Self-Publishing: Lessons From the Nimble Nonprofit, Part I

We launched The Nimble Nonprofit: An Unconventional Guide to Sustaining and Growing Your Nonprofit close to two months ago, and I wanted to share a few of our early lessons and observations in this self-publishing experiment:

1) Sales numbers in a given week seem to correlate to the amount of time we spend promoting the book that week. There may be a viral moment out there somewhere where sales numbers start to grow faster, but we haven’t found it. Effort = sales.

2) Guest blog posts have been awesome. Folks like Maddie Grant, Amy Sample Ward, and Katya Andresen published posts on their blog that were either excerpts from the book or just posts related to themes in the book. Hugely helpful.

3) Facebook and LinkedIn have been really helpful but so far limited to where I’ve got pre-existing relationships. So far we haven’t found them to be useful with things like LinkedIn groups.

4) Twitter has been helpful, too, especially tied to the guest blog posts, but it’s not clear how much Twitter is driving sales. The conversations have been fun, though, and I’ve digitally met a bunch of interesting people thinking about nonprofit issues now that I didn’t know before, which has been cool.

5) Great reviews on Amazon (of which we’ve had a ton!) are very helpful but on their own don’t translate to sales. It’s just one piece of a good strategy.

6) The verdict is still open on whether it made sense to make a free .pdf version of the book available. Since one of our goals was distribution, I think it will have made sense, we’ll understand that more I think through the summer.

7) Ditto on the decision to go digital only. Based on our conversations over the past couple of months, I have the sense that there are a lot of people who would have purchased the book had it been available in physical form. That’s another issue we’ll evaluate a few months from now.

8) And it’s been really fun … the blogging, the conversations with other bloggers and nonprofit folks, talking to people about the themes we tackled in the book.

Our First Book Launch: The Nimble Nonprofit Hits the Streets (and Barnes & Noble)

The Nimble Nonprofit is now available at Barnes & Noble ($4.99)!
Yesterday Trey and I launched our first book, The Nimble Nonprofit: An Unconventional Guide to Sustaining and Growing Your Nonprofit, with a ton of help from our Bright+3 colleague Ted Fickes.

We’re only a day into it, but it’s been great fun so far: a ton of awesome reviews on Amazon, a bunch of great Twitter traffic, and even an unsolicited and really favorable full-on book review (thanks Bonnie Cranmer!).

In addition, I now have a “Jacob Smith” author page on Amazon. I wasn’t expecting much when I logged in to set it up, but I must not have paid author pages much attention previously because it turns out they’re actually set up pretty well. In addition to what you’d expect (profile, photo, etc.), they also allow you to bring in a Twitter feed and an RSS feed, which is a nice touch.

And great news if you are a Nook fan: The Nimble Nonprofit is now available at Barnes & Noble!

The book is in review at Apple, and as soon as it launches there we’ll announce it.

We’re thrilled to sent our little book out into the world, and we welcome your comments, critiques, and thoughts … send them our way:

The First Bright+3 Book Launch: The Nimble Nonprofit

I am thrilled to announce the launch of The Nimble Nonprofit: An Unconventional Guide to Sustaining and Growing Your Nonprofit.

The nonprofit world truly is in a state of flux. Much of what used to work doesn’t anymore. The need to invest in growing ass-kicking staff and to develop sustained organizational capacity has never been greater, yet the difficulties of doing so are growing as quickly as the need. In The Nimble Nonprofit we cover a wide range of what we believe are critical challenges facing the nonprofit sector:

  • cultivating a high-impact innovative organizational culture;
  • building and sustaining a great team;
  • staying focused and productive;
  • optimizing your board of directors;
  • creating lasting relationships with foundations, donors, and members;
  • remaining agile and open; and
  • growing and sustaining a nimble, impactful organization.

We mean for The Nimble Nonprofit to be a guide – an unconventional irreverent, and pragmatic guide – to succeeding in a nonprofit leadership role, and to tackling this incredibly challenging nonprofit environment. We aimed for a conversational, practical, candid, and quick read instead of a deep dive. If you want to immerse yourself in building a great membership program, or recruiting board members, or writing by-laws, there are plenty of books that cover the terrain (and some of them are quite good).

But if you want the no-nonsense, convention-challenging, clutter-cutting guide to the info you really, really need to know about sustaining and growing a nonprofit, well, we hope you’ll check out The Nimble Nonprofit.

This is our first book, and the publishing industry is a state of disarray, so – following the spirit in which we wrote the book – we are taking an unconventional path. We decided to publish strictly as an e-book, and we decided to self-published (with a bunch of help from Ted here at Bright+3). We are offering the book through the big three e-bookstores (Amazon, Apple, and Barnes & Noble, and we might add a few more to the mix), and we’ve priced the book at $4.99, which is much less expensive than the vast array of other nonprofit books.

As of right now, the book is available on Amazon (and it’ll hit the other two stores shortly). If you’d like to score a copy of The Nimble Nonprofit and enjoy reading it on your Kindle, iPad, or another tablet, jump on Amazon and grab it (did I mention it’s only $4.99?).

And, because our main goal is contributing to the conversations around these critical questions, we are also making a .pdf version of the book available for free.

We suspect that most readers will agree with some of what we argue and disagree with other parts, and because we challenge much of the conventional wisdom about building strong nonprofits, we’re pretty sure that some folks will disagree with a lot of what we write. And we look forward to the conversations. Please send us your thoughts, critiques, comments, and ideas

Tell us where you think we’re wrong and where we’ve hit the nail on the head, and please share with us other examples of nonprofits doing a great job of tackling these challenges and where they are just getting it wrong.

Happy reading –


(P.S. The Nimble Nonprofit is available right now on Amazon.)