The exact approach that made modern Hollywood such a dull place and which created forgettable and ephemeral pop music is now supposed to make a book popular?
This is all about callous, disruptive start-up brogrammers trying to push their services via a plum article in the New Yorker. Nothing in this article is wisdom. Nothing is true. It's toxic and poisonous to art.
A Book Is a Start-up: Lessons from Leanpub, Net Minds, and Other Publishing Hustlers : The New Yorker
Armstrong suggests that a book and a start-up are each “a risky, highly creative endeavor undertaken by a small team, with low probability of success.” In either case, he says, you can go into “stealth mode”—which, he contends, will easily result in creating something that nobody wants. “To say you’re going to go off in a room and write the perfect thing without getting feedback from anybody is—I don’t want to say ‘arrogant’—but I couldn’t do it.” Editors, he adds, “function as a good proxy for readers”—but are not as effective as readers themselves.
And so, it follows that the solution is to begin a project—in this case, a book—and let the people have at it. He calls this Lean Publishing, or “the act of publishing an in-progress book using lightweight tools and many iterations to get reader feedback, pivot until you have the right book and build traction once you do.” There are several other companies experimenting with letting readers in on the writing process: Sourcebooks has tried test-marketing early online editions, and the start-up Coliloquy has devised a choose-your-own-adventure model that allows readers to record their choices as they progress through books, providing authors with feedback. All this data can inform publishers about how to produce books with the most possible appeal—even if that means the writer’s creative authority recedes, allowing popular demand to take control.
“We believe a writer is not necessarily a writer,” Sanders, the Net Minds C.E.O., said. “They are content containers.” At the Net Minds website, freelancers can sign up as writers or ghostwriters, as well as editors, copyreaders, designers, and publicists. The writer, then, arrives with a thought, for manufacture. The mechanics of book start-ups suggest an assembly line at times—indeed, the term “Lean” comes from the demand-driven Toyota Production System in Japan, put in place during the second half of the twentieth century. Lean is good commerce—if not necessarily the makings of high art. A start-up book, though, is for mere mortals.
(Thanks? To Ken Lowery for pointing this and so many other things out.)