OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
Fantastic interview with David Malki ! about how Machine of Death became #1 on Amazon.com. (Indie stands for independent, and is self-publishing).
David Malki ! is a writer, filmmaker, and comic creator at Wondermark.com. He is co-author and co-editor of ‘Machine of Death‘ which topped the Amazon charts as an indie published book. Video excerpt below the text.
In this interview you will learn:
- About ‘Machine of Death' the book and how the collaboration worked. The premise of the book is: what if there was a machine that told you how you would die. Ryan North first had this idea in his comic strip. The machine would print out a slip of paper with cryptic words on it. People started speculating on the idea so David, Ryan & Matt opened it up to submissions. The book contains stories and illustrations from people in all different spheres of writing and illustration.
- How the book was rejected by many different publishers over 3 years and eventually the guys decided to self-publish based on the existing size of their combined online platforms.
- The launch of the book was concentrated on one day, Oct 26 and everyone was told to buy the book on that one day. At around 10am that day, MoD became overall #1 on Amazon, beating out Glenn Beck, John Grisham and Keith Richards. After that, everyone who hadn't been interested in the book suddenly became interested. BUT, the guys decided to continue self-publishing and going straight to a distributor. Partly because of the time-lag and also wanting to control the rights over the future plans for the product. [The book is now in bookstores in the US]
- How the Amazon bestseller launch worked. Firstly, the guys had a big online platform they have built up over 8+ years with online comics and business. Some of the contributors and also illustrators had followings. The idea had been talked about since 2005 so there was some anticipation behind it. The launch was also a game – lets make it to a specific goal of #1 on Amazon. People joined in the launch, on the Facebook page and on twitter. The evangelism spread the word even further. They had a Facebook event page specifically set up for the day. Categories are also important e.g. Fiction – All Media.
- What authors can learn from online web comics as online entrepreneurs. There are very few sustainable business models for cartoonists and illustrators. Low volume, high margin sales which means a lot of self-publishing. Think multiple streams of income including prints, t-shirts and products as well as small print runs of books. Comics build a habit of readers coming regularly. Key idea = Make something once and sell it in multiple different ways.
- On releasing the book for free as PDF and licensed Creative Commons. Why you should consider this! You have to make somewhere aware of the work before they can become a fan of the work. Comics are given away for free but it builds a following. People then take the job of promotion onwards, re-tweeting and sharing. You have to get to a big number of people ready to pay which you can reach by lowering the barriers to it being found.
You can buy ‘Machine of Death' online and also in print at US bookstores.It's a fantastic book!
You can also download the free version here.
There's also a free audio podcast on iTunes.