Zen Habits, the Book

Zen Habits, the Book

So I’m writing a print book, but not in the traditional way at all. Nor is it just a print book.

The traditional way of writing a book: the author holes himself up for awhile, writes in isolation, publishes the book and gets a reaction. This is how Microsoft used to publish its software, like Office and Windows – a big release after a year or two of working on it in secret.

But my book-writing process is following modern software development ideas: put out the smallest version, have it be used in the real world, get feedback and improve rapidly.

So here’s the process:

  1. Alpha: I started a small group coaching program called Change Labs, with about a dozen people who I consider my alpha testers. I’m testing the ideas for my book on their real-world problems. I’m coaching them using missions they have to complete, articles I’m writing, live video calls with me, and journaling they have to do. During this process, I’ll be developing content that will eventually end up in my book, but I’m developing it for the Change Labs alpha testers. And they’re giving me feedback, so I know what’s working and what’s not, and so my content is going to be better than if I’d done it by myself. This process will take about 8 weeks.
  2. Beta: At the end of the alpha program, I’ll put my content together into a small version of the book, and get a group of about 50 beta testers, who will be instructed to put the book into action, and give me feedback on whether it works. I’ll be creating content for these beta testers based on their feedback, and also refining what I’ve already created. This will be about 8 weeks also.
  3. Final: Once I’ve done the beta program, I’ll revise all the content into a manuscript for the final book, then have it edited, sent to a designer, then a printer. So it’ll be a print book. I expect this to take another 8 weeks or so.
  4. Crowdfunding campaign: The book will be launched by a Kickstarter campaign, with various perks for people who back the campaign. This will fund the printing of the book and help me gauge interest.
  5. Add-ons: The print book will be slim and concise, but will only be the core principles of the book. In addition, there will be digital add-ons online, included with the price of the book. The add-ons will help people implement the core principles in different areas: finances, relationships, productivity, business, health & exercise, and so on.
  6. Premium add-on: For people who want help, I’m thinking of doing an online coaching program that will have journaling and missions and accountability, like my Change Labs program, to help them implement the ideas in the book. It’ll be a paid add-on.

My idea is to really help people change their lives in a powerful way. And so the Change Labs alpha program is a way for me to see how to do that, with real-world testing.

I’m excited, can’t wait to share it with the world, and scared. And that’s how I know this is worth doing.

with gratitude,
Leo Babauta
Zen Habits