Book In A Box

Book writing & publishing as a service

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I'll preface my comment by saying this is an excellent thread with a lot of Maker engagement, which is one of the beautiful things about Product Hunt. The product is undeniably well-developed and presented. I love how diverse the Product Hunt community is. Diversity is such a crucial element in online communities, especially one that is so popular in tech. But I personally have a problem with Tucker's past work and how he shaped his personal identity for so long. I haven't kept up with any of Tucker's recent work, but in college I read many of his stories detailing his exploits with women. There's no denying that Tucker has solid writing skills, but his success was built on humiliating women and detailing exploits that often were bigoted, misogynistic and seriously horrendous. For that reason, I flagged this post. I don't think it will be removed, but I think it's worth sharing my perspective. People should make informed decisions about products they buy and companies they support. A bit of Googling will do wonders.
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@stttories Obviously you are welcome to your perspective, and I am not even mad that you put this comment here. In fact, I think it's great, because it gives me a chance to address this issue, so thank you for that. Plainly put: Nothing about my writing has ever been about humiliating women. Ever. The proof is simple: Over half of my fans--the people who paid money for my books--were women. And still are. If my books were about misogyny or humiliating women, then none of those women would have given me their money or wasted their time on my writing. To say my writing is about misogyny is to call millions of women stupid, or at the very least, to dismiss their opinion in favor of yours. I respect the opinions of women (and men), even the ones I disagree with, and would never dismiss them like that, nor should you. And beyond that, everything I have ever done in my life has been about making women like me. You can ask my wife about that if you doubt it, she'll tell you. And though you say that a bit of Googling does wonders, apparently you missed the many, many pieces written in praise of my women. You may not like my writing, and that's totally fine. But your characterization of it is wrong. EDIT: As a side note, I'd like to point something out: Not liking me as a person is fine. There is plenty not to like about me. And wanting to point out that I wrote things that you disagree with is also cool. Like I said, I think it's great to bring that subject up, I wrote those books, you have an opinion, they are both valid facts, so let's address it. Every issue has multiple sides. But what is not cool is flagging this company profile. That is actually the only thing going here that is hateful. And quite frankly, it is hateful towards free speech and this community. Of course PH is not a government entity, and they are welcome to remove or add anything they want. But to try to get something removed simply because *you don't like the person who did it* is really really hateful in ways that are very problematic. In fact, I can't think of anything more problematic to creating a vibrant diverse community of free thinking makers and problem solvers.
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@tuckermax I respect that you've chosen to defend yourself in this manner and with this approach, as it is your right. I'm sure you expected my comment, or something in the same vein, and thus already had this type of response prepared in your head. The beauty of feminism is that I support other women and I don't apply my definition or strain of beliefs to them. I am not insulting women by saying I was personally offended by your work and found it to be pretty terrible towards the women depicted, and found it be misogynistic. I'm not going to rebut your other points, as I don't feel they're worth addressing. But I will say that my comment being "far more hateful of women than anything" you've done in your life is a gross misrepresentation and indecency, and I don't agree with you at all.
@tuckermax I wasn't trying to get the post removed, and I even mentioned that when I submitted the flag. I flagged the post to make the moderators and team here aware that a member of their community has a concern they want to express. Tucker, please don't draw a line between me flagging the post and me trying to hurt this community. I'm a very active member of this community, and I love it and have enjoyed watching it grow. I've made amazing connections on here and I think my presence is generally appreciated. I commented to contribute my perspective to this community. Understand that this is a place where people come together to discuss products and their makers. You've spun my initial comment into presenting me as a detriment to this community, and it's unfortunate you feel that way. I'm going to step away from this thread now because this line of conversation actually IS detrimental.
@stttories I have no desire to upset you or turn this into a contentious debate, and if my response came off that, my bad. You and I agree on one thing: product hunt is a great community to discuss products and services. How about we just stick to that discussion in this thread? If you really want to discuss my books or how you think they portray women, im happy to have that discussion, but let's do it in a better venue, and not bring those tangential discussions here. My email is
Book In A Box came about because an entrepreneur called me out, and was right. She had a great book idea, and amazing things to say, she just had no time to deal with writing and publishing a book (who does except writers). I told her there was no way to get a book without writing it, and she called me out, saying if I was an actual entrepreneur, then I would find a way to solve her problem: how could she write and publish her book, without having to actually sit down, type it out, and then wade through the publishing process? OK, fine. We tinkered around until we came up with what is now the Book In A Box process. We ended up spending about 16 hours on the phone with her over 6 weeks, and that was all she had to do. About 3 months later, she had an awesome professionally published book, and it's gotten her a bunch of business. The process is now refined and usually takes an author about 12 hours total, and our side is only about 4 months. [The full story the start of Book In A Box is in this Medium post:] The process itself is explained in that post, or on our site (, but I am happy to answer any questions about our company, our growth & sales, or generally just discuss publishing or anything else you want to ask me. Nothing is off limits, I'm a big believer in being honest and upfront.
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@tuckermax love the medium post. suggest everyone reads it to learn how the book in a box process works. a few q's: how are you handling all that growth? are you being very particular about the book projects you take on -- and what's your criteria? are you able to evaluate pretty early on what's a best seller - how predictable is it for you now that you've written and seen so many? also, fyi everyone - we're going to interview Tucker next week at @jason LAUNCH conference, so we'll look at this thread to ask him some great q's.
@tuckermax as someone on the outside looking in, i also have a few questions about publishing -- are there comparisons between publishing houses and record labels? what do you think the future of publishing looks like? is the business/economics going to change the product (books) itself - are there ways to make MVPs of books? will writing programs in the future look like accelerators/incubators (or perhaps they already do?) what will the role of books be in the future (are you a doomsdayer, as Jonathan Franzen is, or are you more optimistic?) as someone who loves to read and write, but also understands business, what do you think about all this?
@eriktorenberg Good questions: 1. Growth: We have intentionally throttled our growth to give us time to really develop and refine the process, and to find and train the best possible freelancers, all to ensure a quality product from our end. There would be no quicker way for this to fail than to put our mediocre books. We have even had to delay some joint venture projects with large organizations, because they were going to push *too many* clients to us, and we weren't ready. 2. Who do we work with: We do reject some authors, but only if they don't have enough to say to make a book, or if they seem very rude or difficult to work with. This has only been about 5-8% of the cases so far. Most of our clients are great, and have good book ideas. 3. Projecting sales: We have no idea what will and won't sell well, and in fact, that's the opposite of our job. Trying to pick winners is a fools game, and one of many reasons that traditional publishers are all going out of business. We are a services company that helps authors create books, and we don't actually own the rights or royalties to any of the books. The author owns everything. We are pretty good at understanding whether the book will serve the needs of the client--because not all authors care about having best sellers--and we do spend a lot of time talking to authors about what their goals are to make sure the book has the chance to meet them. Excited about LAUNCH Conference too, should be really fun. Definitely excited to meet @jason.
@eriktorenberg Oh man--great questions, and really long answers. Lemme see if I can't hit the highlights: 1. Future of publishing: It's both bleak and bright. It's bleak for the old school publishing companies. They missed the train on technology, and since they were never created in order to serve the needs of readers, it's too late for most of them. They are already slowly dying, mainly because they cant or wont change. Here's the reality: People love reading and love books, and they prove this by the money and time they spend reading them (and other forms of media). The future is very bright for all the alternate new companies that are trying to develop new ways to read, write, and share information. More people are reading more content than ever. You just have to stop thinking about publishers as they were for a century, simply because that was an accident of history and technology. The publishers of the future will either be completely integrated vertically aligned companies that own every part of the customer experience, like Buzzfeed, or highly skilled service companies that help individuals or corporations do everything they need to create and promote content, like us or any number of others. When Jonathan Franzen is calling the death of publishing and books, he is talking about a very small, specific universe: The NYC publisher and the elitist literary novel. For a century, book publishing has been a rich white mans game, that existed to serve the social signaling needs of a tiny group of Manhattan elites. Nothing else. Seriously--NO publisher EVER cared about business; i.e., actually tried to understand who their customers were and what they wanted to read. They ONLY cared about publishing and promoting the "right" books--books that signalled the right things to the small group of people they cared about. How many stories of what have become classic, iconic books starting as self-published works--because EVERY publisher passed on them--do you have to read about to understand that the publishing industry perpetuated a massive, century long crime against art. My books, 50 Shade Of Grey, the list goes on and on. This is a much longer discussion for a different forum, but we are about to see a huge explosion in books--just like are in music because of the death of labels and photography because of the rise of iphones and instagram--and I think its going to create a golden age of all forms of art that will be amazing for the world, and I'm excited to be a part of it.
From someone who has used the Book-in-a-Box service (to write, I wanted to jump in here and say that Tucker and Zach make KILLER professional books. Every detail of the book looks professionally published to the point that if I don't say anything, people just assume I got a book deal to write this book. When you work with Book-in-a-Box, it's like the inverse of a traditional book deal. With a book deal, you would be PAID a small advance, YOU do most the work, and end up with a SMALL FRACTION of the royalties. With Book-in-a-Box, you PAY a small advance, THEY do most of the work, and you end up with ALL the royalties. This is an amazing service for people with a great idea for a book or for entrepreneurs looking to become a recognized expert in the field. You don't need to be good at writing (they will do it for you if you are not a writer), but if you like writing, it can still be a great way to get that first draft done faster and let you personalize it and add your personal tone in the second draft. Not only do I love this service, but I plan to use it again. Huge thumbs up.
@cardmagic Thanks dude, I'm really happy we were able to serve your needs. EDIT: That sounds like an awful corporate response. I didn't mean it that way, I'm honestly just stoked it worked well for you.
Also, gotta give a shot out to two of our amazing advisors: @nisselson and @kamalravikant. They don't get as much press in the Valley as some other names, but they are amazing, and have both been really helpful to us. As someone who advises other companies as well (like @pridebites and @deepeddyvodka), people don't talk enough about how important they can be, how to deal with them properly, and what to expect from them. But I guess that's a different topic for a different place.
This raises an interesting question about screening customers. I've seen several discussion about avoiding customers that aren't profitable or that will be too much of a pain in the ass. However, I have never read anything high quality about screening customers who are willing to purchase a product, but who's goal might not be met by it (I bet plastic surgeons think about this). This gets even more tricky when the product is expensive and the goal is non-financial. You have no idea if they will get a promotion or if someone's parents will finely approve of their life choices. What is the process for protecting people from themselves / their self delusions. Is this issue even important?
@eawharton Hey Eddie, this is a great question and something we've spent a lot of time thinking about. Our initial feeling was that the beauty of this project was that we wouldn't need to be the gatekeepers, choosing which books "deserve" to get made. I tell clients all the time, if I had to decide whether books were worth publishing, 50 Shades of Grey wouldn't exist. But apparently 100 million readers disagree with me. So what do I know? As we've gone on, though, we've learned that there are a few exceptions. Of course clients that are difficult to work with are a no brainer, but there's two other criteria I look for in every client before accepting them: 1) They have enough to say: It doesn't matter to me whether I agree with their ideas, but if they want to write a 200 page book and don't have the depth of knowledge to create it, it can't happen. We help people turn their ideas into books, but we don't create the ideas for them. 2) The book will help them reach their goals: Again, it's not my job to determine whether those goals are worthwhile or not, but I won't let anyone delude themselves into doing a book that won't accomplish their goals. If someone wants to write a story about their mom's life and their goal is to get filthy rich, I'll explain that it's not a likely outcome and we won't work with them. Whether the return is financial from book sales, financial from other activities, or emotional, I want to make sure every client has a clear path to a positive ROI. The truth is, the worst thing we could possibly do is put ourselves in a situation where we deliver an amazing end product and the client doesn't accomplish their goals. Standing strong on these two criteria is what keeps that from happening. Writing that answer actually helped me clarify a lot of things in my own head, so thanks :)