Welcome to episode 55 of the Food Blogger Pro podcast! In this episode, Bjork talks with Jason Logsdon from Amazing Food Made Easy about self-publishing a cookbook.
Last week, Bjork talked with Jeni Elliott about making the transition from being just a blogger to being an entrepreneur. To go back and listen that episode, click here.
Generating Income through Self-Publishing a Cookbook
For many bloggers, getting a cookbook deal sounds like a dream come true. That’s when they know they’ve “made it.” As it turns out, though, getting a cookbook deal with a major publisher isn’t all puppies and roses. When it comes down to it, publishing a cookbook is more about brand awareness than it is about income, and much of the legwork done for creating and marketing the book is still up to the author.
Jason Logsdon published his first cookbook when his blog was still rather small – and he quickly discovered how self-publishing can actually be a simple, rewarding process that allows you to generate income even with a relatively small audience.
In this episode, Jason shares:
- Why he chose such a specific niche to blog in
- The 4 simple steps to self-publishing
- When it’s better to self publish vs. traditional publish
- What an average blogger can expect to make from a traditionally published cookbook
- How much money a self-published book can bring in
- How much traffic he had when he published his first book
- Who does the editing when you self-publish
- Why it’s a good idea to publish a print book
- What tools he uses to layout his books
Listen to the Food Blogger Pro Podcast below or check it out on iTunes or Google Play Music:
- Under Pressure by Thomas Keller
- Goats in Trees Calendar
- Amazon Whispernet
- 052: How to Sell 4,000 Cookbooks Before You Even Publish with Megan Gilmore from Detoxinista
- Amazing Food Made Easy
- Self Publishing Made Easy by Jason Logsdon
If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].
Be sure to review us on iTunes!
If you’d like to jump to the comments section, click here.
Bjork Ostrom: Welcome to episode number 55 of the Food Blogger Pro podcast. Hey there everybody, this is Bjork Ostrom and you are listening to episode number 55. Today we are talking to Jason Logsdon and Jason is a blogger, he is a food blogger, but he is also a self-published book author. Not only is he self-publish cook books, but he’s already wrote about that as well as selfpublishcookbook.com. He has a ton of knowledge. There’s a lot of information in this podcast, but there’s also a lot of inspiration because he shares some specifics around how much income he was able to make when he’s first starting out as a blogger doing self-published cookbooks and promoting self-published cookbooks.
He’s also going to talk through the process that he went through in order to take those cookbook ideas from the very beginning concept into reality and putting those on to the Amazon marketplace and other places as well and creating an income from those. It’s a really awesome interview with Jason and I’m excited to share it with you, but before we do, I wanted to do one quick little plug. We are really campaigning hard here to get our iTunes reviews up to 100. We’re almost there. We have 85 reviews, so we’re really looking to break that triple digit mark.
If you have a minute, we would just really appreciate that if you’ve gotten anything out of this podcast as a way to say thanks. For us, it’s helpful because it helps us show up higher when people search for certain things like self-publishing or self-publishing a cookbook, for instance. If a podcast has a lot of ratings and reviews, then we’re able to show up a little bit higher and it’s fuel for our virtual fire and it keeps us going, so we’d really, really appreciate that. The best place to do that is just with an iTunes. Let’s jump into this interview with Jason. He’s going to be talking about self-publishing, and his experience, and the tips and tricks that he has for you. Without further ado, let’s jump in. Jason, welcome to the podcast.
Jason Logsdon: Thank you. Happy to be here.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. I’m excited to talk to you about really a niche and area that we haven’t really dove into yet on podcast and I think it’s a really important concept because people will eventually get to a point with their blog where maybe they’ll get some type of cookbook deal offer and they’ll have to weigh, “Do I do this,” and the other part of that is, “What if I decide to do this but to do it on my own?” By doing that, they’re going to go into the world of self-publishing a cookbook, which you have a lot of experience about and we’re going to really dive into that and talk about that.
Before we do, I want to hear a little bit about your story. Not only do you have a blog and a successful blog, but you have focused in on an interesting niche. One that for me was kind of new and I was able to learn about a little bit as I was reading. First of all, can you tell us a little bit about your blog and then the niche that you focus on?
Jason Logsdon: I started blogging probably about eight years ago and it came about that I have a web involvement background and I was looking for some passive income and supplement my income a little bit. My wife bought me a book called Under Pressure by Thomas Keller and it was all about sous vide cooking and I just thought it was a fascinating to take a stuff that you could do at home. His book was pretty confusing for a new cook and if know high-end cuisine it’s like you read about him roasting a chicken and that confusing, you know?
Bjork Ostrom: Right. For me, it’s like just simple cooking is confusing, so I can imagine what it would have been like at this with complex recipes, and ingredients, and things like that.
Jason Logsdon: Yup. There’s all this information that I felt I needed and I couldn’t find it online anywhere so I, for some reason, decided to buckle down and learn everything I could about sous vide cooking and start my own website around that.
Bjork Ostrom: Let’s dive into that for those that aren’t familiar. Obviously, this is Food Blogger Pro podcast so people are going to be generally familiar. We have some people that aren’t food bloggers that listen and then we have some people that are in the food space like me that aren’t necessarily 100% foodies and so I didn’t I know a lot about sous vide cooking. Can you talk a little bit about what that is and how that works?
Jason Logsdon: Yup. Sous vide, a better description of it is low temperature precision cooking. Say you’re going to cook a steak to medium rare. Heat the grill up to 400, 500, 800 degrees for the steak on and when that middle gets up to medium rare, which is about 130 degrees, you want to pull it off within 30 to 60 seconds, otherwise it’s overcooked and sometimes it’s undercooked when you have to call it off right at that temperature. The whole premise of sous vide is that if you cook the food at the temperature you want to serve it at, so that medium rare steak you cook it at 130 degrees, you can’t really overcook it and you have a lot wider window to pull the food off.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. One of the things that was interesting as I was looking at this method of cooking was it seems like there’s maybe gadgety type of things that go along with it. Is that true? How does that work on the equipment side of things? I’m a gadget guy so that’s why it’s fun for me to talk about that.
Jason Logsdon: Because of the fine temperature control, I bought the original when it came out of labs where you have to keep blood samples within .1 degree Celsius and they started using this type of equipment in home kitchens so now there’s … they used to be a thousand dollars, $1,500 and you could get them for like 150 bucks now.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it.
Jason Logsdon: There’s a lot of nerdy science factor to sous vide cooking which is pretty interesting and I …
Bjork Ostrom: I’m sure. I can imagine literally scientists being like, “I wonder if you could use this to cook a steak,” and then bringing home their blood sample kit and then putting a steak in and being like, “Hey, this works and tastes good.”
Jason Logsdon: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Not that that’s exactly how it happened, but in my mind that’s what it is.
Jason Logsdon: I think it’s pretty similar, actually.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure. You had gotten this cookbook and it was on this sous vide cooking method, but as you got into it, my understanding is like, “Ooh man, this is complicated to read and maybe it could be communicated a little bit easier,” so then you’re like, “I know here being a developing and online guy.” You’re like, “I’m going to find it online.” Then you look online and there’s not really anything there. This is especially probably true eight years ago when there wasn’t as much of a prevalence of blogs, and websites, and things like that, so you say, “I think I’m going to try and fill this niche and create content that helps people learn how to do this.” I’m guessing that’s how you got started. Is that similar to the general path you took?
Jason Logsdon: Yup. There’s this book and then the only resource online at the time was the forums. It was a sous vide forum that had like 120 pages in this one topic for it where Nathan and Baldwin had done a lot of science behind it was written in early scientific manner. It sounds like I understand the science pretty much, not as well as those guys do, but Baldwin wrote up mathematical paper that got published because he’s a mathematician, you know.
Bjork Ostrom: All about modernist cooking and cuisine.
Jason Logsdon: Yeah. I think the heating curves of meat or something like that. I’m like I could get the gist of what they’re saying, but in my mind my target audience, when I write my books, is my mother-in-law. She can follow recipes and she can try some interesting things, but she’s not this out there modernist chef or something.
Bjork Ostrom: Exactly. It’s people that would be more of like the day-to-day consumer that probably don’t have a background in science, probably don’t have a background in cooking or different food science type stuff. It’s like how do you break this down, deliver it to people that would still be interested in it but not at the level of wanting to super geek out on the science portion of it.
Jason Logsdon: Yup.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. You start a blog. I’m curious, did you start on a certain platform? I’m always interested for people that over the six, seven-year mark to know what they started their blog on.
Jason Logsdon: I like programming a lot and I figured by the time I learned how to actually use WordPress it’d just be faster to do it myself. I’m on a custom blogging platform that I programmed.
Bjork Ostrom: You built it yourself.
Jason Logsdon: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. That’s the true test of a programmer or a developer. It’s like, “It’s just as easy for me to create a content management system as it is to learn a new one.” That’s awesome. Is that true to this day? It’s still in the same platform that you built?
Jason Logsdon: Yes. Still in the same platform. Now that I’ve been doing it for eight years, I’m like, “I wish I had just spent the time to do WordPress, it’d be a lot easier.”
Bjork Ostrom: Then somebody else can manage the updates and take care of all that stuff, but impressive. If nothing else, you can mention and people are like, “Wow. Nice.”
Jason Logsdon: Yeah. I throw in my programming resume every once in a while.
Bjork Ostrom: For sure. You started this blog, you started to build it up, and I’m guessing that any log or website it’s like things start out slow and we hear that story so often on this podcast where it’s not necessarily that you come out the gates and everybody is coming to your blog, but eventually, it starts to pick up steam a little bit, and you start to get some momentum, and you start to realize that, “Hey, this could be a thing,” whatever that means. It could be creating an income from advertising, maybe from promoting certain products, and in your case, you had the idea to create a book and to do that by self-publishing. At what point was it that you had that thought? Was that from the very beginning? Did you know that was something you wanted to do or did that come a couple of years down the line?
Jason Logsdon: It came a few years down the line. Like you were saying, I was slowly growing, getting some people, and I was experimenting with AdSense, and paid ads, and all that, and all that other really fun stuff to do. I was making some money but really not enough to live off of at all and I forget what made me think of it, but I thought, “There’s people interested in this. There’s only one book out. Maybe I should just try self-publishing. Why not put a book out against one of the best chefs in the world?”
Bjork Ostrom: Right. The thing is that I think is important to mention about this, and this is a conversation I’ve had with multiple people, is I think sometimes people get discouraged when there’s already somebody doing something in the space and they say, “Somebody’s already there. I can’t do that,” but as you’ll talk about in a little bit, you can still find success even if there’s somebody doing something really well because you had your people that were following you. Not only that but oftentimes if people are really passionate about a certain subject, it’s not like they’re only going to go to one place, right? They might buy both of those books and they might follow both of the people that are authorities in that area. You decided to jump in and you decided to self-publish your book. What year was that that you moved forward on that?
Jason Logsdon: That was in 2009.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay. We can talk about this a little bit more. Was that in the beginning stages of the Amazon self-publishing type stuff? Were there resources available that made that process easy? I’m guessing it looks pretty different than it does now.
Jason Logsdon: Yeah. I think I hit just a few years after they really got some good ways to self-publish. There’s enough information out there that I could find some guides and read about it, but it wasn’t so well-known that everyone knew about it. Now there’s 50 different, 100 different self-publishing printers that you can work with and then there was really the big ones, create space with Amazon and Lightning Source with Ingram. That was about it.
Bjork Ostrom: I’m excited to dig into some of those tools. From a high level overview though, one of the things that I was curious to talk about was, I know there’s lots of little steps in between, but you can break it down for those that aren’t familiar to maybe the basic three to five, seven if you need it, steps that somebody would need to go through if they have this thought of, “I want to self-publish a cookbook”? What does that look like to walk through that step to actually having a self-published cookbook? Then once we do that, let’s jump in and break down each one of those general steps.
Jason Logsdon: Great. I can definitely simplify it. What people seem to forget is that the most important part and the hardest part of publishing a book is actually writing the book.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure.
Jason Logsdon: People need to keep that in mind that the majority of the work is in writing and that that’s going to be true whether you self-publish or publish traditionally. For self-publishing, the first step is to really find your subject. You need to research it, figure out what books are doing well out there when you get in that type of market? What books are lacking that you can really take over in the market and stand out in?
Once you’re on that subject, you need to research it and then write your book. That includes doing the editing, all the recipe testing and proofing and all the food photography. It’s a lot easier if you can do it yourself, but I remember watching Lindsay, I talk about her. Here’s my photos from seven years ago. I was like I am embarrassed about the photos in my first book. They are not anything I’d want to show and when they’re in print, they’re just like oh, there’s a hard copy version.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure. It’s so permanent. We had met at the Everything Food conference at Utah and that’s where we first were connected and Lindsay did a presentation on food photography and one of the slides she showed was like, “Here’s a photo I took recently and hen here’s one of the first ones I ever took.” The difference between those was so extreme. Feel your pain on looking back to that first one and having that be hard copies like, “No!” Okay, so we have finding your subject, your niche, researching it, and actually writing the book. What would be the step after you research and write the book?
Jason Logsdon: At that point you need to choose what formats you want to publish your book in. You can publish in multiple once. That includes things like paperback and hardbacks as well as all the electronic formats like a PDF file, Kindle, iTunes, NOOK, all the other e-readers. You need to choose those because that can change what your design will be because each one has its own separate design, but once you had your book written, it’s very easy to move between those different formats.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. Cool. At that point, I’m guessing that you have the formats and you’ve formatted them and then it’s actually moving forward and marketing it or what is that next step would you say?
Jason Logsdon: The next step is to probably get it online and that’s to get it through the printer or to get it onto Kindle. It’s really just like a six-page HTML form, just an online form. You upload and you type in your information. It’s a really painless process in general once you have your book written and your design around it.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. When you say get it online that would mean put it onto Amazon both in the digital version as well as potentially the hard copy version if you decide to do that.
Jason Logsdon: Correct.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. Cool.
Jason Logsdon: Then it’s all marketing after that point.
Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. Cool. Let’s jump in and talk about each one of those. I’d be interested to hear your expertise on those, but before we do, I want to talk about one of the bigger questions that I’m sure that you get sometimes is self-publishing versus traditional publishing. That’s such a hard question to answer especially if they have the opportunity to do a traditional published cookbook. Can you talk about the advantages and maybe potentially disadvantages with self-publishing versus going a more traditional route?
Jason Logsdon: Yeah, definitely. One of the things I tell people initially, when you start to approach your cookbook you need to be clear about what you’re trying to accomplish by writing your book. There’s a lot of trade-offs you have to make for the publishing process and knowing what you want to accomplish is key to doing that. There’s three main types of books in my mind. There’s book that you want to make money with and that’s your main concern. That doesn’t mean putting out a bad product, but you’re focused on making money. There is what I call viral books which you have an idea or a passion that you want to spread. Then the last one is your marketing books and that’s when you want to get your brand out there or you can use them as even a portfolio that you can give to potential clients, showcase your work. You’re doing it to really showcase yourself. Depending on which one of those three you’re trying to accomplish will go into whether or not you want to self-publish or traditional publish as well.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. I would guess that marketing books, like if you want to market your brand or raise the general awareness of who you ware, would lean more towards the traditional published path. Is that right?
Jason Logsdon: Yeah. I’ve recently been talking to a publisher about a traditionally published book and I knew financially I would not lose money, but I want to make nearly as much money as if I did publish my own book, but I was looking at the opportunity to get my brand in front of people in Barnes and Noble or Walmart, in some of the retail chains and also in some papers and some other connections that I don’t currently have. I was viewing that definitely as a marketing style book.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. The idea is that traditional publishers have more access to Barnes and Noble or the retail stores to make your brand more present as opposed to if you’re self-publishing it’s going to be a lot harder to make those connections and get those into stores or written about it in a magazine or potentially in a newspaper or something like that. Is that what you’re saying?
Jason Logsdon: Yup. As a self-publisher, it’s almost impossible to get into Walmart and Barnes and Noble and those types of stores which they sell a lot of books but Amazons old over half of old books last year and were sold online and Kindle is like a third of book sales. You have of accessed over half of all your potential customers and the financial gains and differences through self-publishing is pretty crazy.
Bjork Ostrom: When you say financial gains, can you explain how that works? Break that down for those that aren’t familiar, how that all plays out in terms of numbers.
Jason Logsdon: Yup. A book deal that’s like a traditional publisher, there’s two financial components. The first is your advance and that’s the money you get paid upfront, and then there’s the royalties and that’s the money you get paid for every copy of your book that gets sold.
Bjork Ostrom: We have talked to a few different people in the podcast about publishing cookbooks and different examples. Do you have any that you know from the experiences you’ve had with other people or talking to others in terms of what those numbers potentially could be, in terms of what potentially what an advance could be and what a royalty percentage would be?
Jason Logsdon: Yeah. For an average blogger, I would say, you can probably get between a 5 and $15,000 advance and the royalties are almost always in like the 5 to 8% range of the profit for each book sold.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. The profit isn’t the retail price that it sells for. It’s like the retail price minus the cost of producing the book and then a percentage, you said 5 to 15?
Jason Logsdon: Oh, 5 to 8.
Bjork Ostrom: Five to eight percent of that. I’ll throw all these numbers and tell me if these are close, I guess. $25 for the retail price and then let’s say the actual book costs maybe $10.
Jason Logsdon: You want to sell in the book probably got it at a discount. If the book is selling for 25, the bookstore or Amazon probably bought it for 12.50 and then the printing costs were probably 5 to 7 bucks and then you get 5% of what’s left.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay, got it. It’s not a lot, bottom line, for the royalty portion. The interesting thing on that, let’s say if you get a $15,000 advance, the royalties to start, they pay back that advance. Is that right?
Jason Logsdon: Yeah. That’s the important thing to remember is your advance is not in addition to the royalties. It’s just money we get paid upfront and then you don’t get paid again until your royalties have covered that advance.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. One other question that I was curious to know, and this may be difficult to do, but you said if you’re an average blogger, what does that mean in terms of stats or numbers or do you have any idea around clarifying that?
Jason Logsdon: That’s a good question. I don’t have stats directly around that. I’ve talked to a lot of different people and that tends to be consensus that if you’re not a huge blogger, someone that everyone knows that out there, then you’re probably in that type of range.
Bjork Ostrom: I think that was going to be the follow up question that I was going ask is essentially you doing a very informal survey of people that you’ve talked to knowing that you’re in the industry and have these conversations. It’s like a lot of the times when I talk to people that have a blog but it’s maybe not a top 50 food blog or something like that, they’re getting advances in the 5 to $15,000 range, and then royalties 5 to 8%, and then you pay back the advance. With all of the work factored in, you can see how potentially, when it comes down to it, you’re not really making that much money like on the per hour basis, right?
Jason Logsdon: Yeah, definitely.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s why what you’re saying is maybe it has to lean more towards the marketing side of it, the brand awareness, and building your presence and things like that because it might not always make sense, and obviously for everybody it’s different, to do that for the pure financial gain.
Jason Logsdon: Yeah. Some of the stats, the numbers on the self-publishing side, there’s no royalty or there’s no advance because you can’t really replace that, but in general, for most printed cookbooks, as a self-publisher you get between 20 and 40% of the list price and then for eBooks it’s about 70%. That same book that sells for 25 bucks, you’re probably making between 6 and $10 on that book. If you sell say 10 to 20% as many copies as you would through a traditional publisher, you’re probably making the same amount if to two or three times more.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. That’s where it’s such an interesting equation then where you start to crunch these numbers and play around with these different variables like the variable of brand, brand awareness, how important is that. If that’s not as important, you gave these three different things, viral, create and income, and then … the other was make money, so create an income, viral, and then marketing, those are all variable.
If you’re like, “I really am interested in creating an income from this,” you probably, not always, there’s always exceptions, but usually might lean towards this self-publishing thing. Then if you’re like, “Hey, I want to get more towards this marketing side of it, brand awareness, building credibility you might lean towards that tradition route. Then there’s this viral book in the middle that you’d mentioned. Can you talk quickly about what that is? I’m guessing it’s an idea or it’s a concept like spreading an idea and you want to get something out there and expose people to a concept.
Jason Logsdon: It can be anything from you believe in a certain type of cooking that you want to get out there and you want to make some money off of it, you want to spread it more, all the way to something like maybe your child has allergies and so you feel that parents need to understand how the cook for children like that and shouldn’t feel intimidated. You’re not trying to make any money from it, but you just want to get this information out there in the package that people that need it can find it because you want to improve people’s lives. It can be any kind of conversation of that.
Bjork Ostrom: I’m guessing those types of books, viral books would be like if you’re looking through a Kindle, for those that are familiar with the Amazon kindle store, it would be maybe the ones that you can get via prime or maybe it’s 299 or 99, maybe a little bit more affordable. A little bit more affordable. They don’t really care as much as about making a huge profit on it. They just want to make sure that people get that and get exposed to it on as big of a scale as possible.
Jason Logsdon: Yup. That’s definitely a good way to get him out there is for the less expense or even free copies of it, but you do want to make money off of it, maybe you’ve raised it at $5 less than you would have otherwise and you’re getting more readers, and you’re trading a little bit of a profit but you’re getting more readers, which is ultimately what you want.
Bjork Ostrom: Which is that balance then of creating an income and a little bit of the virality exposing that to multiple people. It’s interesting to think about all of those with different equations or for the equation of those different variables. Can we talk a little bit about your experience with that Jason just to have context around what people could expect when we go into walking through some of the steps that people and go through this. Can you talk about your first self-published cookbook, when you did that, and what that look like in terms of the earnings that you had from that and maybe some of the other ones that you’ve had experience with as well?
Jason Logsdon: Yeah, definitely. I started off I probably had a 5,000 uniques a month on my blog, maybe around there, and I decided to go into it without having that big of an audience. I was competing against Under Pressure, which had housed $100, there’s 300 pages long, professional photographs, written by Thomas Keller. My book came out. It was 74 pages long and it’s black and white with 20 photos, 12 of them were stock photos, and it was priced at $10. It was about as far away from Thomas Keller’s book as you could guess. It came out again in November and in December, it made $3,000 which was the most I’ve made in any month since I had started blogging.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome. Especially for a blog that was in the very early stages, it’s not like you had hundreds of thousands of people. You had a dedicated audience of 5,000 people that were coming in a specific niche, which is helpful but you’re able to earn $3,000. That’s incredible.
Jason Logsdon: Yeah. I was pretty excited by that.
Bjork Ostrom: For sure.
Jason Logsdon: I decided this seems to be working, so I would start working on a bigger, better sous vide book. I put that out in November of the next year and it turned out to be more successful. There was like 150 pages maybe and then in 2011 I put out 2 more books, Sous Vide Grilling and Sous Vide Help for the Busy Cooks. I also pushed all my books into Kindle, iTunes, and NOOK.
Bjork Ostrom: When you say push them into Kindle, iTunes, and NOOK, you mean you created those formats and made them available on those platforms.
Jason Logsdon: Correct. Yes.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. With this …
Jason Logsdon: That year, the books combined brought it $45,000, which was the first time that I was making my living off of my writing.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that’s a full-time salary for sure. One of the things I’m curious about for that phase, and I think that’ll be really fun for people to hear that because that’s a really inspiring … and it’s a number where it’s like okay, that’s very much so a livable salary. Obviously, people in San Francisco are going be rolling their eyes and saying, “No, it’s not.”
Jason Logsdon: Yeah. I live in Brooklyn. There’s a much more livable salary when I was Connecticut.
Bjork Ostrom: Yes. Exactly, right or like St. Paul, Minnesota would very much still be a livable salary. Obviously, that depends on where you are, but it’s like more than the average income for an individual in the U.S. and I think that’s an interesting number to use.
Jason Logsdon: It’s also really helpful because it’s passive income.
Bjork Ostrom: Right, yeah. It’s not something where you’re directly trading time for money.
Jason Logsdon: Yup.
Bjork Ostrom: I’m curious to know, with that income from that year, what year was that?
Jason Logsdon: That was end of 2011.
Bjork Ostrom: For 2011, that year, how much of that was from people coming to your blog and you saying, “Hey, I have this,” in whatever way, shape or form, and redirecting them to Amazon versus having a presence on Amazon within that niche and getting direct sales. Is it possible to see that breakdown in Amazon?
Jason Logsdon: Yeah. We think at that time it was probably around 30 to 40% traffic from us.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay, great. A little bit less than half, but essentially it’s saying anywhere from 60 to 70% on Amazon and then 30 to 40% from your site. Still contributing to it a decent amount and I don’t think Amazon lets you track that all the way through, but you could probably see, “Okay, there’s this many percentage of people going to Amazon, clicking no these links and can crunch those numbers a little bit.”
Jason Logsdon: Yeah. We do our total book sales and then we knew, because of all our links that point to our bought are also Amazon affiliate links.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it, so you could ….
Jason Logsdon: We could at least tell, round about how many bought it within 30 days.
Bjork Ostrom: Within that little phrasing you said it’s a great little tip for anybody that ends up doing self-publishing is that you use your affiliate link to promote your own product.
Jason Logsdon: Yeah. There’s another $2 and royalties for each book.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure. It’s a great little tip. That’s something that will get to once we jump in these steps which we’ll do now, but I’ll be interested to talk to you about some of the strategies behind the optimization of a listing on Amazon, but that will be our teaser, that will be coming up because we’re going to start with this first area here where you talked about finding yours subject and your niche. Can you talk a little bit about why that’s important and maybe some advice for people that are just getting started a finding a subject then a specific niche?
Jason Logsdon: Yeah. I think choosing your subject both as a blogger and an author is really important that if you want to be someone that just talks about grilling, you’re competing with Bobby Flay and these people that are on Food Network and it can be really hard to stand out. I think you need to find what you as an individual brings to this subject and what’s your unique viewpoint on it.
Bjork Ostrom: Do you have an example that let’s say with grilling? Let’s say somebody is really passionate about grilling. Would you say it’s important for you to drill down the general subject of grilling and getting into something even more specific like grilling with the green egg or whatever that thing is called?
Jason Logsdon: Yeah. I definitely think that’s one way to go is that you get more specific. You can also go healthy grilling. If you’re trying to eat healthy you could talk about that or weekday grilling. Focusing on things that are important to you but that there’s a tribe of people that you can build around that. All my modernist cooking, most of the book are by Lidia which is super high-end fancy restaurant and The French Laundry and it’s these recipes that you can’t make at home unless you’re spending five hours doing it. My niche within the niche of modernist cooking is the same like that’s nice if you want to spend five hours and this will be the be dish you will every eat maybe, but if you’re having friends over and you want to just make them think that you’re really cool, you can do the same thing with grape juice.
Bjork Ostrom: Which everybody does, right?
Jason Logsdon: Yeah. You can do the exact same technique with grape juice from the grocery store and it will take you five minutes and your friends will be like, “Whoa! That’s amazing,” and it took a lot of your time. That’s how I can’t compete with those other people but I can translate it into my own view point.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. One of the things that I think is difficult at this point is knowing whether your idea is good or not. What would your advice be to people that are getting started and they’re like, “I have this idea. I’m going to do how to cook in your underwear in an 80-degree weather or hotter”? How do you tell … ?
Jason Logsdon: Facebook live on that.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah right, exactly. How do you go about testing or figuring out whether this will work or is it a little bit like saying, “Hey, this is something that I know that that I’m passionate about. I’m going to enjoy the process, you should just move forward with it anyways”?
Jason Logsdon: I’ve done a lot of different projects both from a writing standpoint and a web development and the thing that I’ve learned is that I never know if it’s a good idea until a I try it. Things that I’m positive are going to be great have not worked out and things I was like, “I don’t know if this has any merit. I’ve been really successful.”
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Jason Logsdon: One of the benefits of doing a blog is saying how much time does it actually you to go I can write for articles about grilling in my underwear and if it starts to resonate with my audience and people on Twitter and Instagram, then they eventually continued going in this direction.
Bjork Ostrom: Right. Just as a side note, if you want to take that idea and try it out on your blog, you’re more than welcome to. No credit needed to give back to me. I actually prefer that you do not give credit to me for that idea. Yeah, I think that’s a great point. Almost everybody listening to this I would assume has some type of platform. Maybe it’s a blog, maybe it’s social media, but to look backwards at the things that have worked well or potentially to look forward and to create content into tests to see how “sticky” that content is as a way to gauge the interest of the audience. Do you know …
Jason Logsdon: There’s …
Bjork Ostrom: Go ahead.
Jason Logsdon: There are some weird things out there that had been successful and my favorite example that I used to find in my presentation was that there’s a calendar called The Goats in Trees Calendar. You should look it up on Amazon. It literally said like, “You know what people need? They need more pictures of goats in trees to hang on their wall.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure.
Jason Logsdon: I have no idea who would think that’s a good idea and it outsells a few of my books.
Bjork Ostrom: This is interesting. I thought you said Goats and the Trees, it’s Goats in Trees.
Jason Logsdon: Yeah. They’re just hanging out up in the trees and it outsells some of my books. Apparently, still can do it with what needed out there.
Bjork Ostrom: They have another purchase right now. Yeah, for sure. You don’t really know. One of the things that I’ve heard people do is they have set up some type of like, this would maybe be hard to do with the book, but maybe not, but set up some type of – it’s almost like a kick starter where you do a pre-campaign and you sell something ahead of time as a way to gauge the market and see like, “Man, will people actually buy this?” I think it’s maybe a little bit harder with a book just because you would have to have it a little bit more polished, but I know that’s something I’ve heard people do occasionally too, so it’s another option potentially
Jason Logsdon: I know some people also set up landing pages so you can click email addresses so you can market it on Facebook Ads or on Google Ads and send it to that marketing page. It’s not as good as having them pay upfront but at least, if they’re willing to give you their email address, there’s …
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. It’s a little bit of a clue into people being interested.
Jason Logsdon: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. Let’s say that somebody says, “This it. I’ve figured out what I want to do. I’ve maybe done some general testing. I’ve looked at content. I’ve produced some content and it’s worked really well.” Maybe they’ve even said, “I’m going to start working on this. Sign up if you’d be interested,” and people have signed up so they have some type of confirmation that their idea is good. Then they move onto this face of starting to research and actually write the book and this is so much easier said than done.
Jason Logsdon: Yeah. This is definitely the most difficult part of it.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. One of the things that I was thinking about before we’re getting into this, especially when you don’t have a publisher breathing down your neck, which most people will be like, “That’s so nice not to have.” I’m sure anybody that’s written a traditional cookbook is like, “Oh, I’m so glad that you don’t have,” and it would be the publisher or maybe it would be the editor, who that would be, but you’re not accountable to anybody, but that potentially means that you never get it done.
Jason Logsdon: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: That would something I’d be interested to hear you talk about as well. How you keep yourself accountable, but before we do that, let’s jump into it this. I’ll let you talk about the research and writing stage.
Jason Logsdon: It’s definitely the largest phase and I don’t think I’m the best research and writer out there. My goal is to find out what my audience, what questions they have and that’s the majority of the research that I do because a lot of what I’m talking about, these things like sous vide, the people don’t know what they’re doing. It’s not like another salad recipe or something. It is discovering like what are people really struggling with and then I try to combine that content into a book.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. How do you field those questions initially?
Jason Logsdon: Now that I have a more established blog, I can get a lot of feedback from what people are emailing me and what type of comments are on my blog. I also did a lot of research on Reddit. If you can get through the 20% that’s complete garbage. The other 80% has a lot of good content in it.
Bjork Ostrom: That would be going to sub-Reddits about a specific topic and then seeing what are the questions people are asking?
Jason Logsdon: Yeah, that’s exactly.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. Yeah, I feel like that’s a great tip. There’s all sorts of different sub-Reddits that you could go to.
Jason Logsdon: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. You’re in this stage of gathering questions and seeing what people are asking all around the specific niche that you’ve decided, the subject that you’ve decided to write about. While you’re doing this, are you gathering those in a certain place? Are you using Evernote or jotting those down in a notebook? What does that look like?
Jason Logsdon: I use Notational Velocity, which is just plain text-based note-taking system. A lot of people use Evernote because it is really easy to format books. I tend to figure out something I want to write about and then I just write that part of the book. It’s probably not the most efficient way, but it works really well for me.
Bjork Ostrom: Yup, for sure. You would hone in on something and then you would write that content.
Jason Logsdon: Yeah. I basically try to lay out the main subjects of what I want to write about and then I just start diving in and finding questions and as I find more questions to write about, I slot them into the area in the book where they should go.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. For the cookbooks that you’ve done, how much of it is content in terms of asking questions and how much of it is recipes?
Jason Logsdon: Each one of my books has between 70 and 100 recipes, which take up probably two-thirds at least of the book if not more and then the beginning is all introductory content and explaining what’s going to happen.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. That’s a decent amount of writing. That’s a lot of recipes. Can you talk about your process for putting together recipes and then testing those?
Jason Logsdon: Yeah. When I’m in the middle of doing a book, I try to set it because it is intimidating to say like, “I need to write 300 pages over the next 5 months.” I just set a goal that I’m going to come up with one new recipe everyday, basically, and that’s the first thing I do everyday, it’s the most important thing, and if I don’t do a single thing the rest of the day, I have done that one recipe or that one part of the book. I write them, I test them. I normally have my parents or my mother-in-law test them.
Bjork Ostrom: Going back to that thing if I want to make sure this is something that my mother-in-law can understand and do.
Jason Logsdon: Yup. It’s definitely a lot easier now that I’ve done a lot of the recipes because I have a format that I can use for chicken recipe or steak recipe, especially in the sous vide, the steps are mainly the same every time. A lot of it is the seasoning or what you’re serving it with.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. Essentially, you fine tune the certain part of maybe its ingredients and instructions for a certain step within the recipe so you can then augment that depending on what type of recipe it is.
Jason Logsdon: Yup.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Jason Logsdon: I’m also on the luckier side that a lot of my recipes are really involved because they are trying to highlight like if you use this with this, you can make any sauce and it’s less about like a perfect sauce, it’s more showcasing the process which is good because there’s a little less actual nuance. I’m not trying to give you this is the best X recipe you’ll ever have. It’s my recipes are designed to inspire you to come up with your own recipes.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. Yup. It’s not necessarily saying, “This, this, this. Exactly this way.” It’s inspirational and saying, “Here’s maybe the general flow that I’ve used and you can take that and maybe put your own spin on it a little bit.”
Jason Logsdon: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. You have these recipes, you have the written content. Obviously, we’re glossing over a very big part of it, but one of the things that I’d said I want to talk to you about is how do you keep yourself accountable to that? Is it that one thing where you’re focusing in on that one recipe a day and saying, “This is my number one thing I’m focusing on. Before I do anything else, this is what I do and prioritizing that.” Would you say that’s the biggest success that you’ve had in terms of moving forward on things?
Jason Logsdon: Yeah. I think you just need to decide what you want to do and then make sure that it’s the first thing you do because I know if I have a list of three things, that first one I get done 95% of the time, the second one maybe 70%, and the third one like 20%. You got to do that first thing especially when you’re on day 90 and you’re sick of writing, it can be hard. My dad and my mom both live off of my publishing and income or business together, so they need editing and stuff. My wife has a good job but we still count on some of the money that that brings in. It helps me stay motivated to sit down everyday than just play video games.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s a job. Yeah right, exactly, as appealing as that would be. That actually tied into one of the things that I was going to ask was the process of proofing this. Usually, if you’re in a traditional publishing path, they would have somebody that’s maybe a dedicated editor that comes in, and looks through that, and proofs all the content, reads through it, maybe test the recipes and things like that. For you, it sounds like maybe you’ve reached out to those that are closest to you whether that be family or friends and if you have somebody that’s specifically skilled in that, proofing or reading through content, copyrighting, things like that that you check in with them and say, “Hey, can you play this role for me?” Potentially hire them or if it’s somebody really close, maybe they would do it pro bono.
Jason Logsdon: The proofreading and the editing is, in my opinion, is what separates a professional book from a poor self-published one. Nothing is going to destroy your credibility of your book faster than spelling mistakes or bad grammar, mistakes in recipes. It’s something you can’t do on your own. No matter how good of a writer you are, you can’t edit your own content. You should go through it two or three times and make sure it’s as good as you can get it, but you need outside people. You can go to friends and family. I have my dad and my mom both proofread it fully, and then I make those updates, and then they do it at least one more time, and I send it to my mother-in-law who also does it in exchange for a free food when she comes to visit. Between those five edits, we probably get 90, 95% of mistakes.
Bjork Ostrom: The nice thing about at least on the digital side of things and maybe even on the physical hard copy side is that, depending on how you do it, that you can update those in somewhat real time, which we can actually talk about here in this next session which is talking about the different formats of publishing. I think when people traditionally think about self-publishing they think about an eBook, right? Lindsay has a self-published food photography eBook, but there’s not a physical form of that, hard copy, paperback, it’s just a PDF, but there’s so many more options for that if you’re publishing. Can you talk about what your experience has been with the different formats and what you found to be a really critical format to publish in?
Jason Logsdon: I think the most critical format to publish in is actually a print book, which a lot of people it doesn’t even cross their mind when they hear about self-publishing.
Bjork Ostrom: Why do you think that is?
Jason Logsdon: A third of all book sales for eBooks last year, which means that two-thirds were print books. The majority of people are still buying print books and especially on Amazon you can get a lot more marketing on there. You asked how much of our sales come from our website, one of my books was a top 20 cookbook on Amazon and the main reason for that was because we had enough sales that on the number one sous vide machine, we were listed as people who bought this also bought and they had our book. They’d have a sale like one of the Amazon lightning box sales or whatever and we’d sell 500 copies in a day because they put their thing on sale.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. What they do is they essentially say, “We see algorithmically or maybe it’s an editor picture kind of thing, but we see that this book goes well with this product.” They wouldn’t do that if it was digital.
Jason Logsdon: They might, but it gives you one more opportunity for them to market you. Once you have your book written, it’s really like a one-week process, maybe two weeks when you’re first getting started, to convert it to a Kindle book or vice versa. Once you had your book written, that’s 95% of your work at least. Once that’s done, get it out there as much as you can to reach the widest possible audience.
Bjork Ostrom: For sure. I’m interested in talking about that. One of the things that I’m interested to hear you talk about is when you’re creating the book, what do you create it in? Especially if you know that there’s going to be potentially a physical copy of it, is there a special cookbook software that you need to put all of your stuff into to make sure it fits a certain size or how does that work?
Jason Logsdon: My recommendation to people for what they should use to write it is whatever program you’re most comfortable writing in. Let’s say you’ve been blogging for a while and you’re blogging software is what you’re most comfortable in, write all your content in your blogging software. When I’m writing a book, I have so much on my mind that I don’t want to be trying to figure out a program doing what I want. Once you have your book written, decide how you want to publish it and then you can start designing it. A lot of people design in Microsoft Word or use a program like Scrivener, which is good for self-publishing.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s for, you were saying, design in that?
Jason Logsdon: Yeah. In my mind, it’s two separate things. You’re writing it and then you’re designing it, laying it out.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. You would write it, you’d have all of the written content, and then you’d go back and design it. You’re saying it’s possible, potentially, to also design by putting in photos or adjusting headers and things like that in a Microsoft Word or a Scrivener.
Jason Logsdon: Yeah. All my books have been written in Pages ’09 until I just upgraded my computer and it no longer runs a piece of software for me. I’m going to be moving to Microsoft Word, but I do all my page layout in Macintosh pages and a lot for people do it in Microsoft Word.
Bjork Ostrom: I think that will inspiring for people to hear because I think sometimes people think, “I need to learn in design and get a really good idea of how to use Illustrator and I need to edit my photos in Photoshop and this whole process,” but it’s like well, if you’re families with Word or Pages on your computer, that’s going to be a very viable solution to create your self-published cookbook.
Jason Logsdon: That’s what your goals of publishing your book are really important than if you do one book that looks like a coffee table book, then you’ll probably going to need to learn in design to get that type of really fine grained layout stuff, but if you’re looking to do a book that is a really good book that will make you money and make your readers happy, then you can accomplish that using Word or Pages.
Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative). It’s an interesting stylistic difference in that. It probably also has to do with the type of content that you’re wanting to promote. If you are wanting to promote it more, as like you said, a tabletop, coffee table kind of book where it’s beautiful, its emphasis on photos, it’s maybe less of a leaning on information and teaching something and more on here’s this branded look and feel for a certain product that would maybe lean more towards that polished look as opposed to if it leans more on the communication of information as opposed to just photos and recipes, then you could lean more towards some of the more functional programs like a Microsoft Word or a Pages.
Jason Logsdon: Yup. As long you’re not getting into the real fancy design work, you can do the majority of stuff you’d want to do in Word and Pages.
Bjork Ostrom: For sure, yup. Pages, that’s what’s we used for Lindsay’s eBook too and it was like yeah, we did what we needed to do. Pages ’09, the same one. I remember when I updated I was like, “Aah! It’s not working how it’s supposed to.”
Jason Logsdon: Yeah. I was copying it over from one computer into a next because I couldn’t even find it anywhere else.
Bjork Ostrom: Yes, exactly. It’s like you just start dragging this poor piece of software along through the updated computers. Once you’ve finished that, and again we’re glossing over these, these are big stages but I think it’s important to hit all of these, once you’ve finished that and you’re at the point where you feel like people have looked through it, you’ve edited it, you’ve done some proofreading, what does it look like to take that and transition it into a physical copy? I think people will understand at least theoretically the idea of creating a digital copy of that whether it be PDF of going through the process with Kindle or iTunes or things like that or iBooks. What would you recommend for people that want to do a physical copy?
Jason Logsdon: Now that I’ve done all my books in Pages, I write it directly in Pages because I have a format. Once it is written and it looks basically like it will be printed, I save it as a PDF. I have an account out CreateSpace, which is what I use, but you could just create an account there. You add in your title, fill out a bunch of the information and you upload the PDF file.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. Can you talk a little bit about CreateSpace, what that is, and how it works?
Jason Logsdon: The big game changer for self-publisher that want to do printed books was what’s called a print on demand company. The way these companies work is like printer on your desktop that you’d want to copy the book so that you print out a copy of the book and they ship it out. It may use the work as you order 500 or a thousand copies of your work. They’d print it out once, send it and it sit in your garage. CreateSpace is owned Amazon. You set up your book on their system and then when it goes live on Amazon then you can buy it just like any other book on Amazon. Amazon takes the money, CreateSpace prints the book, and then ships it directly to the customer. You don’t have to ever touch your book again besides marketing it and cashing your royalty checks.
Bjork Ostrom: They handle all of the process. Amazon, essentially, is handling everything from the purchase, to the processing of the payment, to the printing of a book, to the shipping.
Jason Logsdon: Yup.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome.
Jason Logsdon: They take all the heavy lifting for you ,so you don’t have to worry about it.
Bjork Ostrom: For sure. You had mentioned this before, but I think it’d be good to go back to that again. What would be a recommended price point for that in order to make that a realistic solution and what percentage can people expect to get if they are publishing via CreateSpace on Amazon?
Jason Logsdon: The two main companies are CreateSpace and IngramSpark, that’s Lightning Source, and they both work about the same way. You’re looking generally for 20 to 40% is what you’d make off as price of the book.
Bjork Ostrom: What would get you 20 versus 40?
Jason Logsdon: The amount of pages changes of price, whether it’s color or black and white definitely changes the price of it, and just what you list it at. In general, they have a nice royalty calculator in CreateSpace, but if you sell your book for 10 bucks, you’re going to make less money than if you sell it for 20 bucks because the printing cost are going to be the same. Most of my books sell between $20 and $25 and I generally make $8 to $10 per book sold.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. Right. That’s one of those things where you can start to play with those numbers and say, “Okay, I can see how this can become a thing.” You can start to crunch those numbers a little bit.
Jason Logsdon: I think one of the mistakes people make is pricing their books too low. I had a Whipping Siphon book that’s shorter than some of my others and so I priced it $14 and we thought, “It’s selling good. Maybe we should try raising it,” and our sales went up.
Bjork Ostrom: Interesting. When you raised the price.
Jason Logsdon: Yeah. I think people looked at it and like, “Oh, this is quite a higher quality book because it’s in that type of price range.”
Bjork Ostrom: It’s legit for sure. The other side of this is the digital copy and that would be Kindles, iBooks or the iBook Store, PDF. Is that something that you’d recommend that people do and which one of those is most important?
Jason Logsdon: If you’re doing a monetizing or a viral book, you should be in as many distribution channels as possible. The electronic books, Kindle is, I think, 19% of our sales last year, which is a really big chunk of our money. For every a thousand books we sell on Kindle, we probably sell 100 on iTunes and 10 on the NOOK, and then maybe 10 on all the other eplatforms that are out there.
Bjork Ostrom: The poor NOOK. This is so bad for it, but I love my Kindle and that’s probably why is because it’s such a good device.
Jason Logsdon: Probably.
Bjork Ostrom: With the Kindle, one of the things that I remember reading about is the cost of distributing a digital product when delivered via Whispernet. Whispernet is like the downloadable like what Amazon uses to … it’s like how they do self-service, essentially. If somebody is on a bus and they don’t have Wi-Fi, they’d be on Whispernet to download things if they pay for that. Do you absorb that cost as a self-publisher, do you know?
Jason Logsdon: I believe that we do, but I generally don’t pay attention.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure. The one thing that I remember hearing about was the cost of images if delivered via Whispernet. Anyway, it’s total garbage. That probably doesn’t matter, but it was interesting for me to read about that because we were looking at it for Tasty Food Photography. Tasty Food Photography is not a great solution just because there’s so much emphasis on photos and it’s like, “Look at the difference of this red versus this red,” and for somebody looking at a Kindle that’s just like gray scale. It wouldn’t be anything. I think that’s super helpful for people to understand the different ways that they can do that both digital and physical copy, and the two options of CreateSpace and then what was the other one that you’d mentioned?
Jason Logsdon: Lightning Source.
Bjork Ostrom: Lightning Source. Both of those being similar where it’s on-demand publishing so you don’t have to have 500 cookbooks in your garage or basement.
Jason Logsdon: Yup or you don’t think of the post office or of any of that.
Bjork Ostrom: Can you talk a little bit about this step four which was get it online, the six-page form that you go through? Is that essentially the application process?
Jason Logsdon: Yeah. That’s just the application to go through to submit your book to their catalog.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. That would be in Amazon specifically?
Jason Logsdon: Yeah. It’s generally for Amazon CreateSpace. For Ingram they do you a lot in different companies, so it’s anyone that’s in their catalog, basically.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. I don’t think we need to spend too much time on that. People will know when they get to that. Point being that it’s not necessarily a hundred pages. It’s something that you can do maybe in an afternoon.
Jason Logsdon: Yeah. Basically, any information you normally see on Amazon you have to tell them what that information is and that’s about it.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. Then let’s talk a little bit about this last piece, the marketing piece, because I think that’s a really important concept. If people are self-publishing a cookbook, one of the things they don’t have is the experience of the publisher in marketing that. The irony is I think a lot of publishers are switching to rely on the creator to market it anyways.
Jason Logsdon: Yeah, that’s very true.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s not necessarily like you’re losing out on this huge marketing channel, but nonetheless, there’s this feeling of doing it on your own. If you have any advice on the marketing side of things for people that self-publish, how they can really get their book out there and get exposure whether it be showing up higher on Amazon or different ways that that they can promote it.
Jason Logsdon: Yeah. One of my recommendations is find out what you enjoy doing. I don’t enjoy a lot of the marketing aspects and networking aspects, so I tend to fall behind on that. I’d rather spend the time writing another book than doing that while other people love that and they’d really get a kick out of it. My biggest recommendation is to start early. The biggest way you can market your book is by having a strong blog and an email newsletter that you can send out. You need to start that now whether you’re going to do a book or just put it out in your blog in general.
Bjork Ostrom: Right. Actually, one of the most recent podcasts that we did was an interview with Megan Gilmore from Detoxinista and she talked about the process that she went through to get 4,000 pre-orders for her book before it even went out and it was exactly like you’re saying where she really leaned into this idea of building up momentum and awareness and getting people interested in what she was doing before she even published the cookbook. She would reference it in blog posts, she had posted about it on Instagram, and encourage people to pre-order.
I think that it’s really cool to think about applying that and potentially then hooking this idea of self-publishing, maybe using the best of both worlds with that to really build up some momentum behind that. I think that there’s a lot truth to that and to your point to not feel like you have to do it all. Maybe you find somebody who does enjoy marketing and partner with them or ask for them to come onboard and to help with it because it’s like man, you have to wear all of the hats. It’s more enjoyable if you’re wearing a hat that you enjoy. Obviously, all of it needs to happen in some way, shape or form, but I think what you said is a good point too to not try and do everything and get printout.
Jason Logsdon: As far as teasing the book and stuff, that’s a huge benefit. When your self-publishing, I take every recipe from our book that has a photograph and I republish it on our blog either leading up to the launch or after the launch to bring in good little traffic and more people to be aware of it. That you’re not just marketing your book, you’re saying, “Here’s a great recipe and it happens to be from my book, if you want another 99 recipes like this.”
Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. One of the things that I know other people have done as well is they’ll maybe do some type of incentives, so pre-order campaign where they say, “Hey, if you sign up at this point then forward me your receipt, then I’ll give you an extra five recipes,” and they can talk about some similar things that you do with that. I’ve also heard people that have partnered with other bloggers and they say, “Hey, anything in this cookbook you can use this recipe and even if you want, you can use some of the photos. Publish it on your blog as long as you do a little mention of this cookbook being released.”
Jason Logsdon: That’s something I’ve been trying to work on for upcoming books is expanding my blogging network to add some people I can meet on because they’re going to have a different audience than you and their writing have a different spin on your cookbook and on your content than you do which you might not have even thought of and it could help bring in even more readers.
Bjork Ostrom: Right. My hope with this podcast interview, Jason, is that it got some exposure for what you do and I know that in these conversations you brought a ton of information. It’s really, really going to be helpful for people I know and I’m bummed because we’re coming to the end of it, but I’m happy that we’re able to get through start to finish high level, but I think that helps paint the picture for people and to let people know you don’t have to have the world’s most popular blog in order to think about moving forward and creating an income to help sustain you and your family, in your case, which is so cool.
Jason Logsdon: Honestly, my first book, the quality of it, I’m glad that I had lot fewer people see it. Do that first book now and get it out of the way so when you do have a big following, you can produce an awesome book that they are going to love.
Bjork Ostrom: Right, for sure. Yup. To be able to refine that process and to be able to get better at that creation process in order to produce something that you’re excited about and that your audience is excited about.
Jason Logsdon: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. Jason, before we go though, I want to take a moment to do a little shout out to you. Where can people find what you’re doing both your blog and then also you have additional information, a bunch of additional information about self-publishing, so can you do a quick explanation for people where they can find you and to find out more information about self-publishing?
Jason Logsdon: Yup. You can find my blog, it’s amazingfoodmadeeasy.com. If you’re looking for my books you can go to Amazon and Google Jason Logdson and they come up. If you want more information about self-publishing, I have a website, selfpublishacookbook.com, and it takes you through step-by-step everything that we’ve just talked about but in a whole lot more detail. I’ll actually be self-publishing a book on self-publishing in the next month or so as well so you can look for that.
Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. That’s great. Be sure to ping us and we will include a link in the shownotes for that as well.
Jason Logsdon: Awesome. I appreciate it.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. Jason, thanks so much for coming on the podcast. Really appreciate it.
Jason Logsdon: Thanks a lot. It was really fun.
Bjork Ostrom: Bye. Hey, that’s a wrap for episode number 55. One more big thank you to Jason. If you want to see all the different resources that Jason talked about, the best way to do that would be to check out the shownotes for this episode by going to foodbloggepro.com/55 and when you get there you’ll be able to see all the different links. Team member Raquel puts all of those together each and every week, so if you ever interact with her be sure to tell her thank you and one more big thank you to Jason for coming on the podcast today.
One more reminder, one plug, we’re doing this campaign for 100, the triple digits for Food Blogger Pro podcast reviews and ratings on iTunes, so if you have a minute, we would super appreciate that if you jump on and leave a review for this podcast. It would mean the world to us. That’s a wrap for this podcast episode. We will be back here, same time, same place in exactly seven days. Well, depending on when you listen to this, but until then, make it a great week. Thanks, guys.
Hey guys, I have been bulk-listening to a bunch of your podcasts over the past few weeks, and a couple of days ago I was thinking, ‘I wonder if Bjork has interviewed someone who knows about self publishing?’ Hurrah! I am about to venture down the road of cookbook self publishing for a VERY niche audience and this discussion answered a lot of my questions about how worthwhile it can actually be, so thanks very much. I was also really excited to check out Jason’s self publishing website, it’s exactly what I need right now.
Hi, I enjoyed this episode thoroughly.
Just a quick question – Jason mentioned using a blog platform to create a book – so if I do it using WordPress, can that be sent off to Createspace etc? or does it need to go to Pages or Word for formatting first?
Thanks in advance, Cathryn