Self-publishing - few thoughts
Some comments I'd like to share with you after self-publishing my book Practical Unit Testing with TestNG and Mockito.
First of all, the reasons I decided to self-publish:
- I have a full control over what happens to my book.
- If you publish with a media house / publisher or whatever it is called, you get about 10% of income (see http://oreilly.com/oreilly/author/ch03.html#royadv for example). I simply find this unfair.
- Some books from big/important/well-known publishers have such low quality that I doubt in "professional help" they provide to authors. So I decided to ask community for help rather then give 90% of revenue for doing nothing (ok, I'm pretty sure that there some publishers who really do care about the quality, but I still believe I can take care of it on my own & with the help of community)
- There are many companies who help to self-publish, and the tools you need for this are available (and there is a choice).
- I believe I can reach my audience (mostly Java developers) by myself.
- I believed I know English good enough to write a book... (uh-oh, that was stupid!)
Now some comments:
- it is definitely possible to self-publish, but...
- ...it is a project on its own - a lot, really A LOT of things you have probably never done before (and even never heard of). Seriously, this is something big, and the thing is, that writing a book is an exhausting experience. If you add to this the self-publishing issues and marketing/sales issues, you start thinking that maybe giving 90% to some company is not so bad after all... Yeah, you really do.
- there are many nice tools/companies which make it possible - which costs money of course
- tools I use (and I'm really happy with!):
- http://paypal.com - payments
- http://e-junkie.com - "shopping cart and buy now buttons to let you sell downloads ", nicely integrates with PayPal
- http://createspace.com - self-publishing service of Amazon. They have great tool for previewing the content of your book, so you know EXACTLY how it looks like after publishing.
- I was very nervous about the online payments stuff I had to set up because I have never used it before (as a seller!), but I have to say it works very well, and I have no problems with it.
- This one depends probably very much on your situation, but for me, self-publishing meant also opening my own company, with all the administration, taxes and such things that are not really things that I wanted to take care of on daily basis (and they include some foreign stuff which is harder to do). Of course, if you are already an experienced businessman then there is nothing to be afraid of.
- editors? Ask community to help you, and you will get a superb editorial support for your book. ...and BTW. typos will still be there no matter how many times you check it! :(
- A lot of depend on the tools you use.
- In case of AsciiDoc I had to learn a lot about it (and about many other tools like xsltproc, DocBook, fop, calibre), much more than I wanted to, but in the end it allowed me to format the book the way I wanted it. But I would not recommend it if you are not a developer yourself!
- Not sure how things would look like, if I had chosen MsWord for writing. There are some (online) services/tools to convert it to PDF, ePub, mobi etc. I have never used them so I have no clue about their quality and the level of control they offer.
- Make sure the tool you use supports what you need (indexes, cross-references, bibliography, footnotes, headers and footers) and that you know how to customize them.
- You need someone to design a cover for you. You can also use some templates from Amazon if you publish with CreateSpace (but it also costs).
- If you are not native, then there is this huge task of correcting/translation:
- it costs a lot - in fact, this is almost the only cost you have to pay when self-publishing
- it takes time
- it is hard to find a person with technical background, so you will have to take make sure the text after the corrections still makes sense - which is very hard, because you read your own book for the n-th time, and it is very hard to catch any bugs
- The work does not end when you click the "publish" button. Now you have to sell your book, you know. And this is another story...
- There is something magical about having your own book on the shelf, especially after such great efforts to finish and publish it.
If time permits I will write some more about self-publishing. But for today that is all that I've got. Cheers!