sharing content before the book publishes

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.

naked-conv-bookA 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:

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
Twitterville Notebook.

Your feedback would be welcomed, both there and here!

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8 Responses

  1. David says:

    i have a hard time believing that it is truly about experience more than content. the story for me is that the book or conference or church gathering or what-have-you is a gateway to a shared experience. These objects and places draw us together with those who we can conversate and dream with.

    I truly believe that experience focused directives may truly excel at what they are intending but they really miss on why people are actually drawn in. not for experience, but for relationships. experience is cheap, but connection is hard to find.

  2. djchuang says:

    I'm with you there.. connection is harder to find. Times are changing in the conference world, and I don't know the history of conference programming, but the conventional ones sure resemble those academic conferences with lots of workshop lectures and general session lectures. The content was the main thing. Content still matters a lot, but a lot less than it used to.

  3. djchuang says:

    I don't know the history of conference programming, but conventional conferences look a lot like those academic conferences with seminar lectures and general session lectures. Content is still going to be important, but it's a lot less important than other parts of the conference experience. Right on, connections are hard to come by.

  4. Charles Lee says:

    I love this idea…In fact, I've been test running possible chapters for an upcoming book project I'm slowly working on by disguising portions of these chapters as blog posts. The feedback has really helped me become a better writer. I'm glad to hear that someone did this in its entirety. Thanks for sharing.