You’ve probably heard of Danny Iny from Firepole Marketing – the guy is a monster when it comes to guest posting. In fact he’s been dubbed the Freddy Kreuger of blogging – which in itself is a great lesson in how to take a casual comment in an email and turn it into a handle that people will remember.
A few months ago Danny sent me some excerpts from his upcoming book Engagement From Scratch. And he asked me to read it and give him a one paragraph review if I liked what I read.
Being a klutz I didn’t realize he wanted the review to be printed in the book – so my review came too late for his publication schedule! But when I finally got round to it we caught up via email and I asked him some questions on the process of launching a physical book. Here are those questions and Danny’s answers.
1. Can you start by succinctly summing up what Engagement from Scratch! is all about?
Sure, Paul. When I set out to create this book, I wanted to know from people who had really done it how they would create an engaged audience, if they had to start from scratch. So I asked them, and Engagement from Scratch! contains their answers.
2. What strategies did you use for launching Engagement from Scratch?
Well, I tried a lot of things to start getting the word out about the book; there’s the pre-launch mini-site complete with two video trailers, there’s a ton of guest posts (about 20 over the course of a month), a “nominate your engagement superstar” contest on Firepole Marketing, pre-launch and launch bundle purchase bonuses, and outreach to a lot of people who will hopefully write reviews about the book (I’m mailing out a couple hundred copies of the book, to pretty much anyone who expressed an interest in writing about it).
3.Did any of the strategies work better than others?
It’s probably too soon to tell, but I can make some early predictions; guest posting is a staple of my online marketing, and for good reason – it consistently performs for me. The jury is still out on the video trailers, but I think it will be a bit hard to judge, because it’s not just a question of how many views they get, but also about the perception of the whole launch that they help to create in the minds of those viewers, and (critically) in the minds of the book contributors. All of my marketing isn’t meant so much to promote and sell the book, as it is to push the book over a “tipping point”, past which the contributors and the readers of the book pick up the ball and run most of the way with it. Too soon to know if that is going to be successful yet, though.
4. How did you tie the different strategies into a co-ordinated launch plan?
With a colorful flow-chart. 😉 Seriously, though, I did have to build a timeline, and work backwards from my planned launch date – for each strategy, what would I have to do and when, and how can the strategies fit together so that they can multiply the momentum created, rather than just adding to it, and a lot of that has to do with timing.
5. Engagement from Scratch! is a multi-author book – and some of those authors were big names. Two questions here – how did you land some of the big names – and are any of those big names helping to promote in any way?
I got the names by approaching the biggest ones first; once I had people like Brian Clark and Guy Kawasaki on board, the rest was easy (everybody wants to be in a book with Brian Clark and Guy Kawasaki!). The reason why those guys gave me the time of day is that I’ve worked hard to build relationships with them and do things for them, whether that is in the form of promoting Guy’s new book Enchantment, or writing guest posts for Copyblogger. I did these things before I even thought about writing a book, and it wasn’t like quid pro quo or anything, but having built those relationships, I was able to approach them and ask them for help (plus, the truth is that they’re both friendly and helpful guys, and might have helped me anyway).
In terms of promotion, some of the co-authors have committed to helping me promote, but they’re under no obligation to do so. They’ve contributed to making it an amazing book, and I’m not expecting anything else from them. I trust that if they like it, they’ll want to tell people about it, and so all I can really do is send them a copy, and hope for the best.
6. If you were planning the launch of your next book – and knowing you, you probably are – what would you do differently? And what would you do more of?
There are actually several books in the works; I’m publishing a book about blog building that I’ve written with Sean Platt, and that will come out in January, probably. And I’m playing with the idea of writing two more books in the next year or two, though they don’t even exist in outline format yet.
One thing that I definitely learned is to allow a lot more slack in my timelines. This project was conceived of in June-ish, and is launching now, at the end of November. To go from an idea to a finished and launched product in that amount of time has been incredibly intense (particularly because business goes on at the same time, and so does life; we had a big product launch, ran our Semi-Local Business Survey, and I got married, all during the same window of time). I was careful not to cut corners with the book itself, but I think the launch (not to mention my mental health) would have benefited from more time to prepare and execute. Other than that, the jury’s still out on the specifics, but I think for a lot of the things I did, it’s not about less, more, or differently, so much as just doing it better, which is a natural outcome of experience.
7. Why did you decide to create a printed book and not an eBook?
eBooks are too easy to create, and they’re everywhere; their value is perceived as being a dime a dozen (when they aren’t free). Particularly in the “round-up of expert opinions” style, it’s just too easy to assemble these things in e-book format, and they aren’t taken seriously. I put way more work into doing this than would go into any e-book, and I needed a format that would communicate that value to the contributors, and to the people who would ultimately read the book. And the funny thing is that just the choice of turning it into a book raises the bar, because you’re forced to consider lots of factors that could easily be overlooked with digital-only publishing, and you get to see proof copy after proof copy showing exactly what doesn’t look perfect about your work – until you make it perfect.
8.Did the fact that you had a printed book rather than an eBook change any strategies?
Well, it lengthened the required lead-times, since there was a lot more design and approval required, and each iteration required a book to actually be shipped to me for review. It also changed costs dramatically; having hundreds of copies of the book printed and mailed out to contributors and reviewers is going to end up costing several thousand dollars, and will definitely be the most expensive part of this whole project.
9. Do you plan to add Engagement from Scratch! to Kindle? If so, how will you promote that?
Yes, I do, but I don’t have firm plans yet about how that’s going to work. The primary channels I’m looking at so far are the physical book (through Amazon and other such channels), and the PDF download, which will be free. I don’t have a lot of experience with Kindle marketing, but conveniently, my co-author Sean Platt is a wizard at it!
10. Tell us about the book trailer… did you create it, or did you outsource it? How has this helped the launch?
There are actually two trailers. I wrote a pretty length post for Ana Hoffman’s blog explaining the whole story there, but in a nutshell, I wanted a trailer like Tim Ferriss had for the 4-Hour Body. I created the trailer myself (with a lot of help from my assistant), and it was a huge amount of work, and expense (the stock footage cost money, and so did the audio, which was custom created) – all in, it cost upwards of $1,000, and took a huge amount of my time.
Then, at the urging of Mitch Joel, I created a second video, which was more useful and shared more relevant information. This video was assembled in PowerPoint, and animated using Animoto, with an audio track that I bought from iStockPhoto. It took a long afternoon to create, and cost about $70.
I don’t know how many people saw the videos that wouldn’t have been aware of the book otherwise (it didn’t go viral the way Tim Ferriss’s did), but I think they both played an important role in showing the people who did see it, and particularly the contributors to the book, that this is a serious book and a serious launch. I hope so, anyway… 😉
11. What was the biggest ‘mistake’ you made so that we can avoid it!
Well, first of all, I don’t believe in mistakes… I make the best decisions that I can with the knowledge and experience that I have, and the outcomes contribute to my ability to make better decisions next time around. 😉 That being said, I think it’s premature for me to point to what I’ve learned, because I’m still in the process of learning it (I’d be happy to answer that question if you ask me again in a few months, though). In the meantime, you can learn from the experiences of 30 other talented audience-builders by reading the book! 😀
12. Have you achieved your ‘launch’ goals?
Again, hard to say – the early feedback has been fantastic, and I’m very optimistic, but for me to give you a real answer to that question, you’ll have to ask me again in a few months.
So there you have it…some great and interesting answers from Danny. The book features short chapters from some names you’ll know like Brian Clark, Guy Kawasaki, Derek Halpern, Marcus Sheriden and also some names you may not be so familiar with. I’ve not read all of it – but the admission price is justified by Brian and Derek’s chapters on their own. Here’s a link on Amazon (aff link) for more details:
Engagement from Scratch!: How Super-Community Builders Create a Loyal Audience and How You Can Do the Same!
My only (constructive) criticism of the book is that from what I’ve seen there’s nothing about building a loyal audience with YouTube. So I wrote Danny a guest post for that called ‘The Lost Chapter’ and that will go live on his website in early December.
You can find Danny at Firepole Marketing – and indeed at all good websites on the Blogosphere….the guy must have a couple of clones chained in his basement cranking out guest posts! And do check the book out – $20 is a steal for the value to your business if you find just ONE idea and implement it!