Marketing a new science fiction book isn’t what it used to be. Rob Reid, founder of Listen.com and the Rhapsody music service, is touting his new book After On by taking advantage of Medium’s digital content subscription service.
Reid’s book has a traditional physical publisher in Random House, but it is aimed at the tech crowd, with its clear references to technologies that are popular in Silicon Valley today, such as the dangers of artificial intelligence, threats to privacy, and social networking. Reid wrote the book after having conversations with his friend Adam Gazzaley, a prominent brain researcher at the University of California at San Francisco and founder of brain game startup Akili Interactive Labs. Medium licensed the first half of the book from Random House, and it is publishing online excerpts for members.
Reid’s book promotion is the first time that Random House has actively worked with Medium to license excerpts of a book for pre-publishing. Reid spoke at our recent GamesBeat Summit 2017 event about the marriage of technology and science fiction. We’ll continue that theme at our GamesBeat 2017 event in San Francisco taking place October 5–6.
“We’re excited to kick off this publishing experiment with Random House and Rob Reid,” said Ev Williams, CEO of Medium, in a statement. “Early access to the book excerpts, combined with original audio and commentary, will create a new kind of shared reading experience that I think Medium members will enjoy.”
Random House signed a “first serial rights” deal with Medium. That’s an interesting collaboration between a physical book publisher and a digital media publisher, and it’s just the kind of thing that could appeal to a tech audience. Random House can provide the reach for the book, while Medium can help Reid create an ongoing conversation that suits the tech readers. Penguin Random House already has a channel on Medium.
A spokesman for Random House noted it does a lot of digital publishing now. But he added, “In regards to the Medium deal with Rob Reid’s book, this is the first time that Medium has licensed first serial rights from Random House. It’s also a unique deal in terms of the amount of content they are getting.”
Reid will publish 12 episodic excerpts through Medium, starting today and before the publication date of the novel on August 1. The three initial excerpts will be open to everyone, with the following nine requiring membership.
“We are thrilled to be working with Medium to bring authors like Rob Reid to a new audience,” said Scott Shannon, publisher of Del Rey Books at Random House, in a statement. “We are always looking for ways to expand the reach of our authors and their ideas, and Medium is a great partner in that endeavor.”
Medium members will also get additional book-related posts by Reid, as well as early access to an embedded podcast that ties in with the excerpts, with Reid exploring themes from the book and interviewing high-profile guests — including Sam Harris, Steve Jurvetson, and Adam Gazzaley — on the future of tech, AI, and consciousness.
Asked why he was marketing the book this way, Reid said in an email, “Blog daily, and you’ll have no time to write books. Blog quarterly, and nobody — literally, nobody — will keep checking in to see if you have a pulse. Independent and emerging writers have many direct routes to readers (I’m especially enamored with WattPad). But publishers keep most of their output away from those channels. And so, authors who work with publishers are still seeking a place to truly showcase our work and gather a following. I think that place can be Medium.”
He noted that Medium doesn’t have many trolls, and it has a lot of serious readers and writers who enjoy long-form stories, and it works well on mobile devices.
“This means that in addition to being a great place to debut books with generous excerpts, Medium is perfect for maintaining author/reader connections between book releases,” Reid said. “Its follower/feed setup allows connections to persist — but the site doesn’t muzzle us after 140 characters or charge us to reach folks who want to hear from us.”