[Israel & Scoble with Naked baby. Photo by Buzz Bruggeman]
I can't believe it has only been two years. It feels like so much longer.
Two Valentine Days ago, Robert Scoble and I were at DEMO. We had an ouline for a book we were calling The Red Couch. It was about why blogging was good for business. Robert had surprised me with this stunt, proclaiming to the world that we were going to blog the book and get publishers to bid for it on eBay.
I hated the book blog idea. I knew publisher's would never compete on eBay, but on the blog Robert started, over at MSN Spaces, a lot of people were saying a bunch of encouraging things to us. Some were giving us leads for the book, others were helping us find the right tone.
Plus four publishers had popped up, expressing interest in the book. None were going to bid on eBay. Two had made serious bids. To be honest, they were bidding well above what we had expected to get as an advance to two first time authors.
One of the publishers, John Wiley and Son sent a team of three down to DEMO to to persuade us that they were the right team. We found ourselves at a circular table in the middle of Morton's Steakhouse surrounded by Valentine couples intent on uttering sweet words in loud tones. It was perhaps the noisiest table I would know until I attended my first blogging dinner.
The Wiley folk were terrific. They tolerated Scoble's penchant of ordering wine by price instead of bottle (Scoble Rule #1: When publisher is paying, select only wines costing three three digits amounts). Somewhere into the second bottle, the surrounding couples had their food arrive. As the focusedon devouring pieces of steer, the noise level got tolerable and the Wiley guys, made an incredibly nice offer. They talked about partnerships and marketing dollars and something called a "Big Book" deal at Amazon.
Like so many of the guests at surrounding tables, we were being swept off our feet. I was ready to do whatever these guys wanted to do. Scoble wasn't. He was staying way back.
Finally, he laid out his concern with Wiley. It seemed the competing publisher blogged and Wiley didn't. Robert felt it important that we have a publisher that had a blog. I was just happy finding a publisher that was offering this amount of money and tossed in a sumptuous steak as a bonus.
That's when Wiley's Joe Wikert offered to start this blog and our acquisition editor Jim Minatel started this one. They are both damn good blogs that they tell me have served Wiley very well. Robert agreed to do the deal and said he would help them with their blogs. That help would turn out to be a single event, when Robert posted at Naked Conversations telling Joe everything he was doing wrong.
But we had a deal and it was the most monumental one I've made so far in my life. We had a deal and the Wiley folk left us, as did all the couples at the surrounding Morton's table. Robert and I found ourselves sitting at the steakhouse bar, drinking XO Cognac at $50 a glass.
We went outside into the desert night to discover a torrential rain, the kind you expect in the tropics. I called my wife to tell her the good news and I heard tears of joy. I later found out that was in part because she had learned that day that she was about to be laid off from her job at a time when I was at just about zero revenue.
In the end, it all worked out pretty well as I look back two years later The book went through as many name changes as Murphy Brown went through secretaries, but as Naked Conversations, it has done pretty well. Paula and I seem to be living happily ever after.
Scoble has moved on to become a new age TV star and I'm at least talking a lot about starting a second book. The blog has changed names and colors, but if you are reading this, it is still doing pretty well.
Thanks Robert. It has been my favorite two years.