John Sutherland, a consultant from Toronto, is someone I’ve had the pleasure of meeting recently in my business adventures. He’s currently writing a book on innovation. And, in the spirit of modern crowdsourcing, he’s releasing portions of the book in “chunks” on a wiki site and letting people read and comment on his various segments. If you participate by making comments on his “chunks” then he promises to list you in the book as a contributor and send you a free copy when it’s published. It’s intriguing and accomplishes a few things:
- He gets feedback as he’s writing. In the last “chunk” he admitted he needs to rewrite it as I and at least one other clearly missed the point.
- Readers already feel like insiders if not collaborators and will likely talk up the book as I am now.
- It’s yet another change in the book publishing genre – where writers worked for years to complete something before sending it to potential publishers. In later years, writers just sent outlines, and now writers like Sutherland release “chunks” as they are written.
In another example, Paul Kurnit and Steve Lance released a “booklet” not a book in April 2013 called “What Business Are You In?” Both authors know how to write real, hard cover books. They collaborated on the “The Little Blue Book of Marketing,” and Lance also co-wrote with another author “The Little Blue Book of Advertising.” So why the booklet?
I didn’t ask the authors, but I’d suppose two things:
- It was quicker to get done and to market.
- People have shorter reading spans, so the self-published 50-page booklet gets read by more people faster.
Both, like Sutherland, are in the consulting business, so books act as marketing tools for their businesses, highlighting their respective expertise.
The exact opposite of this is story comes for a piece “New Life for an Old Cape” in the May 2012 edition of Philadelphia magazine. The write-up highlights a new book by a long dead author just now being published summer 2013 by Exit Zero, a Cape May-based publishing company that specializes in stories about the South Jersey area. The author, Charles Whitecar Miskelly died in 1963. His grandson, George Carlisle, now 75, also held on to the story, and finally decided to see if the story could see the light of day two generations later.
Miskelly was a ship builder who knew that products had to be completely finished before they could float. Godin, Lance and Kurnit are marketers who know that ideas evolve into having a life of their own. And Sutherland is an avid student of innovation, who also knows that ideas, like sparks, have to get out there to be fueled and catch fire.
Marketing is based on testing and these book publishing examples show how book marketing now mirrors product and service marketing. Marketing doesn’t happen when something is finished, although much bad marketing is still done that way. Instead, good marketing starts with small bites or steps and builds to something larger as you test the waters and quality of the material.