Books are the New Business Cards

Denis Papathanasiou’s “A practical guide to selling ebooks online” on Hacker news, which reminded me about a report I compiled, but never published online. You may remember me running a local marketing meetup in Indianapolis. The content was posted on the board there, but since I stepped down, that meetup has since disbanded and the content is no longer available. This is my attempt at reposting it here to help people as Denis has helped people.

How to Publish on the Kindle and it’s new role as a Marketing Platform

Before I get into how you can publish your own book online or off, I wanted to first explain why you might want to do that. On September 18, 2012, Ryan Holiday wrote a piece in Fast Company called, “Why Books Are the Ultimate New Business Card,”  in which he states, “that publishing a book is less about sales and much more about creating a brand.” Susan Payton President, Egg Marketing & Communications, was way ahead of him as one of her ideas from her article on January 12, 2012, “Use Internet Marketing to Become an Expert“, states:

Write a book. I’m the first one to tell you that not every author makes enough to retire from book writing (or even to go on vacation). But there’s still an aura of accomplishment for those who take the time to write one. It doesn’t have to be a bestseller, or even released by a big publishing house. Simply writing a book and letting people know can do wonders for your status as an expert. If you don’t want to go through the pain of pitching your book to a publishing house, or even self-publishing in print, take advantage of Kindle’s Direct Publishing service.

And here’s what Seth Godin, permission marketer, had to say in The Business Insider article, “If You’re An Average Worker, You’re Going Straight to the Bottom”, on January 19, 2012:

Instead of waiting around for someone to tell you that you matter, take your career into your own hands. In other words, don’t wait for someone else to pick you and pick yourself! If you have a book, you don’t need a publisher to approve you, you can publish it yourself. It’s no longer about waiting for some big corporation to choose you. We’ve arrived at an age where you choose yourself.

And here James Altucher, author and entrepreneur, talks about “Why Every Entrepreneur Should Self-Publish a Book” on Tech Crunch on January 28th, 2012:

If you, the entrepreneur, self-publish a book you will stand out, you will make more money, you will kick your competitors right in the XX, and you will look amazingly cool at cocktail parties…You know how to do something better than anyone else in the world. How do let the world know that you are better? A business card won’t cut it. People will throw it away. And everyone’s got a website with an “About” button.

An book (or ebook) can help you a lot to establish itself as a reference on the subject. First, because writing an eBook and organize it as a guide requires much research and knowledge on the subject. After blogs because usually scattered contents cover, ideal for those already familiar with the blog and the subject, while a beginner in the subject needs a logical sequence of learning. The book is still a great way to share knowledge and although it takes more time and research, there is little to no financial involvement in the process. You can start today and post to your own website, using social media to spread the message. You might already know how to blog, but you might not know how to turn that blog content into a book. Next we’ll talk about some tools to do that.

Kindle Digital Publishing

There are two major eBook platforms: Amazon.com and iTunes. You can write your book for both or either, but while we’ll have some options for publishing to iTunes, this will mostly focus on creating ebooks for Amazon.com. KDP stands for Kindle Direct Publishing and it allows authors to self-publish their Word, PDF, or ebook formats to the Kindle marketplace on Amazon.com.

Tips on How to Format a Kindle eBook

If you know basic HTML, you can format a text or Word document for the Kindle. In Word, save as “Web Page (Filtered).” The filtered mode will remove much of the extra Word-specific code that is usually included in files saved with the regular ”Web Page” option. The Kindle converter will try its best to process a .doc or .pdf, but the results will be always worse than basic HTML. So don’t bother. Just give it what it wants. Give it HTML.

Every paragraph is wrapped in standard < p >…< / p > tags. In the program, TextMate, you can use the “Wrap Each Selected Line in Open/Close Tag” command. To force a page break, use < mbp : pagebreak / >. There’s another way to do it using astyle=”page-break-before: always;” within an enclosing paragraph tag, but < mbp : pagebreak / > is easier to find when looking through your file.

Links and anchors work just as you’d suspect, which makes it quick to build a table of contents, or link back to a webpage. In addition, you’ll want to place a special anchor where the text starts: < a name = ” start ” / >. When the book is first opened, it will jump to this spot. This lets you skip over title pages.

Once your ebook is formatted correctly, go to KDP and upload it to your bookshelf, set the price, and decide on whether or not you want it to be part of the Kindle Owners Lending Library.

About the Kindle Owners Lending Library

The Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL) is a collection of books with US territory rights that US Amazon Prime members can borrow for free once a month, with no due dates. The “Lending for Kindle” feature allows readers to lend digital books they have purchased through the Kindle Store on Amazon.com to their friends and family. Enrollment in Kindle Book Lending will allow users to lend your book after purchasing to their friends and family for a duration of 14 days. For full details, review the Kindle Book Lending Program. The Kindle Book Lending feature allows users to lend digital books they have purchased through the Kindle Store to their friends and family. Each book may be lent once for a duration of 14 days and will not be readable by the lender during the loan period.

Print-On-Demand Publishing from Amazon

If you want a paper copy of your book, you’ll want to use a service like Createspace from Amazon. One reviewer said, “I used createspace because they are owned by Amazon and have excellent customer service. They let you pick the size of your book and then have Microsoft Word templates that you download to format your book within. For my first book I did this by myself, for my second book, for a small fee, I hired Alexander Becker to format the book, create the book design, and create the final PDF that I uploaded. He also checked grammar, made proactive suggestions on font (sans serif instead of serif) and was extremely helpful.” If you think, “I don’t have time, I’m running a business.” As James Altucher said, “Entrepreneurs make time. And they have the ideas so, again, at the very least you can use elance.com to hire a ghostwriter.” As an alternative to Creatspace, you might also consider Lightning Source – “the fastest, most economical way to get your books into the hands of an eager buyer.”

Tools to Write Your Book and Curate Your Blog Posts

If you need more than Word to help you keep your writing organized, consider Scrivener software. Scrivener is software that allows you to compose, change layout, and export to mobi, epub, PDF, Doc, and a bunch of other formats. “Scrivener is a word-processing program designed for writers. Scrivener provides a management system for documents, notes and metadata. This allows the user to keep track of notes, concepts, research and whole documents for reference (documents including text, images, PDF, audio, video, web pages, etc.). After writing a piece of text the user may export it to a full-fledged word processor for formatting.

Features include a corkboard, an outliner, iPhoto-like full-screen mode and “snapshots” (the ability to save a copy of a particular document prior to any drastic changes). Because of its breadth of interfaces and features, it has positioned itself not only as a word processor, but as a literary “project management tool”, and includes many user-interface features that resemble Apple’s software-development environment Xcode. Keith Blount created the program as a tool to help him write the “big novel”, allowing him to keep track of all of his ideas and research. It is his first application, built mostly on libraries and features of Mac OS X from v10.4 onward. In 2011 a Windows version of the software was released. It is written and maintained by Lee Powell. A Linux version of Scrivener remains available in beta form.”

Publishing to the iBook for iTunes

So far I’ve posted links that focus on publishing on Amazon, but iTunes is another huge marketplace that you can publish to. According to Gizmodo, iTunes (for iPhone, iPod Touch, and the iPad) take ePUB format only, so you’ll have to use a program like Scrivener or Calibre to create or convert your ebook, respectively. In this video, Terry White shows you the steps you need to take to create an iBook for the iPad or ePUB for just about any other ebook reader out there using the NEW InDesign CS5! You can actually download this iBook for free.

Two Free Multiplatform Tools to make iBooks

eCub: A lightweight ePub publisher to create iBooks available for Windows, Mac, Linux, FreeBSD and Solaris platform. Some of the features are:

  • creates unencrypted ePub files from text or XHTML files;
  • allows editing of the text or XHTML files with a simple internal editor or designated external editors;
  • helps to create a simple cover design image;
  • optionally creates title, content and cover pages;
  • can be run from the command line as part of a build script;
  • can convert the book content to audio files (WAV or MP3).

Sigil: Describes itself as a WYSIWYG ebook editor. Available for Windows, Mac and Linux. Some of the features are:

  • WYSIWYG editing;
  • Multiple Views: Book View, Code View and Split View;
  • Metadata editor with full support for all possible metadata entries (more than 200) with full descriptions for each;
  • Table Of Contents editor;
  • Multi-level TOC support;
  • Currently imports TXT, HTML and ePub files; more will be added with time;
  • Currently exports ePub and SGF (Sigil native format); more will be added with time.

Summary

I hope that helps give you some inspiration and resources for extending your brand and/or your ideas to the world through these new and exciting tools we now have available at our fingertips.

New Kindle Fires Sparks Interest in Google Maps App Post

My Map Strings web site has made $6.50 in ad clicks this month vs. ‘nothing’ most months (a 22,000% increase). I’m assuming this has something to do with Apple maps, but let’s look at the data:

Visits started going up Sep 5 and peaked on Sep 6 at 42 visits a day, but averaged 30 a day for the next 20 days. Most keyword searches are for ‘google maps for kindle fire’ or some variation. How To Run Google Maps On the Kindle Fire is the top content post, making up the majority of the traffic.

So I guess it has nothing to do with Apple maps, but what would cause the increase starting on Sep 5th? Maybe this stuff:

So apparently Amazon had a meeting on September 6th and announced two new Kindle Fires and because the Kindle doesn’t natively come with Google Maps (or Apple Maps) my nifty guide on how to manually add it seemed to resonate with people. If you’re interested in the new Kindle Fires, details below:

The Kindle Fire HD is $199 and comes with a 1280×800 HD display, Dolby audio, dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi for 40% faster downloads and streaming (compared to iPad 3), and a 1.2 Ghz dual-core processor with Imagination PowerVR 3D graphics core for fast and fluid performance. It has integrated support for Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo! and more, as well as Exchange calendar, contacts, and email. But here’s the kicker: free Skype video calls with front-facing HD camera and free unlimited cloud storage for all your Amazon content. Wowsers.

Here’s the bottom line: if you’re looking for a media device that can deliver Amazon content like Amazon Instant Video, you can’t get that on an iPad. This is where it works best.

Forbes Gets Jeff Bezos

I’ve written on Amazon before and about CEOs I admire, but until I read Forbes’ April 2012 article on Jeff Bezos entitled Jeff Bezos Gets It, I didn’t realize how much I admired the man behind the company. Bezos seems to embody Steve Blank’s ideas of customer development by making the customer first in all business decisions.

Out of Jeff Bezo’s Top Ten Maxims, a third of them center around the customer. Number 2 is “Obsess over customers,” number 5 is “Determine what your customers need and work backwards,” and number 9 is “Everyone has to be able to work in a call center [for humility and empathy for the customer]”.

Credit: Forbes

It’s not just Bezo’s customer-centric approach to business that has my admiration, but his culture of innovation and his data-intensive decision making that make me so fond of his way of doing business. Forbes’ writes, “Data reigns supreme at Amazon, particularly head-to-head tests of customers’ reactions to different features or site designs. Bezos calls it ‘a culture of metrics’.”

Forbes’ continues, “For Bezos a data-driven customer focus lets him take risks to innovate, secure in the belief that he’s doing the right thing.” Bezos is quoted as saying, “We focus on what is going to be good for the customers. I think this aspect of our culture is rare.” Rare and profitable.

I’ve joked that Amazon has two departments, one that creates ideas on how to make money and another that says, “Yes.” From Amazon Web Services to Lab 126 Amazon has continued to create new revenue streams beyond the giant retailer that it has become. As an Amazon Associate, I get to piggyback on that success.

Forbes’ spends some time putting Bezos on a pedestal where Steve Jobs once stood, calling Bezos, “the corporate chief that others most want to meet, emulate and deify,” but in my mind I’d rather keep those two separate as Jobs tended to make products for customers, Bezos tends to make products because of them – and those are two completely different ways to run a business.