I have published 10 books now, and been featured in or collaborated on a few others.
I’ve mostly self-published through Lulu, CreateSpace, and Amazon, but have worked with small publishers a few times and large publishers a few times. I’ve also done a KickStarter book launch, big huge public launches, stealth launches, and no launches at all. I’ve done ebooks, paperback books, hardcover books, audibooks, and every other format.
But I’d never published a book exclusively on the bitcoin blockchain until now!
Yesterday, I released The Inner Game of Startups on Canonic.
How does it compare to other kinds of publishing?
So far, it’s been a largely positive experience. I’ll go over some pros and cons and lessons.
- Super easy and quick to upload digital version to Canonic, great UI/UX
- No waiting 24 hours for manuscript approval, or waiting every time you make changes to description
- Get paid instantly for each purchase, no delays or monthly bank transfers
- Canonic 20% cut is slightly lower than most publishers
- Allows multiple digital formats
- Allows limited print editions at whatever quantity I choose
- Allows NFT market to form if collector demand is higher than expected
- Easy/quick to edit book price, details, etc.
- Content not stored on any company server, can’t get “cancelled”
- Novelty of new approach is fun!
- Being early to Canonic, books gets more attention relative to small selection
- It’s hard for normies to buy! No fiat purchase option
- Not easy for Kindle readers since not integrated like Amazon
- I’ve already had to deal with customer support for Canonic, MB, and RelayX wallet users who are having problems - as an author you don’t want to have to do this!
- Audibook not currently an option
- No distribution help as Canonic does not have reach of its own yet
- 20% is still a pretty steep fee
- Physical edition is very manual, hands-on and not automated yet
- Unclear to customers how fulfillment will work
- When edits to document or description, it automatically labels it another edition, so it looks like the book is “6th edition” just because I’ve made minor edits to the description
- No HandCash or other BSV wallet purchase option
- No way to easily embed book purchase into landing page or blog post
- No automatic short-term discounts or coupon codes
- No way to pre-release drafts to people so they can add reviews
- Customers can only buy one copy per BSV wallet
- Can’t upload files above a certain size yet
- Lots of other small bugs and friction points
- Headache of explaining to people wtf this is and why do it this way
- Helpless mother can’t support her son without an hour of IT support ;-)
Is it worth it?
For me and what I want to accomplish with this book, absolutely. I don’t publish books to make a living, so I don’t really care about sales numbers or maximizing reach. I am bullish on BSV and this approach to content, and I want to be a part of it and help demonstrate the value to others.
For an author who wants to maximize sales, money, or exposure? Probably not yet. The overlap of people who want to buy a book and people able/willing to obtain BSV is just too small right now.
I say probably because there are some ways in which it’s already superior. A truly rare, limited edition NFT from an in-demand author could be enough to drive fans to go through all the headache of buying with BSV.
If, for example, Neil Gaiman said he was releasing 1,000 signed, gold-embossed editions of one of his books on Canonic as an NFT, he’d sell out in no-time and I suspect have a far easier process and make a lot more money than a traditional route. The technical and economic advantages of BSV are here, and he’d be able to bring his massive network and PR to handle distribution and make the added buyer friction worth it to dedicated fans.
I’m extremely bullish on the approach that Canonic has pioneered, and I’d do this again in a heartbeat. I like being early, and already I’ve seen Canonic quickly address bugs and problems and add features, so I suspect the above CONS list will shrink rapidly.
Lessons learned for the future
- I probably should’ve done a landiing page with email signups for some kind of discount to help distribution.
250100 is probably too ambitious for the current BSV ecosystem and the few normies willing to jump through the hoops to obtain BSV. I may end up embarassed that the “limited edition” has a bunch of unpurchased copies!
- I’d get the economics tigther up-front. For this book, I am losing money until it hits 40 copies sold. ($850 for copy editor, $10/copy to printer, $3/copy for shipping, Canonic takes 20% off the top, and 10% is going to $NPC pot as reward to NPC token holders). I don’t make enough money to make all the effort worth my time until it hits around ~150 sold.
- I’d hire an intern to do all the grunt work. See previous bullet.
- I’d ensure all the file formats can work at the right file size ahead of time.
- I’d get a more detailed explaination to buyers on how print editions will be fulfilled.
- I’d try dynamic pricing, where early-bird buyers got lower price or something.
- Though this book has tons of overlap, I might do a book with a more explicit topical connection to bitcoin, because the BSV ecosystem are those most likely to buy, and they get way more excited about things on that topic. (Though I hope to help overcome this over time).
That’s all for now. I have loved the experience and I highly recommend you get your hands dirty and try it if you want to publish a book!