Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Interview with Nedzad Lomigora on Community Days

Welcome to the newly revamped Community Days! Now that I'm interviewing people on Google Hangouts, I realize that trying to fit all of the interviews on Fridays doesn't make as much sense as it once did, so I'm leaving the "day" part of this feature flexible.

Today's guest is Nedzad Lomigora, founder of the author promotion platform Zeeen.com and organizer of the terrific Publishing Innovator Meetups in both Boston and New York. I recently worked with Ned to organize a Kickstarter for Authors panel, and hope to arrange more great events in the future.

Here's the broadcast as recorded from Google Hangouts. If you're interested in reading a partial transcript of the video, you can scroll down the page. But if you have time, watch the whole thing - there's plenty of good info to absorb. Hope you enjoy!

Tell us a little bit about your site, Zeeen.

It's a platform for authors that identifies, attracts, and engages readers. Our predictive analytics engine lets you set your goals, receive real-time alerts on the status of those goals, and access actionable recommendations (what to do to improve on reaching your goals). That all leads to more book sales.

What experiences brought about the idea for Zeeen?

I had a lot of experience in my past with finding industries that were going through a huge change, and publishing was one of those industries... I remember having a conversation with somebody, and asking: "This kind of tool you're using, all of the people in the publishing industry are using, right, because this would make sense. It's so easy, and why wouldn't they?" The answer was no; the publishing industry was so far behind [from a technology standpoint]. I realized the pain that authors were going through, that publishers can't help them with because they don't have the right tools or time. So you have authors left to their own devices... and they can't keep up with all the changes in technology. We decided to set up a company to focus on making the technology much easier to use for authors, and giving them tools that they need to promote and market their books in a way that takes the least amount of time out of their day so they can focus on writing.

Do you suggest any promotional activities/methods that are especially useful for authors?

When you talk about online presence, the earlier the author tries to find an audience, tries to identify who the reader is, and puts the work out there (even if it's not done), the better. Unless you're completely not interested in the people who will read your work, you may want to consider asking for some feedback at early stages. The idea is to go out there and find out what people really want to read, what they like about what you've written, and then iterate on that. I'm not saying you should customize a book just because readers want it a certain way. But there's a lot of feedback you want to get early, because you're going to get it eventually, and it's better to know before the book is done. You might as well just get it now.

As far as quality of work goes, I don't ever consider any work of art "finished." In the startup community you build a product and you're continually improving on it, you never have the "final product." It doesn't stop us from building prototypes and putting them online. Nobody builds a product in a vacuum any more.

Have you found any activities that authors do that are ineffective?

One of the things I found very distracting for authors is trying all of these new technologies, because the reality is that a lot of these tools are not built for authors. The more tools you use, the more distracted you are. I recommend that you find a few tools you like and stick with them, until there's something tremendously different on the market. Automation is key; time is wasted when you have to check up on who followed you  and respond. Also, numbers don't tell the whole story. When authors see that there aren't necessarily correlations between Facebook followers and sales, or Twitter followers and sales, they can get disappointed.

Lastly, because this feature is about establishing bonds within the writing and publishing industries, can you name one (or more!) author, editor, publisher, agent etc. who's doing great things right now, and why?

I thought of this a little bit... if I pointed out a few, I would probably make others angry or disappointed. I'll point out the things some of them do that are important. I think the collaborations between authors and publishers are really important. Publishers have the potential to give authors certain knowledge, to help them help themselves. And then the whole ecosystem benefits. I think that's one thing that technology can really facilitate: collaboration and sharing of data.

Thanks to Nedzad Lomigora for the great interview, and don't forget to check out Zeeen.com for your promotion needs!

Want to see more interviews? Check out...

Interview with Tobias Buckell: Kickstarter Success Story and More!

Interview with Rob D. Young on Community Fridays

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