Behind the Scenes of the Best-Selling Scam School!

Posted on by Megan Berry

Brian Brushwood’s book Scam School Book 1 went from notes to a published, best-selling eBook in just six weeks. With a true success story like that we knew we had to get Brian to agree to share his secrets. Luckily, in addition to being able to “win free drinks, impress the girl, and become the center of the party,” he’s also a great guy and we got on the phone with him and his associate producer, Jon Tilton, to discuss their recent launch.

Here’s how the conversation went:

Brian Brushwood of Scam School

How’d the book come about?
Brian: I wanted to write the book since day one. I just needed Scam School to get popular enough. When it became a top iTunes video podcast two years in a row, I knew it was ready, but I had to wait until I had the time.

So you created your first eBook (pre-Scam School), how did that go?
Brian: Our first go at creating an eBook was such a disheartening experience we almost gave up. It was pretty much a nightmare. Everything that we wanted to do was simply impossible. Even converting a normal book to eBook format was incredibly hard, nothing was out there.
Jon: We just wanted pictures that appeared at the right place. We wanted the table of contents to link to the right section. We didn’t want weird spaces. It was amazing how hard that was.

What made you decide to give creating another eBook a try?
Brian: Honestly, it was the enthusiasm for what we could do with the Vook platform that lit the fire under our butts to actually write the book. You guys were the first to do it right. We could add videos and pictures without ruining everything. You guys automatically get the book out to the three biggest vendors which is a hassle and a headache in it’s own right. The toughest thing was actually just deciding on the right aesthetic and look. We also really want to thank the Vook team, they were really quick to address any issues that came up through the process.

Wow, we’re blushing. You did a great job building an enhanced eBook, do you have any advice for authors who want to do the same?
Brian: I suspect part of why we’ve received so many positive reviews is because we took the attitude that less is more when it comes to the multimedia side. There’s a real temptation that because you CAN add large amounts of video that you should. Then you end up with an eBook that looks like the Encylopedia Brittanica circa 1994. Instead, keep it simple. We kept audio to 60-90 seconds. We used video only when it was more helpful than text to explain our point and only for a few seconds.

You used an innovative pricing strategy, can you share what that is and why you did it?
Brian: To be honest, we were modeling it after something I did with Scam School early on. I played an opening show for Diggnation and we asked people to help us pull a prank on iTunes. All the top podcasts were from huge corporations so we asked everyone to download Scam School at the same time so we could be number one in the iTunes store.

We wanted to do something similar with the launch of the book, but it didn’t feel right to ask people to pay the full $9.99 to help us out (the podcast had been free) so we halved the price for the first day. The response was amazing, a lot of our devoted fans took that as an opportunity to buy two books and send one to a friend. We were number one in Canada at launch and number three in the US (would have been number one if it weren’t for some Twlight fan fiction launching the same day). The eBook is #1 in Magic and has reached as high as #7 in non-fiction.

Incredible, congratulations. Can you share a trick from the book?
Brian: The book teaches you how to mark a deck of cards so you can always cheat against your friends, blow smoke from your lungs and instantly freeze a beer. You can see videos of them so you know they work.

What advice do you have for other authors looking to publish?
Brian: It’s the same advice I give to young magicians — there are a million good reasons to wait and you should ignore all of them. Don’t wait until you have an agent. Don’t wait until your promo photo is better. Don’t wait for a better ending. Get the book out there. Vook is the way to get you from zero to 60 in less than a minute. Go do it.

We couldn’t be more excited for Brian’s success and in celebration, we’re gonna go scam some people right now. Are you with us?