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Book in beta

January 7th, 2010

I just sent a draft manuscript of my Zombie Economics book off to the publisher at Princeton UP. It’s pretty much in beta stage now.The aim is to have it come out in the Fall List.

Thanks heaps for all the praise and criticism. The praise has kept me motivated, and the criticism has been at least as valuable.

I’ve got some more sections of the privatisation chapter and the afterword to post here for comments, and I’m now going to circulate the draft in the older version of the same process. I’m also updating the draft at wikidot (lagging a little on this).

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  1. Ikonoclast
    January 8th, 2010 at 08:35 | #1

    Does draft-publishing in this form affect final book sales and is the effect positive or negative? I suspect it may be different for an academic book as opposed to a novel. An established novelist would rarely approach publication in such a manner. An aspiring novelist might but faces the trap of vanity publishing in a new form.

  2. Megan
    January 8th, 2010 at 10:50 | #2

    Congratulations, John. I look forward to seeing it in print.

  3. TerjeP (say Tay-a)
    January 8th, 2010 at 12:52 | #3

    Any signed complimentary copies for reviewers? And will it be released in paper back?

  4. iain
    January 8th, 2010 at 12:56 | #4


    Kevin Kelly, highlighted the (obvious) advantage of “writing in public”: (kk.org)

    “I spend most of my time these days writing my next book….I’m posting my thoughts in-progress…I solicit comments there, which in turn influence my ideas. It is a wonderful way to craft a book. Writing in public is more work, but it makes the book better.”

    Newsweek (The Future of Reading) had some interesting comments:

    “Talk to people who have thought about the future of books and there’s a phrase you hear again and again. Readers will read in public. Writers will write in public.”

    “What happens to the idea of a writer going off to a quiet place, ingesting information and synthesizing that into 300 pages of content that’s uniquely his?” His implication is that that intricate process may go the way of the leather bookmark, as the notion of author as authoritarian figure gives way to a Web 2.0 wisdom-of-the-crowds process. “The idea of authorship will change and become more of a process than a product.”

    “[He] envisions wiki-style collaborations where the author, instead of being the sole authority, is a “superuser,” the lead wolf of a creative pack.”

    “the process is all about “getting rid of the idea that a book is a [closed] container.”

    In regards to the economics of this approach, the Newsweek article suggests that this may actually create avenues for an increase:

    “Another possible change: with connected books, the tether between the author and the book is still active after purchase. Errata can be corrected instantly. Updates, no problem—in fact, instead of buying a book in one discrete transaction, you could subscribe to a book, with the expectation that an author will continually add to it.”

    Another observation is that people who have engaged with a draft may be more likely to buy. And that the overall number of people that do engage with drafts are so low (compared to overall sales), that even if they didn’t, it may not matter.

    Stephanie Meyer has a fifth Twilight book draft online. If she were to ever complete and release it – it would be highly unlikely that sales of the final would be low. Indications are that it would be increased. Although, I am sure, more studies will be done to attempt to quantify the exact effect.

  5. Alice
    January 8th, 2010 at 20:03 | #5

    My goodness – Ive never seen anything done so fast. Congrats JQ for betting to beta stage.

  6. wilful
    January 10th, 2010 at 09:52 | #6

    What is a “Fall List”? Is that where something falls off a shelf?

    Or should I just surrender completely to creeping AmericaniZation? (for example, these days a sweet biscuit is almost exclusively a cookie, while the saying is definitely “you do the math”).

  7. robert
    January 10th, 2010 at 18:28 | #7

    Let’s hope that Princeton UP actually does old-fashioned things like paying advances and/or royalties to authors (there appear to be extremely few of those academic imprints these days – on the contrary, the trend seems more and more to be that of expecting the author to be a de facto vanity publisher).

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