Matt Bird: Dyslexia is my gift
An interview that first appeared in The Guernsey Press (Saturday 21st January 2023)…
He is a business and social entrepreneur, a global speaker, author and broadcaster. Having started numerous social and business ventures, including PublishU, which enables people to write, publish and market their books worldwide, he has spoken in 50 countries to more than a million people and has authored 17 books. He was in Guernsey last week, in conversation about Writing My Book. Shaun Shackleton spoke to Matt Bird:
Q: By your own admission you were in the ‘remedial’ classes for English at school and then discovered that you had, what you call, ‘the gift of dyslexia’. How did you find dyslexia a gift?
A: I am passionate that dyslexia is a gift and superpower. Dyslexia is not a learning disability - people with dyslexia are not disabled. Neither is dyslexia a learning difficulty - people with dyslexia do not struggle to learn we just learn differently. Personally I experience that dyslexia enhances my speed of thought, memory retention, creative thinking, problem solving, future imagining, emotional intelligence and ability to make connections between people and places.
Q: What was the first book you wrote and what was it about? Was this published – or did it take several attempts to get published?
A: I was speaking with a friend about another subject about which I am passionate and he immediately said Matt that is a book. He picked up the telephone, spoke to his publisher explaining that he was talking with a friend who had a book in them and then passed me the telephone - I nearly wet myself. That was how I came to write and publish my first book and from there it has become highly addictive and I have gone on to write another 16 books with another 3 being published this year.
Q: At what stage did you decide to help others to get their book published – and why? How did PublishU come about?
A: I have always got a buzz from helping other people achieve something they never thought they could. When people ask me for help to write a book I always say yes, however I found the number of requests was over taking over my life. So I thought I would make life easier for myself and run a course so that I could help people in groups and in that way provide consistently high quality advice and support. That was the genesis of PublishU which now coaches over 100 people a year to write their book.
Q: What are the biggest mistakes first-time authors make when striving to get published?
A: The greatest mistake first-time authors make is to start writing without first, thinking through, and planning out their book rigorously. Authors who simply write can easily end up writing for no-one in particular, their writings wander all over the place and they end up giving up before they have finished before they lack structure and accountability.
Q: Have there been any ‘surprises’ when it comes to books being published, something that you thought would never get published, but did?
MB: Only mine!
Q: Even before signing up to PublishU, what can a first-time author do to make sure they are ready for pre-publishing?
A: One of the most important things a first-time author can do to prepare for writing their book is to think through their book idea. It is the single most frequently asked question that is put to me - what shall I write my book about? To help people I have written a workbook called ‘My Book Idea’ helping you create book ideas and choosing which to write first which is available for free from www.PublishU.com/free
Q: You have an 80% success rate of writers getting published, has there been any well-known authors that have taken the PublishU course?
A: None of the PublishU authors are famous which is actually why we do what we do. Traditional publishers are only ever interested in authors who are famous or have a big ‘platform’ from which to market their books - even if their books aren’t very good. PublishU is focused on bring new authors with new voices and new stories and messages to the world! So none of our authors are well-known… yet!
Q: You have written and published several books about your faith – have you always had your faith or is this something that has happened during your writing journey?
A: Yes, I have written books about many of things that I am passionate about including entrepreneurship, business relationships, leadership, community development and faith. Like many people I caught my faith from a bunch of young people I met as a teenager and I’ve been on the up and down journey ever since.
Q: What will be new for 2023 and what is the next chapter in the Matt Bird story?
A: In 2023 what is new for PublishU is that we are doubling the number of books that we are able to publish. It is really exciting to be able to bring so many more new authors, with new voices and new stories and messages to a global audience. My personal next chapter is that I will be publishing my first travel guide to a city called Noto in Sicily, Italy where I have just completed refurbishing a beautiful holiday rental property and where I have just launched a property business helping others buy holiday, rental and invest properties in the same area. You can check it out at www.NotoItaly.com