Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Buy This Book

Gordon Atkinson -- the Real Live Preacher -- is self-publishing his next book.

I've already pre-ordered two copies, one to keep and one to give away. I don't know if I admire Gordon more as a writer or as a person. He's an amazing example of both. His essays are nearly always heartbreakingly honest. They're usually gentle, but occasionally angry. He admits to the kind of self-doubt that most of us are afraid to share even with those who are closest to us. He cares so deeply about the people he writes about that you can't help but care about them too. Just reading his blog makes me less self-absorbed, makes me a better person, I think. And I find myself liking him so much that it's very strange to remind myself, every now and then, that I've never actually met the guy. (Though he does answer e-mails personally, even if the purpose of the e-mail was just a book order...)

Now, normally self-publishing is a good way to lose money. And if someone else makes a lot money off of you in the process, then it's "vanity publishing," and it's a scam.

But in this case, it's different. He's a blog that's maintained a high readership for the better part of a decade. And then consider this account of his previous publishing experience...

FACT: My first book was published by Eerdmans. They sold 3500 copies, for which I was paid $3500. After the 3500 copies were sold, they lost interest in the book. There were 1300 copies left. Even if Eerdmans had sold them, I wouldn’t have made anything on those 1300.

FACT: I bought the remaining copies and sold 900 of them on my blog, making about $9000.

He knows he's got an audience. But he's still too smart to sink a huge investment into a work that might not sell. So he's trying something that I've always wanted to see work: taking pre-orders, and not publishing the book until he gets enough to cover the cost. I think this model could eventually catch on with the recording industry, and who knows, the movie industry even. Decide on a minimum you need to make, and don't publish until you know you're going to make it. Publish a lot of stuff for free first to build a following, like Gordon does on his blog.

Okay, so I'm kind of interested in the publishing model. But I'm a lot more interested in the book, and I want him to reach the target number of orders, which is only 416, quickly, so he can get it into production.

For this reason, and for your own good, I say -- buy this book! Place your orders here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Self publishing after you get a lot of money....Isn't that how science works?