Just weeks after he set out to write a new book, noted web developer Jonathan Snook had a brand-new product ready to hit the market.
His work on this project was the outcome of a series of notes he’d been collecting for a few months. The result was an ebook that shows developers how they can use cascading style sheets to better manage large, complex websites.
The technical term for this is SMACSS. But this post isn’t to talk about what that does (besides, his book explains it so well that even a guy like me can begin to understand it).
Rather, I want to share with you three valuable lessons that anyone in the ideas business—and as a reader of this blog, that means you—can learn from and apply, based on Jonathan’s example.
There is no time-to-market anymore.
We live in an idea-powered economy. The market for smart new ways of doing things—in this case, developers who build big websites—isn’t the kind that’s going to wait around for months to get a paper-based book in their hands.
For the chop-down-a-tree publishing industry, the time-to-market (fancy talk for the length of time between creating a product and it being available for sale) is typically measured in months. Sometimes even longer.
That’s an agonizing amount of time to wait and it’s a major sore point with writers and thought leaders today. As Scott Stratten, best-selling author of Unmarketing once tweeted on this very subject: “publishing needs to decide if they’re in the information biz or the paper biz.”
Opting for self-publishing your ebook erases that delay. It eliminates everything that used to stand between you and the people you want to influence. It puts ideas in people’s heads. And it does so nearly as fast as you can come up with ideas.
That’s why the ebook is one of the most dangerous, disruptive inventions to have ever emerged in human history.
Let me repeat that…
“The ebook is one of the most dangerous, disruptive inventions to have ever emerged in human history.”
Click to tweet this.
No wonder publishers (among others) are freaking out.
Build on permission.
Jonathan understood that it’s not enough to just write an ebook, upload it to Amazon, Kobo or the iBookstore and sit back and wait for readers to come to you. Ideas travel fastest in groups.
As I am fond of saying, people are busy. No matter who you are, the public’s attention for what you have to say is scarce. “Permission,” says Seth Godin, “is still the most important and valuable asset of the web (and of publishing).” You need credibility to build an audience. And that’s an ongoing task.
In case of my friend Jonathan, he already has a legion of fans and followers. The way we sells his book and his ideas shows you how he’s done that.
In addition to offering his newest product for download either directly from his site or via Amazon, he’s also included a membership option, featuring some pretty great added benefits for a small fee.
“We’re all marketers now.”
That’s a quote from a 2011 McKinsey Quarterly report. And it’s spot-on. You are no longer separate from your message. Today, who you are, what you do, what you offer, what you solve and how you solve things are all part of your product and your offer.
Among the last of the perceived benefits of the publishing industry was that they would look after all these things for you. They would package your product, edit it, and use a bunch of methods to try and draw attention to your product.
Even in those areas, you are now better served by doing things your way. No one knows your idea and your audience better than you.
It’s not hard to find experts who can help you look after all the things you need to build the best possible experience for your readers. For instance, Jonathan hired a fantastic illustrator who developed a great looking character mascot for his cover. Need an editor? It’s not hard to find a great one who is easy to work with. Same goes for graphic design, translation…and so on.
This is a great time to be a writer. If you’re in the idea business, you already are one. There are pros who can help you refine that skill, too. Don’t know one? Subscribe to my newsletter. I’m happy to share what I know.
Learn from the examples of others like Jonathan and you’ll see: in this digital age, with this dangerous invention, it’s never been easier to share your ideas and build a market with more people in less time.