Beyond Books

I’m fascinated by the increasingly widespread transition from printed media to online, on-demand media and am trying to pick an entry point where I can get a little of this action for myself.

I think there is another twist to this self-publishing game and it may further lower the barriers to getting the word out and making money at the same time.

I proved to my own satisfaction that the traditional publishing arena had little to offer a beginning author that self-publishing could not accomplish faster and more efficiently.

Any new work that lies outside a formulaic genre (mystery, romance, how-to, etc.) has a hard time getting the attention of a traditional publisher, and for good reason! Publishers need product that is readily salable, which means they favor commodity writing by name brand authors (Cussler, Crichton, King…)

Up to now, the most satisfying way to get your ideas into other’s hands is to control the entire publishing and distribution process with sales help from online giants like Amazon.com.

Fred First’s lyrical discussion of life in a quiet valley in the mountains (Slow Road Home) has an enormous amount of charm for those who long for simpler days and quiet pleasures, but no traditional publishing houses recognized the long-term potential in this book. I think they will eventually, but by then he may have decided that he likes being in control of his book and its future.

My book on surviving corporate employment (Danger Quicksand – Have A Nice Day) is still attracting readers from all over the world as they recognize that corporate life and corporate careers are increasingly short-term propositions.

However, this is a niche book targeted at those who are losing or have lost their jobs and while the market is more universal than I expected, it is not a bookstore item and never will be.

It is a reference work that one should read and reread as needed and it should ideally be available at no cost to help the people who need it most. More than 45,000 free copies have already been downloaded since the book came out in June 2005 and they are still being downloaded so I know the demand for it continues.

This brings me to present time where I see the ubiquity and usefulness of unobtrusive Google text ads becoming the possible opening to a new future for online publishing.

A book might be published online in chapter-sized chunks with a discreet advertising sidebar that provides context sensitive ads which might provide an income stream for the author. Cory Doctorow did this with his novel Themepunks on Salon.com, but the advertising was overpowering and offensive.

More recently, Tom Evslin serialized his Internet bubble novel hackoff.com and distributed it chapter by chapter via emails through Feedburner. He didn’t put ads in his email, but I read his chapters on gmail with a running accompaniment of context sensitive ads and it was not distracting at all.

Non-fiction books might fare quite well with this model. In fact, I could see authors writing works specifically tailored to generate maximum ad revenue, because the ads might serve as additional reference material for the reader.

In celebration of this eventual possibility, I am once again making my book, Danger Quicksand – Have A Nice Day, available as a FREE DOWNLOAD until further notice. This is the full book in PDF format. 

When I come up with a version that provides bite-sized reference information in a more easily downloaded format, you will be the first to know.

Talent Developer Jane Chin and I had an early discussion about sharing ideas instead of hoarding them which you might find interesting. We both tend to share first and sort out the financial aspects later.

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