Networking and Author Landing Pages with Matt Gartland (Self Publishing Podcast #144)

This week the guys sat down with Matt Garland, host of the Author MBA podcast and networking genius.
It’s a hard fact in life that we all must face: It’s not always just what you know; it’s who you know that get’s you places in life. That is absolutely true in the world of publishing (and indie publishing), much to the dismay of all of us introverted, strike-out-on-our-own, put-the-indie-back-into-indie-publishing writers.
But have now fear! Matt Garland came to all of our rescue this week to talk about how networking (with a lower-case “n” instead of the capital one) with other authors isn’t near as painful and social as it sounds.
Matt Garland also talked to us about the importance of having good landing pages for our books, something even fiction authors can steal from nonfiction authors, who have been using this tactic successfully for a while now.
Also be sure to check out Matt’s own podcast Author MBA here:
Here’s the video version:

Show Episode Transcript

Johnny: Self Publishing podcast episode number 144.This episode of the Self Publishing podcast is brought to you by 99 designs, the online marketplace that helps you get outstanding book cover designs at an affordable price. Start your custom design today at, and enjoy a free power pack upgrade valued at 99 bucks.
Welcome to the Self Publishing podcast where if you want something done right you’ve got to do it yourself and now here are your hosts three gaffs who spend most of their time up in the trees Johnny, Sean, and Dave.
Johnny: Hey everyone and welcome to the Self Publishing podcast, the podcast that follows three full time authors as we attempt to change the face of indie publishing. Join us and our trailblazing guests as we shove aside boundaries freely experiment, and occasionally screw up. I’m Johnny B. Truant and my co hosts as always are Sean Platt and David Wright. Free styling it today I decided to see like do I know that intro well enough yet since we revamped it you know only like six months ago and the answer was yes I do.
Sean: It’s very…
Dave: On Better Off Undead.
Johnny: Well because I’m leaning, I’m doing– I’m operating the controls because that’s how pro we are.
Dave: He’s on the edge man.
Johnny: Yeah so if I sit back…
Sean: That is so…
Johnny: Normally, I’m normally like this.
Sean: You’re living dangerously.
Johnny: Wow you’ve never seen. I do that every single week.
Sean: No I think you were just hovering there longer and…
Dave: Sean can’t see the computer screen over his nose.
Jonny: He doesn’t know what he’s doing; he doesn’t know at all what he’s doing. Today will be an interesting crossing of worlds for me today just for me. Maybe for you guys too, Matt Gartland is going be our guest today, and Sean knows him as master networker guy who does some stuff with author landing pages. It’s really awesome and original founding member of Sterling and Stone, but I know him as Matt, the guy I met at BlogWorld and clicked with and talked about completely different things about, so this’ll be fun.
Sean: Yeah I don’t know want to tell the Sterling and Stone story yet because well save that juice for when he’s on, but Matt’s just like he’s just one of those guys that is impossible not to like. He’s a really hard worker and he’s just a really good guy and he knows a lot of people, and he’s smart and we actually have we have Matt to thank for…
Dave: Matt and I have that in common– impossible not to like.
Sean: We have Matt to thank for…
Johnny: For matt it’s about whether or not people like him, you find it impossible to like, that’s about you and your outward projection.
Sean: We have matt to thank for Monica Lionelle. A couple of years ago he taught her to check out the podcast and so a couple of years later, she’s our writer and she’s awesome. So I just found that out a couple of weeks ago, but that’s pretty awesome. You just you never know, I mean that’s, and that’s exactly what I was saying about– he’s just a really good networker. He just knows a lot of people and you never know when those intersections are going to come, and I’m very grateful for Monica.
Johnny: I feel like I almost want to tell a story that’s very pertinent to networking, but I don’t think I’m allowed to tell it yet. I think that that’s the next week thing. We just dropped something very cool on our platinum readers like seconds ago and its super-secret. That’s the insider club like they can’t talk about it because it’s our secret for all of us, but that there’s networking involved in that too, kind of is who you know and who you make yourself known to, not like who you knew pre-existing but that’s everything that I’ve done is Johnny 1.0, is who I am today, the fact that this podcast exists is all about personal connections, so that…
Sean: Yeah its funny when Johnny and I first started it was after we had– we were already rolling with the SPP completely and but we hadn’t written anything together, so Unicorn Western may have just been a joke from Dave at this point. We’re still just talking about like things that we may do in the future, and Johnny referred to me as a great networker or a natural networker or something of that to that effect and I disagreed with him.
Johnny: I don’t remember that at all. I must have gotten to know you better.
Sean: And I said no, I said I don’t feel like that’s accurate at all. I really-really don’t like networking. I don’t… what Dave?
Dave: People? Never mind.
Johnny: Wow, Dave weighing in everybody.
Sean: I’ve bought it twice and then he disappears, look at that.
Johnny: I know what he does.
Sean: Cowering in shame over that.
Johnny: So what was the end of that statement?
Sean: So yeah I never ever thought of myself that way, but I do know reasonable amount of people and I think that the best way to go about networking and I’m sure we’ll talk to Matt about this later is to not really network. It’s just to be yourself and be your most genuine self and you put yourself out there when you can and always offer help when you can.
Johnny: Networking with a capital N, I mean everybody reacts to it differently and it must work or they wouldn’t teach these things, but I find it really obnoxious and there are some things that are like signatures. You can tell when somebody is asking to know about you in a way that they clearly don’t give a shit and don’t know anything, but they aren’t like hey I’m curious about you. It’s more like Hey I’m curious about you, let me ingratiate you know and there’s this really false sort of thing that people do.
And when I went to my first public event, my first thing where I was meeting people was South west South West in like 2009 or something I don’t remember exactly when that was, and I hung out with a lot of cool people. And I think somebody at a camp said at the end something about networking or whatever. And all I did was hang out with people I didn’t have business cards, no-no-no I had some print up because just commons yelled at me and said you need to have business cards.
So I made up farcical business cards that had me being one of the authors of trust agents instead of Chris Brogan and but so I had those but it’s– I don’t think networking needs to be with a capital N, I think it’s more about who you know, and who you like and we’ve seen that over and over again. A good example is and this isn’t really the same thing, but we do work with Monica and Amy now and it’s because we hung out with them, like in person and we got to like them. It’s not that they impressed us with their acumen although they are impressive ladies, but it wasn’t like they gave us a Rolodex and said here is a resume, so I don’t know…
Sean: No it wasn’t like that at all and the thing is it takes– I mean people all come in different flavors right, so my friend Lori who we’ll talk about later because she was the other original third of Sterling and Stone. One of her sayings is your network is your net worth and for her like that, that’s totally true, that works.
Her Rolodex is insane but she and I are wired very differently and we travel together a lot, and we would go to two events or to masterminds and she would make sure she talked everyone in the room. She would make sure that that she had at least her ten minutes a rattle off with this person and rattle up with this person, and it was almost like a mission and for me I’m the opposite. When I going to room I figure whoever I talk to that’s the way it’s supposed to be and that’s great, and so you know it’s different.
And I think that you have to really get the most out of networking and to keep it from being a capital end situation. I think that it’s best if you are just yourself, if you know okay I’m an introvert and I’m only going to have three conversations this whole thing, but they are going to be great conversations and I’m going to have a relationship with these people after the event. I think that’s how you want to look at networking. It’s not– you can go there with like a checklist because then you do the things that Johnny was talking about where you are just asking questions because it’s a checklist.
Johnny: Tell me all about you. How can I help you? Who asks that question, how can I help you right away?
Sean: Right, right it’s just you just don’t– you want to be that guy at all, ever under any circumstances or that girl.
Johnny: So I do have. We did have two questions; do we want to discuss those that they were sent in, remember that?
Sean: Yeah we totally do.
Johnny: And I should also mention the– and I don’t know when we’re going to have cut off for this, but I’ll just mention briefly the colonist Summit. There are now five places left, if you’re interested in joining us the payment plans are now in full effect. You don’t have to pay in a lump sum and that’s So there’s that and there are five slots left, and all right so questions. These were two things that were sent in; people who couldn’t use the voicemail or couldn’t figure it out, or are they just merited more discussion on the show, so I guess I should just read this right?
Sean: Yeah.
Johnny: Yes in the absence of response I will indeed just read them. So the first one is from Yohan who says I am a film editor from South Africa with a keen interest in writing a television series and I watched your beats course on Udemy. I’m writing to you because I– well I don’t need to say why he’s writing to us, but I need to have– I just have a few questions, when do you do the single sentence rough story arch arc and simple synopsis only after the beats, so this is a process question about our beats process. So when you do that Sean since that’s your thing?
Sean: It totally depends on the project actually, sometimes I have the sentence and the sentence kind of helps me figure out where I’m going with the story, and I expanded from there, but I think with Axis it was actually the opposite. I started out with a whole big story and then I kept reducing and reducing and reducing until I had the sentence, so I don’t think there is a right answer. I think with all of these process things there are no right answers. Not only are people different, but projects are different, and I find myself working differently you know from project to project.
So an example the thing that I’m working on right now is a sequel to another thing that we just finished up, and the first thing that we just finished was very linear. I kind of knew what the story was going to be and the structure from it, so it was almost like an example of the sentence and then getting expanded out and now it’s the opposite. I’m kind of telling myself a story a little bit each morning and that story is getting bigger and bigger and then once I have the story I’m going to pair it down.
So I don’t think there is an answer. I think that whenever you’re looking at somebody else’s process you don’t want to observe their process to replicate it. You want to look at their process to you know pull DNA strands out that you can use in your own process and what makes sense to you. And if any part of it doesn’t make sense to you then don’t do it that doesn’t work, you just want to take little bits and pieces and kind of Frankenstein [ph] your own process and then once you have your own process you know continue to evolve it, get better and better at it.
Johnny: Kudos to Sean for turning Frankenstein into a verb in that sentence. All right, so the next question he had was I’ll have forming– hold on I want to design a television series and the way I was thinking of handling it was to first design the beats for the global story arc then break it down to episodes and break it down the scenes. There will be 13 episodes in the first of hopefully many seasons, so that that would be the it depends go with what the project tells you that Sean was just saying.
Sean: Yeah and I have a lot to say about that also, but I will keep it brief.
Johnny: Well, okay, just so you know there’s several more in his questions and then there’s another question. So when you say keep it brief just…
Sean: Well I think that if you have the ambition to write out13 episodes of something and then you want to break them out scene by scene, I think that seems to me that at least the way I work and the way I know Dave and I work and the way that you and I work Johnny too, it’s that too much to find itself week to week, and they may have some kind of very general idea about where the story is going to go and they have touchstones that they want to hit. But if they are mapping themselves out scene to scene to scene to scene through a whole season, there’s just a lot of stuff that is either to break or you’re going to constrict your story, and I think that you shouldn’t do that. You should say maybe this episode is about this thing, and this is where I want to end, but you have to let the story grow.
Johnny: All right so continuing on I’ll have four main characters each with their own story, but three of them will tie in with the other one, it will all support one storyline, but the viewer will only discover in three or four episodes, surely is going to make it difficult to tackle. Okay so here is the final one, the question I’m asking is, what would you suggest– what would your suggested workflow be for this tremendous task and I think the conclusion I want to get is your order in which you’ll eat this elephant. So, how would you handle that, but I think you have already sort of– do you have anything to append to what you’ve said?
Sean: Yeah I would say I would come up– if that were my project; I would want to know where I was ending episode 13. What’s the ending there and that ending may change whatever, but I’m I need to know what I’m driving towards, so I would have that ending and then I would come up with maybe one sentence per episode. This is what this episode is about, this is what this episode is about 13 times, and then I… at first episode and not worry about episode was done, and then I’d reassess.
Johnny: All righty, so the second question is…
Sean: Johnny Froze?
Johnny: Sorry so the second question is can you hear me now? Okay, so let’s move on to the next question then, have you cover– okay actually this is something we’re getting a lot of questions about and I don’t know we’re going to have a satisfying answer. Have you covered the KDP select advertising option yet? Now we haven’t covered it yet. Listen every week and haven’t seen a section, maybe we mentioned in passing, I only just spotted it and it is very tempting, but the minimum one hundred dollar budget is a little daunting. I’d like to be sure it’s working for people with great products since I know I make a profit whenever I promote with well known services.
I’m one of those people who doesn’t like exclusivity, but perhaps in this case advertising directly to Amazon’s customers discoverability might be a trump card, I lease for 90 days. So what this person is referring to is that KDP select and continuing to sweeten the pot for exclusivity is offering the people who were in select the option to run ad campaigns. Now I don’t know about the two of you, but I don’t think we’ve touched that at all, I have a very-very-very uneducated, unscientific, totally unfounded reaction and it’s that it feels a little like Facebook ads to me, but it is within the Amazon ecosystem, so who knows. I don’t know, do we have anything to report though?
Sean: No it wasn’t beta for a long time and it was invite only. So now it’s general release for select authors and I disagree with Johnny about Facebook simply because Amazon is a buying environment Facebook is not, so I think if you’re doing a good job targeting, then it could be awesome because you are you know hooking into their discoverability engine. We have done no testing with it whatsoever, but we absolutely are going to.
We just need to figure out what book because you can only test stuff that’s in select and most of our stuff isn’t in select. So we kind of have to figure out what is in select that’s worth testing and then actually– because where I do agree with Johnny about Facebook ads is that if you do it wrong, it’s stupid, and you’re just throwing your money away. So to make a Facebook ad effective, you have to know what you’re targeting, and I think to make this worth its money you also have to know what you’re targeting. You can’t just run an ad, you have to run an ad to specific books that are you know the readers of those books are very inclined to like your book as well…
Dave: Can you choose the books you are advertising on?
Sean: Yeah you choose, you can choose by interest or by book, but you can be as targeted as– like for us it would make sense to target Yesterday is Gone to people who buy the stand, like it would automatically show up, but Yesterday is Gone would have to be select and Yesterday is Gone is in select, to me that the perfect test. If we did that I think we could come up with some very good numbers and some data, but we have to actually do some homework as to what books you know, we would want to link and we’re just we’re doing a lot of things right now as far as optimization. So this is interesting, but it’s a little bit of a squirrel for us right now.
Dave: And I think optimization is the key here, you want– if you’re going to do this, you want to make sure that you have everything all your ducks lined up in a row, you want to make sure you have the ideal cover, you want to make sure your sales page works, that your copy is like you know awesome because basically what you’re doing is you’re buying an opportunity for people to come and see your book, so you want everything to be perfect, you want it to be so perfect that they see the cover they are like oh this cover looks awesome.
They see the product description, and they say I have to read this thing. If everything is not in order and all of our stuff is not order. We are fixing this stuff, you know, sort of as we go for that product descriptions or stuff like that. But if you know you had everything ready to go, and you have your first book in the series or your best book or whatever ready to go, then why not try it.
Sean: Yeah, I agree 100% with Dave, it’s there’s two different factors here. There’s traffic and conversion and you can get all the traffic in the world, but if your conversion isn’t set up then you’re going to waste your money and you know in that respect it is like Facebook. So you need to make sure that your traffic– basically Amazon is giving you a mechanism to make traffic easy. So you get qualified buyers who are interested in your work, but if your conversion isn’t set up you’re going to fail. And so for us we’re in that sweet spot where we need to find a book where we’ve already optimized all the other stuff and it’s also in select, and it’s worth running the test on, and as soon as we get that we will run a test and we will report how it goes.
Johnny: Where does– where do they show up like when– I don’t know anything about it because…
Dave: It’s in the dashboard, it gives you an opportunity.
Johnny: Oh no-no I mean where when your ads, where do they– which are the ads that are the select ads?
Sean: There’s different ads. There’s one that comer up underneath and are there some that are– there three different kinds and you can see in the dashboard when you create your ad the different sizes and placements of them.
Dave: But remember it takes over your whole screen and it won’t let you click away until you buy the book.
Johnny: I’ve run into that sort of thing on my phone and it pisses me off, I can’t, like it sucks. All right, so we…
Sean: Do we have any awesome stuff?
Johnny: You know that’s funny thing because I knew you were going to ask that. Everything is awesome, much like when you’re part of the team.
Sean: I have an awesome thing.
Johnny: Sean’s going to be the only one who is going to do this.
Dave: Okay, before you begin your awesome thing I’ve decided that you present an awesome thing every week on Self Publishing and podcast and I’ll present an awful thing every week on Better Off Undead, and I have a great one lined up this week. You guys are going to love this story so much.
Johnny: Does it rival the bear story?
Dave: No, no it has nothing to do with me. It’s a new story but you’re going to love it.
Sean: We’re looking forward to marketing Better Off Undead.
Johnny: Oh my God I’m sorry I do have a cool thing, but you can go first. I have a very cool thing.
Sean: All right well okay I think this is the show I started watching Californication. And I think for writers out there, there is something great to learn about you know I never watched as just…
Dave: Maybe in the first few seasons are…
Sean: I don’t know, I haven’t seen the later ones. I’m in season two right now and what I think this show does a very good job with is they have the main character; he is played by David Duchovny. He is Hank Moody and he’s a writer and he is very likable even though he’s an asshole. And I think that you know that’s kind of hard to pull off in the way that they pulled it off and there’s these great– I referenced the book Save The Cat a couple of times, which is kind of an infuriating book because some of the advice is really good and some of it is just so stupid, and you just want to tear pages out of the book.
But the overall premise I really like which is you have to have these Save the Cat moments where it doesn’t matter how despicable your character is, if you have them save a cat from a tree. And that’s a metaphor; you don’t actually have your character save a cat from a tree.
Dave: Or in house of cards kill a dog in the beginning?
Sean: Yes, that’s the opposite of a save the cat moment, exactly…
Johnny: Well I guess I’m not watching house of cards then, I hate those moments.
Sean: It tells you exactly who this character is, and so Hank Moody, he just does these really just terrible things and he’s just– anyway. But he also does these things where– like in last night’s episode, there’s this girl and she’s just being really-really obnoxious and he’s in a limo– in the back of a limo with a record exec and they leave her on the side of the road, they just kick her out of the car because she’s annoying.
And they’re up in the hills and they’re just like get the fuck out of the car. He’s like you can’t do that like you can’t do that and he makes them pullover and he walks her home. And so like the 94 things that were just asshole that he did before that are like suddenly okay. And the show just does a really good job of walking that line, and I think that that’s a cool character study, so anyway that’s my cool thing.
Johnny: So I thought of this with– and by the way Matt might jump in at any time because when
we invited him ahead, so he might like show up in the middle like whole thing. It’s Dave hates the book Redacted the first episode, we had a bulleted e-mail of why he hates it and originally it annoyed me because there had been no positivity before him, but now like he read Cursed. So he is allowed to piss on Redacted and Redacted is stupid but it’s stupid hopefully in the right way well whatever. Redacted is the short that the first episode that Sean and I wrote that’s kind of like the Better Off Undead audience.
It’s very-very fictionalized version kind of off us, but not really of us and Dave just hates it. He– I hope I’m allowed to say this, there’s this tropey scene from the movie downfall where Hitler is getting pissed off like I don’t even know what the original scene is, but people make all the time they’ll make Hitler react to videos, and Dave made Hitler reacts to Redacted. It’s so awesome– are we allowed to share that like can I give that link or no?
Dave: Yeah go for it.
Johnny: So I’ll put it…
Sean: Put a picture that’s in the show notes.
Johnny: Well I’m going to put it in the chart and…
Dave: Okay.
Johnny: You can share it around so you have it, so that was super fun and what was additionally fun as I can imagine just how long it probably took, there were several laugh out loud moments in that.
Dave: I was in a zone and I’m like I’m on doing it and I’m like I’m going over the video and I’m like timing it like what would needs to be said perfectly, and I’m just laughing my ass off for it. It took about an hour…
Sean: It was pretty funny.
Dave: I’m laughing my ass off and I’m doing it and my wife comes into my office. She’s like what are you laughing at? So I’m like you have to see this and so I show her and she just stares at me like what the fuck is wrong with you?
Johnny: My favorite part is when they show the people out in the hall being scared that Hitler is yelling so loudly, and there two women and the one says to the other it’s okay Monica, I know you liked it.
Sean: Yeah that’s part is awesome, the whole thing was pretty funny. I have one more if we’re still waiting
Johnny: We’re still waiting for Matt.
Sean: Okay so I got this book, it’s a long time since I ordered an actual book from Amazon, but it’s the hero with a thousand faces from Joseph Campbell which– this is just a classic hero’s job like a lot of the hero’s journey stuff that you read is based on this. This is what George Lucas pattern Star Wars directly off of this.
Dave: The one with Jar, Jar Binks?
Sean: No the OG and it was funny.
Johnny: When you have a thousand faces a few of them have to be like jar jar or something weird like that.
Sean: There might be a jar jar in one of these actually, but I was getting…
Johnny: Oh good it’s him this time, it’s not me. I thought it was me.
Dave: It’s everybody.
Johnny: Man this time it’s Sean, oh there he is back, suck it Google.
Sean: Can you guys hear me?
Johnny: Yeah now we can.
Sean: I really hate it when you get a– when the Kindle version of a book is more than a print version. That annoys me so-so much and it shouldn’t annoy me as much as it does, but it just does because it’s a sign that you know the publishers are not getting it especially when you charge like 10.99 for a Kindle version because if they just lowered it by a dollar they would actually make more. So they’re not only screwing us the consumers, they’re screwing themselves and it’s just so dumb.
But anyway there are a few books that I want to buy that are in more– they are about screenwriting and so they were all too expensive on, they were on more for Kindle than print I was getting annoyed. And then I wanted to get this on Kindle and there wasn’t any available on Kindle. The only way you could buy this was in hardback, and so I got it and I’m actually pretty excited to sit down and read this. I have two hardbacks now, because Dave got me the J.J. Abrams book called The Ship of Theseus for…
Johnny: I should write a short story based on that metaphor.
Sean: And I’m pretty excited about reading that too, so I’ve got two hard backs to read within all my readings and…
Johnny: We may be the only publishing company that has made several Ship of Theseus references in our fiction, so there you go. Where is Matt, what’s up, you sent him an e-mail, he maybe forgot.
Sean: Yeah I told him 2.35 so we can have time to do our awkward conversation about cover design, which maybe we should start right now.
Johnny: Well, you know it’s funny that you mention cover design right as Matt comes in. Let’s ask Matt, hey Matt?
Matt: What did I just walk into?
Johnny: How are you doing? Well so okay let me…
Matt: I am fantastic, happy Friday.
Johnny: Happy Friday Matt, so I have a question for you I know that this is on a scale of zero to ten and ten being impossible. I think I know where we all stand on this, but if you needed a cover design economically if you couldn’t afford it, you’re fucked, right?
Matt: Zero to ten, I think yeah you’re pushing ten.
Johnny: Dave where would you stand on this if you had to get a cover designed, oh I didn’t have any sort of preamble, so that book had a cover, Joseph the Campbell. It was very nice cover, et cetera et cetera. How would I get a cover like that Dave?
Dave: Well, you could turn to our friends at 99designs. They have tons of people waiting to create a cover perfect for your book and I just want to say as long as we’ve been doing these spontaneous conversations about book design; we still get questions on e-mail. The other day we got one asking something along the lines of I want to do the 99 designs thing, but I don’t know how much to offer the people like they thought like they just created you know the price and just offered it. No there are packages that 99 designs has.
And basically what you do is you come up with you know you got your book that you want to do, you come up with an idea for the cover, you may be present some ideas of other covers that you like out there and a bunch of designers will compete to get you– sorry these guys are chatting in a window.
The designers will compete to give you the best cover possible for your book and it’s a great thing, and their basic package starts I think at 2.99 and if you use our thing. You get like $100– you get promoted to the next one $100 extra level for absolutely free. We’ve not had– we know people would have used the bigger packages and are definitely a value, but so far we’ve been using the basic on ourselves and we’ve always been happy with the covers that they have designed for us, incredible.
Matt: So Dave, what are some of the precautions that maybe a first time author going into this using 99 designs. How do you tee up a really good almost description or maybe I’m saying things you guys have already discussed, but I have had good success with 99 designs, I’ve also maybe due to my own my own miscommunication of like requirements or things kind of had some off situations, you know didn’t really come back and strike the tone I was going for, so how do you tee it up?
Johnny: Okay you’re ad libing way too much Matt, stick on script here. Do you want to try that question again in any way?
Dave: Don’t think for yourself. Okay I’ll actually answer that question, we had a situation…
Johnny: Dave do you have anything to lose?
Dave: No you have nothing to lose and here’s the thing, if you don’t like what the designers come up with, then you walk away. Good bye, adios I don’t need you guys, but that’s not going to happen because you’re going to have so many awesome designs. You’re going to know which one to choose from, you might want to buy all of the designs.
Johnny: Well this is a worthwhile use of Matt’s time, but alas it must come to an end, and let’s just say that to start your cover design contest today go to, and you get that free power pack upgrade to the bigger package. I can’t believe that went right through that Dave was talking about valued at 99 bucks and that will make your design contest stand out and you’re going to get more attention, and all that.
So we’re going to keep doing it until you give us suggestions 99 designs. We’re going to keep doing this crap so there you go. All right so welcome to the show Matt Gartland, I don’t know if you listened to the prelim but I was saying how Sean knew you in this one capacity, and I knew you in a totally different capacity and then we realized…
Dave: And I know you from your work as a serial killer, so it all works out…
Johnny: Triangulate.
Matt: There’s a common denominator at the nexus of all that absolutely.
Johnny: So maybe– I don’t even know where is a good place to start. I’d like to hear the Sterling and Stone story because I don’t even know that I know that.
Matt: It was funny Sean and I just kind of crapped a little bit the other day, and I didn’t realize that Sterling and Stone had come full circle. It was a lot of fun that they kind of put an initial concept together– what Sean, three years ago now?
Sean: Yeah it had to be just before the podcast started. Maybe…
Matt: It probably was.
Sean: Two or three months before the podcast started and we were just– we were probably [Inaudible] [00:33:29] out about the time the podcast started where we were, we had done that big giant batch of nonfiction. We put together– the original Sterling and Stone put together about 50 nonfiction books…
Matt: Yeah.
Sean: And…
Dave: 50 covers.
Sean: Yeah.
Matt: We obviously saw the success that Sean was having– really Dave you and Sean through available darkness you know in a serialized format tried to do that with nonfiction took Sean your existing kind of ghostwriter, that platform migrated that over to the digital writer and started build up the simple structure the around serialized nonfiction books. And it was challenging, it was a lot I think more challenging than we anticipated in terms of making that model work, for that type of nonfiction.
Sean: Well it was we really did– we always had our sights on fiction. It was always supposed to be a fiction company, we wanted to be a story studio, like that was the whole idea very much, you know like what we want to do now. The difference was our third partner Lori, who I have talked about before, we wanted her to be– basically Matt’s very dialed in and created operations, so he was operations. I was trying to get the stories done and Lori was going to be marketing. Very loosely those were kind of our roles and to get Lori on board it made sense. She’s a very nonfiction person, so it made sense for us to go nonfiction first, we had a lot of writing related books that we can leverage for the digital writer, and she had a website called social caffeine at the time; I think she actually still does.
And so there were some books there and then we were going to work with another partner and– not a partner but somebody else for another nonfiction mind, and that just did not work out. I think both Matt and I were very uncomfortable with that you know that branch and we both– it just wasn’t going to work, and so the whole idea was to get the company off the ground with nonfiction so that we could move into fiction and that’s where the original version of the beam was born, you know which that was the one and only fiction project that we did. And it was after we had kind of already decided we’re not really get to go forward with this, but let’s finish what we started and we did that and…
Johnny: Dave what did you think of the project. He probably didn’t read maybe just the first chapter, the original project, do you have thoughts on that the beam. No he’s not there, damn it. Sorry it’s going to be good; it’s going to be funny. Dave hated the first chapter of both versions of the beam.
Sean: Dave hates the first chapter of the beam both versions, and it’s also the only chapter that he’s read of either version.
Matt: I think there’s a correlation there.
Sean: Yeah Dave’s not a fan of the beam or Redacted as it turns out.
Matt: I really liked it. I like the sophistication of it; I mean a lot of your fiction is certainly very sophisticated, but at least kind of at that time of getting into that, or attempting to get into that myself, I loved it. It was challenging and I liked that challenge.
Sean: Yeah, I’m really-really happy with where that went, we’ve been trying to get season three. Season three just keeps getting nudged a little further on our production schedule, but I think we’ll be hitting it in a little more than a month, so it’s but it’s long that what’s funny is that the original version was just you know it was– it followed kind of the CI model. And Realm and Sands we take a lot more words. You know there is just a lot more book there. And so the original skeleton that we used for that first version ended up being twice as long. So literally the Realm and Sands version of The Beam is– what is it 180,000 words Johnny? Is that about it?
Matt: Wow.
Johnny: I think it’s about 165.
Sean: Yeah it’s pretty long. And there are two seasons and they are each that long. So it’s a lot of words, but there is a lot of story there. It’s really-really good but anyway enough about that. One of the things that I always really admire about Matt is I think that he is a tremendous networker and in the most natural way too. You don’t even know who Matt knows until, oh hey I know that person or he is just very…
Johnny: He can even know Johnny B. Truant and you are working with him, look at that.
Sean: Exactly.
Matt: Thank you
Johnny: You could have assembled this podcast…
Matt: Thank you and then Monica you know on your team that was the most recent example Sean you and I just discovered.
Sean: Right, right now that’s exactly right. You know it’s the– you don’t know, Matt’s somebody that you want him to know who you are because if he likes you and he respects you he is going to say nice things about you because that’s kind of Matt’s personality, it’s his character. He talks; he says great things about people that he respects and in just the most natural way. And that’s the best kind of networking. You know as Johnny said I don’t know if you were listening to any of that before you came on, but we were talking about the difference between networking with the capital N and a lower case n.
You know I actually– I was using Lori as an example. You know when I used to travel with Lori and you know she is definitely networking with the capital N, you know she wants to meet everybody in the room, and you know her rolodex is definitely part of her business. And for me despite how I come off on the podcast I’m much more shy than that. You know and I don’t you know feel comfortable doing that. But you seem to have this very sweet spot where you just– you are very well mannered and you know who talk to and what to say.
Matt: I think my parents get some of that credit. I just– it’s not like it was a conscious choice. I mean all that is very humbling thank you. It’s just I could never be like a capital N person. It just would feel like way too out of body I think for me, I could maybe do it once or twice but it would be a performance, right? And I’m not one to kind of put on an act. I think that even actually how I met Johnny, good timing, he just stepped off camera.
So this was what 2008 maybe Las Vegas in BlogWorld. So I was out there, I was writing for the web a little bit on blog about health and fitness and stuff. And had some mutual friends with the same sort of topic like Adam Baker Man Versus Debt at the time he was writing very actively over there. And you know I got invited to sit down at breakfast one day or one morning. I think Adam was there and you know John [inaudible] [00:40:16] walks up you know and sits down. I think that was the first you know I actually I had a conversation at least face to face.
And then we quickly discovered that we were both in Ohio and the subsequent months I remember we actually all rallied. Adam Baker drove all the way from Indianapolis, I drove up from Cincinnati to Columbus, and Johnny came over and we all met in Columbus and had coffee together and just kind of you know shot to shit and it was fun.
Sean: Yeah and that’s so natural and– do you remember how we met?
Matt: We met– I can remember tweeting you about like [Inaudible] [00:40:51] projects I think and that we were both in Cincinnati.
Sean: This was pre-meeting like I had just moved to Cincinnati. I lived there for I don’t know maybe a month and…
Matt: Yeah it wasn’t very long. We met at Starbucks down by Kendall mall.
Sean: No kidding no that’s when we actually met.
Matt: Okay.
Sean: But we had a pre-meeting before that because I had just moved to Cincinnati and I didn’t know anyone other than Lori. And Lori had me working like 94 hours a day. And so I was just like never sleeping, and you sent me an email. And you were like hey I’ve heard great things about you and you live in my city, would you like to grab a cup of coffee sometime? And like to me that’s just so foreign, like I would never email someone I don’t know and invite them to coffee just because I am more shy than that despite you know how loud I am on the show.
And I said I just settled here I’m just– I don’t have any time for that but thank you so much, that’s very kind. And I say why don’t we circle back later. And you did and you circled back later. And it was November the second time I remember. And I had just come back from Austin. I was very-very tired. And I said I’m sorry I don’t mean to say no, but I was just really busy. And then James Clear started that, he’s like dude…
Matt: That’s how it was, that’s right.
Sean: And he is like I’m in Cincinnati and you are in Cincinnati and I think we should meet for coffee. And Matt Gartland is my friend and we sure meet for coffee. And I’m like okay that guy sent me two emails and I’ve said no so this sounds great. And so we went and we had that long like two hour coffee and it was awesome.
Matt: Yeah exactly.
Sean: But it’s because you have the balls to reach out. I don’t do that, I mean both Dave and Johnny know I’m broken in that way. I have a very hard time sending a cold email. And I think that’s a failing on my part that you are exceptional at.
Matt: Well thank you. I would boil it down maybe it took a couple of things. But the good thing is persistence. And I know you guys talk about this in variety of forms as pertains to authors and careers and getting your projects out there. Kind of you just have to keep going at it. And if the first book doesn’t work you know write the second one. If this marketing plan or this marketing approach didn’t work, try something different. Don’t just stop with the first thing. And my girlfriend will kill me for saying this out loud especially like on in public television or public radio.
But that’s actually how we met last year at WDX, we were down somewhere in Portland I met her on the flight out there. The connecting flight– she wasn’t actually going to Portland and like I got her number and followed up with her when I got back. And like she never acknowledged my first message, so I waited you know how long, it almost a couple of days or week or something. And I tried this second time, and I don’t know how maybe common that is, but maybe guys are like yeah I’ll take the hint. You know I may follow up and I did.
Sean: I would never have called the second time. I just– I never would have.
Matt: Yap and she just totally something happened she never got my message. It was actually text message the first time. She claims to this day and I poke fun still about it but you know it never got to her. So I tried again, she was like if you hadn’t followed up that second time you know none of this would be here.
Dave: I would have assumed she filed a restraining order.
Matt: So I guess I just have dogged persistence. I mean it doesn’t always work but I think it works more times than not.
Johnny: I think that all of us here, well maybe not you Dave I was going to say– I think that at least Matt, Sean and I all are pretty good at networking even though Sean is denying it, but in totally different ways. And I think that we all agree that the value is you know like you need to do it.
Matt: Yeah.
Johnny: Just because it is who you know, one of the– this is the story I can’t really tell yet. But some of the connections that we’ve made this week; me and Sean were largely because you know you know somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody.
And Matt’s like he is a supercharge networker. He is very good at it, but Sean wouldn’t go out and reach out to somebody. But dude you manage to be in the places like I knew you by reputation before you knew that I knew you basically. I mean that’s how we met at BlogWorld.
Dave: My networking list is just a little bit smaller than my hit list.
Matt: That doesn’t surprise me.
Sean: I think that it’s very easy for writers to be isolated and to kind of undervalue how important it is because you don’t think– it’s not like you are making big deals, right? Where someone like Lori when she says your net worth is your network or your network is your net worth, I understand where she is coming from because she’s brokering deals. It is who you know. And it’s very easy to think as a writer that doesn’t matter. You are writing your book, you are putting it there out to the world, and yeah you are even if you get writers who think okay I get it I get it I have to build a list.
Okay I get it I get it I have to talk to my list. But that still not the same as building those relationships. And you know we go to in-persons events that’s those are people who you know end up being on our team, or you know doing covers for us. It’s because we are out there and we are meeting those people and there is just there is an importance there that I don’t think you understand how heavy it is until you actually experience the benefits of it.
Matt: And there is– I mean multi dimension but at least two prominent may be macro dimensions. One for writers I mean networking with other writers. But I think what we are seeing more and more self published authors are talking about this is you know networking with you know people in the professional side on the business side of books and publishing. Either going to more industry events or building out those connections or following those blogs and finding those people on social media. It’s not just about trying to finding other people like you per say in the writer community, that’s very valuable and necessary, and that do conversions if that sort of help you coming down the road. It’s a multi you know facet, multi talented you know universe to kind of start tapping into.
Sean: Yeah absolutely because we are all very good at one thing, right? You know we could be good at many things. You know like Dave let’s use Dave as an example because he loves it when we do that. So Dave is clearly great at a lot of things; he is great story teller and he is good visually. But even now we are finding that it makes sense for him not to do all the covers, right? Because we are finding that our covers sometimes convert better when he is not doing them. And yeah he can make a nice image but it makes more sense for him to focus on the story telling because that’s what he’s best at.
And so if we are outsourcing covers and he has more time to tell stories that’s a good thing. That’s positive movement, but it also makes sense to have relationships with your designers and not just you know…
Matt: And that’s how you are going to really hit that sweet spot maybe you know to do the callback to 99Designs, maybe get something that’s really close, but that the designer then continue to work with over time, then you know he or she will really start to understand what makes you tick and what drives your stories and start to pick up onto the new ones that they will suddenly live into the design that really kind of just makes it pop or click, right?
So that’s the stuff where I think a lot of the story telling magic comes from. Both certainly in words and it starts with the words, but then you know through these relationships with other creative professionals in the books base, that that’s how the whole experience of eBook can really come to life.
Sean: So do you want to talk just a little bit about– because you have kind of a wide array of ways that you network. I mean you have Winning Edits, you have the podcasts, and there is just kind of a lot of ways that you’ve reached out to authors and people in the community. So I think talking about you know the stuff that you’ve done to reach out.
Matt: Sure.
Sean: It’s good but also kind of what the biggest takeaways you’ve had in– because there is a pretty broad spectrum of people that are in your network. And what are the big takeaways that you are seeing you know across that spectrum?
Matt: So for me you know part of the networking was actually publishing some of my thoughts you know myself. I think that even if you are on the service side of this business and you are a cover designer or if you are involved in the production of the book in some way you know you still trying to get your thoughts out there. I think it’s maybe Alex Miles Younger does it very well. He was the cover designer at the Seth Godin’s, The Domino Project a couple of years back. And you know he writes through the web a little bit and gets out there. I think that’s important to kind of you know facilitating some of this very natural small and networking.
I think certainly going to conferences about a couple of key conferences and then just you know listening, don’t always be the one trying to talk. I think the more talking attitude you know especially becomes unbalanced you know that’s kind fuels the capital N networking. You know you want to be more of the– you know in the spotlight or the person in the center of the room, but if you just kind of listen you know you’ll start to pick up on a lot of interesting things.
You’ll start to hear patterns of people you know I need this help or that help. Then I guess for me you know kind of to bridge those two writing a little bit for the web, starting to meet people that way, meeting some people in person, understanding what are some of these patterns, then I can help kind of be something of a traffic cop. And that’s where I really find a lot of joy and satisfaction doing, I set a sort of connector mentality. You know ultimately that helped with Monica I think in certain way for you guys, right?
And then recently it’s certainly that connector mentality is driving a lot of the Winning Edits business right now in terms of the authors and the author entrepreneurs that we work for. And then ultimately even my podcast author MBA, you know we’ve had some really cool people on the show, and I wouldn’t have been able to get to them if I hadn’t helped connect other people in the past. So I do believe that you reap what you sow and if you can you know listen, pay attention to people, respect people, and try to help them out, like it will come back to you.
Sean: So networking like I mean our whole word last year was iterative. Everything was iterative, right? And I think even networking…
Johnny: I think it should be iterate, I just like to offer that. It should be iterate instead of iterative. So that’s my…
Sean: Iterate.
Johnny: Yeah.
Sean: So from our master articulator we iterate. And even networking is the same, right? When you don’t worry about who you have to know and it’s just strip every relationship with respect even if it is the tiniest relationships because they can grow into something else, right?
Matt: Yeah absolutely. I think well I’m a huge proponent of iteration or ideation, all of that. I have you know a background that some of you guys know in software development, I’m even sort of still attracted to the software development side of you know the web and some of those businesses and projects. And I think that is important and certainly true of the story design you know writing, re-writing, re-writing, editing, now that process I think that that’s what ultimately really stitches together a really great leadership too.
You know if you can get good content out time and again you know it’s maybe a silly analogy, but it’s sort of like sowing. You know you keep having these lock stitches after lock stitches that really kind of build a really tight fabric of a community. And whether that community is you know a community with yourself as a writer with your readership, or that community is you know your professional network, I think all that is built on this idea of putting yourself out there, adding value, and run some repeating.
Johnny: I had two separate…
Sean: You know…
Johnny: Sorry. I had two separate people this week say I wanted to find out you know how to connect with somebody. And twice they were like we got to go to conferences. Like that’s– Sean was around for both of those instances. Where it’s like you got to start going to things. Joanna Penn goes to all sorts of conferences in Europe. And that’s something that we haven’t done. Matt and I met at a BlogWorld event. But other than like we’ve been doing our own in-person things, the one in September and then the upcoming Colonist Summit, but other than that like I’ve got none of that habit.
And so I think that’s something that we want to start getting back to. I feel like I’ve derailed you a little bit there. That felt like an interesting anecdote and then it didn’t when I said it.
Matt: No it was good. Actually you had the miraculous timing of stepping off camera when I said that as well.
Johnny: Oh sorry.
Matt: No-no you are good. There is no way that you and I would probably have met if I hadn’t gone to BlogWorld, and I was saying I thought it was back in 08. So yeah it’s just amazing if you just throw yourself at an opportunity that is probably largely unknown, especially if you are full time into say being a conference goer, you just got to do it. You don’t have to be though that again person in the center of the room. Just go and listen and mingle and you know provide value and be I just think you know a good person, add value, it will work.
Sean: You touched on software for a moment. And I know we are a little all over the place with you but that’s because you’ve got so much going on. Like you really do have a– and I mean that as a compliment, I love having a lot going on. But my question is we met last week to talk about something that I think is on the software side that’s very-very cool for writers. And I think almost everybody listening to this right now will probably dig back. So I think it’s– I know we’ll do our thing later in March and talk more about it.
Matt: Yeah, yep.
Sean: I think you might want to talk about that a little.
Matt: Yeah I appreciate the tip. Maybe drag out the suspensor a little bit longer. I do think it’s something that I’ve been a fan of web technology; very much even a nerd of it, a geek of it. I think that more and more you know these worlds are aligning in a great way. The world of technology empowering writing and creating and publishing, and I think I’ve even James Altucher, right? And he wrote a publishing [inaudible] [00:55:23] article maybe [inaudible] [00:55:24].
Yeah about the distinction is no longer between traditional publishing versus self publishing, it’s about professional versus unprofessional writing and publishing. And I do think that these technology tools are really helping with that. So you and I were talking about the other day Sean is if you are spending time at all you know studying you know what’s going on in books and you look at the big power house players item [inaudible] [00:55:49] all of these guys and girls are launching their books in very epic ways.
Big marketing campaigns all centered around probably something of a book landing page or book launch page with bundles and all these other things, right? Maybe a trailer video sort of the opportunity to join the list, that sort of stuff, and sort of [inaudible] [00:56:09] to even have a colorary with cover design. You know you can certainly go out and you can find a designer and a development team to you know design a custom site for you and build it and it’ll look amazing hopefully. It can be very-very expensive of course, so I guess if there is an analogy or coalition here you know the 99Designs version of getting a book landing page done is you know a tool that I do have a solution with at
The team is great, they are really devoted to this industry and to authors and writers. And it’s a technology that’s out there. It’s working. There is a lot of wonderful writers already using it to help them you know sell more books in you know minutes. You know you can just drag and drop, get the stuff going, it’s very simple. So I consult with that team because I believe in that sort of technology. I believe in the team behind it. And they are doing great stuff.
Johnny: Matt I was– this was a discussion that Sean was in on a presentation for the book launch guys. And I didn’t make it to that one. So I actually know very little about this, and so I can sort of act as like a guy who asks questions that the audience might have. So how would that exactly work? So you have a landing page and what are you doing with it. And how is that a tool that’s going to help supercharge your launch? Like I assume that it doesn’t magically make traffic come to you. You still need to be able to send the traffic but what has it all in one place, looks pro, that sort of thing?
Matt: Right, it’s all in one place, actually one of the coolest things that Sean got a glimpse of the other day is that it can actually build a page for you if you have an existing book already up on Amazon. So if you are awesome certainly you know even like you guys you have a back listed books right?
And maybe for one reason or another you haven’t had a launch page or marketing page in the past, just take your Amazon SIN number and you can go to and they call it the builder feature you can just drop the number in and like literally click one button and it will pull in all the relevant key content you know from your Amazon listing page including your book cover, the summary copy, it’ll even analyze like key colors of your cover and what non and all sort of customize an initial color pallet for your book landing page.
Sean: It’s really-really cool.
Matt: And then you can tweak a couple of extra things, you can add in other cover images. You can add testimonials. You know like to maybe get a blurb from Seth Godin. You can upload his headshot, put in a testimonial. A little more information about you the author, your headshot, your buyer, your social links, stuff like that. Then that’s one resource. You can customize the domain so that it’s easy to remember and spell, and then you can just give that out to people.
You can share it on social media very easily. You can put it in your email newsletter. And then everything for your book is on that page including and certainly most importantly buying the book. So you can add in as many links as you can probably fathom, you know across a variety of market places; Amazon, 1800 CEO if your book is listed there, goodness Indie books, Barnes $ Noble, Nook, even Gumla [ph] if you sell direct through Gumla then you can integrate with Gumla, so it’s not one resource. You are right Johnny it doesn’t like get the traffic for you. You still need to be the one directing people there. But that’s the only place where you have to direct people to start selling more books.
Johnny: Would you feel that that’s a better nonfiction tool or fiction tool or it doesn’t matter?
Matt: I don’t know if it matters. I would say that probably more nonfiction authors, again sort of at the best seller level are you know employing new sorts of marketing strategies to help them sell more books…
Dave: But they are usually ahead of the curve of you know fiction.
Johnny: Well they are also business minded.
Dave: Right.
Matt: Precisely. And I think that’s one of the key of their business to be taking away from what’s happening you know in this industry over the last at least year two years. We are seeing the rise of book trailer videos which book launch that are kind of comedy. We are seeing obviously the proliferation of bundling being more and more important to driving book sales. And I do think yes a lot of the nonfiction authors because they tend to be a little more business minded. You are absolutely right. I think they are the ones that are discovering some of these tactics and testing them out and figuring out the trends that are more effective than others.
But that’s not this take at all that fiction authors shouldn’t be paying attention. I think actually quite the opposite. I think that they should be looking at what’s working at nonfiction, tinkling with the tactics as they may, figuring out what works for them. But I think the big and the broad breast strokes do work.
Johnny: What are– this is not a direct question about the landing pages but it’s a sort of thing I think that you would glean from doing stuff with landing pages. Are you getting any feel for what actually makes a difference with conversion in terms of– so for fiction it’s a lot of videos, book cover. I would imagine that’s true for nonfiction, but maybe not as much, blubs, like what are the sort of key things?
Matt: Those are two of the big things. I would still– I’m very attracted to cover, I think we talked about that probably at [nosium][ph] today. The idea is in a nonfiction sense of like empathy of a self identifiable quality. So when you talk about writing maybe your headlines or some of the copy on a page like book landing page especially your kind of author bio, try to orient yourself to you know to the reader. So that you know whatever story you are telling or problem you claim to be solving by way of your book know that there is an emotional reaction not only to the book but really to you.
That can also come to life through book trailing videos. I worked for example with Pat Flynn a couple of years back on his memoir book called Let Go. And you know his memoir book was obviously all about him and sort of his journey becoming an entrepreneur and creating a big brand online. And he created a trailer video for that project, and it was very emotional. It was very “omms” you know what’s the term? It’s just shock and code, and he really revealed a lot of times that he was vulnerable about it and it worked.
Sean: Have you seen a Jonathan Fields trailer for Uncertainty?
Matt: Yeah that had the same sort of quality to it, right? Yeah.
Sean: Yeah and it’s– I think the book trailers that don’t work– because it’s very easy to say book trailers are stupid and they suck. That’s because most of them do. You know most of them just are not very good. Trust Me Online has a fantastic trailer.
Matt: Yeah.
Sean: So there are book trailers out there that are highly-highly effective. Uncertainty was just you know Jonathan hired a camera crew to come in, but it was basically him sitting on a stool. You know it was very pro, they got the right angles, and they got the right resonance there. But it was not like he had all these fancy graphics or special effects or anything. It’s just him selling the book because he is selling the emotion. And I think that you know you find out what is it that your book touches and then do that. Now that clearly that’s easy to do on nonfiction than fiction. But again I think that it’s changing landscape and it’s something to pay attention to.
Matt: If I look at like say Hugh Howey, and all his success, like he is so good at pulling out like the one set and summary or you know and most are one paragraph summary that just nails his book. You know like it’s so on clady emotion or the [inaudible] [01:03:55] sort of like comes [inaudible] [01:03:58] and he can just summarize and so succinctly. And I think that if you can do that you know with words– and I actually think it’s harder for nonfiction people to do it, because nonfiction books can be I think a little more pronto almost hot air.
I think that you know fiction because it’s far more narrative and has– I just think that there is almost more going for a good fiction story to be able to pull out a nugget or something and help kind of help people than even nonfiction story.
Johnny: This is isn’t that topic exactly but what you just said I think there is really-really important and maybe it can almost feel cool thing that I discovered in the past few weeks. And it came, it was tied in a little bit with Sean talking about Save The Cat during one of our story meetings is the idea of a log line for fiction. So the log line is the– Sean give me a log line that’s used in movies. It’s like the catchy sentence that draws you into the…
Sean: Yeah, it’s the high concept. I mean the one we joke about on the show all the time its die hard on a bus.
Matt: Oh right.
Sean: Write for speed because you immediately know what that means, and…
Johnny: But is that a log line or is that a pitch? Because like I’m thinking of two best ones I can’t give yet. But they aren’t just a description and they aren’t just hook, they are like oh like I got to read that. Movies do it really well like wasn’t one of them like Love Never Dies for Twilight something like that? Wasn’t there one that was like I seem to remember that?
Sean: Do you guys…
Johnny: I don’t know.
Sean: No that’s almost like a tag line. A log line is something a little more involved than that. But it’s basically a two sentence; it’s almost like a pitch. It’s a couple of sentences that basically totally sells the idea of your movie, because log lines really are movies not books. It really sells your entire idea to whoever is listening and get’s them immediately interested because a log line makes them want to open the first page of that script.
Matt: Yeah it’s maybe splitting hairs. I think of it as a promise statement. You know it’s a very genuine promise statement that you’d then back up. You know the worst thing in the world is to make a big gragious [ph] claim whether it’s a fiction or nonfiction book, and then not be able to fulfill on that, right? That will just eat way your credibility and I think you know undermine your attempts in building a community. But if you can back it up, then that’s works. It’s not a bad tactic. It’s I think quite the opposite. You know you are creating you know anticipation and which there are supporting events I mean we see this everywhere. So you can do it with books,
Sean: Well it’s the headline. You know it’s the– you will never believe how fat these child stars are now.
Dave: You– of course I want to see what they look like.
Johnny: Well here is the distinction I’m making. So and I don’t– you guys can tell me what this is, like I don’t really know. We say that Robot proletariat is down abbey with robots, but the problem with that it does tell you what it is, it does have a curiosity factor but at the same time I think it strikes the wrong mood if you are trying to hook somebody. Because it’s a thoughtful, it’s a suspenseful piece, it is a good adventure.
So the down abbey with robots it’s like Die Hard on a Bus. But the one that I have been using lately I made a new opt-in page and stuff is this isn’t really the same thing. Robots were made to serve us but now they have other plans. That’s almost like a little teaser sort of thing, I don’t know. It feels like one is trying to get you to read and one is trying to sell the concept.
Sean: Well it’s almost like you want the why and the right. So it’s like a– it’s about the guy who, right? It’s about the guy who does this. It’s the reason. It’s the reason for caring. It’s the reason your hook actually matters.
Johnny: Stumper.
Matt: Yeah well to kind of almost throw a software angle back into this, this is where I think some testing helps. This is where you can you know create a couple of these concepts and maybe one is a little more you know sales pitchy and another is a bit more maybe descriptive. And given the uniqueness of your story fiction or non the problem you are trying to solve, test a couple of these and see which one is going to perform better for you.
Johnny: I think it’s a useful exercise no matter what you…
Sean: Yeah because a log line has to– the log line has two jobs. It has to summarize and again we are talking film here, because that’s where the language comes from. But it has to summarize the film, but it also has to give you emotional insight into why that matters. If it’s just a description of what it is or– and that’s what you are saying Johnny that down abbey with robots has an emotional insight, right? It’s just it’s a short cut it’s a short cut, it’s Die Hard on a Bus, but there is no truth to that. A log line done well explains what it is in shorthand but it also has some core emotional truth that get’s you to care.
Johnny: All right since…
Matt: I want to hear what Dave thinks about all this.
Dave: I got nothing. I like Johnny’s line the robots are built to serve us but now they have other plans, it’s really effective.
Johnny: Now see that’s interesting because Dave thinks I think you hate so much it’s hard to remember what exactly you hate, but my guess is when you heard down abbey with robots you probably rolled your eyes and said what the fuck. So the fact that you are interested…
Dave: I rolled my eyes so hard.
Johnny: You rolled them so hard that they actually went back. And so the fact that you like this one I think points out the key difference between them. All right sensing a lot of silence around…
Matt: Dave lines.
Johnny: All right why don’t we finish up? Matt you do have a lot of things going on. I think that is probably the most relevant to this audience and the author MBA podcast, but is there anything else that you would want to mention as to where to find you?
Matt: Winning Edits is sort of my headquarters. If you will it’s a home based for the podcast. The website it’s a bit dated, that notwithstanding you can check out the stuff that we do which is a lot of the stuff. We are a production team, strategy and production team for authors. We have a lot of fun helping bring you know– largely nonfiction, we have dabbled in some fiction but we typically do nonfiction projects.
And yeah we help with the other trail side; the cover design side, and production side. And it’s a real thrill to be you know working on some of this big projects and helping advance you know sort of this campaign of it’s not just about novices, self publishing, it’s about professional versus non professional.
Sean: Oh I like that.
Johnny: Yeah. What’s funny is I was trying to remember if I made that point in Write Publisher Repeat because I remember thinking it. I remember thinking that people don’t notice specifically a publishing pedigree, but they do notice if you look like a dick.
Matt: Yeah the lines are blurring more than ever. We see people that are pursuing self publishing as gateway into traditional publishing. We see certainly an ever seemingly an ever increasing exodus away from traditional publishing into more independent or micro publishers. You know our friends over at the Asymmetrical Press, right? Josh and Ryan you know those guys are doing phenomenal, very professional high quality work. And you talk about networking you know they have probably a list of some of the people that I know. And they’ve build out an amazing network across all the indie book stores or many of them across the country, right? And they are just doing it on their own.
Johnny: All right, so check Matt out at and the for the pages; the author landing pages and the author MBA podcast which is also at Winning Edits. Matt thanks for being on the show, this was a very cool and plus a fun step back in time to circle back on Sterling and Stone.
Matt: It was. You guys are fantastic and I’m thrilled to be part of it, thanks for the invite.
Johnny: Do you want to be our shimp, because you know we need a fourth. All right, so thanks everybody for listening to the self…
Sean: [inaudible] [01:12:41]
Johnny: Thanks everybody for listening to the Self Publishing podcast. If you want to check out our best advice without all of the off topic bullshit that’s in Write Publisher Repeat which you can find at And just to remind you colonist session in April 18th and 19th in Austin, Texas. A little bit of live networking there five slots left for that. And we offer payment plans now so Thanks everybody for joining us.

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4 Replies to “Networking and Author Landing Pages with Matt Gartland (Self Publishing Podcast #144)”

  1. Blaine Moore

    I did some experimentation with the KDP Select PPC program and was underwhelmed. I see a lot of potential…but as it stands, it’s not really very well optimized.
    You have no control over your ad, and the primary placement is below the fold below the buy button for other books, which is not a spot that the eye is naturally drawn to.
    After a week, it didn’t seem to have any noticeable impact on sales of either Kindle or Paperbacks for the books we tested, and the return was far lower than the spend with abysmal clickthrough rates (between 0.2% and 0.33%).
    I’m going to keep an eye on it and experiment some more, but not planning to let it change my strategy of which books go into KDP Select until they make some improvements.
    My wishlist: seeing books advertised on category bestseller pages, in search results, and on the thank you pages for specific products, being able to have a little more creative control, keyword bidding, and better statistics and reporting.
    Basically, I’d like to see their PPC program from inside FBA made available for Kindle and paperback books, which works like gangbusters if you optimize it right.

  2. Roland Denzel

    I’m skeptical on the PPC ads because of how they’re showing up on the books that I’m browsing now. I’m getting books that have NOTHING to do with the book I’m looking at, has nothing to do with anything I’ve looked at before, nor is it just the kind of book I’d buy.
    Either the person buying the ad is doing everything wrong or the system is broken.
    This is the book that shows up under YG S1 –
    This is under The Beam S1 –
    I would never buy these books. No offense if the author is here, but they just aren’t the type of books I would ever buy.

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