If you’ve never written a non-fiction book, there are a lot of reasons why you might want to. It organizes your thoughts. It’s a big project worthy of your attention.
But once you’ve written a book, it’s not clear that it’s a useful thing to publish one. After all, it takes a year. It involves a lot of people. You need to print a lot of copies, ship them everywhere, create a lot of hoopla and hope that people actually a) hear about it, b) decide it’s worth the effort to track it down and c) read it and spread it.
Wouldn’t it be easier to just blog it? Or to post a PDF online and watch it spread?
Some of my books have been short… one was under a hundred pages long. It could certainly have a been a series of blog posts. And the posts might even have reached more people than the book ultimately did. If my blog posts were counted on the same metrics as bestselling books, every single one would be a New York Times bestseller. Yours too, most likely. Books don’t sell that many copies.
The goal isn’t always to spread an idea. Sometimes the goal is to make change happen. A book is a physical souvenir, a concrete instantiation of your ideas in a physical object, something that gives your ideas substance and allows
them to travel.
Out of context, a 140 character tweet cannot change someone’s life. A blog post might (I can think of a few that changed the way I think about business and even life). A movie can, but most big movies are inane entertainments designed to make a lot of money, not change people. But books?
The reason I wrote Linchpin: If you want to change people, you must create enough leverage to encourage the change to happen.
Books change lives every day. A book takes more than a few minutes to read. A book envelopes us, it is relentless in its voice and in its linearity. You start at the beginning and you either ride with the author to the end or you bail. And unlike just about any form of electronic media, you get to read the book at your own pace, absorbing it as you go.
I published a book today. My biggest and most important and most personal and most challenging book. A book that scared me.
It took me ten years to write this book. I’m hoping it changes a few people.