I’ve followed Seth Godin for over a year. Often when I’m studying different topics, I like to find a person who really seems to ‘get it’. Often these types of people know their stuff, their predictions are usually spot on, and it pays to listen to them.
Seth Godin is like this, but instead of knowing just one topic, he seems to know something about all sorts of things. I originally found him because of my interest in open models, but he often shares his thoughts on the publishing industry as well.
“I’ve decided not to publish any more books in the traditional way. 12 for 12 and I’m done. I like the people, but I can’t abide the long wait, the filters, the big push at launch, the nudging to get people to go to a store they don’t usually visit to buy something they don’t usually buy, to get them to pay for an idea in a form that’s hard to spread … I really don’t think the process is worth the effort that it now takes to make it work. I can reach 10 or 50 times as many people electronically. No, it’s not ‘better’, but it’s different. So while I’m not sure what format my writing will take, I’m not planning on it being the 1907 version of hardcover publishing any longer.”
It’s impossible for a print book to go viral with the same rapidity as a youtube video. It’s probably unlikely that an e-book would go viral that fast as well, but at least you’ve got a better shot at spreading the word through an e-book than with a print book. Under the open model (DRM-free), it’s quite easy to share e-books with friends.
Of course that still leaves the big question–if you’re not making money from the sale of e-books (because people are sharing them freely), how do you make money? I think with non-fiction books it might be a bit easier. You share ideas, then charge people when they call you up to come and present, or to consult with their company. But with fiction that becomes a harder question. It’s the ‘elephant in the room’ question for all of us authors who are embracing e-books and the open model. One possible solution, and I only mention it because I’ll likely have a post on this topic on Friday, is advertisements in e-books (gasp!).
I look forward to seeing the new approaches Seth takes. I heartily recommend his blog.