read your veggies

After many late nights of eating ramen noodles, rolling my eyes at a publisher’s style guides, and general frustration with the book retail system while publishing Brand Zeitgeist, I swore I would never write another book.

I have written another book. And to borrow the line from Monty Python, it’s something completely different. It’s not about marketing. It’s not about business. It’s not about media.

It’s about vegetable gardening.

Back up. How did we get here?

I’ve been aware for a few years of the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program at Amazon. Even though it’s platform exclusive, it’s an egalitarian idea that puts content creators closer to book consumers in the same disruptive fashion we’ve seen in things like music and media publishing. It eliminates many of the frustrations and problems with traditional, self, or POD publishing.

I had a few ideas of short e-books for marketing topics I wanted to publish in the Amazon program. Before putting a massive amount of work into those projects, I wanted a guinea pig project to learn more about the program firsthand and just for fun.

I also needed to step away from writing about marketing for a bit. As I’ve said before, I’ve exhausted my commentary on traditional marketing and there‘s too much being said about digital.

I had written a column for a local alt-monthly newspaper for a few months about vegetable gardening. I used those columns as a nucleus and wrote an e-book around them.

Kentucky Dirt - A practical guide to vegetable gardeningThat short e-book (about 6500 words) is now available on Amazon as “Kentucky Dirt: A practical guide to vegetable gardening”. The book takes you through a year in the garden with tips and common sense advice on how to grow a garden and why the effort is worth it.

It’s written in a very laid-back first-person style. It’s like Lewis Grizzard, P. Allen Smith, and Justin Wilson got together and wrote something. Kentucky Dirt offers an eclectic mix of folksy humor, recipes, and stories.

It is available exclusively through the Amazon Kindle platform. The download is priced at 99 cents. The book has also been accepted into the Amazon KDP Select program which means, among other things, that Amazon Prime members can borrow the book for free from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

So won’t you buy a copy? It’s only 99 cents!

blitz aftermath

You should never eat food cooked by a skinny chef. You also should never buy a marketing book from someone who can’t get the message out about that book.

I am really happy with the success of Tuesday’s Amazon Blitz for Brand Zeitgeist. The book rocketed up the Amazon Sales Rank. It started in the sub-basement at #446,248 and went all the way up to the high water mark of #3,148 in just a few hours. I am most pleased that we stayed in the top 100 of books in the Marketing category for most of the day. The high point was when Brand Zeitgeist was the #33 most popular marketing book on Amazon.

Of course, the whole endeavor was just a gaming of the Amazon rank system. Today, the book has fallen back down (just checked — it’s at #9,732 this hour). But the blitz accomplished several of my goals: it’s still allowing the book to occupy a higher spot than it did (9,732 is better than 446,248) But more importantly, it put the book in the hands of a lot of people on Tuesday.

Obviously, the sales are nice from that. But I’m hoping for a secondary effect as those people read it, blog it, review it, tweet it, and spread it in all manner of ways to their IRL and online networks. It’s confirmation of a point I made in the book. You have to grab the attention of the Innovators and Early Adopters in any new product launch for the brand to become fixed in the zeitgeist.

The nice way to describe my budget for the blitz is “bootstrapped”. The more accurate word is “cheap”. Basically I leveraged and co-ordinated my existing networks. I called in favors. I did a few targeted media buys (the 800-lb gorilla of those being a HARO ad). I used the Brand Zeitgeist Facebook page as a central communication hub that fed out to other SM as current fans of the book helped spread the word about the blitz through their networks. And I prayed.

As with anything, there were mistakes. I wish I had co-ordinated my blog tour a bit better. I wish my publisher had listed the book in more categories (I would have shown up higher in some additional categories). And I wish I had done a smaller pre-blitz to give the main blitz a better jumping-off point than from #446,248. But — hindsight is 20/20.

The Amazon rank is just a number. The point is not to sell books. The point is to spread the ideas. The Amazon blitz was a good jumping off point for the rest of the book’s promotion. I now head into media interviews (some additional ones generated by yesterday’s blitz) and physical location book tours for the next few months (counting down to the book tour kickoff with home field advantage on May 2nd in Bowling Green).

The big thing I take from the blitz is not the rank or the sales figures — it’s the people. There were people spreading the word for me that I had never met. I had lots of personal friends, who maybe were not that interested in marketing, buying a book just to help me out. I got lots of encouragement from several people.

If you bought a book, spread the links to your friends, or just wished me well — I truly appreciate it.

And if you didn’t get to take part yesterday, it’s never too late. http://www.amazon.com/Brand-Zeitgeist-Relationships-Collective-Consciousness/dp/1450206794  😉

amazon blitz

In the spirit of Joseph Jaffe’s Amazon bumrush, I’m holding the Brand Zeitgeist Amazon Blitz on Tuesday.

Basically, the Amazon blitz is a focusing of all online efforts to game the Amazon sales ranks. If a book goes up on the charts, there’s a good possibility that it will stick. If you’ve ever seen any of my presentations where I talk about media planning, it’s a bellyflop instead of toes in the water.

If you’re going to purchase a copy of Brand Zeitgeist online, I would appreciate it if you did it sometime on Tuesday 3/23. Here’s the link:
http://www.amazon.com/Brand-Zeitgeist-Relationships-Collective-Consciousness/dp/1450206794

I don’t plan to knock Michael Lewis’ The Big Short out of the top #1 spot, but I would love to see Brand Zeitgeist a little higher on the marketing charts.

Invite your friends via Facebook here or you can download the event to your Outlook or other calendar.

Or you could just forward this link: http://www.amazon.com/Brand-Zeitgeist-Relationships-Collective-Consciousness/dp/1450206794

As always, thank you for your support. I appreciate all the support I’ve gotten thus far from blog readers, friends, and complete strangers who have gotten excited about the book.

Look for my IRL book tour dates coming soon.

kindle-ing

I should have written this post last week, but turkey trimmings demanded my full attention.

If you haven’t heard, Amazon released an e-book reader called Kindle last week.

It takes market leaders like Amazon, Google, Apple, etc to move people to new platforms and new methods. It takes alot of energy and money to get people to pay attention to you AND for you to convince them to change their habits. You’ve won half the battle if you already have the attention like these major market leaders do.

I see the release of Kindle as a less hyped version of the release of the iPhone.

The mobile web (currently best exemplified through the iPhone) will be where major growth occurs in the next few years. It will be the next bubble. And while Kindle is not technically connected to the web (it’s Sprint cell service) — mobile devices that can access content (music, media, etc) like Kindle will be the item that drives this mobile web phenomenon. The trouble is getting people used to the new methods of delivery.

For years, we’ve done a decent job of expanding and promoting content through the boxes that people are already used to. It’s not incredibly hard to get people to watch another show on the TV if they’re already TV users. Or to listen to another song on the radio…or visit another website on the net. They’re already there. You don’t have to move them that far. They’re in the house. You just have to get them to change rooms.

On the other hand, it’s incredibly hard to get people to change the box that they’re accessing content through. There are numerous barriers to overcome. It’s like getting people to put their coats on, go outside, and go into another house — just to go into another room. (which right now is alot like the one they just left!)

One of the tenets of my speaking engagements is that the future is now arriving alot faster than it used to. While the next new thing is steadly inching up the Adoption Curve, the next-next new thing is on its heels. And sometimes it passes it.

In the near future, we’re going to see major market failures with sharp dead-on technology that SHOULD be embraced. All because we’re putting the new stuff out before people have had a chance to look at the “previous” new stuff.

Kindle, with all its imperfections, is a big step. We’ll see what the next move is.

And since I’m late — here are some of the sharper thoughts from around the net about the Kindle:
Where’s My Jetpack reminds us of another overhyped item that would change our lives and is now a novelty way of doing overpriced city tours.
Seth reminds us that he’s always thinking outside of the box (and I think he may have missed the train because of it.)
–And Slate has some good thoughts.