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January 31, 2007

News & Opinion: Give it away already...

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 7:36 PM – Filed under: Publishing Industry

Would you keep your nicely designed business card for yourself? No, probably not. Your goal is to get it eyeballed as much as possible. You want people to know about you, what you do, where you do it and your digits. The people that are curious will call, drop you a line and see what you're up to.
The same could be said for your idea--your book. Yesterday we had a few talented media folks come in and videotape each of the 8cr crew on the company, publishing and business books. Both Jack and Todd kept reiterating how important it is to share your idea in other ways beyond the book. Blog it. E-book it. Podcast it. Vlog it. Do what it takes to get it into the hands of the people who care. Take Cory Doctorow, he published a novel and put it all online in an e-book.
Within a day, there were 30,000 downloads from my site (and those downloaders were in turn free to make more copies). Three years and six printings later, more than 700,000 copies of the book have been downloaded from my site. The book's been translated into more languages than I can keep track of, key concepts from it have been adopted for software projects and there are two competing fan audio adaptations online.

Yes, he could be losing a few sales. But as Cory so poignantly reminds us, the people who are downloading the book wouldn't have bought the book anyway; you're simply building a larger audience and enticing some others to buy the hard copy.
There's a parallel to music here, musicians have long been giving away their stuff on blogs and MySpace. As a consumer, if I get a free taste of something, I'm more likely to buy something. I may just become a lifelong fan. And I may just attend a concert or two or ten.
Concerts, like speaking and consulting gigs, are where musicians make their money. Giving your idea away (granted it must be good) will make people hungry to experience your ideas in other spots.
Don't keep it for yourself. Share the love.

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.