Money for Nothing, Content for Free

When I embarked on writing a book about venture capital and entrepreneurship, I struggled with one question:  how do I produce a 250 page document that is professionally edited, packaged and distributed, yet communicate the information consistent with the spirit of the blogosphere – open and free.

Desipte the best efforts of many, the publishing industry remains a financially-driven business.  Agents, publishers, editors, retailers and others in the value chain all make a living doing what they do.  They don't have the luxury of another job that supports them while they write on the side, like many VCs and entrepreneurs.

So, I decided to take the best compromised approach I could figure out.  First, I convinced the publisher (Penguin's business imprint, Portfolio) to allow me to distribute a meaningful chunk of the book for free.  The first 40 or so pages of the book can be found at and can be downloaded, read and distributed for free.  Go for it.

Second, I decided to donate a meaningful portion of whatever meagre earnings I receive from the book (after digging into the business, I was kind of shocked how little money is left for the author after agents, editors, publishers and retailers all get their cut of your $20-25 hardcover!) to Endeavor, a terrific non-profit that promotes global entrepreneurship.  Endeavor was founded by Linda Rottenberg, an amazing entrepreneur in her own right, who has built a global network that promotes and supports entrepreneurship.

Third, Penguin has been kind enough to agree to allow me to give many hundreds of copies of the books away to universities, incubators, and other forums where it might be useful to entrepreneurs.  I keep thinking about any way possible to reduce the friction between an entrepreneur and a successful business and incubators and business plans and shared office space are all terrific vehicles.

So that's my gameplan.  Not perfect, but the best I could figure out given the constraints.  Let me know what you think – or if there are other angles I should be thinking of.  The book is widely available next week, so I still have time.  🙂

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11 thoughts on “Money for Nothing, Content for Free

  1. But perhaps the biggest issue for “writers” is that they suffer in poverty unless discovered, or they work another job and do not have enough time to write. Writers are like entrepreneurs – both have something inside that is bursting to get out. This is often in conflict with making a living and selling the book or idea, because they just want to write or create.
    I wrote a book about my brother-in-law’s struggles with cancer, but every agent I spoke with labeled it a “memoir” and proclaimed they don’t do “memoirs”. At much effort, faced with the choice of trying to find someone to represent my book or keep writing, I chose to write. Unfortunately, I am an entrepreneur, too, so I have to balance my writing with my entrepreneuring with working to make money.
    How do we shake up the world to make publishing easier? Blogs are not the answer, because they are usually too fleeting. Maybe one of these days I’ll have the bandwidth to find a solution. And the opportunity.


  2. Jeff, I’m impressed with the three steps you are taking to make your thoughts available widely. I can’t think of any additional angles. Looking forward to reading it.


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