Review: eBook Evolution

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The short review

If you’ve been thinking about creating an eBook and you’re clueless about one of more of the steps, like:

  • writing the suckers
  • making them look awesome
  • launching them
  • converting them to Kindle-friendly format

then you should just go ahead and buy eBook Evolution.

Really.

(Also, use the code RELAUNCH before the 15th to get 15% off.)

The longer review

Look, go read the sales page for what’s included in detail, it covers things well. I’m just going to add my perspective.

1. The information covered is basic, in the sense that the authors (Kelly, Pamela and Susan) have done their uttermost to articulate the most important information, without covering every single possible option. (It’s like they trust you to be able to adapt the details to your own circumstances or something!)

2. My absolute favouritest part is the templates. I have two damn eBooks I’ve been wanting to get out into the world, and I haven’t been able to ‘cos they’re ugly Word docs and I have Standards. I’ve been talking with my lovely designer Ashley about hiring her to create custom templates for me, but I haven’t succeeded yet because a) she rightly charges a lot of money for things like this, and possibly more vitally b) I’d have to learn how to use InDesign, and it hurts my brain.

But these templates run on OpenOffice! Which is free, and not at all painful, and would in future allow me to write directly into the template and cackle madly! Which is goddamn brilliant, I tell you.

Not only are the existing templates pretty darn good, there’s details on how to create your own. I am full of Plans.

3. And that’s maybe the nicest thing of all. They’ve done a good job of creating a resource that gets you fired up and ready to start. And isn’t that the point?

So again, you should go and buy eBook Evolution.

Use the code RELAUNCH before the 15th to get 15% off.

And then show me the fabulous eBooks you make as a result.

(Why yes, I do make a few dollars if you buy through my link. What I will likely do with those dollars is buy a non-review copy of this resource, because I plan to use the HELL out of these templates.)

Sales page case study: Goddamn Radiant

Hey there!

I just finished re-structuring and re-writing one of my oldest offerings, Goddamn Radiant.

Most of my sales pages are written and published within three days. (Sometimes less.) But this one took five drafts and nearly three months to complete.

Why? What were the problems I had to solve? Time for a sales page case study!

*analysis hat*

You can download the full recording here, or listen to it in sections below.

Part 1: Why did the sales page need to be re-written?

Audio MP3

The original Goddamn Radiant sales page

Part 2: The original sales page, Take One.

Audio MP3

The first draft of the new sales page

Clarity: kinda important!

The three layers of what-this-is

What the first section of a sales page is for

“It’s possible to write something that’s all about you, and have it feel really impersonal at the same time.”

The difference between “you” and “ya’ll”

Hat tip again to Kelly Diels for her wonderful sales page exercise

Part 3: Take Two & Three, the curse of impersonal

Audio MP3

The second draft of the new sales page

The third draft of the new sales page

When in doubt, make it tangible.

Storytelling isn’t a magical solution

God Mode versus first-person

Begin with them (where they are now, and where they could be)

The vital role of momentum

The two acceptable outcomes (and… that other one)

Reality, and then hope

Never tell me the odds!

Engage the senses

Distant + detailed = more accurate scientific study

Part 4: Take Four, engage the sad panda!

Audio MP3

The fourth draft of the new sales page

Pushing the pain point

Trying to convince myself as much as the reader.

Some pains are harder to describe than others.

Playing it too strong.

Trust the reader.

“Feeling the need to over-explain and over-emphasise and really just cram it down someone’s throat… that was a function of me not trusting this yet.”

So many details!

The decision point

Fear the FAQ.

Price defensiveness as over-explanation

A major warning sign: “I don’t want people to see you.”

All love to Leela.

“Like swimming through oatmeal.”

Start with mirroring, one level up.

The stairway to cheery.

Don’t build yourself a straightjacket.

Finding another way to offer the outcome, without the downsides.

Part 5: The final draft, getting it right.

Audio MP3

The fifth draft of the new sales page (of course you could just go look at the actual sales page, but this is also here for posterity.)

All the pieces are in place!

Compare and contrast.

Evocative without matching the feel.

Modelling what they want, instead of where they are.

“When you really want to identify with people, it’s easy to get stuck where they’re stuck.”

Changing energy through sentence structure.

Making the sales page be an examplar of the offer.

When you are demonstrating enough proof, you don’t have to prove yourself so much.

Effortless creation as a function of clarity.

And done! PHEW.

The sales page resource I mention is already available to The Provocateurs, and will be available to everyone else in 2013.

What did you learn from my re-write of Goddamn Radiant? Tell me in the comments!

Competition: enter to win sanity

I get mulish when told what to do.

Even when the person telling me what to do… is me.

I jokingly call it, “I don’t want to and I can’t make me.” But it’s not really funny.

I’ve resisted good things because they felt like orders: things like exercise, financial discipline, and business planning. And of course I’ve suffered the consequences of that refusal: I’m unfit, my finances are wobbly, and my business is always tap-dancing, never sure what’s coming next.

I don’t wanna play this game any more.

I want to be healthy in my bod and bank account and biz. I’m ready to do things differently.

So when I was given a resource that proposed to get me trying long-term business planning without making me mutinous, I was skeptical but intrigued.

I tried it.

And you know what? I’m actually making long-term business plans for the first time in my life. I’m still finding massive pockets of resistance and stiffness about it, but I’m making for-realsies progress.

(This announcement ought to be accompanied by trumpets and angelic choirs, plus two thumbs up from The Fonz.)

I have plans for where the biz is going! And I like the plans! It’s like I’m all mature and shit!

So what, you ask, is this magical improvinator?

 

It’s called Your Next Six Months Forever. It was created by Shanna Mann, who regular readers will likely know. (Among other things, she did the Goddamn Radiant session you can listen to.) Shanna is good people, and she is amazing at creating structure without strictures.

(I just made that up. She’s free to steal it as a new tagline.)

And Shanna has offered to give away two free copies of Your Next Six Months Forever to you! Hooray!

How to win a free copy of a resource that could totes change the course of your business.

Leave a comment telling us: What’s YOUR biggest downfall when it comes to making longterm plans?

Shanna and I will each pick our favourite answer, and that person will win a free copy of Your Next Six Months Forever.

You have until the end of Wednesday to enter and win!

Of course, you can just go buy a copy of the resource. It’s most definitely worth it. And if, like me, you’re finally ready to get good with structure? Then you should ABSO-DAMN-LUTELY sign up for Shanna’s newsletter and its free resource on structure called Be The Boss.

What are you waiting for? Get on that!

[The competition is now closed! Congratulations to Fiona and Elinor, who will have a deeelightful electronic copy of Your Next Six Months Forever winging its way to them soon. And thank you for the bravery and honesty of everyone who entered. MWAH.]

photo by: catlovers

A new fave book: The Hour Between Dog and Wolf

Sometimes people send me books to review. For free! This is one of them.

For two months, I never slept a whole night through.

I would wake at three to fret and ruminate and wonder whether some, any of the money I was owed would come in, whether I could keep afloat for another week.

My concentration had been shot-gunned at close range, more holes than substance. I desperately needed to get it all together so I could fix the problem, but it was impossible.

I was wise.

I didn’t push myself to write or promote, no matter how urgent it was. I ate when logic dictated. I marched myself to yoga nearly every day. I did breathing exercises and tried to stay nonjudgmental. I knew what was happening.

In time, sleep and my concentration returned. I stopped flinching at loud noises. My appetite returned. I started producing work again.

If you want to know why I couldn’t sleep, and why yoga was a superior choice to trying to cudgel my brain into writing, then you should read The Hour Between Dog and Wolf: Risk Taking, Gut Feelings and the Biology of Boom and Bust.

John Coates uses stories from the financial markets to discuss our biochemical reactions to short stress and long stress, to explore our sympathetic nervous systems, and why the phrase “gut feelings” is more accurate than we tend to think.

Scientifically, and I am a big science geek, this is fascinating stuff.

I would put this on my pile of Isn’t The World Fascinating? books. (Along with Predictably Irrational and Blink and all of the others.)

But he goes so much deeper into the significance of our biology. What it means for our work. Why the idea of “economic rationalism” is rubbish, and dangerous rubbish at that.

Why we – I – switch between “This could never go wrong, ever” elation and “We’re all gonna die in a ditch and no-one will even come to the funeral, oh woe” despair. (And maybe, what to change so that pattern doesn’t destroy us.)

And most beautiful and compelling of all, this book contains the most thorough squishing of the concept of mind/body duality I have ever read.

I’m as guilty as anyone of regarding my body as the vessel that carries my oh-so-important mind around. For most of my life I never questioned the idea that the purpose of the body is to deliver vital nutrients to the mind so it can do all the meaningful stuff.

So when I got to this line, I had to put the book down.

“Neuroscientists have discovered that conscious, rational thought is a bit player in the drama that is our mental life… the basic operation of the brain is the organization of movement.”

Take a moment, let it sink in.

The brain grew in order that we might move our bodies more dynamically, subtly, cleverly.

How often I – we! – slump in front of the computer all day, saying, “I’ll go for a walk later. I just need to write this first. I know I said that yesterday, but this is important.” This attitude makes some sense if we regard our bodies as badly-maintained but functional robots, moving our Big Important Brains around.

But if our brain exists to make movement, then we are dumb (in the most literal of senses) when we ignore our body.

I’ve known that, logically, for years. But this book helped me feel it. Changes are already happening as a result.

It’s an economics book, and a physiology lecture, and a philosophical treatise. And it’s very, very good.

I’ve already recommended it to four of my peers.

I can’t do a balanced review! All I can say is, “The Hour Between Dog and Wolf is super-insightful, and you should read it.”

So, yeah. You should.