The former CEO of an early Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) company, Evslin earned his fortune in the madcap pre-bubble Internet economy. Following the writing school dictate, “Write what you know,” Hackoff.com is set in the middle of the dot-com bust. As we will see, Evslin used his insider experience to publicize the book as well, utilizing non-traditional web tools like podcast shows, VoIP blogs, and Skype.
Applauding Evslin's use of web technology in service of his writing career, I chose this scribbling CEO to kick off a new, deceptively simple feature: Five Easy Questions. In the spirit of Jack Nicholson’s mad piano player, I will run a weekly set of quality interviews with writing pioneers--delivering some practical, unexpected advice about web publishing...
How did you build your web readership at Hackoff.com? How long did it take, and what would you do differently next time?
Since I already had about 5000 regular readers for my blog Fractals of Change, I had a natural starting place. Obviously I told these readers about my new site and many became regulars there as well and told their friends about it. Other bloggers like Jeff Jarvis, Fred Wilson, and Brad Feld who have much greater readership than I do were also very generous in repeatedly linking to Hackoff.com.
Many bloggers picked up pointers to hackoff.com from Word of Blog and displayed them on their sites. We also promoted at Jeff Pulver’s VON show because I was speaking there and am well known in the VoIP community. All of this has been ongoing since September of 2005 and has gained us thousands of regular readers and even more people who don’t like reading books online but do plan to buy and read the “offline” hardcover edition when it comes out March 15.
Some have been preordering from Amazon and 800ceoread. Recently we added a podcast edition which many people have subscribed to, especially through iTunes. RSS and email syndication have been very helpful and most readers get their episodes by subscription.
The biggest mistake we made was in not realizing that people would be joining along the way and would want to be able to start the serialization with the first episode even though we had already posted half the book online. We had to scramble to develop tools to serve those people and I’m sure we lost some potential readers because we made this too hard to do before the tools were developed.
In your opinion as a writer, what are the best tools for a fledgling writer to build a web footprint?
I use Typepad for blog.tomevslin.com and hosted MovableType (essentially the same technology) for Hackoff.com. TypePad is easy to user but harder to customize than hosted MovableType; TypePad is also cheaper but MovableType gives you more flexibility of you want o customize as we did.
Anyone who burns a feed (and every blogger should) should use FeedBurner to insulate himself or herself and readers from many of the complexities of RSS and multiple formats and to get good reporting of readership statistics. FeedBlitz is an essential way to reach readers through email subscriptions.
To be continued...
Want to find out the best copyright tools for blogging your novel? Want some expert advice about podcasting your novel?
Be sure to tune in tomorrow at The Publishing Spot for the exciting conclusion to Five Easy Questions for Tom Evslin...