The Freelancers’ Show 076 – Writing Books

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Panel Ashe Dryden (twitter github blog) Reuven Lerner (twitter github blog) Curtis McHale (twitter github blog) Eric Davis (twitter github blog) Charles Max Wood (twitter github Teach Me To Code Rails Ramp Up) Discussion 04:12 - The Writing Process Outlines X number words per day goal 07:59 - Picking and Pulling Relevant Information Make a blog post 09:30 - Getting Feedback Hiring an Editor Crowdsourcing 13:20 - Cover Art 17:35 - Tool Chain Markdown LeanPub Scrivener InDesign Kitabu 22:55 - Panelist Books Don't Be An Idiot: Learn how to run a viable business by Curtis McHale Becoming a WordPress Development Professional by Curtis McHale The Diverse Team by Ashe Dryden The Freelancer's Guide To Long-Term Contracts by Eric Davis Core Perl by Reuven Lerner 24:27 - Gauging Crowd Interest 25:29 - Technical Reviews 26:04 - Marketing Books Mailing Lists Nathan Barry: How To Launch Anything Authority by Nathan Barry 27:32 - Launch Pages Eric's Launch Page 28:26 - LeanPub 29:17 - Content for Email Subscribers Aweber MailChimp Constant Contact 35:20 - Making Money 39:59 - Twitter Accounts for Books 40:25 - Why LeanPub? 45:26 - Competition 47:22 - How much money should you expect to make off of writing a book? Indiegogo Picks Cory Miller's eBooks (Curtis) Mophie Juicepak Air (Curtis) Kitabu (Eric) The Noun Project (Eric) Bullet Journal (Eric) 1Password (Reuven) Modeling Commons (Reuven) Writing to authors you like (Reuven) RubyWarrior (Ashe) The Internet Wishlist (Ashe) Urbanears: Medis Black (Ashe) 4 Pics 1 Song (Chuck) Pluralsight (Chuck) PeepCode Play by Play: Katrina Owen (Chuck) Book Club Book Yourself Solid with Michael Port! He will join us for an episode to discuss the book on September 24th. The episode will air on October 3rd. Next Week Recurring Revenue for Freelancers with Brennan Dunn Transcript REUVEN: So the secret to finishing a dissertation after 10 years is ignoring family and work! ASHE: [Laughs] CHUCK: Oh, is that all? [Hosting and bandwidth provided by the Blue Box Group. Check them out at bluebox.net.][you're fantastic at coding, but do you have an action plan to take it to the next level? the upcoming book, next level freelance, will help you optimize your freelance business for happiness. the book is packed with actionable steps to make more money, case studies, tips to find more clients, and exercises for you to establish your desired lifestyle. extras include: 9 interviews with freelancers who make great money while enjoying great work-life balance, videos on strategies to find quality subcontractors, and videos on making more free time by outsourcing your daily tasks. check it out today at nextlevelfreelance.com!] CHUCK: Hey everybody and welcome to Episode 76 of The Freelancers' Show! This week on our panel, we have Ashe Dryden. ASHE: Hi everyone! CHUCK: Reuven Lerner. REUVEN: Hello! CHUCK: Curtis McHale. CURTIS: Good day! CHUCK: Eric Davis. ERIC: Hello! CHUCK: And I’m Charles Max Wood from DevChat.tv. This week, we’re going to be talking about “Ebooks”, and if we have time, we’re going to talk about Launching and Marketing them. I think I’ve listened to a few other authors. From what I understand, writing the book is 10% of the work, and then marketing, it is the other 90%. CURTIS: I thought it was 5% of the work, but okay! CHUCK: Okay. ERIC: I’ve heard 4.8, too. [Laughter] CURTIS: Eric’s probably right, actually. REUVEN: Take it from the accounting guy. CHUCK: Yup. Eric, you just launched your book, didn’t you? ERIC: Yeah. Last Wednesday, I launched – I guess it’d be 2 weeks ago when this comes out, but yeah. CHUCK: And Curtis, you will have launched by the time we launched the podcast? Or, pretty close? CURTIS: As we’re recording, I guess it will be next week,

Transcript

REUVEN: So the secret to finishing a dissertation after 10 years is ignoring family and work! ASHE: [Laughs] CHUCK: Oh, is that all? [Hosting and bandwidth provided by the Blue Box Group. Check them out at bluebox.net.] [You're fantastic at coding, but do you have an action plan to take it to the next level? The upcoming book, Next Level Freelance, will help you optimize your freelance business for happiness. The book is packed with actionable steps to make more money, case studies, tips to find more clients, and exercises for you to establish your desired lifestyle. Extras include: 9 interviews with freelancers who make great money while enjoying great work-life balance, videos on strategies to find quality subcontractors, and videos on making more free time by outsourcing your daily tasks. Check it out today at nextlevelfreelance.com!] CHUCK: Hey everybody and welcome to Episode 76 of The Freelancers' Show! This week on our panel, we have Ashe Dryden. ASHE: Hi everyone! CHUCK: Reuven Lerner. REUVEN: Hello! CHUCK: Curtis McHale. CURTIS: Good day! CHUCK: Eric Davis. ERIC: Hello! CHUCK: And I’m Charles Max Wood from DevChat.tv. This week, we’re going to be talking about “Ebooks”, and if we have time, we’re going to talk about Launching and Marketing them. I think I’ve listened to a few other authors. From what I understand, writing the book is 10% of the work, and then marketing, it is the other 90%. CURTIS: I thought it was 5% of the work, but okay! CHUCK: Okay. ERIC: I’ve heard 4.8, too. [Laughter] CURTIS: Eric’s probably right, actually. REUVEN: Take it from the accounting guy. CHUCK: Yup. Eric, you just launched your book, didn’t you? ERIC: Yeah. Last Wednesday, I launched – I guess it’d be 2 weeks ago when this comes out, but yeah. CHUCK: And Curtis, you will have launched by the time we launched the podcast? Or, pretty close? CURTIS: As we’re recording, I guess it will be next week, today next week, so it will have launched by the time this comes out. I’ve launched the previous one at the beginning of the year, on WordPress, Themes, and stuff. CHUCK: Awesome. And then I know Ashe is writing a book. ASHE: Yeah, I’ve been working on one. I’m doing it through Leanpub, which kind of allows you to release a little bit of your time so that will be upcoming soon here! CHUCK: And you’re all self-publishing then, right? ERIC and ASHE: Yes. CHUCK: I am also writing a book, but I am writing it with 5 other co-authors and we’re publishing it through Pearson Publishing. If you listen to the Ruby Rogues, then you’ll know a little bit about that. Anyway, it’s kind of interesting. And then Reuven is writing his doctoral dissertation, which is different audience; it sounds like more pain. The payoff is that people call you Doctor instead of Master. CURTIS: [Laughs] REUVEN: Yeah [chuckles], and you pay for the privilege. CHUCK: Alright! [Laughter] CURTIS: That’s probably like 10,000 times longer than all 3 of our books combined, right? REUVEN: Yes, with one-ten-thousandth of the audience. CHUCK: I was going to say that the readership, the expected or intended readership is like 5 people or so. REUVEN: Well, there’s my committee, and then everyone I can bribe to read it. CHUCK: [Laughs] I take bribes! REUVEN: [Laughs] CHUCK: I’ll tell you I read it. CURTIS: [Laughs] REUVEN: I did actually write a real book years ago, about 10 years ago, about Perl back in my Perl days. So I have some basis for comparison between books, and what I hear you guys talking about ebooks. But the dissertation will definitely -- it’s an ebook, but not exactly the same sort of thing. ERIC: So you’re not going to put it on Amazon? REUVEN: It was on Amazon, yeah. Oh, the dissertation? [Laughter] REUVEN: I’ll put the link in the picks so everyone can go and enjoy my software and see what I’ve been working on, slaving on since the Mesozoic era. [Laughter] CHUCK: Awesome! I thought we could talk about the process of writing the book, and then we could talk about the marketing of the book. Does that make sense to everybody? That sound good? REUVEN: Uhm-hmm. ASHE: Yup! CHUCK: I’m kind of curious, do you guys do a big outline first? Or, do you just sit down and crank out so many words per day? Or both, or neither? ERIC: Yes. [Laughter] CURTIS: For me, this one kind of crept up based on a talk I gave just at a conference last weekend, [unclear] and I kind of my script as I was mapping alone when I’ve got like 15,000 words. I guess I should – I guess this is more than just a talk. CHUCK: Awesome. ASHE: Yeah. I basically had a huge outline. For each chapter, I basically just doing a lot of research, talking to a lot of – My book is not, technically, a technical book. The writing of it has been a little bit different than a lot of the other writing that I do. CHUCK: What about you, Eric? ERIC: For mine, basically I sat down [unclear], I guess in a day or two, and then actually sat down and had word count goals and basically just wrote the book, not from beginning to end; I basically sat down and wrote it all and goal I’ve done and then threw it off to editing. CHUCK: Awesome. Did you do an outline first? ERIC: It is an outline and the ‘I want to cover these topics’. It changed a lot like they didn’t actually trans like directly into chapters as more of like, “What questions would my readers have? What would they want to learn? What would they want to get out of it?” and then I would expand that into either paragraph or into couple of chapters or whatever, and to the bin. CHUCK: That makes sense. Did you outline yours, Ashe? ASHE: Yeah, I did. CURTIS: Once I had my 16,000 words, I kind of looked at it all and grouped it differently and put it down into an outline, and then re-approach the project and start to putting dedicated time into writing every day based off the outline. But the overall thing kind of crept up on me. CHUCK: So you got the outline together and then you just sat down, and wrote some everyday? CURTIS: Yeah, I made a thousand words a day, my goal, and kind of crank through it. CHUCK: And how many thousand words is a book? CURTIS: I think that depends. This one for me came out to about 17,000-18,000. But I think my other one was like 22,000. ERIC: Yeah, it depends on the book and all that. Most ebooks I’ve seen are 15,000 on the low until like 25,000 or so. Mine, I’ve take notes; I have a log of my writing every day. Mine was almost 26,000 and then edited a couple of thousand out of it. ASHE: That’s funny. I don’t actually know how many thousands of words I have right now. I’ve been going more for like completion of contents. I have a pretty deep outline and I’m just been going for like hitting each one those like subtopics in a really complete way so they’re more easily understandable than for word count. So I have no idea how many words I have right now. CURTIS: I wasn’t necessarily aiming for a specific word count; that’s kind of where in the doc, and then end up at like 3,000 already, and I said, “Well, this is not really a book.” ASHE: [Chuckles][crosstalk] ERIC: It’s also like a daily marker. I had a goal of hitting 4,000 words a day, and it’s like when I hit that, I could stop and relax; if I didn’t, there would be a number to motivate myself to keep going a little bit more. CURTIS: Yeah, that’s what my thousand was; that I just kept to going in amidst of client work and everything else every day. REUVEN: Do you guys find at some points that you need to go back and edit? Or that there were topics that you start to explore that you said, “Oh, this is really irrelevant,” and maybe just pick another book? ERIC: Yes. CURTIS: Yeah. ASHE: Yeah, I went, sure. CURTIS: I went through individual chapters, and as I wrote them and then read back through it, I was like, “This is actually a section of this other chapter instead,” so I moved everything around a number of times, which is also a feature of Scrivener, which where I write with. And I think Eric does as well. CHUCK: I’ve worried a little bit about that as far as I have another ebook that I’ve outlined and I’ve kind of broken that outline down into subheadings – I’m using Scrivener as well incidentally for that one – and there are a lot of topics that I could write about that are related to it that I feel like I definitely need to weed some of them out. How do you pick the things that aren’t as relevant? How do you address them when you pull them out if you feel like they need at least some minimal coverage? CURTIS: One thing you could do is put them in a blog post and kind of use that as your marketing launch. CHUCK: Oh, that’s a good idea. CURTIS: So you need some coverage, it’s kind of 3 at the book – I have one or two chunks that were like that that I’ve used in my marketing launch over the last couple of weeks. ERIC: That’s kind of what I did. I want to get all the ideas, like I said, I basically approach it from what questions on what have so I try to answer the questions. And then there’s 3 or 4 that kind of didn’t really -- the questions people might have, they didn’t really timed with the topic that well -- as you write, you kind of get more honed down on what you’re talking about; I pull them out and I’m going to turn them into blog post. Also, I had a professional editor come through and do some really high-level stuff of the content; and based on her feedback, I’ve actually pulled out a few more things just to tighten up the entire book. You have that flexibility. You can always pull stuff out and move stuff around. If you really have to, you can, like Curtis said, make it a blog post and then in the book say, “I’d like to talk about the side topic, but it doesn’t fit in this book so here’s a blog post I wrote about it.” REUVEN: I want to ask you about that actually. Because when I wrote my book for apprentice all years ago, obviously, there was an editor who was working on things – there’s a language editor and a technical editor – even if they didn’t do such an amazing job, there was someone who’s job was to go through the manuscript. Have all of you guys decided to hire an editor to look over your manuscript? Or, you’re just asking friends and colleagues? ERIC: Yes. [Laughter] REUVEN: Somehow, I expected that answer. I don’t know why. CHUCK: Because he’s evil… ERIC: I hired an editor basically because editors have a very technical skill set; they can help you find stuff that you can’t find and just normal readers can’t find just by the sheer amount of editing they do. I also had one – my books targeted freelancers – I had one editor/beta reader that read it that was kind of an experienced freelancer. They gave me feedback about like, “Okay, this stuff is good, I had the same experience,” that sort of idea. And then I also had another person that was like a beginner freelancer and they gave me feedback along the lines of, “Okay, the stuff you’re talking about is way too advanced; you need some background information on that so that I, as a beginner, can understand it.” So I had, from the aspects of the range of the audience I’m talking about and then the editor for the more English stuff, that seem to cover me pretty well. Like I said, the editor also did kind of high/low organization moving chapters around, moving concepts around to put them in a better logical order, too. [Crosstalk] REUVEN: How can you find the editors? I’m curious. ERIC: In this case, it was actually someone I knew off of Twitter; he’s wife was an editor. They’re actually local in Oregon, too, so I just chatted up with her. Basically, I had her edit a sample chapter so it was like a low-risk thing for both of us. And her style and my style of writing are very similar so it actually worked out really good, and I just brought her on. CURTIS: I’m going to say I have a friend who’s crowd sourcing editing of his outline at least, his rough drafts that’s not fully expanded, and getting a bunch of feedback. It’s his third book he’s done that on. And then he actually, like anyone who comments on it in Googlebox or makes references things, gets mentioned in the book. CHUCK: Oh, very nice. ASHE: That’s a good idea. CURTIS: Yeah, I really liked it. I thought that would be an interesting thing kind of for the next project. No, Eric, crowd sourcing the content wouldn’t work or like your whole blog or anything, but at least the editing process, once you have an idea down and there’s a bunch of good ideas in there and a bunch of things that people brought up, that he kind of rewrote and change the points around. ERIC: The topics, I think that could work. You got to be careful. I’ve seen this in a lot of books that are written by one person, or there’s a couple of books that have been in the writing-editing mode for years. So overtime, you can kind of see how kind of the voice of the writer changes, and this happens when stuff is written by large groups. And, it can be really confusing in general especially if stuff is broken up like chapter 1 is by one person, chapter 2 is by another. That’s why I really kind of kept the editing to minimum; I don’t want stuff I wrote to be written in a different voice than stuff my editor had to go and then heavily edit. ASHE: It’s interesting because I have 2 different editors for interesting reasons. A lot of the information that I’m presenting is researched, that’s kind of pulled together from a lot of different academic sources. One of my editors is somebody who is very well-versed and presenting that kind of data to people who maybe don’t have the kind of background to understand a lot of academic speak. So they’re helping me with that part while somebody else is helping me with the rest of the content. They can be 2 different voices, and I think I’ve kind of mitigated that by taking more suggestions than I am like having them change whole sentences or whole paragraphs or whatever. CHUCK: Awesome. I kind of want to go from here maybe to the cover art and things like that. When you design the cover for your book, did you find somebody to do it for you? Did you put an animal on it like a Riley? ERIC: [unclear] and then, we will get in trouble for that. ASHE: [Laughs] CHUCK: A pickaxe. ERIC: [Laughs] ASHE: I did. I actually did mine myself. I did a few different versions of it and then I actually threw that up on Twitter because a lot of people that follow me on Twitter are ‘who would be’ my readers. So I actually kind of crowd source it that way. I had them give suggestions and what would identify the book best by the cover and that kind of thing. I think it worked out really well. CURTIS: I also have similar thing. I used a template from my last book and try to change the colors around and then the words. When I put them up on Twitter, a bunch of people made comments even on the title length, or its exact wording, or things. So I worked out a different title, actually, based out of that. ERIC: I’ve done it 3 different ways now. My first book, I don’t remember the service, I paid a service, it was like 80 or maybe 100 bucks, and they basically took my ideas, took my concepts, and the color, because I want to match my other branding. They basically made a cover, both the cover like the flat one and then like a 3D book looking one, and then a couple of other ones. That was for my first book. My second book, because it was a similar thing, I actually took that cover, went to Fiverr, and paid 4 or 5 people to say, “I want to make a cover based on this theme, but with different title and a different kind of front image on it.” Out of those, one of them was good and I actually used that; it was like, the total cost, like 20 or 25 bucks. This latest book, I took a template from Nathan Barry that he sells someone of his ebooks. Basically, I changed the background colors, changed some other kind of the textured patterns. I think it was a $2 icon from The Noun Project, and basically slapped that on front and played to fit in Photoshop a little bit, and that’s my cover this time around. Actually I think this third way was took a bit more of my time, but that actually is probably the better looking of all my covers. And the nice thing is I can now kind of reuse this cover template and process to do other books. CHUCK: Awesome. REUVEN: All this is done in PDF, right? Like at the end of the day, an ebook is typically going to be a PDF file? ERIC: A PDF, or an ePub, or a MOBI – ePub and MOBI are the Barnes & Noble and NOOK’s/Most, like 99% of the eReaders, and then the MOBI is the Kindle, which is a large part of the market, too. CHUCK: And it makes a big difference. I have Kindle, if it’s in MOBI, then I can zoom the fonts, I can do all the other stuff with it. If it’s in PDF, I can’t. Sometimes, that’s a deal-breaker for me; sometimes, it’s not. If I really, really want the content, I’ll buy it anyway. ERIC: And a lot of the PDFs, some of the very designed heavy ones, you can’t do it well, but you can email a PDF or any kind of other format to Amazon. What that’ll do is to auto-convert it to the AZW format, which is a MOBI with some other stuff in it. So, you can still get that zoom in and all the different kind of Kindle effects or whatever on the Kindle from a PDF sourced document. I do that for a lot of stuff even like little 2 or 3 page PDFs people give me. ASHE: I think it’s important if you just provide your book in as many different formats as you think your readers will use. Like I do PDF, MOBI, and ePub because those are the 3 most common, and the 3 most likely that my readers will be using. So they can choose what format works best for them. CHUCK: I want to read your book in MP3. ASHE: [Laughs] I’ll have you do the audio book version, and then you can hear your own voice screening it. [Laughter] CHUCK: If you pay me, I’ll do the voice work. ASHE: [Laughter] REUVEN: You can crowd source the audio version. CHUCK: Oh, there we go! ASHE: [Laughs] CURTIS: One word from each person, right? [Laughter] ASHE: Well, I would only need so many words, then I’ll just mix and match them. CHUCK: Oh, there we go. [Crosstalk] CURTIS: That wouldn’t take very long at all. ASHE: [Laughter] CHUCK: The word ‘The’ provided by Charles Wood…I like that. Alright. So we were talking about formatting a little bit, I kind of want to talk about your tools a little bit. Do you write it in something like Markdown and then convert it? What’s kind of your workflow there? ERIC: Yes. ASHE: Yeah. [Laughter] ASHE: I write in Markdown and then I use Leanpub; Leanpub basically compiles the book and then creates all the different formats for it. CURTIS: Yeah, Scrivener is like a rich-text sort of thing. It has text-based files back in its package, but it’s rich-text. CHUCK: So you just write it in Scrivener and then convert it to whatever? CURTIS: Yeah. Last time -- I’m actually approaching a little different this time, and I haven’t quite done it yet – last time, I actually pulled over text out and print it to InDesign; I don’t know if InDesign rendered the 3 different types, the PDF, the MOBI, and the ePub. This time, it went straight through Scrivener, and I’ve watched a video that you can do it. I don’t know, I maybe frantically laying out my book on the weekend, to be honest [chuckles]. CHUCK: [Laughs] CURTIS: I was hoping to get it done last weekend, but the conference took mark out of me than I expected. REUVEN: Ashe, when you say that, with Leanpub, you sort of compile a book. Do they provide you with a set of tools? Or, is it all web-based that you upload some portion of the book and then they take care of it? ASHE: What they do is actually really interesting. You get a special Dropbox folder from them and you sync basically each of your chapters in a Markdown file into the special folder. And then when you’re kind of ready – if you’re not familiar with Leanpub, I should step back, if you’re not familiar with Leanpub, Leanpub allows you to publish a little bit of a book at a time. It’s kind of the idea that a book never has to die; you can continually update it. You don’t have to worry about versioning - first edition, second edition - you just update it if something has spelled wrong or if there’s more updated information that should go on there. Basically, I write things in Markdown, they get sync to the special Dropbox folder up to Leanpub. And then once I’m happy with whatever changes I’ve made, I go into their web app and I’d just say, “Compile this book,” and it compiles it all and it notifies all of my readers that there’s now a new version. So if you’re using something like a Kindle, it will automatically sync your Kindle, otherwise, everybody gets an email with the new version. REUVEN: What if I’ve gotten it for the Kindle, but I did not buy it through Amazon? It still has the smarts in there to download from Leanpub and automatically update? ASHE: From my understanding, you basically connect your Kindle account to the Leanpub web app, and it just automatically syncs it. ERIC: I do that with Pragmatic Programmers, sort of a new version of the book; it basically pushes it to my Kindle. The only bad thing about it is each new version is considered like a different book. So if you’re like on page 55 and then a new version comes out, you have to go back to page 55, and then all your notes and stuff don’t get transferred over. It’s kind of a pain, but if you’re just wanting to get that date of copy, it works pretty good. CHUCK: I also have the whole bunch of different copies on my Kindle of the same book. ERIC: That’s actually, I think, similar system as, what I was talking about earlier where you can email them a PDF, I think it’s called the Personal Documents feature. Basically what it is, I’m assuming Leanpub and also like Pragmatics will or emailing a personal document to Amazon on your behalf, and that gets pushed out to your Kindle. ASHE: Oh, I see. ERIC: I’ve actually changed my tool chain with every book I written just because…I don’t know, whatever. My first one was (I don’t remember all that stuff) I think I used Pandoc, Markdown, AsciiDoc, DocBook, Text, and a bunch of other behind the scenes tool chain to get it to work. It was a pain; I don’t recommend that route. The second way I wrote it actually in pure DocBook. From there, I took it into PDF. That was okay, but it was kind of tag slippy. It was very powerful, but it was also very powerful that I shot myself in the foot a lot, especially of the layout. This last book, I used Scrivener to write it. But basically, unlike Curtis, I just wrote it in Scrivener, I wrote it in Markdown, and then just export at the Markdown. So basically, in a way, you could actually write it with like Vim or Emacs or whatever. From there, I took it to another tool called “Kilabu” or whatever. It’s open source, and basically uses a tool called “PrinceXML”, which takes to Markdown, put them to HTML, then takes the HTML, and puts that into a PDF and then all the other format. The nice thing about that is actually doing your book layout and styling, you do with HTML and CSS. It was cake. So laying out the ePub and the MOBI version is just changing CSS. It was pretty nice; I’ll put the links in the show notes. It’s a pretty decent tool for being open source and free. CHUCK: Awesome. CURTIS: And Scrivener will export from Markdown even though if it’s rich-text editor. If you mark things up as headings properly, it’ll just speed out Markdown. It’s got like thousands of export options, which you didn’t [unclear], but it’s got lots anyways. ERIC: I’m on an older version so it’s not as good for me; if you’re on a Mac you get a lot better options. But yeah, all my writings are in Markdown; I’m using Scrivener as just a way to search and browse and actually organize the content, and then I export into one file. CURTIS: I’m sorry, you used the one X version, right? ERIC: I guess so. CHUCK: Before we get into anything with the marketing or really go further with talking about writing the book, where do people find your books? ERIC: The internet. CHUCK: Alright, we’re just going to skip Eric altogether… REUVEN: Well, more than that. [Laughter] CHUCK: Curtis, where can people find your book? CURTIS: On my site, curtismchale.ca, and I guess I’ll put a link in the show notes as well. The newest book is on Running a Viable Freelance Business and called “Don’t Be an Idiot”. And then my other one is on my WordPress site as well, which is wpthemetutorial.com. CHUCK: What about you, Ashe? Where do people find your book? ASHE: Mine is on Leanpub, which is “The Diverse Team”, it’s about helping businesses attract and retain diverse hires. A lot of people find it, I tweet about it a lot, and I talk about it on my blog as well. If you’re asking for like where people discover it, that’s where they discover it, but buying it is through the Leanpub site. CHUCK: Yeah, that makes sense. Alright so let’s talk about marketing. REUVEN: Let me ask you a question sort of that – CHUCK: Hang on, I’m trolling Eric. Eric, where do people find your book? [Laughter] CURTIS: He needs to be trolled. ERIC: That’s fine. I’m just being funk right now. Anyway, right now, all of my books are on different websites; I’m pulling them all into my blog soon-ish. But if you go to my blog, you can find them linked to the sidebar; blog is theadmin.org. I’ll put a link to my latest book in the show notes because I guess it’s the most relevant to this crowd. But it’s basically on the top ender for the page. CHUCK: Nice. Alright. REUVEN: I just wanted to ask something that sort of crosses between what we’ve talked about and the marketing thing which is, did you guys do any testing to see that people would be interested in buying this book? Did you talk to colleagues and asked them if they’ll be willing to pay X amount of dollars if you were to write a book? Or, did you just sort of go ahead and write it and then hopefully you could market it to enough people to justify it? ERIC: Yes. [Laughter] [Crosstalk] CURTIS: Mine started with a presentation that people are interested in. And based off, I just gave it for the first time on the weekend, based off that, I had like 30 emails sitting my inbox after the presentation of people are asking for more information about running a good business. CHUCK: And where were you speaking at? CURTIS: It was a local WordCamp in Vancouver. CHUCK: Oh, okay. CURTIS: It’s just a WordPress specific conference, but I was asked specifically to talk about business stuff so that’s what I did! CHUCK: Alright. So what have you guys done to get the word – Oh! I have another question about editing first before I get into that. Have anyone do like technical reviews so people who are experts in the area that you’re writing about, did you have them actually read your book and give you feedback? ERIC: Yes. ASHE: [Laughs] I was waiting, I was waiting for the ‘yes’. ERIC: For my last book, I did. I grabbed another programmer that was also has done a bunch of writing as well. He did the technical edit for me and he just went through the image of the code for my last book because it had some code and it wasn’t very code-heavy. But I just wanted just a normal editor because it was not a lot of technical stuff really – no code at all. CHUCK: I’m rephrasing my questions from now on. How did you approach getting the word out about your book? ASHE: For me, it’s something, diversity is, in tech, of something that I talk about a lot. I’ve actually had people, before I even thought about writing a book, that were asking me about resources and books that existed for a lot of things that I talk about, or if a book existed on the kind of the broader topic. So it worked out really well that I actually – my book was originally supposed to be a blog post, but my notes were 40 pages long, so I ended up starting a book and then a lot of people were expressing interests because I basically deciding, “Hey, if I wrote a book on this, would you be interested?” and I got an overwhelmingly great response to that. CHUCK: Awesome. CURTIS: On my blog, it’s been kind of all over. Like a wrote about business, I wrote a little bit about some personal stuff and some cycling as well, but I already got a business so I used that for part of it. And then when I did interviews, and also had some of the other people doing it and tweeting about it, trying to get the mailing list going, I’ve used a lot of -- the Smashing Magazine has an article “How to Launch Anything” by Nathan Berry -- and I used a bunch of stuff through that. CHUCK: Yeah, I actually have his book “Authority”, which kind of goes through the same thing and talks a lot about the process of launching specifically ebooks; that was going to be one of my picks today. There’s a lot there about building your mailing list and getting the word out, and all that stuff. So, what is your launch page look like? Or, do you have a launch page? CURTIS: I did, Eric, since he’s already gone now; I must’ve saved a screenshot of it. Mine was just a copy of the book cover on one side, and I put a video of me introducing at the top, and then there’s a ‘Email’ beside it, placed to ‘Sign up for the email’ to get the newsletter. ASHE: Mine is actually, Leanpub actually provides that through their service, which is really nice. So they collect other people who are interested in reading the book, basically collecting all their email addresses. But also, it will ask how much they’re willing to pay for the book, which is really nice, so you can kind of get an idea over how many hundreds of people about how much you should price it. Leanpub is nice and that they allow you to set a minimum price and a target price so you can at a minimum pay, $25, but the suggested price is $30, or whatever. CHUCK: One question I have about Leanpub, I think somebody was complaining about a different service for ebooks, and they moved off of him. I don’t remember who it was or what it was, but basically their issue was that – Oh! I think it was Jevin, talking about it. He said that the service he tried to use wouldn’t allow him access to the email addresses so he couldn’t actually email the people himself. CURTIS: Have actually just abandoned, had to abandon the platform right after a day or two. CHUCK: Yeah. ASHE: I was on that show, and I was kind of surprised by that. And they must had added in that functionality after he kind of talked to them about that because I have access to all those email addresses. CHUCK: We have real power here… [Laughter] ERIC: Yes. CURTIS: [Laughs] CHUCK: Well, that’s interesting. So what kinds of things are you sending out to people who subscribe to your list? CURTIS: I’m sending launch updates…email, Eric [chuckles]. I’m sending launch updates and I also send out today a full copy of one of the interviews for the book. And then that’s only for the email subscribers so that theoretically, anyone could type in the property or all and find it. And then I’ll send them a coupon as well just for the email subscribers. CHUCK: That makes sense. ASHE: That’s interesting. I’m anti-email so I really hate sending people email, unless I think it’s really important. Actually, a lot of the stuff that I send is through Twitter. The research papers that I use, like I’ll send out a little snippet that’s an interesting point that I found or a talk about some of the interviews that I’ve done with businesses or with people to kind of like continually generate interest, but also to show people that it’s still being worked on and there are a lot of different things that I’m considering that they might not have realized that they were going to get in the book. CHUCK: Yeah. I’ve been thinking about this a lot because I want to put together a similar thing for Ruby Best Practice Patterns, which is technically being published through a traditional publisher but I asked them if they had any problem with me marketing the book and all. Of course, they were like, “No.” So one thing that I’m going to send them, we started out the book writing process at a retreat. We set up a Zoom H4 and pointed it at the room, and basically recorded all of the conversations that we were having throughout the retreat. A lot of it is book-related, but there are several portions where we were goofing around or talking about things that the people might be interested in about different aspects of different people’s lives and background. Some of those things are things that I’m going to send out. It’s not necessarily related specifically to the book or to the content of the book, but it helps people get to know us as the authors a little bit better. I think that’s some of the stuff that makes sense to put in the list as well. But I am not scared of sending out emails. If people want to unsubscribe, then they can. CURTIS: Yeah, my first unsubscribe was actually Reuven. ASHE: [Laughs] CHUCK: What a jerk! [Laughter] CURTIS: Who is also doing an email purge, and I do that… REUVEN: Exactly. Exactly. [Laughs] CHUCK: Will somebody kick him off the call! REUVEN: It was in first mo; what was that, that’s what I told you. CURTIS: You’re also the base clicker for the email. [Laughter] REUVEN: Ashe, I’m sort of curious, you might not be into email so much, but I have a feeling that many of the people who might buy your book are into email. Do you think that you’re going to have fewer people buy your book because you’re marketing it mostly through Twitter? I mean not only, obviously, but that you’re not sending email to people about it? ASHE: Potentially. But I also, I think I’ve mentioned a minute ago, I definitely get email fatigue, and the more I see something that’s getting in my way, the more negative connotation like negative feelings I have associated with it. I don’t want people to be like, “Great, she’s sending me another email.” And when time comes around to actually buy the book, either they have that kind of line missed to that email like I’ve seen so many of them, and just like archive it, or they just kind of care less. So it’s definitely possible that fewer people will buy my book. I definitely go out of my way to talk about it in other places like I go on podcast and radio shows and make blog posts and guest blog posts to places, and have been interviewed for things. I think that there are a lot of places where people can hear about my book, and a lot of people know that I tweet a lot about the stuff and I also blog about a lot of it. So there are ways to kind of see the research and the work that I’m doing without getting an email. ERIC: I’m on kind of different ways. The past 2 books I’ve done, I’ve used email. This one, I’ve actually used email more than my previous book. That’s how they direct impact on how good both these books I’ve done. Honestly, I’ve watched the unsubscribes and I was basically giving away a lot of good contents. In fact, 2 or 3 of the emails were actually full chapters from the book, and basically, I gave them away to the email list. Out of 3 launch emails and then probably a couple of emails, so we’re talking 6 or 7 emails over the course of this launch, I had 2 people unsubscribed from my list of 600. One of those was they weren’t interested in freelancing stuff; they were kind of on my list from my previous life as a Redmine developer. So that’s not even 1% of people unsubscribed or even annoyed at it. I hadn’t run all the stats, but I bet a lot of the sales came directly from my email list. In fact, I’m actually using Twitter to get people to sign up for the email list to get on the launch just because it was above and beyond everything else there is out there to get a book launch to do any kind of event-type thing. ASHE: Interesting. What are you using to manage your mailing list since now you had me reconsidering? ERIC: I’m using Aweber; you can use MailChimp or any of the other like Constant Contact, any of those. The platform you use doesn’t matter. I bet Leanpub’s probably adequate; they’re not an email provider so they’re not going to be as could. But any way, you can send an email that’s not like from Outlook; your Apple mail account would work fine. ASHE: Sure. CURTIS: One of the big things that I can try for new subscribers is actually coming an auto-responder to start out and asking them kind of what their biggest business pain is because that’s what the book is about and that’s kind of what my side is about in the email list. I asked the question today, it was the first time I really tried it and had a huge response for the amount of people I have. Just on the huge email list that I had, probably I get 30% of response of people actually engaging with me, and then I email them back with suggestions for how they could improve their business in that way. REUVEN: I’m curious; by the way, I’m not sure if quite whether this fit as a question, and the answer might be ‘yes’ [chuckles]… ASHE: [Laughs] ERIC: Yes. REUVEN: [Chuckles] Did you guys decide to write books so that you would make money directly from the book sales? Or, that it would serve as a catalyst of sort of make you experts in a particular field, and then lead to more consulting work or project work? CURTIS: That’s a bit of both for me; I suppose I’d like to make some extra money. Consulting is like running; when you stop, you stop, and then products was like riding a bike, which we had one of our guests said that a few weeks ago, I believe. So yeah, I wanted to have a few more products just to get some other recurring revenue in. And then I would actually love to do some more consulting and helping freelancers or small businesses run a better business. ERIC: I’m kind of in the same boat. I want to get some baseline of recurring revenue, but a bigger thing for me, I think is -- I don’t know if I talked about it on the show -- I want to kind of build kind of a pyramid of like I have my blog, I have Twitter, I have all these places where I’m giving away free stuff and advice and kind of experiences, but I wanted a place where it’s a little bit more focused. In this case, it’s actually paid product instead of what’s kind of a move into having something that someone really wants focused stuff on getting a long-term contract, this is where they’re going go - everything I know about that topic. The eventual goals above that, I might have another product and then eventually a paid service that’s like the high-end consulting. So it’s more of like a whole-product, suite-product family that I’m envisioning. ASHE: I think mine, the money-making part of it was actually secondary; it’s kind of a nice perk to writing this. Like I said, my book is a little bit different than anybody else’s. Mine is about increasing diversity within tech, which is a lot of what I’ve been talking about and working on lately. It is not something that I have found that you can make a lot of money doing. A lot of people don’t necessary see the worth in it yet, so I have been spending more and more of my time on this. I wasn’t getting compensated for it, so you can kind of think of it like open source where there’s no company that uses the kind of technology that you’re making open source for. I see the worth in it. And writing a book on this was an easier way for me to scale off my efforts to have all of this information in one place because I was having so many people come to me and say like, “We know that this is a problem, just we have no idea how to fix it,” so I’m actually engaging them in helping me fix this problem, and it’s actually kind of a nice bonus that they’re paying me for helping them fix this problem that also, it goes towards my goal. ERIC: I can’t remember what it’s called like the whole renaissance painter of that aspect where there’d be like kind of a wealthy individual or family that would pay an artist to create something, and basically the money was to let the artist dedicate their time to create something that something improved, whatever it was, like maybe it be painting arts scene, or whatever. That’s another way to look at it; books or products or stuff like this where it takes a bit effort at first to get it done, but then to keep it going, it’s not that hard. You can use the revenue from this to kind of bootstrap your next book. Like maybe there’s another topic you have passion on so this book can actually, either can [unclear] found that about with the next book, and then I can found that about with the next one, so it’s staircases down. And each of these books is somehow improving society or improving a project you care about or some other kind of worthy goal. ASHE: Yeah, definitely. That certainly helps. I’ve also used things, but Gittip, I think we’ve spoken about a few times on here, where people who want to see this kind of work done, but there wasn’t necessarily something before for them to directly pay for. So now, they’re actually paying for something, and at the same time, they also are able to give this book to their company and to the people who may carrying decisions and kind of direct the culture within a company to help them improve. CHUCK: Yeah. One of the reasons I’m working on a book, The Ruby Best Practice Patterns book, is because I have co-authors, and like I can hang out with them [chuckles]. So that’s a big reason there. But yeah, the other book that I want to write is building sole and secure JSON APIs and it’s because I see people go through a lot of pain there. And the reason that I want to write a book and make people pay for it is because I’ve also found that people take things more seriously and will dedicate their time to read through it if they pay for it. If I just give it to them, it doesn’t always work out that way. ERIC: Yup. CHUCK: So do you guys have Twitter accounts for your books? CURTIS: No. ERIC: I do on my old ones, but I don’t use them. [Unclear] I’m working on, they’re not worth it. CHUCK: Facebook fan groups? CURTIS: Nope. Eric just says he owns Facebook fan group from South, right? ASHE: [Laughter] ERIC: Yeah. CURTIS: [Chuckles] No, I don’t have either of those. I have my WordPress general tutorials Facebook page and then I have a Twitter account for that, and that’s it. ASHE: Yeah. And I just use my personal Twitter account. CHUCK: Cool. REUVEN: I’m sort of curious about the whole Leanpub versus other publishing…I don’t know if platform is the right thing. What are the advantages of using company like that versus just going on your own? Do you think it will improve sales? ASHE: Personally, I use Leanpub because – it seem that everybody here knows [unclear], he publishes a lot of things on Leanpub. When I was looking for something that would basically allow me to write and get all of the other stuff out of the way where I didn’t have to worry about it, that’s what he suggested because the model is a lot better. As an author, you get paid much more than you do at other services that have similar kinds of businesses, but also, they help you control a lot more things. So it’s much easier for me to decide when something gets published, decide when to email all of my readers, or to allow them to decide how much to pay for it. That was also something that was important to me. So I just wanted something that would allow me to write and not have to worry about anything else. ERIC: It’s about how much control and how much you want to do it yourself. The other side of the spectrum is, if you’re going for a traditional publisher, for the most cases, you’re supposed to just write and hand off the stuff; they have editors, they have everyone that does everything else. [Unclear], they will probably won’t do much marketing for you and you’ll have to do that, but that’s different. On the other side, it’s kind of like how I’ve done it where it’s complete self-publishing where I do all the work and I put together all the systems and all that. I think it just depends on your personality; how much time you have, what you want to work on. If writing is the best thing for you, it might make sense to go to a platform where you can just write and let other people handle it. But if you actually want to control all the bits, or if, like in my case, I’m trying to build a whole suite of different products. Having access to the customer list and all that is going to be a lot more important than someone who’s just trying to write their one book, and get it out there. CHUCK: Yeah, that makes sense. Have you guys, any of you, considered selling it on Amazon or iBooks or any of those market places? ERIC: I did. I originally was going to make this book a lot smaller in scope, but as I was writing it, I eventually expanded the scope. The problem with Amazon and the iBooks Store and Barnes & Noble (if they’re still around by next week), the problem is, like I said on the control side, you have almost no control; you basically upload your stuff, you get royalties, you can’t, say, the customer who can’t verify sales. I know Amazon has a very, very strict pricing structure; I think the iBooks Store has one, too. But those are great if you just want to write and you just want to put stuff up there. They also have a lot of existing customers there, so if you have kind of a more mass market topic, it might actually to make sense to go there. But I’m not going there. I have some ideas to kind of play with that, but I’m probably not going to put a lot my bigger products on there. CURTIS: And they have an exclusive deal, too, where you can give it away for free for a certain number of days, right? ERIC: Yeah, the Kindle Direct Publishing, KDP, you can basically say, “I’m only going to be on Amazon,” and they give you a bit more marketing tools for it. It’s, once again, like you’re giving up more control and more to have different things, bill you different things, and there’s pros and cons to that. I haven’t done it, this is a second-hand experience. CURTIS: What I’ve read and listened to about using their extra, like the KDP platform, is that if you’re doing that, then you’re doing it often because you’re getting your name out there to sell other services or other things later not necessarily for that one single product. CHUCK: Awesome. Alright, well, any other bits and pieces of this? I know there’s a lot more out there about this, but it’s – ASHE: I was just going to say, I think for me, for somebody who had never written a book before -- actually, it took me a long time to actually start even writing blog posts. I knew that writing a book was a lot of work, but I really had exactly no idea how much work it was. And my writing style is a little bit different in that, I don’t write linearly. So that has proved to be an interesting challenge when you look at something like a book model where, like I said, I have a very large outline and I have tons and tons of chapters, but I have like 2/3 of the amount of contents that I want for every chapter across the entire book right now because a lot of the way that I write and the way that I do research and that kind of thing kind of spreads that out really thin. So that would be something that I think about. I’ve certainly felt frustrated with myself about not being able to get my book out as soon as I would have hoped. But the other side, I’m really happy that it’s going to be more complete as far as content and research goes so I see other people releasing books a lot sooner, then I have to remind myself that the way I write is a little bit different and that’s fine, and I’m focusing more on content than getting it out there sooner. REUVEN: Ashe, are you worried – maybe this is more probably for Curtis and Eric just given the topics – are you worried about competition that someone’s going to beat you to the subject and hurt your sales, or hurt your launch? ASHE: I’m not really. In the space, it’s interesting because there aren’t a whole lot of people talking about this right now. And I’ve worked myself into a really great position where I’m currently one of the experts on this. So I’m not super worried about that and I really welcome other people talking about things related to this because, like I said, making money off of this book was really a secondary goal to fixing a huge problem that I think we have. So my motivations are slightly different from other people. ERIC: I have to say, coming from this as a reader, whenever I look at a new topic or whatever, I almost always buy 2 or 3 books on the same topic because books are so personal and unique that it’s not like an accounting app where you only need one. Like you can get 20 dozen books, and you’re still not going to be able to cover all of the knowledge in a specific area. So competition is actually kind of a good thing because then you know like, “Oh, there’s another author in here, it’s a market,” and it’s also someone you can also talk with and maybe do kind of joint marketing or join stuff together just on the educational side. So I don’t see competition as really a bad thing for books. Most people I talk to also do kind of shop around and buy a lot of books they want. It’s like how many Ruby…just write code and Ruby code books are out there right now, and Chuck’s going have another one. CURTIS: I’ve got about 4 on my shelf, and I don’t even do Ruby anymore. CHUCK: Well, I know another one you can buy here in 9 months or so. [Laughter] CURTIS: I think I’ll let our local Ruby brigade buy it and read it by once. But I’ll put it in request with miles to get it. CHUCK: Nice. REUVEN: Let me ask a semi-crash question; how much money do you guys expect or think you might make off of writing an ebook over time? CURTIS: Wasn’t Eric talking about building his Scrooge McDuck money pots today? [Laughter] ERIC: I was? [Laughter] ASHE: Can you invite us over, too? ERIC: [Laughs] CHUCK: Awk! Me money! [Laughter] CURTIS: I’ll be happy with couple of thousand dollars and a bit really. I think my old book averages a couple of hundred after about a year and I’m not doing a ton of marketing on it anymore so it’s on the sidebar of my WordPress tutorial site, which is about 8,000 paid views a month…Yes, Canadian dollars, Reuven, which is half of anything else I suppose. [Laughter] CURTIS: [Unclear] I’m referring to his chat, which I should not read… [Laughter] ASHE: Like I said, I wasn’t really expecting a ton, but I did an Indiegogo campaign, and one of the perks I did was getting a copy of my book. Just through that, I’ve made about $4,500… CURTIS: Nice. That’s good. CHUCK: I’ve been joking with the other Rogues that I’ll be able to get a Big Mac for me and Happy Meals for my kids. And then every time somebody talks about something that might cut into the royalties, then the joke is, which of my kids are going to go hungry? [Laughter] CHUCK: We’re doing it through a traditional publisher so you have your royalty set up, which can be anywhere from 10%-20%, depending on how much the book sells and things like that, and then all of the other things that go into that; did the royalty advance, which we used to pay for the retreat, and things like that. We don’t get paid until that’s all paid. Anyway, it’s kind of interesting. CURTIS: A couple of years ago, someone offered, a publisher (I don’t remember who it was), offered to get me to write a book, and I made double the advance so far already on my one book. ASHE: Wow. CHUCK: Awesome. REUVEN: Just as amidst of comparison, when I wrote my Probook 12 years ago, 13 years ago, I think I made a total of $5,000 from it, which strangely enough was the advance. So basically, when they paid me the advance, they sold a bunch of copies, and that was that. CURTIS: Yeah, you barely earned out your advance or given to you. REUVEN: Right, which of these are pretty typical with traditional publishing. CHUCK: Yeah. ERIC: Especially with tech. Tech is not a bestseller, like you’re not going to sell a lot of copies. So most of the time, the advances, which you’re going to get unless you’re like Agile web app of Rails or something like that, they just surprises people. CHUCK: The other things is, if you go through somebody like Pragprog, their royalty is like 50%, where the O’Reillys and Pearsons and stuff, they’ll start out negotiating with you at 10%. If you’re really aggressive, you can probably tuck them up, which I have no real experience in because we haven’t given them our list of demands after the last copy of the contract they sent us. CURTIS: [unclear] that I got offered co-author on a book project this week. ERIC: One time I took notes of like how my books really went so I got actually real numbers from mine. The first book I wrote in 2010, so that’s actually about 3 years ago next month, I’ve made about 7 grand off that, and it actually still sells every now then. Second book or I guess the third book what have you [unclear], I wrote it 2011, so that’s 2 years almost. That is…actually, I think it’s a little bit more than that, it’s right around 11,000. This is gross, I net like minus ¢.50 or $2 off of each copies, so this is close to profit level. My latest book, I don’t have the numbers for it, but I launched it Wednesday, so it’s been on the market not even a week, I think it’s like 25,000 or 27,000, so not the greatest that kind of each book, I’ve kind of screwed up on the marketing at one area or another, but I’ve heard, actually, I’ve noticed on other people’s book launches that I’ve seen, 20,000, 50,000 self-published book launches or not [unclear]. CHUCK: Awesome. Sounds good. You kind of gave me an idea. ERIC: You don’t really write a book for the money, you’re going to hear that. You write a book for the prestige especially if it’s a traditional publisher, or in my case, just start building kind of an audience that you can work with on other products. CHUCK: Yep. REUVEN: I’ll say that like my Probook years ago, and even my Linux Journal column, yes there’s some money there and it doesn’t lead directly to clients, but it definitely helps when I go into a client and they say, “Oh, wow! You wrote this,” it immediately establishes yourself as a figure of authority on that topic. ERIC: Yes. CHUCK: Alright, well, should we get to the picks? ERIC: Yes. REUVEN: Yes. ASHE: Yes. [Laughter] CURTIS: Yes! [Laughter] CHUCK: Alright, Curtis, what are your picks? CURTIS: My picks are actually a set of free “ebooks on writing a business by Cory Miller”. You can get them for free by signing up for his mailing list, and they are awesome. I read the 3 main ones in like one night, and they’re excellent! He’s got 4 or 5 other ones and then a huge, like 100+ list of books you should be reading as a business owner, and I have read a bunch of them, they’re awesome. My second one was my “Mophie Juicepak Air”, which saved my butt a couple of times this weekend. As I was running out of a phone battery at a conference at like 3 o’clock in the afternoon, that charged me right back up and kept me going until the end of the day. CHUCK: Awesome. Eric, what are your picks? ERIC: My pick is for someone who’s running the car alarm off on my street. [Laughter] ERIC: I’ve got 3 of them. I’ve mentioned this one before, but I will mention because we talked about it, it’s the tool chain I use, “Kitabu”. It basically converts Markdown, or I guess Textile also, converts Markdown or Textile into PDF, HTML, all that stuff, ePub, to kind of use it to write ebooks. It’s very easy; it’s probably the best tool chain I’ve used in a while. Next pick is “The Noun Project”. It’s basically a bunch of kind of very simple, all black-all white icons, I can’t remember what their purpose was, but I’ve been on here and found anicon for my book, slapped it on there, reverses that’s white on black or whatever, and it costs only $2. They’re very nicely designed icons. Some you can use for free, some are creative commons, some you can pay to get a license like what I did. And then third pick, I’m not doing this but I thought it was pretty interesting, it’s the thing called “Bullet Journal”. It’s like a little system if you’re actually taking notes on paper; it’s a way to kind of, it’s like a markup language for your notes that tells, “It’s the To-do item, this an Event, this is a Sub-task, this is a Task,” all that stuff. It’s pretty interesting. Like I said, I haven’t used it, but this is kind of like how I take notes every now and then so someone might find it interesting. That’s it! CHUCK: Awesome. Reuven, what are your picks? REUVEN: I’ve got 3 picks. One is “1Password”, which I know works on the Mac, and I believe it works on iPhone and Android as well, but I haven’t tried it on my Android phone. Basically, it allows you to have one password that encrypts all the other passwords, and then you can actually have good strong passwords for all the websites that you use without having to reuse them. I think I have the software for about a year now, and little by little, I’ve been better and better at using those passwords and generating them automatically and having things that there’s no way I can’t remember. So I’m definitely feeling more and more secure. Second thing is, as threatened earlier, I’ll put a link to the “Modeling Commons”, which is my dissertation software. As I’ve told people, if I run a computer science department, then I’d do the software that’d more or less be done. But no, no, no, I’m in the education department so the software is what I’ve worked on for a few years. Now, I can write dissertation describing how people use it. For those of you who are interested in agent-based modeling or simulations in general, it’s basically a collaborative site for people to upload and share and fork and discuss, also to be agent-based models. That was pretty amazingly cool anyway. And just the third thing is, I’ve started over the last 6 months to a year, every time I read  a book that I really like, I email the author and I say how much I like the book. Just the last month, I’ve done that twice. The authors write back and they’re just so pleased to know that someone’s reading their book and enjoying it, so I just want to recommend, especially after we’ve had this nice conversation about ebooks, if you read a book, if you buy a book and read the book, “email the author”, it totally makes their day even if they’re super famous, or at least, that’s what they’ve told me. ASHE: [Laughs] CHUCK: Awesome. REUVEN: Anyway, those are my picks. CHUCK: Ashe, what are your picks? ASHE: Sure. Somebody relatively recently pointed out to me that if you’re familiar with Ruby Warrior, which was kind of like a text-based adventure programming game to learn Ruby, somebody just made a [unclear] version of it, and it’s absolutely amazing. There’s a web app for it, and it’s got [unclear] animations, and it’s really great. That’s number 1. Number 2 is “The Internet Wish List”, which is basically a compilation of a bunch of ‘wouldn’t it be nice if’ tweets of people who were hoping that a service like something exists or a product exists to basically give you ideas for open source projects or like little products to make that people actually interested in buying. It was kind of like an inspiration mill for things to build. And then the third one is, I do a lot of travelling, and one of the things that I’m always looking for, a really good set of very small headphones. A friend of mine, Zee Spencer, mentioned that he got his headphones that are in-ear headphones, but they’re held in place in your ear by 2 different points so it’s not just basically like that describing a biology of the ear as we are like that, the flat that goes over your ear hole, it’s not just that; it also got a little bump that goes up into the folds of your ear to hold it into your ear; it’s really comfortable especially for somebody like me who has really small ears and has a hard time finding headphones. Those are by Urbanears and they’re called “Medis”, and they’re really nice. CHUCK: Awesome. I don’t have any awesome picks. I’ve been playing a game on my iPhone lately and it’s called, “4 Pics 1 Song”. If you played 4 Pics 1 Word, it’s kind of like that except it’s song titles. It shows you 4 pictures and then the 4 pictures give you an idea what the song title is. Sometimes, one of the pictures is actually a picture that indicates the name of the band. But anyway, lots and lots of fun. Another thing that I’m going to pick is a company out here called “Pluralsight”, that’s pluralsight.com. I’m actually in talks with them right now to provide them with their Ruby on Rails course. Anyway, if you’re interesting in learning that or a whole bunch of other different technologies, by all means, go check them out. And yes, they are the company that just bought PeepCode, and the person that I have been negotiating with is  Geoffrey Grosenbach from PeepCode. Here’s another pick, PeepCode just launched the “Play by Play” with Katrina Owen. I really, really want to see it. I’m picking it because I’m sure it’s awesome and because I’m probably going to buy it. Anyway, those are my picks. I guess we’ll wrap up the show. Good luck on your book launches, guys! We’ll catch you all next week!

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