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The Time Capsule ?

The Time Capsule ?

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


I’m ready for spring. I’m ready to be done with 2020, done with the election, done with the pandemic. I’m ready to feel a sense of hope along with longer, warmer days, with friends. And those days will surely come. The arrival of spring is a certainty and in the context of 2020, I’ll take any certainties I can get. 

I can’t help but feel a sense of momentum heading into the next year. It’s going to be a dark and frightening winter. The pandemic is out of control and millions of Americans are unemployed and stuck at home. But this isn’t the new normal. Vaccines look promising and by this time next year, our lives are likely to be back on track. It’s hard to imagine it now, but it may seem inevitable when spring arrives.

I am an optimist at heart. It’s a trait that I’m thankful to have, even if it makes me idealistic and perhaps naive at times. I find that it keeps my focus on the future and what can be learned from times of darkness. I tend to look at change and challenges as opportunities. The psychological term for this is “reframing” and I find myself doing it often; a secret weapon. 

There was a moment in early 2020 when I started to feel the uncertainties mounting. It was early in the pandemic and nearly every aspect of life felt up in the air. My book, Big Enough, was sent to the printer, which meant it could not be changed. Then, the bottom fell out of the economy and the book industry took a hit. We decided to change the release date from May to September, with the hope that the environment would improve. 

On top of all the normal anxiety that comes with a book’s release, I had to accept that I was publishing and promoting a book during a pandemic. All the time and effort I put into the book seemed like it could wash away in the flood of events. What if society changed to a degree that made Big Enough less relevant? 

After the initial shock, I started to reframe. All things considered, the book was complete, still relevant and the core message seemed to fit. I read numerous articles about people who had discovered happiness in a more home-based lifestyle and were looking for opportunities to start a business that would support that happiness. Could the pandemic actually bolster the book’s message? Could this change in perspective, over time, be a net positive? This idea gave me hope. 

Today the book is out in the world and doing fine. Above all, I believe that it’s a book people will find when the time is right. This winter may not be it, but by spring, we could be living in a different environment.

About two years ago, we moved out of our house in Seattle and filled a container with furniture, clothes, boxes and what felt like a million other things. Today, that container sits in a warehouse and I think of it like a time capsule. Our former lives and lifestyle are in that container, waiting to be released. A day will come, probably in January or February, when the container will be delivered to Orcas Island and we can reconnect with our past lives. This feeling of reconnecting and beginning again has become such a rich source of anticipation.

Perhaps we all have our own time capsules. Your belongings may not be sitting in a container, but your version of normal life may be on hold for a while longer. All the togetherness and freedom that we all miss is not gone, it’s just waiting to be opened again.

I, for one, want to believe that the spring of 2021 will be a time for us to open our time capsules and become reacquainted with our former lives. When we do, it won’t be exactly the same as before because we’ve changed. The optimist in me believes it could be better because we will have learned to appreciate what we formerly felt was normal.

That’s the core of this perspective. Bad things happen and change is inevitable, we can’t control it. It’s history. The best we can do is look ahead try to find the opportunity or hope within it, or use the change as a reason to push on something we can control and want to alter or improve.

If you find yourself feeling hopeful about spring, consider how you might use the transition to start on a different footing. There may be no better time than just after a shake-up.

I think about this from the perspective of our dogs, Maybe and Piper. They know nothing of pandemics or politics. They are unburdened by the economy. But they are about to experience a fundamental change in the new house and in that change is an opportunity to establish new behaviors and habits. 

For example, the house will have a large fenced-in yard for keeping dogs in and deer out. It will wrap around two sides of the house, creating space for them to play without our supervision. My hope is to use this change in their environment to begin new practices that start on day one.

For example, I’ve been researching ultrasonic dog whistles that we can use to recall them without neighbors noticing. On the day we move in, the dogs will begin to learn that amazing treats are connected to the sound of that whistle. If it works, it becomes the new normal for us all.

My hope is that Spring 2021 will mark a point in time when we can all start to leave 2020 behind and begin to restart, rethink, and reframe. We’ve been through a lot. Don’t let that change go to waste. Instead, use it to consider what a new normal could look like to you in the next year. 

How BIG ENOUGH Made the Front Page of Google

How BIG ENOUGH Made the Front Page of Google

At the beginning of 2020, the internet didn’t know about a book called Big Enough. Further, my personal website, the future home of the book, had been dormant for years. To prepare for the book’s release, I designed and built leelefever.com on WordPress with a long term plan to establish it as the new home of my books and other writing.

Today, a Google search for “Big Enough” shows two links to the book on the first page of results. I’m both excited and surprised.

I’m no SEO pro, but I did a number of things to help achieve this ranking.

Links – One of my favorite methods for promoting the book is through appearances on podcasts. For the most part, podcast hosts will link to the guest’s websites when they publish the show. I also link to the podcast when I write about the interview. This has helped me earn a number of high-quality links to the Big Enough page on my website and the Amazon page.

Keyword Density – When I designed the website, selling copies of Big Enough was the motivation, so the entire site was focused on the book page. Headings, internal links, blog posts, etc. Google surely saw that my website was all about the term “big enough”. Secondarily, I focused on words likely to be used by the people I am trying to reach. These are words like entrepreneurship, business, scalability, residual income, lifestyle, happiness, etc.

Engaging Content – I created multiple videos to promote the book and embedded them on the book page for easy viewing. I also provide downloadable PDFs, pre-written tweets, and more. My goal was to keep people on the page, which shows Google that they were engaged.

Load Times – I struggled with this. When I initially designed the site, I wasn’t thinking about load times and it was frustratingly slow. A friend suggested using this GTMetrics tool to figure out what was causing the slowdown. I used ImageOptim to decrease the size of my images on the site and that made load times much faster.

Blogging – I’ve been a blogger since 2003 and it’s an important part of my professional life. I knew that the book page and my website would benefit from regular updates that focus on the book and my writing. As soon as the website went up, I blogged consistently, just as I am now. I share the blog posts on social media, often with the JetPack plug-in, which makes publishing easier, among other things.

Mobile-Friendliness – I’m not a programmer and only know the basics of html/CSS. A friend introduced me to the DIVI WordPress theme and I was blown away by the Visual Page Builder. For the first time, I had complete control over the design and didn’t have to learn how to make it responsive to screen size. DIVI did the heavy lifting.

SEO Tools – I use the RankMath WordPress plug-in to help me understand how my site’s content relates to SEO. I use it to optimize my focus keywords, content length, titles, etc.

Open Graph – You’ve probably seen how social media platforms display a little preview or “snippet” when a link is shared. That preview is also related to meta-data about the page that relates what the page is about (book vs. restaurant, for example). For the first few months, my previews looked like crap and my metadata was not accurate. My friend, Robby, suggested learning about Open Graph and optimizing the metadata and how those previews display. Now I have complete control of the previews on a post-by-post basis. This page helped me get started, but what really helped was testing the links for each platform:

This is my default open graph preview:

Competition – I didn’t do keyword research when I chose the title “Big Enough”, and think I got lucky. The biggest competition for a top-ranking is a hilarious video that features a screaming cowboy. The song is “Big Enough” by Kirin J. Callinan.

Quality – I am a firm believer that there is no SEO trick that can replace the value of quality content. It takes time and effort, but the results are clear. My company, Common Craft, became successful because we earned traffic and rankings the old-fashioned way.

Before You Go: Watch the video below to have a laugh (give it some time), then consider grabbing a copy of Big Enough.

A Story On Big Enough Launch Day ? ?

A Story On Big Enough Launch Day ? ?

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


Friends, it’s an exciting day. BIG ENOUGH was officially launched and I’m so excited to see it out in the world. To celebrate, I recorded a video for you.

A Video for Ready for Rain Subscribers

A Story from BIG ENOUGH

Below is the video we made with Google in 2007:

Google Docs in Plain English

That’s all I have for now. See you next week!

How I’m Publishing BIG ENOUGH

How I’m Publishing BIG ENOUGH

Big Enough, my forthcoming book, arrives on September 15th. It’s being published via a partnership between me and publishing industry pros. Below, I’ll explain why I made this choice, how it differs from traditional publishing, and why this option might become more popular in the future.

art of explanation book cover

In 2012, I worked with Wiley, a major book publisher, to publish The Art of Explanation. I enjoyed working with Wiley and I’m proud of what we produced. Our relationship represented how publishers have worked with authors for generations.

My goal with Big Enough, though, is to self-publish a book that’s indistinguishable from one produced by a major publisher. It will appear on the same bookshelves and be of similar quality. Before getting into that, I think it’s important to understand the variety of expertise that goes into publishing nearly any book destined for bookstores.

  • Books, of course, must be written. Authors are responsible for putting ideas on a page, which takes time and produces no direct income. Writing a book comes with opportunity costs and possibly debt.
  • Authors need editors. Books meant for the mass market must be edited. Working with a professional editor can transform a book and increase its potential to be successful. In addition to content editing, copy editors and proofreaders ensure the book’s grammar, spelling and punctuation are correct. This work ensures quality, takes time and talented editors don’t work for free.
  • Books need design. Professional book designers create cover art and select layouts, fonts, headings, and more. A nicely designed book relates to the content and stands out on the shelf. Designers also deserve to be paid for their work.
  • A physical book must be printed and distributed. Like any other product, books travel through a supply chain. Getting a book into this supply chain requires business relationships with both printers and distributors. Project managers are essential in this process.
  • Purchases require awareness. Marketing, advertising and sometimes, public relations campaigns can help a book be discovered. These activities require time, expertise, and can come with significant advertising costs.

The bottom line is this: high-quality books require significant investment and acceptance of risk. I think about it in terms of a break-even point. Will the book sell enough to pay for the cost of publishing it?

Now, let’s talk traditional publishing. In working with Wiley, I wrote the book and they handled most of the work I described above. I was not required to invest in editing, design, printing, distribution, etc. In fact, they gave me an advance payment while writing the book, which I paid back through book sales. This relationship insulated me, the author, from financial risk.

In this scenario, the publisher is betting that they can produce a book that, at least, breaks even. Because of their size and volume, they dominate the supply chains and can negotiate the best deals. They have in-house talent and decades of experience that reduce the risk. This is why “getting a book deal” is sometimes a struggle. Publishers must bet on the future work of authors.

Being an author in a traditional publishing relationship can be stressful because there is a sense of obligation. When the publisher’s money is on the line, they call the shots. Many have a structured process designed for maximum output. Because the publisher’s money goes into production, they also keep much of the income from book sales. In this scenario, authors sometimes feel a loss of control.

Now, let’s switch to Big Enough.

big enough cover

I love the idea of self-publishing and have spent over a decade self-publishing Common Craft videos. One of the messages of Big Enough is that technology has made it possible for anyone to be a publisher and earn a living from their intellectual property. My approach to book publishing is an expression of this focus on independence.

Self-publishing, though, has some baggage. Once it became technologically possible, authors could publish e-books with a minimum investment and without the help of experts who ensure quality, like editors and designers. Without these gatekeepers, quality sometimes suffered and self-publishing became known as inferior.

This is where things have changed. Self-publishing isn’t defined by technology, gatekeepers, or quality. There is no reason a self-published book can’t compete with a major publisher’s book. The key difference can be boiled down to a simple question: who is taking the risk?

In the case of Big Enough, it’s me. I am investing in the expertise and relationships that I believe will make the book a success. I am putting my money on the line and betting that I can make Big Enough successful enough to break even. As such, I remain in control and earn a greater percentage of the income.

My partner in this adventure is a company called Page Two, which is owned and operated by industry veterans Trena White and Jesse Finkelstein. Page Two specializes in working with non-fiction authors to self-publish high-quality books. Their team of professionals does the work of a major publisher but on a mostly fee-for-service basis. Further, they have key relationships with printers and distributors that would be difficult for me to form. Page Two is my secret weapon in making Big Enough a major publisher-style book.

One of the things I love about this relationship is that Page Two, in publishing industry terms, is a start-up. It’s refreshing to work on a book with a young company successfully being disruptive. They encourage ideas, like direct sales from my website, that major publishers might not condone. Importantly, they reflect the values I believe are important, like independence and a sense of creative control.

I consider this model of self-publishing the best option for me and the message of Big Enough. It represents a personal risk, but it’s one I’m willing to take.

Learn more about BIG ENOUGH.

Making The Trailer Video for Big Enough ⛰ ?‍? ?

Making The Trailer Video for Big Enough ⛰ ?‍? ?

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


Since 2007, I’ve been a very specific kind of video producer. Namely, an indoor one. Common Craft videos are animated and mostly created on a computer. Despite making my living with videos, I have relatively little experience with live-action, outdoor video.

Leading up to the launch of BIG ENOUGH, I decided I would try making a live-action book trailer and do it 100% by myself. That’s part of the Common Craft way. I love learning by doing. The idea was to go on a hike at a nearby preserve with a tripod and drone and capture footage of me walking our two dogs, Maybe and Piper.

The Trailer

That probably sounds fairly simple, but it was far from it. Despite being a sweet, cuddly dog, who always seems to appear on your lap indoors, Piper is a hunter outdoors. If she gets off the leash, she will disappear into the woods. So, in order to keep both dogs safe, I tied their leashes to my leather belt. This meant that everything I did that day happened with over one hundred pounds of canine at my feet.

This would be a challenge without photography, in part because of the place where I hiked. Turtleback Mountain, is, well… a mountain. The loop I hiked is three miles and about 850 feet in elevation. This is where being alone became a challenge.

I wanted a few shots that featured me and the dogs walking through the frame from left to right. To get this footage, I had to hike up a hill, set up the tripod, then hike down the hill, and walk up it again as the camera rolled, then come back down to stop the recording and then up to the next stop. All with two large dogs tied to my waist. The three-mile hike surely went to five miles.

Then, of course, I was carrying a drone with batteries and a remote. Operating the drone is always stressful because I’m worried that it will crash or fly away. I’ve had it abruptly lose control and fly into a tree in the past. What if that happened on a mountain?

I have two drone batteries that each last for about 10 minutes of flight time and it goes quickly. I had a number of locations where I wanted to get footage and this created anxiety about using up the batteries before I could get to the next location. So, I was very cautious about wasting the precious energy and tried to keep the drone in a recoverable range, should something go off the rails.

Turtleback is a popular hiking trail and I was self conscious about other hikers noticing me behaving in a strange way. I imagined them wondering why I kept walking back and forth at the same spot on the trail with my dogs. Why does he have all that equipment? And maybe, why does he look so stressed out?

At the summit of Turtleback, there is a large rock outcropping called Ship Peak and I had been saving batteries for that location. Just before reaching the summit, I dropped my backpack on the side of the trail, something I never do. I think I was overheated and just wanted it gone. I grabbed the drone and made my way to the peak.

Soon after, an older couple appeared with a worried look on their faces. That’s when it hit me. A couple of years ago, someone found a pack on the trail with homemade explosives in it. Nothing ever came of it, but all the locals heard about it and everyone was warned – do not approach random backpacks on Turtleback. I, of course, had just dropped a suspicious-looking backpack, which the couple had found.

The first thing they said was, “Is that your backpack down there?”

I replied, “Yes, I’m sorry…” and before I could get more words out, the woman said, “You know there was a problem with a backpack here?”

“Yes, I know. I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking.”

They moved on, but got comfortable on another part of the summit, which left me with a dilemma. They already seemed annoyed, but I was there to fly the drone around and take videos. How long would they stay? Eventually, I just told them, “Hey, I’m just going to fly this around for a couple of minutes.” They nodded and that’s what I did.

On the way out, I looked over at them with a quick wave of acknowledgement. With a smile, the woman said, “Don’t forget your backpack!” I could only laugh and feel a bit embarrassed. I was that guy.

Thankfully, it all worked out beautifully. The weather was perfect, the drone stayed in my control and the dogs… they had no choice. Despite the effort, stress, and awkwardness, I loved every minute of making that video and I’m really proud of how it turned out.

Watch it:

Share the trailer via YouTube, Facebook or Twitter.

What We’re Watching

With so much going on between the book and house, Sachi and I often relax in front of the TV in the evenings. Lately a few shows have been keeping us entertained and I’m now realizing that these are all kind of dark and on Amazon. I guess that’s our style right now.

Here are my quick reviews of each:

Patriot (Amazon) – It sounds like a Tom Clancy novel and it has some elements of espionage, but it’s not your average spy thriller. It’s stylish, dark, unexpectedly funny, and has musical interludes, sung by the main character, that advance the story. We loved both seasons. This video captures an enduring part of the show that cracks me up.

Counterpart (Amazon) – I love the science fiction premise of this show, starring J.K. Simmons. It takes place decades after scientists discover a portal to an identical world, or parallel universe, where everyone has an “other”. The show is mostly about interactions and schemes between the two worlds. Complex, dark, and well-made.

Homecoming (Amazon) – A secretive company is working with soldiers returning home with symptoms of PTSD. Over time, you learn the company’s true intentions and the scale of their efforts. The first season stars Julia Roberts and the second, which I liked even more, stars Janelle Monáe.

The Dread and Delight of Publishing Big Enough ? ➡️ ?

The Dread and Delight of Publishing Big Enough ? ➡️ ?

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


Of Dread and Delight

The date of August 15th was stuck in my mind. That was the day my pre-order campaign for Big Enough was scheduled to begin. Unlike finalizing the book website or changing my social media profiles, this date mattered because it marked a very personal phase of the project that would find me emailing virtually everyone I know.

This sort of campaign is practically a requirement for authors like me. Before the book comes out, my personal network is where it all begins and it’s my job to contact people and encourage them to pre-order the book, or share a link. With their help, the book can earn attention before it comes out.

I never look forward to self-promotion, or promotion of any kind, really. I wish there was a way to put something into the world and have people buy it on merits alone. But that doesn’t work for books that are not yet published. I must be involved.

In normal times, I would dread the process of promoting the book. I’d probably write one big email, add everyone I know to the BCC line, and send it. The process would be over in an afternoon and I could move on. I’d probably get moderate results from moderate effort.

These, as you know, are not normal times. COVID has changed everyone’s life in ways large and small. Millions of people are out of work and people are dying in unthinkable numbers every day. We’re on the cusp of an election and social unrest that sucks the air out of everything in the media. What an excellent time to launch a new book!

The dread I felt for self-promotion became magnified by the pandemic. Not only do I have to promote the book, but do it in a turbulent and unpredictable environment. I worried that I would come off as someone who was ignoring the reality of other people’s lives. I expected people to respond with messages like, “DUDE, read the room!”

I reviewed my list of friends and peers and tried to imagine what I could say that would encourage them to be involved. How could I approach them in a way that felt natural?

As this weighed on my mind, I thought about how I would want to be approached for something like a book in this environment. I’d want it to feel personal and authentic. I’d want to feel like it was sent to me, exclusively. I would want to feel like a relationship had been rekindled. This prompted an idea: Instead of blasting a single email to everyone, what if I took the time to email every person, individually?

The business person in me said this strategy was inefficient. And that’s probably true. A single email blast would work well enough. I’d get over the icky feeling and hope for the best.

But then something changed. It felt like I didn’t have a choice. The only way to promote the book, in my mind, was to send hundreds of personalized, individual emails. These weren’t just personalized by name, but actual messages to that person with the goal of making a real connection.

After five or six hours of research, I made a spreadsheet with every person, their email address and a place for notes about them. This was the foundation and it looked daunting. Over 300 emails, many to people I respect and admire. I felt pangs of dread.

One morning last week, I reserved a few hours on my calendar and dove in, starting on the first row. It didn’t take long to feel the first glimpse of delight. For each person, I tried to identify at least one thing I could mention that would show I’m thinking about them, exclusively. This might be something I saw on Instagram, a memory from the past, a funny anecdote. Inside jokes are often the best connectors. Going through each name on the list forced me to think back about our relationship, how I knew them, when we saw each other last.

If I needed inspiration, I’d find something by searching for them by name. I’d see that they switched jobs, moved to a new location, or got married. I’d learn about their lives and then show them, in email, that I was aware. I made the effort. This reflection time was delightful because it made me appreciate the people in my life. At a time when my physical contact was at a minimum, these reflections gave me a sense of community that’s long term and will last through the pandemic.

The project was taking hours each day, but it was more fulfilling than I could have imagined because it was personal. Sure, I was promoting a book and asking them to pre-order it, but I was also reaching out as a friend who knows them. I was showing them that they mattered. I didn’t compose every email as a soliloquy, but I did make it clear the email was exclusive to them. In more than one case, I learned a friend was recovering from an illness and was able to approach them with that in mind.

Of course, not everyone was engaged and I’m sure some didn’t have the time and had to ignore the message. I expect that. But I was also surprised by how many people chose to reply and keep the conversation going. Friends pre-ordered the book and posted messages on social media encouraging others to do the same. People I hadn’t seen since high school joined in and it filled me with delight. They were excited to read the book and help in any way they could. Some pre-ordered multiple copies. People wanted to help at a level that surprised me.

As much as I’d love to think this reaction was because of my carefully chosen words or nature of the book, I believe other factors are at work. We are all feeling the effects of the pandemic in ways large and small. Our physical distance may be highlighting new ways to feel generous and gracious. We still value helping and supporting one another, but now it’s using digital bits instead of atoms.

Publishing a book under these circumstances isn’t a best case scenario, but I now have a completely new perspective. What I’ve discovered is that we all want to be a part of one another’s lives. When that’s not possible physically, we can do it in other ways and with other goals. Today, it might be telling someone about the book, tomorrow it could be me congratulating a family with a new baby, or a graduation. I would love to know if a friend I haven’t seen in years is starting a new business or moving to a new town. These are the things that can connect us and now, they are just about the best we can do. I encourage you to reach out to your friends. Give them an update, ask a question, offer an idea. Reminisce.

You might end up feeling, like I do, that there is a support network on our side and helping us through. They’ve shown us that it’s OK to reach out and ask for support. It’s OK to be in touch after years of distance. We all need that and it’s a delight to feel connected again.

Learn more about Big Enough

A Story On Big Enough Launch Day ? ?

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.

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.