Integrity in Action: Why I'm Not Charging for My Book

integrity makingmoney startwithwhy

Chris Guillebeau's $100 Startup was the book that inspired me to actually make something of this project. Before I read that, I didn't think I could reach anyone or pull the whole thing off. So, I am deeply indebted to Chris for that. However, one part of his formula for a product launch was to put in some kind of urgency. Since my original idea has been to make my book free, the only way I could see to inject some urgency was to set a flat cost after a week.

I did feel a little insincere about that, but Chris has always led his online community with integrity and I saw no harm in following his advice.

Of course, Chris is also a strong advocate of independent thought and non-conformity (his blog is The Art of Non-Conformity). He has always approached business differently, so I don't think he'd be too upset for one of his followers to be striking out away from his advice.

Because the price change did create a sense of urgency, I felt I owed at least some explanation for those who went out of their way to download the book within the first week. I was following advice I trusted, because I felt horribly unprepared to bring this thing to the world on my own. I adopted Chris's recommendations wholesale to make sure I didn't mess up, because I was more than a little worried that I would mess up spectacularly.

But after reading Start with Why, I learned how vitally important it is to trust my own sense of purpose and to follow my gut, even more when I'm feeling uncertain. If the price change didn't feel right, it was because it wasn't in line with my WHY. Even if my gut went against conventional (and even non-conformist) business sense, I had to follow it, otherwise I'd just be bowing to convenience and setting a precedent for myself down the road.

I'm not denying the usefulness of money, and I can make it as easy as possible for people to offer a gift in exchange for the book if they want, but I've decided that, based on my WHY for writing it, I will keep the option of downloading it for free.

Of course, this doesn't mean I won't eventually make a living off of ideas or services that I do charge for, but I'm inclined towards a different way of supporting myself, one based on reciprocal generosity and community. I don't know how money will factor into that, but I'd like most of what I do for people to be given freely.


Photo credit: Fkret Onal on Flickr