Tsh Oxenreider | Simple Mom
ebook: One Bite at a Time
date published: August 2011
Case Study:How did publishing an ebook open the door to a traditional publishing contract for you?
I had an ebook called “Spring Cleaning For Normal People,” and it was this ebook that familiarized a publisher with my writing. She approached me about writing a traditional book loosely based on the ebook, which became my first book, Organized Simplicity.Both of your ebooks have taken an out-of-the-box approach to a fairly well known topic. How important do you think having a unique selling proposition has been for ebook marketing and sales?
If you’re asking about the slightly different structure of the ebooks—10 days of simple spring cleaning, as opposed to a generic book on spring cleaning, or 52 projects for simplifying life, instead of a generic book on simplifying—then yes, that was a major positive selling point. I think people appreciate a certain simple how-to-ness with ebooks, and breaking down a common idea in to something edible is very appealing.Some ebooks are straightforward and to the point while others are a little more creative, like One Bite at a Time. How did you choose a title for that ebook?
It took me awhile to come up with something, but I knew I wanted to break down my writing in to 52 chunks. I was chatting with Kyle about it, and said something like, “I want it to be sort-of like eating an elephant. You know, that saying about how you do it one bite at a time.” We looked at each other, and I ran off to check out available domain names.What did your ebook writing process look like? Was it similar or different from your traditional book?
My traditional books take quite a bit longer to write, because they’re longer. But with both, I hunker down and do nothing but write for a short amount of time. For my ebooks, I’ve taken about two weeks and swept aside almost everything else on my calendar for the sake of creating it (that includes writing, editing, etc.). My book-writing is the same, though I write the outline and about a third of the book here and there for several months, with the final two-thirds or so written in about a month.Even though you are a wordsmith who obviously knows good writing and proper punctuation/grammar, you hired an editor to review your ebook. Can you talk a little bit about that decision and how you calculated the ROI?
I wanted someone else to read it because they can see the trees from the forest. When I’m thick in a book, I start becoming blind to my own grammar and content. Someone else can say, “Wait, that doesn’t make any sense.” I wouldn’t notice otherwise. And the person I hired is actually way better at traditional grammar than me, and knew she would fine-tooth comb every detail. She was worth every penny—I got my money back within 12 hours of my book launch.Similarly, even though you have a design background, you outsourced the design of the ebook. Can you talk a little bit about that decision?
I just didn’t want to do everything, and I knew the designer would do a fabulous job. I had pretty high criteria for how I wanted it to look, and knew it’d take me ages on top of the writing. I’d rather spend money on a good job and sanity than do everything myself.Why did you end up setting up a separate site for your ebook at 52bites.com versus hosting it at Simple Mom like you did with the first one?
Honestly, I’ll probably most it over to Simple Mom sometime in the future, when I have nothing else to do. There was a time when people had the idea of getting a separate domain name, Facebook page, etc. for every book, and I think it was around the trail end of that era. I wanted to grab the domain for branding purposes. There are still times and places for that; my next traditional book will have one, in fact. I just depends on what you want that separate site to accomplish.How has the One Bite at a Time series (which is actually hosted by a reader rather than yourself, right?) helped you maintain sales since the launch of the ebook?
The topic of simplifying can easily (and accidentally) portray the author as an expert. I wanted to dispell this notion, and also submit the idea that simplifying can look different for different families. Having a reader write their experience going through the book shows other potential readers that my ebook can be an ongoing experience, it’s not a prescriptive mandate, and it can be fun, too. Sales are always higher the few days after one of her posts goes live.