Blog Business Summit speaker and A-list business blogger Debbie Weil has an interesting article on her site today wherein she states that Blogging your Book is a Must. After thinking about her thesis, here’s my response….
Debbie, I don’t agree. First off, an important distinction: there’s overt book blogging and there are blogs that are, shall we say, harmonious in topic with upcoming books. While I am certainly quite interested in the evolution of book writing and production, I’m also of the belief that having everything available online and digital can have an adverse impact on the eventual sales of the book.
In particular, if I’ve already read just about all of your book in the last six months on your weblog, why would I be incentivized to spend $20-$40 to get the same thing perfect-bound just so I can place it on my shelf?
On the other hand, blogging about your topic is an excellent way to establish and cement your expert status in your market segment: I read your blog, Debbie, because you are an expert on business blogging. In that sense, if you tell me ‘I’ve taken all my disparete thoughts and pulled them into a coherent 250 page treatise” then I would buy it, just to see what conclusions you’ve drawn.
I look at Scoble and Israel’s book project, for example, and am constantly reminded of why Victoria’s Secret is such a profitable business: sometimes seeing just a little bit is a lot more enticing than seeing everything at once.
Have a look at my Ask Dave Taylor site, as another example. Mixed in with all the different tech and business Q&A topics are entries that are either from one of my books, are going to move into a book, or are in direct response to a reader query about one of my books.
Go to my main Intuitive Life Business Blog and you’ll see that I frequently write about business blogging and the future of corporate communications. Surprise, I’m working on a book that’ll address those topics, but I really can’t see blogging every chapter as I write it, nor would I encourage anyone else to do that either.
I read the NYT piece that you reference, and have, of course, spoken with many, many authors and publishers and I would say that my view is in the majority. Some material should be online, and with many books, supplemental information and additional information that doesn’t fit into the print edition should be online (it’s also a good teaser for the book), but the entire thing, word for word? Not for me.
Which isn’t to say that you can’t have significant chunks online, however!
Have a quick peek at Wicked Cool Shell Scripts as an example of a (non-blog) site that exists purely to promote a book, includes sample materials, lists every single shell script shown in the book, but excludes the explanations of how they work. For that, you need to actually buy the book. And people do.
Perhaps this boils down to the pragmatic question of why you’re writing a book in the first place. If it’s to disseminate your views and opinion, then having a free version, whether a downloadable PDF or fragmented weblog, can work just fine. If, like me, you also hope to pay your mortgage so as not to end up on the street, then giving away some in order to sell the remainder is a much smarter strategy.