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Money for Nothing, Content for Free

Posted by: Nick Leiber on April 21, 2010

How do I produce a 250-page document that is professionally edited, packaged, and distributed, yet communicate the information consistent with the spirit of the blogosphere—open and free?

This is a guest post by Jeff Bussgang. It is cross-posted on his blog, Seeing Both Sides.

jeff_bussgang.jpgWhen I embarked on writing a book about venture capital and entrepreneurship, I struggled with one question: how do I produce a 250 page document that is professionally edited, packaged and distributed, yet communicate the information consistent with the spirit of the blogosphere—open and free.

Despite the best efforts of many, the publishing industry remains a financially-driven business. Agents, publishers, editors, retailers, and others in the value chain all make a living doing what they do. They don’t have the luxury of another job that supports them while they write on the side, like many VCs and entrepreneurs.

So, I decided to take the best compromised approach I could figure out. First, I convinced the publisher (Penguin’s business imprint, Portfolio) to allow me to distribute a meaningful chunk of the book for free. The first 40 or so pages of the book can be found at and can be downloaded, read, and distributed for free. Go for it.

Second, I decided to donate a meaningful portion of whatever meager earnings I receive from the book (after digging into the business, I was kind of shocked how little money is left for the author after agents, editors, publishers and retailers all get their cut of your $20-$25 hardcover!) to Endeavor, a terrific nonprofit that promotes global entrepreneurship. Endeavor was founded by Linda Rottenberg, an amazing entrepreneur in her own right, who has built a global network that promotes and supports entrepreneurship.

Third, Penguin has been kind enough to agree to allow me to give many hundreds of copies of the books away to universities, incubators, and other forums where it might be useful to entrepreneurs. I keep thinking about any way possible to reduce the friction between an entrepreneur and a successful business and incubators and business plans and shared office space are all terrific vehicles.

So that’s my game plan. Not perfect, but the best I could figure out given the constraints. Let me know what you think—or if there are other angles I should be thinking of. The book is widely available next week, so I still have time.

Serial entrepreneur Jeff Bussgang is a partner at venture capital firm Flybridge Capital in Boston. Follow him on Twitter @bussgang.

Reader Comments


April 21, 2010 7:46 PM


over my head

April 21, 2010 11:45 PM

I read the 1st chapter. But I don't believe Sirtris, LinkedIn, and Twitter are companies future entrepreneurs can relate to. Its focus seems to be for helping elite entrepreneurs, not regular folks.

Robert Noyce

April 22, 2010 12:01 AM

"They don't give Nobel Prizes for engineering or real work."

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What's it like to run your own company today? Entrepreneurs face multiple hurdles new and old, from raising capital and managing employees to keeping up with technology and competing in a global marketplace. In this blog, the Small Business channel's John Tozzi and Nick Leiber discuss the news, trends, and ideas that matter to small business owners. Follow them on Twitter @newentrepreneur.

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