Okay, so you are done writing your book, you are excited (maybe nervous at the same time) and wondering what the whole world will think of your book.
These nerves are normal. It happens whenever you are about to do something significant. Change is about to happen. Take heart, you will live.
And once the dust settles you will be the better for it. If it doesn’t go well, you have taken a courageous step, and you now know what doesn’t work, and can adjust for next time — also your faith and mind have expanded to a greater degree, and they will not go back to their former sizes. Most people will never experience that. If it goes well, you know what happens, right? Congrats!
Or, you may be thinking of writing a book. Yes, it’s possible, and you can do it. How do you build a skyscraper? You know the answer.
Okay, so when I launched my book, Get To Know Your Backyard Opportunity, I decided not to offer it by itself, as a standalone product. The way traditional book publishing has always done it. I think this new way offers more value to readers, and to writers, too. It’s a win-win.
Recently a friend of mine who loves movies bought a DVD version of a movie he loves and considers a classic.
I mean this guy loves movies, the suspense, drama, and the layers of storytelling that goes on in movies. He will spend hours telling you all about it, making clear what may not be apparent to you. He lights up when he’s at it.
So when he bought the extended version of the movie Gladiator with Russell Crowe, I was not surprised. The DVD was a little heavy and packed.
The Publishing House & Unmet Needs
Okay, let’s take a quick look at the way the publishing house goes about the book publishing process ( at least from the way I see it; I don’t know much about the whole industry, though). From what I know, the publishing house takes the book, they polish it, and get it out there for you, and that’s it — -you share in the revenue, and the deal is over ( at least for now).
But a closer look at the times will reveal a change most may not see. Yes, the times are different, and wisdom is to adjust to match it. The power is no longer in the hands of publishers; not like it used to in the past. With the tools we have now — ebook readers, editing softwares, blogs, and personal websites — and a closer relationship with the ultimate consumer of our products, the terms of offer could be different, if we self-publish.
But having said that, let me focus on the consumer for a few minutes. The old fact about the consumer has not changed — he still loves to read, and to read about things that bring him pleasure or things that help him solve a problem. But something else is still the same — his needs are still far more than just reading for pleasure or problem-solving.
But a few decades ago, these needs went unmet. He had the need, but he resigned himself to what the writer offered him — or what the publishing house offered him. Yet, in the end, the consumer is the king, right? Do what’s right by the king, and you are in business; do the opposite, and you are out.
The Now & You
Let’s look at a quick example: A reader who buys a fiction book, enjoys the book, and recommends it. Yet, more likely than not, that reader is a writer, too, right? How? Definitely, it’s not a stretch to say that the chain between reading and writing is not that long — I love to write because I love to read great reads, and now I want to give back by sharing what I know, too. That’s why I write.
In that same way, most readers are writers too, and as a natural consequence, would love to grow in that capacity. The question, then, is this: can you the writer help them do this?
How? In the creation of your book, the only value is not just what you know or what you created. Another value is the process you went through to create it all. That’s value in it’s own right. Is that useful to a young writer?
If I had a young writer sitting next to me while I went about creating my table of contents, themes, characters (If I’m writing fiction), writing it all out, editing, and packaging the whole product, and afterward give him a copy of the book, will he only have the copy of the book?
No. He not only has a copy of the book but a copy of how I went about everything I did — in his head. He now knows it, he owns, and it’s his. If pressed, he can spell it out (from his viewpoint). For a young reader of my book who loves to write and may be wondering how this whole thing was put together, could my creation process be value to him? You know the answer.
Now in our day, if we have the power to rework the terms of the offer, why not offer something that benefits both sides? Why not offer a lot more value to the reader?
Since the buyer can come directly to you, why not say this: “Hi, I know you’d like the book, but here’s a lot more for you from my creative process. I will offer the book in packages with a lot more in them for you. Yet, surely, I have the book by itself (as a standalone) for you, too, if you prefer.”
It’s a conversation with the ultimate consumer of your product, for now, there are no middlemen to dictate the terms.
This is the ground upon which you the writer can offer a lot more to your reader by way of multiple packages, 2 or 3. And the underlying reasoning behind all this is that your readers come to you with different needs, and by only offering your book by itself, you are denying them the opportunity to choose what works for them based on their needs.
But also, could some of my readers not care about the added value? Yes. And for them, is the standalone product still available? Yes.
To make it a little more clear, consider this.
What if in addition to your book (if you write a fiction book) you add a guide or short read on how you created all the characters, what their backstories are, why they are ‘alive’ and vivid in the book, and why you positioned each of them as you did?
Why not go behind the scenes with another add-on product that shows that process? Also, will some of your fans prefer an audio version of your book? I’m sure. That’s where the audiobook comes in. Some still may simply want to hear your voice as you describe your experience, and share what you know. That’s where the audio commentary comes in, another feature.
You can take all these and create packages out of them. For example, the book alone, as the basic version; the book plus the audiobook and a short guide on how you created everything, the middle package; and a total package, which includes the book, the audiobook, more training in the form of a guide, commentary, and breakdown notes on your character creation.
There you have it: 3 packages, and the standalone product is still available, if your buyer prefers that.
In essence, you let your readers choose what works for their needs, and you do not deny anyone either. Value in the end is just your ability to make your readers feel a lot better about themselves or help them solve a problem, and all of these desires come in degrees. Multiple packages address them in the best possible way.
My Friend & His Movie
Back to my buddy who bought the DVD, for you’ll see this idea even in the movie industry, and you know those guys know what they are doing.
The movie edition he bought came with more features, deleted scenes, how characters were created, sound and visual effects, costume design galleries, cast portrait photo galleries, storyboard demonstrations, tales of the scribes, story development, the tools of war, and more. And all this was broken down into a 3 Disc pack.
A closer look:
My buddy sits and studies the movie thoroughly, going through all the various add-ons that came with this edition of the movie. He picks up lessons and sharpens his understanding of how all this works, the movie-making process, possibly preparing himself to be a producer one day.
Here are the 3 Disc’s contents ( let me just share a few of the contents from each of them):
- Disc 1: Feature: All new commentary by Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe, Trivia Deck, etc.
- Disc 2: Documentary: “Strength and Honor: Creating the World Of Gladiator” Never before seen seven-part Documentary: The glory of Rome, Shadows & Dust, Tale of the scribes, The heat of Battle, and more.
- Disc 3: Supplementary: Storyboards, Production design and galleries, Ridley Scott’s own sketches of “Maximus’ Journey” Costume design galleries, visual effects, abandoned sequences…
But is the movie by itself still available? Yes.
Even in software subscription online, we see this offer in terms of tiered pricing. Often, it’s the free version, the basic, the premium, and something else. Why? They know we all have different needs, and they will try their best to meet all of that. It’s a win-win. We get what we want, and they do not deny anyone.
So if you are still working on your book, think of your creative process as value in its own right. If you already wrote your book, think of offering more to your readers when you do the update.
And yes, this means a lot more work for you to create these add-ons, but look on the bright side, it’s work you do one-time, and then you get to offer it forever. All the best.
Special note: A lot of thanks to Nathan Barry, founder of Convert Kit, from whom I first saw this idea.