Last month's release of the new Captain Underpants book reminded me of how very much I adore the Web site for this silly kid's book series....
My youngest daughter (and okay, her father) find this series absolutely hilarious. Yeah, it's mired in the potty, but it's also far smarter than one would assume.
Here's what has impressed me about Dav Pilkey's site:
Most online resources for business books simply try to sell you the book, or the author's services. Not Pilkey.com. His site accomplishes what few author sites do: he recaptures the essential spirit of his books on the Web, by producing a range of online features that are perfectly aligned with the book's heart and soul.
There's no blog, no links, and of course no advertising. Instead he has posted songs and videos and games and heaps of extra stuff that is perfectly "mission-driven," to apply a business term. His site is not an online advertisement, but a re-invention of the book's world on the online space.
Interestingly, another author who has taken her work to the Web with great imagination is Jan Brett–who also writes for children. She, too, writes with an extremely well-realized and distinctive voice, and her site serves as a new platform for her work.
Her books are visual treats anchored by her large, open illustrations. And the site builds on this by sharing numerous ways for visitors to download images from her many books, for starters; and also to use these images as coloring books, cards, games, murals, and much more. It's easy for a reader of her work to lose hours of their time here, productively.
I think that there's something to the fact that each of these children's authors has an extremely well-realized voice and overall "look-and-feel" that has helped them translate their work to a new medium with authenticity. I will look for business author sites that do the same. At the moment, the ones that comes closest in my opinion are Guy Kawasaki and Tom Peters.
P.S. Scholastic http://www.scholastic.com/ just announced a great author promotion for Dav Pilkey, being a 10 city Purple Porta-Potty Tour, with fun and goodies. It's great news if you live in one of the 10 cities on the list. Personally, I don't know why they've selected cow towns and hick spots like Seattle, Chicago, and New York City when they could be sharing their schwag at real cities like Boston. And if anyone sponsoring the contest wants to deputize a Captain Underpants ambassador by sending me schwag to distribute, well, you can find me through this site.
Tom Ehrenfeld is a former writer and editor with business publications such as Inc. Magazine and the Harvard Business Review. He has worked as a freelance writer, editor, and general business-writing factotum for the past nine years, and continues to do so from his home base of Cambridge, Mass. His first book is titled The Startup Garden: How Growing A Business Grows You.