Tech Profile: Foboko
Foboko is a social community with a built-in “publishing wizard.” It breaks the e-book writing and publishing process down into baby steps, and any would-be authors can open their work to the community at any time for instant help. E-books are created and shared with a large audience of avid readers — and it’s all free.
Where did the idea for Foboko come from? What was the tipping point for Foboko?
The main idea behind Foboko was to remove the major obstacles today’s would-be authors face when it comes to 1) creating a book, and 2) having that book read. Being in the industry, we realized that current solutions, including all the various “self-publishing” options, are inadequate for the majority of authors. As such, we set out to design a system that would remove each one of these obstacles. Foboko didn’t happen in a “Eureka!” moment. Rather, Foboko is a heavily thought-out, planned and designed response formulated through research, study and ingenuity.
The very nature of Foboko encourages its members to spread the word. We educate authors that creating and posting their books is not the finish line. While we actively market Foboko, and authors are also given the tools to promote their books through outside mediums.
Since we believe our members are best-suited to help spread the word, we have a reward program in place that gives them extra benefits for simply helping us spread the joy of writing and reading.
Since we have a popular existing e-book website, we have a huge pool of targeted members and visitors who will love to discover this new platform. It’s a built-in audience!
Explain the process an author goes through when publishing a book on Foboko.
Our aim is to assist and lead authors through the entire process, from beginning to end, by breaking it down into six main sections, each having their own sub-steps:
1. Book Basics: Important information is requested, such as title, description and even the author’s writing goals (ex: word count per day). You can also invite up to four additional co-authors to join you, giving them complete control of the book.
2. Brainstorming: This is the meat, and it’s what I think is the most innovative and helpful feature. While optional, the brainstorming section is a very powerful and comprehensive questionnaire, which allows you to plot your book. It’s especially beneficial for new authors, as it will formulate the entire layout, structure and storyline for their books. It becomes the book’s blueprint, which can be used as a “manual” for writing.
3. Cover and Images: This section allows authors to upload images. As with every other area, authors can ask the community for help with images or covers.
4. Workdesk: The workdesk is where the writing takes place. The layout of the workdesk is determined automatically by the answers given in the brainstorming section. Authors’ answers allow us to customize their workspace according to their needs.
5. Review and Publish: Another important advantage of Foboko is the system automatically converts your book into the five most popular e-book formats: HTML, TXT, PDF, ePUB and MOBIPOCKET (PRC). Your e-book will be usable on any eReader, smartphone, tablet or computer right away. If you ever make changes, the system will update all the formats automatically.
6. Earn Money: We give our authors ownership of the advertising spaces surrounding their e-books’ listings. Authors gain exposure and fans by allowing free downloads of their e-books, yet they are still able to profit from it through our ad-sharing program.
What problem is Foboko solving?
Foboko is solving the publishing problem. The publishing industry is shifting, and while many models exist, each has major drawbacks. Let’s compare the three most popular models:
- Traditional Publishing: It’s a tough nut to crack from an author’s perspective; business-wise, it’s a declining model due to inventory, costs of marketing and so on.
- Online Distributors (examples: Amazon, iBooks): Foboko aims to own the space before these entities by helping people actually create e-books. The desire to be published is one of the most prevalent today; it’s right up there with weight loss and financial gains. However, most people don’t act on this desire because they believe creating a book is 1) too difficult, 2) too expensive, or 3) a wasted effort because it won’t be read in the end. Foboko breaks down these obstacles by making it easy, thanks to the wizard and the community, and free and fun by providing authors with a large, responsive audience of avid readers.
- Print-on-Demand Publishing (example: lulu.com): Similar to the above, not only does Foboko help you create your e-book, it provides you with a reader base. The unfortunate reality of trying to sell your e-book on print-on-demand sites or even with online distributors is that consumers are cautious of spending money on indie authors. Again, some authors can succeed this way, but in general, it’s difficult to sell many books through these sites. For the majority of authors, getting read is the main goal, which our free download model provides in abundance. Our revenue-sharing program is the icing on the cake, allowing them to see financial gains as well.
How can publishing an e-book help to increase a brand’s reputation and credibility in its industry?
A brand is about the recognition of a product, so the more “hits” or impressions you can get for your product or company, the better. An e-book is a quickly and easily distributed item that has more perceived value than a pen or fridge magnet. By including experts’ comments, contributions, or even chapter authorship, it lends additional credence to your role as a leader. Branding is also about leadership in an industry – building trust in a product, service or the solution it renders. By publishing an e-book, you’re showing you “know what you’re talking about.” Your words can help solve common issues in your industry, and if your publications turn up in search engine results when people are searching your name/brand, that’s instant credibility.
You believe that free e-books will be one of the main points of attraction for a reader. How can marketers see a return on their investment by creating inbound leads? What strategies do you find most successful for individuals and brands publishing e-books?
“Content is king,” and this rings true here. Your e-book needs to be entertaining or informative. Try to find a common issue people have and provide them with helpful, original information. At the end of the day, readers will determine how successful your e-book is. Take the time to produce a quality piece; even 50 pages of tips or recipes can be useful. Don’t overload readers with technical jargon; keep it conversational.
In the e-book itself, use intro and conclusion pages, as well as footer links to call subtle attention to your product/business. Make sure your e-books looks professional, both inside and out (people still judge books by their covers). This is, after all, the first impression you’ll be making on a lot of people. Consider giving the e-book away for free and encouraging readers to share it; you can include a line stating, “We encourage you to share this e-book for free as long as you do not modify the contents or use it for commercial purposes.” Most importantly, include a call to action and your contact information to encourage leads to get in touch.
Marketers can see an ROI from:
- List-building: large numbers of e-books can be downloaded daily (i.e. 20,000 are downloaded per day from www.free-e-books.net).
- Opt-in conversions: they’re often greater for a book that has a higher perceived value
- Viral marketing: Prospects and customers are freely passing on your marketing materials
- Hotlinks: URLs back to your homepage
- Video and audio inserts: the right audience will flock to these in an e-book format.
Nicolas Gremion is the CEO of Paradise Publishers Inc. and founder of Foboko.com, a social publishing network where members get support writing their books from peers and connect directly with readers.