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Podcast Interview – Nineteen80 Podcast with Daniel Hoang

Podcast Interview – Nineteen80 Podcast with Daniel Hoang

This podcast episode with Daniel Hoang will go down as my first interview about Big Enough and it couldn’t have been with a nicer, more welcoming guy. This episode wraps up his first season of Nineteen80 podcast and I was honored to be the closing act.

Something I learned from Daniel:

He has recently invested in a professional level podcasting setup, in part, because he believes in the power of broadcasting and building his own media presence. He encouraged me to do the same, and put myself out there. It really inspired me!

Learn more about Big Enough or me as a podcast guest.

Big Enough Book Video Strategy ??

Big Enough Book Video Strategy ??

The post below was sent as an issue of my newsletter, Ready for Rain.


Today is a beautiful Saturday in August and it’s 70 degrees and sunny outside. Our friends are sending us photos of themselves on the beach and having an afternoon cocktail. But for me (and Sachi) it’s a workday. On Monday, the pre-order campaign will begin and I’m doing everything I can to motivate people to buy Big Enough before it comes out. The video below: “How to Help an Author” explains why this campaign is important.

One of the aspects of this project that I love the most is that it’s mostly DIY. We have help with publishing the book, but I built the website and created the videos from scratch. And let me tell you, hiking and setting up cameras and drone footage with two big dogs tied to your waist, who would rather be exploring, is a real challenge (video below).

Videos

Creating videos to go along with Big Enough has been a joy. Making media is a passion of mine and the book gave me an opportunity to make three videos to go along with the launch:

This video explains why pre-orders and review matter to authors.

How to Help an Author

A live-action video on Orcas Island that asks: what does “living the good life” mean to you?

Big Enough Book Trailer

A brief animation that explains one of the big ideas of the book: designing a business to grow what matters to you.

Big Enough for What Matters

Website

The book’s web page on leelefever.com is be the home of the pre-order campaign and we’re shining up the last bits. For example, we’re offering incentives for pre-ordering. If you pre-order the book and send me a screenshot of the receipt, I’ll send you three stickers. If you buy five, I’ll send you Big Enough socks. Making all this clear is a challenge and I’m happy with how it’s turning out.

Big Enough socks
pre-order campaign

Outreach

Authors in my position can make their book more successful by directly contacting people in their network. I have a list of a few hundred people that I will email individually next week with a request: please pre-order the book or share it online. It will take time, but I really enjoy connecting with everyone.

Social Media + Blogging

I have been increasingly active on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. I don’t want to overwhelm anyone with book messages, so I post a mix of things in addition to book updates. When I write posts like this one, I usually share the link on Twitter and LinkedIn. I started blogging on leelefever.com in 2003, but I admit, I let it languish for a few years. Now, I’m motivated to make it one of my most useful resources and that means consistent blogging.

Common Craft

I expect the book to raise the visibility of Common Craft and in the past week, we completed some much-needed development work. This weekend I’m reviewing the changes and making final tweaks so that it will be ready for prime time.

Podcasts

I’m recording a few podcasts this week and preparing by reviewing previous episodes of those shows. I’m also working on outreach to podcasts hosts who might be open to having me as a guest.The first podcast episode about Big Enough was just published yesterday.

Headspace

In the past, I’ve struggled with self-promotion. With the release of Big Enough, I’m working to overcome my anxiety about it and doing everything I can to help the book be successful. If I’m going to be an author for the long term, I have to be ready to promote myself. Every day, I remind myself that I’m doing the right things and learning. Sachi’s ongoing support is essential.

Needless to say, we have a lot in motion and I’m honestly surprised by how good I feel about it. I’m excited to contact friends and can’t wait to be on podcasts. Once the launch arrives, the bulk of my work will be done and the book will be out in the world.

Podcast Interview: Creative Warriors with Jeffrey Shaw

Podcast Interview: Creative Warriors with Jeffrey Shaw

Listen to the Podcast Episode

Jeffrey Shaw of the Creative Warriors podcast is an amazing host. Before the episode, he sent over a document that provided his tips for preparing for the interview. It was helpful to know some of the questions to expect and to prepare my messaging. This isn’t a surprise, this kind of coaching is his thing.

These are the highlights from our talk, as listed by Jeffrey:

  • Choice is power.
  • The “good life” can come with being rich in ways other than money. 
  • If you’re going to have a business that’s ‘big enough’ you have to come to terms with the money that is just enough as well. 
  • Having your financial house in order gives you the power to choose what size business is enough. 
  • Gamifying your spending and saving can help put it in perspective. 
  • Studies show that making around $80K/year is where most feel satisfied with their lives whereas making over $200K/year often provides less satisfaction. 
  • Deciding on constraints up front can drive you to end with the business you truly want.
  • Having a Lifestyle business doesn’t mean it’s not scalable. 
  • Self-employment brings more personal development than you might expect.

Learn more about Big Enough and me as a podcast guest.

30 Days to Launch – What I’m Doing

30 Days to Launch – What I’m Doing

Big Enough will be officially published in 30 days, on September 15th. As you can imagine, the book is constantly on my mind and taking up hours of each day. Here’s what I’m doing right now:

Today is a beautiful Saturday in August and it’s 70 degrees and sunny outside. Our friends are sending us photos of themselves on the beach and having an afternoon cocktail. But for me (and Sachi) it’s a workday. On Monday, the pre-order campaign will begin and I’m doing everything I can to prepare. My goal is to sell as many pre-order copies as I can because all pre-order sales count on launch day. If the number is big enough, it can create a splash that earns attention for the book.

Videos

Creating videos to go along with Big Enough has been a joy. Making media is a passion of mine and the book gave me an opportunity to create a live-action video as the trailer that includes videos shot with a drone. Two other videos are more Common Craft Style. I’ll be sharing them all soon. At the moment, two videos have been finalized and the third will be done later today. We’re adding captions and uploading them to the sharing services in the next two days. Yay!

big enough video images

Website

The book’s web page on leelefever.com will be the home of the pre-order campaign and we’re shining up the last bits. For example, we’re offering incentives for pre-ordering. If you pre-order the book and send me a screenshot of the receipt, I’ll send you three stickers. If you buy five, I’ll send you Big Enough socks. Making all this clear is a challenge and we’re so very close.

Outreach

Authors in my position can make their book more successful by directly contacting people in their network. I have a list of a few hundred people that I will email individually next week with a request: please pre-order the book or share it online. It will take time, but I really enjoy connecting with everyone.

Social Media + Blogging

I have been increasingly active on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. I don’t want to overwhelm anyone with book messages, so I post a mix of things in addition to book updates. When I write blog posts like this one, I usually share the link on Twitter and LinkedIn. I started blogging on leelefever.com in 2003, but I admit, I let it languish for a few years. Now, I’m motivated to make it one of my most useful resources and that means consistent blogging.

Common Craft

I expect the book to raise the visibility of Common Craft and in the past week, we completed some much-needed development work. This weekend I’m reviewing the changes and making final tweaks so that it will be ready for prime time.

Podcasts

I’m recording a few podcasts next week and preparing by reviewing previous episodes of those shows. I’m also working on outreach to podcasts hosts who might be open to having me as a guest.

Headspace

In the past, I’ve struggled with self-promotion. With the release of Big Enough, I’m working to overcome my anxiety about it and doing everything I can to help the book be successful. If I’m going to be an author for the long term, I have to be ready to promote myself. Every day, I remind myself that I’m doing the right things and learning. Sachi’s ongoing support is essential.

Needless to say, we have a lot in motion and I’m honestly surprised by how good I feel about it. I’m excited to contact friends and can’t wait to be on podcasts. Once the launch arrives, the bulk of my work will be done and the book will be out in the world.

Learn more about Big Enough.

Publishing Big Enough in 41 Days ?

Publishing Big Enough in 41 Days ?

The post below was sent as an issue of my newsletter, Ready for Rain.


In 41 days, Big Enough is officially published and right now it’s filling a lot of my work hours. I think about it constantly and devote much of my time to preparing. You might wonder: What does an author do 41 days before a book comes out? 

Let’s start with the current status. The book is complete. It has been printed and is ready to be distributed and read. Now that this phase is behind me, I’ve stopped second guessing the book’s contents and my writing. It is what it is. My time is better spent getting the message out. After years of thinking about it, it feels good to have moved on!

Being an author today means much more than writing. For a book to be successful, it must be marketed and promoted. As the author, it’s up to me to put myself out there and show people why they should buy my book. I am the only person who can do it.

I dreaded the self-promotional phase. I worried that I would annoy my connections or seem too sales-y. I’m starting to get over that, too. I’m working with a marketing expert at Page Two, my publishing partner, named Chris who has helped me see that book promotion can be playful and fun. He has encouraged me to share more and show my face. I’m learning.

Three book-related activities currently taking my time:

1 – Podcasts

One of the best ways I can get the word out in the COVID-era is by appearing on podcasts. I have scheduled three for next week and am working on many more. I’m constantly reaching out to podcast hosts and pitching myself as an interesting guest. The content of the pitches change over time and I’m always trying to improve. Here’s an example I drafted this morning:

My second book is arriving on September 15th and it has some similarities to your book. It’s called Big Enough and I wrote it because I believe traditional ideas about success in business are becoming outdated and unhealthy. My hope is that the book inspires people to consider how a business can support more than bank accounts. For over a decade, Sachi and I built Common Craft to be an intentionally small and scalable business that makes our quality of life a shareholder value. Big Enough shares what we learned.

If you know podcast hosts who might be interested , please let me know.

2 – Pre-order Campaign

Before a book is officially published, it is usually available for pre-order and those purchases matter because they all count on the same day. A big launch day sales number can make a splash and earn the book more attention. Many authors, including myself, run a campaign that offers incentives for pre-ordering. It usually works like this (actual terms TBD):

If you purchase 1-4 books and send me a screenshot of your pre-order receipt, I’ll send you three Big Enough stickers and a nice card. If you purchase 5-9 books, I’ll also include a pair of Big Enough socks (yes, socks). This continues all the way up to 100+ books.

As you can imagine, this takes some planning. I had the stickers designed and printed. I designed the card and socks and had them made. And I loved every minute of it. Now, I just need people to pre-order the book.

41 Days from Now

The pre-order campaign starts on August 15th, one month before the publish date. Right now, I am making multiple lists of people who I will contact about the book. These are influencers who may help me get the word out along with friends and family who might consider pre-ordering the book and reviewing it. The list includes hundreds of people. I have two big requests for them:

  1. Pre-order the book and if you can, buy multiple copies and give them as gifts
  2. Read it and write a brief review on the website where it was purchased

This is how authors start the sales engine. Initially it’s by motivating people they know, then it hopefully spreads from there. Pre-orders for the paperback and ebook are available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, and more.

3 – Videos

Authors often have a video available to promote their book. As a video producer, it’s expected of me and I feel the pressure. I am working on three very different videos for Big Enough and have plans for more. I love making media and will gladly spend many hours on an idea. One that I can’t wait to share includes scenic footage of me walking the dogs as a voice-over describes the big ideas of Big Enough. It’s unlike any video I’ve produced.

As you can imagine, this all takes time and effort. Some days are long, but I have come to be excited about it all. You can ask Sachi. I can’t stop talking about it. Part of the transition from dread to excitement has been seeing the response from people like you. It’s incredibly encouraging to know friends and family support my work and want to see it be successful. I couldn’t do it without you.

The Podcast Book Promotion Strategy for Big Enough

The Podcast Book Promotion Strategy for Big Enough

I never planned to do a book tour. Unless you’re a very well-known author, they seem like a cumbersome activity with low ROI; a vestige from a time before the internet. Now, in the COVID era, they are an impossibility. I hope to do 100% of promotions for Big Enough from the comfort and safety of home. For me, podcasts are the perfect medium.

big enough book

When The Art of Explanation came out in 2012, podcasts were popular, but a shadow of what they are today. I was invited to be on dozens and came to truly enjoy the process. I’m a social person at heart and love having a good conversation. When I thought about how to promote Big Enough, podcasts were always front and center. The question became: how does an author promote themselves as a podcast guest?

The first option was personal and network connections and I am now reaching out to people I know. The introductions are relatively easy. What I needed was a simple way to let them know I’m an interesting, knowledgeable, and fun podcast guest. I wanted podcasters to visit a page on my leelefever.com site and think “I MUST have this guy on my podcast!”

So I created that page. It’s called “Lee LeFever Podcast Guest” and it’s my best shot at giving podcasters a clear picture of my experience, expertise, and more. Now, when I ask someone in my network if they can introduce me to a podcaster, I can send them this link for more information. My hope is that you, dear reader, will use it too.

If you know a podcast or podcast host who might be interested in having me on to discuss Big Enough, please let me know.

Creating the BIG ENOUGH Sticker

Creating the BIG ENOUGH Sticker

As a kid, I spent time reading skateboarding magazines. At the time, ads often included a line at the bottom that said, essentially, “Send us a dollar and we’ll send you stickers.” I can clearly remember how much I anticipated those stickers in the mail. Stickers have an appeal that goes beyond graphics, paper, and glue.

Today, I’m planning to send people my own sticker and this is the story of how that sticker was designed and how I’m planning to use it.

Why a Create Sticker?

Before my book, Big Enough, hits the shelves, I will encourage people to pre-order it, which means purchasing it before it is officially released. This way, when the book finally arrives, all those sales transactions happen in the same week and the book will hopefully make a bigger splash than it would otherwise. In this scenario, it helps to offer people an incentive for pre-ordering the book. If they (you?) preorder the book and send me the purchase receipt, I will send them stickers, and maybe more, in the mail.

Designing the Sticker

I am not a graphic designer, but I love working with designers and thinking through design projects. Once the idea of designing a sticker arose, I was pumped to work on it. The French bulldog on the cover of the book was my starting point. He’s symbolic of the Big Enough attitude: small and tough. I’ve come to call him “Big-E” and loved the idea of people having a fun, illustrated version of Big-E on their laptop or water bottle.

Big Enough Book Cover

Instead of using the live-action image, I imagined a stylized cartoon version of Big-E and asked my publisher for the photo from the cover to use as a starting point. Then, I searched for dog illustrations in a style I liked. I found one that was close to what I wanted. It used flat colors and bold shapes that felt cool and modern. 

Then I went to Upwork, which is a service I’ve used for years to find freelancers for small projects. I created a new job called “Digital Illustration of a Dog Based on Photo”. I included a description of what I wanted, attached the photo of Big-E and the example photo. I also said the illustration had to include the book website: bigenough.life

Next, I reviewed 15-20 profiles and invited a handful of people from around the world to apply. I’ve had good experiences working with international talent at affordable rates. I connected with a guy named Vadym from Ukraine and hired him. He got started quickly and provided a promising start. 

But then, out of nowhere, he said something had come up and that he couldn’t complete the project. Such is life in the freelance market. Disappointed, I went back to finding designers and stumbled upon a profile of a woman named Brooke Braddy who had an affordable hourly rate and illustrations that looked promising. This image from her portfolio gave me confidence that she had worked in the style I wanted:

Brooke agreed to start the next day and estimated it would cost under $100 to complete the project. I was hopeful.

The project turned out to be incredibly satisfying. Over two weeks and about 40 messages back and forth, we tweaked the colors, fonts, padding, size, and more. Brooke was a good listener and had great skills. I enjoy working with people like Brooke who are independent and putting their skills to work from home.

Here are examples of how the sticker evolved over two weeks:


Big Big Enough Dog Illustration Dog IlustrationBig Enough Dog IllustrationBig Enough Dog Illustration Big Enough Dog IllustrationBig Enough Final Dog Illustration

What I appreciated most was the iterative process of making the sticker exactly what I wanted. Every time Brooke sent a comp, another part of the design would grab my attention and kick off more changes. She took my feedback and made it work. For me, that’s how design happens. It’s a process of always asking “what sucks the most now?” 

A couple of days ago, I deemed the sticker design complete. Brooke’s initial estimate didn’t anticipate the scale of my feedback, so I gave her a bonus for the extra hours. We were both happy.

dog sticker in black

A couple of days later, I thought back to those days of getting stickers in the mail and how I loved getting multiple stickers. Sure, I could send pre-order customers three of the same sticker, or I could create a set with different colors. Collect all three!

I went back to Brooke and she quickly whipped up a couple of color options. With just a bit of design time, I now have a set of three stickers for the kind souls who pre-order a copy of Big Enough. Here’s the set:

dog sticker in black dog sticker in orange dog sticker in gray

If you’d like to be notified about the pre-order campaign, you can sign up here.