Band:Smart Digital Release /// Martin Atkins / by Jen Bachelder


After two long years of copy editing, rearranging, new layouts, rearranging, content cutting, rearranging, and email after email after email, the first digital edition of Band:Smart by Martin Atkins has been sent out into the world. *Insert The Scream here*

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Working with Martin is always a learning opportunity. We just see the world in very different ways.

When I look at the current version of the book, I see so much potential. The kind of potential that keeps me up at night and pushes me out of bed in the morning. "Ugg, that chapter still has some serious layout issues." "This content is not ready for viewing by the general public." "A full page image could really help break up these text heavy bits." However, I've been working on this page-by-page with Martin for over two years. From what I understand, he's been working on this (with a variety of support characters) for closer to 10. That's crazy.

He and I are always battling over what's "good enough" because we're looking for different things. I'm wondering if the (sometimes utterly brilliant) content can shine through all the other crap. He's wondering if people will still care if we sit on it for too long. Recently, we finally found the middle ground.

This spread, from Martin Atkins' Band:Smart, is from Chapter 25: Free is the New Black.

Good Thing Martin's a Bit of a Genius

One day, while we were debating "good enough," I mentioned that typos are a huge issue for me. If I'm reading a book/article/blog and notice a word is misspelled, it stops me in my tracks (I've never won a spelling bee; it's likely an obvious one if I catch it.). After the second typo, I'm starting to lose faith in the author. Three and I've likely put the book down. Martin's reaction was basically, "Great. Let's make that a thing." (If you know him, you know he doesn't speak that way. That's a massive simplification.)

We put together a form and a public-facing spreadsheet so readers can share typos, content flow issues, suggestions, or whatever else they want to tell us. This lets Martin say, "I know this isn't quite ready yet, but I couldn't wait to share it with you." It also opens up a dialog with his super-users. If they take the time to fill out the form, Martin learns a little more about his readers and has a direct avenue to shoot them a quick thank you. If there's a best-case for losing an argument, this is probably it.

This spread, from Martin Atkins' Band:Smart, is from Chapter 18: Packaging.

For Those Who Gave a Fuck

To get the production process started, Martin ran a successful Kickstarter a few years ago. The $1 kudos gave you a shout out in the thank you section in the back of the book. For a few dollars more, you could sponsor an actual "fuck." Yep. Not only can his fans tell their friends that they "gave a fuck," they have a page with their name on it to prove it. Amazing.

This spread, from Martin Atkins' Band:Smart, is from Chapter 9: Outside the Box.

This spread, from Martin Atkins' Band:Smart, is from Chapter 9: Outside the Box.

There's No Going Back. It's out there.

A pre-release PDF was shared with the Kickstarter backers this morning. CDBaby is sharing the link with their 400K+ newsletter readers tomorrow. That might mean 400K+ typo submissions that need sorted through and executed before the print in January, but for today, so far so good.

Getting the first digital edition out the door was a huge milestone, but there's still plenty of work to be done. Here's to making "good enough" better for round two.


Mentioned in the spreads above: Matt Bauerschmidt, Mike DoughtyJosh Hogan, Paul Jamrozy, Cameron Mizell, Fran Snyder

Title Block Photo: Samuel Zeller via Unsplash