Becoming an expert just got easier

An esteemed college president once told me- you want credibility, write a book about what you know.

And, I’ve been doing that, online in the form of a blog, sharing our company ideas and ideals freely with everyone. It’s why you’re here- because Google sent you to solve your problem. Some of you become customers, some of you hire me to speak at your conference, and we hope we engage your brain and mine your inner marketing mojo with our posts.

But, it’s still not as powerful as saying “I wrote the book on that.”

With the iPad and the Kindle and the slew of imitators we’re about to see filling every nook and cranny (sorry Barnes and Noble) publishing has forever changed. No longer do we have to have an agent, sell the book to a publisher, go through the process and give birth to a book a few years later- only to see it on the discount table a year later. No, we can become a publisher by taking our manuscript, converting it to a digital book format, buying an ISBN number and having an EIN number (so the Fed can get their cut) and deploying it to the various digital bookstores online.

And while it’s awful hard to sign a digital edition on your book tour, the reality is- you wrote the book to provide valuable info - and be compensated for your knowledge, not to become a rock star signing books. However, it’s now expected that authors- at least of business books and guru books - that you also become a public speaker. It’s not as easy as it looks- you can actually hire speaking coaches who will teach you how to present like a pro, getting your audience to laugh and cry at the right times. You’ll learn how to use props, audience participation, slide decks and your body language to knock them dead- all because you penned “the book” on what ever your audience is interested in.

Just be warned- the speaking circuit can get old especially if you only have one book in you. Make sure you LOVE your subject, or be prepared to do a sequel.

The real marketing challenge these days is how to get enough people interested in your book and willing to pay hard earned cash for it. Some successful gurus have given away their books to build credibility- or at least the short version of it. Others work social media like crazy to build their credibility. Some will exchange speaker fees for book sales- I’ll speak, as long as you buy 500 copies of my book.

Twitter is a particularly great tool for authors to build relationships with their readers, as is Facebook. Build a fan/follow base through either of those social networks and you have an easy way to announce your next book- after the first one knocks them dead. Speaking of Twitter and marketing your first book- by making advance copies available to thought leaders in your field who already have a huge following- you may find a quick way to get a good start on marketing your first book.

Look for a book from The Next Wave before too long- “How to be an expert easily in a digital world and sell more stuff” (or something like that).

In the meantime, go forth and publish.

WiFi Kindle at $139 may be the answer for newspapers

Newspapers around the world haven’t learned that half their name is no longer valid. Unfortunately- what they’ve built as NewsWebsites may qualify as the best example of how not to build a website.

The key to the news industry is the first part of their name: NEWS. The rest of it- if it isn’t absolutely relevant to their readers- isn’t worth the paper it’s soon to be no longer printed on.

For as long as newspapers have been in business- they’ve been a one-to-many ad sponsored vehicle. Those days are over. Now, they have to learn how to be a one-to-one conversation- and know as much about you and your interests as they know about the things they are supposed to cover. Unfortunately- no one in the corporate suite has figured it out yet- and they are still selling impressions- by the thousands, instead of meaningful relations.

And while the iPad from Apple may be the ultimate way to provide a multi-media experience on a screen- these are areas that the newspaper industry is still playing catch up on. Sure - a little video here or there, and of course- photos in color (although if you look at their print editions some newspapers are still printing some pages in black and white). But- iPads are expensive and Apple isn’t exactly being easy to work with on the data collection side.

With Amazon’s new $139 wi-fi Kindle- or any of the numerous Android powered tablets hitting the market these days- the economics of publishing “Newspapers” digitally is now practical: of the $200 or so collected for a 1-year subscription- at least that much is spent on the printing and distribution of the dead wood with oil on it. It’s time for newspapers to take a lesson from the phone companies and start handing out Kindle’s for a 2 year subscription. So what if you can read other newspapers- or books on it, put your logo on it and lock customers into a “better news experience.” Make the content slightly better than the print or typical online experience- and tailor the ads like a Hong Kong custom suit- expressly for the reader. Work to sell the relationship to local businesses- who are struggling for a way to reach the masses without being obstructive- and build a community that’s talking to each other.

People still want news- and especially news that’s relevant to them. But- being assaulted by random ads in the internet age has no more relevance today than back in the sixties when Howard Luck Gossage said “People don’t read ads. People read what interests them, and sometimes it’s an ad.”