Tell us about yourself and what inspired you to start writing.
I am an engineer. At school I was always a straight A student in any numerical subject, but got mostly B grades in English. I am ambitious and have a LOT of life goals, but writing a book definitely wasn’t one of them. Then, in 2016, I decided to write a book – and wrote and published one in three months, without a publisher.
Tell us about your books.
My book, entitled “Marketing for CEOs: Death or Glory in the Digital Age”, has received very strong reviews on Amazon and elsewhere, and has won several awards. In 2015, several CEO friends said to me: “Ben, I am planning to fire my Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). Please help me find a better one.” At first, I would usually just commiserate with him or her over a drink, then I would get back to my day job. However, one day I replied, “I am sure there’s a book out there. I’ll look into it and recommend the best book that defines what marketing should be doing in the digital age.”
It sounded simple enough. But then I searched for the book on both Google and Amazon. However, I couldn’t find a decent book that offered a clear, compelling proposal for what marketing should be doing in a new world dominated by mobile phones, social media, and big data. It was then that I decided to share my knowledge on the subject and write one myself.
How did you go about getting published?
Turning the first draft into something worthy of pagination, illustration, and publishing was a LOT of work.
By the time I declared the book “ready for pagination”, I had changed, rewritten, or reworked 80% of each chapter compared to the initial draft. I decided to self-publish the book.
What is your writing process? Do you have a time, day or place you like to write?
I can’t have a thing out of place in my apartment before I write. Just a single unwiped surface or tea spoon left on the side will distract me.
During my early CEO conversations, I had no intention of writing a book, but I did think that I might write the occasional article on digital marketing, the future of marketing, etc. So, I started collating my ideas, thoughts, and inspiration for articles in Evernote. I am a big fan of Evernote, as I could update my thoughts using my laptop, iPad, or mobile phone and it synchronized everything seamlessly.
During 2015, I organized all of these thoughts into 14 sections, which ended up being very closely aligned with the eventual chapters of the book. I then expanded on these thoughts and populated these sections with ideas, statistics, and useful links.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Full-time job, pets, hobbies?
If there was a Runners Anonymous self-help group, I would need to join.
Any advice for authors about book covers?
I used 99 Designs, a design marketplace, to run an online competition to find an illustrator for the front cover. We were so happy with his work on the front cover that we then asked him to illustrate all the artwork for the book. And all of his illustrations costed us less than $1,000.
Any marketing tips you’d like to share with other authors?
I didn’t have enough time to promote my book at the time it came out. Start early and get it reviewed before it gets published.
What’s your favorite book?
Steven Levitt’s Freakonomics series
What are you reading now?
Think Like a Freak by Steven Levitt
What’s your next book project?
Collating feedback on my book, in order to write a 2nd edition at some stage. Also various articles related to having a highly productive but balanced life, so focused on things like how CEOs keep fit, or tips to efficiently write a book.