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Dec 09, 2004

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The Red Couch Book Proposal:

» Moving The Red Couch from The TrueTalk Blog
Scoble and Shel Israel's book proposal is up and drawing the kind of comments that will make the "collaborative creation" of the book itself fun to watch...and participate in. I keep having conversations with (smart) people who've not even heard [Read More]

» The Red Couch outlined from NevOn
Robert Scoble and Shel Israel have outlined how they see The Red Couch, the book on blogging they are planning (see my recent post). Highlight from the outline introductory segment: The Red Couch argues blogging is changing everything and businesses [Read More]

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» Blogging Book Off to a Great Start from Musings of Laurie
So the proposal for Scoble and Shel's blogging book is published. I see Robert won the argument over the book/project's name! :-) Being new to blogging and the ways it's being used (and abused) I'm following this project with interest. To emplo... [Read More]

» Trackbacks with Good Intentions from This is going to be big. I can feel it.
So I tracked back to 20 or so amazingly knowledgeable bloggers to get them to come to this post. [Read More]

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Comments

Jeremy C. Wright

Hey, good job on the opener. Robert's email address in the link is wrong.

I'll email you guys some sample proposals I got from my publisher (he said "these are the kinds of proposals that get published").

I'm sure it'll help, as I'm not sure this is enough detail. The gist my publisher said was "while we should be industry experts, we aren't. We rely on book proposals to give us the whole picture and anything not included means work for us, which we don't have time to do".

Which is great if you know how to put a proposal together, but not so great if it's your first time.

Anyways, expect an email later tonight.

shel israel

Thanks, Jeremy.

We welcome all the help we can get on publishes. We do plan to write a TOC and a sample chapter. Robert's link works fine for me. Is anyone else having problems?

Evan

Excellently done, but this part has been bugging me:

"But the majority of the work will dig into and analyze companies on the rise or in the wane because of the new communications medium. They plan to make a strong point at the beginning of each chapter of the second and larger portion of the book, then take an indepth look into a company who reinforces the point with excellence and a company that doesn’t."

Does this phrase: "They plan to make a strong point..." mean you as the writer or the companies you plan on highlighting? I would clear up this language and make it more concise.

shel israel

Thanks. Good catch. We could use you as an editor. What I was trying to say is each chapter will begin with a theory such a topic such as "Business Transparency," or "Intermediating the Intermediators." Then we will take a strong position on what we think. Then we will give at least one long example of some person or company who is doing it right, another example of someone doing it wrong, followed by several shorter anecdotal examples. I think I just said it better.

Jeremy C. Wright

Shel, the email address linked to is: rscoble@microsot.net. No F in "soFt"... And I think it's a .com anyways, no?

shel israel

Thanks. Fixed it.

Roland

"With the possible exception of the Oxford International Dictionary, it will be history’s largest authoring collaboration."

Well what about wikipedia?

shel israel

Thanks, Roland. You're absolutely right.

Jim McGee

Good start.

I worry a bit, however, about yet another "X changes everything" approach. I am more interested in what does change and what DOESN'T change. Are blogs likely to change the way that P&G sells Pampers? A low probability event. How BMW sells or services cars? More likely. How software gets developed or supported. Already happening. Now, what drives those differences? What other differences are there that matter? What can I learn from trying to tease out the next level of detail?

I'd argue that you will get a more marketable proposal matching your ability to synthesize insights up against a phenonenon that too many treat uncritically.

Robert Scoble

Jim, hmmm, I sold an 18-wheel truckload of Huggies once at the camera store. Great promotion.

Let's see, yes, it could change how diapers are sold.

For instance, if I were a new parent, would I subscribe to a blog that posted coupons for Pampers every few weeks, along with parenting tips? Damn straight I would.

If you haven't seen http://www.bloggingbaby.com/ then you won't realize just how much EVERYTHING changes with blogging.

I'll bet you that P&G will end up sponsoring this blog by the end of 2005. Wanna bet?

Robert Scoble

I never knew there were so many parenting blogs: http://www.parenting-weblog.com/

http://www.familyresource.com/blog/

Oh, and if someone at Procter and Gamble isn't doing searches on diapers on Feedster they really are blowing a chance to have a new kind of marketing vehicle. Here people are talking about their kids! Imagine a blog that just linked to all of these. Imagine a marketer who went around and emailed everyone who blogged about their kids a $1 off coupon.

http://www.feedster.com/search.php?q=diapers&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&sort=date

shel israel

In fact, this is an area where Robert and I have already agreed with some heat. I believe nothing changes everything. 9/11 didn't change everything, nor did the PC nor even the meteors that clobbered the dinosaurs. But each of these events altered directions in ways that changed the course of history. Where Robert and I violently agree is that blogging is right up there with the Internet and other watershed computer-related events. It is a revolution--and the diapers are not my concern. Do you know what a baby does to them?

Robert Scoble

To take the diaper metaphor, though, further.

Blogging is a few things:

1) It gives us a window into what people are talking about.

2) It gives us a way to participate in those conversations.

3) It gives us a way to build relationships with people who matter to our company/product.

For a diaper manufacturer almost the only people that matter are people who have kids less than two years old.

Why did we sell them in our camera store? Because people with young kids also buy a LOT of cameras and film and processing and stuff.

How do you reach these people?

Advertise on the Super Bowl? Please.

But, when their kid has a weird rash, where are they likely to go? Google, right?

Now, I can pay for a Google ad (and, there are several when you search for "diapers").

Or, you could have a blog about diapers. All it would take is a few links from existing sites to make that blog appear very high on the search engine.

Also, now sites like the two parenting blogs would link to it, bringing more traffic.

That traffic, I bet, is very influential. Why? Cause influential people read the Web. That's their job. To stay up to date on the latest information on a field. To remain an expert.

So, now, the influential people are talking about P&G's new blog on TV, in the newspapers, etc.

Now, all of a sudden you have a marketing sensation reaching exactly the people you want to be reaching. It doesn't take a large buying shift to really increase sales. Think about P&G. If they can increase market share 1% that could involve millions of dollars. A blog is an extremely low-cost way to do affect markets.

Now, add in a few strategies for dealing with the blogosphere (emailing coupons, etc, to people who talk about diapers and babies and parenting). How hard is it to do that? Not hard at all.

Buzz Bruggeman

Great start guys! I am thrilled with what you have written today! Reading it on a daily basis is going be an adventure!

Evan

I think you're not really talking about blogs any longer Robert, you're talking about a big site of links (or God forbid, the leprosy-ridden phrase "Web Portal"). Now if you want to talk about -blogs- that's cool, but you keep referencing them linking to other blogs without them adding information of their own.

Weblogs are created to "log" experiences, ideas, thoughts. Now P&G, being the large corporation that they are, has no single voice. Sure there's marketing, but it doesn't bring it to a human level. Now if P&G want to sponsor a few big parenting blogs, that's fine. But the question is if they can have some of their own people, in their own company, blog about their parenting experiences, about P&G's impact on it, and through that site help out other parenting sites.

I have two small children (two daughters, 2.5 years old and 9 months respectively), yet I'm far from a "parenting" blog. You have to be careful as to where you draw the line, and if a "parenting" blog goes rogue, when do they take that link away, and what if a news site publishes a negative story about who P&G officially linked to?

We've all worked with big companies (myself included), and Robert you work with one of the largest. And, in terms of blogging, certainly one of the most innovative I'll freely admit. MS gives you freedoms that very (VERY) few do. P&G can try to get into this yet include so many levels of approval and whitewashing for fear of a big public mistake that it drowns out any type of personality they may create in sponsoring one or more of them.

The book should deal with this, and appears it will, but all I'm saying is this is a grey area and you must be specific as to how a weblog can help a company of that size.

Bill Riski

I like it. And while I remain a bit skeptical about how much value your transparent creative method with bring, I have to admit I'm already enjoying the conversation here. Change my mind.

I'm a history buff, so will enjoy reading "...It begins with a brief history of blogging, including an interview with Winer...". And while I've read Dave's blog for years, and listened to his MCNs, I'd suggest you include a few others in this section. Always good to get multiple points of view.

Kim Garretson

Fascinating start. Most of the conversation I've read here is about the storytelling of blogging, and the invitations of bloggers to the audience to participate. I'm hoping the project looks at emerging audience trends, especially where time- and mind-share are being spent by audiences to consume media -- traditional and new -- versus the personal communications going on within their social networks. Let's face it, not every brilliantly produced blog with inviting lures to the audience to participate will actually succeed in ways other than stroking the egos of the storytellers. In fact, blogs might go the way of media, with the emergence of only a small percentage of big blogs actually capturing an audience of enough size that the conversations within it matter to those who read and or participate in it.

Kathy Sierra

Very cool. I think you could beef up the part on competition, though. You might reconsider how a publisher will view, "We are not concerned." You're only addressing competition from "books"... when your own blog is going to be one of your biggest competitors. You might mention your plan for motivating people to *buy* a hard copy when they can get the content for free, from you. As a tech book writer, my biggest competition today is Google, not other printed books.

Shannon Clark

A few thoughts:

- Is there a difference between a "personal" blog, a "group blog", and a "corporate blog" (or other "official" blog such as a candidate's blog?

- Are blogs the same as online journals?

Given the variety of what I see out there blogs can be many different things to many people. Many of them are descriptions of links - much like what Scoble is describing for Diapers.

Other's such as Buzz's blog or Britt Blaser's blogs are mostly collections of essays/personal stories - some with links, but many with no links at all, or at least no links as the primary focus of the post.

My own blogs serve two distinct and different purposes (I also work on a few other blogs for organizations - more on that in a moment). My personal blog is a bit about "selling" me - but mostly it is my collective memory - sites that interest me, occasional rants, occasional longer form articles (http://SearchingForthemoon.blogspot.com). In contrast the group blog for MeshForum (http://www.meshforum.org) is organized to be mostly on target, posts are categorized, the blog and the website are one and the same.

For corporations I think that blogs can evolve in many directions. Just look at Microsoft itself for many examples - Channel 9 is distinctly different from Scoble's blog which are different still from the "official" spaces that have now gone up.

Technical note - the proposal has a number of minor typos - I can try to give it once over edit (will email to you Shel) but lots of sentences with missing subject, awkward punctuation, etc - all warning signs for a publisher I would imagine.

If I were a publisher some questions I might be asking about the book:

- How will the contributions of the "blogsphere" be incorporated into the book?

- Why would someone, especially an executive read this? What is the "hook" that will draw someone in?

- What problem(s) does blogging solve? ("conversation with your audience" "rehabilitate public image"?)

- Are there more than one way to leverage blogs? (I think that there may be differences in using blogs for/during development/research - internally and externally from using blogs while marketing/selling/rehabilitating public images/supporting existing customers etc. Do these demand different approaches, even different technologies.

- What section will this book be in? Is it a "computer book" (likely lower sales) OR could it be marketed/targeted as a "Business book" - i.e. does it have a bestseller potential to it?

- In the proposal I might want to know/get a sense of how large a book this will be, as well as the general target audience, level/style of writing, and from that a sense of how the book could/should be marketed.

My suggestion would be to AVOID the technical issues - and focus on your journalistic experiances - that is focus on the message and the business value, let the technology sort itself out a bit (though you may have to define a minimal criteria for technology to be considered "blogging").

I would imagine that a relatively thin, hardcover with a simple cover featuring a bright red couch (perhaps the same that inspired the name) - along with the conversations occurring while seated on it... could form the basis of a very successful book. I'd suggest though that you look to the model of a book like "The Tipping Point" more than to the model of other books on the Internet.

In that case you will need to have a cohesive message - "Conversations change everything" could be that message. i.e. "Blogs allow you to enter into conversations. Conversations change everything"

Shannon

Evan

I definitely agree Shannon on the suggestion of avoiding the technical issues. If a publisher sees a huge chapter or two on getting hosting space, setting up databases, working with various content management programs, it could instantly be shuffled into the dark shadows of "Computer Literature" and never be seen as anything worthy of the time of a big corporate exec, or even a small one.

"Oh, this is just another O'Reilly book," they would say. (This is not to say that O'Reilly doesn't do great stuff, but you get my point here)

Tom Ehrenfeld

Hi Guys--

I wandered onto this site and thread randomly (reading the blog of David Allen, who is great), and as someone with a bit of experience with business books but not a lot with blogging I'll share a few thoughts:

The proposal both promises that blogging will change the world and characterizes this activity as lowered voices with credible tones. This feels quite dissonant to me.

The fundamental challenge to me appears to be jumping that one valence level to go from a heated blogosphere conversation to one beyond the blog. Blogging about blogging can be so meta; and I truly believe that reading about blogging, especially in a book, is a fundamentally different experience than participating in a blog. You must find a way to share the experience of blogging, and not sell the message; otherwise I think it will be very difficult to get your message across to book editors, let alone book readers.

How about starting the proposal with a great story or example? How about asking the reader how they got to this post? Try fixing the experience of blogging more vividly in the mind of the person reading the piece.

And finally: do you really need to write a book proposal and then sell the book? Why not just produce the book as promised, build your audience/community throughout the process, and then, when you reach a point where it feels "complete", then "publish" what you have in a manner that's consistent with blogging itself, whatever that may be. Book publishing today is an inefficient, slow-moving, industry in decline, in which vast sums of money are paid in advances to fewer titles with more pressure on becoming bestsellers.

At any rate--good luck with the project, it sounds very cool..

knight37

I think you need to be sure and mention RSS and it's impact not only on Blogging but on the internet in general. RSS to me is a revolutionary delivery device. It lets me customize my own input from the web in such a convenient way that I can monitor at least 900% more information than I could before it. The average internet user still doesn't "get" RSS. But it's catching on. Once your Mom and Dad are using it, you'll know it's "the thing."

Robert Scoble

Tom,

Because our goal is to actually write a book and get it published, we want to go through each step of doing that. When I did my previous book we did exactly that, started with a proposal, a TOC, and the first chapter. Those things sold the book.

Also, we needed to setup a framework around which the book would be built. Otherwise when we came out at the end it wouldn't be cohesive. It'd be randomly going all over the place. That might be OK for a blog, but it makes for a pretty wacky book, I think.

But, we might get halfway through this, decide the proposal sucks, rip it up, and redo it. Or the publisher who buys the book might have some other ideas too.

That's one reason I wanted to blog it so that there'd be some context for you to see how it's progressing and see where we went off track.

Gautam

Hi, I'm a blogger who's posted over the last 2.5 years on the corporate world...and not too much of an author..

If the objective of this book is to tell C-level execs that "Hey, wake up and smell the coffee, use Blogs to revolutionise marketing/knowledge sharing/PR" then it should also be telling them what's wrong with Marketing/PR/KM in the existing way.

As we all are aware, control freaks in the corporate world do not like blogging...so pushing blogging as a corporate activity would also involve both culture change, and structural change (from groups like Marketing [hey, where's my budget?] to PR [you mean, I can't schmooze the reporter and say my job is done? I actually have to answer questions??])

Perhaps what is also needed is to see how blogging will add value to consumers in economies like Brazil, Russia, India and China where either net penetration is abysmal or government controlled...these are also places, where mobile phones are more ubiquitous than PCs...how will blogging lep frog from the PC/laptop gadget to mobile phones...because corporates will be pumping money into these areas in the future...

regards
Gautam

cobalt

I'm interested, just as I was excited by Dan Gillmor's "We the Media" in getting to ride along as it all unfolds. I am a teacher, and wonder if your work will also apply to public sector business and non-profit agencies. I know that I am better at my profession for my constant research in the librarian blogs and resources. Since I work in the field of assistive technology, I find that it is a very narrow field with much interest in finding any resources and personal experience outside of vendors. Blogs are one of my key research necessities that improve my own knowledge and I can pass along the information to students and colleagues. This is done on "my time", yet I feel all these efforts contribute a "low tech" approach to employees who must keep up with continuing education. Send me to conferences, for all the fees and expenses, or perhaps set me to work with the Net and particularly work for developing parent-child blogs in the field!

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