Beer and Pavement

Book Ideas [updated]

Posted in Book by Zac on August 9, 2012

From time to time, I’ve floated around some book ideas. I have at least three novels, five children’s books, and a memoir or three in my head. I don’t know much about the publishing industry, but I doubt this will make me very much money or fame. So, the planning process for Building International Coalitions Through Beer and Pavement the book begin here. This is ground zero.

Before I begin writing this book (and subsequently avoiding applying for that PhD in information sciences and learning technologies), I need to figure out some topics to discuss. Below are few things I’m floating around. Think of each as a chapter…

  • Preface (or why?)
  • Mirrored Histories (of indie rock and craft beer, of course)
  • My Story
  • What is indie-craft?
  • DIY-Power to the People
  • Macros and Majors
  • A Sustainable Business Model
  • Why does any of this matter?

Basically, this is where you all come in. I need ideas for topics. More than likely, I’ll come up with a few more, but I really value the input from the few of who still read this blog.

Eventually, I hope to draft and workshop these topics here on the blog. I’ve done some of that already, but I want to be more purposeful in my writing and begin to shape up some sort of manuscript I can shop around. Your input will be invaluable in this process. I mean, this is still a coalition after all.

Now, it’s your turn. Tell me what to do in the comments. Another post will happen tomorrow.

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16 Responses

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  1. G-LO said, on August 9, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    I like your ambition! I’d love to help you out, but I’m not very good at original ideas. I’m much better at tweaking ideas or at least working through ideas and discussing the alternatives (a virtual sounding board if you will). Your “Sustainable Business Model” idea is intriguing. I work in finance/budgeting/accounting at a University and the one thing I’ve learned is that the way we do business today is, in my humble opinion, very unsustainable. So what would be an example of “A Sustainable Business Model”, i.e. what type of business were you thinking about?

    • Zac said, on August 9, 2012 at 7:22 pm

      G-LO, your contributions – whatever they may be – are always welcome.

      It’s not fully developed, but a sustainable business model (based on indie rock labels and craft breweries) follows a few basic principles: controlled growth, proper treatment of employees, and a genuine enjoyment of what one does. There might be more, but this is just off the top of my head.

      • G-LO said, on August 9, 2012 at 8:29 pm

        That’s where I thought you were going with this. From my perspective, the only way it would work is by taking the greed out of the equation. The owners have to pay a fair wage, and they have to give their employees a vested interest in the company. You also have to keep from going public and be willing to pump any profits back into the company rather than going for the cash grab. If I had the cojones to go into business for myself, I would want this type of business model. I think the key is also keeping good employees and allow them room for growth. It’s all a very delicate balance.

      • Zac said, on August 9, 2012 at 8:38 pm

        YES! When the focus returns to building a successful business that benefits all and not just a few, said business model is sustainable and better for all. Greed is the problem. What kills me is that those with this sort of philosophy also can make a fair amount of bank. You don’t have to be a greedy douche to make money.

      • G-LO said, on August 9, 2012 at 10:27 pm

        Totally agree Zac! I see it all the time at work. We have meetings throughout the year about how we can improve the bottomline, but no one ever suggests cutting back at the top, i.e. maybe upper management can skip the “cost of living” increase, take less of a bonus, or give up some perks so that they don’t have to cut the $30K/year secretary or other support person that we actually need.

        I want all of the trappings of wealth as much as the next guy (fancy car, beautiful house, extravagant vacations, etc.), but I just can’t see it happening unless I hit the lottery (mostly because I’m not very greedy). If we all learn to live within our means, then everyone will have the opportunity to eat, and maybe people will pursue more fulfilling and sustainable professions if they can actually support themselves doing it.

        The good news is that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in this country. Craft everything has seen incredible growth, i.e. beer, food, spirits, etc., but as we have said, sustainability is what needs to be achieved. We also need to manage expectations.

      • Zac said, on August 9, 2012 at 10:49 pm

        We are kindred spirits, you and I. The only thing I see slightly differently is the idea of living within our means… I think we should all live within common means. In other words, no one needs two houses or $50k sports cars or multi-million dollar homes. I won’t argue that a CEO and janitor should be paid the same, but there should be some common sense that dictates what is a reasonable ratio. How much do you need to live comfortably.

        However, this isn’t how we’r wired. That’s why I like to promote those who do live and work this way. I always look to people like those at Merge Records who split profits with their artists and provide decent wages and benefits for their employees instead of just making money for the owners. I like a guy like Sam Caligione who chooses to grow his business at a slow, steady pace instead of going public and going all macro on us. These companies put people before profit while creating business models that are as sustainable as they are good.

        I’ll stop there for now, but this will come up again.

      • G-LO said, on August 10, 2012 at 12:02 pm

        I can’t argue with your logic Zac. You’ve opened a huge can of worms! This calls for a beer for thought. :)

      • Zac said, on August 10, 2012 at 12:03 pm

        It makes the world go ’round…or it should.

  2. beerbecue said, on August 9, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    Quite an undertaking. I hope we will get to see it unfold.

    I am just going to throw some stuff out there, brainstorm style:

    What constitutes craft and indie…and the infiltration of macro and mainstream into craft and indie, respectively. Although, perhaps that is already in your Chapter 1.

    Objective assessment of beer and music (how to, importance of, vs. subjective assessment…).

    Are there any redeeming qualities to macro and mainstream?

    And perhaps a Who Cares? chapter, that is, why do indie and craft matter.

    • Zac said, on August 10, 2012 at 6:10 am

      Good stuff. The why questions should be answered in the preface, but those other questions help. The craft/indie topic deserves its own chapter for sure. Thanks!

  3. Robin said, on August 11, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    I’m going to give some infrastructure advice for the book and publishing as a whole since I know f-all about beer or general business strategies (though I agree with all of the above!)

    You may know all this but just in case… In this day and age, if you want to make money off a book, the way to go is independent. Self-publishing is no longer considered a “losers bracket” but is now the cutting edge of the future of book printing. Your costs are much less, you can sell the book for a fair amount (versus the “big three” publishers who will slap a huge price tag on it then you will get almost nothing IF they even accept it). You keep control in a lot of ways. There’s a ton of information out there, but one of the best overall forums is the kindleboards, http://www.kindleboards.com

    Obviously, if you go independent, you will have some up front expenses. You’ll need to hire competent (i.e., professional, not your Aunt Susie) copy and content editors. You will either need to learn how to properly format an epub (which is a little tricky if you have photos, etc., but much easier if you know basic css and xhtml). And very importantly, hire a good cover artist and/or designer; artist if you want original artwork, designer for typography and overall design. I do epub formatting and cover design and my website is http://www.ddgraphix.net, but there are other really good designers out there as well. And some really bad ones too.

    Best of luck on the book and the thesis.

  4. Steve said, on August 13, 2012 at 5:55 am

    I guess before I start I should offer the following caveats – 1. I love the whole idea of this blog covering music and beer 2. I’m no publishing expert…

    So, I’d certainly read anything you put together. However, I’m not sure how well a whole book comparing indie rock and craft beer would work. There would likely be several points where a comparison can’t be made easily, or a train of thought could end up shoehorned in just to make the concept work. Over a blog post it can work really well, but I think a whole book might be stretching it.

    I’m also not sure there is enough of a market for such a book, it feels pretty niche. So, then you start heading towards a more general book on independence and craft across many industries – which could be a great book, but is a massive undertaking, and could easily end up either far too anecdotal or very dry and academic if it heads down the economics route.

    But…I don’t wish to be super-negative! I do think a more quirky (for want of a better term) and personal idea could work. The one I came up with was this:

    How about chronicling twelve months of beer-making, but set yourself a particular goal?

    How about brewing 12 beers, each a collaboration with another brewer (be it a homebrewer having hands-on input, or a bigger craft brewer supplying ingredients, for example), with each beer named after a favourite band or album? Maybe even try to get the band involved, or just send them a beer?

    You could blog about the project over the course of a year (it isn’t a million miles from what you’ve done before, so you know you can do it and it will be entertaining), it will build up in momentum and interest (as the bands and brewers would share the story) and then you have an in-built audience to sell a book to.

    Just an idea – and good luck!

    • Zac said, on August 13, 2012 at 12:04 pm

      You make some good points (as usual). I should either focus this project on indie-craft in general with an eye on craft bee/indie rock OR come up with a thing that I could do. Maybe I should create an indie rock beer recipe book, eh? Plenty to think about.

      • Robin said, on August 13, 2012 at 1:09 pm

        And though it might be totally off base from what you are thinking, maybe if you wanted to expand the book theme, it could involve the wild and wooly world of independent everything. Not just indie rock and small craft beer operations, but breaking free of large publishers, powered by the availability of the ebook, has been and continues to be a profound change; from the written word controlled by a few very large corporations, to the digital word controlled by no one but the authors and buyers who choose their work. And a step sideways but also the same mindset, how farmers like Eric Reuter and other small growers are finding their way to economic stability in the new world of small scale, organic, sustainable farm practices.

      • Zac said, on August 13, 2012 at 1:11 pm

        Yeah, I think you’re right, Robin. I could use my interest in music and beer to lead into many other great independent industries I love like farming and publishing. This fits well with my indie-craft interview series.


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