I’m excited that Chris Guillebeau, author of the recently-released book The $100 Startup took some time to answer a few questions I thought some of you would enjoy. Cooperative Press is featured in this book, and it’s a great one. I have three hardback copies to give away, so read our brief interview below and then find out how you can win one!
Indeed, it was my original goal to write a “real book,” and the Unconventional Guides series came about somewhat organically in response to reader questions. These days I do a combination of traditional publishing and self-publishing. I don’t necessarily feel that one is better than the other; each model has pros and cons.
What have you learned from the process of publishing *this* book that you didn’t know, or weren’t aware of earlier?
One of the challenges with my first book was that it was difficult to categorize, and bookstores hate books that they can’t easily categorize. We had a strong launch and I did a 63-city tour, but it was difficult to get shelf space and national media attention.
With The $100 Startup, the promise of the book is very clear. It’s also much more specific, having the benefit of a comprehensive study based on the input of 1,500 unconventional entrepreneurs. [*ahem* cough cough, including my very own Cooperative Press –Shannon]
The first book sold about 40k copies in the first six months, which was good for a trade paperback. But contrast it with how The $100 Startup is doing so far: within the first four weeks, we’ve sold 40k copies. Overall it’s just a more concise and easy-to-grasp message, and I’m glad people are responding.
What are the three things you wish you could tell anyone who thinks they have a book waiting inside them?
1. Good for you!
2. I hope you get this book outside of yourself and into the world — in whatever format it takes.
3. Stop waiting.
Your concept of a business audit is fantastic — what are people leaving on the table when they don’t (re-)examine the opportunities that are waiting right in front of them already
They are often leaving a lot on the table, both financially and otherwise. The purpose of a self-audit is to take a higher-level look and identify what those things are. However, strictly observing something doesn’t result in change, so the more important habit is to take action on those observations.
With so many options and opportunities, people sometimes ask how to prioritize. My model is to write down the top 20 things I need to work on every day. Then, I cross out items #3 through #20… but I make sure items #1 and #2 get done.
What would you say to an author or potential author who doesn’t think social media is worth his or her time?
I’d say they are in the wrong business. There’s nothing wrong with journaling or writing privately, but if you want to be an author you need to be prepared to engage with your readers. Social media isn’t the be-all, end-all—your work itself should indeed be the focus—but I don’t think you can ignore direct communication with those you hope to reach.
And really, why would you want to? For me, interacting with my readers every day is a benefit, not a task that needs checking off a list.
Thank you, Chris, for the interview.
Now it’s your turn. Do you want to win a copy of the book? Let’s make this fun. Answer one of the following questions:
1. What’s your favorite color?
2. Would you rather have Jane Austen or Napoleon over for brunch? Why?
3. Do you think woodchucks ever get tired of chucking wood?
4. Which book was your favorite when you were five years old?
5. What is the stupidest lipstick color name you’ve ever encountered?
I will pick three winners next week!