Scrappy Networking for Authors with Donovan Scherer (Self Publishing Podcast #148)
Just what does it mean to be “Scrappy” when it comes to networking as an indie author? And how can an author make a success, not just with online networking (via, blogs, email, or social networks), but also with face-to-face networking (like going to conventions and other live events)? This week, Donovan Scherer came on to share his experiences with us, and there was a lot to absorb here.
First of all, we want to remind you to pick up Monica’s new book about writing, Write Better Faster. It’s amazing! I, Jacob, have read it already, and I can say it’s absolutely fantastic. You’ll certainly learn a lot from Monica’s experiences, failures, and successes, and her tips will definitely help you improve your writing speed. My speed improved the first day after finishing the book!
We can look forward to Sean’s fuller endorsement of the book next week, after he’s had a chance to read it, but if you want to know more about the book, and Monica’s other work, in the meantime, hop on over to Prose On Fire and see her books plus some free resources for writers. Or you can click here to see the book right in amazon.
As another note, we will soon be sharing updates on the Twelve cover, which Dave is doing through 99 Designs. You’ll be able to follow that progress by going to selfpublishingpodcast.com/12cover. (That link may not go anywhere yet, but it will soon!)
Finally, Donovan came on to talk about his success in marketing face-to-face at conventions and live events. There are several excellent takeaways there, for both live-event-marketing/networking and online networking. So you WON’T want to miss that!
If you’re interested in Donovan’s art and stories, you should check out his personal website HERE, and HERE. Be sure to check out his illustration and cover designs HERE.
Finally, because Donovan is awesome, he made up a little page just for us SPP fans! It has some useful articles we’d all enjoy, plus the Boricio picture he showed on Youtube! Find all that HERE.
Here’s the video version:
Show Episode Transcript
Self Publishing Podcast episode number 148.
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 99designs.com/SPP, 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 the three whitest guys in podcasting, 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 trail blazing guests as we shove aside boundaries, freely experiment, and occasionally screw up. I’m Johnny B. Truant and my very attractive co hosts are Sean Platt and David Wright. I am saying that because Dave made a comment earlier that writers can get away with being unattractive, and I said then why is it the that all of our men and women at Sterling and Stone are so incredibly attractive.
Sean: I think he said all writers are hideous monsters, was actually what he said.
Johnny: Especially our audience that was his exact– those were his exact words.
Johnny: Right Dave?
Dave: Yeah that’s exactly what I said. What I said was– I don’t even remember the context, oh I know the context, but you guys don’t want me to bring that up.
Johnny: No I don’t– yeah okay fine.
Dave: Who people were saying was ugly?
Johnny: Fine, fine I believe I said “Odd looking,” I don’t believe I said ugly, but go ahead.
Sean: I never said that, I said “My dad looks like him,” or whatever I didn’t say that.
Dave: I said well of course they said, “Ugly looking people they have to work harder to cultivate a personality and talent so people will like them.” So obviously writers like me are ugly, pretty people are busy, they never have…
Johnny: Are you comparing– are you saying that adversity– that people saying that you’re ugly makes you a better writer, much in the way that harsh conditions will hone a fighting foster to a razors edge?
Sean: Is that also how you’re explaining your new mo-haircut?
Dave: Fuck off. And while there’re attractive artists and writers out there, I think the majority of them are average or ugly looking, and those that are attractive they are very likely– they’ve hard like a rough life, they have some event which helped shape them, so they’ve never had to just skate by on their pretty looks and lack of personality, we’ve all been there come on.
Sean: Okay SPP listeners in case you just…
Johnny: Monica said that Dave had managed to insult 100% of writers because he’s saying that either they’re ugly or they’re bad at their craft.
Dave: Not what I said.
Sean: If you’re just tuning in right now Dave thinks you’re ugly or untalented.
Dave: Hey, I spent my entire high school and middle school career with no friends whatsoever, that shaped me into something I don’t know what, but it shaped me into something.
Johnny: It’s like the Johnny Cash song about that boy named Sue.
Dave: Yeah, you have to suffer for your art, that’s what I am saying really, and being pretty that’s– I don’t know, that’s too easy.
Johnny: Being pretty, a detriment.
Sean: So if you’re good-looking give up now.
Sean: If you’re good-looking give up now.
Dave: No, there’re good looking people that are also talented, but I just said they’re probably in the minority. But I think if you stack the population of earth across a giant– I don’t know a box or something, most people are average or not good-looking, so I mean the average is speak for it. You guys are really going to go on with this, aren’t you?
Johnny: It’s just funny watching you squirm that’s all, the more you argue against this, it’s like a Chinese finger trap, the more you argue the more we want to do it.
Sean: Dave is the most hilarious thing the show has going for it really…
Sean: In fact back [Inaudible] [00:04:01] Dave would be a great podcast.
Dave: Fuck off.
Johnny: And a great exercise regimen. All right, we’re going to have on Donovan Scherer today who’s– he’s not necessarily going to talk about like illustrations, he has done our covers. He’s going to talk about I called it ‘Scrappy Networking’ because he’s very scrappy and he’s very good at networking because he is ‘Scrappy’, so Donovan will be on in a bit.
Dave: I will say that people that are good looking have a lot more ease of networking. They can kind of– you can be good looking and be very successful…
Sean: Because they just have to show up, right?
Johnny: I’m just going to email Donavan really quickly to say that you think he’s attractive, all right that’s good, not uncomfortable.
Dave: I don’t even know what he looks like.
Johnny: Oh okay, but before…
Sean: Dave’s judgment of about how good he is at his job will immediately be based on what he looks like when he like shows up.
Dave: Well, of course.
Sean: If he’s good looking, dude the guys work is shit.
Johnny: All right, last time I’ll mention this except at the end of the show, but I did want to give an update on the colonist summit because the deadline is March 15th, and this should be the last show that airs before that and we have two slots left now, so if you’re at all interested in joining Sean and I in Austin Texas on April 18th and 19th for two days of sort of master mind and digging into the nitty-gritty of stuff that we really can’t get into…
Sean: And a bunch of other really cool writers…
Johnny: Right, the list is really growing, it is– that link to check that out is sterlingandstone.net/colonist and Donavan is going to be there, so our guest today will be there, so there you go.
Sean: So boom do we want to…
Johnny: Hold on I have one more thing I want to announce, sorry this is– and then we can go into whatever and anything we will going to do next is, Bryan Cohen is doing another multi-author Facebook event, which we participated in last year and he asked us to mention on the show because you guys are the people who might want to be in it. So I have a short link for that and it is actually it’s his link Bryan Cohen, B-R-Y-A-N C-O-H-E-N.com/pitch, so if you’re interested in applying to be part of the multi-author Facebook event, which will– I don’t know maybe propel your sales in the strosphere who knows so, there you go.
Sean: I have one for today before we talk about awesome stuff or whatever, Monica Leonelle’s Write Better Faster book, which we should probably have a short link for that also.
Johnny: Who is she? I don’t know her, or 99 designs you better explain.
Sean: Monica Leonelle is a Sterling and Stone staff writer, she’s really-really awesome, and she writes really-really fast which is great. I think everybody listening to this wants to write faster probably except for Johnny…
Johnny: She might write faster than us.
Sean: Yeah she writes really-really fast, but what I love about the way she writes is that she measures it; I think that that’s really important. She treats it like a formula, and she’s trying to get better at her formula, and improve that formula. She just wrote a book called Write Better Faster: How to Triple your Writing Speed and Write More Everyday, which is a very good title; anyway we should put a short link in the short notes, but it’s 99 cents.
I haven’t read it yet, so I’ll have more to say on it next week, I’ll try to read it before then. But I know that Monica writes well and she writes fast. So if she’s writing 3500 words an hour that’s kind of insane. It’s one of those things– don’t expect you’re going to buy it and you’re going to start writing 3500 words an hour, but if you’re writing 500 now you may get up to six or 700, or if you’re doing 1200 you may hit 1500, its just those little incremental…
Dave: But if you’re 1500 you might hit 1700.
Johnny: Yeah, it’s good.
Sean: Yes, thank you Dave. It’s those little incremental tweaks and I believe– that’s why I read a lot of craft books, and system books, and things like that, because I am always looking for the little things that just make what we do that much better, so anyway that’s that.
Johnny: So there was a ton of really cool stuff that happened this week, but I don’t know how much of it we want to talk about that we should talk about, I don’t know. I guess here’s one thing I can update, so we are talking about the Beyonce launch of Invasion, and two interesting things on Amazon specifically, now there were some very-very cool things on other platforms for instance on Apple we actually hit number one in science fiction, which was great, topping The Martian for all over a few hours but that felt good.
Sean: Take that Martian, we ate your lunch for an afternoon, we ate our lunch literally for lunch time and then that was it.
Johnny: Then we were done, we went back to business. But on Amazon I noticed two things that are really interesting, and that’s that last week I predicted that we may see a sort of a double trough, a double peak with sales in the first week. Now keep in mind this has only been out for just over a week, and one of the things that we know is that, anything on Amazon that’s sort of algorithm based, seems to take about a week to perpetuate, to percolate through the system, so like also boughts just I guess that like other stuff too, I can’t think of right now.
What I thought was probably going to happen is we’d have our launch, and we’d launch to our people, we didn’t do any other advertising or anything like, and that the book climbed predictably on that, and then it put sales rank to it, like I don’t know it’s a five dollar book, and we just launched our list and nothing else, it got up to 1800 something like that– I don’t remember, it wasn’t real high.
Sean: You mean in that first spike, yeah that sounds about right.
Johnny: Okay and then– and this is a long term play too so this will be magnified in book two which is called Contact and book three which is called Colonization. This is just the very-very beginning of this and as we said this is something that will watch, but it’s then it slid down to five digits which is– and then it hang like I think it got to 10,000 and then after a few days it just kept right back up on its own. Dave did send an email to the Collective Inkwell list, but separate from that, divorced from that, with enough time having passed to just kind of, just started going back up to around the 2000 mark again. And I think that that’s the also boughts and the cover and stuff doing a little bit of its magic, so I just wanted to report that indeed it did happen.
The second thing I’ll say quickly was that having the preorder for the second book since this is a page-turner available at launch, has been very-very nice, and the second book is actually– I think it’s about 12,000 now and its preordering it’s not out for a month, and it doesn’t have a cover, the cover says, “Coming soon.” So the fact that that’s actually ranking in its category on its own as a preorder that we’re not promoting at all, we haven’t told anybody about that, that’s just back of the book is very nice.
Sean: Yeah, that really validates this whole strategy, it’s pretty awesome, so we should get another big spike on one when two comes out, and on one and two when three comes out. So this is definitely long term, but I think for phase one we couldn’t be happier and it is also worth noting that this is not a 99 cents or even a 2.99 launch, this is the first time I think in a long time where we launched a full price. We gave it to our platinum readers early, and we’re really trying to respect our platinum readers also by not putting stuff at it 99 cents when it comes out, because they’re paying. So this was a full price 4.99 book, no launch date 2.99 nothing, we just dropped the book, dropped the email and to kind of see what happens…
Johnny: Then drop the mic…
Dave: Still here, there’s some great new comments.
Sean: I think that it’s pretty exciting for phase one, I think that this is good-good stuff.
Johnny: Go ahead with the comments Dave.
Dave: James Thorn says, “Better looking people type faster,” I guess that’s a nod to Monica. Erik Marshall says, “I want to start a drinking game every time Johnny says, ‘I don’t know if we can talk about it or something similar.'” Garrett Robinson is here says, “Holy Crap I’m the first commenter first yei,” yeah okay that’s, and Tammy Labrecque says, also very good 2k to 10k by Rachel Eren.
Sean: Yeah I have read that, that’s fantastic.
Johnny: I know something else that I can report, this is I think we’ve already kind of talked about this, but one of the things we had a little bit confirmed this week was [crosstalk]. Well I said I think we’ve already talked about this which is different from I don’t know if we can talk about this. I actually asked Sean in the chat if we should talk about something, so you can take a drink to sort of end memoriam on that one is that preorders really are– I won’t say a big deal on Apple, because a big deal depends on your book, and your promotion, and all that stuff. But Apple cares about preorders a lot more, like they actively– there’s a section on the Apple store in the iBook store that’s says, “Its coming soon,” and those will rank and it will just have the preorders that are sort of trending on there and not anything that’s live.
And they do active promotions for preorders and some of them are like Apple exclusive preorders. These are things I don’t hear anywhere else, so we wanted preorder for the second book in the series so that people could buy through from that first. But the idea of– hey, preorders are a big deal and will actively kind of promote– I mean not everybody obviously not in any situation, but like they will do like preorder promotions and there’s an advantage to having a preorder on Apple. In a way it kind of doesn’t exist anywhere else, there’s kind of no downside, you can change cover description, release date, literally everything, right up to the last minute and obviously…
Sean: They do prefer that you move release dates down not up, if you need to…
Johnny: Closer to the like sooner, releasing soon.
Sean: Right you don’t delay it because that annoys people who have preordered.
Johnny: Right and the reason for all of this is that your title can rank along the way so like what I just mentioned on the Amazon, it’s ranking right now, that can happen on Apple. But then it’s kind of like you get a double punch because on release day it’s like you got all those sales at once, and so that’s– you can do that up to a year in advance on Apple, and some people do that for like– they have seven books coming up this year and they put them all up.
Sean: Which isn’t how Amazon works, so Amazon works where you know you’re getting those preorders in and they count as sales early, but you don’t get that punch on launch day and you do on Apple, so that is powerful if you have readers who are reading on Apple. It’s worth getting the preorder out as soon as you possibly can, and we’re doing that actually right now with CI is in the process of getting a preorder up for Yesterday’s Gone season six on Apple because why not I mean we’ll get it up on there.
Dave: You better start writing huh?
Sean: We’ll start pretty soon.
Johnny: That’s okay, the release date is 2028, and it can always be moved.
Sean: Our release date.
Dave: As long as that’s flexible.
Sean: I don’t mind saying our release date on Yesterday’s Gone season six is going to be 4th of July, and it will be awesome, I am really-really excited about that, not just the story itself which I’m really hyped on, but just the whole idea that it’s our oldest franchise, it’s almost mature…
Dave: No, it’s not it’s not our oldest.
Sean: Well [inaudible] [00:16:51] was first.
Johnny: It’s your most mature it’s more most developed, right?
Sean: Yeah and it will close the book on that and hopefully open new books, and it’s going to be really-really exciting to see that how that unfolds and we got a lot of juice this last couple of weeks with things to do with preorders and how to handle that, and so I’m pretty excited about it. I think that Eric is right, we have been doing the “It’s a secret,” a lot lately because there are so many things that we have bubbling, so do you want to pop the cock on one of those?
Sean: The thing that we did put a preorder up for?
Johnny: Yeah, go ahead.
Sean: Okay, Lexi’s new title, and this is a Lexi title in the same way that La Fleur was a Lexi title; this really is architected almost, mostly by me and Johnny. It’s a romantic comedy and because Lexi didn’t get her filthy little dirty hands all over it, it actually only has a single sex scene, the whole book and it’s long, it’s a full book. But it’s a romantic comedy and it’s called Step Brother of the Groom and it’s awesome, it’s up on Apple right now, it comes out on March 26th, that’s off the top of my head that right though…
Johnny: No, it might be the 27th actually which is a little odd because I think that’s a Friday, but we can change it, we can do that. And this is why I mentioned the exclusive preorder thing, because this is currently only on Apple preorder. We actually had it up other places and there– we can put a preorder up later, like it’s just for this period we want to let it accumulate there exclusive.
Sean: Yes, so it’s another pre-optimized cover and all of that just like we talked about with Invasion last week, where we did this pre-optimization work and thought, “Okay, we wanted this to be a little more commercial, we’re not just writing exclusively to amuse us, I mean once we– I think in Write Publish Repeat we really make the case you want to put, you know it’s art and then you turn it into product and that’s the way we’ve handled everything. Right now we’re kind of doing something a little different, where we’re saying, “Okay let’s think about it as a product and then turn our artist hats on, and then turn it back to product.”
My Step Brother of the Groom was like that, we really thought okay we ought to get a pro cover, and write the product description and a lot of that work came before we started the story, and then we really dug into the story, and it became all about the story, and the story is– it’s really funny and it has…
Johnny: I watched like a week’s worth of romantic comedies to prep.
Sean: Yeah it has– it follows a lot of rom-com tropes for sure, but despite its pre-optimization it has a lot of really detailed character work, and we even had to pause towards the end of production. We’ve amped a couple of things to make sure the character work was really what it needed to be. And it’s a very cool title and I’m very-very curious to see how it does, so that’s another one for us to keep an eye along with Invasion just to see how well the title performs. We had set out to write a romance with La Fleur and we succeeded in writing a really awesome book, but we totally failed in writing a romance, we ended up writing women’s list book and it’s just not a romance. There’re some things about it that are really romantic, but it’s not a romance.
My Step Brother of the Groom is an absolute romance; I think we did exactly what we were supposed to do in what we didn’t do the first time.
Johnny: That was– my wife enjoyed that week of just watching romantic comedies, so we watched Say Anything, and My– Notting Hill, and what the Juliet Roberts wedding one my…
Sean: My Best Friend’s Wedding.
Johnny: My Best Friend’s Wedding and so anyway, lots of…
Dave: The category of movies I haven’t watched, except Say Anything.
Sean: Oh I love say anything.
Johnny: “Say Anything” is awesome, I hadn’t seen it in a longtime and I was surprised at how cool it was…
Sean: “Say Anything” almost transcends the romantic comedy genre though, I mean its…
Johnny: John Cusack is responsible for a lot of that I think though, I know its Cameron Crowe obviously, but I thought he was great in that and I had seen it before so…
Sean: Yeah it sounds good, it’s a good script.
Sean: Look at the other stuff that it has in the [riveka] [00:21:42], Frasia’s dad evading his taxes, like there’re just stronger story elements there than you would normally find in the rom-com.
Johnny: Anyway any updates on comments there Dave anything to…?
Dave: Dylan Perry echoes Erik’s thought on the drinking game and says, “We’ll be wasted the first 15 minutes of the show.”
Johnny: It’s because we’re in a unique position where a lot of people could just do these things, but we’re kind of in a what would you call that, like everybody is watching it and so it affects it, it’s like an extra variable you guys watching it, so we do have to keep mum on some other stuff.
Sean: Yeah I agree, do we want to get to any questions or do we have something awesome before Donovan pops on? And we have an awkward conversation preceding his.
Dave: I have nothing awesome.
Johnny: Sean do you have anything awesome this week?
Sean: Is that your life’s mantra?
Dave: I’m waiting for something awesome.
Sean: I just finished today actually, I just finished the Steve Jobs book, I think it’s just called Steve Jobs the biography by Walter Isaacson. It’s very long, but very-very good. I read it because I’m in Beam mode right now, and we have…
Dave: It’s not because you love Apple?
Sean: Well it is because I love Apple like I am very curious. But it was more about Steve Jobs than Apple; I mean Apple clearly a major part of the book. But I am reading it because we have our Noah West character in The Beam and there are some– he’s Steve Jobs like character, and I know about Steve Jobs and Broad strokes, but I didn’t know the minutia, and I thought there might be some quirks, or some stories, or anecdotes, or something that I can pick up before I start on The beam which is the next thing I’m going to listen to, because I’m going to mount that up really soon. I just love this book, I really-really love the book, and it made me love Apple even more than I already do, and it made me laugh, I kept imagining Dave as I read it which happens more often than I’d care to admit.
Dave: Especially when you’re reading erotica.
Johnny: He imagines Dave when he’s doing all sorts of things.
Sean: It’s true I rub myself and think of Dave constantly, but I really-really just really loved it and I really admire how fiercely devoted he was to changing things, and to doing things that hadn’t been done before, and to quality product, and his commitment to doing things that are amazing. When you look at the number of things that that man accomplished in his lifetime, that really did change things, just changed the way that– I mean from the way animation– he revolutionized animation for the first time since– I know Pixel had a ton to do with that, but Pixel wouldn’t exist without Steve Jobs and neither would a lot of the things that we all use in our daily lives. And it was just really amazing to read his story, and see how everything kind of hooked together, and his progression through life. I mean the dude was a fucking asshole. I could not imagine…
Johnny: That on his tombstone I think.
Sean: I had no idea what a dick he was until I read the book.
Sean: But really that doesn’t take anything away from his accomplishments…
Johnny: Next week on the show Steve Jobs guest– ghost Oh men I fucked it up.
Sean: But I really-really– I just could not have loved reading about the intersection of technology and art and anymore than I did, so anyway that would be my awesome thing for the week.
Dave: See this goes with the thing Steve Jobs was a good looking guy, so he had to have some flaw in order to be a genius, and was his assholeness, so it all comes together, it all makes sense.
Sean: He just thought he was a little too special.
Dave: He was.
Sean: Some of the things– but he was.
Dave: That’s not being an asshole, that’s being matter of fact, the thing about geniuses is, we geniuses don’t have time to deal with you little people, all right?
Johnny: You heard it here.
Sean: You’re just making all kinds of friends this week, okay, so everybody for keeping score right now, Dave is a genius, you’re all ugly.
Dave: I’m ugly so it makes– I’m allowed to say other people are ugly.
Johnny: I have a something cool but it’s a bit of a tease. It’s my– the coolest moment.
Sean: Eric, give me the drink.
Johnny: Now the coolest moment in my week was when Dave contacted us urgently and declared that he needed an emergency Better off Undead, for a reason that he won’t tell us about until we’re on the air next. [Crosstalk] so he’s like I know I have to save it, it was always– and what I’m waiting for I just I hope this happens but we’ll see is I’m convinced that what Dave is so angry about he’s going to tell Sean and we’re going to go, why do that all the time.
Dave: I can almost guarantee you that you guys will have way different reaction than I had if you saw it.
Dave: We’ll leave it at that, what I was thinking while I was eating though that I wished you all were there, I wish Carl was there too, that would have been a special treat for everybody.
Johnny: Can we do a friends like show, just the four of us, the three of us and Carl and we just hang out, and Carl gets angry at things, and Dave gets angry at things, and Sean and I say it’s not a big deal.
Dave: I was talking with Carl this week, I told him the story because he was awake at that hour, I realized that Carl was more me than me, when I’m talking with Carl if I was to do a podcast with Carl, I would be kind of like you guys with me, I’m normal compared to– I mean Carl is really…
Sean: That’s a really scary thought.
Johnny: [Inaudible] [00:27:59] so when you were at Olive Garden Dave, were you thinking about the what you’re going to do with the 12 cover?
Dave: Yes I was, that’s all I was thinking about.
Johnny: And you had no solution?
Dave: No solution, if only there was somewhere where we can go for a book cover design but the last there is no place to go.
Johnny: Well on a separate…
Dave: People were screwed.
Johnny: On a separate unrelated topic, how is that cover design contest going for that book that you have going on 99 designs?
Dave: Well having an interesting cover design, I put the– this is the first day of the cover design contest for 12. Twelve is a book that you know we’ve been writing forever, it’s going to be a very special book I think.
Johnny: It’s like a very special episode of Blossom.
Dave: Or a very native Christmas.
Dave: We want this cover to be phenomenal, we want it to be– you never want a shit cover obviously, but we want this cover to be like really awesome. So I’m not doing it and we said, “Let’s go to 99designs.com/SPP and see if those artists will come up with something.” Because I figured they are all ugly too, so they’re really good at their art. And yeah we’ve got a few entries, one of them– yeah you can do that, reading comments.
Johnny: Go ahead Dave.
Dave: So anyway– yeah so I put very specific things of what I wanted on the cover, and one of the things I did not want, was I did not want like a horrifying– it’s not a horror book it’s like a suspenseful written– I don’t know if it’s a thriller, but I don’t want it to look like a horror book so I say, “No cheesy blood splatter effect and no horror font.”
So the first designs we got back, we got two. They were just the opposite of what I wanted, ugly 12 with blood all over the place. I’m like, “What the hell?” But with 99 designs the good thing is, they’re a ton of artist that are competing. If you were dealing with one designer and they just didn’t get your vision, you’d be screwed. You’d have to go find another designer. Take time to do that. But now with 99 designs, you have a whole bunch of people competing, and already we’ve got some others that are really awesome looking. I’m looking forward to seeing what new ones will come in.
Johnny: Do you want to give the link? Is it public, because you were doing some sort of private thing or whatever?
Dave: It is…
Johnny: Because I can give the– I do have a link but I don’t– will anybody be able to see it?
Dave: Not yet, right now. I made it a blind contest by accident. So I don’t know if we can post the stuff, but we will have it in a blog post next week. What blog post URL were you guys going to use?
Johnny: Is selfpublishingpodcast.com/12cover.
Dave: 12 dash cover?
Johnny: No, it’s just 12 cover because I had made it Self publishing podcast, and got to remember to listen to this.
Dave: All right, so…
Johnny: Go ahead Dave finish up and then we’ll talk to Donovan.
Dave: We will update that and share the whole experience, so you could be in like on day one of how it goes, and issues we might have, and how we come to the best cover possible. And you’ll be able to follow that on that link right there.
Johnny: All right everybody so start your custom design today at 99design.com/spp. Use that link, and you get the free power pack upgrade valued at 99 bucks that helps your contest stand out from the crowd. And I think the question on everybody’s mind Dave is, is Donovan attractive enough to be talented?
Dave: Donovan is kind of looking, so he must have some screwed up thing…
Sean: He’s a hack.
Dave: Which made him an artist. What tragedy happened? Where did the bad man touch you? Can you show us?
Sean: When did things get rapey for you Donovan?
Dave: Wow! You had to go there Sean, really?
Donovan: All of childhood, I wasn’t a scout, so I’ve got…
Dave: Say no more.
Donovan: Got that to look for.
Johnny: All right, so Don…
Dave: We’re killing in everything this week.
Sean: Took off to a great stuff.
Johnny: Donovan Scherer is our– he’s done a few covers for us that kind of saved the books honestly. I don’t think that is an understatement at all or overstatement.
Dave: Did he do Redacted? No I did Redacted.
Johnny: No you did Redacted.
Dave: Nothing can save that.
Johnny: It actually wasn’t– he did do Space Shuttle Dave. But that isn’t the one talking about. That can’t be saved. He did The Two Valexi that really were hard.
Dave: Adult video?
Johnny: Yeah, adult video.
Dave: Yeah that was awesome…
Johnny: And Filthy Fairy Tales…
Sean: The big one is Filthy Fairy tales.
Johnny: Because we had no idea what to do with those. It was like how do you convey the tone of these? And Donovan did that for us. First of all…
Sean: The Filthy Fairy Tales right now is perfect. It’s awesome. It’s one of our best covers.
Donovan: Thank you, thank you, unfortunately…
Johnny: Go ahead.
Donovan: I can’t put those book covers next to my own work, because it’s all for kids.
Sean: We have a one star review right now on Filthy Fairy Tales that says, “This book should not be for children.” And we’re like, “No shit asshole. That’s why it’s called Filthy Fairy tales. It has slutty looking naked people on it.”
Donovan: Yeah, yeah.
Dave: But so did Hop on Pop, I mean to be fair.
Johnny: To be clear listen to that title for Hop on Pop.
Sean: Over and over.
Johnny: Donovan is going to be at the summit. So that will be fun. Sean and I have met him in person before, but that will be fun. You’re still not going to get to meet Dave though because he’s avoiding you.
Sean: He’s too good looking for Dave anyway.
Dave: Yeah, I hate him. So I hang out with Sean and Johnny.
Johnny: We’re going to have you on to– we are having you on. We’re not going to have to you on. We’re having you on, to talk about– I called it scrappy networking. When Sean and I met Donovan, we knew him from the show, and we knew him from, you had done some drawings of Wialdorf [ph] from Dream Engine, using Fiction Unboxed. And that was like really-really cool. It was like, “Wow!” Like instant, like fan art right there for Dream Engine. But then we we’re speaking at author marketing live and we see him, and he’s like– you had a bunch of stuff for us that you gave to us in a non-pushy way, and declared that you wanted to do something, like there was a projected you wanted. And then this all came out of that. Somehow you managed to network without being an asshole, which is tricky.
Donovan: [inaudible] [00:35:00]
Johnny: And you were at all the conferences and all the cons for comics and stuff.
Donovan: Yeah. I think what kicked it off for author marketing live was, I was listening to the author’s almanac audio files, and you guys were talking about working with like C. Maxwell and having to do a lot of her rebranding, and that was something that I’m trying to get to the hang out for my own stuff. And even though I do kids books, a lot of the same things that you guys are going through with her, I have to do for myself, because I just focus on live events. I’m trying to figure out this internet thing.
Dave: I have to ask, do you have a sentic [ph]?
Donovan: No. I draw up by pencil and then I– a lot of the line work that I did like for the Filthy Fairy Tales I did that all in illustrator. And then I do coloring in Photoshop. I have a Wacom tablet.
Donovan: I don’t draw directly on the screen.
Dave: Okay. I just had the thought because I sentic 13, and I love it but I want a 24 so bad.
Donovan: Yeah. Someday may be.
Johnny: Don you can note on the artist stuff…
Donovan: I’ll stick with pencils for now.
Johnny: Listen to that.
Sean: Dave’s all rosy, look at him.
Donovan: I’m sensing…
Dave: I’m flirting, all right, leave me alone.
Sean: He never gets to talk about the size of his antique.
Donovan: We can take it to the next phase Dave. Because when I first met Sean and Johnny, I had the art work that I did for the Dream Engine and I kind of feel bad I didn’t have anything for you. So I did something of everyone’s favorite serial killer.
Dave: Oh wow.
Johnny: That’s awesome.
Donovan: There we go. So I’ll have to…
Dave: Working on…
Donovan: Figure how to mail that to Redacted for you.
Sean: That’s very-very cool.
Johnny: You better mail it to Sean. He’s like a relay.
Dave: Thank you.
Donovan: I’ll bring it down to the colonist session.
Johnny: Well, Dave won’t be at that.
Dave: We’ll show him…
Johnny: [crosstalk] oh that’s true.
Donovan: Hang on to it for now. I don’t know how to share pictures but…
Sean: If you go…
Donovan: I haven’t started off as…
Sean: Do you have it on your desktop?
Sean: Okay then just hover your cursor over to the left hand side, and the little green button is screen share.
Donovan: The green button.
Johnny: And then you will pick what you want to share.
Dave: Yeah, if you have any open porn windows, don’t click on those.
Johnny: Or do.
Dave: Like Sean. [Inaudible] [00:37:31] has a comment, is it Dave’s genius club have a special hand shake or is it redacted for germs. Yeah, there’s no hand shake.
Johnny: No, that’s cute.
Sean: No hand shaking. That’s silly, hand shaking? Do you want to die?
Dave: Monica said…
Johnny: Oh there’s that little Boricio there.
Sean: Oh, that’s awesome.
Johnny: That’s awesome.
Donovan: And I had it setup as wallpapers for you guys to get to all the Yesterday’s Gone fans.
Sean: Oh, that’s fantastic. See that’s scrappy networking you all.
Donovan: There we go.
Johnny: See you will need to back to the screen sharing thing to make it go away.
Dave: But now you’re sharing.
Johnny: Did you have something you were in the middle– were you starting to read something Dave before we move on.
Dave: Monica, short link for her book– Write Better Faster is proseonfire.com/writefaster, so you can find the book there.
Johnny: Excellent. All right, so what do we want to ask Donovan about networking for authors?
Sean: Well, I think we want to talk about the events, right? Because you kind of out ninjaed these events. You go to a lot of them, and I don’t think that there is– in person things for authors are hard, because they take a lot of time; they take a lot of money…
Dave: I hate talking to people.
Sean: And it’s for you to risk money…
Johnny: I know. It’s terrible.
Donovan: I don’t know how to lie to people.
Sean: And it’s one on one, right? But I think that– I’m totally guessing here and Donovan can elaborate that I think that the value there is that, each one of those people is so excited by what you do. You hope that they talk to ten other people. That you get more of a magnification there because the relationship has so much more dust to it.
Dave: I just want to bud in and say I did a comic book signing once because I used to do a comic strip, and I hated about 40% of the people that came up to me.
Sean: Well, that’s a good rational thing, isn’t that way better than normal?
Sean: Are you typically 83.9?
Dave: Yeah, I guess.
Donovan: Doing the comic conventions and everything, it’s a lot like working at a retail job. So that can mean– if you can deal with that…
Sean: That doesn’t sound like an endorsement Donovan.
Donovan: No. It’s cool. You get to show people the books and everything. And then you can get feedback right away from them, with them flipping through it and everything. It helps with mind because they are illustrated. There’s about 10% of the page count, I do that number of pictures. So like 400 page book has 40 illustrations in it. They’re flipping through that, something to catch their eyes, so that helps make it an easier sale, than what I found with online stuff. So…
Sean: Do most of the people at an event know you before they get there, or is that how they discover you? So is it a discoverability tool?
Donovan: It’s discoverability for sure. Yeah. You do get a lot of repeat people because if you’re doing big comic convections in the same city over and over, you’re going to get a lot of the same people coming through, but that’s repeat business. If they’ve already picked up your first couple books, and then you put out a new one, but then you meet a whole lot of new people, because you’re not going to talk to everybody that’s there at a big show with like 30,000 people coming through. You will talk to maybe around like 400 or so.
Dave: Oh God.
Donovan: It’s quick conversation. A lot of times it’s just, “Hey, I got something for you for free.” You hand him a bookmark, and…
Sean: Yeah, but that may as well be a nine hour conversation for Dave.
Sean: So this really is ideally suited for somebody who their work is more visual. Whether it’s they have a gorgeous print book, or there’s some reason where they can communicate the value or intrigue of what they’re doing better in person than online.
Donovan: Yeah. I like to equate the table setup that you do with your book cover. It’s a lot of the same lessons. You want people to look at your table when they’re walking by and be like oh “That’s clearly science fiction or this guy has got a bunch of gears on and stuff, it must be Steam Punk.” So they know right away what they’re getting into before they come up. So even if your books aren’t illustrated, or anything like that, they still know the genre, and they know that it’s something that they’re into.
Sean: What’s the networking like with other artist that you find? Do you know a lot more people because of this?
Donovan: Just a bit, it’s not too much. If I was not doing everything myself, and I was looking for somebody to help out with covers, or doing art work for books, that would be a great place to do it. Otherwise, they’re a lot of new authors they get to meet, and a lot of them are in the whole podcast sphere. So I get to send them your way, or even share everything that I know about book marketing, so helping out a lot of people there. And you get to meet a lot of the traditionally published author who go there too. I just met Scott Kenemore who does the Zen of Zombies books, who got…
Sean: That’s a great title.
Donovan: They will show up at shows. A lot of the traditional published ones don’t have the hustle that the indie’s do because…
Sean: Yeah, that makes sense.
Donovan: They’ve got everything set in place for them. So…
Sean: What’s the ratio of traditional to indie, at an average show?
Sean: And do you see that changing? Do you see it growing one way or the other?
Donovan: It’s hard to say, there’s not a lot of authors at these events. It’s pretty equal between indie and traditional comic book people. Depending on the show, if it’s more expensive show, it’s probably going to be more traditional people, and if it’s slightly smaller shows– but even for some of the bigger ones, brand new artists will come in there. It’s…
Sean: Have you had…
Donovan: [Inaudible] [00:43:45]
Sean: Have you done shows where you just thought, “Okay this is a total bust. I totally shouldn’t have done this.”
Sean: And you had shows which you’re like, “Wow! This was awesome. I really feel like my career is on fire right now.”
Donovan: Yeah, yeah. I did a show in Anaheim ones. So we had to fly out, and rent a car, and stay in a hotel about the entire the time. And we were across the street from Disney land, so Mickey Mouse is just holding lots of cash, laughing at us, but nobody was there. Nobody was in Anaheim comic book show. But then I think my last two shows have been my best shows ever. So it kind of depends where you are.
It was the beginning of February, I did a show in Madison, and the place was just primed for a comic convention, so that was just great. Everybody was easily buying stuff. And then two weeks ago I did The Walker Stalker show in Chicago. And that’s my audience right there, because my kids books are all about monsters and everything, and people are there through the walking dead. So they love zombies, but they all bring their kids with too, and then I pass something…
Donovan: Over the kids that’s monster-based, so…
Sean: That’s the right intersection right there.
Dave: I saw [crosstalk]
Sean: The only comic show I ever went to was in Anaheim coincidentally.
Donovan: Maybe they’ll get better someday. But some shows, the first time around – like that one, they don’t do that well. We had some friends to visit in LA though, and we were stalking Kevin Smith, and went and watched Hollywood Battle line, so it was worth the trip.
Sean: Did you get to meet Kevin Smith? Or is…
Donovan: No, no, he wasn’t on the show that day. So we got to see Ralph Garman and John Lovitz. So that’s pretty cool.
Sean: I like Ralph Garman. He makes me laugh.
Johnny: And I love it. What is this scrappy component here? Because that’s what I think we want to try and assess out. I’ve talked to a lot of people at live events, and some people you sort of jibe with, and some people you don’t. I think that your approach where you had all sorts of stuff for us, like on one well that’s very generous, and cool but it can also totally be the sort of thing you’re like, “Leave me alone.” It’s like too much. Meanwhile whatever it was you did, like whatever your approach was, it got you gigs with us, you know now you’re t the summit. And so that was the start of our relationship, rather than sucking basically.
Donovan: Yeah. I think part of the scrappy part is I kind of attempt everything. Like with the shows that I do I probably do– I think I did the math, and this year I have 35 days of shows. So I get to…
Dave: Oh, that’s a lot.
Donovan: Everything. Yeah. I do one show in Canusha [ph] my hometown and I do that for 12 weekends out of the year. And I’m constantly changing what I do, figuring out what works and how to set things up to get the most attention.
Sean: So you iterate and optimize your self performance?
Donovan: Yeah. I’ve done split testing with sales pitches throughout the day just to see what work best, and now I got it down. I can probably admit like 90% I could get a book into people’s hands and then just try…
Sean: Oh that’s really cool.
Sean: I’ll tell you from my end what it was that like immediately– Donovan was like maybe [Inaudible] [00:47:24] on our way out and done for the day, right? Does that sound about right?
Johnny: Pretty well. Yeah.
Sean: Because I feel like we talked to you and then ten minutes later we were talking about you.
Johnny: Well, but he went with us. We went out into the lobby area, and there was that little like cluster, remember that?
Sean: Yeah. And I was impressed with A, you were confident about your work. And I always like that. I like it so much more when somebody is like, “Here’s who I am and this is what am good at.” That was awesome, because you came right up and it was Filthy Fairy Tales. In which you did end up doing for us. You said, I could do your Filthy Fairy Tales cover and it will be awesome, and…
Donovan: I think I busted out the iPad and showed you some of my portfolio work on there…
Dave: Yes. And you work…
Donovan: You walks picture.
Sean: You were not shy, but you also were not pushy. And I think that’s a very hard line to walk for a lot of people, and you balanced it perfectly. I really liked that, that was enough to start talking. But then within a few minutes, I’m thinking, “Wow! This guy is really smart, and he’s got a lot of big ideas and ambition.” I clearly vibe on that I really like big ideas and I really like– you had so many ideas that they weren’t fitting into your sentences. And I thought that was…
Johnny: Sounds familiar.
Sean: Really exciting. It was cool, and…
Donovan: Yeah. I knew you would bond with something like that.
Sean: I think that when you’re– and probably here is the key take away too, you knew your audience. And you guys can see this right now just in the few minutes Donovan’s been on the show, right? When he met us, he had pictures of Aila, which he did even away from us in the Fiction Unboxed forums. He was showing those pictures of Aila, which is a very-very intelligent way of showing everybody who you are, and kind of raising your hand and saying, “Everyone pay your attention to me, because I’m the only one drawing pictures of Aila right now.” They were very catchy and it was very exciting time, because the story was only a few days old.
In fact if I’m not mistaken, the picture you drew was based on the opening chapter. It was like right away. And it was a way of saying, “Look this is what I’m bringing to the table that’s interesting. I’m an artist.” And when you came on the show today, you had a picture of Boricio. It was an immediate way of– you know your audience and I think that if your scrappy networking, you want to know how to kind of get that door open and then keep it open. And I think that you really nailed that from your initial presentation, and then conversation was just very natural and engaging after that.
Donovan: Yeah. If you got some sort of special talent that you can help out people you like with it, then put it to use.
Johnny: I think that what makes– and this is hard to put a finger on it, is there’s two ways that you can do what Sean just described, when you are networking. And one is manipulative, and the other is not. I don’t know how to put a finer point other than that, but people can tell when they’re being worked when it’s something like, “I have a strategic game, and I’m going to do this very specific thing.” I don’t know what that difference is but…
Sean: If you ever thing the word strategic aim, you’re on the wrong track.
Donovan: Yeah. Don’t go in with expectations. Just throw it out there and something sticks, it sticks.
Johnny: And you’re also going in to look at what’s in it for the other person. And I think that anybody who’s– because honestly I don’t even I don’t even like using the word networking; we do because it gives a handle. But really it’s just– Dave’s going to laugh. It’s just making friends, like that’s all that is. It’s that just talking to people, right? That’s just being a normal human being and being friendly.
Dave: What is this friendliness you speak of?
Sean: Dave has a very different definition of normal human being.
Johnny: The funny thing about Dave is that when he was in Houston with us, he was totally normal, and friendly with people that he didn’t know before. You’re capable of networking Dave. You just don’t think you’re a networking dynamo.
Dave: Yeah. [crosstalk]
Sean: Especially his fake birthday party.
Dave: Yeah, my fake birthday party. We got a comment; Kate Morgan says “I want that Boricio art on a t-shirt now. It must be mine.”
Sean: Yeah, I would wear that t-shirt every day.
Donovan: It is stand out, so you guys can make some t-shirts with it, so…
Sean: Yeah. That’s so awesome. One other thing I would add to that I think is really important with the scrappy networking idea, and that Donovan executed very well is the follow up. It’s not enough to just run into somebody, you want to send that email afterwards. And I know that that’s something I’ve been pretty poor at in the past. I’ll meet someone, we get along famously and then that’s that. I mean that was fun, I’m not going to send an email though.
And I think that you really want to cement that relationship. And Donovan came back, and he sent an email. I think that you want to close those loops. You want to follow through. If you meet somebody in person and you vibe with them, or they seem like something that you guys could collaborate in some way, either personally of professionally, don’t be shy to send that email.
Donovan: Yeah. I used to see that a lot, “Oh yeah, can’t talk.” You see that a lot at the comic conventions when you’re talking to people and it’s you doing the same sort of thing and can help each other out. You won’t hear back from most of them, but every once in a while you still do. Then you can promote each other’s work and everything. I just met an author who’s doing his first comic convention at show in Madison and ended up picking his book on audible. So it was pretty cool.
Johnny: And there’s no other way to put it than to say you do have to have some degree of chemistry. There are people that may have great ideas that I’m kind of just being– you just kind of polite. You just like, “Okay. Well, this is a fun conversation, but I just know we wouldn’t jibe.” So there is something to be said for that.
Sean: I think it’s the kind of thing where you should almost have more to offer than they have to offer you. And that’s what makes it great. If you’re saying– like you’re so excited about all the things you can do for this person, then that’s cool. Don’t go into any relationship thinking what can they do for me? Because it’s just the wrong tone, it’s the wrong first contact. You just wanted to be really friendly and respect. You know those relationships that are really founded on a mutual respect are the ones that go the furthest. And if you go in there thinking, you’re keeping score in any way then, that’s bad networking, scrappy or otherwise.
Johnny: What do you think our take away is here now that we’re coming up on the end? We talked– this is a lot like comic based. What do you think for authors? Do you think any of these changes for people trying to just make connections? You go to get out in person?
Donovan: Yeah. It’s doing those shows, live events is a great place to meet the readers and everything. And it’s constantly building your mailing list too. That was something I neglected for the first three years of doing shows. But now that I’m kind of focusing on that, I’m staying in contact with people that bought my books, and getting more stuff to them and…
Sean: I have a question on that. How do you get somebody who is in person to stop what they’re doing and get on the mailing list? You have something like a card that they could take away with like a bonus download or something?
Donovan: I have a little sign up form. So I just take their name, and I either punch it all in when I get home, or I use MailChimp for my mailing list, and on the app you can just type them in there. But most of the times I’ll wait until I get home so I can tweek the autoresponders, so it’s like, “Hey, it was awesome to meet you at this show.” So it’s a little more customized.
Sean: Does that affect anything with like double opt-in versus single opt-in.
Donovan: If you enter in yourself, it does not do a double opt-in.
Johnny: For MailChimp there’s a constant contact just that way too. I think on Aweber you do. Aweber is really finicky about that sort of thing.
Donovan: I’ve also made it a little easier, whenever people buy print books; I’m offering to give them the digital copies too. So I’ll just to email them whatever copy of the book they bought, because if Amazon can do it with their match book why can’t I?
Sean: I think people really appreciate that too. I personally feel like print books should come with the digital version.
Donovan: Yeah, for sure.
Sean: They should. Or like a 99 cent version. You shouldn’t have to pay $15 for the print book and $13 for the digital version, that kind of sucks. What’s the one thing that you could say for everybody– because I think most of our listeners are either non-fiction or fiction authors, and they’re not doing a lot that’s visual, so it will be harder for them to either feel at home at a convention or justify it. But in just in person events, going to in person events whether that’s an actual convention, or something like author marketing live or any of these indie book things– there’s quite a few popping up. If there’s value in going to those what is something that everybody could do to make it worth their while when they go?
Donovan: If you end up talking to people, find out what they like. And if your stuff fits their needs, then tell more about it. That’s the big thing. That’s what I’ve been trying to focus on mostly as just– instead of forcing the sale onto people, just find out what they want, and if you’ve got something then, throw it their way.
Johnny: Do you think Donovan is going to be scrappy in April in Houston? Do you think he’s going to be scrappy or is he going to bring something for everybody? Like cupcakes. You get one for everybody.
Sean: No. I don’t know. He’s got to travel, I don’t know if he can bring cupcakes. But Donovan [crosstalk]
Johnny: All right Donovan, where is the best place for people to find you?
Donovan: donovanscherer.com. And if you go to donovanscherer.com/spp I’ve got links with the Boricio picture and a bunch of little articles that I wrote for authors getting into comic conventions.
Dave: That’s Scherer S-C-H-E-R-E-R for those who listening.
Johnny: And I would just like to add that, things like creating a /spp link are exactly the sorts of thing that you should be thinking of, if you’re going to network effectively. Not that this is networking, but it’s just– like that’s just smart dude. That’s smart. So…
Sean: It’s purely smart relation. May be that’s better than scrappy networking. It’s just smart relationship building.
Johnny: Yeah. All right dude. Well, thank you for coming on. You can find Donovan at Donovan –D-O-N-O-V-A-N – Scherer – S-C-H-E-R-E-R – dot com, and go to the /spp link to get the Boricio dude download which is really– I did not see that coming, that’s realy-realy awesome.
Sean: That was so awesome.
Johnny: And thanks for being on the show man…
Sean: Scrappy networking there Donovan.
Johnny: Scrappy networking, thanks for being on the show. It’s been great having you.
Johnny: For everybody else, I just thought that The Beam episode one audio, free on audible– that’s running out. So if you want to get Beam episode one for free on audible do that now. The other thing is the colonist summit which Donovan will be at, in Houston Texas. Last call they’re two slots left, sterlingnadstone.net/colonist. And everybody we’ll see you next week.
What if you could make your writing FAST, FUN, and BETTER THAN EVER?
In the indie publishing world of rapid releases and blistering word counts, it's easy to end up burned out with subpar work, and a loss of the enjoyment that once fueled your craft.
There's a better way. Download your free copy of 'How to Write Fast' today...