was not thinking big and just getting by with low wage jobs. You could say I was a lost soul. But this all changed when I met a woman, who is now my wife, who was pursuing a career in healthcare. I was inspired by how she was setting goals and pursuing her dream daily. She had a purpose and she was following that with a passion. With this newly found motivation, coupled with being fed up with the way my life was going, I decided to make a change and pursue something that I really wanted to be excited about. I wanted to have a better life that I created, instead of being reactive to the dead end jobs I held that I was not thrilled about. I have always loved real estate, looking at homes and seeing how important a home is to an individual and families. After seeking out information from professionals in the industry, I entered into the real estate industry on the mortgage side as a Mortgage Representative. After some time in this area, I had earned multiple awards and had success. While I enjoyed my time as a mortgage representative, I decided to become a Realtor. After all, they were the ones viewing the homes and spending more time with the clients. After making the switch, I found further success and have had no regrets to this day. I will always love real estate and the effect it has on people when they get the keys. No other position that I have held has been this gratifying.
It’s no secret that in the real estate industry, agents are a dime a dozen. With this in mind, I wanted to create something that would provide value to others, all while helping me stand out in my field. I didn’t want to be just another agent in my area, but a true value provider. I decided to write a book sharing my expertise in the home buying and selling process, as well as some real world situations that I’ve been in. Writing my book has been an awesome journey, because I grew up reading a great deal of books and continue to be inspired by reading. This has been one of the key contributors to my success. Having my own book that I can hand out to others is one of the most rewarding things that I have done in my professional role.
Can you share a pivotal story that shaped the course of your career?
I will never forget this moment when my wife and I were attending my broker’s annual awards ceremony. This was a black tie event that was held to honor the top agents for their excellence in areas of client service and sales volume. We were sitting at our table with some colleagues when they announced the next category, Rookie of the Year. I knew that I had a good amount of closed deals, but was still a bit nervous. I remained positive that I could potentially receive this award that night. After some of my colleagues were honored, the special moment happened. I will never forget that moment in time when my name was called and I was recognized as the Rookie Of The Year! It was an overwhelming feeling, because this was the first award I had earned in my role as a Realtor. As I approached that stage and accepted the prestigious award, I looked back to see my wife, colleagues and friends showing their praise and offering their congratulations. I often reflect on this period as a moment that proved to me awareness that I can be successful as long as I keep my mindset and focus in the right place. I had a career and business that would be the pathway that would allow me to reach my goals like no other career ever offered. At that moment I really felt like I had arrived.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Are you working on any new writing projects?
I love having multiple things going on in my life-professionally and personally. It’s probably because I can never rest on my laurels, or perhaps the fact that I can’t really sit still. The most exciting project I have ever worked on professionally is my current book Think Like a Realtor. I loved writing this book and putting it out there for people to enjoy. After completing this book, you could say I caught the writing bug. This project inspired me to offer my real estate expertise further by feature involvement in various media outlets and having a bigger impact in the world. I have been blessed to be a part of a number of great articles by other great writers who strive to provide valuable information to their readers.
I am currently working on a more personal book about overcoming self doubt and beating the force of average. So many people accept the force of average in their life. I believe everyone has a book inside of them that others can learn, or be inspired by. I feel that I have a great deal of information to share on this topic, because where I am today did not happen without me realizing how to overcome average thinking, self doubt and other challenges. I am very excited about this project, because it will help people realize that they can do great things in life if they just change their thinking and come to some realizations about themselves. They can make positive changes in their life to be successful and live the life they truly want to live. Success can be theirs if they are open to the possibilities that this life can offer. If this book helps just one person to move forward past obstacles and into a successful life, then I will have achieved my goal.
Thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. Can you please tell us a bit about your book? Can you please share a specific passage or story that illustrates the main theme of your book?
I wrote Think Like a Realtor to help debunk the myths that all a REALTOR does is throw a sign in the yard, upload a home into the MLS, or that we just drive around, sip coffee and attend closings. There are many other duties a REALTOR performs to ensure their clients are represented in the fullest capacity. Many times the potential client is not aware that REALTORS do more duties for them, especially on the back end with paperwork and the process. The main theme of my book is to share some real world advice, as well as some situations I have been in so the reader has a better understanding of what a REALTOR does. In my book I also share tips that could literally save the reader thousands of dollars by learning about issues that could arise should they buy or sell a home. This is the basis of why I wrote this book, to help others and arm them with the knowledge that can benefit their situation.
One of the things that I share in my book is that many people do not realize there is a difference between a real estate agent and a Realtor. The term REALTOR is shared too loosely by agents not certified to use that title. In my book, I share the differences between the two and how they can be sure that they hire the right professional. Too many times potential clients come to me after they had a bad experience with an agent asking me to represent them, because I took the time to have a conversation. I would like to think that by taking the time to share this information with someone it has a long lasting impact on them. A book is something that they can reference when they need it and provides much more value than a boring business card or brochure.
You are a successful author and thought leader. Which three character traits do you feel were most instrumental to your success when launching your book? Can you please share a story or example for each?
When I was thinking of writing a book, I was very overwhelmed by the whole process. I was over thinking the project and had doubts about whether or not I could pull it off. Once I broke down the process to several key steps, it became much easier to complete.
Here are my three character traits that helped me write my book:
1. Visualize your book and get started
I have always been a visual learner and prefer to experience and learn things this way. Tackling a big project like writing a book had to have something visual to remind me of what I want this book to be. One of the things I did before I even created the outline of the book was to create a teaser graphic and possible cover design of the book I wanted to write. This pushed me further to stay on task and work on the book; which took over a year by the way! I have already implemented this method for my second book project, because it drives me to visualize the end product and get me through the boring part of writing a book. Visualizing the book I wanted to create is a huge motivator, because it got me excited to work on completing the book. I highly recommend this step first.
2. Create the outline of your book
I like to keep things very simple in life. Creating an outline of what you want to cover is what kept me on track to write and complete my book. I wrote down a bunch of different topics I wanted to cover in my brainstorming session. The outline really helped me layout the order of my chapters and to really hone in on each topic without feeling lost in thought. I encourage others who are intimidated by the process of writing a book to really just jot down their ideas and then formulate an outline of what you want to cover in your book. Once you have that outline complete, you are well on your way! Keep in mind though, this outline could change throughout the process.
3. Tell the masses!
Before and after launching my book, I told just about everyone I came in contact with about it. I created bookmarks that promoted my book and handed those out to local libraries to give out to their visitors. I provided a couple copies to various libraries allowing them to let people check out the book. This effort also led to some speaking engagements by the way! Whenever I have an opportunity to give my book away to someone, I do. For me it’s not so much making money on the book as it is to share my brand through a valuable product that people can enjoy. People lose business cards or get tired of trinkets with a company logo on it. Having your own book that you can hand out opens doors to opportunities that may not have been there without your book.
In my work, I have found that writing a book can be a great way to grow a brand. Can you share some stories or examples from your own experience about how you helped your own business or brand grow by writing a book?
One of the best ideas I have had for my business and building my brand is to create my book. Many people create short e-books and other digital resources that just don’t have the same effect as a tangible piece of work. When you share a printed book with someone, they really see something more valuable. People know that a book takes hard work, authority and trust that conveys to the reader. Many experts on various topics have written books that I have personally benefitted and enjoyed.
I can share one particular story of somebody I was having a conversation with in my neighborhood about topics that we shared an interest in. After speaking with this individual, we got on the topic of him possibly selling his home. I mentioned that I was a REALTOR and that I would love to help him if he had questions or was seriously considering a move. Towards the end of our conversation, I provided him with a copy of my book and business card. When his hands hit my book, he replied “Wow, you wrote a book”! At that moment I received further confirmation that my book is more than just a sales piece, but a brand building piece of marketing that people enjoy receiving, because it also benefits them. This person may lose my business card, but I doubt he will lose my book.
Can you talk to our readers a bit about the benefits of becoming an author and promoting a book? Can you explain to other leaders why they should invest resources and energy into this? Can you share a few examples of how writing a book in particular and thought leadership in general can create lucrative opportunities and help a business or brand grow?
Other than the personal satisfaction of seeing your words in print, I would say that becoming an author has been one of the highlights of my career. The positive reactions that I received then and currently from those around me inspired me to promote the book even more. I felt that offering a book to people meant that I care about putting something valuable out there for people to enjoy. If you were to be approached by someone offering you either a free business card and a spiel, or a real tangible book, which would you choose? Of course you would say the book. Unless you like hearing salespeople talk, having a published book opens doors that would probably never be opened without having it. Sharing my book of expertise has led to great conversations with those that are able to help me generate more opportunities to build my brand. People still love printed books and the benefits of reading them. You can really stand out by creating a book, because the perception it creates is beneficial to almost anyone, especially in business. Being an author and sharing your expertise really helps you stand out when the majority is doing the same thing as each other.
This is why having your own book is so well received because you are sharing a piece of you with others. Having my own book has not only been well perceived by those I hand a copy to, but it has opened doors for media appearances and being featured in major media articles sharing my expertise. The biggest benefit of having a book is that it propels your brand to a higher level. Offering a book that you created conveys that you are a trusted resource in your industry. That you are not just handing out boring company brochures, but that you are putting the other person first. When I first thought about writing my book, I was not really focused on selling a bunch of copies. I was focused on getting it into the hands of people who could benefit from the read.
I feel that everyone has a book in them. Everyone has knowledge or an experience that they can share to help or inspire others. Anyone on the fence about writing a book should automatically begin the project because it will transform not only your life, but your business. With so many people investing time and money into social media and digital items, a printed book has the power to really stand out. I am a proponent of both. My book is offered in both print and digital formats. However make no mistake, print is the better way to go.
I would like to share a story of how my book led to a conversation with a famous author who took the time to speak with me and provide some tips. This is a certain well known author in his teachings and book offerings. He has multiple best sellers and continues to be a great motivator to those who follow him. One day I decided to send him a copy of my book with a message on the inside cover reading “Thank you for inspiring me to write my book. You are a great inspiration!” Several weeks later I was astonished to receive a phone call from the famous author! We had a nice 30 minute conversation about real estate, which ended in him offering some tips to me for my book. Had I not had a printed book, or not taken the time to send him a copy, we would not have connected. How powerful is that?
People who are looking to build a name for themselves or build a brand should get started on writing a book ASAP. The benefits of being an expert who writes a book and the benefits of sharing your expertise with people in this format are much too large to ignore.
Another benefit to having a book is that it allows you to up your game, so to speak. Prior to the COVID pandemic, I was in conversations to do a tour of book signings in major bookstores. While my competition is putting flyers on cars or handing out business cards, I have the stage. Having your own book can, and will, open doors for you to build your brand as a leader in your field. Promoting my book also allowed me to be sourced for real estate expertise in major publications in multiple cities, which lead to even more professional relationships and will soon lead to greater opportunities.
I also learned that people are more receptive to books. Who doesn’t love a free book? Notice I said free here. I don’t really push to sell books, but to offer my books to those that can benefit from them. Sure it costs more to create a book versus a business card, but there is a reason for that. A book will command more attention and more positive conversations than any other medium in my opinion. You simply can’t put a price on that kind of attention. You could also say that people will be more prone to sharing your book with others. Can you really say that about a business card or flyer?
What are the things that you wish you knew about promoting a book before you started? What did you learn the hard way? Can you share a story about that which other aspiring writers can learn from?
In preparing for the launch of my book, I had focused a great deal on the launch party. I wanted it to be a big deal because after all, this was my first book. While the launch party went great, I learned a couple things from it.
- It’s great to have a launch party for your book release, but you want to make sure you promote it as an open house type of venue. Many people showed up when they were able to during the time frame that I had shared. I was trying to have an agenda with an outline of when I was going to speak. Planning your launch party as an open house format will allow people to show on their terms and provide you the time to communicate with everyone. This will be the format I follow for my next book.
- While I pushed a little bit to promote my project on my social media outlets prior to the launch of my book, I wish I had created more hype that got people talking more offline. People on social media were excited to see the book, but don’t forget about old fashioned word of mouth in your community. Research all resources like community calendars, mailers to your network, family and friends etc.
Based on your experience, which promotional elements would you recommend to an author to cover on their own and when would you recommend engaging a book publicist or marketing expert?
As I said earlier, my main focus wasn’t really to be a bestselling author. I was really interested in creating value to others with a printed book. In my journey to becoming an author, I would say the majority of the tasks involving promotion of the book could be done on your own. If I was an aspiring author trying to be well known for a variety of fictional story books, I would say go all out and get other professionals to push your book. But I can tell you that with my focus and what I am trying to accomplish with my book, I am really looking to have my book continue to be a brand building tool that benefits others. Ultimately, I would say an author could do the majority of the promotional work themselves, due to the variety of tools available to get your book out there to a large group of people.
I was fortunate enough to have a background in graphic design which allowed me to design the whole book from front to back. I would say this is where a first time author should have professionals come in. Your book cover is probably the most important part of your book, because it creates that first impression that is so crucial.
Wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your own experience and success, what are the “five things an author needs to know to successfully promote and market a book?” If you can, please share a story or example for each.
1. Promote the book months before the launch
A promising author should be promoting their book months before launching it as to create a suspense factor that engages people. On social media, I was sharing my book project with everyone so when it came time to launch, I had a good amount of people excited about it. At first, create short teaser videos and posts highlighting a specific date, your launch date and continue to build anticipation from there. When I committed myself to a launch date, I shared posts that only showed the date. It got people wondering what I was doing. As I got closer to the date, I revealed what it was which created a great amount of engagement.
It doesn’t hurt to see what major authors are doing as well. Take a look at how well known authors release their books to the public. How do they promote it? What type of ads or posts are they creating? Doing the research to see what successful authors are doing will help a first-time author have a successful launch.
2. Have a launch party
Hosting a launch party was one of the best promoters of my book, other than the press mentions I’ve received, because it really allows you to connect with people on a local level. People who attended my launch party were excited to not only pick up their copy of my book, but to also have an experience that they would remember for a long time. People loved the fact that they know a local author. All the attendees were even asking me to autograph the book! Not only is this a great promotional event, it’s a great feeling knowing that so many people support your project.
Preparing for my launch party was a lot of fun, because I incorporated local businesses to be a part of the event. I had a local bakery provide mini cakes in exchange for publicity for their brand. I invited friends who had small businesses who offered a prize
to be raffled off. I reached out to a local DJ who could play some music during the event.
This whole event was free to all who attended. Of course everyone who attended purchased a copy of my book. It was a great event that built more exposure for what I was doing. Not to mention that everyone had fun!
3. Have an eBook version of your work
This is something that I learned after the fact for some reason. You simply must have an eBook version of your work. Many people consume information differently so having a digital version of your book is a must. You also want to make sure the eBook is priced less than your print book. This is standard practice. Another great way to build up more exposure is to offer a discount if someone purchases your eBook along with your print book, because you want to maximize the amount of people who can access your book. This is easier than it sounds because there is software that will allow you to accomplish this task.
4. Work on getting people to review the book
Prior to your book being launched, you really want to get people’s opinions on your book and try to gain as many honest reviews as you can. Notice I said honest here. The last thing you want is to appear to be bribing somebody for a good review. Hand out a small amount of books and simply ask the readers to provide an honest review of your book. Having reviews goes along way and builds credibility. Include your reviews on your website with the book offering or get the readers to provide their reviews on the major sites where your book can be purchased.
5. Have print copies on hand to give out when applicable.
While the majority of your books will be offered online, every author should have print copies on hand for giveaways and local promotions. I hand out a copy of my book alongside my business card to people that I meet professionally. I always get a great response when I hand out a copy of my book. People know that it takes a lot of time and effort to create a book, so they tend to appreciate it more. Having a printed book really opens up great conversation. I have even had some colleagues purchase my book!
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just might see this, especially if we both tag them :-)
I would love to sit down and have a conversation with Chris Gardner from The Pursuit Of Happyness story. When I first learned of his story and how he overcame poverty and self doubt to become the success he is today, it inspired me further. He has such a great story that I would like to learn more about. He is also a person that promotes helping others and to inspire people who have dreams to pursue them.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
I invite everyone to connect with me by visiting my website ItsAllAboutTheRealEstate.com and click on my social media links from there.
Thank you for these excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent. We wish you continued success with your book promotion and growing your brand.