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God's Debris

Mark Edwards

Scott Adams is the creator of the Dilbert cartoon. I would describe him as a pretty clever cat.

He has created a successful cartoon series syndicated in newspapers throughout the world. He has long used this popularity to publish books of the comic strip and sell associated merchandise.

Dilbert is the biggest drawcard for the subscription based comics site comics.com. This site began by offering a tailored email delivery service of your favourite comics at no charge. After they had built up their subscriber base they added a nominal annual charge for the service. Cartoonists receive royalties on the basis of how many times people select their strip to appear in a daily email.

Further leveraging his online presence and the power of Dilbert, Scott Adams collected the email addresses of visitors to his site to send them an email newsletter. The first issue went out to about 700,000 subscribers. Even now, his subscriber numbers are around 500,000. As a veteran newsletter publisher, I know that few individuals, or even corporations, have legitimate mailing lists this large.

The pre-Christmas issue of this newsletter came out this week and it included the usual highly amusing content as well as plugs for all of his Dilbert merchandise.

The newsletter also mentioned that Adams has now started a blog with his regular humour in yet another online format.

In a previous newsletter, Adams mentioned his latest book "God's Debris" which was then a hardcover release. In the current newsletter he is now giving the book away as a PDF. Yes, for free.

Sales of the original book were "solid". Read "solid" as "bestseller" by Australian standards.

He gives the book away because, amongst other reasons, he sells more of them by giving many many copies of the book away and having some small percentage of those who read it buy a physical copy to either give to friends or for their own collection.

Several authors and publishers have tried this approach with a great deal of success. Baen Books is one publisher who gives away books by some of its best authors. Steven King did this also with a short novel several years ago.

My forecast is that Scott Adams will do better than any predecessor who has tried this marketing method because he is leveraging his huge online following and his online marketing savvy, built over almost 10 years of embracing the Internet in all of its manifestations.

As I said, Scott Adams is a pretty clever cat.

The book: www.andrewsmcmeel.com/godsdebris/

The comics: comics.com

The blog: dilbertblog.typepad.com/

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