As I reported a while back, I finally entered into a book deal after much consideration and consternation over the past 2-3 years over just how I wanted to approach this. The basic history is that I first began thinking of this in 2008, about a year or so into the whole paleo thing. But I was reluctant and ended up focussing on building a bigger blog audience first. Subsequently, as the blog grew beyond what I’d even imagined, I started and stopped on several book projects on various topics, but wasn’t sure whether I wanted to do a simple PDF ebook like lots of people do — along with the crazy-ass, hyped-to-the-max landing sales page — pursue a traditional dead tree publisher, go the print-on-demand route, or now…the Kindle / Nook / iBook route. Eventually, I thought I had decided I’d do self publishing, but use a printer and distributor like Mark Sisson did for The Primal Blueprint. But there were so many hurdles with that beyond even the hefty cash investment, and the lead times are still huge.
So basically, I was kinda bouncing all over the place never really getting much done.
Then last month, out of the blue, I was approached by a new kind of publisher that had just launched and raised $1.2 million in venture capital from Andreessen Horowitz, Y Combinator, SVAngel, Lerer Ventures, Launch Capital, Shopkick founder Cyriac Roeding, Milo founder Jack Abraham and others: Hyperink. Having been involved in a 2-man startup myself, raising $250K seed capital, and giving a couple of dozen presentations to venture firms in Silicon Valley a few years back, this fact made me take notice the most. It is intensely difficult to raise VC when you don’t already have a track record as a successful startup that used other people’s money. In the end, we ran out of seed cash and had to focus elsewhere, even though we had gotten to “stage 2” a couple of times with a couple of VCs. We just could not close the deal. And so, that these guys were able to was very impressive to me.
So, what is Hyperink? Here’s lots of recent press on them. Some excerpts from the article in Forbes, Hyperink’s E-Book Model Turns Publishing On Its Head.
The book publishing industry has been going through a transformation as physical books move to digital.
Building on that growth, a new start-up Hyperink is a publisher of digital books that are targeted to specific niche audiences. “We’re directly taking on Amazon and trying to disrupt how the entire book publishing industry works,” says Hyperink cofounder and CEO Kevin Gao.
In a change for the book industry Hyperink generally does not select from books that are submitted by authors. Instead, the company finds topics that are in demand through analysis of things like Google search trends. Then it seeks out authors for those topics. […] Instead of spending one or two years to publish a physical book and trying for big mega-hits, Hyperink is going the opposite direction. It focuses on fast publishing–it can churn out a book in a month at one-tenth the cost of physical books, Gao says. […]
For authors Hyperink offers a publishing option that’s better than self-publishing, Gao says. And authors get to keep a larger portion of sales, up to 50%, than they would with traditional books. Hyperink provides typical publisher services such as cover design, layout, customer service and marketing. Hyperink is also targeting experts who don’t have time to write a book. Hyperink hires freelance journalists as ghostwriters to interview these experts and write books for them so that they can become authors. Hyperink distributes the books to Amazon, Nook, iBooks and other sites as well as through its own website.
Fast to market is the chief reason I was leaning toward the ebook route. Besides being plain impatient, I just can’t imagine taking 1-2 years from deal to shelves in a traditional model. For instance, Art De Vany got his deal for The New Evolution Diet in around August of 2009, as I recall. It finally hit the shelves around December of 2010, almost a year and a half later. In 2010, with instant text messaging, instant communication in general?????
And my friend John Durant announced his deal with a major publisher in October of 2010, over a year ago, and it’s still not on the shelves. I wish John all the best and I’m sure I’ll pimp the hell out of his book when it finally comes out, but this is just not for me, for what all I can tell is mostly the prestige of having it sit on the shelf in a brick & mortar place, places quickly going the way of the cave man, if my favorite of them, Borders, is any indication.
And being an entrepreneur and risk taker at heart, hell, why not get in on the leading edge of a deal backed by VC right now? I think it has amazing potential. Still not convinced? Check this out: Why you should be publishing ebooks. It’s a pretty compelling info graphic on the explosion of the ebook market, owing mostly to the Kindle, that has shipped nearly 30 million units since 2009. And ebook revenues are up from $50 million in 2009 to over $400 million in 2011. Wanna guess the trend for the dead tree versions? According to B&N CEO William Lynch, they sell three times as many digital versions as all other print formats combined. And Amazon’s Bezos says that his customers are choosing the Kindle version more often now — which is typically what I do myself. So why not do both? Well, what’s the trend? Why not just drop the massively expensive distribution costs of paper that results in authors getting a very small percentage of the sale?
That’s where I’m placing my bet. For better or worse. See, I know exactly what book I want to publish today. Two years from now? Not so exactly.
As it stands, I’m working with 2 editors and a professional journalist. The journalist is combing through the blog as we speak to use some of its content, and I’m writing new material, transitions, an introduction and a concluding chapter. This initial book will cover mostly the diet, health and fitness aspects in a simple and concise way and will be of a style that can be recommended to friends, family, co-workers. Subsequent books will delve more deeply into things like intermittent fasting and yea, even my evolutionary-based ideas on psychology, religious belief and social structures. So in the time it takes to get one dead tree book to market with a major publisher, I can punch out five books available on Hyperink, Kindle, Nook, iBookstore, and Createspace, Amazon’s print on demand service (so yes, a dead tree version will be available for those who must — it just won’t be sitting on the shelves in the local B&N).
We’re on a fast track, burning midnight oil, and the first draft should be ready sometime next week. It’s highly likely that it will be available sometime within the month, though I’m not privy to the actual publication schedule.