From internet and tech marketing guru Seth Godin:
My new book launches today–but you won’t be able to read it until January.
Let me explain:
Books take a long time to invent, produce, ship and go on sale. Almost all of that work happens on faith, and it’s then followed by a frenzy of promotion and anxiety, as the publisher and author try to find out if there’s actually desire for the book. Activating the tribe at the end of the process is nerve-wracking and inefficient. For the reader, it’s annoying to hear about a book 32 times from a panicked author who has her back against the wall, and then in every media outlet you turn to.
. . . .
The problem with traditional publishing is that you do all the work and take all the risk before you find out if the audience is ready and willing to buy the book. And you have only a few days to go from “it’s new” to “it’s over.”
I think there’s a new way to think about this, a hybrid of old and new, one that activates true fans and makes it easy to spread the idea through the tribe and beyond.
It starts with a Kickstarter* page. A lot of the details of what I’m describing are on that page, so feel free to check it out when we’re done here.
. . . .
My idea: Kickstart + bookstore + ebooks.
The publisher (my key to the bookstore) is only willing to go ahead with the rest of the plan if my Kickstarter works. No Kickstarter, no distribution, the stakes are high.
. . . .
If the Kickstarter works, then all the funders will get to read the book before anyone else, plus there are bonuses and previews and special editions. A few weeks after the early funders (that would be you) get to read it, the book will be available to book buyers for purchase the traditional way (wherever fine books are sold in the US, including digital readers). Of course, the Kickstarter funders get a better price, get it first and get unique bonuses, plus the pleasure of being in early–and knowing that they made it happen.
. . . .
By using Kickstarter early in the process, we eliminate book publisher/bookseller skepticism and create the excitement they need to actually stock and promote the book. Those books you see stacked up by the front window at the bookstore? That’s not an accident. That’s a promotion planned months in advance, based almost entirely on how optimistic the publisher is about a book’s prospects.
So that’s the idea–a way that any author with a following can divide the publishing process into three pieces–get the true fans on board early, give them something to talk about just before the book is in stores, and then use online and offline bookstores to do what they do best and distribute far and wide. It moves the power in the process to where it belongs–to motivated readers and their authors.
One of the interesting points for PG is that much of the reason for Seth’s latest project seems to be to get a physical book into bookstores, not just sell it online.
Another interesting thing is that Seth hasn’t announced who the publisher will be. Regular visitors to The Passive Voice will recall prior posts about The Domino Project, Seth’s new publishing model “powered by Amazon.”
Here’s an explanation of The Domino Project from the project’s FAQ:
To launch the Domino Project, a bestselling author is walking away from traditional book publishing and using the tools of new media to bring his (and his colleagues’) ideas to the world in a new way. Amazon is working with me to create The Domino Project, a new kind of book publishing venture, one that will redefine both what it means to be a publisher and what we think of as a book.
Last November, The Domino Project ended after publishing its twelfth book.
One of Seth’s perennial messages is that you should never stop innovating the way you do business and market.
During a period of disruptive change, nothing is locked in stone. And publishing, both indie and traditional, is definitely going through a period of disruptive change.