The Lean Publishing Manifesto
October 13, 2011 7:49 PM   Subscribe

Lean Publishing is the act of self-publishing a book while you are writing it, evolving the book with feedback from your readers and finishing a first draft before using the traditional publishing workflow, with or without a publisher.
posted by Trurl (20 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
"Lean" as in the years you spend doing this, I assume.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 7:58 PM on October 13, 2011

Books by committee. Awesome.
posted by keli at 8:02 PM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

So it's a group "Choose Your Own Adventure" book?
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:12 PM on October 13, 2011

So it's... agile?
posted by symbioid at 8:15 PM on October 13, 2011 [3 favorites]

No, it's interesting. Might work, might not but it's cool that it is being tried.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:17 PM on October 13, 2011

Didn't Max Barry (of NationStates) do something like this with Machine Man?
posted by subversiveasset at 8:22 PM on October 13, 2011

He's talking about nonfiction here (though he mentions serial novels in passing as an interesting parallel).

So no, not "Choose Your Own Adventure" — and I'd argue there's nothing wrong with writing a cookbook or a software manual or whatever by committee, as long as it ends up usable.

Weirdly, though, you have to get pretty deep into the article before it becomes clear that nonfiction is what he's talking about. Something to fix in the next release, I guess?
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:26 PM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

I know, let's call it a 'wiki'.
posted by joannemullen at 8:39 PM on October 13, 2011 [3 favorites]

Why would you call it that when that's not what it is?
posted by escabeche at 8:41 PM on October 13, 2011

Books by committee. Awesome.

So it's a group "Choose Your Own Adventure" book?

So, shakespeherian has been doing this, calling it "Choose your own adventure by committee", on G+ for a couple weeks now. Not only is it an enthralling story so far, but it's a blast and a half participating in the comments. I can't wait for the man with the shapeless head to come back into the picture, and I'm still wondering wtf the main character's mom is doing on the roof.
posted by carsonb at 8:44 PM on October 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

Yeah, no, not a wiki. More like blogging out your half-formed thoughts and ideas as you're working on something longer-and-more-polished-and-hopefully-publishable.

I'm not even particularly invested in this idea, but for fuck's sake, would it kill you to read the article before forming and proclaiming an opinion on it?
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:06 PM on October 13, 2011

Any time I ever tried to work with others on a short story, I went ballistic. How dare you change (variable). That's the most important (variable) in the story!

Yeah. I don't write anymore. (variable) that (variable)!
posted by Splunge at 9:08 PM on October 13, 2011

"do you dream of flight?"
posted by juv3nal at 9:08 PM on October 13, 2011

From the article (about non-fiction):
Publish early. Publish Often. And listen to your readers.

By publishing early you get your ideas out there. If no one cares, you find this out as quickly as possible, sparing yourself as much wasted effort as possible. In the startup community, this idea is called "fail fast".
And his personal example is Flexible Rails: Flex 3 on Rails 2. It's a tech book, beyond being a nonfiction book. He's not creating a narrative, he's creating a manual (of sorts).

But the transparent, get your readers involved as you write and re-write a book, has been done in the world of fiction. The one example that comes to mind is Brandon Sanderson, and his book Warbreaker. He released each draft (v1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 3.5, 4.2, 6.1, and even the Tor hardcover first edition PDF) under Creative Commons non-commercial, non-derivative work license. This effort was inspired by Cory Doctorow and eventually supported by Tor, who are actually selling the final product, after Brandon gave it away to his fans.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:58 PM on October 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

Didn't Mark Z. Danielewski do something similar with House of Leaves?
posted by infinitewindow at 10:25 PM on October 13, 2011

Hey guys,

I don't want to hijack the thread but carsonb mentioned it so I thought I might as well solicit participation. If anyone wants to help me write my story and interact with internet strangers and argue over the fates of fictional characters while having a say in said fates, I'm over here on Google+. The more the merrier. I'm also just right this second putting together a blog thing to host the installments so you don't have to dig through my stupid feed posts about David Lynch commercials and stuff in order to catch up, but it's not all together yet.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:43 PM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also: What Does Lean Publising Mean for Publishers?

No proofreading costs?
posted by chavenet at 11:00 PM on October 13, 2011

I thought this was already called "workshopping."
posted by autoclavicle at 2:11 AM on October 14, 2011

Hooray for shakespeherian's blog thing! I lost track of a couple installments, and now I'm like, "what's up with the smog monster?"
posted by Mister_A at 6:39 AM on October 14, 2011

"--and in the degenerate case of Facebook and Twitter--"

He's interestingly right to point out that more people write and more people write more (if perhaps not better, myself included) than ever before. And this has to have an impact on what gets published beyond being merely "put out there" wherever that there may be.

And what about criticism? Look at Amazon and Yelp etc. wherein everbody's a critic.

And one more thing: 1 for a book, 2 for a startup, and, according to the Beatles, 4 no less, no more, for a band.
posted by emhutchinson at 6:42 AM on October 14, 2011

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