While the publishing process still has its mystique, and each publishing house has its own style and approach, the writing process is usually a closed and mysterious too, with its content closely guarded until it’s published (and sold), since people are paying for the content. Things are changing.
A book published in 2006 opened it up — Naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers. The authors, Robert Scoble and Shel Israel, posted their book’s content on a blog, and invited feedback on the draft version. Leaning into the power of the wisdom of the crowds, the book was polished in the open, and got published into a hardcover book. And the book still sold well. (How well I can’t say; I don’t have access to those numbers.)
The authors blogged milestones in their publishing process, Publisher’s Proposal 1.0 + Not Quite Fully Transparent + Publisher’s Update + We have our publisher! . And as they wrote, the book‘s (draft) content’s was posted online:
- Table of Contents (revised)
- Foreword by Tom Peters
- Chapter 1
- Ch 2—Why Blogging Matters
- Ch 3– Word of Mouth on Steroids
- Ch 4– Direct Access
- Ch 5– Little Companies
- Ch 6– Consultants who get it
- Ch 7—Survival of the Publicists
- Ch 8—Non-English blogs
- Ch 9—Thorns in the Roses
- Ch. 10—Doing It Wrong
- Ch 11– Doing It Right (corporate blogging tips)
- Ch 12– How to not get Dooced
- Ch 13– Blogging in a Crisis
- Ch 14– Emerging Technologies
- Ch 15– The Conversational Era
Defies conventional thinking that they could post a book’s (draft) content free online and then get that book’s content published in a book format that still sells. (Also, portions of the published Naked Conversations can be viewed and searched via Google Books Search.)
In a world where so much content is free and readily available on the Web (cf. the notion of free economy that Chris Anderson is articulating, in articles like “Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business“), what is the value in the printed book, then? In attending a conference? The value is shifting from obtaining the content towards something about the experience and format. Just my preliminary speculation.
Now, as we speak (blog), Shel Israel is working on a new book, tentatively titled Twitterville. Overview at Twitterville Notebook: My Book-Writing Process and you can follow along the book’s content being developed in the open at
Your feedback would be welcomed, both there and here!