In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Matt Briel. Matt is an entrepreneur and the Vice President of Marketing & Communications at Lulu.com, as well as a self-diagnosed collaboration junkie. After more than 15 years leading Sales and Marketing teams in the Media & Publishing spaces, he’s developed a unique passion for helping creators become more successful by leveraging books as a catalyst for opportunities and sustainable revenue.
Writing a book can take your credibility, authority, and your business to the next level – not only does writing a book give you an amazing opportunity to share your knowledge, but it’ll also help increase awareness of yourself and what you have to offer. Matt Briel joins me in this episode and shares exactly how books can bring success for growing audiences, brands, reach, revenue, and more.
Questions I ask Matt Briel:
- [1:29] Could you tell us about the origin story of Lulu and how did it come to be?
- [2:25] Is self-publishing a more profitable way to publish today?
- [5:12] Why would someone want to self-publish a book?
- [7:30] Would you say self-publishing is seen as a differentiator for businesses?
- [11:42] What does it take to produce a book?
- [18:49] What do you say to that person that doesn’t think they have time to write a book?
- [21:59] Where can people find out more about you and publishing a book with Lulu?
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John Jantsch (00:00): This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Nudge, hosted by Phil Agnew. It's brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network, the audio destination for business professionals. You can learn the science behind great marketing with bite size 20 minute episodes packed with practical advice from world-class marketers and behavioral scientists, and it's not always about marketing. Great episode. Recently you learned the surprising truths about and tips for beating, stress and anxiety. Sounds like a great program, doesn't it? Listen to Nudge wherever you get your podcasts. Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast.
(00:50): This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Matt Briel, commonly described as equal parts, loud music, Disney culture, tattoos, and book nerd. Matt is an entrepreneur and vice president of marketing and communications @
Matt Briel (01:02): lulu.com, as well as a self-diagnosed collaboration junkie. After more than 15 years leading sales and marketing teams in the media and publishing spaces, he's developed a unique passion for helping creators become more successful by leveraging books as a catalyst for opportunities and sustainable revenues. So, Matt, welcome to the
(01:22): Show. Thanks, John. It's great to be here.
John Jantsch (01:24): So, so give me lulu.com, or Lulu is a self-publishing company. Give me a little bit of the origin story of Lulu and kind of how you came to it.
Matt Briel (01:33): Yeah, it's actually a really fun one. We were founded by a gentleman named Bob Young, who was the original co-founder of Red Hat, which is a massive software company. Most of your listeners probably know what it is. Um, he and his partner took Red Hat to an IPO early days, and Bob found himself with a lot of time and a lot of money, and a lot of people wanted to hear his story. And so he wanted to publish a book. That journey through its ups and downs led him to basically create Lulu a place where anybody could publish and not face a lot of the barriers to entry Yeah. That people were facing to get their stories published, whether it be money or, you know, and you're well aware of the gatekeepers at the publishing houses of traditional publishers. So that's the quick and dirty of our origin story is that, and Bob Young, by the way, is still the sole owner and founder of the company, and very much and involved in what we do on a day-to-day basis.
John Jantsch (02:25): So I, I published my first book in, I think my first book came out in 2007. Boy, the industry has changed a ton
Matt Briel (03:05): You're absolutely right. What you're referring to is the stigma that came with self-publishing. Right. And I, I think it's even, you know, in the last five years, you don't even have to go back a decade, but you're absolutely right. So when Lulu started in 2002, so about 20 years ago, we just celebrated our 20th anniversary. Yeah. Self-publishing a book definitely got you at the bottom of the list of books that somebody was going to read or even take for free. And in many cases, that was warranted. I mean, let's be honest here, but in a lot of cases it wasn't, you know, it just, like we said, the manuscripts that are submitted still to this day, to traditional publishers, about 98 to 99% of them get rejected. So there's a large buried entry. And that stigma has been present up until very recently, actually. And I think you're right, you touched on the advent of technology surrounding publishing, as well as all the different things you can do now as a self-published author, as it relates to, you know, distribution channels. Right. And so, yeah, I think it's having its heyday now, I think it's finally become a very viable source of publishing and creating and printing books.
John Jantsch (04:09): Yeah, it's interesting the distribution, because you know, even going back 15 years ago, it's like the publishers had the wholesalers who had the retailers, and that was it. You didn't get in that path, you weren't getting in. And it's really all opened up now to, obviously Amazon probably forced a lot of it, but it certainly opened up to it now where anybody, especially working with a, an organization like yours that's established in the industry is, you know, gonna see their book in Barnes and Noble maybe if it warrants it.
Matt Briel (04:35): Yeah, that's right. And again, for a lot of people, that's what they were concerned with was distribution. Like, how is my book gonna get out there into the hands of everybody? And it was this, it was this thought process that a book is a very, you know, confined thing. It's something that I wanna write it, I want it published, and I want it into the hands of people in bookstores around the world. There was really no sort of external or, you know, parallel thinking about what else could I do with this book and how else could I distribute it? So yeah, distribution was top of the list and for the longest time, you're right, the best distribution methods were still at the hands of the traditional publishers who worked with the wholesalers. Yeah.
John Jantsch (05:12): So, so let's talk a little bit about why somebody would self-publish a book. You know, I've experienced the benefits of it, but you know, I think a lot of people still are in that, like, I'm not really an author, or I don't have that much to say, or, you know, I don't think I could sell a lot of books. So let's go into a little bit of the reasons, especially well for anybody frankly, but certainly for a business owner, why they would have, why they would publish a book, even with all of those sort of what they're considering roadblocks.
Matt Briel (05:43): Yeah, absolutely. And that's probably the number one thing we hear right now, or the question is, you know, why and who would do this? Yeah. Right. The answer I think surprises a lot of people when we talk about this. And I think self-publishing is most beneficial non-fiction creators and writers. Yeah. It's most beneficial for businesses and institutions, educational or otherwise, that are using this for non-fiction utilitarian purposes. You know, if you look at our user base and our data alone, and we've got millions and millions of authors that have used us over the last 20 years, and we've published roughly, you know, couple hundred thousand books per year. The bulk of them are non-fiction, and they are utilitarian in concept. They're handbooks, they're manuals, they're reference books, you know, they're, they're great books that are done through our platform that are all about coding Python or, you know, tax code laws in, in the northwest region of the United States. And so why
John Jantsch (06:40): You, so, so you should read those if you want to like, get to sleep at night, right?
Matt Briel (06:45): Absolutely. I use some of them in the background to stack up bookshelves for myself here in the office. But yeah, I mean, why you would self-publish really blows down to your goals and your motives. And as a business, you know, a lot of your audience is small business owners or solopreneurs or early stage, you know, entrepreneurs. It's, it's such a great tool to use a book as a growth opportunity creator. And with self-publishing, especially now, like you alluded to earlier, with all of the tools and technology we have and what we've been able to build in our platform, it's so easy. And so, yeah, why you would do it is because it creates new opportunities for you as a, as an individual, as an entrepreneur, as a business, or a brand, as an organization. And it's just an easier way to get it done without having to deal with those gatekeepers, many of whom you'll never get past.
John Jantsch (07:31): Well, and I think also, you know, I always tell people it's a great differentiator, you know, if somebody is looking at, I don't know, three marketing firms, for example, the one who's got this book that tells a good story about, you know, how marketing's actually how marketing actually works, even if the person doesn't read it
Matt Briel (07:53): Absolutely. Yeah. The big sort of push right now, and a lot of what we use when we're out at conferences or talking to people and even on interviews, is that books are the best business cards you could ever have. And aside from the revenue impact of having a book to sell, so many people we work with that are successful with them right now, they're not using them for a source of revenue, or at least not a, it's a passive stream of revenue for them, but they're using it as an opportunity creator. And like you said, if you're talking to two or three people who are consultants in the field of, you know, marketing or, you know, quantum physics, it doesn't matter if one of those people, if she's holding a book right, and says, listen, you know, I'm an expert in this. Here's my book, take this, give it a look over and then, you know, call me if you have any questions. A, you're not gonna throw that in the garbage. No animal throws a book away. Yeah. And B, that's definitely gonna put you above. The other two are standing there with just a business card in their hand. And so the idea that you took the time to create a book and you have this information and this very sort of succinct package, you're absolutely right. That's a huge leg.
John Jantsch (08:55): I'll tell you the other thing that I, I think a lot of people underestimate when they think about the time and frankly the monetary investment, you know, to get the thing off the ground. What I've found is the person with a book, especially a book, let's face it, that does make some sense as well written
Matt Briel (09:35): Yeah. And that's a great point you just made too inadvertently, which was, you know, it's really popular right now. People wanna get on the speaking circuits for whatever, you know, industry or vertical they're in. Right? And you see it as well as I do, we've crossed paths already in the marketing circles. That's a big thing to, to get a speaking gig at, you know, something like Inbound or one of these places. Yeah. Conferences, excuse me. And from what I've seen, and you can probably vouch for this, in most cases, you're not even gonna get considered if you're not, if you don't have author next to your name, right? Yeah. If you've not published something, they don't necessarily care that it was with McGraw Hill or self-published through, you know, Lulu or whoever. But if you've not taken the time to publish something on the topic by which you consider yourself an expert, you're not even making the waiting list for a speaking engagement. And so for those who are trying to break into that scene, this is again, another way to really put yourself at the top of that list and it's very inexpensive way. But like you said, even if you take the route of, you know, paying for some help to actually create a good book with some editors helping you and maybe a graphic designer on the cover, that's still a relatively inexpensive investment in what you just said will be, you know, a very large career booster for yourself.
John Jantsch (10:45): Yeah. I've had any number of events reach out to me and said, yeah, our c e O picked up your book in the airport and, you know, thought we ought to really have you come speak at our event. I mean, they didn't really, I'm sure they did some research, but you know, that was when they found me, right?
(11:39): That's publish for growth.com. So you hinted at this, so let's go there. What does it take to produce a book? I think a lot of people think, oh, I just, you know, I type out 80,000 words, I give it to somebody, and while I've got a book, what is the real process in terms of putting out a quality book?
Matt Briel (11:55): Yeah. Second most asked question, we get
(12:44): And that's one of the beauties of it. So what you need is content, you know, and depending on what you're writing and what your goal for that is, it could be as little as, you know, 10,000 words, 8,000 words. The length and size of the book these days doesn't necessarily matter as much as the quality of the content and what you're gonna do with that book. So you need a PDF of that content, right? You need a platform. So if you were gonna use ours, you just create an account, you would upload that pdf, our system will scan it over and check for any errors in formatting or size. If it's all good, you literally, you know, add the cover file, which you can either create on our platform, others have a similar tool, or if you've had your cover created by a graphic designer, which, you know, if you're not good at it, which a lot of people aren't, you can go to any number of freelancer sites like Fiber or 99 Designs, or your buddy who does graphic design on the side and hit the publish button and you're good to go.
(13:37): You designate where you want your book to show up, you can designate it to be private access, meaning you only have access to it, to print copies for yourself. And then our greatest feature right now, and our biggest differentiator on what's making the biggest waves is that you can now connect it to your own website and sell it directly and keep all the properties. So we work with, you know, Shopify and a WordPress plugins and a number of other ways to do that. So it is a lot easier than it ever has been. And depending on how, how concise and how well-crafted you want that book to be, it can go pretty quickly and inexpensively.
John Jantsch (14:13): I would toss in to the person that, you know, really wants something they can be proud of, that you probably should go out and on the private market look for a a, a true editor
Matt Briel (15:03): I would never disagree with that at all. Yeah. And again, if you're gonna spend the money on any one area, that's it. And we do also, there's a spot on our website where we list resources, people, freelancers, editors, graphic designers who you can work with, because you're right. I mean, if this is something that you're gonna consider, you know, a growth tool and even potentially a legacy for yourself, right, right. Let's face it, your books are a legacy, you know, you and many others who are putting these books out there, the last thing you want is some simple grammatical errors or some weird tone or voice that could have been easily rectified through, you know, less than a thousand dollars worth of editing work, you know? Yes. Yeah. So would agree with a hundred percent. John.
John Jantsch (15:40): So you mentioned the idea of selling direct, and I will say one of the cha challenges certainly with a traditional publisher is you have no idea who bought your book. And in fact, the publisher has no idea
Matt Briel (16:32): You're right. That's the real game changer here too, especially for us. I mean, again, we're one of the only ones that offer that ability right now. And when you look at the climate we're in and the shift to online e-commerce over the past few years, or five years or so, and even, you know, with the onset of the pandemic and covid and this boon that's happening in the creator economy and you know, a lot of the people listening to your podcast are solopreneurs and people who are going at it and really trying to make a living off of what they consider their craft or passion or whatever that might be. The ability to sell direct. Yes. Keeping a hundred percent of your profits is a benefit, of course. And for somebody like you, for example, if you're selling, you know, thousands of books a month, right? Right. Imagine if you were keeping all of that versus you know, what the publisher is keeping. Yeah,
John Jantsch (17:15): No, I'm fine. I'm fine with 15%. It's all right.
Matt Briel (17:18):
John Jantsch (18:02): And I think that's also, I mean you, you didn't mention it necessarily, but building community, I mean, just knowing who those, I mean, even if it just started with a book club, you know, and you know, building relationship with that reader cuz they've already heard your voice, right? They're, you're in their head
Matt Briel (18:37): And smoking a
John Jantsch (18:38): Bike. Exactly. So what do you say to that person that says, I don't have the time to do this or you know, I don't know when I'm gonna, you know, be able to create or I don't even know what I would write. I mean, what do you say to that person?
Matt Briel (18:51): The answer is similar to some of the other things we've been talking about and it has to do with the onset of technology right now that is making our lives easier in every aspect of creating content and marketing and selling products, whatever it is you happen to be involved in. But the long and short of it is you have a couple of options for a lot of people listening, they already have content, they just don't realize it. Right? For people listening to your podcasts that are bloggers or they're podcasters or they have video blogs on YouTube or whatever that might be, there are so many cool ways where you could take existing content and repackage it, you know, chat transcripts from your podcasts. Uh, if you're a blogger, take your top 10 most viewed blogs or red blogs and those are chapters now for a book or you know, there's a lot of ways to repackage content that you already have.
(19:34): But if you're truly starting from scratch and you're saying, Hey, I'm trying to get this business or concept off the ground, or whatever that might be, it can be challenging. Of course nobody's just gonna go off to a cabin in the woods and put their cardigan on and grab an old typewriter and crank out 80,000 words on a topic. But you have to chunk it up, you have to first start with an outline, it makes things the easiest and it keeps things in line and succinct and you know, sometimes just doing your outline could take you a month and that's okay, but if you're really putting that time and effort into it, the finished product is gonna be great. So get that outline started that serves as your roadmap, right? You would never get in the car and take off on a road trip without either, you know, maps on your phone telling you where to go or a paper map like you and I have probably used at some point in our life.
(20:18): Your outline is the same thing. So if you can get a succinct and out a well done outline done, you know, from there it gets easier. You just chunk it up and you've gotta create time for yourself. You literally have to put time on your calendar, even if it's only 15, 20 minutes a day. Whatever you can get written in that time, you will see how quickly that stuff will start to add up and before you know it, you've got enough to send off to an editor you're working with who's gonna help you finish that product up. So it's time management, like everybody listening to your podcast, you and I both we're all challenged by it, especially these days. You've just gotta carve out the time to do it and the benefits in the end will definitely be worth what you're sacrificing upfront.
John Jantsch (21:00): Yeah, and I think it's, I think it's key to get clear on those benefits, you know, what are you gonna gain from doing it? I always find that that, you know, helps people get the leverage over themselves in their time when they know, gosh, I gotta do this cuz the payoff is X. You know, one, one tip I'd throw in there too, I've worked with a lot of folks that they just feel like I'm just not a good writer or I'm, you know, I can't get it down, but they can speak all day long and so
Matt Briel (21:28): Um, well that's where technology comes in, right? There's so many tools out there right now that you could literally just speak into your book and it will transcribe it for you. There are lots of other tools that will help you, you know, with the actual craft of writing. There are tools that will literally prompt you, Hey, it's time to write your 500 words, you know what I mean? And guide you through it, so Yep, yep, yep. Technology's our friend these days and it's so inexpensive to free to use a lot of it.
John Jantsch (21:51): Yeah. So Matt, I appreciate you stopping by the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. You wanna tell people where they can find out more about publishing a book with Lulu?
Matt Briel (22:00): Absolutely. Thank you John. This has been good. You can find [email protected] Very easy four letters. We've spent a lot of money competing with the Leggings company for URL traffic
John Jantsch (22:20): Awesome. Well, again, I appreciate you stopping by and hopefully we'll run into each other one of these days out there on the road.
Matt Briel (22:26): We will, and thanks again, John, I appreciate it.
John Jantsch (22:28): Hey, and one final thing before you go. You know how I talk about marketing strategy, strategy before tactics? Well, sometimes it can be hard to understand where you stand in that, what needs to be done with regard to creating a marketing strategy. So we created a free tool for you. It's called the Marketing Strategy Assessment. You can find it @ marketingassessment.co.
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HubSpot Podcast Network is the audio destination for business professionals who seek the best education and inspiration on how to grow a business.
Whether you have an established following or you’re just starting out, books are a great way for entrepreneurs and creators to establish credibility, grow an audience, and generate profit. From landing more speaking gigs to generating leads for your business to building a community of fans around your brand, a book can spark so many new growth opportunities for you! At Lulu, we have free tools for publishing, and e-commerce plug-ins for printing books directly from your website for turn-key, white-label fulfillment. Meet us over at publishforgrowth.com to learn how to get started on your first (or next!) book today.