We live in a world of quiet revolutions. Only a few years ago the idea of a flat-screen TV was considered to be in the realm of Star Trek. Today you cannot buy a traditional cathode ray TV. That's just one example.
This report is about an equally quiet revolution that has massive repercussions for the publishing industry, and reveals how ordinary people – some not even writers in the traditional sense of the word – can propel themselves into a new world of prosperity. And I will show you how one person used this to create six figure incomes from publishing, (believe it or not), a nine page document.
A survey published by Readers Digest some five years ago revealed that 72% of people felt they ‘had a book inside them', and the massive success of J. K. Rowling (real name, Joanne Murray) has prompted many to try their hand at writing for profit.
In many ways this is mirrored by the music industry. Every day thousands, if not millions of young hopefuls write and perform songs they hope will one day be a big hit, and thanks to a quiet but spectacular revolution in the music industry, more of these new songs are successful than ever before in history.
To see how the Internet Publishing Revolution will affect you, let me show you how its equivalent has already affected the music industry.
For over a hundred years, the Producers dominated the music industry. These companies were household names – EMI, Columbia Records, HMV, Decca, Virgin, CBS, BMG to name but a few, and the only chance of success any aspiring songwriter had lay in getting noticed by a record producer who would accept and promote their work.
And for most of that hundred years, music production was mechanical – vinyl records followed by cassettes and CDs. Then the force of an Internet revolution hit the music industry full in the face.
First, the MP3 file was invented by the German company Fraunhofer-Gesellshaft. In 1997, Tomislav Uzelac of AMP was the first to integrate player-software into Windows and in 1999 a company calledSubPopbecame the first to distribute music tracks in MP3 format. (Info courtesy of About.com – inventors.)
Music had suddenly gone digital.
The real breakthrough came in October 2001 when Apple released the iPod, a refined DAP (Digital Audio Player). DAPs were invented by the British inventor Kane Kramer. Other DAPs had preceded the iPod but Apple has long been associated with design excellence, not to mention that indefinable quality known as ‘cool'. The iPod took off.
What did these developments do to the traditional music industry, particularly music shops? It decimated it almost overnight. Sales of traditional CDs have collapsed worldwide and what's left are sold on internet sites. The traditional local music store has either gone completely or diversified into gaming and accessories. On 7th January 2011, the Guardian newspaper wrote:
“In many US cities it's difficult to find a record store. The last US HMV closed five years ago, Tower Records stopped trading soon after, and the last Virgin Megastore finally closed its doors 18 months ago. You may find a CD section in consumer electronic stores such as Best Buy or at Walmart, but the selection doesn't stray far beyond the top 40.”
And yet, this massive sea change, whilst hammering producers and retailers, released an avalanche of new talent who could now record and produce their own music in their own bedrooms using little more than a good microphone and a laptop. The massive power of social networking on the Internet using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube can now propel new talent (or the lack of it!) into the public eye without the need to go near a producer. At the height of the industry's crisis, well-known rock bands and individuals simply forced labels to renegotiate their contracts.
“Musicians can self-publish if they like, selling their own tunes off their own websites. This has meant that top performers make unbelievable sums – far more than their counterparts in 1969. The Carpenters used to have to beg for money for a new car, while their albums sold millions. Now, because they can guarantee the big audiences, all that money the label used to take, the musicians get. So tens of millions flow their way. If you have any doubt, look at the private jets and helicopters owned and flown by the lead drummer for Pink Floyd. Or about any rapper on late night MTV. It would make a corporate CEO envious.” (Adam Hartung – thephoenixprinciple.com)
This is what the Internet music revolution did: It moved most of the income away from a small number of record producers directly into the hands of musicians.
Now let's look at publishing, because what happened to the music industry is being repeated there. Let's start with the technology first – the written equivalent of the MP3 file and DAP player.
In 1473 Thomas Caxton printed the first book produced in the English language using the revolutionary new printing press. With regard to the production of books, newspapers and magazines, very little has changed. It's a hugely un-green industry. Lip service is paid to using sustainable forestry but even if that were entirely true, the process is extremely invasive, akin to ripping the heart out of mother earth and waiting for it to re-grow. Many of the chemicals and bleaches used are less than pleasant and until recently, the carbon powder used for the production of inks was regarded as a toxic carcinogen. Something has got to change.
Ironically, readers of books are often people with conscience and have an intellectual leaning to being kind to the environment. I say ironically because a few of them are less than impressed with the idea of getting rid of traditional books in favour of the publishing version of the iPod – the eBook Reader.
When the iPod first came out, its slogan was, ‘1000 tunes in your pocket.' I cannot imagine how many CDs it would take to replace the songs on the average iPod but I am prepared to wager that the total cost to the environment of creating those physical CDs is vastly more than one iPod.
The eBook reader (eReader) is the book lover's equivalent of the music lover's iPod. ‘1000 books in your pocket.' The equivalent of the MP3 file is undoubtedly Adobe's PDF (Portable Document File). Every computer has Adobe's PDF Reader installed because nearly every computer program now has its manual reproduced in this format. Why? Because it's a heck of a lot cheaper to stick a 200-page manual onto a CD than it is to rip down and process half a forest.
To be fair to those who still prefer paper books, there are a number of things about eReaders that are not as good as printed material.
First, the technology behind eReaders is still being developed. E-Ink screens still lack contrast and, like the first Ford automobile, you can have any colour you like as long as it's black. Colour screens are still in development unless you pick on an iPad which doubles as an eBook reader although it is still a computer at heart. And yet, the day of an eBook reader that is just as good as the printed version is not far off. It may yet be that the iPad becomes the new eReader of popular choice or that Amazon's Kindle will take the flag. We shall see.
Another annoyance is DRM or Digital Rights Management. Quite understandably, this is to prevent people file sharing and breaching copyright. It is still a major problem with music downloads and DVDs. The problem is that it seems every eReader producer has their own system, involving downloading software to your computer and endless messing about with their limited book titles and not being able to download someone else's. Forests will fall until someone makes it simple to just buy an eBook online.
Nevertheless, the writing is on the wall for paper publishing. Newspapers like The Times are going on-line and require subscriptions to see today's news. More and more books have digital versions. And to be perfectly frank, if it wasn't for the sheer size of the whole printing industry, any half-green government would put an immediate quota, and tax, on anything so destructive to the environment. If fact the opposite holds true for eBooks, which are seriously green and yet are all taxed at the full rate of Vat.
Although the eReader equivalent of the iPod is still in the making, the day of the digital book is firmly here and will only increase while traditional bookshops are closing down at a rate of two a week.
The power of information publishing
While this sounds ominous from the point of view of conventional booksellers and publishers, nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to authors, or what I prefer to call, ‘creators of written digital products.' Like the musicians in the iPod revolution, the power (and the money) has moved away from the big publication houses into the ranks of the writers. And in the same way that one, fairly short pop single can change the fortunes of a new musician almost overnight, so can a small written equivalent change the fortune of even the most elementary of writers, if they know what to do.
In the days of Beethoven and Wagner, composers didn't write two-minute hit singles; they wrote symphonies – the musical equivalent of a large novel. Today, very few musicians compose long works. They compose singles. Singles are quick to create and are popular. They may go on to produce an album but this will invariably be a compilation of singles. Gone are the great symphony composers of old. Modern music is short, often short-lived but also very profitable.
This distinction is not so clear in publishing. Today, if I say I am a writer, the assumption is that I write novels. Not so. I am an information publisher, and that is about as far from novel writing as Wagner's Die Walküre is from Turn My Swag On by Alexa Goddard.
It must also be said that the commercial mindset of the modern musician is far more advanced than that of the modern writer. Most writers would rival Thomas Caxton for still being in the dark ages.
The modern song writer is very commercially minded, very savvy about the fact that music makes money, and takes pains to write music that is in demand. By contrast the average aspiring writer hasn't a clue about what is selling. They write the book they want to write and then spend years trying to find someone to publish it. Sometimes they strike lucky. Most times not. A writer with a bit of commercial nous would at least look at the New York Times Best Seller list and create something in the same genre. But that would still be wrong unless you want to lock yourself away for three years. Terrestrial book writing is still about writing modern symphonies, not pop songs. To make money publishing on the Internet we need to look at the written equivalent of pop.
The modern and soon to be successful song writer no longer sends a private recording of his new hit single to a music producer in the hope of catching his ear. There is a new process and it is this:
First, he or she will have the commercial sense to look at the kind of music that is most popular and put together all the synthesisers and gizmos necessary to create a sound that is modern. The days of three guys with acoustic guitars and a drum set trying to copy The Shadows are long gone.
Next, they will create their song. It will be short, sweet and as highly polished as they can make it.
Next, they will have their own website. It will look smart and also contain lots of free ‘songlets' with a video of them singing their latest creation. Their video, also home made, can still look professional using modern, inexpensive video editing software.
Next, they will use the power of the Internet to promote their work. To do this they will do a combination of two things – viral marketing and joint ventures. No longer do they need to kowtow to music producers. In the old days getting publicity was hugely expensive. Today anyone can have their 15 minutes of fame simply by doing something dumb on YouTube. Viral marketing (one person telling two others who each tell two others and so on) does the rest. Today, modern songwriters have become self-publishers, which is arguably the only area where publishing is ahead of the music game.
Self-publishers are people who write and publish their own work. It's not new. Mark Twain self-published some of his own works. So did William Blake, Stephen King, Rudyard Kipling, Lord Byron, E.E. Cummings, Alexander Dumas, T.S. Eliot, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Hardy, Ernest Hemingway, D.H. Lawrence, Edgar Allen Poe, Alexander Pope, Beatrix Potter, Ezra Pound, Marcel Proust, George Bernard Shaw, Shelley, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Thoreau, Leo Tolstoi, Walt Whitman, and Virginia Woolf. So if you decide to self publish you'll be in good company. The question is what should you write?
The fact is that the Internet publishing revolution is about to become a new phenomenon for self-publishers. It actually has little to do with eReaders and the like. It's a far bigger game that most websites haven't quite grasped, traditional writers haven't grasped at all, and the average person thinks they cannot do because they don't think they're writers. But that's exactly the point. Writers do not succeed on the Internet. It's the average person who makes money because they're not loaded down with all the baggage that writers have about their art. It's not writers who make money on the Internet, it's product developers, in particular – ‘creators of written digital products' otherwise known as eBook/eReport writers.
Let me show you how to make money on the Internet, almost overnight, and then give you an example. Please read this carefully because it's pure gold.
Most people have no idea how big some websites are on the Internet. It's difficult to tell unless they tell you. In 2003 I spotted a website called eDiets.com and on its pages it mentioned it had nearly 14 million subscribers to its bi-weekly on-line newsletter. That meant that twice a week, this website sent an email to 14 million people.
Now suppose the proprietor of this mega-site phoned me up and said, “Hey, Phil baby. How's it hangin'”, or something like that and asked me to prepare a ‘special' report, not much longer than this one, about dieting – say – Top Ten Dieting Secrets. He suggested I put it together with a one-page website. But he wasn't going to pay me for this, at least not directly. What he would do is endorse and publicise my report to 14 million people in his next newsletter. I could charge what I liked for the report and he would take 60% of sales. Is this a good deal?
Let's work it out. Suppose I charged only ten dollars and he's going to recommend it to 14 million people who already listen to what he writes so I don't need to do any advertising. Let's assume only 1% (140,000) buy the book. That's total sales of 1,400,000 dollars of which I keep 40% which is just over half a million dollars.
Half a million dollars for a 12 page eBook? Does this sound like a good deal? I think so.
Of course, I did say that Hiram E. Cattlerustler Jnr. phoned me up to make this offer and that's not going to happen. But what we can do is prepare the project and put the deal to him, after all, it's worth 840,000 dollars to him alone and all he has to do is send out an email that he was going to send out anyway. It's a no-brainer and not bad for a day's work.
Okay, this is a top of the range example and the potential is actually higher than this. I would personally consider a 1% response to be very poor. My average is 20% but on smaller sites. It's still good money though. And the number of websites is unlimited.
The Internet publishing revolution is this new power to act as an information provider to millions of people at virtually no cost using existing websites as bookshops. It's easier than writing music and requires very little investment. There is no stock, no printing, no risk and a complete win-win situation for everyone concerned.
To give people a clue about potential I often cite this story. Several years ago I got a kidney stone. A quick search on Dr. Internet revealed a guy offering a home grown solution to certain types of kidney stones. Basically he was selling a simple report giving his plan with a full refund guarantee. I examined the site very carefully and made enquiries with several knowledgeable American friends who are ‘in the know'. Estimates of income vary, but my personal view, having had some success myself, is that Kidney Stone Man made himself at least one hundred grand.
When I downloaded his book it was only nine pages long. Did this matter? No. His solution was sound and I have no complaints.
My first book was launched in 2004 at a price of nearly $20. It's not a good example of a simple first attempt because it was a real book, and therefore quite detailed. Nevertheless, I used exactly the same marketing techniques used by new musicians and the result to date is at least 100,000 downloads despite that fact I have hardly done any promotion beyond the first week of launch. I still receive cheques every week.
A friend of mine in Manchester recently made himself over £30,000 in less than seven weeks doing this.
The new power of Internet publishing – the fact that millions of websites can now act as bookstores – is probably one of the powerful entrepreneurial movements since the World Wide Web was invented. The digital music revolution has lead the way, but the potential of digital books is staggering. I believe that never before in history has it become easier for the average person to achieve incomes on a par with major executives of large corporations. Never before has fame and riches been so simple to achieve.
That's if you want fame, of course. Unlike music where you have to perform, you can write eBooks quite anonymously. You can become the least known, most successful writer in town. And you don't even have to be writer!