Book or course?

~ 2 min read | Category: Newsletters

Years ago, I attended Robert McKee’s Story seminar in London.

McKee’s a Hollywood screenwriting guru who’s so well known in the industry he was portrayed in a major film (Adaptation starring Nicolas Cage - McKee was played by Brian Cox.)

The Story seminar is based on his best-selling book of the same name. And pretty much everyone who ever wanted to write a screenplay has bought a copy of that book. Me included.

In real life, McKee is a grumpy, unapologetic kind of a guy. On the morning of Day 1 of the seminar he said:

‚ÄúYou do know you won‚Äôt learn anything here that isn‚Äôt in my¬†book, right? If you were expecting something different, say now, I‚Äôll give you a refund and you can just leave.‚ÄĚ

Nobody left.

(We all knew it was the same content as the book. We just wanted McKee to teach it to us in person.)

Now at the time, the book cost around £10. The seminar cost at least £200.

For basically the same material.

(Sure, a seminar costs more to run, it’s a live experience, not just information on a page, but even so… is it really worth 20 times more?)

So, in case you were in any doubt…

The format of the information has a huge effect on the perceived value.

And it’s the same with online courses.

An online course on the right topic could easily sell for £500. A book on the same topic would struggle to sell for £25. Even if the outcome was the same.

Which is why I’m always bemused when people who think course creation is too much effort with no guarantee of reward, are quite happy to spend 100+ hours writing a book about their topic to self-publish on Amazon.

Because the truth is that the vast majority of books, particularly self-published books, don’t come close to repaying the effort the author invests in them.

Even very successful nonfiction authors don’t write books for the money, they do it for awareness and attention it brings to their ideas.

So if you’re interested in packaging up your ideas and expertise for the mass market, why not create an online course instead of writing a book?

A course can be just as effective at building your credibility.

A course (particularly one with videos) bonds you to your audience far more effectively than a book.

And when you sell a copy of your course, the proceeds will buy you far more than just a cup of coffee.

But even if you’re hell-bent on writing a book, why not create a course first then write your book based on the content?

That way you can use your¬†book¬†to promote your¬†course¬†too. ūüėÉ

See you soon,


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