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JD Messinger & Richard Lang on | Making your eBooks more Interactive with WeJIT

Technology is changing so fast and nowhere is that more evident than what has been happening the last few years in the book publishing industry. Indie authors have led the pack in the industry for embracing technology and using it as a means to enhance storytelling and engage with their readers.

When I heard about WeJIT, I had to find out more about it. Never has eBook technology allowed consumer participation to be a permanent part of a book like this new technology has and JD Messinger, author of 11 Days in May as well as Richard Lang, the CEO of the company told me all about it.

Jeff: First of all, what in the world is WeJIT?

Richard: WeJIT is a portable collaboration that allows “we” to come together anywhere that’s online, around any topic. The first real difference is that it’s not a destination site like Facebook or Twitter. It’s a little bit like Twitter on steroids, I guess. Instead of there being a community first and then a subset of that community becomes interested in a topic, it’s the other way around. There’s a topic first, and then people who have an interest in that topic come together on what is essentially a 1-page website dedicated just to that topic. So, it would be a little bit like the WeJIT is like a dance where people who are interested in that dance can come in the door, and then if they want to invite other people to the dance they can do that, or if they want to take the dance itself and duplicate it in other locations, they can do that. But no matter where people come in the door, they’re in the same dance – and in this case, the dance is a collaboration of multiple individuals that all contribute to a common purpose.

JD: When I was the Ernst & Young CEO in South East Asia the 90s, we helped design and implement some of the first website e-commerce applications. Back then, Asia was doing things that were 10 years ahead of what was done in the United States, and one of the strategies that we quickly gelled on in our innovation center in Cambridge was that there were 4 things you needed to master in the digital world. They are content, context, channels and connections. What Richard is talking about is context. What a lot of people do when they build a technology platform is they build the channels and connections and populate it with content without a contextual framework. Then they try to blast it and get people to come, hoping that…you know, it’s kind of like the Field of Dreams – if I build it, they will come. What Richard is saying, and I agree 100%, is that it’s the other way around. We’re taking the contextual issues from 11 Days in May–who am I, why am I here—and saying that the “we”—is more important. We with a capital W. So the WeJit put’s the ‘content’ in ‘context’ and connects people through channels, which is the model for explosive growth because it’s the contextual issue that everyone is trying to address.

Jeff: Let’s talk a little bit about your book and how you got involved with WeJIT and how it was implemented and integrated into your own book.

JD: Sure. I call this story The “We” with a capital W – because the WeJIT and 11 Days are both seeking to create a dialog not only between authors and readers, and readers and readers, but it’s much bigger than that. It’s a dialog in America, and this is what brought Richard and I together is that we both wished to solve our collective challenges – our social challenges, our personal challenges – and in order to do that, you have to go deep inside and ask yourself some very simple but important questions. I was tickled with Stephen Covey’s endorsement because he said that 11 Days in May is helping people to learn to trust in themselves and begin to change our world. My personal drivers were to understand how can I climb the corporate ladder, become a CEO, have three beautiful kids and a loving wife, and then have a terrible accident where I break my neck, and as I’m lying in bed, realize I’m not happy? Why am I not happy? I thought I did everything that I was supposed to do. What I realized is that I was suffering – and, of course, I was in pain and it was a very different thing – but I realized that I was confused and conflicted by a bunch of outdated and faulty programs that have been instilled in my mind from society that who I am is what I do and that whatever I can buy, sell or hold is what it’s all about, and that’s not true. What I came to accept and believe is that the Holy Grail is not something you can buy, sell or hold contrary to whatever Wall Street or Madison Avenue has to say. The Holy Grails is something we feel; and that thing that binds us, that makes us wonderful, happy people is this amazing thing we call love. It’s relationships, and the source of all pain and suffering in relationships comes from confusion within ourselves where our mind and ego say go north and our soul, or heart, is going south. That’s when we get ripped in half.

Jeff: Richard, what’s the difference between WeJIT and just having an author link to maybe a blog of theirs where people can comment?

Richard: Normally, if you went to an author’s blog, you’ve got to go to that blog before you can participate in a comment stream, okay? And you can be part of a discussion wherever that blog is located. But there’s something very unique about accessing a discussion inside of the e-book through a WeJIT, and one of those things is that for the first time in history a reader gets to be part of the permanent record that is the book, for generations. In other words, if I’m reading JD’s book and I’m interested in a question that he raises – and I’m just a reader – I can click on the WeJIT, I can go in, I can maybe vote on something that he’s collecting data on and certainly I can add my point of view, and once I do that my point of view is going to be there for a reader who buys that book 20 years from now. I’m incorporated as part of the content that is that book. If I just went to JD’s blog, that blog might be long gone in 20 years, but the book is still going to be there along with my input, so it makes the readers an inherent living part of the conversations that are going on inside the book. It helps make the book a living, breathing entity as opposed to a static piece of content, which is what books have been for generations.

Jeff: And if someone says something inappropriate, the author is able to easily erase that comment or whatnot?

Richard: Oh absolutely, yes. The author is in complete control of the content, but it’s an invitation to have responsible and powerful dialog, because the only people that are in that dialog are consciously opting-in. They are not getting hit with some spam where somebody’s trying to get them to go join a community and have some effect; they’re already in the book. They’ve already bought it, or they’re receiving a WeJIT – a reader is inviting them into the book’s discussion. So, here is the other way that this can manifest: Let’s say that I’m a reader of JD’s book and I click on one of the highlighted links, a question that he raises in the book, and I’m very interested in that and I vote and I leave some comments, and then I think, “You know, my church group would be really interested in this comment about angels,” so now, from inside the book, all I do is click on the Facebook icon to share this WeJIT on my Facebook page for my church and I post it on the wall, and now 5000 people that go to my church can simply click on that link and all of a sudden they’re in the same conversation in side that WeJIT. Now once they’re in it, they go, “Wow, what a great conversation. What great points. I’m adding my points,” and, “Oh, this book, I don’t have it yet – 11 Days in May – what a great book.” So, they just click on the image of the book cover inside the WeJIT and all of a sudden they’re buying the book on Amazon or on iBooks or elsewhere. So, it’s a way for the author to make the number of people that constitute “we” increase exponentially, because as readers tell other readers and invite others into the conversation… the hook, as it were, is the individual question that’s being addressed in a WeJIT, but ultimately what happens is that more and more people are introduced to the book itself, and once that happens then the process can just expands exponentially.

Jeff: JD, what kind of feedback are you generally getting from fans about the experience?

JD: I think one of the reviewers said it best is that, “This book is so unique. Everyone who reads it is going to have a different experience and perspective because it’s provocative and it’s helping you think about how you think,” and so the feedback is that the WeJIT tool is expanding the way they thought of the questions.

Jeff: Now, if I’m an author and I’m excited about WeJIT – what does this cost me? How do I implement this in my own book?

Richard: Well, right now I think the best strategy would be to write to JD, who will be able to direct the inquiry to an agent that we both share that is responsible for introducing the WeJIT technology inside of the world of e-publishing, e-books in particular, and we’ll direct that to a company called Waterfront Digital Press. Really, we’re hoping that deployment will be driven by demand, so the more demand there is by authors we’ll be able to deploy the WeJIT technology within e-books everywhere, all over the world.

JD: We’re changing publishing industry doctrine here. I had this book and I wrote it in eleven days, and I felt it needed to get out. Although I had several good agents, they all said, “Okay, you make this tiny percent. We’ll give you this tiny advance, and maybe we’ll get your book out there in 12 to 18 months.” Being a creative entrepreneur, I said, “No, I’m going to do it a different way,” and I found Bill Gladstone. Bill launched Waterside Digital Press, and Richard’s company, Democrasoft, launched the WeJIT and Vook (eBook producer) built the platform that produced and distributed the e-book in all reader formats. It’s a linear innovation, meaning it’s a combination of not just content but channel partners and connections that all came together. For example, we embedded my radio shows, then art and music, and then Bill brought in his publishing industry distributors for the traditional print (Perseus Book Group) and then he brought in Vook for the e-book and Richard’s company, Democrasoft, for the WeJIT.

Jeff: If we want to read 11 Days in May, where can we get it?

JD: You can get it on Vook.com for any reader, and of course you can buy it on Amazon for the Kindle and Apple store/iTunes store for iPad or Barnes and Noble for the Nook. The hardback can be ordered in any bookstore or you can buy it online through any of the major retailers.

WANT TO SEE HOW WEJIT WORKS?  GO TO THIS LINK TO ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTION:

What do you think is the FUTURE of eBooks?

New York Times Bestselling Indie Author Bella Andre on Beating the Odds!

What does it feel like to have sold over 1 million books? Bella Andre knows and in my interview with her today, she shares exactly how she turned rejection from a major publisher into a runaway bestselling series and a fortune.

Jeff: First of all, if I don’t ask this question, your fans are going to lynch me: What is your latest book about?

 

Bella: LET ME BE THE ONE is the sixth book in my series about the Sullivan family and is my first friends-to-lovers story. I absolutely loved writing about pro-baseball player, Ryan Sullivan, and sculptor, Vicki Bennett. Happily, LET ME BE THE ONE (The Sullivans, Book #6) hit the USA Today bestseller list after only three days on sale and I’ve received an incredible amount of email, tweets, Facebook and Goodreads posts about how much readers are connecting with Ryan and Vicki’s love story! It’s been a really thrilling release week.

Jeff: Your success is truly a phenomenon. How do you keep writing with such a busy schedule?

Bella: I write or edit every day. Because I write my first drafts fairly quickly, it often takes me as long to revise as book as it does to draft it. When the draft of a new book goes to my wonderful beta readers, I immediately begin to write and/or revise another book. I often joke about how much I love to “weep over my keyboard”…only it’s true! I absolutely love writing.

Jeff: Do you battle with procrastination and how did you overcome rejection?

Bella: I don’t have time to procrastinate. :) I also take breaks to spend time with family and friends, and to swim and hike every single day. Plus, I get great satisfaction from checking off items on my ever-growing to do list!

I am absolutely thrilled to be on the USA Today and New York Times bestseller list with The Sullivans series, and am so thankful to my readers for embracing Chase, Marcus, Gabe, Sophie, Zach, Ryan, and the rest of my Sullivan family!

Jeff: How would you say your life changed since you became so successful?

Bella: I’ve always been a hard worker but with self-publishing, from the moment I wake up to the moment I finally go to bed (and there can sometimes just be a few hours between those two activities), I live and breathe books and stories and publishing. If I’m not writing, then I’m responding to fan mail or keeping up to date with the industry or speaking at a conference or revamping my covers or answering interview questions! At the same time, I’ve never been more excited about my work. Every day brings a new adventure and a new, wonderful experience!

Jeff: For the writers out there who also are thinking about self-publishing, what advice would you give them?

Bella: From the start, I focused my efforts on connecting with my readers. For five years, I’d had fans who specifically requested I continue a traditionally published series. When the publisher declined to publish the sequel to TAKE ME, I wrote LOVE ME and published it myself. I made sure to email every single readers who’d asked for it to let them know it existed – and that it existed because of their requests! It was the beginning of my absolutely thrilling self-publishing journey.

Now that I’ve sold over a million books, I stay in touch with readers through my newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. Reader contact has done more for me, my sales, and my own excitement about my writing than any other marketing tip or technique.

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What is like to sell 15,000 copies of your book in one week? New York Times bestselling indie author,Sydney Landon knows and she knows first-hand how sales like that can change your world. But it didn’t come easy, as she tells us in our interview and it didn’t come overnightI’m so inspired by yo

 

 

 

 

u, how you became an indie author yet still hit the bestsellers lists. How many copies had you sold during what period of time when you were put on the bestsellers list? I sold 50K on Amazon in May an

Interview with Indie Author Josh Lanyon

Josh Lanyon is living proof that sometimes volume and quality can win out when an indie author is trying to make a living as an author no matter what the niche. Lanyon has written countless gay-themed mystery and romance books and if you think there’s no audience for that market, Lanyon begs to differ. His books have sold so well that he is able to make a comfortable living. So for those of you who think you can only be a hit if you write in the mainstream romance, thriller or erotica market, but your heart is into writing about something your more passionate about, like the mating rituals of East African turtles, this interview is for you.
Jeff: You are a writing machine. Tell me about your latest book
Josh: I’m currently working on THE BOY WITH THE PAINFUL TATTOO. It’s the third book in the Holmes & Moriarity series, which is a lightly comic, gay mystery series. The thing that makes this book different is it’s the first time I’ve decided to self-publish a book that belongs to an established series still in print with a perfectly good publisher. Up until now I’ve only self-published the occasional short story or republished titles that timed out and reverted to me. So I suppose this could be looked at as a little bit of a risk, but given how well my old titles still sell, I feel confident.
Jeff: I’m glad I even got an interview with you, Josh. How do you keep up with it all?
Josh: The challenge for me is to balance productivity and promotion with a healthy lifestyle. When I was busy building my author brand, I worked all the time. And I do mean all the time. There were a couple of years where I worked every weekend and every holiday with the exception of Christmas and Thanksgiving days. You won’t be surprised to hear that, along with a successful indie writing career, I gave myself a serious case of burnout.
Now I take weekends and holidays off, and I try to work no more than 12 hours a day. The first part of the day is spent on email, social media, and the writing biz. The second half of the day is spent on the actual writing.
I am a terrible procrastinator about everything except writing. I do not procrastinate when it comes to writing. It’s my job. It pays the mortgage and puts food on the table. I don’t know many people who procrastinate about going to work in the morning, and that’s what writing has been to me for the last six years.
Jeff: What did it feel like to have received those years of rejections and then suddenly be thrust on the bestsellers list as an indie author?
Josh: My situation is slightly different in that pretty much everything I ever wrote as an adult was accepted for publication. The problem was, as nice for my ego as that modest success was, I couldn’t make enough money to support myself. And from the time I was a little kid, I wanted to earn my living as an author. Digital publishing put that goal within reach, but I was still taken aback to find how lucrative indie publishing could be.
Here’s an interesting point: I’m working in a niche market so I don’t sell thousands of copies per title a month. In fact, some of my titles don’t sell twenty copies a month. But because I have an extensive backlist and a loyal audience, I earn a comfortable living simply by averaging a thousand or so total units every month.
With a new release, I’ll sell 1500 – 2000 copies the first month. After that, sales drop down to a couple of hundred a month, and then eventually 60 – 100 copies a month.
Jeff: How has your life changed?
Josh: Aside from having the best job in the world, I’ve been able to mentor several other talented writers to success and financial independence. And I’ve been able to help my parents and siblings in this harsh economic climate. I’ve been able to put aside money for retirement and we even have a little cash for the occasional vacation or new appliance.
Jeff: Okay, so for those authors who don’t write mainstream fiction, what can they do to promote their books?
Josh: I did a variety of things, and I think it was that scattershot effect that paid off. Initially I wrote for the “best” ebook publishers — the ones that edited and had an established reader community to create name recognition within my genre and to build a core readership.
I gave books away — and I continue to give books away. I did every interview and guest blog and author chat that came my way. I posted excerpts. I sent books off for review.
I consistently blogged, journaled, twittered, and facebooked. I engaged in social media in a positive manner — that’s important. I see a lot of people joining social media and behaving like jerks because they think any attention is better than no attention. I think your interactions with readers should reflect the tone of your work. I write for smart adults and I try to conduct myself like a smart adult online.
I helped a lot of other writers along the way. I don’t know what that did beyond create good karma, but I’m a big believer in paying it forward.
I kept my expectations realistic, so when I didn’t have instant brilliant results, I didn’t get discouraged. I kept writing and building my backlist — a healthy backlist is crucial to success — and I kept studying the market and my genre and honing my craft. Writing a great book is something that can’t be overlooked; that’s not the place to take a shortcut on the road to fame and fortune.
You have to take the long view. A successful writing career is often the result of a cumulative effect.
Jeff: And what didn’t work?
Josh: Buying ads did not work for me. And I don’t fool around much with pricing — I price my work fairly and I do the occasional giveaway, but beyond that I leave pricing as is.

Interview with USA Today Bestselling Indie Author Rebecca Donovan

Rebecca Donovan knows a thing or two about rejection but she didn’t let it get her down. Through perseverance, she kept going and decided on a different path, indie publishing. The result? Selling 1000 books a day and landing on the USA Today bestsellers lists. I know many established legacy published authors who aren’t selling that many. When I found out how well she was doing and how great her writing was, I had to know: What was she doing? She graciously agreed to tell us.

Jeff: So many authors struggle with years of rejection, how did you overcome it? 

Rebecca: I didn’t take the rejections to heart. Not a single agent read my manuscript when I sent query letters, and I will admittedly state that I despised writing query letters. I think they realized it, because they didn’t ask to see my manuscript. But the success I now have is due to the passion of my readers.
Word of mouth generates interest. Enough people are talking now that the series is making an impression and Reason to Breathe is now a best seller! That success can be measured by the smile on my face.

Jeff: Here’s something a lot of writers want to know, how do you handle it all? There are so many distractions. If I had a penny for every time that I check my email, I’d be Bill Gates by now. What is your advice to them?

Rebecca: I wish I could say I had a schedule. I’m not as disciplined as I’d like to be. I’m searching for balance between writing and life, but I’ve discovered it’s not going to happen unless I make it happen. So I capture blocks of time whenever I can. But I cannot force writing. I have to be “in the moment” with my characters—seeing, feeling, breathing alongside them. If I’m not, the words will not be genuine and the emotions will not be felt.

I don’t know if what I experience is considered procrastination. I need to wrap my head around a scene or a sequence of events before I can start typing. I have to understand my objective and where I want the story to go, and sometimes that leaves me daydreaming, or I should say “conceptualizing,” for periods of time without official productivity. I don’t want to say I procrastinate because it makes me feel like I’m avoiding writing. I love to write! But I need to make sure I have something to say before I sit down, and that I allow myself enough time to fully commit to writing that scene. It’s the whole balance conundrum all over again, and I often find myself standing on a see-saw!

Jeff: What does it take to be put on a bestsellers list because that’s a goal a lot of writers have?

Rebecca: When I was placed on the USA Today best sellers list, I was selling approximately 1,000 books per day. This was, and still is, mind blowing to me. But I am grateful for each and every day of the books’ success and that more readers are finding this story. I’ve received emails from readers expressing how much Emma’s story has affected them, or how they were able connect with it due to their own experiences, or even how Emma’s struggle made them appreciate the life they have so much more—these heartfelt messages from readers are the best reward!

Three months ago I was able to “retire” from my other career in the event industry and become a full time writer! That was the most rewarding moment—to know that my work is being read enough that I can do what I’m meant to do… write. I have so many stories to share, and I am thrilled to be able to do so. I have also met some amazing indie authors who have embraced me, and I am so appreciative of their support and enthusiasm. I have a group of supportive friends. They believe in me, and are my life line during times of writer’s distress. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them!

Jeff: Okay, spill the beans. What can authors do and what did you do to promote their books in a way that actually works?

Rebecca: I do not currently have an organized marketing strategy in place. I have ideas, but they haven’t quite been implemented since I’ve been focusing my efforts on writing the third book. I started off by self-publishing as an ebook on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. Then I created a web site as a way for fans to connect with me, or to learn more about the story and my writing experience. I created a Facebook page, signed up for Twitter, and have a no-frills blog on Goodreads.com. The rest I attribute to my readers and friends who tell everyone they know to read my books. I believe allowing enough time between the first and second book created anticipation for the next installment and may have helped as well, because as soon as Barely Breathing was published my entire world changed!

There are certainly other things I can do, such as reaching out to more bloggers. Bloggers can make a difference. They have the ability to influence readers to pick up a story by an unknown author. I know a few who have emphatically promoted the series, and I’ve gained readers because of them.

I don’t participate in as many giveaways as I think I should, which would be a way to get people who may not have known about my books interested, whether they win the books or not. I would also like to organize more public appearances.  I am also taking part in a meet and greet on September 29th in Chicago with a large group of inspiring indie authors at the Palmer House Hotel. These will be my first real life encounters with fans and fellow authors, and I am thoroughly looking forward to them!

Jeff: What’s your latest book about?

Rebecca: The latest and final installment of “The Breathing Series” is Out of Breath. It follows Emma to California where she is attending Stanford University, just as she always intended. But she is not the same girl she was in the first two books. She is broken, and the only way that she will be whole again is through forgiveness. Emma must find a way to forgive herself and recognize her own worth before she can receive the love she deserves.

This final installment’s conflict is internal, whereas the other two books focus on external trauma and obstacles. I believe Out of Breath is the most powerful of the series.

NY Times Indie Bestselling Author Sydney Landon

What is like to sell 15,000 copies of your book in one week? New York Times bestselling indie author, Sydney Landon knows and she knows first-hand how sales like that can change your world. But it didn’t come easy, as she tells us in our interview and it didn’t come overnight.

Jeff: I’m so inspired by you, how you became an indie author yet still hit the bestsellers lists. How many copies had you sold during what period of time when you were put on the bestsellers list? 

Sydney: I sold 50K on Amazon in May and made their best seller list.  I sold 15K last week and made the USA Today Best Seller List for the first time.

Jeff: How has your life changed? 

Sydney: After working for the same company for 20+ years, I am now able to work from home.  Also, I don’t think I will ever get used to the fan mail that I receive daily.  Making a living doing something that I love is awesome.  Being able to work in my Pajamas, now that is priceless!

Jeff: What did you do specifically to market your books? 

Sydney: My books were released to Amazon under their KDP Select Program.  I did one day of their free promotion on my first book and I think that probably gave me the most exposure.  Of course, I also use Twitter, Facebook and maintain a website.  I am probably the most active on Facebook and I think that is the biggest way to communicate with readers.  I have a link to all these sites in the back of each of my books which helps.  I also answer each and every email I get.  Readers love to see writers as a real person and a friend.  I have so many of them thank me for taking the time to write them back.  Anyone who takes their time to read your book and write to you deserves your time and attention in return.

Jeff: What did not work?

Sydney: I did some advertising on different romance sites and I don’t really think this paid off much if any.  The free things such as Facebook are the most useful.

Jeff: How do you manage writing with the evil enemy, “procrastination”?

Sydney: My first two book and half of the one I am working on now were written while I was still working a full-time job.  I wrote mostly in the evening.  Now that I no longer have outside employment, I usually handle my correspondence in the morning and write after lunch.

I have learned that it is ok if the words are not there that day.  I try not to force myself into a quota.  If I need to break from writing for a day or a few days, then I do.  I never do my best work when I feel like I’m forcing it.

Jeff: What is your latest book about and how is it different than the others?

Sydney: I am currently working on Book 3 in the Danvers Series.  This book will feature Beth which is the sister of Suzy in the second book and also Nick which is the brother of Gray in the second book.  This book will again feature characters from the previous two books.  This book is different in that it will deal with the sensitive issue of someone formerly overweight who struggles with self esteem issues long after she loses weight and the steps that she takes to finally love herself.