The new tech news/culture site Pando Daily is a daily read for me and I’ve been keeping up with founder Sarah Lacy since reading her book Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good a couple of years ago. They’ve done a great job of sourcing and surfacing interesting pieces. On top of that, they have a pretty solid editorial process. All of which adds up to . . . publishing. Which is why no one should be surprised they have just released their first eBook: Buy This Book Before You Buy Facebook. It’s priced at $3.99 and, so far, is only available on the Kindle platform. I do hope they share their thought process on why “just Kindle”. I’m guessing it’s either revenue related or they felt the Amazon tools were better to self-publish with. But whatever the reasons, there are lessons here for every publisher. Below is a quick rundown of the four points they got right and the one they missed:
1. Identify your silo/niche/subject and position yourself as a category expert. General publishing is in for a world of hurt over the next few years. There is a reason why we’ve seen some big publishers this year launching new imprints. This is something that needs to be considered at the publisher, series, author and title levels.
2. Build a community and engage daily. Things like brand, sales, followers, etc. will all flow from this. Pando Daily is nearing 20k followers on Twitter, which is where they first announced the eBook. In just 12 hours, their ebook moved up from a sales rank of #4,871 to #672 in the Kindle store. And that was overnight. This a function of building the community first and then tapping into it.
3. Pay attention to the news cycle and have tools in place to allow you to collect around a specific topic. It’s no coincidence that they are releasing this Facebook IPO eBook today. Traditional book publishing has been good at this… looking long term. But not so good at building books that repsond in the short term. That will have t change. Ten years ago, only marketers thought about the news cycle. Now publishers, acquisitions editors, authors and product folks need to pay attention.
4. Build your product and add value. Do not just collect all of your posts from one category and call it an ebook. You need to add something else. Make it worth your community’s time. For this product they gathered the folks who have been posting about Facebook and asked for some exclusive essays on the topic. And it can’t have been too much trouble for them as the eBook is only about 74 pages. They also had a solid cover design done. All of which add value. This is something the Pando Daily folks clearly understood bringing extra publishing help from the NSFW Corporation news magazine start-up.
5. Promote and sell where your community is. This is the one they missed. I can’t find the book on Kobo, Nook, Google, etc. By restricting to one platform they are allowing a third-party’s technology, accounts, payment processing and walls to restrict their content. I hope they take the time to build an ePub so they can push their book out on more channels.
I hope publishers everywhere are watching outfits like Pando Daily. They are fast. They have low overhead. They are sharp. And they are fighting for the same eyeballs, dollars and readers that traditional book publishers are.