Answers to the 7 Biggest Questions About MiniBüks

by Joel Friedlander on October 25, 2013 · 15 comments

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I met David and Kathy Seid this spring at Author U in Denver, Colorado. They were there to show authors and self-publishers their line of small, pocketable books that fill a unique spot in book retailing. They call these books—and their company—MiniBük. They are nicely-printed 3.5″ x 5″ books that can be used in many ways. Tracy R. Atkins interviewed David and Kathy to find out what exactly a MiniBük is, and how authors can use them.



1. What is MiniBük, and how did your company come about? In other words, tell us a little about your product and yourself.

MiniBük provides a portable, easy-to-use, shirt pocket size print book that’s easier to create, market and distribute. It’s a powerful marketing device for products, services, non-profits and purveyors of ideas to tell their stories to a wider audience in a non-intimidating and quick to absorb and recall format.

MiniBük was conceived in 2010, and is a spinoff from our printing company, Access Laserpress, founded in 1986. We began producing small format books when a writer approached us wanting a book in a pocket size for an urban farming series.

Soon, other writers, businesses and marketers began to recognize its value, and its applicability to other ventures became apparent. We began creating an ecosystem (ancillary products and services) around it.

2. The index card size (3.5” x 5”) is small enough to fit in a person’s pocket or purse, and be handed out with ease. What marketing and business avenues and audiences open up for authors who create works in the MiniBük format?

People are intimidated by size and complexity. MiniBük books are friendly and convenient. They work to present your story in a way that’s not intimidating. Whether a portable guide, or a simple story is needed—with the credibility of a book—MiniBük delivers without requiring a year or more in writing.

MiniBükSince MiniBük titles are easier to conceive, produce and distribute—more people actually get them done. That’s no small advantage.

A well-planned MiniBük project retains all book benefits: tangible credibility and reminder, with a simple interface requiring no eReader. Adding the portability to travel in pocket or purse and a cost-effective ecosystem—creates an entirely new range of marketing or campaign options to augment author platform building (videos, speaking, full-size books, eBooks, etc).

Just a few uses are: (more listed on our blog)

  • Tangible product at book signings, with backstory or author details, beats “bookmarks” for eBooks
  • Book teaser: one chapter for taste of whole book
  • Core ideas from full-size book, enables recall and reference over time
  • In lieu of loose and “tossable” handouts

3. Many authors automatically think about eBook editions, Kindle Shorts and similar formats for delivering their topic-focused or short works to readers on a budget. Do you see MiniBük as an alternative, companion, or even premium option to releasing an eBook?

A MiniBük title can be: standalone, companion, predecessor, supplement or teaser to an eBook. As always, a physical book holds trump value in that its existence passively reminds. Digital content is ephemeral.

Just because you put something on Facebook doesn’t preclude it from going out on Twitter or Linkedin or Pinterest or some other format. The more formats you can marry—with the least amount of new work to produce—the more effective your message and marketing.

4. Printing technology has opened the door for self-published authors to create a wide variety of sizes for books of all types. What challenges are there in creating a full-featured book that is 3.5 inches wide?

While certainly anything can be printed, there are challenges with manufacturing a high quality small book—consistently—as its small size magnifies inherent process variations. To create a MiniBük title that looks and feels good—we combine care with the highest quality materials.

For MiniBük creators, content tools such as MS Word are ill suited to layout anything other than a business size sheet of paper. Pre-engineered templates are a cost-effective, simple way, to sidestep production roadblocks.

David and Kathy Seid

5. The original “Pocket Books”, mass market paperbacks, turned into a publishing revolution in the middle of the last century—offering an inexpensive and portable format people could afford and carry. Stores loved them too because they were inexpensive and fit on a rack near the register, leading to easy impulse buys. Do you see MiniBük in a similar light?

Absolutely. We have seen that: a well conceived title, in the right venue, next to the cash register—will sell as an impulse item. A MiniBük title on how to raise and train your dog would work well in a pet store, as would a guide to ComiCon or the Grand Canyon at the gift store or check-in table. That’s certainly not the only spot to market content in this format, but its low cost, focused information surely make that a prime distribution location—profitable for authors and retailers alike.

6. If someone is interested in creating a guide, short story, or other work for the MiniBük format, what tips or advice would you give them?

As with any book, the first question you must answer is: “What do I want to accomplish?” You must consider your objectives, strategy and overall long-term goals. And, like anything worth investing your time in—what you get out of it is a result of what you put into it. You must determine your desired level of investment—based on your expected result.

MiniBük templatesWriters need to see through to completion: writing, editing, design, production, marketing and distribution. You may have a great idea and all the information, and perhaps the writing skills, but need editing and design expertise. We refer Service Provider partners you can hire to match your desired level of investment.

In all of these areas, the most important thing, is to maintain “balance”. It is pointless to pay for a great cover when editing falls short—or to even begin your project without a clear plan for marketing, audience and distribution. All aspects of message delivery must work in concert—to move you toward your objectives.

MiniBük has two primary ways we work with people depending on project objective:

“I want my books at the lowest possible cost.”

These customers have their own channels of distribution and use their own sources for artwork or layouts. They take advantage of 3rd party services and products such as “Professional Book Design Templates for MS Word” for their interior layouts. Resources like this enable writers the control to format their content with a tool they already have and know – while enabling time saving exchange of files with editors or indexers.

Writers are enabled to maintain their own text yet still produce a print ready PDF of high quality, to MiniBük standards. We also offer a selection of standardized cover layouts as an option.

This low-cost route can be suitable for an agency, corporation or writer with limited requirements. Or publishers that already have the tools and expertise to create their own books.

“I want to create the best MiniBük title possible. And I want to benefit from MiniBük services and expertise.”

These customers are usually publishers, professional speakers or corporations requiring titles created to the highest publishing standards balanced across all aspects: design, layout, editing and writing. General interest titles meeting this criteria will be considered for inclusion in our under development retail program and bookstore.

There are many steps to producing a quality title. Novice writers are wise to work with a skilled book shepherd or coach. Those already published know these steps or have resources.

People who have written extensively, but may not have a book, such as a blogger, columnist or professional speaker, are ahead in the game, as they know their market, have content and a platform for distribution. At this point, a skilled editor may be the missing piece in pulling it all together.

Other critical considerations are your title, cover design, and back cover copy.

7. Once someone has decided to create a MiniBük title, what are the next steps, and the best method for authors to get those books into the hands of their audience?

David and Kathy SeidAudience is critical. And there are no shortcuts. Good work creates its own inertia—but still requires push!

Corporations with mailing lists, and professional speakers have built-in distribution—writers with a following do as well.

A MiniBük title serves as a great foundation for the nascent writer at the early stages of platform building. Features such as mailability and transportability, in combination with a low economic cost, enable a myriad of “Guerilla” style approaches to marketing…limited only by creativity. Having works sponsored is a great way to spread your word to a wider audience. You can find more strategies at: blog.minibuk.com.

We are also developing distribution services for high quality and higher volume MiniBük titles. We’ll have more news soon.

MiniBük Templates for Microsoft Word Now Available

We’ve partnered with MiniBük to help authors add this great capability to their publication and promotion plans.

MiniBük TemplateYou can now buy a MiniBük-specific version of our popular Focus, Leadership, and Premise book design templates.

Like all of our templates, these tools will help you create a good-looking book quickly and easily, without the frustration and wasted time of trying to work out how to do it yourself.

Head over to our brand new MiniBük page and check out these little powerhouses. A little book can create a lot of good and these templates are the perfect way to get started.

Book Design Templates

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    { 13 comments… read them below or add one }

    gamis murah tanah abang asia May 1, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    I think everything said ade a lot of sense. But, think on this, what if you added a little content?

    I am not saying your information isn’t good, however what if you added something to maybe get a person’s attention?

    I mean Answers to the 7 Biggest Questions About MiniBüks
    — The Book Designer is kinda vanilla. You might look at
    Yahoo’s home page and see how they write article titles to get people to open the links.

    You might add a video or a picture or two to get readers interested
    about what you’ve written. Just my opinion,it could bring your posts a little bit more interesting.

    Reply

    Frances Caballo October 25, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    Wow! I really like this idea of creating MiniBuks. I especially like your idea Joel of using them as “back of the room” sellers. I can see converting my two short ebooks on blogging and Pinterest into these little books. I’m so glad you profiled this company on your blog, Joel. My mind is churning now!

    Reply

    Mary L. Holden October 25, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    As an editor who works with MiniBuks, I have to say that I LOVE THESE MANUSCRIPTS! Yes, this is shameless self-promotion, but I am honest about it! All the authors for whom I’ve contracted with for editing have been a pleasure to work with and their books have fit well with their goals for publishing. I was able to have my first chapbook of poetry subsidized by a major insurance company–it was a MiniBuk I wrote for Arizona’s centennial in 2012, and after two print runs, I only have 25 copies left. I am getting ready to use the template designed for MiniBuk use that is able to format a Word document…and I think it is going to work very well! Thank you, Joel, David and Kathy.

    Reply

    Linton Robinson October 25, 2013 at 8:02 am

    BTW, the margins on that template are WAY, HUGELY too wide. Trust me on that… I have a LOT of experience with this size book.
    In addition to to the title I mentioned, “Mexican Slang 101″, I have published a line of poetry in that format, profitable and successful. In the mold of City Lights Books, which published “Howl” and Kerouac and all that in a similar format… and with much smaller margins. You have to scale measurements down to fit the format.

    Reply

    David Seid October 25, 2013 at 8:25 am

    The margins are set up in Microsoft Word (which is not designed to create small books) so that once the PDF is created, we scale it at 50% for production. The idea with the template is that all these things are already figured out. The MS Word system of measures and font sizes is too coarse to optimize the small book layout without this step. Once finished, for a perfect bound title, the margins run from .25″ to .35″ depending on which part of the page. This approach enables a more nuanced and full featured set of book styles as exemplified by the Book Designer Templates. High quality book layout is elusive for those wanting to do their own layout. This technique enables “near professional” layout using the “plain vanilla” tool everyone has.

    Reply

    Linton Robinson October 25, 2013 at 8:34 am

    I set my books with MS Word. It is not a problem. All you have to do is learn how to reset margins. Elementary. It is not “too coarse”.. it can easily set to .25. Or .013. The problem with using a template is that you DON’T have control over those factors, because the template design locks them in.
    I would say the margins show in that example are WAY bigger than .25 When I load that image and measure it, they seem to tape out at about .6.
    The templates are templates for MS Word, so they can’t be any “finer” than that program is.

    Reply

    Linton Robinson October 25, 2013 at 7:58 am

    Well, I doubt many had questions about a new company, but this information is sure interesting.
    Obviously this doesn’t work for a full novel. They’d be a foot thick.
    But VERY useful.
    I have sold over 100,000 of a 4×5, 80 page book. Without amazon, ISBN, nada. I know several people who had great success with this pocket format.
    Here’s my problem, and maybe it’s something they can address. How to get something like this onto amazon, preferably linked to other formats so it shows up alongside ebook, etc?
    I’m comfortable with CreateSpace for novel-length books, but the smallest they go is 5×8 and the money just doesn’t work out for such a short book. (Mine cost $5 retail. I pay between .25 and .50 to produce them.
    If this could work as an online format, it would be GREAT. I love the size.

    Reply

    Jason Matthews October 25, 2013 at 6:45 am

    Interesting concept. I’m curious how well this translates to full length novels. Do I make a MiniBuk of just the first few chapters of each novel to give to someone who will hopefully buy the actual big books that contain the entire text?

    Reply

    David Seid October 25, 2013 at 8:03 am

    We have a number of customers that have written “book teasers”, a single chapter from their book. You can choose to surprise by telling readers, on the last page, that if they liked the “chapter” they can have more of the same by buying the full-size book.

    Others have used their MiniBük title to excerpt key content in summary form they bundle with their book to increase the value of the package. Another option is to publish a full size book in eBook format, with MiniBük teaser as a marketing tool, to get people to buy the eBook. For other strategies check out our blog at blog.minibuk.com

    Technically speaking, a MiniBük page will average from 110 to 150 words per page or higher depending on fonts and illustrations. We have an author that has a well reviewed modern pirate story for teenagers that is breaking it down to eight volumes. This technique can be great as a progressive promotion for business to incent return customer visits to “collect the whole series”.

    Reply

    Linton Robinson October 25, 2013 at 8:11 am

    Interesting. It might be fun and rewarding to do a series like that and put it in a box. I could really see that for kids books. It also might be effective for erotica, where shorter stories find favor.
    You might consider creating printable boxes for these things.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander October 25, 2013 at 11:41 am

    Jason, I’ve also been thinking of ways to use these little books, and the “teaser” is one of the best. I’m also interested in using MiniBüks as “back of the room” sellers since it’s fairly easy to convert useful information on the subject of a presentation into a MiniBük instead of having to produce a full volume. I picked up a couple of samples from David at the show and they are really sweet. One is a book of trail hikes complete with maps, and you can see how people can just drop this into their pocket before heading out.

    Reply

    Tracy R. Atkins October 25, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    It seems like MiniBuk would also work well for “book your blog” efforts where you have a pile of shorter content too.

    Reply

    David Seid October 25, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    Another interesting application (a customer came up with this) is: a “supplemental chapter”. A professional speaker he had ordered a large run of hardcover books, which he had stored in his garage. The informational content was “evergreen”, so he didn’t worry about the books going out of date…but he was having a harder time selling them. Potential buyers were concerned that the content was not “fresh” and that, in reading his book, they would lack the most up-to-date information.
    His solution was to create a supplement, in MiniBük format, to bundle with his hardcover book. It helped him move his books.

    Reply

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