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Dayna Steele: Getting Ahead, Rock-and-Roll Style
Dayna Steele is a phenomenon. She has rock-star friends, she entertained Houstonians over the airwaves for twenty years, and she married a NASA pilot. Dayna is also a successful entrepreneur.
She’s combined her experiences and expertise in her book, Rock to the Top, which explores how to get ahead in life by using the principles of rock—passion and confidence. iUniverse caught up with Dayna to talk about her career, her writing, and the rock stars she knows.
So, who is Dayna Steele?
Dayna Steele is a Hall of Fame radio personality, successful entrepreneur, and the author of Rock to the Top: What I Learned about Success from the World’s Greatest Rock Stars. Readers’ Digest Magazine calls her one of the “35 People Who Inspire Us.” In her Rock Star Conversations, Dayna talks to the rock stars in business, entertainment, and more about their rock-star principles of success. She is currently working on her next book, 101 Ways to Rock Your World: Everyday Activities for Success Every Day.
What is your book Rock to the Top all about?
It is a book about success based on what I learned hanging around the greatest rock stars in the world as an award-winning rock-radio personality for years. Great lessons and great stories. Minus a few I’ll never tell . . . or can’t remember. It was the ’80s after all!
Where did you get the inspiration to write this book?
There were many reasons that came together all at once—to have something to sell at all the free speeches people were asking me to do, to show my kids I used to be cool, to get the stories and lessons in writing before they were lost, and to learn about publishing before we released my husband’s first novel. Specific Impulse by Charles Justiz (aka Wonder Husband) is also an iUniverse book. We’ve sold the movie rights to that one, and he is in the process of finishing the second book in his trilogy.
I’m sure everyone is dying to know, which rock stars have you met? And what were they like?
From 1978 to 1996—every single one of them. My mentor and best friend managed Sammy Hagar and went on to manage Van Halen, so I probably spent more time with them than any other band, but it was what I did for a living, there were always rock stars around in some form or another. One of these days, I will scan and post all the pictures. I have a huge box of them in the closet. There were all types, and it was always exciting. I truly learned a lot about business from observing the successful ones—who are still successful today—Gene Simmons, Mick Jagger, Bono, Jon Bon Jovi.
You’ve been a radio host, entrepreneur, and a public speaker. So how did you find the transition to writing? Was it difficult to write?
I am an anal-retentive list maker. So I started with a list of what stories I wanted to tell and what lessons I learned from those stories. Then I just set aside time each day to write. Some days, I couldn’t type fast enough. Other days, I just stared at the screen or organized my notes. Once it started to take shape, the excitement and desire grew.
What kind of feedback have you gotten from your book? And how has the book helped your career?
I wrote the book to have something to sell at those free speeches—now the book is more of a free calling card, and I get paid handsomely to speak. Go figure. Still getting paid to talk. The feedback is motivating and inspiring—which is what I wanted the book to be—an inspiration for anyone who has ever thought of starting a company, being successful, or making a major life change. I just give the advice and lessons with a healthy dose of fun stories including the Rolling Stones, ZZ Top, Crosby Stills & Nash and so many more.
What is the most successful thing you’ve done to market and sell your book?
A strong web presence including a website, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn as well as blog posts and guest blog posts all over the place. Then, I’d say pitching myself out there as an expert or commentator on getting a job, staying motivated, etc. All of that of course feeds the speaking career, and I’ve sold thousands of books at speaking events.
What advice do you have for other iUniverse authors who are interested in promoting their books?
It is a full-time job, whether you have a publicist or not. Make the promotion brief, relevant, and truthful. No one has time to read a two-page press release. And don’t send to everyone in the world. Pick bloggers, journalists, and reviewers who are relevant to your genre. There are millions of books, really great books, out there—why should they review yours?
What is the one message you would like to convey to your readers?
Everyone and anyone can be a rock star at whatever you do in whatever industry. You just have to do the work it takes to be a rock star. And most people don’t want to do that. That’s why rock stars stand out.
You have another book coming out. So, can you tell us about it?
101 Ways to Rock Your World: Everyday Activities for Success Every Day was inspired by a blog post I wrote for FastCompany.com—5 Things to do Every Day for Success. It has gone crazy, viral around the world for almost a year now. It is the most-read blog post ever for FastCompany. So, I decided people were hungry for things they could understand, things they do to be successful. It is a very simple, tip per page, motivational “handbook” of sorts with inspiring quotes included and great illustrations by Bill Hinds who draws the internationally syndicated comic Tank McNamara. I am hoping to release it around May 1 when I also start contributing to a new talk radio station.
How did you learn about iUniverse?
I originally published Rock to the Top with a vanity press in Dallas. I was very unhappy with their pricing and my lack of control over the project. I researched self-publishing and kept coming back to what iUniverse had to offer.
What was the deciding factor that made you choose to publish with iUniverse?
The pricing, the packages, the reviews.
What was your favorite part of the iUniverse publishing experience?
Hands down—for both our books, mine and my husband’s—when that first copy arrives at the door for your review. It’s like looking at the baby for the first time!
Would you recommend iUniverse to others?
I do. Daily. Seriously, not a day goes by that someone doesn’t ask me about my publishing journey.
What do you think is the most important thing to consider in choosing a self-publishing company?
What is your end goal? You don’t write a book to make money. You write a book because you can’t imagine not writing the book. Writing the book is the easy part, promoting the book and getting it into the hands of the readers is the hard part, they have sooo many choices. Are you prepared to do the work it takes to do that? Even the biggest publishing house in New York City can’t do that for you if you aren’t going to do it for yourself.
What should an aspiring author prepare for when planning to pursue self-publishing?
Again, be organized—not only with your manuscript but also with your marketing and promotion efforts. Keep good records and good contact lists. Have your website and social media ready to go, be aware how it all works before you publish.
What advice would you give to an aspiring author?