The call came in the early evening. Something was wrong with the big television in my son’s room.
What do I know about TVs? Not much—I’m a book designer, after all—but I went in to have a look anyway. It showed a dot when turned on, but was otherwise black.
Of course, it was out of warranty. What do you do then?
The big flat-screen just sat on the wall, as good as dead. Are there “flat-screen repairmen”? I didn’t know. And the problem is that prices keep coming down as these TVs get bigger and bigger.
It looked like it might cost more to repair the TV than it would to replace it with a new one, and the manufacturers knew that. But this was no time to be making a big purchase.
Why This Matters to Self-Publishers
Now there might have been a time you could go talk to the local electronics guy, or buy a magazine about it, or go to the library or a bookstore to see if you could find some information that would help.
Today we just google. That’s how I found a bunch of videos about our little Samsung problem on Youtube.com. Eventually I stumbled on an amateur video by a woman with no electronics training, showing exactly how she repaired her own Samsung with the same problem.
A trip to the store bought me a couple of capacitors for $3, and a soldering iron (something I hadn’t seen since 9th grade) for $9.
Following the steps in the video, we slowly and carefully repaired the television, plugged it back in and—miraculously—it worked!
Sometimes People Speak Up and Sometimes They Don’t
I can’t think of another way this would have happened if I hadn’t found those videos and followed along with them. In this case video was clearly the best way to communicate the information I needed.
But some readers have also let me know they don’t like video, they prefer reading, and even if they have to download information to their phones and read it there, they would rather do that than be “forced to sit and watch.”
That’s good to know, especially for authors of nonfiction or instructional books.
But there’s more. My favorite way of getting instruction from training courses is through audio. I dump all my podcasts, lessons, lectures or other audio files to my iPhone and listen to them in the car, at the gym, spaces that are otherwise unused.
The readers who speak out about their preferences are really valuable, because I know that many people won’t say a thing. But they may stop reading or feel vaguely unsatisfied because they aren’t getting the information in the format they like it in.
That’s why self-publishers need to know the expectations of their readers. And in the case of consultants or content providers, where their income is connected to their content, this is even more important.
Matching Content to Use
As authors, our main products are books, but the reality of content marketing today demands that we expand our offerings to match the needs of our readers.
The days of big, hierarchical media broadcasters dictating how and what we’ll get are fading. That’s part of the reason self-publishing is growing so quickly.
And in this new, more connected age, nonfiction authors are finding out that the principles of marketing suggest that they actually engage with their audience rather than toss them gifts from afar.
This is also why every lesson in my new course on book publishing, The Self-Publishing Roadmap, comes three ways:
- As video instruction,
- In MP3 audio files as separate downloads, and
- In transcribed text in downloadable PDFs.
It’s also why you’ll find videos in various style, from live action to screencasts to mind maps to convey information, depending on what’s more appropriate.
The ability to mold our content into these different forms is truly amazing. Some of the tools I’m using were invented within the past year, and simply didn’t exist before that. And I need all the help I can get because otherwise, for a paper-and-ink guy like me, providing all these formats would be impossible.
Matching your content to its intended use and taking into account the way it will be distributed to the eventual users is the same challenge self-publishers face when they try to come up with a publishing strategy for their books.
I’ll be using the immediacy of video to present a series of videos that walk you through some of the key steps in self-publishing, as well as pointing out some of the obstacles you find in your way and how you can overcome them. Whether or not you think the course is for you, I hope you’ll take the time to check these videos out.
If that seems interesting to you, and if you’d like information on how to join an amazing group of people as we go through the publishing process together, it’s easy. Just put your name on my early notification list and I’ll let you know as soon as we’re ready to go.
Here’s the link: The Self-Publishing Roadmap Advance Notice List
Photo by mugley