Today I question the spread of social media to every last place on earth.
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Hey everybody… big announcement on the podcast today.
To be honest, I’m not *quite* ready to make it. There are still details to iron out, marketing aspects I want to finalize, and just so many other things i want to do before I’m ready.
But today on the podcast, I wing it. Why? Three reasons:
1) Right before heading home to record the podcast, I met up with Wired’s NY Bureau Chief, John Abell. When I mentioned it to him, he said “Just write it… my new goal for my personal blog is 15 MINUTES. Sure, I may go back and make some edits later, but I don’t agonize over it anymore… I put down the best thoughts I can in 15 minutes and roll with it.”
2) My friend John Murch, who replied to a long, hand-wringing dilemma e-mail over a fairly big decision I sent him last last week with just four letters: JFDI. You can substitute the F for what you want, but loosely translated, it’s Just Freaking Do It.
3) It’s the entrepreneur’s way. I’m Type A. I’m an extreme perfectionist. I want to wait and wait until everything is just right before moving forward. In fact, that’s why it took nearly 3 months to get this podcast off the ground… I wanted the name perfect, I wanted the sound perfect, I wanted the icon perfect. But that’s never the case. So better to get it out there at 80 or 90%, vs not getting it out there at all.
So as you might have guessed from the title, the announcement is:
I got a book deal.
When I started this blog and podcast nearly three years ago, I ran it by one of the Executive VPs here at the office, Dan Shar, to make sure it was appealing to the Wired audience, I didn’t offend anyone, there weren’t any sales or advertiser conflicts, etc. After 3-4 weeks, he said, everything is fine, just use your best judgment and push it live without me.
After a few months of listening, one day he looked at me and said, “This stuff is really pretty good. Keep doing it. I don’t know where it’s going to lead, what Wired is going to do with it, if it will ever get sponsored, or if there’s any way for you to make money on it, but just keeping doing it.”
And so I did… nearly three years of spending several hours per week of my own time, coming up with great, free content and giving it away. It wasn’t always perfect, but it was consistent.
Then I read the Four Hour Work Week, and started thinking of entrepreneurial ways to make some money outside of my full time job. So I looked to my passions.
Tech and social media? Already had that covered and because the blog/podcast was sponsored by Wired as part of my full-time job, I could not monetize it.
Cars and Sports? I’d already done the ESPN thing, and couldn’t quite find the right angle for cars.
So I ended up drilling down into Career Development. I’d already done 13 posts on The Hopkinson Report about this subject, and it turned out to be a good fit. Because the topics of interviewing and resumes were saturated (90 million Google hits and 10,000 books), I focused on the niche subject of Salary Negotiation (500,000 hits and 139 books).
Did I have the writing chops to pull it off?
In the podcast I talk about my writing careeer… from high school and college classes, to my 3 1/2 year run writing the Greek News for my college newspaper, to the articles I wrote for ESPN.com. And being a marketer, I write every day… presentations, banner ads, email and newsletters, Facebook and Twitter posts. etc.
And hey, my grandfather wrote a freaking LATIN BOOK. Top that.
But what really gave me the confidence is this blog. Much like playing an instrument or practicing a sport, if you do something for nearly 140 weeks in a row, you’re going to get better and better at it.
Writing this blog week in and week out really honed my writing chops.
And when I had to go in to record the audio version of the book? Please. Even though it took six hours, I was so comfortable in front of the microphone that it was a breeze.
So how did it all go down? I explain it more thoroughly in the podcast, but
It went something like this:
– The plan all along was to self-publish… after all, that was the digital way.
– I paid my book designer Erin Fitzsimmons to create a great cover and amazing layout
– I was going to sell the product as a PDF download via Lulu.com, and keep all the profits
But then guests from The Hopkinson Report came back into my life
– I was having dinner with Rana Sobhany, from episode 38 and 138, and she said, “Jim, why don’t you just TRY and see if you can get a traditional publisher.” After all, she was able to convince Wired.com writer Brian X. Chen to get a book deal done.
– Then by chance, I ended up in Montreal for Jazz Fest over the 4th of July weekend, and had lunch with former podcast guest Mitch Joel
– He said, why don’t you talk to my agent, Jim Levine — in fact, remember when you came to my book launch in New York and we went to dinner afterward — he was there. Ironically, Jim is also the agent for another Wired writer, Frank Rose.
What happened next was surreal.
My agent had the book and wanted me to come in and talk about it. I thought he would say
– It’s good, but it’s just an eBook right now
– It’s not bad, but it’s too short
– It’s ok, but you’d need to do a lot of work on it.
– Or, it’s really not that good… I just took this meeting as a favor to Mitch
But that’s not what happened at all. He said he read the whole thing, had others in the office read it, and in short,
“We loved it.”
“We loved it, and we already have a few publishers in mind that we want to bring it to, if you’re ok with that.”
From that point on, it’s been a whirlwind.
– We spoke with several publisher, both traditional and new media.
– We bargained from a position of strength, since the worst that could happen is I took my already-completed book and self-published.
– We were turned down by a few publishers (giving me some incentive in a “Tom Brady was drafted 199th” kind of way).
And in the end, Rick Wolff, of Hachette Book Group’s Grand Central Publishing, Business Plus division, gave us the thumbs up. Salary Tutor was going to be the first original eBook.
I have to think there were several factors in the deal, but one of them definitely was because of the dedication to this blog and podcast. So again, thank you.
Then it was on to manuscript edits, bonus chapters, the audio book, photo rights, cover art, Facebook pages, mailing lists, and marketing ideas.
At this point, I want to give a disclaimer and make some assurances.
– First, this is a personal project outside of my full-time job at Conde Nast. While they encourage their employees to pursue outside activities, and several of Wired’s writers have written books, they do not have a specific investment or endorsement of this.
– This blog/podcast will not become an outlet for me to continually plug my book. It is not turning into a “How to negotiate your salary” blog.
But I will say, is that I will talk about the process, as long as I do so in a way that continues to add value for new media marketing trends. Unlike some blogs, I’m not a guy just TALKING about producing an eBook for the Kindle, or formatting content for tablets, or marketing a digital product, or creating an iPad app, I’ll be DOING it.
To that end, I hope to bring in book designers to talk about that process, web designers to speak on those considerations, iPad developers to give you their secrets, and bring you marketing tips from trenches.
So for now, after 140 weeks of free content, I’d like to ask a few quick favors — any and all are totally optional.
1) Like Facebook.com/salarytutor
I just recently created a Facebook page for the book. It will evolve. Right now I have some insider photos, book cover shots, and other friends
2) Check out SalaryTutor.com
– To receive an email when the book launches, when the NY launch party is, and maybe a very small handful of other notifications (no spam, I promise), sign up on the frontpage.
– To become a Salary Tutor All-Star, go to this secret signup page. What’s an All-Star? This is if you want to be in my inner circle and help out. There are so many decisionsâ€¦ which book cover, which tagline, where I should host my party, screenshots of the iPad app, testing on the kindle, etc. If you want to help in the process, see more background information, and go behind the scenes a bit more, sign up here.
3) Follow Salary Tutor on Twitter
Again, this is fairly new, but I will be tweeting more job search and salary negotiation tips as I move toward my April 1 book launch.
Again, THANK YOU readers and listeners. More to come.