(2009-10-21) Doctorow Help Book Model Experiment

Cory Doctorow is Self Publishing his next book (Short Story collection) With A Little Help, with a variety of revenue streams, to test the "TrueBeliever" attitude that he's been a schmuck for using a "real" publisher. Mark Shuttleworth already snagged the $10k commissioned-story option (True Fan). Po D via Lulu. There's plenty more details, of course - how I'm going to use Twitter, what I'm going to do to get this into bookstores, the marketing and publicity plan. But I'm out of space for this month - and many of those details will fill a column on their own. One thing I need to mention, though: I'm seriously considering writing a book about the experiment, no matter how it turns out, selling it to a traditional publisher and adding the advance to the balance sheet. (Business Models For Information, Experiment, Virtual Company)

The column series.

Dec'2010 update: There's so much that you can do to elaborate on a project of this nature: limited edition covers, pricing experimentation, novel forms of audio distribution... While this sort of thing was once constrained by the inherent capital costs of trying them, no such costs obtain today: all of these things can be done for "free", costing only the time spent in trying them out. So much of our sensibilities are honed by evaluating the cash outlay for various courses of action – it's hard to tamp down the elation at discovering that some formerly expensive action now can be had merely for the time it takes to seize on the opportunity... More than ever, I'm realising that the old problem of overcoming constraints to action has been replaced by the new problem of deciding what to do when the constraints fall away. The former world demanded relentless fixity of purpose and quick-handed snatching at opportunity; the new world demands the kind of self-knowledge that comes from quiet, mindful introspection. An abundance of opportunity is a funny kind of problem to wrestle with, but it is a problem – and a hard one, since abundance manifests itself as noise that must be ignored in order to stop reacting and start introspecting.

And: You see, in trying everything—audiobooks, POD, limited editions—I've discovered the thing that captures the public's interest is also the thing that makes the most money is also the thing that has the least logistics: super-premium limited editions. Over and over again, when I describe With a Little Help to people, they fixate on the limited editions. I've had dozens of e-mails from people practically begging to buy the $275 editions I'm doing—and I stand to make $50,000 or more from them.

Dec25'2010 - a fan does an unboxing of the Hard Cover. I’ll never look at Amazon’s shrink wrap or packing peanuts with only minor disdain again. This was a labor of love.

Mar10'2011 - status 6 weeks after launch.


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