The E-Book Experiment

I hinted yesterday’s post about Alan’s 30-Day Blogging Challenge that I was going to unveil another blog that I have been preparing to start. Except that it’s not a blog. Except that it is a blog, too.

In fact, it’s a book. Or more accurately, it will be a book. Most likely an e-book. But I’ll be writing it one chapter at a time. And not necessarily in order. In fact, most likely not in order at all.

I do have an outline, and it is going to be a real book for real people about a very real subject. It’s just that, instead of holing up in some upstate cabin on a winding narrow road and hunching over a typewriter for six months, I’m going to post chapters online as I type them. They’ll be subject to change, and I want the potential audience to get involved in the writing, make comments, and give feedback. Plus, I don’t think we have any cabins in upstate Florida, and if we do, they probably need to be torn down and made into commercial developments - just so they’ll fit in with the rest of Florida.

The blog/book is called Insurance Agency Success. It’s basically a focused productivity and efficiency book for insurance agencies and agents. It’s a summary of eight years of my expertise in the business of insurance and is designed to be 75 chapters of tools and methods to make an agency a lean, mean, profit machine. You can read more about it here, too.

I don’t think anyone else has written a book “live” on the internet, with the full intent of eventually selling the book. Some might think that sounds insane - giving away what I would otherwise charge for. And that’s a valid concern. But, I’m convinced that two forces are at play. First, I think the process of participation in developing this book will make it a richer, fuller book than I have just worked it entirely alone. Second, I believe most people, when it is complete, would rather have the value of the entire book as one unit, either in an electronic portable edition (with a structured table of contents, an index, etc) or as a printed manual. The blog is a great way to get folks involved. I don’t see it, however, as the finished product.

Of course, I’ll also be including some extras with the purchased version that won’t be available online. The more traditional manifesto book writing method is to publish a book and include a few extras online. I’m reversing it.

Lastly, there are thousands of people in the insurance industry who would just as soon read a blog online than they would jump off a tall building. Even if it could save them $79. Because if they don’t read it, what good is it. They are more likely to buy the e-book and run it off on the digital copier than they would read the blog. I’m looking into also having a printed version as I believe it would also sell very well.

What do you think? Is this a new and revolutionary way to contribute to the “great conversation” in a chosen area, or am I giving away the farm? I’m betting on the former. I’ll be reporting back my results with this experiment from time to time here (not on Insurance Agency Success itself though), so stay tuned to see how I did — and maybe get inspired to do your own e-book this way.

I will say one thing thus far: It is a lot easier to get started this way. I’ve had the idea for 4-5 months for an e-book on this subject. However, once I decided to do it this unique way, I had the domain and website up within a day, and the first two posts went up yesterday and today. When I get close to finishing the book, I’ll have much more motivation to sit and look through various distribution channels (as I’ve never sold an e-book before), along with possible printing options. If you know of any good options for either, I’d super appreciate any help or advice.

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