For most of my working life I’ve been involved in some way with the reinvention of the book – the technical, commercial and creative aspects of digital publishing. It’s ironic, then, that at the start of this year I find myself heading up a revolution in publishing that I failed to spot in all those years of future-gazing.
Turns out I had the focus on my future-of-publishing telescope adjusted too narrowly. Publishers tend to see books as quite literally the ‘end product’: their workflows, systems and supply chains are set up to create and distribute books and books alone. Not surprisingly, then, when I started my business as a publishing partner I saw my purpose as helping people plan, write and publish excellent books.
In this new role as a partner rather than a traditional publisher, however, I became more engaged with the lives of the businesses and organisations I’ve worked with, and over the course of the last year came a quiet revelation: to stretch the astronomical metaphor to its limits, the book is not a lone star but the centre of a solar system.
The growth spiral model
So today I take a very different approach to publishing, and one which I predict will become more prevalent amongst traditional publishers in the coming years too. I work with experts in all sorts of creative content fields – designers, illustrators, speaking coaches, videographers, podcasters, bloggers and vloggers, website developers, digital marketing experts, instructional designers and so on – to create for each client a progressive constellation of content that fits their message and their market.
I call it the growth spiral model, a multi-channel, evolutionary approach to building both the business and the content that supports it. The growth spiral, also known as the logarithmic spiral, is a mathematical construct but it also appears in nature, in the nautilus shell, for example, or the sweep of a galaxy. It captures perfectly the unfolding, expanding nature of both a small business and the thinking behind a book
This growth spiral approach has several benefits, not least:
1) You’re more likely to write and publish the book
It takes a long time to write a good book, and many writers lose their way and their will in the process, but planning to create intermediary outputs keeps you focused and motivated.
2) You see a faster return on investment
When you’re writing as a business, you recognise the opportunity cost; there are other ways you could be spending your time and energy to build your brand and your revenues. Creating these outputs along the way, carefully planned to promote and support your business activities, means you see the results of your hard work sooner.
3) You’ll write a better book
You wouldn’t launch onto an unsuspecting market a product you’ve been building in isolation. You’d create a prototype, have people test it out, refine it in response to user feedback, incorporate ideas that came up during the testing. Why should a book be any different? Start getting your message out in a blog, a talk, a workshop, a course, and take on board the feedback. See what lands well and rework what doesn’t.
If you want to try out this new approach to the book for yourself, you can download my Growth Spiral model here. If you want to discover more about the Practical Inspiration Incubator, get in touch and let’s find out if it’s right for you.
Alison Jones (@bookstothesky) is a publishing partner for businesses and organizations writing world-changing books. She also provides executive coaching, consultancy and training services to publishers. www.alisonjones.com.
A version of this post was originally published here.