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A story e-book idea

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A story e-book idea

Postby Ellen » Mon Feb 04, 2008 9:29 am

I'm wondering if anyone here has any experience compiling an e-book utilizing content (stories,) submitted by others? For example, "Chicken Soup for the Soul" is a book filled with real stories gathered from individuals, then compiled and published in book form.

I have an idea for an e-book which in my mind would be similar to a book of that kind, in the sense that it would contain stories submitted by real people. I'm somewhat stuck though, when it comes down to the actual story gathering process and what to offer in exchange for a story?

Some of my questions are:

~ How to approach the people I'd like to gather a story from, especially if they don't know me from Adam..er, I should say, Eve?

~ What to offer, short of cold-hard-cash, in exchange for their story? (I'm thinking links to their websites would be acceptable but not sure if that would be enticing enough?)

~ How to gather story submissions from those interested? Should I simply use a web form, perhaps with different form fields for entering specific information related to the story outline?

Any thoughts or suggestions you might have would be greatly appreciated! Also, if you're aware of an e-book that has been compiled using others peoples stories, if possible, please do share a link.

Ellen
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Postby Bonnie Lowe » Mon Feb 04, 2008 12:32 pm

Hi Ellen,

I've done this before. The resulting product is at http://www.networkaholics-revealed.com/.

Here's the process I used to get people to share their stories in the e-book:

1. I asked people I already had relationships with if they'd be interested in participating (people I'd "met" online via forums, mostly).

2. I went to EzineArticles.com and read articles on the subject (in this case, "networking"). I selected the BEST articles, then visited the websites mentioned in the resource boxes. If the site AND the article convinced me the author was knowledgeable and capable of writing an interesting story, I contacted him/her.

3. When I contacted article authors (via e-mail), I'd first compliment them on their articles and websites. I'd include something specific about their article and/or site, so my message wouldn't seem "canned." Then I'd tell them about my project, and ask if they'd be interested in submitting an article/chapter to be included. Their contact info and links to their website would be included, too, of course.

4. I gave everyone a deadline for inputs. They sent e-mails to me or called and gave me their stories over the phone. I reformatted them all into a specific design. I let them review their sections before they were finalized.

5. I asked all if they knew of anyone else who would be interested in participating.

I had no problem getting plenty of people to contribute to this project.

It's been a while since I did that project, so I may be forgetting parts of the process. If you have any questions, just let me know.
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RE: A story e-book idea

Postby bopub » Mon Feb 04, 2008 10:29 pm

Great idea Ellen. I don't know what your intentions are, whether to sell this ebook or use it for viral marketing purposes, but let me share something with you that may work either way.

If you're going to compile articles, and give this away to people, follow what Bonnie suggested. That works well with authors, and will keep it organized and on schedule. However, if you plan on selling this ebook for profit, may I suggest you hand pick a group of people and ask if they would be interested in participating in an interview.

Pick your topic and write approximately 12 questions you would like to ask them. Be very specific about what you ask them, because the same questions will be for everyone. Set a deadline for them to send the answers back to you. Format each one in your ebook.

Tell them you will give their website link of choice, and a copy of the ebook when it's complete. The reason why I suggest this method, interviews are more valuable than just ordinary articles. I don't know your genre, but professionals in their field of interest will enjoy reading this far better. Plus, you'll be creating income you otherwise didn't have.

I've been doing interviews since 1994, and the ones that sent the requests knew they were going to get something powerful.

My 2-cents and Good Luck!
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Postby Bonnie Lowe » Mon Feb 04, 2008 10:46 pm

Yeah, what Steven said. :D

That's what I did... I gave each author/expert the same list of questions to make sure they each provided the specific information I needed for the e-book. Plus this made it easier for me to format each input/chapter consistently.

Most followed my instructions, but a couple deviated a bit and provided an article instead of answering the Q&A format I was looking for. But they did include the same information, so it worked out fine.

Several also did live interviews with me versus e-mailing me their input, which I "transcribed" into the format I wanted.

Tip: If you're going to do any live interviews, record them (get their permission first). Whether you end up using those recordings as part of the product or not, it'll help you to get their quotes more accurately than by jotting things down as they talk. :wink:

Best of luck with your project, Ellen!
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Postby Ellen » Tue Feb 05, 2008 9:56 am

Thank you, Bonnie and Steven, so very much for sharing your experience and suggestions with me. Really, REALLY helpful information!

I've done this before. The resulting product is at http://www.networkaholics-revealed.com/.


I read your sales page for your ebook, Bonnie, and thought, "PERFECT!" I couldn't have asked for a better example of what I was looking for.

The tips you and Steven have shared with me here have answered all of my questions... and then some! Meaning, now I have more questions. ;) I'll start with the following:

My intention is to hand-pick those who I'd like to share their stories but I hadn't thought about acquiring those stories via an interview type process. Since you've suggested this, Steven, and because I do intend to sell the ebook, I am certainly going to consider going with this method instead of short story type articles.

Steven, you said:

Pick your topic and write approximately 12 questions you would like to ask them.


Can you elaborate on this for me? I'm wondering why you've suggested I have approximately 12 questions prepared? In other words, why not 4, 7 or 10 questions? Obviously I could ask as many or as few questions as I deem appropriate but I'm wondering why you've suggested "approximately 12?"

My sincere thanks to you both.

Ellen
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Postby Bonnie Lowe » Tue Feb 05, 2008 10:46 am

Hi Ellen,

I'm sure Steven will answer, too... but in my experience (not just with this project, but in doing surveys and a variety of other interactions with people/customers), 12 questions is too many. Everyone is so busy these days. If they see a request for that many questions, they'll likely say "Sorry, I don't have time." If you make it a smaller number -- even if the questions are somewhat involved and may take time to answer -- the perception is that it'll be easier for them to help you out.

I dug through my old email stash and found the following for you. It's one of the emails I sent out for my project (this particular one was to David Garfinkel in case you're wondering about my mention of copywriting) (this is an example of a message I sent to people I already knew; the one I sent to article authors was similar):

Hi David,

Bonnie Lowe here. As you know, I'm a huge fan. This message doesn't have anything to do with copywriting, though. Well, not directly.

I know you are a proponent of networking (especially at seminars), and was wondering if I could "interview" you to be included in my new ebook. It's tentatively titled "The Networking Success System." (I was encouraged to pursue this project by folks like Harlan Kilstein and Michel Fortin. Sorry for the name-dropping, but I know you know them ;-) )

In return, I'd be thrilled to include a link to your site within the book, send you a copy when it's finished, and pretty much agree to anything else you'd like :-) .

In case you choose to do the interview, I've included the 5 questions below.

I know you are incredibly busy, David, but I'd like to have your answers by April 1st, if possible. If that's too soon, I would still love to receive your input whenever you can provide it; one of the great things about digital products is that you can easily update them whenever you want!

Either way, thank you for reading this, and for providing such valuable information for copywriters and internet marketers!

Oh, one more thing... if you have any suggestions on other people I could contact for this project, I'd love to hear them!

Questions:

1. What advice do you have for someone just learning about networking?

2. How has networking (in general) helped you build your career/business?

3. Do you have a specific networking "success story" you'd like to share?

4. Any other comments for networkers?

5. Please provide the link/contact information you'd like included with your input.


Note how it's personalized, not "canned." Also, name-dropping does help! For example, in response to my "...if you have any suggestions on other people I could contact" question (I asked this of everyone), one person who declined to participate (Marcia Yudkin) because she felt she didn't really "do networking" gave me the name of Diane Darling, a best-selling author in the networking field. When I contacted Diane, I said "Marcia Yudkin suggested I contact you about my new e-book..." In every case when I contacted someone I didn't know, but who was referred to me by someone they did know, they were happy to participate.

Oh, and in case you're wondering why the name of the e-book in my message to David doesn't match the final name of my product, one of the people I asked to participate (author Peter Bowerman) gave me this advice:

"And just a word of advice on your proposed title for your book. It's too flat. You need something with more life. When you're writing non-fiction, and especially non-fiction how-to (a genre we share), think of a title as a promise. Like "The Well-Fed Writer." And yes , there's a bit of a promise in your title, but it's still too vanilla. Make your current title part of a subtitle and create a title that grabs them by the throat or at the least, turns their head. Just my two cents."


Naturally I took his advice and came up with a much better title. :D

Cool, huh? :D

This project was one of the most enjoyable things I've ever done. I "met" and made friends with some wonderful people and learned a heck of a lot. It really was a blast!

I know you'll enjoy your project as well, Ellen!
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Postby Ellen » Tue Feb 05, 2008 12:12 pm

Cool, huh? :D


Wow, Bonnie! This is so much more than just cool! Thank you for taking the time to pull out and then put together all of this fantastic information for me! I can't begin to tell you how much you've helped or how much I genuinely appreciate your effort. Truly. Thank you!
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Postby Bonnie Lowe » Tue Feb 05, 2008 12:16 pm

You're welcome! :D Keep us posted on how it goes, OK?
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RE: A story e-book idea

Postby bopub » Tue Feb 05, 2008 6:32 pm

Good job on the info Bonnie. And Ellen, the number 12 was only an example. Whichever you choose, the tactic here is to create interest. You can have more, or less. If the topic has many variables, then more is better. Remember, it's like short vs long. Forget about being too long. Details and a mental picture are all important to the reader who is interested.

Interested people want details, specifics, reasons, explanations, demonstrations, proof, etc. In other words, they have to be told EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING!
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Postby Ellen » Wed Feb 06, 2008 8:38 am

You're welcome! :D Keep us posted on how it goes, OK?


I will do that, for sure, Bonnie. :D Thanks again!

And Ellen, the number 12 was only an example. Whichever you choose, the tactic here is to create interest.


Thank you for clarifing that for me, Steven. When you said to have approximately 12 questions prepared, I thought it was possible you had a reason for suggesting that specific number. As someone who hasn't done this before, I wanted to make sure I had a full understanding of what you were saying.

Interested people want details, specifics, reasons, explanations, demonstrations, proof, etc. In other words, they have to be told EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING!


~ See Ellen ;) Real life example of an "Interested Person."
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