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Digital Self-Publishing Still Requires… December 15, 2011

Posted by David Dirks in Self-Publishing in the Digital Age.
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Going through Mashable on my iPad a few minutes ago revealed an interesting story.  Comedian Louis Szekely aka Louis C.K. made a $200,000 profit in four days after selling his latest online video.  What makes this interesting?  He hired a professional crew to film his latest act and then proceeded to produce, publish and distribute the video himself on his own website.

Szekely did what digital publishing promises: cutting out the middleman, in this case a studio and sold his product directly to his customers.  And he sold the video for five bucks!

As he noted in the Mashable piece (by Lauren Indvik), “This way, you only paid $5, you can use the video any way you want…I got paid nice, and I still own the video (as do you).  You never have to join anything, and you never have to hear from us again.”

But here’s the real deal noting that he’d “continue to follow the model of keeping my price as far down as possible, not overmarketing to you, and keep as few people between me and you as possible in the transaction.”

That’s the promise of the constantly innovating digital publishing world for anyone who has a hankering to publish their work (whatever that is).  It’s the ability to publish your book or collection of essays or your video and have it listed on Amazon or in iTunes the very next day.

Flash forward now to a great literary publishing story named Vook.  What is Vook?  I’ll let Vook tell you:

A vook is a new innovation in reading that blends a well-written book, high-quality video and the power of the Internet into a single, complete story. You can read your book, watch videos that enhance the story and connect with authors and your friends through social media all on one screen, without switching between platforms.

I could go on and on with examples of where access to publishing to market is getting more direct to consumer than ever.  People selling novels for 99 cents and selling thousands and thousands of ebooks…introducing themselves to their new customers…who they can sell more novels to.

You know Amanda Hocking?  She’s an author that in January of this year sold 450,000 copies of her nine ebook titles that were priced from .99 cents to 3.99.  She went from ‘zero to sixty’ in publishing…something you couldn’t imagine not too many years ago.

Would be authors and video producers need not get too excited just yet.  No matter what the publishing model, it still takes that one thing to make a successful endeavor:

TALENT.

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Seth Godin and a New Business Strategy August 31, 2010

Posted by David Dirks in business strategy.
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If you ever needed a great example of the power of social media marketing, you needn’t look further than author Seth Godin.  Godin, a highly successful business book author (Outliers, Linchpin, All Marketers are Liars, etc.) made the decision recently to self-publish his next books.  Godin is breaking the link that has historically been the driver of publishing revenues: publishing the works of big name authors.  Is this author insane?  Not even close.  More like smarter than a fox.

The chief reason Mr. Godin can make a clean cut from his publisher is because of the work he has done to build his social media platform.  As of this posting, Godin has over 400,000 people who follow his blog.  He already had developed a brand name that stood for being a thought leader in cutting edge in marketing & business strategy.

Godin has a market of loyal followers and therefore, a ready stream of buyers of his books.  Who needs a publisher to share the profits with when you already have a growing supply of buyers?  Did I mention that the profit margins on his books would largely go to into his pockets?

Godin isn’t the first big-name author to develop blogs and Facebook fan pages that house thousands of loyal followers.  But he’s the first big-name author to break the traditional publishing process and go it alone.

In his own words (he does have a great blog – www.sethgodin.typepad.com):

Build an asset. Large numbers of influential people who read your blog or read your emails or watch your TV show or love your restaurant or or or…

Then, put your idea into a format where it will spread fast. That could be an ebook (a free one) or a pamphlet (a cheap one–the Joy of Jello sold millions and millions of copies at a dollar or less).

Then, if your idea catches on, you can sell the souvenir edition. The book. The thing people keep on their shelf or lend out or get from the library. Books are wonderful (I own too many!) but they’re not necessarily the best vessel for spreading your idea.

And the punchline, of course, is that if you do all these things, you won’t need a publisher. And that’s exactly when a publisher will want you! That’s the sort of author publishers do the best with.

And while Mr. Godin is the exception and not the rule, it does demonstrate that social media coupled with strong personal branding can create a franchise business.  His method for doing this was simple: produce a series of thought provoking books (his products); invest time and energy (but not necessarily a lot of money) into social media expansion while growing a personal brand (who in business doesn’t know Seth Godin?).

We might not all be at the Seth Godin level just yet but he gives us a look into what is really possible with the convergence of social media and personal branding.  It’s a great lesson for the rest of us.