Leaving Work Behind

My First Steps in Writing “Leaving Work Behind: The Book”

Written by Tom Ewer on June 6, 2013. 26 Comments
Image Credits: Pieter Been and VistalCO.com

Image Credits: Pieter Been and VistaiCO.com

When I first started on my journey to leaving work behind back in May 2011, two of the first things I read were manifestos. Those manifestos were written by Corbett Barr and Chris Guillebeau — two of the people I respect most in the blogosphere.

Those manifestos completely changed my perspective on the process of making money online and helped to shaped my progress over the following weeks and months. In the end I carved out a path for myself that was not laid down by Corbett or Chris in their manifestos, but I still held the spirit of their writing close to my heart.

I am totally sold on the power of manifestos in terms of boosting your brand and creating evangelists (or “true fans”). I think the humble (or not so humble) manifesto is a tool that should be utilized by all bloggers in an effort to create something more than just another cookie cutter destination on the web.

And that’s why, just a few weeks ago, I started writing my own manifesto. In this, the first post in what will be a series, I hope to show you just how powerful a manifesto can be in taking your blog to the next level.

What Has Brought Me to This Point?

The idea of writing a manifesto has been on my mind for a long time. It is what I feel is missing from Leaving Work Behind. I like the design, I think the content is interesting and engaging, I think the user experience is good — a manifesto to me represents the last piece of the puzzle.

You may be wondering what a manifesto really is. Well, the word “manifesto” is defined in the dictionary as follows:

A public declaration of policy and aims, especially one issued before an election by a political party or candidate.

That doesn’t sound particularly relevant to blogging, does it? In reality, the blogosphere has adapted the meaning of the word.

For our purposes, a manifesto can be many things. To me, it is a call to arms — a blueprint for adopting a way of life that may differ from conventional wisdom. It should distil everything that your blog represents into a few thousand words and give readers (new and old alike) a point of context from which everything you preach derives.

Because so much of my thinking rails against conventional wisdom, to me the creation of a manifesto is a must for this blog — it will simply not be complete without one. I want any visitor to this site to be able to lay their hands on something that will explain exactly what “leaving work behind” means, and more importantly, how to do it.

What Can You Expect?

We all live life governed by an internal set of rules. These rules were inevitably put in place by a process of gradual indoctrination over the course of our lives. For the most part, what society says we should do, we do. We’re told that:

I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

The purpose of my book will be to tell you that this way of thinking is not normal (even if it is adopted by the masses). I want to reveal to you an alternative way of thinking — one that is characterized by having a far greater level of control over your life. Then I want to give you the tools to create a new life around that alternative way of thinking.

At this point, the book is split up into two sections:

  1. Change Your Outlook
  2. Take Action

In the first section I want to clearly outline a new way of thinking that challenges conventional wisdom and serves as the basis for a new life based upon a new set of principles. In the second section I want to give you the tools with which you can create that new life. In short, I want to help you quit your job and build your best life — just like it says at the top of the screen.

I took a lot of inspiration from the excellent Rework in creating the concept for my book. It is essentially a vast collection of short essays on a common theme (online business). You could almost call it an offline blog. I think the format is brilliant and works perfectly with what I have in mind for my own book.

This book will represent the pinnacle of what I can offer you. At the risk of completely over-extending myself, if you don’t find it inspiring and potentially life-changing, I will have failed in my goal.

From Manifesto to Book

Most manifestos are a few thousands words — perhaps 10,000 at most. That is originally what I had in mind for Leaving Work Behind.

However, that soon changed as I started to draft an outline. I created titles for over thirty chapters on my first run, and although each chapter will only be a relatively small essay of 300-600 words (occasionally more), I could do the maths and realize that I had something more substantial than a traditional blog manifesto on my hands.

At the time of writing I have outlines for thirty-eight chapters, not including the introduction and conclusion. Make no mistake — this is going to be a book. While I still see it as a manifesto in style and intent, its scale has outgrown that of what you would typically expect to see.

When Will It Be Published?

At this point I have written fifteen draft chapters. My plan is to complete the first draft by the end of this month and the final draft by the end of the following month. I plan to release the book on Monday, 9th September 2013.

At this stage my only point of confusion is over the format. Initially I planned to release a manifesto completely free of charge. No email sign up required, just free to download. But now I am dealing with something of a far greater scale.

I am therefore left with what I consider to be three choices:

  1. Release the entire manifesto completely free of charge.
  2. Create a selection of some of the most compelling chapters and release that as my manifesto, then publish and sell the entire book for a “standard” price of say $9.99.
  3. Follow the Engagement from Scratch route: offer it free of charge but also make electronic and hard copies available through Amazon.

At this point I don’t know which option to take. I don’t want people to feel like the point of the manifesto is to get you to buy the book, but similarly, I don’t want to lose an opportunity to create an additional revenue stream from what will be (I hope) an extremely valuable book.

I’d really appreciate your thoughts on the above and look forward to hearing from you in the comments section!

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26 Responses to “My First Steps in Writing “Leaving Work Behind: The Book””

  1. Joe
    June 6, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    Tom, I’ve been following you and Corbett for a few weeks now, and I appreciate your writing. You’re a very “down-to-earth” blogger and don’t use the usual and tiring hype that a lot of bloggers and marketers do.

    I’m in the process of building a blog based on Corbett’s and Pat Flynn’s methods. I’ve also been considering creating an ebook as well and selling it online.

    I’m excited about your upcoming manifesto and I had one suggestion regarding how to distribute it. I appreciate you’re willingness to give it away, but in my humble opinion, I believe you should receive some kind of compensation for your work and expert knowledge.

    I don’t remember where I saw this, but some marketer offered a digital product for sale and just left the price up to whoever bought the product. In other words, he just said to pay whatever they thought it was worth. I don’t know if this is the smartest approach, but it could be something to consider. I know I would gladly pay at least $9.99 for your ebook when it is released!

    Keep up the good work!


    • Tom Ewer
      June 6, 2013 at 4:21 pm

      Thanks Joe, I really appreciate your feedback and it’s nice to know that you would buy my book! I’ve got a lot of thinking to do on this front…

      • Paul Kridakorn
        June 6, 2013 at 5:20 pm

        Hi Tom, here is it, one similar to Joe has mentioned, http://www.thehybridathlete.com
        I saw this blog used to sell information products with pricing options call “Pay What You Want”. They had 3 tiers selling price, Get it Free, $5 and $20. Ratio was 40% people took products for free, the rest gave them $20. Interesting enough, some people who took products for free came back to pay afterward.

        They have stopped Free option in 2013 and set the minimum fee for all products. But I still agreed that good products people are willing to pay for it.

        As far as I have learnt, give away information products can get a lot of download, but many of people who download might not read. By selling, it ensures people who buy will read. You need people who read it. So I think is better you set the prices.

        • Tom Ewer
          June 7, 2013 at 3:42 pm

          That’s a good point Paul — people are far more likely to read something (and value it) if it cost them money. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. ericadenise
    June 6, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    Based on your teaser above, this Manifesto sounds very interesting and informative. I would gladly pay $9.99 for a digital version. Especially if you will be including a “Take Action” section that includes real, actionable items that I can follow in order to quit my j.o.b. ! I appreciate your ideas and read your blog regularly; I have no doubt that your book will be worth every penny.

  3. Dan Netting
    June 6, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Not that I’m an expert on the subject, but I wouldn’t think that you’re loosing money by giving it out for free.

    To offer it for free I would imagine would mean more downloads, and assuming it’s truly great (I doubt you’ll be aiming for anything but), more downloads would mean more shares, possibly greater still for the appreciation of something so great being free. More shares means more traffic to your site, more (targeted) traffic equals more income.

    I completely understand that you don’t want to loose out, but I’d hazard a guess that you wouldn’t actually loose out at all by offering it for free.

    As a side note, I’m not looking for a freebee. I would still buy it if you put a price on it.

    Best of luck Tom!

    • Tom Ewer
      June 7, 2013 at 3:41 pm

      You’re absolutely right Dan; your argument is a good one for giving the book away. It’s a toughie, I’ll be giving it a lot thought in the coming weeks!

    • Destroy the Box with Brooks
      June 17, 2013 at 5:03 am

      I agree Dan.
      It’s a tough one.

      According to the studies above folks would be willing to pay.

      But other folks (like Pat Flynn) would side with your point, that giving away the manifesto would create insanely huge value.

      That it would possibly lead to a larger future return since, as you said, more folks may read and share it.

      Good luck Tom, can’t wait to see what you decided 😉

  4. Joe
    June 7, 2013 at 11:00 am

    I think my thoughts are in line with the above. I’d defintiely purchase the book, regardless. But, I already love your content. I guess it depends on where you sit with regards to your overall vision of this site and your business. If you feel you have decent traffic on the site and it is time to start generating revenue from it? By all means charge. However, if you are still at a fraction of your desired following, something as epic as this sounds may be a good opportunity to really drive up your traffic numbers.

    • Tom Ewer
      June 7, 2013 at 3:46 pm

      Hey Joe,

      I think one argument would be that you could give the book away free and offer a paid version (perhaps hard copy) on Amazon. “True fans” would probably go out of their way to pay for it as a vote of confidence, while you’d also have the benefit of giving it away for all those people who don’t know you or simply aren’t inclined to give you their hard-earned money.

      Whatever I do it’s going to be a highly subjective decision, I just need to equip myself with as much information as possible before making that decision! Really appreciate you sharing your views 🙂



  5. Jackson Davies
    June 7, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    Hi Tom, I think you should charge for the book straight off the bat, as you already have a good free guide (which I have perused). The book is the next logical step and you should definitely get some remuneration for the effort. Whilst you could release it free I think overall you would lose from the exchange.

    Starting at $9.99 (In Britbucks that’s about £6.44) gives you some leeway to make some form of offer later (everyone loves a bargain) especially if you write another book.



  6. Grant Guo
    June 7, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    Hi Tom, very inspiring act, thanks for pointing to those two manifestos. I recently discovered (duh, too late) Corbett Barr in a video interview he did with Derek Halpern back in 2011 and can’t stop reading more about him.

    About your book, maybe give reader an option to donate and collect emails?

    • Tom Ewer
      June 8, 2013 at 12:05 pm

      That’s a fantastic video if it’s the one I’m thinking of. Asking for donations is a possible option but I don’t think it’s a contender.

  7. thepotatohead
    June 8, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    If your going to write a substantial page word count, you can definitely charge some money for it. $5-10 sounds reasonable. If you look on the bookshelves small kids books that are 15-20 pages go for that, so if you have a helpful financial guide I don’t see why you couldn’t charge some amount for it.

  8. Michal
    June 10, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    Hi Tom,

    I think that people see value in things they bought. If something is free… then someone downloads it and doesn’t even care to read it in many cases.

    I think 9,99 USD is well-accepted price.

    And one more point: do you really think Tom that this book shall be available for everyone? I think it should be available to people who deserve it. Those that can at least exchange their fast food lunch for it 🙂 You can give the book away for free on special occasions but please, do not make it the default offering.

    The other factor: please take into consideration that it is not only about yourself but also about other authors. By giving good value book for free you are setting a baseline that “good books are available for free”. I’m not an author (yet) but I think that everyone’s hard work shall be awarded with small fee 😉

    Hope it helps

  9. thecheekydiva
    June 11, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    Hi Tom, I’m thrilled to read this. I have two of your previous works, that I purchased on Amazon, and they are jam packed with info, as I’m sure your upcoming manifesto will be. The above commenters made excellent points regarding the price point for your book. While I would love a free book written by you, I would also gladly pay $10~What Michael said about perceived value and how your price effects other authors was right on the money. I’ve downloaded plenty of free books, and truthfully, most of them weren’t even worth that price. Don’t let your wealth of knowledge be undercut by the connotation a free book may have.

    -ie- “If it’s so good, why does he have to give it away?”

    . If you’re dying to give it away, maybe you could just offer it free of charge to your email subscribers, who already know it’s going to be amazing, regardless of price; or maybe hold some sort of drawing or contest for a handful of your rabid fans to pick up a free copy. In any event, I’ll be waiting anxiously to read it, and best of luck with this~and everything else. 🙂

  10. Jason
    June 11, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    I say electronic only, sell on your site, amazon, apple bookstore, barnes & noble at the standard $9.99. Then you could work on deals and bundles with other similar companies at a reduced price, this could lead to guest posts about it and reviews on other sites, etc. And maybe provide a discount or free for existing email subscribers.
    This does 2 things:
    1. electronic only establishes it as a great start to a profitable long term passive income stream that you don’t have to do anything with.
    2. build a larger email subscription list of people who are genuinely interested in your information.

    Just my opinion though.

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