I was working on another idea I’ve got (it can wait – it doesn’t require any action until 2013, so posting about it here a few days later won’t make a difference), and I went back and was reading my blog posts from Fall of 2003 and I re-discovered something I’d forgotten. Now, if you go back and try to look at the original posts for yourself, please keep in mind that there were some problems converting the site from MoveableType to WordPress last year that I haven’t taken the 100+ (estimated) hours it will take to go through and fix, yet. So, some posts are just a mess, right now, and some are almost entirely missing. Still, from what’s there, I was able to piece this together:
I started recording and posting my first Podiobook online 16 months before the word “Podiobook” was coined. Heck, it was two months before the word “Podcast” was suggested, according to Wikipedia. (Consequently, I wasn’t trying to podcast it at that point – I was simply blogging about it & trying to sell it through my blog.) I had even found a way to monetize it from day one, with a now-defunct micro-payments system called BitPass – at 25cents per chunk or about $1/half-hour (ie: about the same price for the whole thing whether you buy it all at once or a little at a time). My plan, according to this post from September, 2003, was to simultaneously release the book in paperback, electronic format, and as MP3s (and possibly CDs). By the first week of December, 2003 I had the first four files recorded and available for purchase, right from this post (broken links now removed).
I was testing the waters, trying to see if anyone was interested in an audio version (trying to see if anyone was willing to give micropayments a try, too). The plan, as of December 11, 2003, looks like it was to post the rest of the audiobook serially, for micropayments, but also to offer options to buy the whole book as MP3s together, an MP3 CD, and possibly a set of audio CDs (since the MP3 Audiobook was unheard of at that point, I thought I should at least offer it in the old way). Unfortunately, no one bit. No one even commented to say they were interested. According to my posts about stats, my blog was getting between 10k and 30k “unique visitors” per month (in the months I mentioned stats) from September 2003 through February 2004, and had fewer than a dozen regular commenters. By March 2004, thinking there was no interest and it was taking WAY too much work to not be heard, I’d given up on the audio version of Lost and Not Found.
I didn’t persist. Well, I did keep working, I kept writing, I kept creating, I just didn’t try to do audio again until 2008. And by 2007-2008, when I looked into it, I discovered that what I’d thought of doing 4-5 years earlier had taken off and now I’m late to the party. In the intervening time, I’d never given up on the idea of someday recording audio versions of my own books in my own voice, but in the insulated world I lived in I didn’t know anyone else was doing it. And since I was working full time and splitting my off hours between having a life, writing, painting, and more, there wasn’t time to be doing the audio versions.
“If only, if only…” If only I’d followed through on my idea. If only I’d finished recording it, despite an apparent lack of interest from my audience. If only I’d heard of Creative Commons (founded in 2001? Who knew? Not me!), or thought to give away my content instead of insisting on trying to sell every copy in every format. If only I’d somehow thought of podcasting prior to its adoption and… umm.. yeah. ((I was SO reading RSS specifications in 2003/2004, and was only thinking of enclosing files for my online comics and my occasional “audioblog” posts, not for books.)) So. I have a long history of thinking of things a couple of years before anyone else, and then losing interest in them and setting them aside long before they suddenly hit it big. I need to work on my follow-through, and I need to work on persistence, even in the face of adversity.
I have good ideas, I even often know what to do with them, and I need to get myself to actually follow through. To carry my ideas to fruition. So that the next time I invent the next big thing, maybe I’ll be at the center of it instead of on the outside, looking in.