At the Writer's Digest Conference, Richard Nash delivered an inspiring keynote. Writers loved it.
Deep in his talk, a slide flashed up on the screen that, to the untrained eye, might not have seemed like much. It was a piece of innovative and critical business advice that spoke to the transformation of how authors should envision the growth and profitability of their careers.
Thinking Beyond the Book
Nash's slide shows all the things that authors might do to earn money beyond just selling a book. It speaks to the famous 8 intangibles that Kevin Kelly once wrote about—the factors that now drive the so-called "new economy" in our digital culture.
- Immediacy (priority access, immediate delivery)
- Personalization (tailored just for you)
- Interpretation (support and guidance)
- Authenticity (how can you be sure it is the real thing?)
- Accessibility (wherever, whenever)
- Embodiment (books, live music)
- Patronage (paying simply because it feels good)
- Findability (when there are millions of everything
requesting our attention, being found is
The trick is think of all the ways that you can deliver special experiences or unique products to your audience that carry a high value. You will sell or offer fewer of them (because they make greater demands on your time, energy, or resources), but you will also charge more for them.
The curve Nash shows is not the only or final curve, just an example. Here are the categories I'd pull out and order as most common:
- E-books (cheapest)
- Limited edition books
- Personalized or customized books
- Classes & workshops
- One-on-one experiences (most expensive)
See how these take advantage of the 8 intangibles that Kelly outlined? Personalization? Authenticity? Embodiment?
Yes, this is, in part, a marketing exercise. But just as much it's about being creative and imaginative—about doing things that fit with who you are, and what your readers want.
- Cory Doctorow experiments with a curve of offerings, and has reported on his efforts at Publishers Weekly.
- OpenSky is a popular and emerging merchandising model that is part of this curve. Take a look at this author's "store."
- Teaching Sells helps all types of experts turn their knowledge into income. (Admittedly, this works better for nonfiction than fiction.)
You won't be Seth Godin overnight. But always think beyond the book when envisioning how your career will grow.
Your turn: What have you seen authors do that take advantage of the 7 intangibles, and go beyond the book? Share examples in the comments!