In this episode of the Digital Publishing Podcast (which you can find a full transcript of below), I talk about when you should consider getting a cover for the book you’re writing, doing self-interviews, and more.

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You can also listen to the episode online by clicking the play button on the player below this. (If you don’t see the player, click here.) It’s about 17 minutes long.

  • 1:08 – 1. Book cover timing
  • 2:38 – 2. Chill.com/camp
  • 8:16 – 3. Self-interviewing
  • 10:39 – 4. Tumblr as a promotional tool
  • 13:32 – 5. Ask.fm
  • 15:26 – Pick of the week

DPP038: When to Get a Book Cover, Interviewing Yourself, and 2 More Great Ideas

Hi everyone, I’m Tristan Higbee, recording today in Sofia, Bulgaria. This podcast is all about the things I see and would like to see in the world of digital publishing, including blogging, ebook and video creation, podcasting, and other things relating to internet business and online marketing. You can find a full transcript of each episode of this show at DigitalPublishingPodcast.com.

I’d really appreciate it if you rated this show in iTunes. Just go to itunes.digitalpublishingpodcast.com and then click the blue “View in iTunes” button in the sidebar to rate and review the podcast in iTunes.

I’ll be traveling in Turkey for the next 10 days or so with some family, so there won’t be a new episode next week, but there will be one the week after that.

Ok, I’ve got 5 topics to talk about today, so let’s get started.

1. Book cover timing

Several weeks ago I got an email from Christie Corbin, who’s on Twitter as @Christie_Corbin. She said:

“My question is pertaining to when I should purchase the book cover for the novel I have started writing? I have started an author page on Facebook and a Twitter acct to get noticed by bloggers and to get my name out when I go to publish the book. Should I go ahead and purchase a cover for promotional purposes or wait until closer to publishing time?”

And my reply was that I’d hold off on having the cover made. I usually change the titles of my books a few times before I finally publish them, and it would suck to have to get the cover redone if you decide to go with a different name. Holding off also gives you more time to think about what kind of cover you want. You’ll have more time to look at the covers of similar books in your niche and maybe find a few that you can show to your cover designer as the kind of thing you’d like.

As far as using a book cover for promo purposes before then, like if you’re making a website for your book and you’re thinking that it would be nice to put the book’s cover there before you’re done with the book, I’d just create a gray “Coming soon!” placeholder image.

2. Chill.com/camp

Camp TakotaOne of the YouTube channels I subscribe to is DailyGrace. I have to apologize here, because I alluded to this channel in last week’s episode but then never actually talked about it. Sorry. But DailyGrace is up there with The Slingshot Channel and The Brain Scoop as one of my favorite YouTube channels. This channel is pure entertainment. I think most of the audience is made up of 14-year-old girls, but I think the videos are hilarious. Grace creates a new video every weekday, and it’s just her talking to the camera. Her channel has nearly two million subscribers, so you know she’s doing something right. Anyway, she has two friends that are also YouTubers with hundreds of thousands of subscribers, and they run the channels My Harto (home of the popular series My Drunk Kitchen) and You Deserve a Drink (and I’ll have links to all of this stuff in the show notes). I don’t even drink at all, but I do subscribe to those two channels because they’re so entertaining. And there is content on I guess all three of those channels that some viewers or very young viewers might fight questionable, so consider yourself disclaimed.

But the reason I’m mentioning these channels is that these three friends, these three girls, are starring together in an independent movie, and the way that it’s being documented and marketed so far is something that both video creators and digital publishers in general can learn from.

So here’s how it works. Like I said, I subscribe to DailyGrace on YouTube, and a couple weeks ago, she announced in one of her videos that she was starring in a movie with her two friends, Hannah and Mamrie. The movie was going to be called Camp Takota, and you could find more information about it at chill.com/camp. So I went to chill.com/camp, and there you can watch a trailer and sign up for what they call insider access. For the insider access, it says, “Experience the making of the entertainment you love. Go behind the scenes now.” So I signed up for insider access by giving my email address.

I figured that there would be one update every couple weeks or something like that, but no. There are new updates every day, and it’s essentially like seeing the movie get made in real time. It’s awesome. Every day I get an email from Chill.com saying that there’s a new behind-the-scenes video or photo for me to look at. They don’t include much about the movie itself; there aren’t any spoilers or anything. It’s mostly the off-set antics of the cast and crew. The result of watching these short clips every day is that I’m much more invested in the movie, and you better believe I’ll pay the $10 or whatever it is to watch it when it’s done.

As far as I know, bigger movies don’t do this. They might put out a short behind-the-scenes promo video or something, but you’re definitely not following along in real time as they get made. You don’t get daily updates. What the Chill and Camp Takota people are doing is so much… better. This is the future of creator-audience interaction. The audience gets more content and the creator gets an audience that is very, very excited about the movie.

Now the question is, how can you and I do this kind of thing in what we do? That’s a tricky question, since most of us aren’t making movies, and most of us don’t have millions of fans and followers that want to follow our every move. But there some behind-the-scenes things you could do. If you’re writing an ebook, you could post to Twitter how many words you got done that day, or you could post a paragraph that you wrote to Google+ or Facebook and get some feedback on it. If you’re a podcaster, post some photos of your recording studio. If you’re a blogger, show or talk about where you’re blogging that day. This kind of behind-the-scenes action isn’t quite at the same level as the Camp Takota stuff, but it could be a good way for people to feel like they’re insiders and part of the process, and at the same time strengthen the connection between you.

3. Self-interviewing

In episode 12 of the Digital Publishing Podcast, I talked about a site called The Setup, which is at UsesThis.com. I talked about how it’s an interview blog, but each interview consists of the same four questions. Each new post to the blog is made up of those questions and someone’s answers to those questions. The questions are the same for each person, and they are…

  1. Who are you and what do you do?
  2. What hardware do you use?
  3. And what software?
  4. What would be your dream setup?

The interviewees are usually creative types, hence the emphasis on what they use to do what they do. If you go to UsesThis.com, you’ll see a link on the left side of the page that says Community, and on that page are links to people’s blogs where they have answered those four questions. So they’re essentially interviewing themselves by answering those four questions and posting the answers to their own blogs.

I really like the idea of posting a set of questions to your blog that other people can answer, either on their own blogs or that they then send to you in an email. So for example, let’s say you have a blog about things to see and do in Arizona. Come up with some interview questions and post them to your blog. In this case, the questions could be things like

  • What is your favorite place in Arizona?
  • What is the most overrated thing you’ve seen or done in Arizona?
  • What’s your best tip for someone coming to Arizona for the first time?

If other bloggers see those questions and answer them on their own blogs, you’ll most likely get a link out of it (especially if you ask for it). If people without blogs answer the questions and email you their answers, you get free blog content. You win either way.

So think about whether this is something that would work in your niche and on your blog and try it out if you think it’d work.

4. Tumblr as a promotional tool

I’ve talked about a Tumblr a fair amount here on the podcast. In previous episodes, I talked about my attempts to create what I called the effortless blog. It was a rock climbing blog that I was using to promote my rock climbing ebook. The idea was to post a new climbing video every day to get people to come to the site, and there would be a banner link to my ebook in the sidebar. I called it the effortless blog because I didn’t want it to take up too much time or effort on my part. I updated that blog for a month but eventually quit because the banner image wasn’t getting any clicks. In the post-mortem, I said that I probably could have gotten better results if I’d included a link to my ebook below every new video that I post. About a month after I said that, I did end up trying again. I created a couple new Tumblr blogs about rock climbing, one of which I post a climbing-related animated GIF to every day, and the other to which I post anything relating to climbing every day.

Both of those sites have now been around for about two months, and I thought it would be interesting to talk about them a bit. The climbing GIF site has 282 followers on Tumblr, and the link to my ebook has been clicked 256 times. The other site has 182 followers, and the link to my book has been clicked 114 times. I don’t know exactly how many of those people that clicked through have bought my book, but I have seen a general increase in the number of sales over the past two months since I started these two sites, so… it’s working.

These numbers are encouraging to me. They’re showing that Tumblr really can be an effective promotion tool. Neither site takes a whole lot of time to run and I do absolutely zero promotion, but I’m building up a targeted following just by using climbing-related tags on my posts. The climbing GIF site is doing better as far as clicks and followers go, but I enjoy both sites, and I’ll keep running both for the near future. I’ll check back in in another two months and let you know how things have gone.

5. Ask.fm

ASK.fmAsk.fm is a site that makes it easy for people to ask you questions, and they can do it anonymously. You can go to any ask.fm profile and ask someone a question, and anyone can do the same on your profile. Once you answer a question, that question and your answer are published for everyone to see on your profile page at ask.fm/whatever-your-username-is.

Apparently the site is big among teenagers, and it’s come under fire recently because it’s reportedly a hub for teen cyberbullying. That aside, I think that this could be a really interesting platform for digital publishers of all kinds. Think about your favorite author or blogger or vlogger. Wouldn’t it be fun to ask him or her anything? Where do they come up with ideas? How long does it take to write a book or blog post? What inspires them? What kind of content do they enjoy? What’s their favorite flavor of ice cream? It can be anything.

I made an ask.fm account and had some of my friends ask me questions just to test it out and see how it works, and it’s all a pretty slick process. Everything works just about as you’d expect. Ask.fm isn’t something I’m going to dive headlong into quite yet, but it could be a really great way to interact with your audience, readers, fans, or viewers.

Pick(s) of the week

And that now brings us to my pick of the week. This is where I pick one useful thing to share, and it can be an app, a website, a podcast, or anything else I find valuable.

I’ve got two picks of the week this week. The first is a website called Snapito (snapito.com). It’s a really useful site if you want to take a screenshot of a whole page online. You go to snapito.com, enter in the URL of the page you want a screenshot of, and you get a nice, big PNG image of the page. And yeah, you could do this with taking a series of screenshots or with a browser plugin or extension, but I think this is easier.

Just Delete MeMy second pick of the week is a website called Just Delete Me (justdelete.me). It’s a big list of various websites that you’re required to make an account for—sites like Facebook, Netflix, Amazon, Instagram, and Spotify. The name of each site is color-coded to show you how hard it is to delete your account there. Green means that it’s a simple process. Yellow means that some extra steps are involved. Red means that the account can’t be deleted without contacting customer support, and black means that the account can’t be deleted. If applicable, a link is included to the appropriate pages on each site where you can delete your account. It’s is a great site to know about if you’re fed up with a service and want to sever ties.

Final words

And that’s all for episode 38 of the Digital Publishing Podcast. Be sure to check out digitalpublishingpodcast.com for complete transcriptions and other blog posts there at the blog.

Please don’t hesitate to email me any questions you might have regarding digital publishing. I love talking about this stuff, and I’d love to help you out. You can follow me on Twitter by going to twitter.digitalpublishingpodcast.com. That will redirect you to my Twitter account, since my name is a bit tricky to spell. If you do follow me there, be sure to say hi. And again and as always, I’d really appreciate it if you went into iTunes and rated and reviewed this podcast, and thanks for listening.