Marketing News

Make more money selling your ebook yourself

It’s interesting to contrast publishing of technical books now versus 1999 when Core PHP Programming first came out. Back then, I’m confident would have been a complete waste of time trying to publish it myself. Few would have considered a PDF an interesting source for the information. And while it certainly was a feather in my cap with regard to my career, the reward for the effort was respectable. I wouldn’t work for that rate today, but the publishing of the book helped me get to where I am.

For some time I’ve said I wouldn’t try writing another book because the reward couldn’t justify the effort, but we might be coming close to full circle with printed books in decline and self-publishing in .epub looking more feasible every day. Plus, I have to consider the thrill of sticking it to those emperors of walled gardens: Amazon, Apple, et al. JavaScript with Thomas Fuchs » Blog Archive » 5 rules to sell thousands of copies of your ebook

Wondering what your “hourly rate” is when you go out and write a technical book? Traditionally, publishers will tell you that you do it for “exposure” but we all know that you can die from that. Seriously, even for the publisher it’s a big gamble, and with all the extra costs for printing, marketing, publishing, whole-sale prices, etc. there will be nothing left over for you. And “exposure” will not pay the bills.


Tender Victuals

tender-victualsRemember Tender Vittles brand cat food? It was a revolutionary feat of marketing…cat food that bridged the gap between wet, canned food and dry, bagged food. I didn’t think about it until now, but vittles (properly spelled victuals) means “food fit for human consumption”. Was the real purpose of the product to deliver low-cost, low-quality food to humans? It seems crazy. On the other hand, the product was discontinued in 2007 because it contained levels of sugar too unhealthy for cats. That’s what I read in wikipedia, anyway.

The following item description seems to disagree.

Tender Vittles® contains no added artificial colors or flavors, additives your cat doesn’t need. Plus, it has the great taste your cat loves. So you’ll love knowing that your cat is getting only the essential nutrients he needs, and he’ll love every delicious bite.

When it comes to convenience, you can’t beat our easy-serve pouch. It’s a cinch to open and pour and it keeps those delicious, soft morsels moist and tasty so your cat will enjoy every yummy bite from the first to the last.

With Tender Vittles, you simply tear open our easy-serve pouch and pour the tender morsels right in the bowl. It’s fast and easy for you and moist and delicious for your cat.

With regret we must announce that Tender Vittles have been discontinued by Nestle-Purina. Once our stock is gone we will no longer have them available for sale.

Even when I was a kid, I was suspicious of the Purina brand because it made both pet food and breakfast cereal.

Marketing Programming

Annoying Anti-Piracy for Book from Manning

I bought Zend Framework in Action yesterday because the short tutorial isn’t quite enough to know how to architect an big application. I’m building an enterprise app at work for a client and picked ZF and YUI as core platforms. I’m pleased with the content of the book. Rob Allen is a fine writer and the organization of the text is logical.

Now that I’m about 80 pages into the book, I thought I’d grab a copy of the PDF version for easy reference whichever desk I’m sitting at.  The print edition comes with a “free” ebook. There are two ways to get this free ebook.

The way they want you to do it is as follows.

  1. Cut open a folded paper in the front of the book.
  2. Go to the URL printed on the paper.
  3. Type in a code they ask you for out of 9×20 grid.
  4. Type in another code from the grid.
  5. Type in your name and email address.
  6. Wait for the email to arrive.
  7. Find the email in your spam folder.
  8. Click on a link to start the download.
  9. Rename the file from “gi” (wtf?) to something rational, such as “Zend_Framework_In_Action.pdf”.

However, you could do the following.

  1. Enter “zend framework in action pdf” into Google Search.
  2. Click to some blog.
  3. Click the link into RapidShare.
  4. Wait for your 30 seconds to expire since you are a “free” user.
  5. Download the .rar file.
  6. Expand whatever’s in the rar file. (I didn’t actually go this far).

Typing in codes from a grid is pretty annoying. I threw down $45 to get the book. Maybe they should just trust me and print a direct download link inside the text of the book. After all, we’re all only a couple of links away from downloading it from RapidShare. What would have been really cool was if I could have downloaded the PDF for free first and then bought the print version when I decided that the book was of great value. I had that exact experience with another author recently.

If you are going to buy Zend Framework in Action (and you aren’t in a rush like I was), you might use the link above. It’s a lot cheaper than buying it off the shelf at B&N.

Business Marketing

Quick notes on Facebook’s f8 08 developer conference

I went to f8 yesterday and I can’t say I had the best time in the world. I probably have more fun at LinuxWorld, but maybe my expectations are lower when I don’t pay $150 to get in. I was hoping to get some more juicy details about the platform, especially about the business side, but the content is mostly people on panels talking about what they do. The most interesting and well-organized presentation on the business track was run by Jia from RockYou. It’s not that it wasn’t interesting, I just wish there was a bit more preparation.

I’m sure all the announcements have been well-covered. I haven’t gone into Google Reader yet today, but I wanted to note a few things.

  • Wireless was horrible.
  • That there was constant music was OK, but it was usually too loud.
  • I saw Marc Canter, Robert Scoble and Mike Arrington walking around (separately), and intellectually I wanted to say hello to them…but I chickened out.
  • Arrington was wearing flip flops. There’s probably a bad pun in there somewhere, but I won’t go there.
  • As Mike Arrington walked by me, I suddenly reconceptualized him as human being, not a sometimes-aggravating participant of the Gillmor Gang. It made me appreciate him more.
  • I am not an Arrington fanboy. I am a Steve Gillmor fanboy. I didn’t spot Steve at f8. 😛
  • There were a couple viable consultancies who help traditional agencies develop Facebook strategies. I’m going to push hard to get Clear Ink to offer those services.
  • Zuckerberg’s keynote made me thirsty for (virtual) kook-aid. The goal of increasing social connections appeals to me. I’m not sure I’ve heard a tech company pitch their vision on being part of a real social movement as compared to offering me something that would be fun to have.
  • Coolest company name: Shanghype.
  • I’m still enjoying the idea that people in Liverpool started a fan group for me on Facebook.

Fake personal is worse than impersonal


This ad appears in Entertainment Weekly. Actually, this exact ad only appears in my copy, I’m assuming. You might not be able to see it from the thumbnail, but in the lower left there’s some text that looks like it came out of a dot matrix printer from 1984 that reads, “LEON ATKINSON, CHECK OUT FUZE ONLINE AT OUR WORLD WIDE WEB INTERNET PAGE.” Nice.

Your Internet page is on the world wide web? Online? Really? How do I dial it in? Out of all the people who subscribe to Entertainment Weekly, why did you choose me? And if you know anything about me, you know that I’ve been doing a low carb diet since January–so I really wouldn’t be interested in your junk food drink no matter how many vitamins you put in it. Actually, I’m pretty happy drinking plain green tea, and it’s really, really cheap.

This is the yuckiness of direct marketing when it comes to hang out on the Web. The “personalization” that’s being attempted is obviously not genuine. It’s worse than an impersonal broadcast-style ad, which are annoying enough. This ad takes it a step further to purposely insult my intelligence.

What’s the psychographic that follows the call-to-action of this ad? Notice the CTA is to go visit the Web site (I didn’t) not to buy the drink. From the very beginning, they are say, “we know we can’t convince you to drink this with a full-page ad in a magazine. Please come to our Web site and subject yourself to more persuation.” Really? I need to go read about a soft drink on a Web site to decide if I want to drink it? Even if I drank sugar water, I wouldn’t want to spend more than about 5 seconds deciding to drink it or not.