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Need Feedback on Roger Brown's Ebook "Common Sense Inventing"

rogerbrown's Avatargold

First I want to thank all of you that have read my ebook “Common Sense Inventing”. I am working on a second volume of “Common Sense Inventing” to follow the first ebook. What I was hoping I could get is some feedback from those here that have read the ebook on what you found informative in the first ebook and any chapters you felt I could have expanded on. And any areas you felt I missed and you would like to see more information on. I don’t want my ebooks to be just another book on inventing, but more a real life experience and reference book you can learn from to help you succeed.

Many books on inventing are filled with the history of inventing and a lot of fluff. They don’t give the reader information what you can do yourself, examples of sell sheets, explain terminology you might hear, what to avoid, what to watch out for, etc, so you can make informed decisions.

I appreciate any criticism good or bad on my ebook. Thanks

Patric J
Ralph Machesky
Elizabeth Crouch
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crystaldiane's Avatargold

Hi Roger,

I thought I would chime in. 

First I think it's awesome. I give you a lot of credit for trying to transfer life experience. That is no easy task but I think you tackled it in a very methodical way.

I have read your Ebook cover to cover, and honestly wished I had it earlier. That said, I was very surprised about the number of things that can trip you up so early in the process. I think if there was one thing that I could take away it would be to learn how to not self-sabotage accidentally by that I mean submitting things to an invention contest doing a YouTube video to show your friends all these little things but you never really think about could hurt you. I found that section incredibly valuable. And so far I don't think I've made any missteps on my current project whew!!!

As far as extra resources I personally have not had much luck engaging students or anyone especially on a non-disclosure basis maybe that's just the state that I live in but people here especially the students are so overwhelmed they rarely take on side projects I wasn't even able to get help from any of the school professors or business profession professors. I was able to get a little pro bono patent research done by applying for one of the parent clinics through the USPTO (one can get a list from them of Law Schools with pro bono clinics) You might want to reference that I ended up writing about a hundred letters and pretty much everything got rejected and then two years down the road someone picked up on one of my ideas and used it as a project and gave me a very good research paper. I ended up tabling the project because of what they were able to uncover I realize the market segment was very small and the chances of getting a patent or slim to none but in the life learning category it mutually satifying experience to work with patent law clinic students.

Finally you might want to mention resources like fiverr I have found this very valuable for the kinds of things I needed like artwork and logos in addition I found it valuable because I had to be able to very very clearly communicate what my objectives were the process. Outsourcing two people that utilize English as a second language and are in different time zones required me to think through my project in great clairity in order to communicate...that process in itself was valuable. Alright that's my ramble sorry for the long reply thank you again for the book it's been incredibly helpful.

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sjane722's Avatargold

Roger,

I haven't yet read your book. Sounds like I need to.

But, Crystal I want to address what you said. I posted a listing on a college Industrial Design jobs and internships page and got several responses from talented students. I chose one and we've started working together. If you haven't had luck with one school perhaps try another, even if it's not that nearby. 

Crystal-Diane Nappi
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rogerbrown's Avatargold

Crystal-Diane, thanks for the feedback and suggestions. I will definitely check out Fiverr to see about adding it to the resource section of the second "Common Sense Inventing" ebook. I agree with Sarah you may want to broaden your efforts to other colleges and see if you can find the help you need. You might want to check out Johnvilardi.com He does awesome work. Many here in the forums have used him and are quite happy with his work.

Sarah, send me an email to rbrown@rogerbrown.net and I will send you a free copy of my ebook for your review.

Crystal-Diane Nappi
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keeztan's Avatargold

I have just finished Roger's Book "Common Sense Inventing" (Thank You again Roger) and found it to be a great foundation in the evolution of an idea to a finished project. It provokes thought, answers questions and streamlines the process. Common Sense Inventing is a great handbook to keep at the ready.

Ralph Machesky
Sarah Mann
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sjane722's Avatargold

Roger,

Thank you!!!

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rogerbrown's Avatargold

Sarah, look forward to your comments after you read the book. Sent it to you today.

Sarah Mann
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albo1950's Avatar

Roger, I re-read your book and highlighted several more insights. As I have said before, I am new at this...again. Really started looking into patents and licensing about 4-5 years ago and the other things of life kind of took over. So I'm going at it again. 

In response to adding more info, in my neophyte state after a second reading, I've got quite a bit to keep me going with all that you rolled into this book. Always timely would be  "Companies that are inventor friendly" as in the post of that title in the forum where VEE R did a great job adding to the list.

I think a little more editing to remove some repetition and trim some of the fat. The portion on the American Inventors Protection Act shut my creative side down and I skipped past that as quick as I could swipe pages. I would probably have put that in the back of the book as a resource with a link, along with 'Inventing Terms" maybe in alphabetical order and some other resources available on the web. And lastly, an index. 

This is a book that you need to go back to again and again to keep you sharp. Now if your a veteran at this maybe not. Then again, your brain might go a little 'blind' in some areas after a while. It's like putting on a new pair of glasses and seeing the  things you saw before but more clearly now. 

Anyway, like I said I'm new at this and maybe just a little more simple minded but I sure like this resource. In fact, as I wrap this up I think if I had this info 4 or 5 years ago it would have kept me in this invention game. I got all caught up in the USPTO searches and all the minutia and thought that was the way I had to go at it. I didn't see the fun, challenges and excitement in it that your guidance brings out.

Roger, I look forward to your next book.

Sincerely

Ralph Machesky
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rogerbrown's Avatargold

Alan, great feedback. That is exactly what I am looking for and very helpful. Thanks. I would say not to skip over the "American Inventors Protection Act" section. Yes, I agree all that type stuff is boring, but it is good to know. 

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sjane722's Avatargold

Roger,

I loved the book!

There is so much helpful information in it. I especially appreciate your conversational style of writing.

I skimmed the legal section and also the list of terms, but am REALLY glad to have both sections at my fingertips for when the need arises!

1) The only thing that glaringly jumped out at me that might need revising- does anyone have dial up any more???

2) A little addition to your information: When I call companies to connect to someone whose name I don't know, and who's department I don't know I will say to the receptionist, hopefully before they just quickly transfer me: Will you please tell me the name of the person who- fill in the blank- example: is in charge of inventor submissions-- AND their extension number. That way you can contact them if you get disconnected, or if you need to call them back, and you can research them online, maybe finding an email address.

3) I have also found it helpful to keep an organized file of 

*Company

*Contact

*Date and Time called, or emailed, or submission sent, etc.

*Result of communication- when will I hear back? When should I reach out again? ( based on feedback from them)

Whether you keep this info manually in a card file, or a looseleaf notebook, or in word or excel, or ....? is a personal choice. Whatever works best for you.

If you're calling a lot of places some kind of system is necessary to keep track of it all. My notes during a conversation tend to get really messy, so I like to immediately transfer them in an organized way to a permanent record keeping system.

4) You did say how to make a mail in submission stand out, but what about an email submission? What should you put in the subject of an email submission so that the person doesn't just go past it, or set it aside for later and maybe forget about it. 

I loved seeing your original presentations. They're a combination of technical and sell sheet, very effective!!! It was helpful to get affirmation that a presentation doesn't need to be complicated. Your use of color must help a lot with making the emotional connection. I hired someone to make clear line drawings showing how my product works, but a friend told me that the function of the sell sheet is facilitate the emotional connection between the reviewer and the product, and that the technical drawings are there to back that up.

It was also affirming to read that eliminating functions can be a wise idea, as I recently made the decision to do just that. We don't have to try to include every possible conceived function, especially if it will make the product potentially less user friendly, and less easy to manufacture.

That's it off the top of my head. Please let me know if I added something that you did indeed include, and that I missed- I can be a bit spacey.

I appreciate so much having had the opportunity to read this and have it as resource.

And oh yeah--- Thank you for your list of inventor resources! I am definitely going to check all of them out!!!!

Sarah

Ralph Machesky
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rogerbrown's Avatargold

Sarah, great comments. Glad you loved the book and find it useful. I agree dial-up is fading away and I probably won't reference it in the second book. 

Like you I have a system for keeping up with whom and where my ideas for at any given time. I made a database in Filemaker Pro that keeps everything organized. I keep all the things you mentioned along with their position in the company, the type of products they produce   ( so if I am looking at the toy industry I can sort them all in one grouping), status of the idea and a large comments section.

I use the comment section for things I need to remember about that person or their company. Such as, they like items shipped to arrive the middle of the week. Or they only review items the first week of every month, etc. I find that helps me work into their system better rather than just randomly sending them ideas. There are many Inventors that think any company they send an item to for review needs to proceed at a pace to fit them not the company. In most cases it does not work that way.

Some companies prefer Powerpoint presentations because they can modify them easier for their meetings if needed. Some companies like jpegs or PDF format. It always helps to find out their preference which saves them time, give them items in a fashion they like and shows you are trying to make things flow easier for them.

One company I deal with likes to print out everything for everyone in the meeting so they can make notes on their copy of the presentation as they go through them. They even go through and remove your contact info from this printout before giving them out. Now most everyone would panic having their contact info removed from their sell sheet but they do it for a specific reason. 

They don't want the names on them so no one in the room is influenced by the Inventor's name which they might recognize. They want to get everyone's honest opinion first. Once a product is picked they are told who submitted it. They feel this puts everyone on the same playing field.

Again, Sarah, thank you for taking the time to post your review of "Common Sense Inventing". It is very helpful.

Sarah Mann
Ralph Machesky
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harvdog42's Avatargold

Hello Roger,

I'm new to this forum and the invention marketing game. Hello everyone.

I needed to educate myself and thankfully decided to purchase your book "Common Sense Inventing." I've read other "inventing" books over the years but found yours to be superior. You've been there, done that which gives your book more value than other books I've read. Your book is the classic example of "value for value" which I believe is the cornerstone for successfully selling just about anything. The book should really be on the shelves of Barnes & Noble. Maybe that's something I could help you with as I have two titles selling there now not related to inventing. I'm a machinist by trade, hate writing books but love inventing. As I write this I have about a half dozen inventions with prototypes just sitting around collecting dust. I always dreaded the thought of taking the next steps. Your book describes what steps would need to be taken wonderfully. Can anyone do what you propose in your book? Probably not. Many people talking on phones are bumbling idiots. I'm one of them.

You asked for feedback. I have a few suggestions and most are relatively minor so take these for what they're worth. I downloaded the PDF but I don't like reading computer screens so I took the PDF to a local printing shop to have printed for thirteen cents a sheet. In chapter 5 you list dozens of Inventor's associations which is valuable material but I was only interested in what is local to me. You could probably find a format for that material which would take up far fewer pages.

One subject I am interested in as a newcomer is that of patenting. Throughout the book you make strong arguments for the little guy foregoing the patent process. I tend to agree but would have loved to have seen some counter arguments. Can the little guy ever benefit from getting a patent? How so? What about just the threat of litigation? Is that of no value? Based on my experience just the threat of litigation can significantly change a course of action. You state "Anyone can change a product slightly and get their own patent." Is that really true? What about prior art? Are patents really that easy to get? As a reader I would have appreciated seeing some case studies that back up your claim. One of my inventions has tight space constraints. There is virtually no other way to assemble the components of this invention but by using the layout I came up with. Is it something I should get patented? I still don't know.

Your glossary of terms is quite helpful. I would love to see an example or two of "Term Sheets."

Thanks for the great read. I truly got a lot out of your book. You actually write a lot like I do which is with very little BS. That's something I think a majority of people appreciate.


Regards,

James

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rogerbrown's Avatargold

James, thanks for the great suggestions and comments. You said you downloaded the ebook in PDF format. Do you need Mobi or Epub so you can use it on a ereader? If you do let me know and I can send you each version.

Funny you mentioned the Inventor's associations list. I have been getting emails from other countries that want to be added to the listing, so it is growing. It is in alphabetical order so you can find your state easier.

On patents, I agree that is an area I don't have a lot of info on in the book. Primarily since I am not a patent Lawyer I don't want readers to assume I am giving them legal advice. You would be surprised how many Inventors want to blame you for anything that goes wrong and with patents it happens a lot. Because some Inventors assume having a patent guarantees you will make millions and everyone will be running to offer you a deal. Which is normally not the case.

The issue is not that patents are easy to get but that patentable does not equal marketable. 

You mentioned having two books out at Barnes and Noble, can you post their titles, I would love to check them out.

Again, thanks for the feedback.

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keeztan's Avatargold

Roger, in your book you touch on collaborating with other individuals. Have you had good experience personally along this path? or have you just used them as a resource or sounding board?

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rogerbrown's Avatargold

Mark, I would say the majority of my experience has been positive. I am very selective who I work with and try and avoid those that can't take criticism or have unrealistic expectations. Because that always leads to trouble and more headaches than it is worth.

I collaborate all the time with various people in a variety of industries. Mostly we swap out skills for the others skill. So no one is out any money, just our time. As an example I have stated before I used to regularly write for the comic book industry and now swap script/plot writing all the time with Comic book Artists I know for graphic work for my sell sheets.

Collaborating with a select few can be very beneficial for everyone as long as everyone agrees to certain terms and what is the goal of the group. I have a couple of Inventors I use as sounding boards and they do the same with me. We all have signed an NDA and know that anything we discuss is confidential. 

Mark Bartlett
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rogerbrown's Avatargold

I have been asked several times by Inventors why I do not list or recommend patent lawyers in my book. The answer is simple. I don't use them. Have not had a need for one. 

Plus, I think picking any lawyer is more of a personal choice and the individual should do their due diligence to make sure the lawyer is creditable and has a good working knowledge of the field of their idea/product so they can better develop a strategy for your claims.

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rogerbrown's Avatargold

After receiving a check from an Inventor yesterday for $2495 I want to make it clear I am not affiliated with Inventright, Stephen Key or any of their One-on One coaching plans.  I have gotten a number of congratulations throughout the year from EN members on my book "One Simple Idea" which is NOT my book. Mine is "Common Sense Inventing" so I am not sure why the confusion, the titles are not even close. I have sent the check back to the Inventor, but wanted to clarify it is not me. I would add in my opinion before spending that kind of money make sure you need that type of help and really understand what you are getting for your money. 

Crystal-Diane Nappi
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rogerbrown's Avatargold

Update on the Inventor above. They contacted me thanking me for sending their check back and apologized for the confusion. They went back and looked over what they were getting for their money and decided not to go forward with the one on one coaching saying they just got caught up in the hype and are going to do more of the work themselves. I got them in touch with a local Inventor group which in my opinion will be of more value and free. Also gave them a copy of my book so they can see the different in information.

Patric J
Greg M
Sarah Mann
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rogerbrown's Avatargold

Got some requests about finding Inventor groups near you. Here is the link to that thread https://www.edisonnation.com/forums/other/topics/l...

Patric J
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tesladog's Avatargold

Roger, I have some feedback I'll share if you're interested, but I'd rather relay it as a message than in an open forum. I think it's a great book, though, and a real boon to everyone interested in the invention game. I learned a lot reading all your "lessons". 

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rogerbrown's Avatargold

Patric, I would love to hear your thoughts. You can email me directly at rbrown@rogerbrown.net  Thanks

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tesladog's Avatargold

Thanks Roger - it may be a day or two lol

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rogerbrown's Avatargold

Patric, that is not a problem. Looking forward to it. I have gotten a lot of great feedback from EN members and others in the inventing community. The feedback is a great way to see where I need to expand and if Inventors are getting the points I am trying to convey.

Patric J
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mmmbopingmommy's Avatar

You give me hope about not needing a prototype to find success, because I will never have one. Hopefully Spencer's will become proof of that. They like a few of my ideas based on description alone. I did nothing else but write it down.

Patric J
Sarah Mann
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rogerbrown's Avatargold

Erin, it can be done. You just need to find a company willing to work with you and sees your vision. 

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rogerbrown's Avatargold

Thanks for all the comments on my current ebook and telling me the topics you think I missed so I can address them in the next book. Keep sending them to me.

Sarah Mann
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drk's Avatar

Just finished Roger's book

it was excellent

I saw a lot of myself in there

In addition, Roger is amazing, he answered questions via email and even helped me think through an issue with an invention

great guy!

thanks for all of your help Roger.  It's nice to know there are people like you out there.

John

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drk's Avatar

Just finished Roger's book

it was excellent

I saw a lot of myself in there

In addition, Roger is amazing, he answered questions via email and even helped me think through an issue with an invention

great guy!

thanks for all of your help Roger.  It's nice to know there are people like you out there.

John

Sarah Mann
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rogerbrown's Avatargold

John, thanks for the post here and the email you sent with suggestions. I appreciate the help.

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crystaldiane's Avatargold

Ditto on that John. A lof of us feel this way - Roger is a great addition to these forums. For me, his advice has helped me more than I can express.  Anyone on the fence - about Rogers book - just do it. Really. The few dollars you would spend for a copy will no doubt be one of your greatest returns on investment - clarity of vision, choices we make or don't make - all of these things aid us on our personal paths. I am continually surprised by people that will spend TONS  of money on a patent attorney, prototypes, etc - that they may or may not even need - before reading advice from someone who has not only done what a lot of us wish we could do but has done so more than once and continues to succeed in his own invention path. My two cents - but Roger is a huge asset to this community. Best to you all!

Sarah Mann
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rogerbrown's Avatargold

Crystal-Diane, I am glad to hear you find the information I post useful. If it helps keep others from falling into some of the pitfalls many hit it is well worth the time.

Crystal-Diane Nappi
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rogerbrown's Avatargold

Hope some of you will give your opinion on what is a good size for a book. Currently my book is 200 pages. I have had Inventors say that is enough pages to keep the readers attention, others say they want at least 300 pages or more in a book. Thoughts? Have had about 5% say they like audio books the best.

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williamj's Avatargold

Roger,

It's been my belief that a book or an article should only be as big as is necessary to dispense the require information. Whether it be a biography, a story, or a tutorial, makes no difference, it should only be as big as needed.

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sjane722's Avatargold

Hi Roger,

Your book, while for the most part, is easy reading, it also serves as a reference book-- t there are sections that might be somewhat lengthy, but can be turned to when a need arises. 

I think adding more visuals would be worth additional pages. It's the premise of show don't tell. You do always offer examples, and I say the more the better, because so often it's hard for people to imagine or visualize what they just don't know. 

So, as long as each section does what you intend, and overall the book covers all bases, I think the length is irrelevant. I think it is especially irrelevant in this case as your writing style is very conversational, accessible, and flows so well.

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sjane722's Avatargold

Hi Roger,

Your book, while for the most part, is easy reading, it also serves as a reference book-- t there are sections that might be somewhat lengthy, but can be turned to when a need arises. 

I think adding more visuals would be worth additional pages. It's the premise of show don't tell. You do always offer examples, and I say the more the better, because so often it's hard for people to imagine or visualize what they just don't know. 

So, as long as each section does what you intend, and overall the book covers all bases, I think the length is irrelevant. I think it is especially irrelevant in this case as your writing style is very conversational, accessible, and flows so well.

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rogerbrown's Avatargold

William, I agree. But some people seem to be afraid of books that are large and will take them some time to complete. 

Sarah, I had thought of putting more examples of Sell Sheets in the next book. I get requests about them all the time.

Sarah Mann
Mark Bartlett
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sjane722's Avatargold

I think that would be excellent.

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rogerbrown's Avatargold

Sarah, are there other visuals you think would be helpful? 

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sjane722's Avatargold

My memory isn't so great, so I'm going to have to go back and take another look at your book to see what you've already included. I know you do already tend to spell things out very specifically and give examples.

I wonder if showing things like submission examples, emails, sell sheets, and phone conversations, in images that illustrate before and after editing might be helpful. I don't know- do you think that might be overkill?

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karenadams's Avatar

Sarah,

Great ideas as I have not purchased the book yet, but these are things I would find useful and would be looking for.

Sarah Mann
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sjane722's Avatargold

Roger,

Your recent comment in the post about Ladders (werner co.) is a good example. 

Sample letters are always good. How would you break down your advice into a simple formula? What specific wording would you use?

(For years I used, pretty much verbatim, phrases from sample cover letters. Of course you have to personalize them, but the samples gave me the structure and guidance I needed, and also specific wording.)

If you could offer not only sample emails, but break them down into an outline of a formulaic guideline, with categories of what to cover, with a word count limit, that would be optimal. The same for submissions, sell sheets, etc. 

If anyone can do it, you can.

You already hand-hold us, I know this probably seems extreme, but I think many people might find it helpful.

Karen C Adams
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rogerbrown's Avatargold

Sarah, very good suggestion and one I will work on. Thanks for your input. And thanks for your posts and threads giving your life experience in inventing. Those type of postings help others learn how the industry really works.

Sarah Mann
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karenadams's Avatar

I did scan through a chapter of your book thus far. It was light, easy to read, and fun while being serious. I will of course reread soon.
I settled comfortably into "Inventing Terms". This being an area of concern for me personally as I need to be capable of communicating effectively. 

Much to my surprise and relief due to a strong background in retail management many of the terms were not foreign to me. 

"Sell sheet" I had no idea what it was before joining this forum however I had seen many. ( No one in any of the companies I ever worked for called them "sell sheets". Why I have no clue.)
Since I feel many will us your book as a reference guide, perhaps adding categories in "Inventing Terms" will be helpful.
manufacturing,retail, wholesale, etc.

As far as the length of a book personally, ( in the past) I found it hard to take anything under 300 pages seriously and would not spend money on it. 
When one gets to 365 pages or better now that is a serious read. (Unfortunately my eyes today prevent from heavy reading).

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karenadams's Avatar

I am also much more comfortable reading books the old-fashioned way of holding it in my hands.
With that being said, I could not find a way to easily navigate from chapter to chapter. Am I missing something?

If your next book is longer easy navigation will be a "must". 

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sjane722's Avatargold

Karen,

I had a hard time reading the book online, but then I told Roger and he sent me the electronic version. SO MUCH BETTER!!!

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rogerbrown's Avatargold

Karen, glad you liked the Inventing Terms. I am putting more together for the second book. Like you I prefer holding a book when reading it much more than a Ereader or other electronic device. But doing research prior to releasing "Common Sense Inventing" over 87% of those surveyed wanted the book in electronic format for ereaders, tablets and phones  which is why I went in that direction. About 5% wanted the book in audio format.

So far response to the Ebook has been awesome and most say it is a great resource they go back to often. Funny how many publishing companies have approached me wanting me to pay them to make the book in softcover which I have declined since as an ebook I have a lot more control over its distribution.

I hope Inventors find the book useful, informative and something that helps them make more informed decisions and helps them find success.

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karenadams's Avatar

Ebooks are wonderful and have been successful in getting folks reading more. 

You're doing great Roger!

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rogerbrown's Avatargold

Thanks Karen. Getting feedback from those that have read the book really helps me understand if people are Getting the points I am trying to convey.

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