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The Published Author Podcast

GETTING HACKED LEADS CYBERSECURITY EXPERT TO WRITE BOOK ON STAYING SAFE ONLINE

Being hacked multiple times, having money stolen from his bank account and—the ultimate embarrassment—having his cybersecurity company breached, all led to cybersecurity expert Scott Schober writing his first book.

In Scott’s work to educate people on cybersecurity, he effectively put a target on his back, and suddenly found himself a target. Hackers figured they’d try and keep Scott quiet and in a short period of time his credit and debit cards were hacked, and then more than $65,000 was stolen from his checking account.

Next, his company was hacked, and soon the Associated Press was on the phone looking for a story from Scott. He agreed, on the condition that he could tell the whole story. This led many of Scott’s contacts and friends to encourage him to write a book.

‘I’M NOT A WRITER’

However, there was one major hurdle. Scott didn’t like writing and had in fact struggled with writing his whole life.

“I'm terrible at writing, my spelling, my sentence structure, putting my thoughts on paper, it was a struggle for me my whole life,” Scott tells Published Author show host Josh Steimle.

So the process of writing his first book, Hacked Again, became a monumental challenge. But Scott did have one card up his sleeve. In college, a professor offered to help Scott learn to write if he helped with computers.

MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A GOOD STORY

Through this experience Scott discovered that someone can learn how to write, if they are disciplined enough and want to learn.

Another important lesson: Make sure you have a good story. Says Scott: “If you don't have a good story, it's really hard to write about abstract things and stuff unless you're just writing a school textbook.”

With Hacked Again, Scott stayed focused on the story and stayed true to the narrative. It took him two years to write Hacked Again, and he describes it as “long and painful”. He even had to throw out a few chapters in the end, partly because he overshared and had too much detail.

Scott was also fortunate in that his brother, who is also a part of the business, is a gifted writer.

“I would write a chapter, and I would send it to him, and he'd rip it apart,” says Scott. “The good news is having somebody that grew up with me, and is also in the same family business, he knows the stories and knows my mind. He knows what actually happened. But he can explain it and edit it without offending me too much, because it gets the big picture.

Scott has written two more books - Cybersecurity Is Everybody’s Business, and his latest, Senior Cyber: Best Security Practices for Your Golden Years.

A WRITER WITHOUT AN AMAZON ACCOUNT

Strangely for a writer, Scott doesn’t have an Amazon account. This is because he has to live off the radar now. He has a lot of fictitious personas online, and he never inputs his true birthdate when he registers on a website.

As a cybersecurity expert, he has no choice. He sets up other entities and has people do tasks for him that most of us would do ourselves. He blurs out his house and licence plate on Google and Bing. He also always pays for gas with cash, never credit card. “It’s just a really strange way to live,” he comments.

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ABOUT THE HOST

The Published Author Podcast is hosted by Josh Steimle, founder of Published Author. Josh is a book author himself and his article writing has been featured in over two dozen publications including Time, Forbes, Fortune, Mashable, and TechCrunch. He's a TEDx speaker, the founder of the global marketing agency MWI, a skater, father, and husband, and lives on a horse farm in Boston. Learn more at JoshSteimle.com.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Josh Steimle

Today, my guest is Scott Schober. Scott is a highly sought after expert on ransomware, wireless threats, drone surveillance and hacking and cybersecurity for consumers and small businesses. In fact, you may have seen him on ABC, Bloomberg, CBS, CNN, Fox Business or other news tv shows. Scott is also the author of three books: Senior Cyber, Hacked Again, and Cybersecurity Is Everybody's Business. Scott, welcome to the show.

Scott Schober

Hey, great to be here. Thanks for having me there, Josh.

Josh Steimle

So give us a little bit of background on you and your experiences. I know you have some stories about getting hacked that led up to these books. But take us back even a little bit further. Where are you from? Who are you? And how did you get to this point of becoming this expert on cybersecurity?

Scott Schober

Yeah, absolutely be delighted to. So I'm really running a company called Berkeley Varitronics Systems. We were founded out of Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, and everybody usually associates, Berkeley Heights with Bell Labs. And that's actually where my grandfather worked for 45 years. He actually was a part of our company many years back before a long time before he retired. But the company was really founded by my father, Gary Shoberg. He's still our CTO, but he is retired, hopefully, with a fishing pole right now relaxing a little bit. And he is somebody that could always take very complex ideas, and find simple, straightforward solutions. And that's really the genesis of the company. And being a 49-year-old family business, privately held, we're kind of a unique company. So people will come to us all the time with some unique problem. And then we'll hopefully design a solution for them. And it may lead to something that's a product and really, in the heyday of our company, where we had a lot of growth was about the mid 80s, where cell phones started to kick in. And we started to actually build out test equipment that built out the first cell towers as we know it. And that was really test transmitters, receivers and propagation software to get a sense of how well RF radio frequency signals propagate, really to make our phones work. Now, the interesting part, the offshoot of all of that, is knowing phones and how they work and where the vulnerabilities are. And that helped us develop niche security solutions to stop wireless threats. And what's one of the most common wireless threats that cyber criminals use its smartphones and WiFi and Bluetooth to hack into computer networks. So we really designed and produced tools that combat that threat there, and mostly DOJ government agencies, universities, large fortune 500 companies, that's our core customer base. Now, the interesting part of it and kind of the backstory that really got me to where I am sitting here now talking and being the author, co author of three books. As we started producing these offshoot security tools, we found that a lot of the customers didn't have the knowledge base. So I spent a lot of time educating them. Common Sense best practices to stay safe, and it could be in their lives and their small business and the god agency and best practices when using your smartphone and computers and network so on and so forth. Well, little did I realize in the process of educating people, I put a target on my back. And what happened is hackers then said, Oh, I'm going to show this guy something, I'm going to shut them up. And next thing I know I become victimized and it's sorted out rather innocently as you are, I would think, well, I had a credit card compromised. For me. Unfortunately, my credit card was compromised. My debit card was compromised. And the same thing at the company. I have a corporate credit card and a debit card. All that compromised . . reissue mall. It's a pain in the butt we all do it, money gets back in the account life goes on. It happened again. And again. And again. I said what is going on here that my Twitter account was targeted in hacked our website where we do online commerce targeted in hack, we receive repeated DDoS attacks, distributed denial of service attacks, where they flood your website with junk traffic. So now we can't sell our wireless tools and security tools to our customers. That was devastating. Well, a whole bunch of other things happened as well. But the long story short, in the end of it. One Monday morning, I came in to check the bank account and I saw more than $65,000 was stolen out of our checking account. I said "Yikes!". Okay, we really have been hacked again and again and again, it became a federal investigation. Paperwork, phone calls, meetings, big mess. Anyway, we finally got our money back. And in the process of what I was doing . . . actually, I'll never forget the day I was in New York City, and finished up an interview on Bloomberg Television. And I was going to just sit down, have a bite to eat and I got a phone call from the Associated Press. And they said hey, somebody told us that your company got hacked. Is that true? Would you go on record and tell us about it? I was like, I was scared to death! And I was like, well, I said, I will if you let me tell the whole story, and let me tell you about the mistakes that I made in hopes that people will learn and not do the same stupid things that I did. So there'll be safer. So at least there's some benefit and actionable items for people so they can improve their security posture. And sure enough, that happened rollover shortly after the story started to get more and more people asked me about and a couple people say, Scott, you should write a book about that. That's an interesting story. You should write a book about it again and again. And again and again, I kept hearing it. Well, then this is the part that scared me the most. And I said, Okay, well, I'm running a security company. I'm embarrassed because we were breached and hacked. And that's not something you want to publicly tell people. But okay, the story's out now. But then the hardest part for me is, I'm not a writer. I'm terrible at writing, my spelling, my sentence structure, putting my thoughts on paper, it was a struggle for me my whole life, reading comprehension. So the process of writing a book for me became a monumental challenge. Even in college, one of my courses I took was creative writing, and I was scared to death. I showed up . . . it was a professor who was about to retire. And it was the classroom that was filled with only women and myself, I was the only guy besides the professor. And fortunately for me, I knew computers, that was my major, their - computer science. And he came over to me and he said, Scott, I heard you know, computers. I said, I did, but I'm in this writing course, I don't know how to write. And he goes, I'll tell you what, I'll teach you to write, if you teach me how to use the computers and help this class assist along and you'll get an A in the course. I said Great, fabulous. So he taught me some things about writing. So I learned slowly, I probably wasn't the best student, but I did well in the class, after all, but in the process of that I learned you can learn to rate if you're disciplined, and some of the advice I got from other people was first thing is, make sure you have a good story. If you don't have a good story, it's really hard to write about abstract things and stuff unless you're just writing a school textbook. So I had to focus on the story and stay true to the story, do proper research, and learn the process of writing. It took me two years to write Hacked Again. It was long, it was painful, I had to throw out a few chapters in the end. So I overrode maybe the book a little bit and shared too much detail and have to trim it down. And I learned a lot about editing the importance of editing, not just by myself, but somebody else. So what I learned in the process is my brother, who is actually part of the business, he's on the creative side, he is actually a very gifted writer. So I would write a chapter, and I would send it to him, and he'd rip it apart. And the good news is having somebody that grew up with me, and is also in the same family business, he kind of knows the stories and knows my mind. So he knows what actually happened. But he can explain it and edit it without offending me too much, because it gets the big picture. So having a person who can bounce the ideas off, and kind of improve it. So it flows better, I think. So you really have to tell your story. But it's clean and flows properly, where hopefully the reader will read it and say, Hey, this is pretty good. I get it. So that's kind of the genesis of what brought me to hacked again, the first book that I wrote and some of the processes and getting over some of the maybe the personal challenges that I had to learn to do it.

Josh Steimle

So lesson number one, what I'm hearing is lesson number one to not getting hacked is not to be a public expert on hacking, right?

Scott Schober

Yeah, and I'm not alone. Other experts, Brian Krebs and Kevin Mitnick . . . .a lot of others out there that educate the public. Maybe they were former hackers. And now they're white hat hackers, which means it's a good guy that uses hacks for companies and gets paid to do it to identify the vulnerabilities. But all those guys, all of us were in the same boat. Unfortunately, bad guy cybercriminals don't like the good guys. So they will go after you relentlessly. And it hasn't stopped since, unfortunately. That's part of the job, the mission, I guess you could say.

Josh Steimle

I'm curious about the hacks that you were getting targeted with initially - were those all coming from one person or was it a number of people do you know?

Scott Schober

It was a number of people, it was kind of cool. I don't want to get into the deep tech side of it. But just on a surface level, I was actually able to obtain some of the names and do a little bit of reconnaissance and gather information. And I shared certain key names of hackers . . . their Twitter handles, their contact information, to colleagues. And what they had was this was a company in Israel actually. And they had this pretty advanced engine. And what this engine does is basically, it crawls the dark web, the Internet's underbelly. And we'll look for any types of information, guess who they found on there, these notorious hackers that were targeting me. And we could associate them to different cyber criminal gangs. And they basically go after individuals, and they try to take them down intimidate them, it does sometimes escalate to levels that are even scarier, where they're actually sending the SWAT team to your home, make up crazy things that you're you know, brewing drugs at home, and the FBI will kick the front door. And I haven't had any of those problems as of yet. But a couple of my colleagues have had that happen. So it kind of keeps escalating in waves. So I have to always be very careful. And to some degree, I have to lie off the radar now. So what does that mean as just having a normal life, I don't have an Amazon account. I have a lot of fictitious personas. So an alias is on the internet. And I put out misleading information about myself. Nobody knows my true birth date, because I have 20 different birth dates on different sites whenever I register things. So you do have to live a little bit, I kind of call it off the grid. But being in the public eye, sometimes you're in the public eye, and you have no choice. So it's a very weird world that I live in, that's for sure.

Josh Steimle

You said you don't have an Amazon account. But of course, you're an author. So you have to get your books up there. So does somebody else handle all that for you?

Scott Schober

Yep.

Josh Steimle

So have they ever been targeted?

Scott Schober

No, they haven't not as of yet. Setting up other entities and having other people that can do the buying for me. It's just a really strange way to live. I blur out the house number and the license plate on my homes and my cars with Google and Bing and all these other things, I constantly have to keep doing things to be misleading enough and making it difficult enough so I don't get hacked. And in fact, one time I was at actually a show. This was a government shutdown in Norfolk, Virginia, and one of the most famous hackers brought me up on stage to prove how easy it is to perform identity theft. And he actually stepped through all the processes and was able to get my mother's maiden name and of course, my social security number and all kinds of private information about me. When it came to the birth date, that was the last piece of information to perform identity theft. He pulled the screen up hoping to see one birthday, and it was a list of about 20 different birth dates associated with my name. And he was like, Hey, what are you doing there? And I said, Sorry, I said, I do actually have different birth dates put out on every single site. So if somebody is trying to perform identity theft, it stops him in his tracks. And of course, now I have my credit froze, and a lot of other steps that I recommend best practices for other people, just to be, you know, safe, as safe as you can be, this day. But nothing's 100% safe and secure. That's that's the sad true part about it.

Josh Steimle

I remember several years ago, I talked with somebody at the IRS and I said, Hey, I'll send you an email about this. She said, we don't get email. I said What do you mean, you don't use email? I mean, you're working at the IRS. And she said our computers aren't even connected to a network. That's the only way to make them unhackable is we have computers with no network connection whatsoever. no internet, no Wifi, not not even an internal network. I thought, I guess that is the only way to be safe.

Scott Schober

Yeah. And oftentimes in the industry, they call it security by obscurity. And sometimes I do things like that too, old school things. When I go to the gas station, you know, what's your natural inclination is to whip out your credit card, right, and pay; I whip out cash. Not convenient, but more secure than getting my credit card compromised by a skimmer and the gas pump, for example.

Josh Steimle

What are some of the other just quick basic, widely applicable tips that you included in Hacked Again?

Scott Schober

Wow, oh, there's so many don't put too much stuff out in social media. We all are guilty of this, the whole purpose of social media is so we can be social and have friends and communicate and share pictures and things. So in other words, don't put out true information about yourself or your birth date, as I mentioned there . . .

Josh Steimle

Like having your profile public and then 50 people wish you Happy Birthday makes it really easy to figure out what your birthday is even if you don't think it's public.

Scott Schober

Yeah. And what's kind of funny is like, for example, my fake birthday on LinkedIn. At a certain time of year, I get all these people that will say, hey, congratulations on your birthday or the sudden I'm thinking for a minute, why aren't they world they sign them up? That's right. That's the date I put it on LinkedIn up to date on this something else. So it does throw people. Another really common sense tip and a lot of people don't get this, but it's really practical. I always preach security is achieved in layers. I liken it to security in our house. We have you know, deadbolt alarm system camera stickers on the windows on so forth. Layers of security. Well, same thing when we're setting up, you know, login credentials . . . username, strong, long password, very important having another layer either two-factor authentication or multi factor authentication helps certainly. But then what happens when you go to another computer? You go to your other house, your hotel or something? What do they typically do when they see a different IP address security challenge question. And they may say, Josh, what high school did you attend? Well, if Josh is honest, and tells them what high school he attends, guess what a hacker can do the same thing in less than 30 seconds, and look up and find out what high school you attended. That's an opportunity to give another layer of security and just put a password there, maybe it's a common thing that you only you could remember, but no hacker would ever even think about somebody putting a password there, they're gonna think he's going to be putting his high school there. So using little simple tricks like that adds to your level of security. And it doesn't cost you anything that to me is just simple, common sense. Yet most people don't realize, hey, you can lie, it's okay to lie on a security challenge question in the sake of security.

Josh Steimle

So Hacked Again, you wrote this partly because you're getting asked the same questions over and over again. And so this was an easier way to just say, hey, just read my book. It's all in the book, I've got the book. Are you also thinking about the business implications that hey, if I write this book, then this might help bring more business in?

Scott Schober

You know what? When I did it, I could honestly say, No, I didn't really think about it. I guess I didn't really think about it as much. Maybe more people that I talked to since then. So I've gone to book shows and learned a lot talking to other authors. And I say, wow, I kind of went through the process, not realizing, number one, how hard it is, for somebody that's not a writer to initially get over those hurdles. But then once I did, then I realized, you know what, if I can write a book, other people can, too if they can come up with a discipline system that allows them to tell their story. And they follow it throughout. It seems like most writers I talked to they start or have an idea, but they never take it to the next level. So to me, I always encourage people, I've got about five or 10 people, I'm still bugging them to finish writing their book. I said, when you have a story, get excited about it. And I got so excited about . . . I was up at 2am. It was my first book, and I just kept writing. I kept writing and writing and writing, and it took so long. But I would polish it, clean it up, edit it, send it to my brother Craig, he would edit it, send it back, rewrite it and go, go, go, go, go. Two years for book one. Book two, Cybersecurity Is Everybody's Business, took about probably start to finish a little closer to about a year. Pretty amazing, though, if you think about it, my life didn't change that much. Instead of taking two years to write, I went down to a year. Why? Well, I learned something quickly from other writers, they said there's some things you can do. Organize the chapters ahead of time really think it as I spent more time thinking in my mind, what are the key chapters and the key takeaways I want to identify, and then craft the writing around that and insert stories in between that I hopefully can relate to my readers. So they walk away with actionable items. And I think that really helped. The other really thing that changed for me was, I realized when I type, I could type pretty quick. But I could think faster. So as I think, and I'm trying to raise the type and I'm making mistakes and backing up and correcting, I get myself sidetracked. And I rewrite the same thing and go in circles and paragraphs. Instead I said, Ah, somebody said, try speech to text. Let me try it. And next thing I know, I could be in the car and something pops into my mind. And I just start recording it. And then I start to do speech to text on my laptop and actually found it enjoyable. Because now as we're talking, I can talk and express something in detail. And then it puts the text now you can go back an hour later. And I can clean up all the grammar and the sentence structure and all the things I wasn't that good at and still kind of struggle through. And then it really gives you the story, as opposed to worrying about all the logistics of navigating through the writing process. So I think that was one at least one tip I shared with myself. When writing book number three and book number three I was able to pull in was about nine months start to finish. So I think the process is starting to get a little bit tighter. I still can't take away the importance of my opinion of thinking it out in your head, your story, your thesis, so you have proper flow, sticking to it and not getting too distracted with other books or other projects. In other words, I write one book at a time. In the process of my second book I had about three different publishing houses approach me and said, Hey, we'll give you X number of dollars. We want you to write about whatever . . . ransomware and this and that and I said I'm sorry I have a project, one project on my plate at a time cannot consider it now, wouldn't be fair to you wouldn't be fair to me to finish my work. So I've stuck to that. And I think if you can stick to that, and have that discipline and be honest with yourself, you'll give it your best shot. Again, it doesn't mean I'm going to be a, you know, selling millions of books and everything else. That's not necessarily my goal. My goal, my hopeful goal, which I've seen to succeed so far, it not just helps provide credibility, because it does. I call it like a new business card or book as a business card. I can take a book and I encourage all authors to consider this when you have a book, someone shared this . . . gentleman, he wrote 185 books, he said, the more generous you are with your book to other people, the more generous, they'll be sharing it with others and telling others about it. So I am not afraid to mail a copy of a book or send an electronic copy or whatever the case is to anybody that's willing to read it and give it an honest review or some feedback or whatever. And I still do it to this day. I'm a huge believer, it's expensive. Yes. Should you worry that those people are not going to buy your book, they probably weren't going to buy it anyway. You don't want to flatter yourself. But it doesn't really matter. To me, it's not about making a couple dollars every copy you sell. And interesting, this true story just happened the other day. In fact, I'm sending her a little Thank you package out, girl that's in cybersecurity. And she crossed my path and connected with me on LinkedIn and wrote to me, she goes, I just realized, you wrote Hacked Again, I read that book, and I loved it. And I saw that you wrote Cybersecurity Is Everybody's Business and I just bought a copy to read blah, blah, blah. So I wrote her back. Well, thanks so much, and hope you enjoy it and appreciate your support that that's my signature, I added a little picture of my Senior Cyber Book. And she wrote back, I didn't know you wrote senior cyber, I just saw somebody mentioned that I gotta get that. So then she went out and bought two of those books. So sometimes that happens, you develop a nice rapport with your readers, your supporters, your fan club, whatever you call it, to me, be generous with them, thank them, send them whatever it is that you have little pens, or thank you notes or bookmarks, whatever it takes. keep them happy, because that's your sales force. Yeah, Amazon, as we all know, if you don't keep Amazon engine happy, you won't sell lots of books. But it's also important to cater to people, your readers. So if you're writing for your readers, and they're your supporters, and they're the ones that ultimately will recommend it and potentially buy it, keep them happy, be generous, as much as you can.

Josh Steimle

So what was your motivation for the second and third books? You already had one book? What motivated you to put these books out?

Scott Schober

Okay, good question. The second book after hacked again, a little bit of time went by, and at the time telling my story and I broke down some breaches and things like that I got heavier and heavier into cybersecurity, educating more people becoming more of a target. But in the early days back in 2013, what we read in the headlines Target breach, Home Depot breach, Neiman Marcus all these different things that affected our credit cards. A lot of it didn't affect people as much it did. But if you didn't go to Target and didn't have a Target card, it didn't affect you. More and more, in the proceeding years after Hacked Again came out, cybersecurity started to widen the envelope and affect all of us, be it you know, tax scams, IRS scams, as you talked about. Phone scams and the list goes on and on. And on. Ransomware that's exploded, phishing attacks exploded. Now it's really starting to touch all of our lives. And I get call after call from different business colleagues. And they say, Scott, you got to help me! You understand cyber, I think I'm a victim of ransomware. What do I do? And you know, I've helped them through to have a backup, let's do this. Let's do that. Phone rings again. Next week, same thing, same thing, since the next thing I know is everybody in the small business world is being targeted. So then I said, You know what, cybersecurity has pivoted from being kind of this focus problem where people look at it, and they're deer in the headlight and don't really get any of the terms. Now it's everybody's business. We all have to take initiative to stay safe. And hence the name. Cybersecurity Is Everybody's Business. And I started diving in and writing it. In the process of all that . . . . great success. And I started doing the speaking route where I was hired as a public speaker. They buy 100 to 200 copies of books, give it out to the audiences and I'm traveling to different trade shows, but also a lot of corporate events will pull me in for a lunch and learn or an insurance company or buy a copy for everybody in the, in their company, and I'll sit down and talk with them and educate them and share my life story of how I've been hacked and victimized and what I've learned how they can keep safe. One thing that popped out, there is one segment that really didn't have much information. And this was a moment where I was helping my parents, they're aged, living up north. They're tech savvy, so they're on computers and smartphones and everything else as well as my grandfather, who at the time was 99 years old. And having trouble remembering these stupid passwords and logging on and getting blocked out and forgetting how to back the computer up, so on so forth, and I said, Geez, I'm spending a lot of time supporting and trying to educate them, there's got to be a better way, it's got to be a good book or video out there, I started doing research. And guess what, I couldn't find much of anything that I did find. It talked at a higher level, and shared the jargon and the acronyms and was techie and kind of insulting for somebody that was senior or somebody who was elderly. So I said, You know what, this is an underserved market. Let me now do some research, or talk to those that are aged, that are using technology and hear their frustrations, and then craft it into a book that they can get and relate to and hopefully, walk away with some basic tips and common sense things. And in this book, the third book, Senior Cyber, is really to empower seniors to understand technology, the internet, smartphone and not feel intimidated. And hopefully they can have some positive experiences from reading it.

Josh Steimle

And so when did the last book come out?

Scott Schober

Oh, just came out a couple months ago, I think it was in February it was released. So still brand new.

Josh Steimle

So what have you seen in terms of results from each of your books with Hacked Again, and then Cybersecurity Is Everybody's Business and Senior Cyber, in terms of reception and audience and reaction . . . have you seen a change over time as it progressed, as you become better known as an author, told me a little bit about that,

Scott Schober

You know, I never understood that. And people told me all the time, if you write one book, you write a second book, your first book will start improving. And I said, that doesn't make any sense to me. But that was just in my mind, but it's true. In other words, I now talk to somebody about my latest book, Senior Cyber. Now, if somebody's listening to this program, they may say to themselves, well, my parents have passed away. I'm not a senior yet, but that book about Cybersecurity Is Everybody's Business sounds interesting. Or history about Hacked Again, sounds interesting, let me go buy his first book, and what ends up happening to your point, they buy one of the books, and if they enjoy it enough, if I did my job correctly, they're likely going to go back and buy another book or another book. And I have some people that will send me pictures, holding up all three books, or wear a T-shirt of mine and say, Hey, I was hacked too. And you know, it starts to get like a little bit of that fan base and following. And I think that's what's important. You have to cater to your audience, not worry about making money and all this other stuff. But really focus on the writing and focus on what you're an expert in in your wheelhouse. If you're writing a book, like I'm trying to do in the genre of cybersecurity stick to it. I'm not an expert in other areas, if you told me about car mechanics and stuff, sorry, love cars, but I'm not a mechanic. So I can't really speak to that as an expert. So keeping to your area of expertise is really, really important, I think, as a writer, and then on top of that, it's . . . you're asking kind of about the expectations after book one, Book Two, Book Three, the interesting thing is all the benefits of the unknown. And that's what I always tell people is the exciting part about writing. But what does that mean? I get people that will call me now and say, could you come and speak at our event? Great sure, the differences I used to call them, I'd love to speak at your event. I'm an expert in this area. And they're like, well, they want to charge you. Well, if you're a sponsor, we'll let you speak. It's different now. Now I go to an event and I'm paid, which is they're very generous when they pay you as a speaker. If you're credible, and you have a few books, and you've proven yourself as an area of expertise. And it's a big difference. Now people will come to you. And in some of the shows, they'll say, well, we'll give you an exhibit if you want, you could sell your books, you could showcase your products, you could write for us. And I've learned that too, as here's here again, the guy that is not an expert writer, I've been hired by magazines and paid to write columns for them. I never would have thought that in a million years. Why did that happen? It's because I went through the craft of learning how to write and put a book out, stuck with it, book number two, stuck with it, book number three, stuck with it. And soon hopefully book number four. So it's just staying with the course. And you hear that often in the world of advertising, marketing, media, it is important to stay the course. Now, I do something a little different than most people I don't pay to advertise for our company. I'm not paying any advertisements anywhere. To sell my book. I'm not paying to sell the book. Yes, it does go on Amazon, they get their cut, but that in a sense is like a marketing engine for you. More things come from word of mouth, interviews on TV, on radio, great podcasts like your show. That helps get the word out there. And then again, being generous and sharing your story and telling other people about it. Kinda creates almost a viral effect where it gets popular. And I encourage people - try that it doesn't cost you to do it. It just requires a lot of hard work and discipline.

Josh Steimle

So many great lessons for entrepreneurs out there who are building their thought leadership and trying to leverage their book to grow their business. So do you have any ideas for your fourth book? I know it's kind of soon after your third one. But . . .

Scott Schober

Yeah, actually, it's interesting. You mentioned that in the process of finishing book number three, a few people said to me, jeez, it's a shame you don't have anything for like teenagers, I started thinking about it a little bit. I said, that's interesting. And in sort of, in the back of my mind, I heard another person. So another person started talking to my kids and observing some of the things . . . I have two teenage kids. And I'm observing some of the things they do on social media. And the way they communicate with texting. And all these things, I start to say, wait a second, I said, I believe that a lot of teens, they're great with technology. They have a little bit of challenge, though, realizing when they crossed the line from a privacy standpoint. And also that popped into my head, I said, You know what? Teen Cyber. I can focus my attention to help teens better understand how they can . . . they're already gifted not how to use the technology, but how to be more private using the technology and stay safe. So hence, book number four, which I just just began recently.

Josh Steimle

Oh, perfect. So with your books, did you go the traditional publishing route at all? Or self publishing? Or how did you handle that?

Scott Schober

I learned everything from ground zero. I did self-publishing, set up a little simple self-publishing company. And just began the process that way, a lot of things I had to learn the hard way too, to be honest. I was at . . . . I read an article, it says, oh, when you have your first book, or whatever, an idea for a book, talk to the local libraries and go here go to so I said, Let me try it. Okay, I'll go over to the library and talk to them. And it was right when my book was released. And I said, I'm curious, would you guys carry this book in your library? Or can I gift you a copy? And they said, Sure, we'll take a gift as a copy. Are you registered with the Library of Congress? And I said, What is that? So they said, Oh, you have to do some research, once you're registered, let me know. And I came back and said, I'm registered. Here you go. And here's a book and they said, Great, we're gonna put you into our system. We're connected with X number of hundreds of other libraries throughout the state. I said, Oh, why would you do that? And I said, that's great. And they're like, well, we want to tell everybody about this new author, would you be willing to come here and speak? I said, Sure. I said, How can I help you? And they said, well, we're actually doing a remodeling project on the library. I said, I tell you what, how about I'll sell the book, after I speak, and the proceeds will split, I'll keep half the other half, I'm going to gift you and put that toward the remodeling effort and your library. They said, you'll do that great, we'll advertise it, we'll promote it. And they did and fill the room up. And we got to sell a whole bunch of copies. We brought some food in and made it not just talking about the book, but then we did a second hour, talk all about cyber tips and educating people and asked millions of questions. I loved it, it was really a lot of fun. So I encourage people to try to do that. Just sometimes we think too big. We're all thinking about Amazon and you know, selling a million books, and hey, it's great. It's there. They'll do it. It's wonderful to see a steady flow of income coming in from three books now from Amazon. But don't underestimate the small stuff, go to your local library, go to Costco and ask them if they'll carry it. I went to Barnes and Noble bookstore, I've done a couple Barnes and Noble bookstore signings. I wasn't even sure what to do. But I said, let me just ask them. So I started talking to them. They said, Sure. Do you have any posters? I said, Yeah, gave me a couple posters. They started advertising it. Again, all new audiences came. I did the same thing on a college campus. It was . . .

Josh Steimle

And this was just local, like, you just walked into a Barnes and Noble store and said, Hey, can I talk to the manager?

Scott Schober

Can I talk to the manager here? What's it about? Well, I'm launching a new book, I wanted to give you guys a gift copy here. I'd love to come in. You guys have any author events or things? I'll bring doughnuts and what does it take? And I said, Oh, no, what we'll supply beverages, and some light finger foods, we'll advertise it for you. Their whole goal, as you can imagine, is to have enough books on their shelf. So they start moving your book. And that was the beauty of it. And it did, it works. People come in, you sign the book, you thank them, they go over to the register and they're buying it. So you're really giving commerce to the Barnes and Noble bookstore in this particular case. It really works. Same thing at the college campus. They actually said there are about 16,000 students at the campus. They all got an email newsletter. It went up on the website, posters and I was amazed. Another interesting story, this was with Hacked Again. I was reaching out to different people and I saw a professor and I said Oh, this looks interesting. He teaches computer science. Let me reach out to him. I connected on LinkedIn. I said, I'd love to send you a copy of my book. I see you're teaching a course on computer science, the basic course at the first entry level. He said Oh I'd love to read it, send it to them and give me all kinds of great feedback. And then nobody says to me, this is what blew my mind. And we were great friends to this day. He goes, I enjoyed this book so much, I decided to make it required as recommended reading for all incoming freshmen to the introductory computer course. Oh, by the way, I teach at three different colleges. And I'm doing it across three different colleges. I said no way. This is great. Thank you so much. And then so for several years, what happens, I'll get a direct order from Barnes and Noble, a purchase order. And they'll usually buy 40 to 50 copies, and they stock it on their shelf. So all incoming students have to go to their bookstore there on campus and buy my book Hacked Again. So little things like that beings, there's an example of being generous, giving a copy to one professor, led to hundreds and hundreds of copies that have been sold and continued to be sold to this day, just because I did that there. And again, I didn't do anything back great. I don't think just kind of normal, being generous, being kind, but I think authors need to think outside the box and be creative, donate books, give them away, be encouraging to people to read it. But don't force them if they want to give you a real great, I would say thank you. I never say you got to give me a review in exchange for this. No, no, no, that's not the way to do things. Let them be honest. And do it on their timetable. And hopefully they'll reward you with reviews over time.

Josh Steimle

So many good suggestions here Scott in such a unique take on going local and in person, because so much of the time were drawn to Oh, how do we game the algorithm on Amazon? And how do we run Amazon ads? And can we use Facebook ads to sell this? Everybody's looking for the high tech, low touch way to get it done? And you're saying no, you can just walk into Barnes and Noble and talk to somebody or send a book to a professor and go talk to their class. I think this is what a lot of first-time authors don't realize is that you can grow an audience this way. And you can sell . . . I mean like that, Professor, if he's requiring it for his classes, right there. You know, every year, you're selling a couple 100 books, maybe. And those people have it on their shelf and they spread the word and they tell other people, and especially in this day and age, the average self-published book sells something like 250 copies during its lifetime. Well, if you got a professor to make it a required part of the course, you've already hit that and then you're going to hit it every single year after that.

Scott Schober

Yeah. And it's a nice recurring revenue model. Be generous with your discount. Like when Barnes and Noble buys direct from me. They say what can you do for me, I give them a great discount they buy in bulk. I even said Barnes and Noble know what free shipping for you. And oh, great. Okay, you know, you worked out different things, to keep each customer happy. And I think that that's really imperative. The other thing is, don't be afraid to become a speaker. And I again, learned this the hard way. And the more you speak, the more people buy your bug. And Case in point I was asked to go to SUNY University when Hacked Again, first came out, never forget this day, I was scared to death. This is the first time that I was going in and actually paid me to come in and speak to their staff, and students about cyber security. So I said, Okay, can I set up a little table outside with books in case somebody wants to buy them? Yes, absolutely. Do whatever you want, bring it in there and giveaways and bookmarks and pens, I was all set with a little pop up banner and tablecloth. And I get there and I said I'm going to get there an hour early. So if anybody comes before the presentation, and I was the, you know, the basically the keynote for the day. So I said I got to be prepared. And everybody walked by and was kind of glancing over Hi. And they just kept walking. Not one person came over and even opened the book or picked it up or said anything to me other than Hi. And I was going to be the hardest thing of my life. Nobody's going to buy any books. At least I got paid for the day to come here to speak. Okay, so anyway, when I got in there to speak, it was one of those giant giant rooms, that's all terrorists back there. And every seat was filled in the house. And so I was a little nervous. I've spoken before many different events over time, but this was pretty full room. And these guys were serious. I'm looking at the sea of faces, and I had an hour so I said I'm gonna give it every piece of energy I got. I said, skip sitting down. Let me stand up, get energized, spoke to the audience. And afterward I was exhausted physically, mentally, emotionally. And it was funny. I'm walking out I was one of the last people to walk out of the room. And as I walked out, I looked down the hallway, where my little table and guess what every single person that was in their seat was lined up to buy a copy of my book. And I was almost kind of dumbfounded. I said, I've never seen anything like this. They wouldn't even talk to me. But once they made the connection to the author, now they want to read the story. And what was a life lesson for me? I think the really the thing I learned is, you can have a great book and it looks beautiful and you think you got the best story in the world? But what's going to get the people to open the pages and want to read it? They want to know you, they need to hear the author. Why did it impact your life? Why did it make you change? And why did you write this? And why did you share your childhood story at this time, so we could relate to it so once they start to hear it, it's almost like a teaser, and guess what it works. And it's not a, you know, a clickbait where you're trying to fool them. You're genuinely least sharing the story and some of the behind the scenes of what's in your book. And that is priceless. So I've learned that whenever I speak, make sure you bring books with you, because some people want them or want to buy it on the spot. I even got a little credit card swiper that ensures that people come up after me and say, Scott, can I go and buy a copy of your book, I want to buy a signed copy, or I want to give this away as a gift or whatever the case may be. So a little forethought goes a long way when you're trying to promote your book.

Josh Steimle

So good. Well, Scott, thanks so much for being with us here today. If people want to connect with you and know more about you, how can they find you? I guess this is what you're good at avoiding though, isn't it?

Scott Schober

Yeah, it directly indirectly Sure. You think you go right to my website, it's Scott Schober dot com. That's probably the easiest. I am very active on Twitter, on LinkedIn, Instagram, I actually started up a Facebook account once I launched senior cyber, which I thought was a little strange. I was always anti Facebook. But I realized that there is a senior audience that actually uses Facebook more than any other social media platform. So I had to do that really, for them. Not as much for myself, but and I do respond if you send me a direct message, or you email me from my website, I actually it's a real person. It's not a robot that responds to you. So feel free to send me any tough cyber questions. I'm here to help if I can. And that's probably the most important thing. It's not just about selling books. It's about educating people focusing on educating so they could stay safe from cybersecurity and make a big difference.

Josh Steimle

Awesome. Thanks so much, Scott, for being with us here on the show today.

Scott Schober

Yeah, thank you so much, and everybody stay safe.

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