In this episode we are going to talk about  why pruning your life might be the most important move you’ll ever make.

Show Notes

How pruning works in nature.

  • Here in Austin we have a tree called the Arizona Ash Tree. These trees are pretty, and grow very fast which makes them popular for new subdivisions. The problem is, they grow too fast. They have a bad habit of splitting in two or having major limbs break off after a while. This is really bad if your car or house is under one of those branches. It is not uncommon for a homeowner to call them Arizona Trash Trees after it destroys their car.
  • The solution is to cut some of the healthy limbs off the tree from time to time. This forces the tree to put the nutrients that those limbs were taking and put them toward the remaining limbs. You have to take active measures to keep the tree from getting too big.


Reasons Pruning Can Be Helpful:

  • To Increase the structural strength of the remaining plant. Like in the Ash tree example.
  • To increase fruit production. Pruning is also used with fruit trees. By cutting under performing branches, the remaining branches produce more and better fruit. This is why domesticated fruit trees produce so much better fruit than wild trees. The same applies for flowering plants.
  • To improve the aesthetic shape of the tree. If you want the tree to look just so, pruning is the only way to make it happen.
  • To cut off diseased or unhealthy limbs. This can even apply to humans and is why so many soldiers had limbs amputated before the discovery of penicillin.


Ok, so what does this have to do with books and with the Novel Marketing Podcast.


Thomas’ Story of Pruning

Earlier this year, I had a mental breakdown.


I calculated my responsibilities and I had 20 titles with various companies and organizations:


I was:

  1. CEO, Author Media Hosting
  2. Podcast Co-Host, Novel Marketing
  3. Keynote Speaker, Thomas Umstattd Sole Prop
  4. Literary Agent, Steve Laube Agency
  5. Instructor, Author Media Courses
  6. Vice President, Christian Writers Institute
  7. Podcast Host, Christian Publishing Show
  8. CEO, Castle Media Podcast Production
  9. Podcasting, Publishing, and Marketing Consultant
  10. Podcast Host, Liberty Buzzard
  11. Podcast Host, Creative Funding Show
  12. Author, Courtship in Crisis
  13. Organizer, Austin Entrepreneur Meetup
  14. Board Member, Way Makers International
  15. Organizer, Austin Christian Writers
  16. Product owner, MyBook Plug-ins
  17. Organizer, Austin Board Game Designers Meetup
  18. Co-Organizer, Austin Podcasters Meetup
  19. Blogger,,


Not to mention husband and father.


This was too much! Like an Arizona ash tree I was about to split! Someone asked me a few months ago how I did everything and I almost told her: “By failing at most of it most of the time.”

So over the last several months I have been cutting down my list of responsibilities. My inspiration was a 700 year old tree that I saw in Switzerland. It had recently been pruned back to its nubs and yet was bursting with new growth. There is a photo of it in the show notes.


I am not where I want to be, but I am closer.


I stepped down as the:

  • Podcast Host of Liberty Buzzard and Creative Funding Show
  • Organizer of Austin Entrepreneur Meetup
  • Literary Agent, Steve Laube Agency
  • Board Member, Way Makers International
  • Organizer, Austin Christian Writers Meetup
  • Organizer, Austin Board Game Designers Meetup


I also:

  • Put my book Courtship in Crisis on retirement. People can still buy it but I am no longer accepting press inquiries and podcast interviews about the book.
  • Sold the MyBook Plug-ins to Stormhill Media.


One way to think of pruning as saying no to the branches you are cutting. But another way to think of it is saying “yes” to the branches that remain. By cutting these responsibilities I will have more energy to say “yes” to the things that remain.


What I most enjoy doing is teaching and most of the things that remain (creating courses, hosting podcasts) revolve around teaching. This may fail. If my courses don’t sell, this may end in disaster for me.


Jim’s Story of Pruning

  • “When I retire I don’t know what I’ll do with my time …” What!?
    • Guitar, dirt bike riding, sleight of hand, water skiing, photography, golf, scuba diving, pickleball … and the list goes on. Same in business … entrepreneurial mind set.
  • Darci and the many plates I’ve always spun. My To Do lists …
  • Start of the Year- “Big Rocks”
    • How many plates can you spin? (Most people have ONE job)
      • Editing, speaking, back cover copy writing, one on one consulting, website building, Jr2 Marketing, narrating audio books, The Rubart Writing Academy … and writing
      • Narration- ramping up
      • The Rubart Writing Academy- ramping up
      • I want to write again –
  • OCW
  • What I’ve Learned
    • City Slickers
    • The Most Powerful Word in the English language: No
    • Randy Ingermanson- “Fill to 80%”
    • It’s okay to disappoint people
  • The main reason I’ve loved doing this show


What Novel Marketing Will Look Like in the Future

  • Jim will still be around. Every other month, Jim will come on as a guest host and we’ll be developing courses together.
  • The Aftermath
    • Steve Laube
    • Courses
    • Emotions
    • There is room for more …
    • Opportunities!
  • One month to live: Thirty Days to a No Regret Life
  • Free to Focus by Michael Hyatt
  • If you have enjoyed Jim on the last 204 episodes, could you leave a review and say something nice?
  • The podcast is not going away! Thomas will continue hosting it. I may experiment with the formats some of the coming weeks. Please leave voicemails!


5 Year Plan to Become a Bestselling Author

This plan was crafted by Thomas & Jim to be step by step guide through the first five years of your writing career. Learn each quarter what to do to succeed and avoid the mistakes that hijack the success of most authors.

Learn more at

Featured Patrons

Top Level Patrons:

  • Carrie Daws
  • Chautona Havig
  • Cheryl Elton
  • Cl Peterson
  • David Winters
  • Debra Diaz
  • Eloise Whyte
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  • Julia Darcy
  • Kate Harvie
  • Michael Jack Webb
  • Molly Jo Realy
  • Nan Rinella
  • Peter DeHaan
  • Tisha Martin
  • Tyler L. Jones


You can become a Novel Marketing Patron here.


Transcript generated algorithmically by Sonix(Affiliate Link).


Do you have a question you would like us to answer on the show? Call our listener help line! 512-827-8377‬. You can also send us a high quality recording on

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