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Discussion on: Three Arguments for Why You Should Write More

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Andrew Wooldridge

This is good advice. I would only add to try to write for your own domain first and cross-post to places like medium and to get maximum benefit. Also, after say 6 months of writing -- roll that up into a book and self publish!

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Jason C. McDonald • Edited on

As an author who founded his own publishing company (one step beyond standard 'self-publishing'), with many years exposure to the writing industry, I'd like to add a few points to the "roll that up into a book" comment: It isn't something you want to do on a whim! Successful publishing requires extensive planning and a potentially expensive initial investment.

  • Plan your content. Any effective book still has to have a cohesive structure, even those which are collections of essays (For example, The Cathedral and the Bazaar or The Size of Thoughts: Essays and Other Lumber.) Unless you're E.B. White, no one will want to read a random collection of your articles/essays if it doesn't have a cohesive theme.

  • Get it edited professionally! Too many authors skip this step, or assume that if their Aunt Ruth didn't find any missing commas or spelling errors, it's good. Real world editing goes far beyond proofreading, and is essential any book's success. Find at least one reputable professional editor. If possible, you should also get several of your industry peers to read the book as well and offer their constructive criticism.

  • In concert with the editing step, prepare to revise heavily. Even the best author has to edit, tweak, and revise their book repeatedly before it has any chance of success. It really does take a village to publish a book.

  • Get it designed properly. Unless you're like me, and have an inexplicable knack for typography and typesetting, you'll want to find a professional book designer. Some printers offer these services for a fee. "Good enough" is not good enough. (By the way, print and ebook have to be designed separately.) While you're at it, be sure to get a good cover designed!

  • Beware most self-publishing schemes. Read consumer reports from independent sources, and select your printer carefully. All legitimate, worthwhile printers and publishers will pay you pre-arranged royalties on every single sale; printer setup fees should by well under $500 (not counting ISBNs, design work, or marketing). I use IngramSpark (LightningSource), which offers the industry's best distribution. BookBaby and CreateSpace are other options, although they both have limits and drawbacks. Alternatively, consider submitting to a relevant, independent publisher like No Starch Press.

  • By the way, to sell the book, you will need one ISBN per format, e.g. one for paperback, one for ebook (any type). Bowker is the only place to buy these legitimately - ISBNs from anywhere else are either recycled (and thus worthless) or fake. Some reputable printers may offer to resell an ISBN from Bowker to you, however; just make sure they did get it from Bowker, not elsewhere! (Ingram and BookBaby both offer this.)

  • If you're doing this all yourself and getting it printed, consider registering the book with the Library of Congress (through their PCN program). By doing this, your book can be carried by libraries; otherwise, they won't touch it.

  • Be sure to consider the legal, business, and tax components here. Does your state require you to register as a business if you're collecting royalties? (Some do.) Do you need a retail license? Would an LLC be a wise investment, to keep your personal money out of any possible legal tangles? Self-publishing should not be approached on a whim; you need to understand all the implications of your publishing endeavors.

These steps are all applicable, even if you "just want to publish an ebook on Amazon". Otherwise, your work is fated to be nothing more than an occasionally shared free download, and a tremendous waste of your time and money.

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Marek Zaluski Author

Great to have your input on the book publishing world, that's really useful to know.