Lean Book Publishing
Power of Lean Book Publishing

Are you currently working on a book? How long before you publish? Have you considered publishing it sooner?

An author, like any successful entrepreneur, must always look for a product-market fit. That’s when the readers adopt a book introduced to them without much influence.

A reason why your book project will or has failed is no one wants to read it. Many authors write for themselves and not other people. Thus, there is a product/book-market misfit. Only you love it but your readers don’t.

But remember, no one cares that you spent two-years pouring your blood, sweat and tears into every page. They only care about themselves, and what your book can do for them. Whether that is to become financially independent or escape to a world of wizards, orcs, and dragons.

You will never persuade the reader to want a book that they don’t. Either the readers exist in a genre, or they don’t. So, how do you know whether your book is a product-market fit?

How do you know whether people are going to read the book you are writing?

One thing for sure is that you don’t know. And, most often than not your book will fail. Though, a way to be more certain is to test your book. By publishing and testing it the lean way with a minimum viable product/book.

The Lean Way

A customer-centric concept popularised by Eris Ries, in his book the Lean Startup. Applying lean startup principles is profoundly the right way to achieve product-market fit. Being in touch with your customers from the early stage onwards helps you to find product-market fit way more clearly.

Rather than spending two-years hunched over a keyboard. To release something that people won’t respond to, get frustrated and then quit. You spend a much shorter time on a “good enough” version of your book. Get feedback, go back, tweak and republish throughout the same two-years.

Though now you have validation and you’ve engaged your readers early in the process, making marketing much easier too. The idea is to become lean, more efficient, and reduce the risk of failure by being more customer-centric.

Lean Book Publishing

The principles in the book applied to startup companies in that era like Dropbox, Wealthfront and Airbnb. I later found out that authors like Guy Kawasaki, Aaron Hurst and Paulo Coelho – even publishers such as O’Reilly were experimenting with lean startup principles.

I adopted the lean startup method towards book publishing. Then shared my experience and knowledge on leanbookpublishing.com.

The core idea of lean book publishing is to publish books readers love. To find out what works and what doesn’t as quickly and cost-efficiently as possible.

Lean Publish Your Book

We as authors have always written books solo. That’s the way we’ve always done it. And many successful books have come out this way.
We picture the author sitting – separated from the world. In a dimly lit room, they write until, after years of hard work, their book sees the light.

It continues today with little or no interaction with others before we finish the book. Following the writing process like this seems very much ingrained in us, which makes it difficult to change. Why would we change it if many of our favourite authors do it this way? Simply put: This works for them and not for us, as they know what they’re doing and we don’t.

Writing a book is still something very personal, a treasure that we as authors guard in our heart, a tear that is very vulnerable in it’s making. Which is why “lean publishing” has not yet found wide adoption.

One reason why you would want to adopt the lean book publishing method is that it is now easier than ever. Anyone can use social media and blogs to test ideas or to find audiences for publishing and launch teams.

Ways to Lean Book Publish:

  • Write a blog post summarising the point of your whole book.
  • Write a blog post summarising a chapter of your book.
  • Write a short story and post it on your blog.
  • Post a short story on your personal Facebook profile.
  • Post a short story on your author page.
  • Tweet different title ideas on your Twitter throughout the day.
  • Write a mini ebook and post it on your website for free (see how many download and read the comments).

Be aware of your desire to want everything to be perfect before you publish. The problem many authors have is that they are so in love with their book – they want to make sure that it is perfect before they release it to their readers. They write, edit and rewrite – time goes by and they are not learning anything about their readers.

As LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman says, “If you aren’t embarrassed by the first version of your product, you shipped too late.”

Turn a chapter of your book into a blog post and see what the response is in the comments section. Post it on your Facebook and see how many likes you get. Record a video talking about it and see how many views you get.

Learn what works and what doesn’t.

Publish then test your assumptions.

Remember, if you want to sell books, you are writing for other people, not yourself. Consider what your readers will enjoy reading. Adopt the lean publishing approach to improve product-market fit, and save months of work and large amounts of money.

They say “starting is the hardest.” But, I would argue that with books “finishing strong” is the harder part. Lean book publishing provides a fantastic way to start quickly and to stay motivated through the often lengthy writing time. Also, it helps you to finish strong, based on a good product with an already established fan base.

How could you apply lean book publishing principles to your books?

How are you going to test your book to start getting feedback?

Give yourself a shorter deadline to get over procrastination. Get something out there sooner.

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Book Marketing Secrets : The 10 fundamental secrets for selling more books and creating a successful self-publishing career

"This article is based on insights from the book "Book Marketing Secrets". Get your copy on Amazon and find the insights for selling more books and creating a successful author career."
Albert Griesmayr

Albert Griesmayr

Founder & CEO of the book publishing startup Scribando & Novelify.

Previously Albert was Head of Digital at Dorotheum and consults companies and authors in digital strategy, digital marketing and book promotion.