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Agile Publishing Model.

An Agile Publishing Model Blog

As a continuation of our Sourcebooks NEXT initiatives, we are creating an Agile Publishing Model (APM) platform that will allow for the rapid and interactive development of books by our authors.

The agile publishing model relies not only on the author for providing the content and overall direction of the book, but also on the community of readers to provide proactive reviews and feedback on the materials provided. Working together the author and community will shape and change the content as the book moves from its initial stages as an interactive, digital platform to the final published product.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Last week we published a blog on What Exactly is Agile Publishing? to address many of the questions that we had received from the initial announcement of the Agile Publishing Model (APM). So this week, we’d like to start talking about how the APM might actually work for our first book.

We’d really like to understand your opinions on the best way to read and review content, and which pricing and access option would appeal to you most and encourage your participation in the Entering the Shift Age Agile Publishing community.

We’d greatly appreciate 5–10 minutes of your time to complete the survey below (it’s only 8 questions). After the survey is complete, we are going to make all of the results available to the community.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Have we missed anything?

Again, would you like to see something more? Something less? Should we consider something entirely different? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Please leave us any other thoughts or feedback in the comments section of this post.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

On the closing day of the 2012 Tools of Change Conference (TOC, #toccon), Brett Sandusky (Macmillan New Ventures) led and moderated an exciting discussion on Real World Agile Publishing along with his panel members Dominique Raccah (Sourcebooks) and Joe Wikert (O’Reilly Media, Inc.).

The conversation focused on the real world implementation of Agile Publishing within the panelists’ respective companies. Both panelists discussed how their companies are using agile techniques like minimum viable products, rapid updates, serialized publishing, and variable pricing for some of their newest publications, and also shared some of the key things they’ve learned so far from their experiences with the Agile Publishing Model.

2012 TOC Summary

Porter Anderson has published his summary of the 2012 TOC conference, in which he provides additional insight into the panel discussion and gives his own thoughts on a number of the key points that were discussed. His closing comments offer what we thought to be a strong recap of the session’s overall direction and importance to the publishing industry.

“This was a conversation about an intriguing way of working that may have a lot of application to the current interest in shorter form work, the rise of ‘singles,’ and in the search for meaningful, supportive collaboration in a publishing space that looks pretty rigid too frequently. It was a smart and thoughtful entry in a conference of many insights.”

If you haven’t already, we would encourage you to take a minute or two and read his full recap.

Finally, as both Joe and Dominique noted as their discussion was closing we would love to hear your thoughts and input as well.

Slide Presentations

You can view Dominique’s slide presentation from the panel below, and a copy of Joe Wikert’s Agile Publishing presentation is also available online, courtesy of the TOC website.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Wow! The last week has been truly memorable. The Digital Book World conference was incredibly exciting, with lots of new ideas. And the warm response to the announcement of the Agile Publishing Model (APM) and partnership with futurist David Houle was very encouraging—it looks like we’re on to something exciting here.

So let’s get started…

From all the comments and tweets following the announcement, the first big question has become clear: What exactly is this Agile Publishing Model and how does it work?

Well, part of the fun is that we all get to help answer that question. Here’s some background to get us going.

Where did “Agile” come from?

Agile isn’t a new idea. O’Reilly Media has been doing some really interesting work on this with some of their books. And Zeeen.com offers authors tools to help develop communities as they work on their book.

The term itself, obviously, comes from the software development industry, which has been using agile development models for a number of years.

Agile Publishing Model - Build Measure LearnIn tech, agile development means releasing iterative and incremental versions of a software product or website, getting input from your customer about that version, learning from that input, and then repeating the process until you reach an improved finished state.  More simply put, it is about “Build…measure…learn.”

So could this approach be applied to writing and publishing a book? Can you build a community around an author creating a book? Would it make a better book, a faster process? How would it work?

How It Could Work (A Work in Progress)

While the APM will be dynamic and changing, right now we see 6 initial guiding principles that could be useful as we start building the APM together.

1) It’s about creating a conversation between the author and reader.

How many times have you read a book and wished that it offered something else you were looking for?

In the APM, we’ll all be able to provide comments and feedback to the author as the book is created. David will be posting materials on an ongoing basis as he writes, asking us to discuss and give feedback on them together—refining ideas, making sure key topics aren’t missed, all with the goal of producing the best final book.

2) The author leads the content creation.

How is this different than crowd-sourced content or writing-by-committee? Right now, it seems different—the author still writes and drives the direction for the book, while the community provides some “thought-leadership” or guidance for the book as a whole or within a particular section. Whether this ultimately ends up closer to the current author model or the crowd-sourced approach, or something completely different yet, will be interesting to see.

3) The APM is useful for expert-based authors.

At the moment, the APM seems particularly useful for expert-based authors working in dynamic or rapidly changing environments. For example, David will be writing about society’s move from the Information Age into a new age, so he sees a lot of benefit in having a conversation as he writes the book, getting everyone’s viewpoint on current affairs and the pulse of changes we’re all experiencing.

The APM may not be suited for every genre or every author, though. Could the APM also be applied to fiction or other genres? We’ve been thinking about that too.

4) It’s about creating a partnership between the author and reader.

You’re only going to spend the time helping craft a book’s content if you believe in its message or are interested/immersed in the topic area, right? But creating the book is only the first step; then comes getting it out to the world.

In the APM, the plan is to release short ebooks to the general marketplace as sections are completed, giving us several opportunities to see the reactions of non-community members. So we’ll all get to participate in both roles—first providing our own feedback and then evaluating the feedback from others.

5) The author has support from the publisher.

You may ask: can’t this all be done by the author through regular social media channels? Perhaps, but it seems this process can be a big one to manage. For some authors it may not make sense to try to balance it all. So with the APM, the publisher will be providing a support team and resources, both technical and creative, as our group talks and grows. And then, after the book is finished and actually published, comes all the “normal” publishing marketing and sales (see here for a glimpse of all that involves).

6) The APM is a dynamic model that is open and receptive to change.

Like any start-up company or new business model, we believe the APM should be dynamic. These initial guidelines are a starting point, and the model will likely change as we move forward. So as we work together to develop the book, we’ll also give feedback to each other on different areas of the APM (access to iterative content, content pricing models, how to provide comments, etc.) and how they can work best.

So there you have it…

What do you think? Please share your thoughts and additional questions in the comments section below. And thanks for your interest!

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