Leo Babuata of ZenHabits, one of my favorite sites on creativity and living, is finally launching his new book. Watching this launch has been incredible–it’s funny how sometimes we can learn so much more from people who are outside of the publishing industry.
He traditionally published a few books several years ago, and he’s self-published a few ebooks since then, but this is his first self-published print book to be sold direct to his fans (he has over a million readers on his blog). And he decided to approach writing a book the way a coder would approach writing new software. As he explains:
The traditional way of writing a book is like the old Microsoft model of developing software: you write it in isolation for a year or two, and then put it out as a fully-formed product.
The problem with that method is that it’s never been tested in the real world. You don’t know if readers (or users) will want it, you don’t know where you’ve made huge mistakes, you don’t know how it will work in the wild.
That “Microsoft” model of making programs has been replaced in the last decade or so by iterative programming, where you make a Minimum Viable Product as soon as possible, and let a small group of people (alpha or beta testers) use it and give you feedback and report bugs. Then a new version is made, more testing and feedback, and so on, making the product better and better each iteration. I love this model, because it leads to a better product over the long run.
You can read the full 6-step process Leo used to put this into place here, but in short, he basically worked on the book in sections, had a small group of alpha testers put the ideas into practice and journal about it, then he took that feedback and used it to make each chapter better. From there, he took the chapters to a larger beta group in his Sea Change course and did the same thing. The end result? He’s probably one of the few authors out there right now who has a solid understanding of how the public will respond to his work. No more dread, nail-biting, and sleepless nights in the months leading up to publication, like most authors have to deal with.
This whole process is also an incredible way to get your community invested in a project–you can bet that those alpha and beta testers will be buying extra copies to share with others. After all, they were a part of the creative process, and now they likely feel a sense of ownership over the project–I know I would!
The other fascinating thing about this book launch is that he’s crowdfunding the project through Kickstarter, and therefore will know exactly how many books he needs to print. This Tuesday at 3 p.m. he announced the opening of the crowdfunding campaign, where he was hoping to raise $44,700 over 30 days. He hit that goal in 24 hours. And as of Thursday at 3 p.m. (2 days into the campaign), he’s already raised over $106,000.
THAT right there is the power of having a built-in audience.
If you want a copy of his book, you can buy it through his Kickstarter page here. (I already got mine!)
If you haven’t already seen The United States of Thanksgiving online feature by the New York Times, you are in for a treat. (H/T to Jarrett for sending it to me first!)
A few of my favorites were the Mojo Turkey from Florida, the Pecan Pie Bites with Gravy in Colorado, and the Garam Masala Pumpkin Tart from DC. I wish I could make every last one of these…but then I would be 50 states worth of fat. Not a good look.
Pumpkin Pie Bourbon and Pear Cocktail
Doesn’t that look stunning? This drink is like liquid fall comfort–just what you need on your Thanksgiving table. We’re planning on giving this recipe from Honestly Yum a test run this weekend. It seems simple enough: you add pumpkin pie spice to your bourbon, make a pear simple syrup, and then combine the two and garnish with a pear slice. It’s even simpler when you outsource all of the work to your in-house bartender!
We’ll be hiding from this cold snap, sipping drinks, and reading some new books this weekend. Hope you have a good one!