Do The Work Wednesdays

Do The Work Wednesdays

“Pizza for Everybody!”

By Steven Pressfield | Published: April 27, 2011

First, I want to thank everyone who helped make last Wednesday’s launch of Do The Work such an overwhelming success.

pizza

Alex Miles Younger chows down. Note Seth G. in the background: too smart to touch this stuff.

I sent pizza to the gang at Seth Godin’s Domino Project (thanks, Pizza Grill in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY)—but I also want to give a shout-out to everyone who downloaded the free Kindle version, ordered the hardback or audio, tweeted, Facebooked, blogged, retweeted or just told a friend and passed DTW along.  Thanks, you guys! You helped make this thing a hit without any traditional media, advertising, testimonials, blurbs, reviews, the whole shooting match.

Next week in this space I’ll talk with Seth one-on-one about how this new model of publishing came into being (hint: Seth invented it). But today I want to offer my own hazy understanding of how the Domino/Amazon alliance works—and what it or something like it means, or may mean, to artists and entrepreneurs like you and me.

Is Domino/Amazon the shape of things to come? Will mainstream publishing be revolutionized by this new paradigm? First, let’s consider exactly what the Domino/Amazon alliance is—and what qualities make it unique:

1) There’s no traditional publisher. Amazon/Domino commissions, edits, designs and prints the books themselves. There’s no sales force, no sell-in to bookstores (you can’t buy these books in bookstores) and none of the traditional distribution apparatus.

2) The process is fast. A project goes from the writer’s desk to on-sale in three or four months—and that interval will get shorter and shorter in the future.

Domino project

It's the Domino Project, not Domino's pizza

3) There’s no traditional advertising.  Amazon has something that old-school publishers do not: it knows who buys its books. Simon & Schuster doesn’t know that. Stephen King doesn’t know it. I don’t know it. But Amazon does.

Amazon has a database of the names and e-mail addresses of every one of its customers who has bought not only books by the actual author it wishes to promote, but all other similar books by similar authors.

And Amazon has permission from most of these customers to alert them when a new book they might like comes down the pike. That is HUGE. That’s a game-changer.

4) Domino books are short. Poke the Box is 84 pages; Do The Work is 98. (And they’re not big pages.)

Domino books are written in an ADD-friendly style. They’re punchy, concentrated. You can read ’em in the subway on an iPhone.

5) Domino books are free (at least sometimes). The e-version of Do The Work has been downloaded more than 30,000 times–all free.

Traditional publishing lives by the scarcity model; it reasons that every book or audio it gives away is a book or audio that it can’t sell and thus won’t make money on. Domino is looking down the opposite end of the telescope. It believes that every book that gets “out there,” even as a giveway, is a seed that will spread an idea and prompt a sale.

6) Domino books can be (though they aren’t always) sponsored. GE sponsored the e-version of Do The Work. That’s why it’s free. Of course we as artists can give away our stuff all by ourselves if we choose to. We don’t need permission or sponsorship.

7) Domino book are manifestoes. Moby Dick would not be a Domino book, nor would The Best and The Brightest or The South Beach Diet. The mini-book format seems to be congenial to a limited slice of the literary bandwidth, i.e. works that are motivational or “inspirational,” practical, exhortatory, kick-in-the-butt kind of stuff.

I’m sure I’m leaving something out, but these seven points comprise for me at least a fuzzy outline of this phenomenon.

What’s the future? Will the Domino model (or something like it) work for fiction? History? Biography? Serious non-fiction? Will it work for cookbooks, diet books, self-help books? Will readers buy romance titles, mysteries, thrillers in this model?

Can we as individual artists and entrepreneurs borrow elements of the Domino/Amazon formula? Can we find out who our customers and clients are? Can we get their permission to contact them when we have something new to share?

Can we give our stuff away? Will we be like rock bands, who offer their fans free downloads of new songs so that those fans will spread the word and then buy our other songs?

Can we take control of our own production process? Can we emancipate ourselves from the gatekeeper model of distribution? Can we alter our mind-set from “Pick me please!” to “I Can Do It Myself?”

I can tell you one thing from my own emotional experience this past week: it’s as much fun to give stuff away as it is to sell it. Of course selling a few ain’t bad either. I hope this new publishing model works. Because “Do The Work” also has to “Pay The Rent.”

Next week we’ll sit down with Seth Godin and see what he has to say about all this. Thanks again, you guys, for making this week a lot of fun!

Posted in Do The Work Wednesdays

28 Responses to ““Pizza for Everybody!””

  1. April 27, 2011 at 3:13 am

    Congratulations Steven on a fine book. I was inspired by the War of Art and have been enthusiastically using it with some of my clients.

    As with any ‘follow up’ work, you have to contend with heightened anticipation coupled, of course, with greater expectation. In this regard, the Domino delivery process added a real novelty element that seemed to suppress my urge to judge or compare DTW to WoA.

    Thanks for engaging with the Domino project and for making the access to this fine book so straight-forward and enjoyable. The book reads so well on the Kindle one could almost say it’s made for it.

  2. April 27, 2011 at 3:58 am

    Wait a minute, I got to read an excellent, inspiring book for free and now you are thanking me for it?! I think it is us who should be saying thank you to you (and the domino project) for letting us have the chance to connect with a book we might not otherwise.

    So thanks to everyone involved, especially you Steven for writing it in the first place and helping artists, entrepreneurs and everyone else trying to do some authentic and meaningful work in their lives.

  3. April 27, 2011 at 5:03 am

    I’ve been pimping “The War of Art” to friends and coworkers for years. The free book has gotten the fence-sitters to sit up and realized why they haven’t gotten moving.

    I’ve used TWOA as a consultant, sculptor and martial artist to get me off the couch.

    I’ve got two kindle books ready to go that I put together from older content. I’ve got a third waiting for my shop to be put back together after a move. When it’s ready I’m going to publish them via kindle.

    I was hoping to go with .99 a book, but these short volumes are instructional woodcarving books and photos are a requirement. They’re too big to take advantage of that program so I’m looking at the $2.99 model.

    BTW, I’m a huge fan of your historical fiction too. I’ll be smiling right along with you if they ever do build that Robocop statue in Chicago.

  4. April 27, 2011 at 5:52 am

    thx, boss, for your awesome leadership on this. I got mine, hardcopy, read it same day, and paid it forward to one of my tribe. just like I paid forward over a couple dozen War of Arts through the years. I expect I will be back for a stack of the Do the Works, once I can also Pay the Rent. You rock!

  5. George
    April 27, 2011 at 6:27 am

    Mr. Pressfield,
    Will you be publishing the sales results for DTW? Doing this unconventional level of exposure would be invaluable to anyone considering using the Amazon/Domino model of distribution. I think it would be encouraging to have as an illustration of the effectiveness of the Amazon/Domino model to use in our marketing plans for our own projects.

    • April 29, 2011 at 3:56 am

      Hi George

      There will no doubt be sales figures in the future, but not yet.

  6. April 27, 2011 at 6:45 am

    Thank You! Got the freebie, ordered the hard copy, enjoying my pizza!

  7. Rebecca
    April 27, 2011 at 8:03 am

    Two questions about how I can get DTW. I have a Sony PRS-505, and would love to read it on that, but while I’ve downloaded the free Kindle version, I can’t get it onto my reader. Do you plan to make an ePub version available? (I would happily pay for it.) Also, I want the hardcopy but, as I’m in Canada, can’t yet get it. Do you know when it will be released outside the US?

    • April 28, 2011 at 5:14 am

      I ordered a hard copy through Amazon.ca yesterday and I’m from Canada. Can’t wait to read it!

    • April 29, 2011 at 3:58 am

      Hi Rebecca,

      As Hope pointed out, yes, it’s in Canada.

      Also worth nothing you can read the Kindle edition (which was free!) on your PC or Mac.

      As for people who own a non-Kindle e-reader, that may be a fine choice, but you will always be in the minority, and that’s part of tradeoff. If it frustrates you, I’d suggest trading it in for a Kindle. As someone who was frustrated for years at the lack of Mac software, I feel your pain. That’s just the way the market works–there are probably 100 Kindles in the world for every Sony reader.

      • Jess
        May 4, 2011 at 3:45 pm

        Downloaded for Kindle, converted to epub with Calibre, read on my Sony Reader. Great book, and enjoyable in all formats.

  8. April 27, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Thanks for the update, Steve.

    In fact, any bookstore that wants to carry and sell our books is free to, and many do.

    I can’t promise all our books will be manifestos (some of the new ones aren’t) or as short (or as well-written as yours).

    But we’ll keep poking!

    • April 27, 2011 at 4:50 pm

      Seth, can you answer the questions above from Rebecca and George? I’m clueless — plus too busy poking for pizza. Thanks, partner!

  9. April 27, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Congratulations on the new book Steve and to Seth and co for making Domino happen.

    I downloaded Do The Work a week ago and it’s already covered in highlights and annotations! It’s fantastic.

    Adam
    London, UK

  10. April 27, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    We recommend your book on most of our courses, but this book went a bit nuts with the layout. Yes, it’s all very creative, but why make it harder to read? Imagine if this blog had text right aligned randomly or had random bigger fonts, just for design sake.

    A book that makes information harder to consume seems a bit of a paradox when you realise the topic is ‘resistance’.

  11. April 27, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    Dear Steven,

    Thanks so much for your book, “Do the Work.” I love it! And yes, Amazon sent me an email to let me know about it. I downloaded it on my kindle the same day.
    And I posted info. about the book at my blog, too!

    Here it is in case you’d like to read it:
    http://hiddensecretwisdom.blogspot.com/2011/04/downlaod-free-kindle-book.html
    You should know that your book, “the war of art” is one of my favorite books!

    your friend and fan,
    Danny.

  12. April 27, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    I just loaded it on my Kindle and it’s on deck for being the next book I’m going to read.

  13. April 27, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    Really enjoying Do the Work, Steve!

  14. April 27, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    Congrats on the new book! I have been recommending it to everyone. It’s a fantastic read.

  15. April 28, 2011 at 4:09 am

    Congrats, all!

    Looking forward to Seth’s answers to George (sales) and Rebecca (formats), per Steve’s request.

    Steve, special thanks for reading the audio versions of your books, yourself. I have both the Kindle version and the audiobook (there’s your Pay the Rent) from Audible. DTW is much easier to get from Audible than WoA was from Conant Nightingale, by the way. Different skills and talents come into play in reading, of course, and all authors aren’t double-threats as you are, able to both write and voice a book. But take it from a former actor who’s always sorry to hear other “narrators” get at an author’s work in the tracking booth, it makes all the difference to hear you deliver aloud, yourself, precisely the intent and sense of what you’ve created in your text.

    Cheers!

  16. April 28, 2011 at 7:12 am

    I so appreciated the Kindle download, the book, DO THE WORK, I read it immediately and in its entirety before I left the office Wed.It was exciting to be a part of the excitement….nice to know you Steven and all your pizza eating friends…thanks for the amazing inspiration to get back to work on…..GIRL ON BIKE, What the Boys taught me about Love,Life and Mountain Biking……got close to the finish then…freaked out and set in on the shelf for the past year…I took it off the shelf Wed., and will complete it this summer!

  17. skip
    April 28, 2011 at 8:08 am

    to quote don ameche in the movie of the same name: “things change”. i just dont like this “free” thing…once folks get stuff for free, they dont like paying for.

  18. peteradamturner108
    April 28, 2011 at 9:36 am

    Forgive my scepticism but not many authors have the name recognition or sales track record of Seth Godin. So, I’m really not clear how his experiment with Domino translates to other authors experience. Enlighten me!

    • April 29, 2011 at 4:00 am

      Of course, Peter, every success is a special case.

      Domino isn’t arguing that every single author has the same shot at the market. What we’re trying to demonstrate is that using a permission asset, building a tribe, playing with speed to market, distribution methods, sponsorship and other forms of engagement can bring abundance to publishing (as opposed to the current regime of scarcity).

      Please copy the best of what we’re doing. That’s our goal.

  19. Don Linn
    April 28, 2011 at 11:36 am

    There’s no traditional publisher. Amazon/Domino commissions, edits, designs and prints the books themselves.

    Not to burst any bubbles, but that’s exactly what a traditional publisher does. Congratulations on your book, but the model is hardly revolutionary and it’s certainly not ‘new’.

    • April 29, 2011 at 4:02 am

      Hi Don,

      Other than delivering the books telepathetically, what could we do that would be more different from traditional publishing than what we’re doing now?

      We’ve turned distribution, cover design, pricing, time to market, the risk profile and the adversarial relationship upside down.

      I think that’s pretty good for a few folks in a few months…

  20. April 28, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    My book arrived today. I am thrilled.
    I know it will be dog eared quickly.
    I am in the second rewrite of a script and I need this.

  21. May 2, 2011 at 7:04 am

    I loved Do The Work! We did a study group on The War of Art last year, and DTW reminds more of a prequel than a sequel.

    I read it on the free download of Kindle for PC I got from Amazon – and then synched it when I moved to my Kindle and just kept on reading.

    Kicked me right in the solar plexus, just like the War of Art….. which is, of course, exactly what I wanted!

    Thanks for a great book.