THE BLOG
04/16/2013 01:51 pm ET Updated Jun 15, 2013

Why New Author Pat Flynn Chose an Untested Platform for His First Book

Alamy

How many people can say that getting laid off was one of the best things that ever happened to them?

Pat Flynn can. A former architect, he was let go from his restaurant design job in 2008 as the nationwide economy was hemorrhaging jobs.

"I didn't know what to do," says Flynn. "I was really scared because just six months later I was going to get married, and I was partly responsible for paying for that wedding. I really didn't know what I was going to do."

It was a bad time to get laid off. There were no architecture firms hiring anywhere. The real estate industry was in the tank. Flynn even had to move back in with his parents in San Diego.
2013-04-15-PatFlynn.jpeg
That's where the story gets interesting.

"Luckily, right before I got laid off I was actually taking a test called the LEED exam," says Flynn. "I was blogging about that test, and I just wanted a way to pull my notes online so I could read them during lunch at work."

Soon, other test takers started reading his blog and Flynn developed a reputation as a go-to expert in the relatively new exam.

That led to the release of his first ebook, The Green Associate Exam Walkthrough, which filled a need for test takers looking to pass the test. Soon revenue from sales replaced Flynn's architecture salary and he found himself with a new career.

Flynn writes about getting laid off and developing his new career in his first book, Let Go, available exclusively through the brand new Snippet platform, a downloadable app for the iPad.

Flynn found that the medium enabled him to share his story in a unique way, in ways his story had not been told previously. "It combines the best of the worlds of blogs and books," says Flynn.

As with many new technologies, the platform is hard to describe. "It's not really a book," says Flynn. "I don't even know if you can call it a book really."

Chapters have "really short, easily digestible passages that keep the reading experience going along quite nicely." Each chapter is limited to 1000 words.

Authors can enhance the story with "discoverables" -- audio, video or images, something that the author creates, usually after writing the text.

The time commitment was not insignificant.

"It was very overwhelming at first because this is a brand new platform and I've never experienced anything like it," said Flynn. But "it also made it really fun. I hired a videographer, Caleb Wojcik, and my editor, Matt Gartland, came on as a producer and we all worked together to create something special."

Flynn even flew around California filming and conducting interviews for the book. Flynn estimates that he spent $4,000-$5,000 on the extra professional help.

But this is a man who is not known for cutting corners. Flynn is the creator of the Smart Passive Income blog, where he documents -- in turn-by-turn detail that would make a GPS device yearn with envy -- how to navigate the world of generating an income online.

For his part, Flynn says that not every author needs to spend thousands to develop professional --level videos and slideshows. "You don't have to hire a videographer," Flynn says. You "can shoot with an iPhone, which is good enough quality for something like this."

This first-time author was not scared off by the fact that he was sailing into uncharted waters, using a new, untested platform. When I interviewed him in mid-March, the app hadn't even been approved by Apple for inclusion in its iTunes store.

"I think the risk to reward ratio is in my favor here, and that's why I jumped on board so quickly," says Flynn. "It just sounded so interesting -- how many people can say they were one of the first published authors on a new platform? Who were the first ten authors on the Amazon Kindle platform?"

Flynn figures if the platform does not take off, he can always repurpose the content.

"If it flops, it flops," says Flynn. "That's OK. I still have the audio, the video, the text that I can repurpose somewhere else if I need to."

A total failure seems unlikely. Flynn's following on social media numbers in the tens of thousands, and his speaking gigs -- the focus on his attention in recent months -- are often standing room only.

True to form, Flynn created a new site, PatFlynn.Me, tailored to those who purchase the book. He also set up a book club and has plans to share exclusive bonus material for this community.

Flynn loves the idea of giving back to those who have supported him from those dark, waning days of his architecture career to his current incarnation as popular blogger and now published author. "I am fortunate to have access to a lot of really smart people in this industry," says Flynn. "So people would be able to get notification of books that haven't even come out yet and get them excited about that."

You can listen to the full, unedited interview with Pat Flynn on my Smart Business Revolution podcast here.

Subscribe to the Culture Shift email.
Get your weekly dose of books, film and culture.