We finally did it: we have made our new book, The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online, available for free download. Of course, we encourage you to buy the bound book at your local bookstore. It’s much easier to read that way (and actually cheaper than printing out the whole thing on your printer).
Just as online dating has revolutionized the way singles connect, very similar technologies are revolutionizing the way that businesspeople close deals. We wrote The Virtual Handshake to show you how to sign new customers, meet new business partners, recruit star employees, or even find a new job, all by using online networks. More technically, it’s the first mass-market guide to “social software”: blogs, social network sites, virtual communities, relationship capital management software, contact management software, and so on.
This was not an easy decision; we had a lot of discussions between ourselves and with our publisher, the American Management Association, about this. We were very hesitant to give away 2.5 years of hard work at no cost. The top five reasons we’re doing this are:
1) We’ve gotten rave reviews for the book, but it’s very hard to get people to notice a new book. The Virtual Handshake has received extremely strong reviews in BusinessWeek, Harvard Business School Working Knowledge, countless bloggers, and many other leading publications. It has also been excerpted in CNN.com and FastCompany.com. I just received a great review from Ron Lichty, in the Software Development Forum News:
“Its not often that you read a book in an area where you have interest and passion and discover authors who both deepen and broaden your thinking. Its equally rare to find a book that, despite being published, as books are, months after theyre written and more months after they were researched, that nonetheless introduces technologies and applications and services that seem as fresh as if they were posted to a web site yesterday. The Virtual Handshake was that for me.”
We invested far more effort than we probably should have in writing a rigorous book that met our standards, with dozens of case studies, 300 sources, and extensive peer review. Our explicit role models were academics who write for the popular audience (e.g., Bob Cialdini, Deborah Tannen, Robert Putnam, Howard Gardner).
Readers appreciate that; the problem is getting readers to be aware of the book, in a world that publishes 600,000 new books every year. Providing a complimentary ebook is a way to increase trial of the book.
2) Frankly, we make very little money on each book. We earn in the range of 5%-20% of the publisher’s sale price (depending on various factors in the nature of each book sale), and 15% of that goes to the agent, and then Scott takes a chunk of course! In many cases, you as the affiliate marketer earn more on the sale of a book than we will, since you can earn up to 10% of the retail price as an affiliate, with no other parties involved. This is evidence that in the book value chain, the marketer adds more value than the content creator.
If the book becomes a bestseller, we’ll make real money on it. But in the unlikely instance that it does not become a bestseller (grin), then the real value of writing a book is the marketing of my company, Nitron Advisors and our Circle of Experts; of Scott’s consulting/speaking services; my speaking appearances; and anything else we choose to market.
There are also a lot of other ancillary benefits to writing a book, which I won’t discuss here. But to achieve any of these marketing benefits, we just need to get the book in peoples’ hands.
3) Distributing an ebook is particularly appropriate given the subject of our book. Long term, we think that every professional businessperson would benefit by learning from our system. In the short term, the obvious sweet spot of our market are highly computer-literate people who are heavy Internet users. Those are exactly the sort of people who are likely to be highly receptive to a free ebook marketing campaign.
4) Providing free downloads has worked very well for Cluetrain Manifesto, Naked Conversations, Seth Godin, and Cory Doctorow, all of which were significant influences on our book, and all of whom we’d be happy to emulate.
5) Insatiable curiosity. It’s an experiment. If it works, we can recommend it to others. To our knowledge, most of the authors who have tried free ebooks were self-published. AMACOM Books (the American Management Association) is experimenting just as we are.
So, download it now, tell a friend, post a link to http://thevirtualhandshake.com/free-book-download.htm on your blog, etc. Once you’ve read it, we’d greatly appreciate a review on your blog, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, company newsletter, or any other appropriate venue. And of course, we always value your feedback.