Author Interview: Portrait of a Solo Infopreneur

Written by Layne Maheu

LarrySwansonLMP-avatar(med-res)The upcoming chapter meeting, Publishing in the Digital Age, includes author Larry Swanson, whose reference manual, Scared Sitless, was released this month through Elless Media. Though not a member of the panel, Larry is emblematic of the very things authors and publishers should be doing these days to promote their work.

Larry is a personal trainer and massage therapist in downtown Seattle, as well as a self-described solo infopreneur, a hybrid term he believes he made up, which combines solopreneur and infopreneur into one dynamic package. Following is an interview I did with him.

Layne: Larry, tell us about your book.

Larry: Scared Sitless is an evidence-based, science-backed, how-to manual for office workers to prevent and treat Sitting Disease and other hazards of office work. It also includes chapters on ergonomics, posture, and exercise.SS final cover only

Layne: How did you decide on a format for your book?

Larry:  I chose the format based on how I perceived people might want to read it. I went with both an eBook format, which is pretty popular right now. And since it’s a book geared toward office workers, people who are at their computers all day, they’re probably down on alternative media.

A lot of people have asked, “Well, where’s the book book?” (That’s my background, in traditional print.) So I wrote it as a book book. I’ve always pictured this thing you could pick up and read. So it’s in a 170-page paperback format as well.

Layne: Your book is self-published, correct?

Larry: Yes.

Layne: Do your publishing efforts have a name?

Larry: The company name is Elless Media.

Layne: How are you getting the word out about your book?

Larry: My goal with this platform building is I want to be that guy who’s known for knowing all about Sitting Disease for office workers, and I already am. The paperback wasn’t even out when I got a call from a PR consultant in New York who wanted to connect me with an ergonomic furniture manufacturer to do some events with them. I’m also meeting with the founder of Work While Walking, the world’s first treadmill desk store, where I’ll take a peek at their next generation, latest, greatest, coolest treadmill desk. So, I’m the man! 

Layne: Currently your paperback sells as print-on-demand. Did you ever consider a print-run with a storage of books?

Larry: One of the big opportunities with my book is in special sales into the corporate market. And the way that works is you go to a company’s office, for instance, Google, and they say, what a great idea, I would love to help my office workers at work. They buy 10,000 copies of the book, and I give them a huge, deep discount. That’s when I go from print-on-demand to short-run offset printing, which I thought of in advance. I designed the book with a page count divisible by 16, which is the increment used in offset printing. Plus, when I’m doing my speaking engagements, I’m going to want to have ready-made copies to sell.

The beauty of print-on-demand publishing is that you can prototype the work. You eat a bit of the cost because the unit price goes up. Then as soon as you’re confident of the demand, you can print 2,000, 5,000, 10,000 on a conventional offset printer, and your unit price goes down. So, that’s one of the opportunities—special sales.

Layne: Will you be coming out with subsequent editions? Will there be a third and fourth edition of Scared Sitless?

Larry: I don’t know how much things will really change, if Sitting Disease will be cured tomorrow by some miracle drug. So, I’m not sure; I’m holding out for the option. But for now, I think the title is prescient; it’s perfect for what I want the book to be. Again, I’m doing the platform thing.

Maybe this book is just the foundation for the enterprise and subsequent development of separate books. Already I have six or seven other book ideas that I could write about ergonomics, self-assessment, exercise ideas, or posture stuff. Or any one of the chapters of the present book could be a separate book. And there are other self-care aspects to office work that I haven’t even covered yet, things about nutrition, sleep hygiene, self-massage, and vision. You know, eye sight is huge. And all of these issues tie into the original concept, so the book is just a launching point. You know that whole idea of throwing spaghetti on the wall and seeing what sticks. I’m throwing this out there to see what part of it sticks, see if it inspires conversation, see if it gets people interested, and go from there.

You can see Larry’s Scared Sitless promotional video and website, or order his book from Amazon.

Layne Maheu is author of Song of the Crow, published by Unbridled Books in 2006, and moderator of the panel.

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