Thursday, December 22, 2011


I’m late on this post. There’s a reason: HTML.

Twelve years ago I self-published a collection of newspaper columns. The effort was as much a result of wanting to learn about publishing as it was about selling a book. It was an educational endeavor.

The first thing to learn was how to go about the chore. Not having the faintest clue of what I was doing, I bought a book by Dan Poynter titled (not surprisingly), The Self-Publishing Manual. It was invaluable. Poynter is the master of the self-publishing business, and his book, in about the gazillionth edition, is still available.

Ugliest book cover in history
The second thing I learned was that self-publishers were considered the equivalent of ugly, red-haired, blotchy-skinned, pock-marked, lice infested, illegitimate step-children in the publishing industry. For the most part, in 1999, self-publishing was considered the desperate act of a writer too poor at the craft to find a “real” publisher. Maybe so for some, but for many others self-publishing was a chance to experience all the facets of writing. As the years have progressed, the perception of self-publishers has improved, somewhat.

The third thing I learned was that marketing a book takes as much time and effort as writing and printing the damn thing. Maybe more. (I also learned writing is much more fun than sales and marketing.)

Judging the success of that book is subjective. Is the criteria for success measured by the number of sold books, or by the percentage of the print run being sold? There were only approximately 3,700 copies printed. However, the book sold out, so I deem it a moderate success.  Although it was not successful enough to entice me into a hard copy reprint.
Things have changed drastically for self-publishers with the advent of electronic books. The author of an e-book can “publish” without risking thousands of dollars to end up with a lifetime supply of fire starters, or toilet paper. The catch is that in order to e-publish, the author must be “e-smart,” or at least willing to become “e-knowledgeable.”
I’ll never be e-smart, but decided it might be fun to become e-knowledgeable. (The word “fun” is also subjective. It might be “fun” to trim someone else’s fingernails with a hatchet… not so much for trimming your own in the same fashion.) There are many software programs that can do the job of creating an e-publication, but in the final analysis they all simply turn what you’ve written into an HTML coded document. Why go through a middleman? (D’oh! Why does simple logic never turn out simply?)

HTML stands for something to a computer geek, but let’s just say it stands for Hard To Memorize Lingo to us non-geeks. HTML is the modern world’s combined version of runes, Sanskrit and hieroglyphics. Fortunately, Rosetta stones abound for learning HTML, and after a little research and a lot of cursing, I managed to electronically reproduce the book previously published in hard copy.
The e-book edition of, Of Moose and Men: A Skewed Look at Life in Alaska, will serve as the first in a series of collected humor columns. It’s cheap – 99 cents (much less than the cost of the fancy latte you’ll spew out your nose while reading it). It’s available at both Amazon (for Kindle users) and Barnes & Noble (for Nook fans). Don’t have a Kindle or Nook? No problem. Both sellers offer their e-readers (don’t know about you, but I’m e-overdone about now) as a free download for not only PC’s and Macs, but other devices. I hope you’ll try it, and please let me know if you do.

No comments:

Post a Comment