Make Your Idea Matter: how Bernadette Jiwa turned her award-winning blog into a bestselling book
Bernadette is a rare talent in a special niche: she is a brand name consultant and founder of The Story of Telling. Born in Dublin, she is based in Perth, Australia which she calls “one of the world’s most isolated cities (and best-kept secrets).” She was voted Australia’s Best Business Blogger in 2012.
She has been blogging at TheStoryofTelling.com for almost two years. Her loyal readers (she declined to say how many) helped her new book and eBook to debut at #4 on Amazon’s Small Business and Entrepreneurship bestseller list.
She graciously agreed to answer a few questions via email about the successful launch of her book.
Q & A on Make Your Idea Matter
DW: What was the impetus for turning a collection of your blog posts into a book? It’s a slim volume, about 124 pages.
BJ: People (my readers) kept asking me to do it.
DW: What made you decide to publish a book now, in 2012?
BJ: Winning Australia’s Best Business blog in April was what decided me to make the leap.
DW: What made you decide to self-publish? Did you consider going the traditional route?
BJ: I wanted to get the ideas out there into the world where they could create an impact and didn’t want to spend creative time trying to convince a traditional publisher to believe in them first.
DW: I see you’re using the super talented Reese Spykerman for the design of your site AND the cover of your book. (Reese also designs Chris Guillebeau‘s site.) Any thoughts on cover design that works especially well for an eBook?
BJ: Without Reese the book wouldn’t be what it is. Design is a huge part of the story and one of the reasons people will make the decision to buy your book. Sometimes it’s all they have. Be prepared to invest in that.
The Female Seth Godin
Bernadette Jiwa has been called the female Seth Godin. Like Seth, she blogs in a sparse, zen-like style, best described as epigrammatic. Unlike Seth, she always includes a dramatic visual. Her book is a compilation of about 75 blog posts (in no particular order). A sampling of titles: A Love Note to Entrepreneurs, Why You Need a Mission More than a Website, Framing Your Scarcity and Even the Big Guys Are Guessing. – DW
DW: What about the printed edition of your book – which looks terrific, BTW. I ordered a copy. Are you using print-on-demand ? Your print price, $7.50, is very reasonable. Is it break-even or are you making money?
BJ: I published using Amazon’s CreateSpace. There is a small royalty built into that price, but making money on this book was never the end game.
DW: As you are based in Australia, did you have any problems setting up an account with U.S. Amazon Kindle or CreateSpace? I know there can be tax implications.
BJ: No, CreateSpace walks you through the platform, the implications and your obligations.
DW: Any helpful hints on the printed edition of a book when you’re self-publishing?
BJ: Get to know the platform you are working with. Read everything you can in the forums there. Get professional help with design, editing, proofing and formatting. Don’t try and do everything yourself.
DW: Speaking of money, what is the goal of your book? I assume it’s not to make money, per se.
BJ: Publishing this book was never about making money. It was always about reaching more people and helping them to tell their story and make their ideas fly.
How to turn your blog posts into a book
This is one of the topics I cover in Beta Author Boost, my unique online program to write a short, revenue-generating eBook in 8 weeks. The next session is Nov. 15, 2012 – Jan. 24, 2013. Two additional weeks are built in to accommodate the holidays. Learn more and register. Enrollment is limited.
DW: I love the title: Make Your Idea Matter: Stand Out With a Better Story. Was it immediately obvious or did you consider a number of other titles?
BJ: The title has been the tagline for my blog and business for 18 months so it was a no brainer. I get a lot of practice with naming, it’s one of the services I offer and have worked with other authors to name their books. The strapline….the promise the book makes is also important.
DW: What was the hardest part of birthing Make Your Idea Matter? What will you do differently for your next book??
BJ: Understanding the time-frame from writing to publication. There is a bit of work to do after you dot the last ‘i’ and cross the last ‘t’…. it’s worth it though.
Next time I would hire a professional book proofer (as distinct from editor) to do the final checks on the paperback edition. It’s so easy to miss things when you are that close to the project.
DW: How did you orchestrate your eBook’s debut at #4 on Amazon’s Small Business and Entrepreneurship bestseller list? Did you email all your blog readers to let them know about publication? Other tactics??
BJ: My blog and newsletter subscribers knew the book was coming, and yes I let them know when it was published.
I didn’t do the big long launch thing.
DW: Anything else you want to add?
BJ: Understand and acknowledge the reason you are publishing in the first place.
Try not to focus on sales numbers.
Think about the impact your work creates for just one person who might need it. Easier said than done!
DW: Bernadette, thanks hugely for your time.