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Trail and Ultrarunning Book: Experimentation With a Different Distribution Model

Posted by on Mar 9, 2013 | 5 Comments

I’m finally nearing the release of the trail and ultrarunning book I started with the Squirrel Wipe project. It’s been a long journey mostly because I almost completed it in October, then punched my computer, bricked the hard drive, and lost the entire manuscript. It was a VERY painful lesson.

It took quite some time to rewrite it, but it’s close to finished. I learned many lessons from the process of writing the various editions of The Barefoot Running Book, including effective methods of distribution. Those experiences led me to experiment with a new distribution model.

Instead of going through a lengthy and expensive and time-consuming  editing and manufacturing process, I’m going to release it as an ebook in pdf format. It’s a little rough around the edges since it’s a compilation of blog posts, but getting the ideas out trumps the need to release a polished product.

The regular readers of my blogs will immediately recognize the format. The grammar Nazis and literary snobs will hate it. I’m okay with that. It’s written for the nonconformists and people that exist on the fringe, not the rule-followers.

My goal is to get people off their asses, and this will be the most efficient means.

Specifically, I’m going to try a novel distribution model. I’m going to sell the ebook via e-junkie, the same site I used to distribute the early versions of the previous book.

There’s a key difference, though.

Once bought, you can give it to as many people as you wish. Email it, post it on your blog, post it on social media, groups, or forums, release it as a torrent… whatever. Not only will I not object to you copying the file and distributing it, I’m encouraging you to do it. Furthermore, I’m asking those recipients to also give it away to as many people as they can.

Again, the goal is to spread the idea. I’m selling the initial copy to make a little money (I’m dirt-poor right now and need a little bit of cash until our income sources kick in in mid-April.) I’ll also ask the recipients for small donations if they find the ebook to be useful… but entirely voluntary.

Yeah, most people won’t buy it… they’ll just wait for a friend to forward them a copy. I expect that. Some people will appreciate the underlying idea and buy it. A small percentage, after getting a free copy, will donate a few bucks, too. I don’t mind, the money is secondary. This is the reason we decided to live in a trailer… less overhead.

The book won’t make me rich. That’s not the goal. I doubt I’ll print a dead tree version… it’s a bit of a pain in the ass. I’m also not chasing a traditional publisher. While that experience was cool, it definitely wasn’t an effective means of spreading my ideas.

I’m hoping this model strikes a decent balance between making a little bit of money and spreading my ideas.

What do you folks think? Is the model a good idea?



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  1. Isinlor
    March 10, 2013

    Great idea and I highly recommend to release book under creative common license –

    • Jason
      March 10, 2013

      I’m considering it. I have to do a bit more research, though. Since this will likely be an evolving project and CC may affect the long-term ideas I have for the project.

  2. random_dave
    March 10, 2013

    This could be great, I’ll still happily contribute for copies for my girlfriend and I, but it means that I can pass it on to a group at work that do trail runs and the short obstacle filled events.
    Normally I would imagine they wouldn’t even hear about this book, but I can essentially be free marketing, and if they enjoy it they may well stand a chance of showing that by bunging in a few quid.
    now I think about it, I’m fundraising at the moment for special effect alongside a 10k that I an running it June, how would you feel can’t me giving the book, and then splitting percentage of donations between the charity pot and yourself, as I know with some of them the bonus of helping the charity will give them more incentive to put their hands in their wallets

  3. Pete Larson
    March 9, 2013

    Self-published e-Books are the way to go in my opinion, I learned my lesson about going the traditional publisher route… At this point I’d love to just publish mine on my blog.

    • Jason
      March 9, 2013

      I agree, Pete. The traditional publisher experience may be among the most overrated things I’ve ever done. Tons of work, little support, and royalties suck. I’m glad I did it, but it would take A LOT of convincing to do it again.

      Self-publishing, especially if you have a pre-existing audience, is definitely the way to go. There is no significant down side.