The Follow-Up Note


Filled with resources, but far too long, and therefore, likely going completely unread.

In the classes that I teach at NYU, there are 8 sessions, two hours each. I always feel pressed for time. I find myself saying over and over — “I’ll provide some more info on this particular subject in my follow-up note.”

And I do! After each class, I send a note that summarizes the lesson and provides links to the various companies, websites, social media profiles and articles mentioned during the lecture. I always feel like these follow-up notes are extremely valuable to the students.

There’s just one problem: I don’t think the students actually read the notes. Why? For the very simple reason that they’re just too damn long.

I get it. The students came to the class, listened to the lecture, participated in the discussion, and they’ve got some homework to do — Or maybe they just want to dive into something that intrigued them from the class — a website or a company or an author they jotted down on their notepad to remind them to check it out once they got home. The last thing they want to do is pore over a follow-up note — one that rings of “I’ve heard all this before” — that scrolls on endlessly.

And yet, I can’t help but want to include summaries and links, and other things that they should check out, items that I wasn’t even able to get to in class.

But no more. And this goes for the workplace as well. I’m keeping the follow-up notes brief, and to the point. They’re more likely to be read, and therefore acted upon. In short, they’ll actually have an impact.

With that in mind, here is my follow-up note to this post about follow-up notes:

1. No more than three items in the follow-up note, just a few sentences each, though one sentence is fine. Each item should only have one link.

2. If you really feel you need to say more, then write it out as an essay or blog post, and simply provide a link to the piece in the follow-up note. (This counts as one of the three items).

3. Always include an immediately doable action item to encourage forward progress.

That’s it! End of note.

Do share via Twitter your follow-up response to this post on “the follow-up note” — @jeffyamaguchi. Keep it short, of course!

Digital Publishing Q&A Podcast Experiment #3

Success with experiment #3 — this episode comes in at UNDER 10 minutes!

Publishing questions asked and answered:
1. How can I best leverage social media to gain followers/readers to my digital platform? I use the same quality pictures and hashtags as a 10K followers account on Instagram, for example, but they obviously have 10K and I am stuck at 370!

2. How do you make academic content interesting?

3. If I have a limited marketing budget for a midlist author, where online is it best spent (especially if the author is from outside of the US)?

Show notes:
The Oxford University Press Tumblr

Agree with my responses? Disagree? Something to add? Share your thoughts with me in the comments or @jeffyamaguchi.

More details on what this is all about:
I teach book publishing classes at NYU (and other places as well). Early during each semester, I pass out notecards and ask my students to write down a question or issue they’d like me to address during the course of the class. This helps me get to know my students better — some specifics on what they’re truly interested in as it relates to publishing. It also gives me ideas to weave into the curriculum. I respond to the questions in class, but I was looking for a way to better to document and collect this information. So I thought I’d experiment and try it out as a podcast, something I could share with my students, and beyond.

Listen to the episode at SoundCloud.

Listen to more episodes.

A Digital Platform Cheat Sheet For Authors Just Starting Out

Key points to consider as you embark on establishing the mechanism that will allow you to forge a long-term relationship with your readers.

1. There are many options and social media platforms “you should be on.” You should be aware of all your options, of course, but don’t get overwhelmed. Focus on a manageable number of social media platforms, try them out, and figure out which ones you actually enjoy. It’s important that you actually like the social media platform(s), otherwise, you won’t stick with it, for obvious reasons. This means you might end up only focusing on one social media platform, and that’s okay.

2. Do not use the title of your book for your your social media permalinks/urls/profile names. You want to choose something for the long-term, something that can be used for not only your current book, but your future books. Your name is likely the best choice, of course, and that is what I recommend.

3. Establish a hub. You may not know initially what your hub is going to be, just know that you are going to have one place that can serve as the place where people can find the overall roadmap to your digital presence. Likely your hub will be a website with an address that is your name — yourname dot com. On this website you can provide links to your social media, and updated bio, information about your books and other projects, and any other relevant background and news.

4. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter are the main social media of the moment for authors and books.

5. Other social media you should check out and consider as part of your digital platform: Pinterest, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Medium, YouTube, Snapchat, and Goodreads. There are many others. Again, try them all out, see ones which ones work best for you, and commit to the platforms that end up making the most sense. Knowing one platform well means you will have an easier time learning the next, and it also gives you the insight you need for the natural next step in terms of adding to or growing your overall platform.

6. A digital media presence is about connecting and engaging in the conversation, and each platform has its own conversational nuance — How often to post, using hashtags, using images, etc. You don’t want to come across as someone who is just trying to sell a book. Make sure you take the time to figure out the best way to engage, share, and be supportive in the various platforms. This takes time, so make sure you put in the necessary effort.

7. When placing buy links on your site for your books, do not only link to Amazon. You’ll want to include links to BN, iBooks, Indiebound, Powells, and your favorite local bookstores. Linking only to Amazon, for obvious reasons, is not fair to all the other bookstores that sell and support your book. It can also mean that other retailers will not include your book in promotions. Believe me, retailers notice when you only link to Amazon. I take those calls, or hear from the sales person who takes those calls, on a regular basis.

8. Images with well-written captions are very strong currency in the social media space. In other words, don’t stress out about having to write essay-length blog posts.

9. One of the best ways to easily understand a social media platform and forge connections is to share or support the effort of someone else. Try it out by connecting with and supporting a fellow author, bookstore, or library.

10. Remember, you don’t have to be on every platform. But you do have to be consistently active and creative on the platforms you do choose to engage.

What Writers — and Publishers — Can Learn from Louis C.K.

Louis C.K.’s show Louie is awesome. But he’s doing even more awesome stuff via his website — selling digital files of his shows, a movie he made earlier in his career, comedy tour tickets, and even the shows of other comedians — directly to fans. Writers — and publishers — can learn a great deal from the things Louis C.K. is successfully pulling off. Here are some things to take special note of:

He’s doing it for the fans, making what works best for them the priority. I think everything really does start from there. He’s got this material, he wants to share it, and he knows fans would be interested in getting it. With this as the foundation, he set about figuring out a simple and seamless way to make this happen. Digital files sold direct from his website, available to anyone and everyone.

Of course he wanted to make a little money. But he also wanted to keep the cost to fans as low as possible. So he took out the middleman. Simple as that. This is the opposite of what we see in publishing. Lots of middlemen. If it isn’t a retailer, it’s a production and distribution service provider, or a digital publishing operation that tries to sell itself as a “marketing” company. They all take a percentage, the net effect of which is higher pricing (not to mention less for the artist).

Keeping with the theme of simplicity, he released digital products without DRM. This way, fans can easily download and listen/watch on the device and platform of their choosing. Louis C.K. acknowledges that this means the files may end up on file-sharing sites, something he discourages for obvious reasons. But putting fans first trumped concerns about piracy. Let me just say again the key point here — he put fans first.

And remember, he’s still working with major corporations to fund and distribute his work. It’s not like Louis C.K. has completely gone independent. His current hit show Louie is on FX, a major cable network. The works he’s selling directly originally appeared on HBO. He’s only selling direct with a selection of his works. This acknowledges that if Louis C.K. had not ever gotten the backing of major networks like FX or HBO, he most likely would not have enough of a platform to successfully pull off the direct selling venture. The lesson here for authors is to find ways to track multiple paths. The individual DIY projects will have their own unique ways of strengthening the collective, long-term body of work — and the end result will be more control of your total artistic enterprise.

It’s important to call out one of the key aspects of Louis C.K.’s direct-to-fans offerings. He now has a commerce-based connection to his fans. He knows who they are, what they bought, how much they spent, and most importantly, he can communicate with them directly (if they’ve opted in to that type of communication). This direct connection (and the data associated with it) is single most valuable asset in the artist/fan relationship. It’s important to note that in book publishing, authors do not have this level of a connection. Neither do publishers. Amazon, Apple, and BN do.

But most of all, Louis C.K. is experimenting. He has no idea if any of this is going to work out when he posts these offerings live on his website. So far, things have been wildly successful. He’s broken new ground in the industry in going direct to fans, he’s getting a lot of attention and raising his profile, he’s made money, and his fans (clearly growing) are loving it and developing a deeper sense of loyalty. Most of all, he’s taking what he’s learned and keeps on pushing forward. He’s emboldened. I can’t wait to see what he does next.

The Best Place to Eat Lunch in Lisbon


I saw the very brief entry in our Lonely Planet. A cheap lunch joint with terrace seating and expansive views from the top floor. Also, it’s run by nuns.

Turns out, the place — ACISJF — was just around the corner from our hotel in the heart of the Chiado neighborhood. I plugged the address into my phone and was like, wait a second, that is about 100 yards from here… we have to go RIGHT NOW.

Even though it was so close, it was actually kind of hard to find. It’s not a storefront restaurant. You walk down a little alley to a nondescript door, and think, Is this it? Yes, there is a sign, but it just seems like there isn’t going to be a restaurant when you walk inside. And in fact, there isn’t — you have to walk up about 6 flights of stairs. It feels more like an office building, and the whole time you are doubting that this could be the place. Maybe this is the office to the restaurant…?

But a lobby coffee bar at the top floor confirmed that we were indeed in the right place. You walk past the coffee bar and through the indoor seating area to get to the food line. It’s cafeteria style, so you grab a tray and point to the food you want. The nuns running the place are all business. The food options are plentiful without being overwhelming: Salad and rice and fish, soup (Gazpacho!), fruit and bread, and a few other delicious delights. This isn’t fine dining — this is comfort food. That’s what I love and this place did not disappoint.


Important note: You can also order sangria, which is the ideal beverage to eat with your lunch given what awaits when you take your tray outside. A beautiful terrace featuring the most spectacular views of Lisbon and the Tagus River. There are only so many tables — it’s a tight fit — but with the blue sky above, old school cityscape surrounding you, and the endless sparkle of the river as far as the eye can see, you’ll feel open and free and downright content. And that feeling will expand with every bite of your food and sip of your sangria.

If you get to Lisbon, there is so much to see and do. Make sure to put this top floor joint near the top of the list!

Restaurant name: ACISJF
In Chiado neighborhood of Lisbon, Portugal
Top floor at Travessa do Ferragial 1
Lunch only, Monday through Friday
7 or so euros per meal

Digital Publishing Q&A Podcast Experiment #2

The digital publishing Q&A experiment continues with episode #2.

Questions answered in this episode, which is almost 10 minutes shorter than the first one, are the following:

1. “What is the perception of “authenticity” in social media? Why is this the goal? To hide the curation or craft involved, or to naturalize it?”

2. “How can I learn how to further customize the WordPress theme on my website — how can I organize it differently? I can’t see how to organize my site to look like the other theme variations shown on WordPress.”

3. “How do you find out and keep track of all the different digital publishing ecosystems (blogs, apps, Twitter, etc)?”

Show notes:
Wordpress theme I mention in the episode — the Thesis theme.

Blogs / Websites I read to help me keep up with digital trends in book publishing:
Hubspot’s Marketing Blog
Bookbub’s Blog
Gumroad’s Blog
Publishing Perspectives
Digital Book World
Jane Friedman’s blog
David Gaughran’s blog
We Grow Media
Publishers Weekly
Fast Company
Silicon Alley Insider
The Bookseller

Agree with my responses? Disagree? Something to add? Share your thoughts with me in the comments or @jeffyamaguchi.

More details on what this is all about:
I teach book publishing classes at NYU (and other places as well). Early during each semester, I pass out notecards and ask my students to write down a question or issue they’d like me to address during the course of the class. This helps me get to know my students better — some specifics on what they’re truly interested in as it relates to publishing. It also gives me ideas to weave into the curriculum. I respond to the questions in class, but I was looking for a way to better to document and collect this information. So I thought I’d experiment and try it out as a podcast, something I could share with my students, and beyond.

Listen to the episode at SoundCloud.

Notes from My Brief Presentation on Making a Presentation


I mostly remember the presentations that didn’t go well. Like the time I had been invited to a university to speak about independent publishing, didn’t prepare any slides or even talking points, and rambled my way through an incoherent mess of a talk that offered no insights to anyone other than I should never have been offered a conference speaking slot.

The other presentation that I can recall with crystal, gut-wrenching clarity is the one where I prepared like crazy, did practice runs and got critiqued by colleagues, and showed up early to get familiar with the lectern and tech set-up, only to have the person who was responsible for moving my slides forward miss every single cue during the real deal. It threw me off completely, and I ended up doing an absolutely terrible job at everything except providing an example of what happens when a person melts down at a lectern in front of the senior management of a major publishing company. Afterwards, Nan Talese said to me, “You seemed nervous up there, Jeffrey.”

That’s how a very classy, distinguished person tells you that you absolutely sucked. Horrible. Just horrible. Telling this story, I just relived the whole thing, and I feel horrible all over again.

I bring all this up because as part of my curriculum in the classes I teach, students have to give a final project presentation. It’s one of my favorite parts of the class — I think the students get so much out of having to not only prepare a project, but then make a case for it in front of their classmates. Nothing like having to say it out loud and in front of people to make you do your best work.

Below is some of the snapshot advice I give to the students to help them with their final project presentations. I really try to impress upon my students how important presentation skills are overall, how they must make sure to prepare properly, and how they have to always be working on ways to get better. I have learned from my lessons, but I am in no way an expert presenter. I have to remind myself of all the below, and continue to find new ways to make my presentations as creatively informative and as engaging as possible.

On presenting:

  • Ideas and Initiatives are often won or lost in the presentation.
  • You can have a total failure (project or campaign) on your hands, but if you are a good presenter, you can turn it into a win.
  • Presentations happen in front of audiences of 1 and audiences of many.
  • Even job interviews are about presenting (“Tell me about yourself.”)
  • Being nervous is normal, and good.
  • More presenting doesn’t necessarily mean you will not be nervous.
  • You just have to learn strategies, through practice and live audience experience, that allow you to handle the nervousness.
  • Most importantly, practice and experience will help you get through and recover on-the-fly when presentations aren’t going according to plan, or are just plain falling apart in the worst possible ways imaginable.

In other words: Do as many presentations as you can, and work to constantly improve upon your presentation skills.

Make sure you do the following:

  • Practice (book a conference room and drill yourself).
  • Practice in front of people, ask for feedback. Ask people who you know will be hard on you, or that make you a little nervous.
  • Practice in front of a camera (use your smartphone).
  • Never pass up an opportunity to present.
  • You have to ask for it — tell your boss, during your annual review for example, that you’d like to do more presentations.
  • See how other people do it — live, and via youtube — and learn from them.
  • Read this book: The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience.
  • Like anything, the more you do it, the better you will get.

Some logistical tips:

  • Always make sure you have back-ups of your slides (don’t count on anyone else).
  • Print out your slides, just in case the computer/projector fail.
  • Ask what the set up is going to be in advance (where the projector screen will be in relation to you, whether you will have a podium, etc). Show up early so you can take it all in.
  • Familiarize yourself with the equipment (clicker, computer, how the slides move forward, etc).
  • Bring your own water, so you know you have it available for sure.
  • Eat something beforehand, even if the nervousness is making it seem like you aren’t hungry.
  • Spit out your gum before you get up on the stage!

Resource links:
The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs by Carmine Gallo (Slideshare)
Video by Carmine Gallo on The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs — New presentation platform
Five Ways to Not Suck at PowerPoint
Create Compelling Presentations with the Three Q Method

#6daysproject: Brooklyn Bridge

I feel wonder every time I see it, and I’m thankful I get to see it all the time, traversing the East River via the Manhattan Bridge on the the N or the D train, from Brooklyn Bridge Park, or from the many other vantage points across the city in which you get to catch a glimpse of one of the greatest structures ever built. It made perfect sense to kick-off my #6daysproject project with the Brooklyn Bridge.

#6daysproject: Brooklyn Bridge, August 28-September 2, 2015

Brooklyn Bridge

Summer Friday in the last days of August.

Brooklyn Bridge

Soundtrack to this image is a mash-up of We Built This City and Let the River Run.

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge at night.

Brooklyn Bridge

Locks, Walt Whitman, and the Brooklyn Bridge.

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge in the background, but never a backdrop.

Brooklyn Bridge

Late night dreams at the Brooklyn Bridge.

Three Resources for Self-Publishing Your Book


Probably the most exciting thing about self-publishing is the freedom that comes with it. You can do anything you want, which means you can break with the normal conventions. And you should. Because in order to stand out, in addition to putting out a book filled with fantastic writing, you will need to be offering something up that is startingly fresh and new and different. With that in mind, I really don’t recommend reading too much “how-to self-publish” material. Focus more on the writing, and coming up with unique ways to bring your own brand of unique creativity to the process. At the same time, there are some functional basics and informative critiques about the business of self-publishing that you should know.

So here are THREE RESOURCES that provide just such information and insight:

Jane Friedman’s “Start Here: How to Self-Publish Your Book.” Jane’s site is full of resources, and this really is a good place to start as you begin to the self-publishing process. It’s going to answer a lot of the basic questions about formatting, ebook distribution, digital vs print, etc. A quick and to-the-point read.

2) — This is a great option for creating your actual ebook. It’s an intuitive, wordpress-based platform that makes it very easy to produce all the necessary ebook formats. There are free and paid options, and the paid options are all very reasonable. The Pressbooks blog also features helpful tips and engaging interviews with writers who have gone through the self-publishing experience.

David Gaughran’s blog is a go-to resource for in-depth analysis of matters of great importance to self-publishers, with a sharp eye towards author earnings. He doesn’t hold back when a company is clearly taking advantage of authors. I appreciate his analytical approach, and his advocacy. This is a great site to learn the business side of self-publishing, and to stay abreast of the very fluid situation with regard to payment structures, royalties, and the various contract options made available by companies that produce, sell, and distribute self-published works.

That’s it! Three resources to get you started on your self-publishing project.

Please share YOUR self-publishing resources via Twitter @jeffyamaguchi.

More Three Resources.

#FridayDonut Should Be a Thing


#FridayDonut Should Be a Thing

The truth is, it is a thing, for me, anyway.

And I think it should be a thing for you, too.

It’s Friday, after all. Most likely, you’ve worked hard all week. Or at least hard enough to qualify that you were in fact working. Or at the very, very least, at work. But that’s neither here nor there. It’s Friday morning. The weekend is so within sight. The final stretch is before you, so why not make that glide along a bit easier? Start the day off with a donut. That would be your #FridayDonut. We deserve it.

#FridayDonut Hashtag on Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram. It might just be me posting. That’s fine. I am willing to fight the good fight on this one.