Why Publish the Book as a NFT?
Let me preface this by saying that neither I, nor my writing partner, have ever published anything professionally before. That said, we do have a passion for writing and telling stories. That passion ultimately led us down the path of writing a book; and write it we did.
We had the time of our lives laughing and brainstorming with how we wanted it all to go. When we finally got to the end, we had never been prouder of ourselves, and we couldn’t wait to share it with the world.
However, we quickly realized that writing the book was just the first step. The next, was getting it published.
As I researched, I quickly realized how unlikely it was that two never-before published authors were going to get cherry picked out of the thousands of writers lobbying for the coveted spots at big publishing houses every day.
With small children and a demanding career, and my writing partner not being much different, our positive feelings about the quality of the book were quickly dashed by the mountain of effort we felt it was going to take to get picked up by a publisher. We just didn’t have the time, and neither had a good enough reason to tell our significant others that we were going to start sacrificing family time and potentially our careers to start chasing what was possibly a pipe dream. It seemed like this was destined to be a fun hobby, only enjoyed by us.
However, my career in technology led me to start learning more about blockchain technology. As such, I became heavily involved with one blockchain in particular: Cardano. Over the past couple years, I’ve been listening in on Twitter spaces, buying the odd coin here and there, and witnessing the meteoric rise of NFTs. Mostly these were art-based projects with animal themes, but I watched as massive communities spawned around them.
As I got more and more involved, I started to think about how other types of media may be able to leverage this same community effect.
Could this be something that could be done with books?
Then I saw it start to happen! I learned about the first ever feature film being launched on the blockchain. Then saw a number of music albums put out. It was clear the market was catching on to new types of art in the space. So we decided to give it a shot.
Once we had decided that we wanted to mint the book as an NFT, I dove into the community to learn the best way that I knew how; by talking to people. I became a clock-carrying member of The Ada Café, which supports countless Twitter spaces dedicated to the Cardano ecosystem. I started following similar projects, like Project Bookworm, which was run by a couple writing their own book on Cardano as a series of chapter NFTs. Through it all, I started brainstorming with the community itself how we should go about it, and what might be cool to do.
One idea, was to try and work with artists around the community to bring artwork to the book. This made a lot of sense considering that most NFT projects that were successful were largely art-based at the time, and many artists had some sizeable community followings already. So, we started reaching out to some of the artists that we felt were extremely talented, and much to our surprise found them completely approachable and willing to help!
Not only that, but some of them were so impressed with our writing they even asked us to help write lore for their own NFT projects. We were actually getting writing gigs in this community! We couldn’t believe it!
Next thing we knew we had 11 different artists signed up to do their own take on art for our book. While simultaneously, we had become the official lore writers for multiple NFT projects on Cardano, it was crazy.
As we grew in the community, we were getting more and more excited about the idea of publishing our first ever book as an NFT. It had become clear to us that this community had everything we were looking for. They were open to new ideas, huge fans of artists and creativity, and best of all it was a massive community! Just in the past year alone, the Cardano NFT Market has exceeded five hundred million $ADA, which at the time of writing this is the equivalent of roughly two hundred million US dollars. (Not to mention this is one of the SMALLER NFT communities out there…)
Then a new platform entered the scene; book.io.
Minting on Book.io
This new platform came onto the scene with a singular mission: to change the future of books.
They wanted to leverage NFT technology to bring true ownership to digital books. As opposed to the current status quo on platforms like Amazon, where readers are simply renting the book for as long as the tech platforms decide to let you keep it.
By having books on a public, and decentralized blockchain, readers could buy and truly own their digital books; forever.
Not only that, but authors benefitted to, because of the NFT technology, books can keep a record of every time they are sold, and through smart-contracts built into the code of the NFT, the author has the ability to collect royalty percentages on secondary sales of the book; forever.
I was sold, and began to seek out the founders of this new platform to try and work with them to mint our book. Luckily, as it was still early in their startup journey, and I was already somewhat solidified in the community, this didn’t prove to be too difficult. I was able to connect with Ben Illian, the Chief Growth Officer for the company and pitch my book.
While they had plans to open their platform to many amateur authors in the future, they were still early with the technology and hadn’t quite started that yet. However, because of my ties to the Cardano community and the fact that we already had a finished book, which also included artwork done by several notable artists in the community, they ultimately agreed and I was able to secure an early spot on the list.
I also think they just liked our book concept which is hilariously unique if I say so myself.
I was walked through the process, they would handle the mint in exchange for a 30% share of the revenue. We would get to set things like the amount minted, the price, the royalties, and anything else.
As someone who was in the NFT space already, I had come to understand the importance of rarity to collectors, and did some work to build this into our mint. I ended up creating over twenty different versions of our books, with different traits that each had a different rarity to them.
Then we made the decision to mint only two thousand books to further add to the limited nature of the sale.
It was just like a true limited first edition run, except for a digital book.
We also decided on a price of 69 ADA (About thirty dollars), which we felt was appropriate considering the raunchy comedy theme of our book about a lazy wizard named Tim.
We had it all figured out, we were set to publish our first ever book, alongside a tech startup, completely independent of any formal publisher.
On Monday, October 24th, 2022, we had the first ever sale of our book, The Wizard Tim.
We didn’t know what to expect. We did an interview with Ben and Josh (the book.io CEO) earlier that day and had an ok attendance. There were some people clearly indicating that they wanted to buy the book, so we were hopeful we would at least get some sales. We did have an interesting encounter with a gentleman on that Twitter Space that went by “Cardano Madbull,” who wanted us to write his autobiography, but couldn’t really tell us why.
All in all, we were scared, nervous, and excited. Then at 9PM UTC, the book was officially opened for sale.
Within an hour Ben texted me, “All books reserved. Some transactions failed, but this is gonna mint out.”
I was stunned.
We had sold almost two thousand books in a matter of minutes.
The rest shortly followed as people realized there were still a few left that had failed in transactions. By the next morning, we had sold every single copy of the book. All in all, the book grossed over forty thousand dollars. In addition, a week later, the book has already generated over fifteen thousand dollars in secondary sales, of which we receive 2.5%.
If you had told Joe or I back when we were coming up with the idea for The Wizard Tim, that we would sell two thousand copies of the first ever book we write in a matter of a couple hours, I would have told you to quit smoking so much weed and go study. But alas, here we are, and as of now, we have a growing community of readers who are engaged and reading, and excited about our story! Not only that, but we have an opportunity to keep writing, while also making some income while doing it and not chasing down publishers, to only be handed a meager advance and not have much control over what gets put out.
I’ve left this experience feeling overwhelmingly positive about our own future as writers, the future that authors will have with this technology, and the future readers will get to experience as a result.
Book.io is poised to actually execute on their vision, and they are doing so by bringing true value to both authors and readers.
For us, we're going to keep writing and building our community. We're so thankful for everyone that bought the book and supported us so far, and we're excited to keep thinking of new ways to deliver quality content and good value to you in the future.
I cant wait to see what comes next.