Self-publishing still has a bad rap amongst some writers, who see it as ‘vanity publishing’.
That’s good news for the rest of us, who see it as a brilliant opportunity to get our work out there without having to wait for permission from traditional gatekeepers.
Obviously though, if you are self-publishing, it’s important to maintain high standards.
According to Guy Kawasaki, author of APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur (Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk), self-publishing at its best is akin to artisan producers such as makers cheese or craft beers. It might not be ‘hands on’ in the traditional sense, but done right, Kawasaki believes it’s an artform all of its own (listen to this great interview on Blogcast.fm to find out more).
Another great listen is The Self-Publishing Podcast with Sean Platt, David W Wright and Johnny B Truant. Platt and Wright in particular have blown me away with how prolific they are at publishing their serialised short fiction, which also happens to be very enjoyable to read.
The podcast is highly entertaining (if you can stomach their very strong language and dodgy humour!) and definitely inspired me to try publishing to Kindle.
One of my favourite episodes was when they had Hugh Howey on as a guest. Howey has self-published a number of stories and books. His book Wool Trilogy 1 (Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk) began as a series and it immediately began rising up the bestseller lists thanks to being a brilliant read.
I’m not surprised it was picked up by an established publishing house. Although interestingly Howey retained the digital rights which tend to be more profitable for authors. The film rights have already been optioned by 20th Century Fox, with Ridley Scott reportedly interested in directing. Not bad for what started out as a self-published series of ebooks!
To Self or Not to Self
Blogging is self-publishing, and creating PDF ebooks is self-publishing, and I’m delighted to have done both. One of my first entrepreneurial moves was creating my own comics and selling them to neighbours when I was 9 years old, and I self-published a magazine based on my previous blog and sold it in local shops. The more I think about it, the more I realise self-publishing is a major passion of mine. Ok, maybe this is simply down to my huge, over-inflated ego more than anything, but I enjoy it!
Publishing my first short ebook for the Amazon Kindle was a natural extension of this, and a very exciting one. It wasn’t a full length book or novel, but it’s made me more optimistic that I will publish a ‘proper’ book in the future, either non-fiction or fiction, and I’ll be happy to self-publish that too. I’m not saying I would turn down a traditional publisher, but I won’t sit around waiting for one to call me either.
If you are interested in traditional publishing, a couple of great resources for non-fiction writers are The Unconventional Guide to Publishing from Chris Guillebeau and David Fugate, and My Big Beautiful Book Plan from Danielle La Porte and Linda Siversten. I wouldn’t bother with these if you just want to self-publish though.
How I Published My First Kindle Book
A couple of weeks ago I published my first Kindle book, Clear-Minded Classics Volume 1: Ten Essential Books for Dissatisfied Creative Types (Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk).
I’d been planning on publishing something to Kindle in the future, but when I found out about www.pressbooks.com I suddenly realised I could do it right away without having to learn complicated formatting skills. That’s because Pressbooks is based around WordPress, and so if you can format a blog post in WordPress then you can put together an ebook and export it to various formats, including .mobi (for Kindle), completely for free.
Yes, it takes care and attention and I can imagine it being time-consuming and a bit of a headache to format a full-length book this way, but for my purposes it was perfect. I was initially able to import the posts right into pressbooks, but that feature no longer exists. Whilst I was disappointed about that, it’s not a big deal as you can easily copy and paste the HTML from each blog post into pressbooks and proceed from there.
As I was excited, I decided not to spend any more time than necessary getting the book ready, which means there were a few formatting issues on the final version which I uploaded to Amazon. I’ve tried to remedy this for my 2nd book (see below).
I created a very basic cover using the Phoster app on the iPad, and I was ready to go. There was a longer than normal delay in publishing due to a glitch at Amazon, and I had to prove I was the author of the work as their algorithm discovered that much of it had already been published online. Thankfully it wasn’t difficult to prove that it was only on my own site.
And because of that, today I’m publishing my second Kindle book:
A Taste of Freedom: The Ditch the Day Job Diaries Year One Annual Report
It’s a brief summary of how my first year as a freelancer went.
My story is hardly one of supreme success, in fact it might well be closer to being a cautionary tale.
I managed to earn just enough to cover my mortgage and bills for the year, which means I survived, at the very least, and learnt a fair bit about myself in the process and finally established some more positive habits.
Maybe you’ll find it helpful if you’re planning going freelance in the future.
The book is free today through to Sunday (8-10 March 2013) and will be very reasonably priced after that.
Get it now at:
Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk or other Amazon stores worldwide.
If you like it, I’d be grateful if you could share it, and even maybe leave a review (which would be doubly appreciated!).
Subscribers will get a free 3 page extract of the book in a handy table format which will give a basic update on how my first year as a freelancer went, and access to every episode of the Ditch the Day Job Diaries, including a brand new episode to kicks off ‘Season 2’. I’ll be recording more episodes throughout the year (unless I return to full-time employment at some point).
Please note: this page is littered with affiliate links, meaning I get a cut of anything you buy using one of my links. It doesn’t cost you anything extra than you would pay anyway, and it’s a way you can help support this blog and get something nice at the same time!
6 replies on “Adventures in Self-Publishing”
Just downloaded the book and looking forward to reading it. Enjoyed the video as always – keep wanting to try videos but not sure about the editing. Pressbooks sounds interesting.
Thanks Alison – let me know what you think of the book – I’d be interested to hear.
Glad you liked the vid. Editing is fairly easy (and fun!) if you get a simple programme like iMovie. I think Windows Movie Maker is the equivalent.
Pressbooks is definitely worth a try too!
Downloaded your ‘one year on’ report yesterday and read it the same evening. A very honest account of your endeavours this year, and still much to be proud of (though I’m sure it’s easy for me to say that from the security of my day job paying the bills!).You’ve linked everything together really well, so it felt fresh even though much of the content was familiar.
You know, last week I watched a documentary called ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’. Jiro is 85, and has spent 70 years making sushi. He has a three Michelin star restaurant in Tokyo, where he serves just 10 customers each sitting. The man is a metronome; the very model of discipline. He had a heart attack 15 years ago, but it barely slowed him.
Even after all this time, he strives to make better sushi today than he did yesterday. At one point in the film he talks about having to devote yourself completely to your job. And yet he didn’t distinguish between a job you fall into, and a job that you do of your own choosing. For me, the line was blurred between him being passionate about his desire for perfection and his passion for the job of making sushi.
Maybe he was just lucky and found a job he loved that also fitted with his personality, but I mention it now because the section of your book that jumped out was where you talk about focussing on your own passions. And I think that is absolutely the right thing to do. If you keep searching within yourself for what you are passionate about then I don’t think you will need to wonder what you might be doing in ten years.
More importantly, you can do it your way. You can follow the same routine every single day the same way Jiro does, or you can live with no routine at all!
Thanks for reading, appreciate the kind words!
That’s a bizarre coincidence, as Mel and I also watched that film last week. Thought it was great. I especially loved the concept of shokunin or dedicating your life to your craft – http://ivyeyesediting.com/blog/college/jiro-dreams-of-sushi-the-making-of-a-great-shokunin/
It reminded me of a film about fashion photographer Bill Cunningham that was on TV a while back. He had a similar dedication to what he did, and also a similarly humble way of life.
What you say about passion is true, but it’s a complex beast. Your passion has to be one that helps others in some way, to the extent that they’re willing to pay you money for it. It can take a long time to find the right balance!
Glad you’re self-publishing Milo (blog and books) and continue to do so. We need to hear cautionary tales so we’re not following the same path to disaster. We also need to cut out the middle men who approve our stories. No more approval by any power structure = self-publishing allows only our readers/fans to approve us.
Don’t even try to throw this comment into that crazy Seth Godin contest (I’m still not playing 🙂
Yes please don’t follow the same path to disaster as me Vishnu. I agree, down with middle men & women 😉