Convert Great Content into Printed and Digital Magazines

Photo: HP news

WRITERS. If you want to monetize some of that great content you have developed for blogs, webinars, or white papers, consider converting it into a magazine and publishing it through HP’s MagCloud web-based self-publishing service.  Interested readers can either order a print version of your magazine or a digital edition. The digital editions can be read on a PC, Mac, WebOS, iOS, Android or other device that supports PDF files. Once a month, MagCloud pays publishers any collected royalties over $10. Payments are made via PayPal. You can check your sales online anytime. 

The MagCloud service isn’t limited to bloggers. Nor does your publication have to be a periodical. For example:

  • Photographers and artists can create catalogs for exhibition or art shows.
  • Freelance writers can produce bound, hard-copy portfolios of their clips.
  • Designers can produce print-on-demand brochures and catalogs for clients or their own products.
  • Traditional magazine publishers can produce special editions or republish content from back issues.

Here are the six steps involved in publishing and selling through MagCloud:

Create Your Magazine or Catalog
You can set up the pages of your magazine using any software that will produce a letter-sized, multi-page PDF. How-To Guides on the MagCloud website explain how to produce your publication using Adobe InDesign, Quark Xpress, Apple Pages, or Microsoft Word or Publisher.

After you upload your PDF (or Flickr photo set) to MagCloud, fill out a description, and order a proof. At this point, you will be the only one who can see it.

MagCloud will print, bind, and mail a proof to you.

If changes are needed, you can upload a new PDF and order another proof. Once you are satisfied with the proof, mark the issue as “published” and set the price for both the print and digital version. For every copy that is printed, MagCloud charges $0.20/page. You can specify any markup above the production costs. For digital issues, you earn 70% of the selling price.

Buy and Sell
When the issue is published, people can buy it through the MagCloud website or download it with the MagCloud iPad app or via digital PDF on  their PC or Mac. Buyers will need to use a credit card or PayPal account to order a copy.

Print and Mail
When someone buys an issue, MagCloud prints, binds, and ships to the buyer. A Ship to Group capability enables you to have the magazine sent to a specified group of people.

Cover of AirPlaneista

One publisher who uses MagCloud is Dan Pimentel, Airplanista Magazine editor and founder. He has been in and around the fields of journalism, graphic design, photography, magazines, and newspapers since 1974. He has been a licensed private pilot since 1996.

He publishes Airplanista magazine ( once a month, with the tagline “Sometimes serious. Sometimes humorous. Always unpredictable.”  The content includes a mix of feature stories, commentary and photography of interest to anyone in the aviation business, including general aviation pilots, aircraft owners, and professional pilots. In a press release announcing that the availablility of iPad-readable versions of Airplanista, Pimentel notes that feedback from buyers of the iPad version has been very favorable. Readers consider it a rich, very visual experience.  

HP’s Andrew Bolwell notes that MagCloud has enabled thousands of magazine publishers to sell hundreds of thousands of magazine issues. He says the newest services provide readers the freedom to consumer the targeted content they want in the format they want, whether it be print or digital.




MindStir Media Can Set You Up with a Virtual Book Tour

MindStir Media LogoWRITERS. If you’re not sure you have all of the skills needed to publish and promote a book, check out the wide range of services offered by MindStir Media. This self-publishing/book marketing company is quickly becoming a one-stop shop for all of the support services that a self-publishing author might need, including:

  • Ghost writing
  • Copy editing
  • Cover design
  • ISBN assignment
  • Copyright registration
  • On-demand printing
  • Ebook and Audiobook conversions
  • Distribution to major booksellers
  • Press release development and distribution
  • Website design
  • Online advertising assistance
  • Virtual book tours

The company even offers book-signing kits that contain 500 bookmarks, 500 postcards, 500 business cards, and 25 posters.

MindStir services can be purchased separately (a la carte) or in packages.

The company’s newest service is a Convenience Book Tour, in which MindStir will set up a month-long online/virtual promotional book tour for you. They will help you get exposure your book on 20 high-traffic blogs, including some that are syndicated into USA Today, Chicago Times, or the Wall Street Journal. While MediaStir handles all of the “bookings” for your promotional tour, you will write guest blog posts, take part in author interviews, and/or receive book reviews by bloggers.  You don’t even have to leave your home.

The book tour service includes:

  • a personalized tour page with your tour schedule, book cover, book cover, and ordering information.
  • a personalized tour banner graphic for your tour page, website, or blog.
  • a press release announcing your book tour.
  • advertising on social networks, e-groups, and blogs.


MindStir Media

Smashwords Makes It Easy to Publish Your E-Book

WRITERS. Last week, I attended a terrific 90-minute webinar entitled “Do Your E-Book Right (and Start Making Money).” Presented as part of the Writer’s Digest Webinar Series, this particular session was led by the former publisher and editorial director of Writer’s Digest, Jane Friedman.

She described how e-books are providing new opportunities for aspiring authors to publish their work electronically at little or no cost. Friedman also talked about some of the services that can help you convert your manuscript into book formats that can be read on media tablets, smartphones, and computers.

One free service Friedman highlighted was Smashwords, which allows you to become a published author in minutes. You can use Smashwords to publish full-length novels, short fiction, essays, poetry, personal memoirs, non-fiction, and screenplays.

Smashwords will convert your manuscript into multiple e-book formats, making your book readable on most e-reading devices, including: the Amazon Kindle; the Apple iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad; the Sony Reader; the Barnes & Noble nook; Android devices; and personal computers.

You can set your own price for the book and retain full control over sampling and marketing. You receive 85 percent of the net sales proceeds from your titles (70.5 percent for affiliate sales).

Based in Los Gatos, California, Smashwords was founded in 2007 by aspiring novelist Mark Coker. After he and his wife co-authored a book in 2002, they were unable to land a book deal even after two years of representation from one of the most respected literary agencies in New York City. Coker concluded that that in today’s digital age, authors should be able to publish whatever they want and readers should be able to decide for themselves what’s worth reading.

“Authors lucky enough to land a book deal rarely sell enough books to earn royalties beyond their initial $5,000 to $10,000 advance,” noted Coker. He learned that trade publishers were losing money on nearly 80 percent of the books they publish because of the high costs of production, warehousing, distribution, and marketing. Bookstores were often returning up to 50 percent of their inventory for a full refund.

With the launch of the iPad and other improved media tablets and e-reading devices, e-books are becoming increasingly important to the book-publishing industry.

Smashwords has already published more than 30,000 ebooks for more than 13,000 authors and independent publishers.

“By digitizing a book, authors and publishers can immortalize their works, making them permanently discoverable to new audiences,” explains Coker. “For authors and publishers of out-of-print books, e-books offer a great way to bring these works back to life.”

Smashwords Book Marketing Guide CoverPublishing e-books can be a great option for all sorts of entrepreneurial writers, including business professionals interested in publishing or test-marketing their content or ideas.

Of course once you publish your ebook, you will still need to promote it. To get started, download the free “Smashwords Book Marketing Guide.” This marketing primer presents an overview of how Smashwords helps promote your book, and then provides 26 simple do-it-yourself marketing tips.

Smashwords Style Guide Book CoverIf you want Smashwords to distribute your book to major e-book retailers such as the Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobe, and Diesel, you will need to download and use the free Smashwords Style Guide. The guide provides step-by-step instructions for formatting the manuscript for your e-book.


Book-Marketing Support Services Aim to Ease the Pain of Promoting Your Work

Screenshot of Book MarketingWhether you choose to self publish a book or are lucky enough to land a book deal with a publisher, one of the harsh realities is that you will have to do a lot of the marketing of the book yourself.  This sometimes comes as a big surprise to an author who has focused mostly on mastering the art of fiction writing or developing the expertise needed to write a credible non-fiction book.

Making matters worse is the fact that the field of marketing itself is in a state of rapid transformation. Even experienced PR and marketing professionals are struggling to keep up with some of the opportunities and challenges associated with new media platforms and social networking.

Because there is no magic, one-size-fits-all formula for marketing a book anymore, how does an author even know where to begin? It’s certainly not a dumb question, and one that a new crop of book-marketing services would be happy to try to help you resolve.

For example, today I ran across an online press release for Book Marketing: The Authors Marketing Powerhouse website. The site provides authors with a centralized hub for book marketing activity, education, and networking. It is intended to be a one-stop resource to help authors find success in today’s confusing and ultra-competitive Internet marketing environment.

Each author can create a personalized page, upload photos, bios, book covers, video and book trailers, and integrate their promotion activities with Facebook and Twitter. The site also offers discussion forums on book-marketing and website optimization strategies and segmented special-interest groups for authors of different genres of books.

The site is a joint collaboration of Don McCauley of the Free Publicity Focus Group and Danielle Hampson of The Free Publicity Group is a marketing and publicity firm that helps authors develop strategic marketing plans that integrate many of today’s free publicity and social-networking tools. produces professionally recorded and edited interviews in a “Show” format that can help the author appear more credible.

“The site can be treated as a place to create awareness of one’s work while, at the same time, allowing authors to network with like-minded individuals,” explains McCauley. “The segmented groups allow for the exchange of book marketing ideas, while the discussion forums can serve as an educational resource for those who may need to increase their own knowledge with regards to creating marketing and publicity plans that produce real results.”

I’m not surprised to discover websites such as The Author’s Marketing Powerhouse. Whenever technological change (in this case, on-demand book publishing) causes pain and confusion in the marketplace, a slew of start-up companies and organizations emerge to help address the new problems.  Some solutions turn out to be wonderful; others are not-so-great.

So when I call attention to a new service for creative professionals on this blog, my purpose is not necessarily to endorse it. I just think it’s important for creative professionals who want to find new markets for their work to always stay aware of what new services and resources exist to help them.

I know from experience that some of these start-up services will inevitably crash and burn, while others will adapt to the needs of their customers, evolve, and grow.

If you’ve had any experiences with some of these new book-marketing services, I’d love to hear from you!


Book Marketing: The Authors Marketing Powerhouse 

Self-Publisher Explains How to Get Your Book Out Quickly

WRITERS. Suppose you have a great idea for a nonfiction book. Which approach is a better use of your time: Should you develop a detailed book proposal, pitch it to an agent or publisher, and wait two years for the book to hit the shelves? Or should you self-publish the book first and start selling it while most of the information is still current?

Self-Publishing Manual Vol. 2If self-publishing sounds like too much work or you’re not sure where to begin, I recommend reading both volumes of Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual.  Then you’ll understand why the stigma once associated with self-publishing has vanished. You’ll also see why the brave, new world of ‘trans-media’ is rapidly changing the very definition of a ‘book.’

If you’re a writer, self-publishing is a great way to control every phase of your book’s production. Plus, the more you know about self-publishing, the better prepared you will be to help others who may hire you to ghost-write or edit their books.

Poynter believes emerging technologies are rapidly making it possible for authors to get closer to their readers while also selling books for less. You can still profit from your investment in self-publishing, says Poynter, because you will be eliminating the amount of income paid to agents, publishers, wholesalers, bookstores, distributors, and other gatekeepers in the middle.

Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual (463 pages) covers the basics of writing, printing, and selling your own book and lets you see how the steps involved in self-publishing differ from those associated with traditional publishing. In addition to tips on book design and formatting, Poynter provides practical advice on selecting a book printer, deciding how many books to print, and estimating sales. He devotes entire chapters to marketing and distribution channels and shipping and fulfillment considerations.

Self-Publishing Manual Vol 1Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual, Volume 2 (144 pages) explains how to take advantage of some of the technological changes that are rapidly transforming the book-publishing business. For example, Poynter suggests building your print version (pbook) first, then converting that content into other forms your audience might like, including: e-books, audio books (a-books), and large-print books (lpbooks).

As Poynter  explains, “We call them ‘books,’ but that term is generic; ‘books’ can take many forms. Do not think of your product as a print product—think of it as entertainment or information. Then focus on providing the formats (or editions) the buyer wants and needs.”

To streamline the self-publishing process, he advises writing the back-cover promotional copy first so you can clarify in your mind why readers might be interested in the type of content you’re developing. (In other words, instead of figuring out how to pitch your idea to an agent or publisher, first spend some time deciding how you will pitch your book directly to the potential buyer.) 

He also explains how to typeset the book in formatted pages as you write it, instead of writing it in the traditional manuscript form required by conventional publishers. You will still need to have the book peer-reviewed, copy-edited, and proofread. But if the book is already formatted in pages, you can save some valuable time.

In Volume 2, Poynter talks about how to use social media and social networking to gather information for your writing and alerting people who may be interested in buying your book.  He also talks about new technology that let you publish it for less, new ways to distribute your book more economically, and how to have fun promoting it. 

Photo of Dan Poynter with booksDan Poynter says it took him eight years to produce his first book (on parachuting). Since then he has written more than 125 books, primarily by developing a highly organized system for researching, research, writing, and editing.  In some cases, the pages for his books have been written, laid out, and delivered to the printer within 30 days.

Having been in the business since 1969, he knows the ins and outs of the business from all angles. He has published books for other authors and sold some of his own books to publishing companies.   

You Don’t Have to Do It All Yourself!
If you don’t have the time or confidence to handle all of the steps involved in self-publishing yourself, there are plenty of sources who can help you. For example, the self-publishing manual lists specialized service providers such as bar code suppliers, book clubs, book fair exhibiting services, book designers and cover artists. Poynter also lists “book shepherds,” a new group of consultants who will take your book project through all of the necessary steps.

One of the most useful features of the book is a Calendar, with a checklist of some of the administrative and promotion-related items you should be tackling during different stages of writing and producing the book.

Self-publishing can indeed be a lot of work, and recouping your investment of time and money will require a commitment to promoting it. But unless you have already established a strong business relationship with an existing publishing company, self-publishing and selling your first book may soon be regarded as an essential first step.  

The Future of Books
Poynter believes the publishing business is changing so rapidly that in the near future, the publication cycle will be reversed and books will first be posted online, then committed to ink and paper if there is sufficient interest.

In Volume 2, he writes, “We will always have printed books, but they will be fiction, coffeetable books (works of art), and nonfiction that is so popular that it has earned a print run.”

Both books are available from bookstores. Or you can buy them directly from Dan’s website, Para Publishing. The website features dozens of other tips and resources for writers and anyone who wants to publish their own books.


Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual: How to Write, Print, and Sell Your Own Book

Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual, Vol. 2

Para Publishing