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Episode 38: Publishing’s Lunatic Paradigm

August saw the book editing really take off. Once Heather had set a baseline from the original manuscript, it became possible to push forward with new content. Being a ghostwriter, Heather picked up my writing style quickly, which made my job easier. We hoped that Heather’s experience as a ghostwriter would relieve me of the burden of writing, but the process ended up being more developmental editing than ghostwriting. I would produce sections of material and she would message them into place, at the same time producing new portions herself.

The collaboration grew complicated. We collided, editing the same portions of the manuscript simultaneously. The result meant integrating our changes together by hand—a long, arduous process. Every time a new set of updates came in, I would sit at my monitors and painstakingly integrate the changes together—hours and hours of work in addition to my authoring duties.

And it still felt like there wasn’t a strongly defined target for the manuscript–what it should contain, the order of information, overall flow, etc. The feeling of not having a definite target had started eariy on with the publisher, but I hoped that having an editor would create clarity and direction, but it didn’t. There just wasn’t a feeling of ‘the manuscript needs x and y, and this is how it should be assembled’. Even though we had an editor, as an author I still did not feel as though I had a solid understanding of the process or steps to achieve completion.

Inevitably, this led to me writing this insight about the publishing and writing world:

Even months into my first experience working in the publishing world, I’m still stunned by the differences between the razor-honed environment of Silicon Valley and the strange business of book publishing.

It is clear that I am trying to write and launch a book in an environment which I still do not completely comprehend. The responsibility for creating the book, as I see it, revolves almost entirely around the author. Everything from concept to delivery to marketing seems to rely largely upon the author, even though the author is likely to be the *least* knowledgeable entity in every discipline, save that of the original concept itself.

In Silicon Valley, where I come from, things usually work differently. When a concept comes to the table, a person in each discipline comes forward as a part of the team to add their expertise in bringing the concept to fruition. Marketing, engineering, service support, sales – all automatically apply their sage experience to the task, taking up the mantle and executing their portion of the project with comparatively little need for input. It’s a well-worn path. They know what needs to be done. This is precisely why it is so easy for Terry and Russell to come onboard the Magical Matches team. Silicon Valley has always been their neighborhood; they know these streets.

In contrast, Judy and I have no real knowledge of how to author a book. The science (or art) of construction, prose, delivery, pacing, voice is all foreign; it might as well be Jupiter. On the other side of the table are editors, venerable authors, publishers, and publicists, all descendants of Gutenberg: almost 600 years of genetic progeny in the art and toil of The Word.

Yet, it seems as if the onus in publishing falls to the naive first-time author. Even surrounded by experts, the stories of authors drowning in their own sea of inexperience seems commonplacee. Those who should be lifeguards are actually more like bystanders, watching the first-time author hopelessly flail. I find this paradigm to be utter lunacy.

I was burned out, frustrated and desperately needed to finish the manuscript as quickly as possible.


Click here for Episode 39: Out of the Shadows

Episode 37: Rights, Control, and Making Publishing History

The contract didn’t arrive from White Cloud until the end of July. We’d made the agreement in March. Why had it taken 4 months to deliver a standard boiler-plate contract? We couldn’t quite understand it. Then again, there wasn’t much we did understand about the Bookmuda Triangle. In truth, earlier in the month we had gently pushed for the end-July delivery. To their credit, they agreed and delivered right on time.

The contract was just as Steve said it would be: We would fund $11,000 in non-recurring expenses for printing the first run for which we would receive an increase to 50% royalties. It all seemed in order—except for the rights to the book.

What I didn’t understand at the time was that as part of printing the book, the publisher retains all the rights to the book. In most cases, the secondary rights (foreign language printing, movies, etc.) are the lifeblood of publishing–the place where a publisher really makes their money. Small publishers can also make a big payday if a larger, mainstream publishing house comes to buy the rights to a very successful small press book. Either way, the publisher is the entity who makes the profit because in owning the rights, they basically own your book.

Having the publisher own the rights might be okay if you’re an author using a book to enable your work as a speaker. The contract spells out specifically how you can use the material in the book within your business. Excerpts, handouts, powerpoints—you are permitted to use the content of your book without paying the publisher for the right to use the material. We, however, were launching an online dating website. Even though the book was written to stand on its own as a serious treatise on dating and relationships, the concepts from the book were at the core of the MM dating site. I had no idea how we would want to use the book in the future—and I didn’t want to be hamstrung by a contract limiting access to my own material. As I stated in an earlier episode, one of my mottos is ‘simple is profitable’. I didn’t see a simple way to rewrite (or amend) the contract so I could use the material any way I saw fit while still meeting the requirements of the publisher to retain control over the rights. This was turning into another huge problem created by the divide between Gutenberg and the Silicon Valley.

We needed an out-of-the-box solution. How was I going to retain the rights I needed to be successful and, at the same time, make Steve and Stephen at White Cloud successful?

The answer was to create a partnership between WC and MM—to bring them in as partners to our team. I looked at the Publishing King and said, “Listen, I need to control the book rights in order to increase our chances for success and you want to be in a position to amplify your profit when the book really takes off. Let’s create a win-win. Write a contract in which I retain all the rights in the book and, in return, I’ll give you shares in MM.”

In the 600 year history of publishing, it had probably never been done before … but it made sense. Trading rights for equity in MM provided multiple revenue streams for the publisher and lined them up for the large upside that would come when we completely disrupted the $1B online dating market.

I suggested that they keep their 50% share of the royalties (which they would have lost if they would have sold the rights to Random House), we change the percentages of the secondary rights to be more in my favor, and for those concessions, they’d receive a generous portion in company equity. It was perfect! The arrangement would give them two solid revenue streams while giving me the ability to make those streams as profitable as they could be.

The question was would they go for it? Would they dare let go of that which has kept them alive for 600 years and move into a new paradigm? Or would FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) keep them locked in their 20th century steps?

They needed some time to think about it.


Episode 38: Publishing’s Lunatic Paradigm: Let The Author Do IT

Episode 36: Mad Man Across The Table (The 4th Step in the Death of Online Dating)

With engineering and publishing seemingly under control, it was time to turn our attention to marketing.

Back in March, when we wrote the book proposal, Judy had told me about a guy she knew–Russell Quinan. “He’a a real Mad Man,” she told me. “He’s got a keen marketing mind and an uncanny genius in both concept and delivery.”

So the last week of July, we met Russell in Capitola at the Stockton Bridge Grill. The Stockton Bridge Grill sits right on the beach with a beautiful view of the water. Table 13 had become our official offsite conference room—they had even created a special sauce for their Lamb Chops at Stef’s request. Once again at table 13, with Chops and the “TrudyAnne” sauce, Judy and I awaited Russell’s arrival.

By this point we had already been courting Russell for several months. Although he was working with Judy on a marketing project for her day job as CEO of DreamTime, he had been studiously avoiding our advances for him to join the Magical Matches team.

With a good bottle of wine, we began to tell Russell about the book, the Mirror relationship, and how we thought the cornerstone of success for online dating was the online dating profile. We went round and round trying to help him understand what we intended to do as a company, but he just wasn’t quite getting it. He just couldn’t quite grasp our vision. Were we going to sell profiles? “Where’s the market for that?”, he asked. Judy thought we might want to start at the very beginning of the story and move forward, but I just kept right on going. “People would read the profiles, select one, and become part of a pool…”

It just wasn’t getting through.

Then it dawned on me. He wasn’t getting the big picture. Judy was right—we did need to start from the beginning! I looked at Russell and said, “We’re launching on online dating site to go with the book.”

Russell didn’t pause, not even for a second, before replying, “Count me in.”

Because we were in stealth mode, we hadn’t been able to explain the entire MM concept before; Russell thought we were only launching a book. He really didn’t have an expertise in launching a book, so he had avoided becoming involved. But marketing a website was right up his alley!

Russell immediately launched into his background. He had worked on soooo many large projects: Levis, General Motors, Got Milk, Alibaba, Xbox. He had even done marketing on Yahoo!Personals, Yahoo’s online dating site.

We were impressed. What we would come to learn in the future would impress us beyond imagination. In the days ahead we would come to understand that our new marketing chief was a titan in his field. He had worked for the premier marketing firms in New York and San Francisco. He had been involved in so many huge brands that it was impossible to count. He was also a founder in the largest, fastest growing interactive marketing agency in the US during the dot com era.

A titan indeed.

Russell would ignite and bring life to the MM brand in ways that we hadn’t even dare to dream.

Adding Russell to Team MM was the 4th Step in the Death of Online Dating.

Click here for Episode 37: Rights, Control, and Making Publishing History


Episode 3: The Profile Works Perfectly! (1st Step in the Death of Online Dating)
Episode 19: The King and I (2nd Step in the Death of Online Dating)
Episode 31: MM is Born (3rd Step in the Death of Online Dating)

Episode 35: The FrigginChillerDontYaSpillerKillerita

On July 20, a password-protected Word file showed up in my inbox (remember, we were in stealth mode. All of the documents had to be encrypted before mailing). It was the first round of edits from Heather! She had spent about a month digging through the manuscript—chopping, aligning, re-arranging. Basically, it was a thorough cleaning.

Looking at what had been done, I was grateful, but had expected things to move at a much faster clip. I know from personal experience that editing someone else’s work is quite difficult; still I hoped to be further along. It was just another of the misalignments between the Silicon Valley and the Publishing world. Unfortunately, more would be coming…

Right about this time we started holding Team MM meetings in our backyard. With Judy, Stef, Terry, and Heather on the team, it was important to start bringing the different disciplines into alignment—a single cohesive team all focused on the same goal.

Our inaugural team meeting was a warm sunny day. Everyone had a chance to meet for the first time as we crunched on savory snacks, barbequed tri-tip and drank my own special margarita invention, the FriggingChillerDontYaSpillerKillerita–freshly squeezed oranges, lemons and limes; 2 different types of top-end Tequilas; and a splash of Margarita Mix; all chilled. Add Cointreau; a splash of Limeade; stir over one ice cube; and top with Grand Marnier. Two of these will set you free…guaranteed.

We discussed editing the book and how the website features I had in my head might play out in real implementation. I had already begun laying out the website in Balsamiq, implementing in wireframes the features that would change the way people experienced online dating.

As we talked, Terry took my ideas and started crafting them into features. His concepts of how we would make the algorithms and implement new technologies was awe-inspiring.

Mostly, though, we just brainstormed—something that would become a hallmark of Team MM meetings. I found it very useful to just let people hear my ideas and concepts, then to let them add their own creative brilliance. I think too few companies leave time for brainstorming, yet it’s the most fertile ground for innovation.

Good food, amazing people, great drinks, and incredible ideas being tossed around in the sun. Clearly, we were on our way…


Click here for Episode 36: Mad Man Across The Table

Episode 34: Lunch with a Shark

It’s always good to get some inside advice when heading into a big project. I mean, you can’t just mindlessly plow into the online dating market where there are 1500 competing sites–especially when you don’t plan to go niche, but instead stand toe-to-toe with the big boys. So, if you’re launching a Silicon Valley startup and you want some advice, you might pay a visit to the Shark Tank–a venture capital firm.

I called my good friend Frank, who happened to be a VC, and asked if we could have lunch. Frank and I had worked together previously at a networking startup–I had gone on in my networking career; he moved into venture capital. I knew that Frank would be able to shed some light on how to approach successfully birthing a company into this crowded, highly competitive market space.

Frank and I met in Palo Alto. Palo Alto is where sharks go for lunch. Over a club sandwich and fish, I gave Frank an overview of Magical Matches and asked what we thought.

Like I said in Episode 19 Part 3, VCs are like Publishers–both crowds are fairly skeptical. Frank, predictably, was pretty skeptical about online dating as a venture. With a saturated market, it’s difficult to see how anyone can really compete. Or course, he was right. His opinion didn’t bother me too much as I knew that would be his take on our situation. I indicated that I was looking for engineering help to build the site in exchange for equity in the company . He said that I would never find a team willing to work for stock and that I should instead find an angel investor, get some cash, and hire a team.

But this was not really the road that I wanted to take. Taking on investment was one strategy, but that also meant inviting another person who might possibly want control over the direction of our company. That wasn’t the path I wanted to go down.

I left the meeting pondering where to turn next. I trusted Frank’s insights but, at the same time, I had a different direction set in my head.

I got in my car and started driving down the road back to Fremont, where I worked my day job. Not five minutes down the road, my phone rang. It was Terry, a genius engineer I had worked with in the past. Terry said, “Hey, that idea you had last year; I have time to work on it now.”, referring to my ideas around how to use Bluetooth more fully.

I said, “I’m not working on that any more, I’m working on something new. It’s in a billion-dollar pre-existing market. You interested?”

Terry replied, “You always have great ideas, Troy. I’m in.”

And just like that, we had a lead engineer…and not just any engineer, but one of the most brilliant people that I’ve ever met. I sent him a Non Disclosure Agreement (remember, we’re in stealth mode still–Episode 23) and he joined Team MM.

I was surprised, but I probably shouldn’t have been. After all, we’d gotten a publisher in 15 minutes, easily discovered a therapist to join the team, and found an editor that was also a publisher and ghostwriter.

Everything that this project needed just seemed to magically appear at the right time.


Click here for Episode 35: The FriggingChillerDontYaSpillerKillerita

Episode 33: The Publishing Contract

It was mid-july 2011. We had given our manuscript to an editor/ghostwriter and had just returned from Paris to receive the incorporation records for Magical Matches. There was much work to do.

* We needed to build a team to deliver both the book and the online dating website
* We might need money from an investor
* We certainly needed advice on, well, everything
* We needed a timeline to launch the book and website simultaneously
* We needed a plan to market both the book and website
* We still didn’t have a book contract

One of the first things on the list was to nail down a publishing contract. It has been 5 months since we first met with Steve of White Cloud Press and we still didn’t have a contract even though the dropdead to send the manuscript to the publisher was just 10 weeks away.

So what was so difficult about a book contract anyway? Where was the delay in getting a contract to us coming from?

When we originally met Steve in March 2011, he explained that the publishing world was in huge change. The rise of the e-reader and the invention of self-publishing had disrupted the traditional publishing world. No one knew what role traditional publishers would play in the 21st century, or even if they would survive at all.

In an attempt to adjust, White Cloud had been experimenting with new types of business models. Instead of the conventional contract where a publisher might advance money to an author for a book, WC proposed that authors pay for the book to be published. In return, WC would increase the author’s royalties so that the author could recover his investment after the first printing was sold out.

Of course, this would force the author to carefully evaluate how many copies he thought could be sold as it would likely take more than 2,000 copies to produce enough revenue to return the initial investment. This might be a problem for most authors as the average number of books that an author sells is only around 1000 copies. In our case, we anticipated selling way more than a couple thousand copies, so investing $10,000 in printing the first run in return for changing the royalties from the standard 6% to 50% made excellent business sense.

But we still needed a contract and it hadn’t been forthcoming. Privately, we wondered if the publisher was waiting to see the first round of edits before committing to the project.

But we had to press on. We requested to receive the first draft of the contract by July 31 and they agreed.


Click here for Episode 34: Lunch with a Shark!

Episode 32: The Book Proposal That Started It All

This is a copy of the book proposal that found us a publisher in 15 minutes in Episode 19. This proposal started the proverbial ball really rolling on our project — and in mid-July 2011 flourished into reality with the incorporation of Magical Matches.

The Book Proposal

Executive Summary
The book defines a different type of relationship and its ability to produce powerful, compelling, deeper connections that profoundly transform lives. A simple, tangible 6-step process guides the reader through employing a new type of online dating profile to find their Magical Matches.

Book/Market Summary:
Online dating is a business success despite its well-known inability to deliver matches to the majority of its customers. Millions of subscribers spend over $1B annually on online dating without a formula for achieving their goal.

The authors believe that a perfect storm exists between online dating; the lack of a formula for picking partners; the deterioration of traditional relationships; and the awe-inspiring pattern of our different type of relationship that produces pairings of amazing connection and harmony.

Backed by empirical evidence and a powerful pattern in nature, we have developed a simple, *tangible* 6-step process to assist millions of online daters to filter the masses to those few with whom they share the deepest of connections – their Magical Matches.

The authors are passionately committed to the work of changing the face of relationships and how we select life partners through promotion of our book.

Business Plan Summary

    Book sales

    • Traditional and E-book publishing
    • Book website

    Book Promotion

    • Book Tour – Establish schedule to tour all major US Cities timed to the book’s release
    • Public Relations – Approach Russell Quinnan, top-level PR exec to the Fortune 500, as a partner to join the MM team
    • Personal Coaching
    • Seminars, Webinars, Classes
    • Speaking Engagements
    • YouTube, Facebook, Twitter – target viral effect

 
Magical Matches Properties

    Status: Domain purchased, search underway for top-gun web guru to join MM as partner

    • Book site for sales
    • Blog/RSS Feed/FAQ/Knowledge Base
    • Advertising platform for all MM properties

     
    Dating Site

    • Domain purchased
    • Online dating site targets a different type of relationship
    • Launch to be sync’d to book
    • Subscription-based model
    • High-touch Customer Services
    • Webinars
    • Book sales

 

And that’s it — the book proposal that started this whole project rolling…

 
(To those who are faithfully reading, I apologize for the breaking the consistency of this unfolding story by not posting more regularly. With the project scheduled to release in approximately 6 weeks, the book cover is the project that refuses to die, we’re preparing to meet the press mid-oct [which means dealing with publicity experts, image consultants, etc.], still working on approving the book for printing, finishing the web design and implementation, and lord knows what else I’ve missed….while still working a full-time job. Please bear with me as I work through the list of items and I’ll tell the story as I can. Some of the most interesting, and unbelievable turns, are yet to come! thanks…troy)


Click here for Episode 33: The Publishing Contract

Episode 31: MM is Born (The 3rd Step in the Death of Online Dating)

Judy and I had just returned from a fabulous trip to Paris. We celebrated Judy’s birthday, plus both the anniversary of our second first date and the beginning of the writing of our book. We strolled town hand in hand, ate and drank like Parisians, and kissed every chance we got. We had a blast.

Upon our return, we were greeted with a very important envelope in the mail. We had always planned for this phase of the project, but now it was official…really official. Printed there in black and white, signed, governmentally approved were our incorporation documents. Our little project had officially become a company -–
Magical Matches, Inc.

Because our relationship was different – groundbreaking in a way that had rarely been seen in relationships before – we knew that we would need to write a book to explain the relationship and how to find it. In the same way, we knew that the path to finding this type of relationship was different than had never been done before. Certainly, online dating would be the vehicle; however, there was no way the current crop of online dating sites would be able to deliver on our revolutionary vision and methodology for dating and selecting partners. We needed a new type of online dating site. Thus, Magical Matches was born.

Magical Matches would be built around new principles. Where all the other sites focus on getting their subscribers to the first date, we would instead focus on the relationship–a first in online dating. Everything that subscribers had come to expect from on online dating would change with Magical Matches. Between the book and the dating site, we would actually be able to guide people to the right relationship rather than just leaving it them to figure it out on their own.

Just thinking about the possibilities for helping others to find what Judy and I shared was incredibly exciting!

We were about to embark on an entirely different phase of our project of bringing profoundly connected, easy, harmonious, loving relationships to the world.

Click here for Episode 32: The book proposal that started it all…


Episode 3: The Profile Works Perfectly! (1st Step in the Death of Online Dating)
Episode 19: The King and I (2nd Step in the Death of Online Dating)

Episode 30: The Hotel is on Fire…Salute!


One morning we awoke to the sound of the hotel fire alarm–a nasty, blaring sound that is designed to pierce steel and concrete; just imagine what it does to the soft tissues of the ear and brain! It went off once, then stopped and went off again. By the time it had gone off for the third time, I got up and headed to the lobby. “Sorry, false alarm. Go back to bed” was the message. The alarm continued to cycle off and on for about a half hour. Since we weren’t sleeping, and we were in Paris, there was only one thing that could be done — open champagne! We poured champagne, saluted (translation: cheers!) the neighbors from the balcony, and laughed the morning away drinking bubbly.

Le BourbonSince we were in Paris, I wanted to show Judy where the first words of the book had taken shape. As we had been doing all week, we meandered the side streets taking in Paris’ amazing architecture and art until we made our way to Le Bourbon. We sat at the very same table I had a year earlier, when I wrote the opening to the book:

 

…Why is it that some are so in love that the world shrinks until there are only two hearts – aflame, together, joyously happy – while others seem dead to the romance that is unarguably Paris? … How can one learn to know the difference between a relationship that is good and one mere words are powerless to describe? From whence comes faith to know that there is a superlative match, an extraordinary relationship for me…..and for you?
As a warm shower begins to patter upon the cobblestone road, without a doubt, I absolutely know that she exists and that we will find each other soon…..and by the time your eyes peer upon the last word of this book, I know that you will feel the same!

What an incredible feeling it was to have been there a year earlier knowing that this relationship was coming and now to be at that very same table with Judy.

We came to Paris and kissed, loved, and laughed as we had dinners on small cobblestone streets under the stars. It was a magical experience: Our love, this relationship, the city…all magical.

There is no doubt–Judy is my Magical Match.

Clink here for Episode 31: The Third Step in the Death of Online Dating

Episode 29: More Than Soul Mates

Judy and I had started in San Francisco and landed in Paris at 6am after a long flight with no sleep. Since our room wasn’t ready and we were starving, we wandered Paris aimlessly, eventually ending up eating German food when we should have been eating the world’s best cheese, bread and wine.

Afterwards, we dragged ourselves back to the hotel and waited in the lobby for our room to be prepared.

The lobby, like most hotels in Europe, was quite small. The mod art deco design we saw in the hotel’s pictures on the web was transformed into reality by strangely shaped, furry couches of red and yellow and accent tables that shimmered silver. Up on the wall was a TV that had bubbles coming out of its screen – literally. It was the first passive 3D television we had ever seen. Tres cool…

Finally prepared, we found our room quite surprising: A bed with no frame to hold it up so that it appeared to float in mid-air, a bathroom made entirely of translucent glass, and a ceiling painted like a cloudy night sky that had small blue LED lights for stars. In any other instance, this combination could have easily come off feeling like a cliché room in a honeymoon hotel in the Poconos , but the attention to detail and the quality of the materials made for uber-sheek. The fact that the room was in Paris rather than Pennsylvania probably didn’t hurt either.

After a good night’s sleep, the question was what to do first, at least for most couples it is. One of the amazing characteristics about the different type of relationship Judy and I share is that we tend to think alike – almost identically alike. Whereas another couple might come to Paris with different ideas of what to do – she wants to see all the museums while he prefers to photograph the architecture – Judy and I had the exact same plan for our time in Paris…and that was to have no plan at all. In fact, our shared plan did not include any museums, tourist sites, or schedules. We were both fried from work and the book project. All we wanted was relaxation and each other.

Instead of running around like crazed tourists, we just sauntered the city hand in hand. We’d look down a street, see an old, beautiful building covered in ivy or a gold encrusted sculpture and say, “look at that old building” or “isn’t that architecture fabulous?” Then, we’d stop at a sidewalk café, order some delectable food and watch Parisians and tourists walk by– all the while we would hold hands and exchange that same never-ending kiss we had been sharing since we first met. Then, with our stomachs full and lips sufficiently loved-up, we once again would walk amongst the centuries-old monuments that define Paris, ever watchful for that next perfect sidewalk café where we could share another kiss over a bottle of wine.

For some couples, the City of Lights might allow more love than usual to come to the surface, but for Judy and me it was really just more of the same deeply connected, life altering love that we had always shared. No arguments, no struggles, no compromises. We are more than soul mates.

All the more incredible is that I engineered this love, this relationship.

And this is the very same relationship our book was going to help others to find.

Click here for Episode 30: The Hotel is on Fire…Salute!

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