Interview with Brian Schwartz of KindleExpert.com

Hi, Brian. Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I spent nearly 20 years in corporate America, including 5 years at IBM before leaving in 2009 to pursue my entrepreneurial dreams. I’d always had an entrepreneurial itch, but never had the confidence to leave behind the monthly ‘corporate welfare’ check I had grown accustomed to!

But before quitting my job, my wife insisted I talk to others who had already taken the leap.  She politely requested that I interview at least 50 entrepreneurs before giving me her blessing to leave my job (I was the primary bread winner).  Early into the project, several of the interviewees encouraged me to publish the interviews into a book – so I edited over 50 interviews and self-published it in 2009.  My first order of 250 books came from one of the people I featured in the book, who wanted to hand it out at his company’s annual sales meeting. Over the next 24 months, I proceeded to sell about 2000 additional books. As a result, I became a publisher for other authors who wanted to follow the 50 Interviews model that I had refined for other topics, and to date, we have over 30 titles on a variety of topics from actors to athletes – all based on conversations with the individuals each author has personally interviewed. You can see all of our titles at www.50interviews.com

How did you get into the eBook conversion business?
The same way I got into my first business (50 Interviews). It wasn’t until somebody asked me to help them and then asked “what do you charge?” that I realized it could be a business.  It helped that I had been promoting my own books for over a year, as I had already met a lot of other authors and publishers who trusted me to do the work for them.  So in 2010 I launched KindleExpert.com. As of April-2012, I have done eBook layout and conversion work for over 100 authors including Jake Jabs (American Furniture Warehouse) and Marilyn Van Derbur (former Miss America).  My tip to your readers is that no matter whom you hire to do work for you – realize that the quality of the work will always reflect the experience of the person doing the work. The work I do today is far better than it was when I first started in 2010.

The thing that I’ve been most grateful to experience in my 3rd year as a full time entrepreneur is the difference that referrals make.  The majority of my clients are now referrals, and thus I don’t have to put as much effort into marketing anymore.  I find that clients who are referred to me are a much better fit than those who just find me randomly from a web search.  The nice thing about a referred client is that they are already vetted by someone I’ve already worked with. My experience is that you wouldn’t refer someone to me unless you already had a level of trust and respect for the person you are referring.

Do you offer any services other than conversion?
I do, and they have all been driven by the needs of my clients.  These services include: layout for print-on-demand, cover design, marketplace setup/optimization, Facebook author pages, ClickBank e-commerce, author webpages, and consulting on almost anything related to digital publishing.

What can writers do to prepare their manuscript for conversion?
The best thing to do is keep it in MS Word or Open Office and use as few styles as possible. In about 10 minutes, I could give a writer the do’s and don’ts of formatting to keep the cost of conversion low. I also offer a template for Word & Open Office that simplifies the whole process.  The template is already fine tuned for publishing directly to Kindle, Nook, and Print-on-Demand. The ePub Template includes more than 50 tutorials. If your readers are looking for a DIY option, they can learn more at http://www.epubtemplates.com. I can also send your readers my eBook Formatting primer to help them understand the formatting options for eBooks. Just submit a request for it at: http://www.kindleexpert.com/contact and I’ll email it to you.

How much do your services cost and how long does it typically take?
It  depends on the complexity of the book, but most ready-to-ePublish files are done within 2 weeks.  Price varies according to the type of layout, photos, styles, etc. that are in the book. Most conversions I do are $379.00.

How can folks get in touch with you?
Through my website: www.KindleExpert.com or by phone: 970-215-1078.  I’m happy to answer questions and help authors avoid trouble down the road.

(Disclosure: Brian prepared my novel, The Book of Margery Kempe, for Kindle & Nook publications and did a fantastic job!)

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