The image of self-publishing

February 4, 2006

In the publishing world, self-publishing is pejoratively known as “vanity publishing”. In the past, a writer would only have a chance of being published if his/her book was commercially viable. Being chosen to be published was an honor, since a publisher was basically saying that it thought the work was good and would sell well. When those who weren’t chosen decided to pay to have their book published anyway, it was seen as vanity. I suspect that this stigma will disappear sometime in the future as more and more previously unknown writers produce quality material and become successful.


Self-publishing != print on demand

February 4, 2006

Many people are unfamiliar with the amazing tool that is Lulu.com and how it will really change the publishing industry. Lulu started from Bob Young from Redhad Linux. Apparently, he wrote a book that was published with a traditional publisher, and had a PILE of unsold books (enough to make a chair that he could sit on). He thought to himself, “there must be a better way” and founded Lulu.com.

Lulu is a print-on-demand publisher. POD publishers use the latest printing technology to manufacture books one-at-a-time. Instead of needing to purchase 1,000 books and having to eat the cost of any unsold items, a POD publisher will only manufacture them as they are ordered. New printing technology has made this more cost effective than ever before. Note: It’s still not as cheap per item as a traditional publisher would be able to produce, but it allows the other 95% of the writers in the world to actually have a chance to sell books without borrowing a huge sum of money.

Bob Young describes Lulu as “a cross between Ebay and Amazon.” Most self-publishers charge authors hefty fees to publish their work. They make money from the author instead of the readers. Lulu charges no up-front fees and only takes a small amount of each sale. I guess, technically, Lulu is a self-publisher, but not all self-publishers are print-on-demand publishers. I’ll talk more about self-publishing and the image of self-publishing in a future post.


Disadvantages of traditional publishing model

February 1, 2006

The traditional publishing model as it has existed for a long time has several disadvantages.

First, publishers have too much control of published content. There are many books that should be published and could be commercially successful, but for whatever reason are rejected by publishers.

Second, the large publisher model does not address the needs of smaller markets. If your book is only going to sell 1,000 copies, it’s simply not worth the time of a large publisher.

Third, in the end, the person who bears the most risk is the one who most profits, and in the large publisher model, this is the publisher–not the author. As I’ve learned more about business, I appreciate this and actually value this. Risk and reward are indivisible. I am excited to be living in a time when as a writer, I have a chance to bear the risk and reap the reward.


Frans Bouma’s review of my book

January 26, 2006

I couldn’t have asked for a better review! It’s an honor to have someone of his ability read and recommend it.


My first book now on Lulu.com

January 26, 2006

Today I start on a new adventure in my life. I’m self-publishing a book about programming. The title of the book is Rapid C# Windows Development: Visual Studio 2005, SQL Server 2005, and LLBLGen Pro. Hopefully, it will fill a void in good documentation. Many developers use tools like code generators to reduce the amount of time it takes to code a project. Many of these tools have steep learning curves, and especially as a beginner, it’s hard to get started.

This is also an experiment to see if technical writing is a viable side business for me. I have more graphic design experience than programming experience, so being able to design the cover, create the infographics, and layout the text is fun for me. I have no idea what to expect! In future posts I’ll talk about why I went with Lulu, and go into more detail about each step in the process.