Digital Media 101 for Writers - What you can do in the next 60 minutes

(I wrote this post for my author friends)

Why you should care?
  • Your online presence is a long-term asset that stays with you even when you move across jobs, projects, companies, and books. It accumulates over time.
  • Building a passionate community allows you guarantee sales of your book, build up future pre-orders, and have the opportunity to mobilize your community for meaningful purpose. (I'm also writing a post with examples of authors who are leveraging their community for the greater good)
What you can do in the next 60 minutes:
  • Sign up for a blogging service - Tumblr (recommended) or WordPress (advanced)
    • This becomes your permanent space online. Make sure that people can subscribe to your blog via RSS and comment on it.
    • (Optional) Get a domain name with your name (e.g.
    • (Optional) Integrate it with disqus commenting system. See the posts on my blog as an example.
  • Signup for Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn
    • (Optional) Use Tweetdeck or Seesmic to follow your friends.
    • Post interesting short content on twitter/facebook/linkedin “updates”. Occasionally post updates to link back to your blog to buildup your “space”.
  • Subscribe to popular blogs/sites in your topic with a rss news reader.
  • Write posts that are designed to be shared and link generously to other bloggers so hopefully that they would link you back.

Seth Godin's Domino Project

What is the future of books? It's a big question with big and bigger conferences and I plan to talk more about it in future posts. But this one is about Seth Godin's Domino ProjectSeth Godin said that he has given up on publishing, but looks like he is becoming a publisher himself with the Domino?

My understanding is that he is trying to get folks who already have a small audience, help them self-publish books that are shorter, and then allow small scale, personal gifting to tap into word of mouth to grow it into a big audience.

Would it work? Can we find the right balance for a book that is short enough that a lot of people would read it and long enough that people would want to pay for it? This could all be speculative because I've never met Seth Godin and don't have any private information about the Domino Project.

It isn't the first time folks try to create shorter content (the Economist sells a bunch and TED is trying to do the same with TEDBooks). What's new here is that in the ebooks world, the incremental cost of "printing" a book is essentially zero and we can let readers gift additional copies cheaply, as long as the "gifter" doesn't gift it to people who would've bought the book in the first place (i.e. you don't want to eat into your own sales). I suppose that's where the concept of tribes comes in. We need a way to differentiate the original book from the one you get as a gift. e.g. a special, collectible edition of the book for true fan and basic electronic version that you can give out for free or at a discount. It's not a leap of faith. Musicians have experience doing this already. The Grateful Death lets tapers share personal (i.e. low quality) concert recordings and so does Lady Gaga.

My minor disagreement is that I think the future is bright for traditional publishers too. If Seth's venture does well, traditional publishers can figure out which "short" book takes off and help the author expand those into a full book.

MobNotate - Very Early Alpha Version

The last two weeks I had some time to push out an early alpha of mobnotate. You can find it at Basically, you email us any html webpage at and we will reply you with a link to your document/ebook hosted for free with added features such as reader annotation capability and integration with Facebook (e.g. any contribution by anyone will get broadcast to their wall if they're logged in).

This is a very very small part of what I want to accomplish with ebooks (which is a much bigger vision and involves more with mobile phones and tablets). The goal of this web version is to find out if we can use social media to help authors enrich content and increase the engagement from the readers. My success metric is to help writers (that's you!!) to get 10X more readers or 10X more engagement :-)

Current feature list (suggestions appreciated!!)
  • Email a html webpage attachment to and we will reply with a link. That means you can use any offline editor you want and just export it to html before emailing us.
  • Click in the doc anywhere to contribute content. Paste a link to an image or youtube video in the comment box to automatically embed multimedia.
  • If a user is connected to Facebook, any comment he/she makes will show up in their Facebook wall so that your book/document would get some viral marketing benefit. This also makes your content more social and personal.
  • A "Top contributors" ranking on the right to encourage participation from your readers.
Some sample documents,
  1. Art of War - Sun Tzu
  2. Alice in the Wonderland
  3. FCIC Report (fresh off the press!!):
If you're a reader, try reading some of the ebooks above and help enrich the content. Or if you have original content yourself (either you wrote or is in the public domain), email it to as an attachment and share the reply link with your readers to jumpstart the community. Feel free to email me anytime if you have any suggestions and ideas. By the way, if you have content that you expect to get a lot of readers let me know so I could try to prepare for it first :-)
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