Wednesday, 18 January 2012

I've published a book !

Well sort of.

If you're a regular reader you'll know that I've periodically ranted on about e-readers, e-books, espresso book machines and the like.

And then I read the recent Guardian article about Amanda Hocking and self publishing.

Curious as ever I got to wondering just how easy it is to self publish. To do that you obviously need something to publish, so I reverted to my account of our trip through Laos and Northern Thailand at the end of 2005.

It only comes out to 47 A4 pages, but on the other hand the free version was picked up by a number of people as a valuable background source, including at least one UN agency. So, we'll assume it has some merit.

Creating the book was simple. Register with Amazon's self publishing service, sort out the bank details so you can get paid, upload the file, do a little bit more work and 'hey presto!' - you're done.

Frighteningly easy.

No I'll admit I was kind of sloppy. The upload and conversing service offered by Amazon lost some of the page breaks from the pdf version and so on, and I didn't bother fixing the format, but I did check the text and it's all there, and available to purchase as a Kindle book for the grand sum of US$0.99.

I don't seriously expect to get rich out of this, in fact I'd be gratified if I made any money at all out this experiment.

The key learning is that the Amazon platform makes it incredibly easy to self publish, all you need to do is have something to publish.

The other learning is that while it's ok for hobby publishing, or perhaps for publishing obscure academic publications (there are options to also have your book printed through CreateSpace, Amazon's print on demand service, though I havn't explored these), probably the degree of editing, proof reading and marketing required means that the Amanda Hockings of this world will be few and far between. It's telling that she has now opted to have her work handled by an agent and a publisher, in part because of the amount of time proof reading etc was taking up.

If I was a small university publishing house I'd be worried - on the other hand if I was one of the big boys I'd only be mildly concerned ...

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