I’ve known David Meerman Scott for several years. We’ve presented together at a conference. He cheered me on when The Corporate Blogging Book was published in 2006. I watched in awe when his New Rules of Marketing & PR was published a year ago in June 2007 and rocketed to best-selling PR book on Amazon.

Turns out New Rules is David’s third book and he has a fourth coming out if you count the just released Tuned In, of which he is a co-author. What happened to his first two books? Why has New Rules become a best-seller?

As an author I find this kind of stuff fascinating. Maybe you will too. In any event, it gave us a chance to have a long phone conversation and catch up.

I typed as we talked. These are David’s responses, more or less verbatim, with a bit of editing to smooth out transitions.

Q & A With David Meerman Scott

Tell us about your first book, a novel

Eyeballwars David: My first book was a novel called Eyeball Wars. It was self-published. I call it the first thriller about an Internet start-up co. It came out in 2001 just as the dot com boom collapsed. So it was too late for the frothiness of market and way too early to be a nostalgia piece.

I found an agent, but a novel from a first time author is one of the most difficult to sell. Every month it didn’t sell to a major publisher it was less fresh—given the topic. I got some nibbles, but after three months I decided to publish it myself.

I started a publishing company, Fresh Spot Publishing. I hired an editor and a designer, got an ISBN number, lined up national distribution through Midpoint Trade Books and got it into Barnes & Noble stores in April 2001, before 9/11.

How much did self-publishing cost?

Ballpark, it cost $30,000 net to self-publish. I did make some money selling the books. I spent two years writing it, starting in 1998. Publishers’ Weekly wrote about it, twice. Paramount Pictures read it as a possible movie. It got good reviews and sold pretty well. [Ed note: I’ve read it and it’s terrific.]

Basically I looked at it as a personal branding investment. It sold in the thousands. (He declined to say how many copies exactly. No author will tell you that, BTW.)

I will do another novel. BTW, writing a novel is the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. With a novel every single thing has to work: character, plot, conflict. If you can write fiction your non-fiction is going to be better because it means you’re good at creating conflict. If you can put conflict into your non-fiction work it makes it much more interesting.

After Eyeballs came out, David found himself without a job. He’d been working for Newsedge which was sold to Thompson. So he started his own business in 2002 as online marketing consulting.

What’s the story behind your second book?

Cashingin In 2002 – 2003 the idea of a book began to jell. Cashing In With Content (focuses on why) the most important part of a site is the content, not the technology. I sold it to a small publisher, Cyber Age. It was a practical approach of “let’s get it done.” It was a small publisher so there was not that much distribution. It came out in 2005.


What was the genesis of New Rules?

Newrulesebook January 2006 is when my life changed. Now I knew I could write a non-fiction book and I felt like I had more say to say.

A free e-book, The New Rules of PR, led to the book. It proved the market. It was downloaded 50,000 times in a month and publishers were competing for it. People wanted to work with me.

Stay tuned… the rest of the Q & A to be posted shortly.