Scott Steinberg wears a few hats. He’s the CEO of TechSavvy Global, a management consulting and market research firm, and serves as a strategic advisor to Fortune 500 corporations, non-profits, universities and start-ups. Plus, he’s a bestselling author of books including The Business Expert’s Guidebook, The Crowdfunding Bible, and The Modern Parents’ Guide, a series on how technology affects kids and families.
1) What was the first eBook that you published on Kobo?
The Business Expert’s Guidebook – a complete guide to successfully starting, launching and operating any business using everyday, off-the-shelf technology solutions including popular apps, gadgets and online services. It’s been hailed by top editors, industry leaders and bestselling authors as “the one book every entrepreneur should keep handy.”
But it’s only the first by roughly 10 minutes: Thanks to the beauty of self-publishing, and user-friendliness of Kobo’s platform, it was quickly joined by other volumes such as The Crowdfunding Bible (a complete guide to raising money for businesses and startups online) and The Modern Parent’s Guide (world’s first high-tech parenting series) right after. Literally, in less time than it takes to answer these interview questions, anyone can take a manuscript and publish it to the platform – and, essentially, start their own publishing label and be bringing in income overnight.
2) What is the most interesting thing about eBook publishing?
How fast, painless and utterly sensible it is – you can go from idea to final product in a matter of weeks or sooner, depending on how rapidly you work. This means that suddenly barriers to entry are nonexistent, and the field is completely democratized: Anyone, anywhere can publish what they want, when they want, and in record time. Consider the case of The Crowdfunding Bible: Built on the back of an emerging business trend that started to snowball just weeks before, from start to finish, it took less than a month to create.
Now, you don’t need to wait to be picked by a publishing house, waste months pitching concepts or receive anyone’s permission or validation to produce a work – and it can be any shape, size or format. This means that suddenly anyone with a great idea, or who sees rising interest in a topic emerging, can take their case straight to the general public. Instead of editors, publishers and agents getting to decide what sees the light of day and when, you do – and get to retain ultimate control over your vision. Likewise, you also gain the pleasure of enjoying a one-to-one relationship with readers: Who, through direct outreach, social media and other channels, may even influence the shape of the work or future volumes to come.
You, too can become a digital publishing pioneer. Don’t let traditional industry operators fool you: Our works have been featured in dozens of outlets from CNN to Inc. and Good Morning America, and recommended by bestselling authors and the stars of top-rated TV shows Shark Tank. You’d be amazed what independent authors can achieve today.
3) What inspires you?
Two words: First or best. With a tip of the hat to GE, the motto is simple here: “We bring good things to life.” You could say we look for books that need creating – but more often than not, they seem to look for us.
Consider The Modern Parent’s Guide series: As a high-tech business consultant by day and full-time parent, it’s painfully obvious how powerfully technology has transformed modern kids’ and families’ lives – and yet precious few parenting books acknowledge this, let alone speak to the topic. And so the world’s first high-tech parenting series covering all aspects of connected life, and offering practical real-world strategies for managing its impact on the home, was born. Why? Because yours truly – an average, everyday working male – was staggered to discover than five years after the volumes should have been written, and in a form more digestible than the usual 500-page manual, they still didn’t exist.
If you look at our catalogue, you’ll notice a common theme throughout – the books teach, inform, and fill in knowledge gaps, or aim to address to subjects of rising interest that have previously been ignored. We usually wind up doing something simply because it needs to be done.
4) What was the best piece of advice you ever received as a writer?
Just write! It’s all about training and self-discipline. Create a routine, set aside regular writing time each day, and stick with the habit. Practice makes perfect. As Lorne Lanning, creator of The Oddworld video game series once put it to me, the rules are simple: If you don’t train your [rear end] off, you’ll never win a gold medal. Don’t worry about being the next Stephen King or penning a great American novel™ – start small, build your talents, and succeed over time. A series of base hits can be just as effective at winning the game as the occasional home run.
Works don’t have to be War and Peace either: Today, even a manuscript as small as 36-48 pages can qualify as a book in some circles, especially given the digital age’s shortened attention spans. Sit down, say what needs to be said, edit and refine, and don’t be afraid to tie a bow on your book when it’s done – no work is ever perfect, and few go from zero to bestseller in a single effort. That’s the pleasure of self-publishing: You define success, and get to say when the volume is done. Always do your best, and give readers their money’s worth, but remember – a single battle doesn’t define the war.
5) What advice would you offer to up-and-coming writers?
Publish now. Publish often. Stop making excuses. If you see an opportunity, go for it. Don’t buy into expensive coaches, consultants or marketing programs, and don’t expect to get rich overnight. Be yourself. Be original. Be arresting. Understand your goals and victory conditions before creating a single word. Believe in yourself – accept constructive insight and criticism, but understand that you’ve got to be your most ardent evangelist. Expect hardships and setbacks: It’s the ability to push through and persevere that defines true successes. Know when to say enough is enough and ship the volume. Know when you don’t know the answers – and whom to turn to for advice. Aim high, and don’t be afraid to try, ask or do: You’ll never know unless you make the attempt, and falling short of greatness can still mean landing well ahead of the pack. Recognize there are countless ways to win even if you lose (establishing subject matter expertise, creating network opportunities, building visibility, growing your skills, etc.), understand that there is no such thing is failure – only the price of education. Don’t lose your sense of humor… as they say, no good plan survives first contact with the enemy. Also: If you can, marry an understanding spouse – it definitely helps. :)
6) Tell us about what you are reading now.
The 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene (blame a personal obsession with strategy, war and negotiations) and Money Talks by Alan Weiss (a blueprint for building a professional speaking career). I’ve also been enjoying Delta Green: Through a Glass, Darkly, because I’ve read virtually every other book dealing with H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos. Too much existential horror is never enough, and you know what they say about all work and no play. Sadly though, with a growing sprout here who is obsessed with reading, I’ve probably spent more time with Dr. Seuss than any other author in the past year. As soon as we find a decent babysitter, maybe I can catch up on my Suzanne Collins or John Grisham.