The history of The Future

The Future History of Travel is a proof of concept for the innovations that are transforming storytelling today – online novels, print-on-demand, self-publishing and the pay-what-you-want model.
It was January 2011, and I had a nearly finished, albeit rough, manuscript in hand. In the past, I would have had to submit the manuscript to a publisher and wait months for a response, with no assurance the story would ever get an audience.

Instead, I decided to I syndicate a “beta” version of the book (borrowing terminology from software development) one chapter, one week at a time on my blog from January to June 2011.

A lot of people asked me why I wanted to release it online. Wasn’t I afraid of copyright infringement? To quote Tim O’Reilly (via Cory Doctorow), “Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative artists than piracy.” For me, this book was about telling a story and interacting with readers – things I could not have done if I had been hawking the manuscript to publishers.

To make things even more interesting, I purposely left the last chapter unwritten so that the ultimate conclusion could be responsive to the conversation that would unfold in the comments. One chapter each week right up to the penultimate chapter – all the while frantically rereading, revising and even rewriting the story as it unfolded online.The merits. The mistakes. Everything.

In July, three years, one month and 14 days after I first put pen to paper, the book was finally complete.

I incorporated input from blog readers into the final manuscript, which was first published in paperback in October 2011 using Amazon.com’s print-on-demand platform, CreateSpace. The paperback was followed by an ebook edition for Kindle using Kindle Direct Publishing as well as the iPad and other ebook readers through ebook publishing and distribution site Smashwords.com.

The rest is (future) history.


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