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Self-publishing a technical book

getaclue profile image Alex Kluew ・2 min read

I began to write my Learn Node.js (working title) book last month. It is a self-published book project. The aim of the book is to help developers, switching to javascript and node.js, to hit the ground running by building and uploading a functional project. By going through the book you will be able to build features that modern javascript applications require.

My current plan is to self publish and I will be doing that using gumroad; then I will upload a copy on iBooks store; and checkout amazon's self publishing via kindle. In all three scenarios, a pdf output of the book is perfect. So, the final version of my book will be available for purchase in at least the pdf format. Asciidoc documents are perfectly converted to pdf format using asciidoctor-pdf.

I began writing my book using iBooks Author authoring tool with the intention of publishing the book on the iBooks store. However, as I progressed in my writing process, I realized that my book contained quite a bit of code blocks. I wrote about this earlier but I ended up fully re-doing my work and switching away from iBooks Author authoring tool.

Quite honestly, lack of beautiful code blocks (once converted to pdf) is why I switched my writing into asciidoc format. For images, so far I have been fortunate to use a combination of screenshots and adobe photoshop software.

For more involved diagrams, I opted out to use plantuml for diagram creation. It works pretty good and allows you to maintain your images in plain text format for backups or quick adjustments.

I spent a few hours killing time by working on the book cover marketing material. I found https://www.freepik.com/ to have many wonderful book cover mockups for free. There are also paid alternatives. Point is... finding a beautiful cover may take some time =)

To summarize:

  • write using asciidoc using vs code or asciidocfx

  • convert asciidoc to pdf using something like asciidoctor-pdf or asciidocfx

  • To publish the pdf book on gumroad one just needs to make an account.

  • To publish the pdf book to iBooks, one needs to connect your iCloud, in iTunes Connect, to Apple Books like so. And then you need to download iTunes Producer to upload your book to their store.

  • To publish the pdf book to Amazon, one needs an amazon account and then head over to the kindle direct publishing

Oh yes, leanpub is another option if you would like to stick to markdown and not interested in learning the power of asciidoc.

Happy writing!

Posted on Apr 21 by:

getaclue profile

Alex Kluew

@getaclue

Software engineering graduate from Canada

Discussion

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What would you say your biggest hurdle in writing a book has been so far? The motivation, the confidence, the subject matter, all the toilet paper in the whole world is gone?

I have considered writing a book but I have doubts about what kind of audience I'd really be targeting and if they would be receptive.

 

Thanks for the question Jake. The impostor syndrome is definitely there but the biggest hurdle is knowing when to stop writing and when to expand. Keeping the target audience in mind helps but I definitely see where an editor is needed =)

 

Hi Alex!

It's great you are writing your own book. I wanted to ask about Leanpub but saw the last line :)

I wanted to ask about it because that's the service I used to publish a handbook I wrote and published between 2018-2019. Know that you have a great service there in case you'd need it.

Besides, I sent my book to Publish Drive which is a service that helps you distributing your book to several book platforms like Play Books or Scribd. I also used Pandoc to generate some PDFs of the handbook. It's really powerful.

Going to take a look to Gumroad. Knew the service before but never taught about to publish a book 🤔

Wish success with your book 😁

 

Thanks for the kind words and experience feedback! Yeah gumroad is neat - they even stamp the pdf file with the person who purchased it for you for free - help.gumroad.com/article/130-pdf-s...

 
 

Great looking book! How do you find gumroad? I’ve published my book on there (also pdf generated from asciidoc) but I’m not getting much visibility. I need to put more effort into marketing. Any tips where to start?

 

Good day C.S.,
Unfortunately I have the same experience as you. If you are looking towards moving serious volumes, you will need to invest into marketing. I believe this holds true regardless of your audience size. At the moment, for 2020, I would suggest finding the best reddit area for you to advertise in. Alternatively, use your social media networking resources. Heck, dev has its own listing area on the front page -- list it there (I did). Beyond this, I would recommend finding an area where your audience hangs out and participate there. Or... you could write your book or an outline or a project proposal and work with a publisher.
Hope it helps.
Cheers,
Alex

 

Alex, what do you use for spelling/grammar/style checking?

 

Hey Max,
I kind of just write everything out that is in my head that I want to get out. I don't worry about anything at this stage, just getting the content out of my head. I then proceed to move things around based on themes or topics. This is where having an outline really helps. Prior to writing the book, I wrote out the rough outline that I wanted to cover in the book. The content just kind of flows following the outline.
For styling, I try to keep my sentences simple and that makes editing easier. If I have long sentences, I tend to split them up into simpler ones. Sometimes, I cannot do that but that is ok. From time to time I use the hemingwayapp.com/ app.
As for spelling and grammar, I rely on the built-in dictionary and spelling features of the editor.
At the end of the day, you, alone, can only do so much and this is where editors/readers provide the best feedback. Just get the text out of the door and in the hands of your customers, and make it easy for yourself to edit the book as feedback comes.
Hope this helps a bit.
Alex

 

Hi Alex, great article. I really like the book cover! I'm definitely interested in reading the e-book, when will it be ready?

 

Thanks for asking Tomas. The book plus source code is already available in its current state via gumroad.com/l/RtFXDH =) It is a work in open project, so while I'm writing it I could incorporate requests or clarifications from readers. As a buyer, you will have update notifications when I upload a new version. Having said that, I think I have quite a bit of meat already in there to get you going: user accounts, seo, authorization and authentication, secure forms, good defaults, maps, search, and pagination.

Thank you to those who have purchased if you read this here =)