“I was in talks with publishing houses, and nothing about the deals appealed to me. In the end, my entrepreneurial spirit took over and I decided to self-publish. Mainly for the learning experience.” Scott Bales‘ decision to take the crowd-funding route to publish his upcoming book, Mobile Ready, possibly was a moment of truth not only for him but for Publishizer too — the crowdfunding platform for publishing.
The goal was to raise US$10,000. But the book raised US$18,000 — nearly four times the previous campaign record for Publishizer. That was 12 days ago, and the campaign was supposed to close on February 1. But the restricted banking service over Chinese New Year meant that the payments would not be received in time. The campaign was extended subsequently till February 8. With two more days still for the campaign to end, the book has received 867 pre-orders, raising US$28,855 so far.
Why Mobile Ready?
With over six billion mobile devices globally, mobile is a new frontier for majority of incumbent businesses – to redraw engagement with customers, suppliers, and workforce. It’s an inevitable transition in a world where brand engagement can and does happen 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Yet, many businesses don’t have a strategy optimised for mobile. Targeted at business leaders – CMOs, CIOs and even CEOs, the book asks the pertinent question: Is your company mobile ready? It has practical suggestions, tips, and techniques that work as a guide for brands to go through the entire mobile engagement process.
“But the frameworks equally apply to startups,” says author of the book Bales, adding, “As the theories are practical, and in many cases draw from startup thought leaders such as Steve Blank and Eric Ries.”
A self-proclaimed extrovert, Bales is a founding member of Moven, the mobile-centric payments business that helps customers to spend, save and live smarter. He is also a mentor to entrepreneurs throughout the world with Lean Startup Machine, sits on the Board of educational empowering NGO Care Pakistan, and holds advisory positions at Invitre, Our Better World, HUB Singapore and CDI Apps 4 Good.
Whether you’re Coca-Cola selling soft drink in Botswana, or Unilever selling shampoo in the United States, the book has no geographical boundaries. Bales says, “The original theories for Mobile Ready were developed when I was working in emerging markets where we faced infrastructure, cultural and behaviour challenges in driving successful mobile ecosystems. So the concept of ‘Mobile is about context, behaviour and utility’ applies universally. So its just as relevant in Botswana as it is in the US.”
Having said this, Bales suggests that he’s getting strong interest from agencies that want to use the curriculum of Mobile Ready to equip their own teams to better engage their clients.
Take the self-publishing route
Bales blurs the lines of traditional publishing and self-publishing. He’s working with a professional manuscript editor (Matt Gartland from Winning Edits), a professional business book publicist (Rob Nissen from Nissen PR), a professional book designer (David Priestley from The Mood Room), as well as a team of event professionals, yet he retains 100 per cent ownership over his book rights. So what’s made the book popular even before its release? The contextual topic of the book or the collaborative crowdfunding model of the book introduced by Publishizer?
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Bales shares, “No single person can say s/he is responsible for the success of the campaign. But a few things just mixed really real. My background in startups meant that my lean and content marketing skills were great in creating the book’s platform. Plus, I had the amazing support of a few organisations that loved the thought leadership in the book, as well as the innovative approach to publishing.”
Meanwhile, Guy Vincent, CEO, Publishizer, gives it all to Bales, “Scott is a pioneering author to validate the collaborative crowdfunding model for books. He is a humble guy, he’s done most of the work, yet he shares the success with his team. He’s proven it helps to work with talented professionals.”
For the uninitiated, Publishizer is an online book accelerator designed for people who don’t have time to focus on the technical publishing tasks, such as copy editing, interior layout, print quotes, ebook conversion, ISBNs, marketing, book trailer production and more. The accelerator model lets the author focus on the writing.
So is there a ‘one size fits all’ formula for all book authors? “No,” is Vincent’s answer. “We customise a strategy for each book, based on the target audience and resources. We connect our authors to a book publicist or social media marketer, who handle lead generation, media lists, press releases, emails, follow up and other tasks. We’ve experimented with viral campaigns, book trailers, promotional events and even flyers. We aim to push the bar for innovation in book marketing,” he adds.
Besides the marketing part, Publishizer helps authors connect with editors, designers, marketers and others, depending on their needs. “We handle print quotes, printing and ebook conversion through our printing partners. I used to work for Tien Wah Press in Singapore, which is our main partner,” says Vincent.
For future, Publishizer hopes to take care of offset printing, ebook conversion and physical/digital demands in-house. “We’re refining our model for the future book industry – ebooks, limited edition print runs, artisanal publishing, crowd-editing, collaborative crowd-funding,” he adds.
Growing interest in self-publishing
Since its launch in mid-2013, Publishizer claims to have raised over US$50,000 in successfully funded campaigns. “Scott’s campaign is our most successful so far, accounting for more than half of that,” says Vincent.
It’s business books, children’s books and cookbooks that have experienced the best results on the website. “Poetry doesn’t sell so good. It’s early days, but we’ll have more data to share soon,” says the Founder of the book accelerator.
To break down the US$28,855 received in crowdfunding, a majority of pre-orders – 769 to be precise at the time of publishing the article – have come for the US$25 worth hardcover book. At second position is the demand for ebook with 58 pre-orders worth US$10 each. Meanwhile, there are 17 each pre-orders for the US$50 worth signed hardcover and US$100 worth Patron Edition. The latter will feature names of the patrons who will be thanked in the book’s acknowledgements, besides getting a signed hardcover.
Four pre-orders have been for US$250 Social Media Shoutout. Besides being named in the acknowledgement and two signed hardcovers, supporters will receive a personalised shoutout to Bales’ 37,000+ Twitter followers.
There is one pre-order for the US$500 worth Virtual Keynote Pack and one for US$5,000 worth corporate Strategic pack. Virtual Keynote Pack supporters will receive five signed hardcovers, a 90-minute Skype coaching session, and be named and thanked in the books acknowledgements. The Corporate Strategic Pack gives the corporate first hand experience with Scott Bales. This pack includes 20 hardcover books, a 60-minute strategic onsite keynote, besides being thanked and named in the book’s acknowledgements.
There have been no takers for the US$20,000 Corporate Sponsor so far.
Laughing to the bank! Really?
Bales has no plans to put the oversubscribed money into any fixed deposit bank account. If the initial plan was to release the book in Singapore alone and make it as a part of a ‘Cards & Payments’ event in the island-nation in March, and showcase it at the CIO Summit, Bales now has a big US launch too in mind. “Any surplus will be used to drive further marketing of the book, including a large US launch. I am currently on the lookout for a distribution partner to help with the book’s availability in stores,” says Bales.
In tandem, he also plans a Masterclass on ‘Mobile Readiness’ to give people the chance to learn the practical side of the book first-hand. “I already have a few Masterclasses scheduled in the coming months,” says Bales, as he leaves us with a passing note, “One of the realities is no author makes money writing a book.”