The Story Behind The New Music Industry
Summary: in June, I launched a book called The New Music Industry: Adapting, Growing, and Thriving in The Information Age. It features over 66,000 words, and somewhere in the range of 140 to 180 pages depending on your device. This is the first book I distributed eBook to all major online book sellers. This is the story of how it came to be.
As with any project of this scale, it’s hard to recall the exact sequence of events and timeline for each, but I will do my best to re-tell how this book came to be, why it took so long to complete, and what I learned from working on it.
Many years ago (I don’t remember when), I was reading an article on an online marketer’s website (I don’t remember who). He had written an eBook on why everyone should write their own eBook, and I found him convincing. I would like to say that this is what got me started, but it wasn’t. It did plant a seed though.
Then, I heard an episode on Internet Business Mastery (I’ve been a long-time lurker/subscriber), in which a guest (I don’t remember who; sorry) talked about how most people set out to write a book in their lifetime, but never get around to doing it. I found it inspiring.
Again, I would like to say that that this is what got me going on my book, but it wasn’t. It was another important piece to the puzzle though.
Then, in 2011, I finally got started on my book.
But the first half of 2011 was an extremely difficult time for me. I was experiencing some financial challenges, and I was also living with a roommate from hell. I did everything to try to stay afloat, and I even rented out the garage. I almost rented out the only remaining bedroom too, but the prospective renter was overeager and didn’t take the time to get to know the household before trying to move in. That wasn’t going to work.
I had five part-time jobs at the time, and I even took on a job as a custodian at a church temporarily. There’s a lot I could say about that experience, but without getting into it, I think you can see how desperate I was feeling.
The second half of 2011 was bliss by comparison. I learned that I could refinance my mortgage (I honestly knew nothing about that), and if nothing else, that would prolong my stay at the house. After refinancing, I was able to put some money back into my pocket, and even took a one-week working vacation, followed by a one-week honest-to-God holiday.
Additionally, I was introduced to a powerful self-development program that ended up changing my life, a couple of businesses (which I opted to join), and I even came up with an inspired business idea of my own.
I’m sure I could go into depth about each of those things, how I ended up meeting people that had a similar vision, how I ended up investing in a music industry startup and more. But that’s a little beside the point.
So, in the midst of all that excitement, I finally got to work on my first book.
My First Attempt
Because of all the new information I was taking in, my new book was fast becoming an amalgam of success, business and personal development principles combined with music career tips. The book I ended up with certainly gets into all those things, but I had to scrap the first iteration because it just didn’t sit well with me.
I realized that nobody would want the complete encyclopedia of music career and success principles, and even if they did, I wasn’t talking about my experience as much I was reiterating what other authors and speakers were teaching.
I believe that’s how I came to realize that what I needed to do was share my own experiences. That way, it would feel more authentic to who I was. Instead of recapping what other experts were saying, I could draw from my own career experiences and knowledge.
In the fall of 2012, I sold my house. Refinancing my loan bought me some time, but it was too little too late. There’s no way I would have been able to keep my house.
Unfortunately, this is usually what happens after a windfall. We end up in exactly the same financial situation we were only one to two years later.
Having moved out of my house and into a basement suite, I felt an immense sense of peace and relief. I was sharper and more clearheaded than I had ever been.
Shortly thereafter, I began working on a new manuscript. I didn’t necessarily have a goal in terms of length or topics, but the content started taking shape.
Fleshing it Out
Eventually, I got to the point where I thought that I had a good manuscript, so I sent it off to my friend James Moore over at Independent Music Promotions. I wanted to see if he would be willing to write a foreword for me.
James was happy to write a foreword, but he gave me some much needed feedback on my book. He told me that the content was good, but that I should be offering more actionable advice. I should be talking about tools and resources that I liked. It hadn’t even occurred to me, and had I let my pride get in the way, I would have dismissed his feedback altogether.
Since I was learning a lot about leadership in my business training, I knew that leaders were those willing to go the extra mile. I decided to follow James’ advice, and I kept working on the book.
Somewhere in the midst of that, I read David Hooper’s Six-Figure Musician, which gave me the inspiration to use lists in my book (i.e. 15 Principles of Entrepreneurship). As result, I decided to end all primary chapters with either a list or a “how-to” section.
2014 had arrived, and the book still wasn’t done.
But I finally made the decision. I decided to work on it every single day until it was complete.
To be perfectly honest, though, this was a commitment I broke and re-made multiple times as I was getting the manuscript ready for editing.
To get to that point as fast as I possibly could, I chose to write 1,000 words per day. By that time, I knew that I wanted every primary chapter to have 5,000 words or more, so I kept repeating 1,000-word days until I saw that every chapter was at the length I wanted it to be.
Editing happened at various stages and was also done by multiple individuals including myself. I’m not the type of person to speed through the first draft and go back to edit it later. I tend to write, read, re-read, edit, and then repeat that entire process over and over.
This doesn’t mean that I get it all right the first time around; far from it! Any time I added or changed something in the book, I would then go back and comb through the entire thing to make sure it all made sense in context.
Anyway, some of the initial feedback for this book came from the previously mentioned James Moore, as well as my friend Sharon. James may have been the one that helped me bring this project to a new level, but it was Sharon that helped me to re-think my introduction, which was initially a little on the tentative side. I think the introduction I ended up with better reflects my intention as well as the content found within the book.
Then, when I was much closer to completion, I enlisted the help of Maveen Kaura from Discover Your Life Today. He had some helpful suggestions for me, and he pointed out some troubling grammar. Originally, the chapters on blogging and copywriting were consolidated, and it was Maveen that pushed me to separate the chapters, forcing me encouraging me to write another 3,000 words or so.
Then, my friend Adam Meachem also offered to edit the book. I took him up on his offer, and he did a once-over on my behalf. To my delight, he had no suggestions on a content level. He just spotted a few spelling or grammatical errors.
Time and time again, as I was writing this book, I ended up submitting to the wisdom of others. I took some artistic liberty, but for the most part, I chose to listen and to take the feedback to heart. I know I’m repeating myself, but I would not have elevated to this level without the help I received.
Advance Praise, Cover Design & Distribution
My next step was to start soliciting quotes from industry connections. My book was essentially ready to be distributed, but without some social proof, I wasn’t convinced that others would buy it.
I had worked hard to grow my blog and podcast audience while I was in the process of working on my book, but it wasn’t easy, and I was only able to increase my following incrementally over time.
I knew I didn’t have a massive and engaged email list that was going to buy my book the moment it came out.
Regardless, the quotes I got were positive and encouraging. James Moore, Maveen Kaura, Dayne Shuda from Country Music Life, Sean Harley [Tucker] from The Spark & The Art, Tom Jeffries from Safe-Xchange, Jonathan Ferguson from Long Jon Lev, Adam Meachem, Corey Koehler from Musicgoat, and Keith A. Link from Sessionville all gave me glowing testimonials that instilled in me the belief I had something of value to offer. Thank you.
Having collected the advance praise, I made a landing page, and I decided to include the quotes in the first page of the book as well. I knew that it would inspire buyers to dig in and learn something.
Now I also had to think about the cover design. I tried reaching out to skilled designers and asked them if they would be willing to help, but this didn’t go anywhere. I had identified flat vector artists from websites and blogs that I liked, and I wanted to enlist their help, but alas, they either didn’t get back to me or were not available to work on extracurricular designs.
Although I tend to do most of my own graphic design work, it was proving hard for me to come up with a design I could be proud of.
Then, one day, as I was strolling through Chapters with Jonathan (Ferguson), I came across a book with a cover design that I liked. To my surprise, it featured almost the exact color scheme I was working with. When I saw it, I said, “now that’s something I think I could work with.”
Ultimately, the cover design is nothing fancy by any means, but I think the font choice, the spacing and the color scheme are eye-catching (not to mention Greg Parke‘s photo in the background).
In some ways, I feel like gathering advance praise, creating a cover design and distributing The New Music Industry was the longest part of the process, if only because I had to work on these things in the nooks and crannies of my busy schedule.
But my friends (in particular, Jonathan and Joanna Drummond) kept asking me when my book was coming out, so with all of my material in hand, I finally signed up for a BookBaby account and had them distribute my eBook to all major online book sellers.
The release itself was somewhat anti-climactic. It was mostly a waiting game, as I continued to log in to my BookBaby account on daily to check if my book had been released yet. They told me my book would be available for sale within two to three weeks on most sites, so that’s what I kept telling people when asked.
Little did I know that I was checking the wrong sources. What I should have done is search for my book on sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo, because my eBook was up for sale much sooner than expected. I don’t think it took more than a couple of days to distribute (Book Baby delivered my book to all sites between June 18 and 22). Amazon has the release date as June 21, 2015, so that’s what I’m going with.
I’ve been steadily marketing the book ever since. The book has sold well over 300 copies and it continues to sell to this day.
This is where I originally talked about what my next steps were. As I write this (in January 2020), it’s almost been five years since the launch of the eBook, and four years since the launch of physical copies.
Since publishing the book, I:
- Went onto organize a book launch party at Koi in Calgary.
- Spoke at a few events to support book sales.
- Wrote dozens of guest posts.
- Gave interviews for a few blogs and podcasts.
- Started The New Music Industry Podcast, in honor of the book title. The podcast is still going.
- Self-published three other books.
My next steps at this point are to:
- Launch The Music Entrepreneur Code, my fifth book.
- Rework and update The New Music Industry and relaunch it as The New Music Industry 2.0.
Lessons I Learned from Working on This Project
I certainly had a few missteps along the way, but for the most part, The New Music Industry was a success.
Of course, I’m still going to be taking some important lessons with me.
I imagine there are some things I won’t even discover until later, but for now, here’s what I can say for sure.
Lesson #1 – Your book will come together faster if you outline it first.
This is one of the reasons the book took as long as it did. I had a bit of an on-and-off relationship with it, and for whatever reason, I just couldn’t bring myself to work on it some days.
Either way, it wasn’t until I started putting together the table of contents that I had a clear direction for the content.
There’s probably a lot more that I could have talked about in the book, but I chose not to, because I wanted to stay within my field of expertise. That way, I would stay true to the purpose and intent of the book.
Lesson #2 – You can’t link to other music, book and app stores within your eBook.
I imagine this doesn’t necessarily apply if you’re only planning on releasing your eBook on one platform, but if you’re distributing it across multiple sites, you can’t have links to competing sites in there.
Since I had a lot of links in my book, I had to rethink my approach. Ultimately, the best suggestion came from my co-worker at Mount Royal University, Al Williams. He suggested that I create a separate page on my website with a list of all of the links that were to be included in the book. That way, people reading the book would be directed to my website.
That’s how the resource list came about. Thanks for the tip, Al!
Lesson #3 – Be open to the criticism, feedback and suggestions.
If you allow others to help you on this journey, your book will be better off for it. If not for the many people that helped me – so many of whom I’ve already mentioned – this book would not be what it is today. Everyone encouraged me to bring my game to a new level.
Frequently Asked Questions
Interestingly enough, most of these questions have come up in real life conversations. If you have any questions of your own, you’re more than welcome to leave them in the comments. Most of what I publish on this website, by the way, comes from your questions.
Would you write another book like this?
I have yet to publish another book in the 60,000 word range but I am working on one. It’s called Flashes of Elation: Navigating the World as a Sensitive, Creative Soul.
I have a lot on my plate and I’m doing my best to prioritize. If all goes well, Flashes will see a release in 2020, but there’s a good chance it won’t come out until 2021.
How much does the book cost?
It depends on the seller, whether you’re buying the eBook or paperback, and whether you’re paying in CAD or USD.
Here’s a basic overview:
- On Amazon Kindle: $15.93 CAD or $12.84 USD.
- On Kobo: $16.47. I think that’s CAD, and I’m not sure what it costs in USD.
- On Barnes & Noble: $10.99. I assume that’s USD.
- Other: it varies.
Just so you know, I only have so much control over the price, and because I wanted the book distributed to Kobo, I had to set the minimum price at $12.99 USD. I don’t have any plans of changing the price, but there might be the occasional promotion that you can take advantage of in the future.
How long is the book?
A little over 66,000 words, which apparently translates into 144 pages on Amazon Kindle (176 pages on Barnes & Noble). Sorry, I can’t give you an exact page count because it depends on the format, but I think you get the general idea.
There are many people without whom this project simply wouldn’t be what it ultimately became. I would love to thank everyone that had a hand in helping me make this book a reality. If you helped in any way and supported me on this journey, you know who you are. Thank you.