Self-Publisher Explains How to Get Your Book Out Quickly

WRITERS. Suppose you have a great idea for a nonfiction book. Which approach is a better use of your time: Should you develop a detailed book proposal, pitch it to an agent or publisher, and wait two years for the book to hit the shelves? Or should you self-publish the book first and start selling it while most of the information is still current?

Self-Publishing Manual Vol. 2If self-publishing sounds like too much work or you’re not sure where to begin, I recommend reading both volumes of Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual.  Then you’ll understand why the stigma once associated with self-publishing has vanished. You’ll also see why the brave, new world of ‘trans-media’ is rapidly changing the very definition of a ‘book.’

If you’re a writer, self-publishing is a great way to control every phase of your book’s production. Plus, the more you know about self-publishing, the better prepared you will be to help others who may hire you to ghost-write or edit their books.

Poynter believes emerging technologies are rapidly making it possible for authors to get closer to their readers while also selling books for less. You can still profit from your investment in self-publishing, says Poynter, because you will be eliminating the amount of income paid to agents, publishers, wholesalers, bookstores, distributors, and other gatekeepers in the middle.

Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual (463 pages) covers the basics of writing, printing, and selling your own book and lets you see how the steps involved in self-publishing differ from those associated with traditional publishing. In addition to tips on book design and formatting, Poynter provides practical advice on selecting a book printer, deciding how many books to print, and estimating sales. He devotes entire chapters to marketing and distribution channels and shipping and fulfillment considerations.

Self-Publishing Manual Vol 1Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual, Volume 2 (144 pages) explains how to take advantage of some of the technological changes that are rapidly transforming the book-publishing business. For example, Poynter suggests building your print version (pbook) first, then converting that content into other forms your audience might like, including: e-books, audio books (a-books), and large-print books (lpbooks).

As Poynter  explains, “We call them ‘books,’ but that term is generic; ‘books’ can take many forms. Do not think of your product as a print product—think of it as entertainment or information. Then focus on providing the formats (or editions) the buyer wants and needs.”

To streamline the self-publishing process, he advises writing the back-cover promotional copy first so you can clarify in your mind why readers might be interested in the type of content you’re developing. (In other words, instead of figuring out how to pitch your idea to an agent or publisher, first spend some time deciding how you will pitch your book directly to the potential buyer.) 

He also explains how to typeset the book in formatted pages as you write it, instead of writing it in the traditional manuscript form required by conventional publishers. You will still need to have the book peer-reviewed, copy-edited, and proofread. But if the book is already formatted in pages, you can save some valuable time.

In Volume 2, Poynter talks about how to use social media and social networking to gather information for your writing and alerting people who may be interested in buying your book.  He also talks about new technology that let you publish it for less, new ways to distribute your book more economically, and how to have fun promoting it. 

Photo of Dan Poynter with booksDan Poynter says it took him eight years to produce his first book (on parachuting). Since then he has written more than 125 books, primarily by developing a highly organized system for researching, research, writing, and editing.  In some cases, the pages for his books have been written, laid out, and delivered to the printer within 30 days.

Having been in the business since 1969, he knows the ins and outs of the business from all angles. He has published books for other authors and sold some of his own books to publishing companies.   

You Don’t Have to Do It All Yourself!
If you don’t have the time or confidence to handle all of the steps involved in self-publishing yourself, there are plenty of sources who can help you. For example, the self-publishing manual lists specialized service providers such as bar code suppliers, book clubs, book fair exhibiting services, book designers and cover artists. Poynter also lists “book shepherds,” a new group of consultants who will take your book project through all of the necessary steps.

One of the most useful features of the book is a Calendar, with a checklist of some of the administrative and promotion-related items you should be tackling during different stages of writing and producing the book.

Self-publishing can indeed be a lot of work, and recouping your investment of time and money will require a commitment to promoting it. But unless you have already established a strong business relationship with an existing publishing company, self-publishing and selling your first book may soon be regarded as an essential first step.  

The Future of Books
Poynter believes the publishing business is changing so rapidly that in the near future, the publication cycle will be reversed and books will first be posted online, then committed to ink and paper if there is sufficient interest.

In Volume 2, he writes, “We will always have printed books, but they will be fiction, coffeetable books (works of art), and nonfiction that is so popular that it has earned a print run.”

Both books are available from bookstores. Or you can buy them directly from Dan’s website, Para Publishing. The website features dozens of other tips and resources for writers and anyone who wants to publish their own books.

LINKS

Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual: How to Write, Print, and Sell Your Own Book

Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual, Vol. 2

Para Publishing

Google Art Project Lets You Visit Museums in Nine Countries

ARTISTS. On Feb. 1, Google unveiled the Art Project. It enables people around the world to discover and view more than 1,000 artworks online in extraordinary detail. For example, the image shown below is a close-up of Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” as you can view it on the Art Project page for the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). When you visit the page, you can also see a MoMA-produced video featuring visitors’ comments on the paintings.

Google Art Project Close Up of Van Gogh's

MoMA is one of the 17 art museums from nine countries that have collaborated with Google over the past 18 months to launch the Art Project. The project will enable anyone around the world to take virtual tours inside the museums’ galleries and learn about the history and artists behind many of the world’s most valuable works.  

I’m writing about the Google Art Project here, because it’s further evidence of how advances in imaging technology are changing the way art will be viewed and shared in the future. This introductory project just hints at what will be possible in the years ahead.  

Some imaging professionals have already established new careers for themselves by helping museums create very detailed, high-resolution, color-accurate scans of valuable artworks for their archives. 

 By using the latest image-capture and assembly tools, the Google Art Project is going one step further. The project gives us online access to images with super-high ‘gigapixel’ resolutions. Some images of the artworks contain around 7 billion pixels, which is why you can pan around some paintings and zoom in to see brushstroke-level detail from a vantage point that was previously only seen by art restorers.  

To get started, go to the Google Art Project home page (www.googleartproject.com) and choose which museum you’d like to “visit.” Then, choose either the “Explore the Museum” or “View Artwork” option.

The 17 participating museums are located in 11 cities in 9 countries:

  • The Frick Collection (New York)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York)
  • The Museum of Modern Art (New York)
  • Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian (Washington, DC)
  • National Gallery (London, UK)
  • Tate Britain (London, UK)
  • Museo Reina Sofia (Madrid, Spain)
  • Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza (Madrid, Spain)
  • Alte Nationalgalerie (Berlin, Germany)
  • Gemaldegalerie (Berlin, Germany)
  • Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
  • Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam, The Netherlands) 
  • The State Hermitage Museum (St. Petersburg, Russia)
  • State Tretyakov Gallery (Moscow, Russia)
  • Palace of Versailles (France)
  • Uffizi Gallery (Florence, Italy)
  • Museum Kampa (Prague, Czech Republic)

 

Explore
The “Explore” option uses Google Street View technology to let you explore a museum gallery the way you would use the Street View in Google Maps.  A specially designed Street View “trolley” (below) took 360-degree images of the interiors of 385 selected galleries within the museums.

These images were then stitched together into “panoramas” that enable smooth navigation of each room.  Some paintings on the walls appear blurred. In most cases, that’s because the museum does not own the copyright to those images. 

View and Learn
Each of the 17 museums selected one artwork to be photographed at super-high resolution with ‘gigapixel’ photo-capturing technology. The captures are so detailed, you can study details of the brushwork and patina beyond what is possible with the naked eye.

In addition, the museums provided high-resolution images for more than 1,000 works of art. When used with the Google Art Project’s custom-built zoom viewer, you can discover minute aspects of paintings you might never have seen up close before, such as the miniaturized people in the river of El Greco’s “View of Toledo” or individual dots in Seurat’s “Grandcamp Evening.”  

You can learn more about each art work through the Google Scholar, Google Docs, and YouTube video links provided with each sidebar info panel.  

Each museum chose which collections to feature and what type of information to share about each piece. They also recommended which angles should be used during the image-capture process.

Collect and Share
If you have a Google account, you can save specific views of any of the artworks to build your collections. Comments can be added to each painting and the whole collection can then be shared with friends, family, or fellow art students. The integrated Goog.gl URL shortener can be used to share unique links to your collections via email or other web services.  

What’s Next?
Now that the project has been introduced, it will be interesting to gauge the public’s reaction. According to Google, “The project you see today is the very first incarnation, and we may well add more artworks and new rooms in the future.”

The Art Project was initiated by a group of Google employees who were passionate about making art more accessible online.  Amit Sood, the Google employee who heads the Art Project, believes they have created “what we hope will be a fascinating resource for art lovers, students, and casual museum-goers alike—inspiring them to one day visit the real thing.”

Many of the participating museums feel the same way. As Thomas Campbell, director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art puts it, “The Google Art Project coincides with a variety of Met initiatives that demystify the museum through digital means by sharing our collections and ongoing work with a broader online public around the world. Most important, these projects encourage people to visit museums and come face-to-face with great works of art.”

Dr. Nicholas Penny, director of the National Gallery, believes, “The Google Art Project is a powerful example of how digital technology can help art institutions work in partnership to reach out globally to new audiences and enable works of art to be explored in depth and with stunning clarity.”

LINK

www.googleartproject.com

VIDEO

The Google Art Project

Fast Track Photographers Don’t Grumble About Change

Cover of Fast Track Photographer BookLast May, Amphoto Books released a provocative book entitled “The Fast Track Photographer: Leverage Your Unique Strengths for a More Successful Photography Business.” The author, photographer Dane Sanders, explains why building a successful photography career is far different than it was 20 to 30  years ago.

The key to success as a photographer in today’s hyper-competitive environment, says Sanders, is to: “Stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and start focusing on your most powerful resource—you!”  In today’s digi-flat world, creative professionals can carve out niches all their own. As Sanders puts it, “You need to design your sweet spot around the one thing that cannot be replicated: you!” 

The book and its accompanying online self-assessment test can help you determine whether you would be happier trying to become an independent Signature-Brand Photographer or would be perfectly content as a Freelance Photographer who does fee-based assignments for employers. You can devise a solution that blends the two styles, but Sanders advises photographers to “Be clear about the choice you’re making, and do what’s required to see it through.”

Above all, Sanders encourages readers to avoid “The Grumpy Photographer Life Cycle (aka the Road to Hell).” This cycle starts when photographers get overloaded with debt early in their careers, fail to promote themselves as individuals, and take on as many jobs at market prices as possible. Then, they become burned out and bitter.

Sanders characterizes “Grumpy” photographers as self-centered, arrogant, “experts” who feel entitled to business and are stuck on old business models. In  contrast, he describes fast-track photographers as client-centered, service-minded, and personable. They are adaptable to change, open to new technology and continuous learning, and able to delegate and outsource. They know who they are, and find clients who appreciate their unique set of skills.

“Rather than lapse into Grumpiness,” says Sanders. “I encourage you to see that in the digi-flat world, the spectrum of possibility has exploded.”

Dane Sanders succinctly articulates trends I’ve observed at photography conferences over the past few years. Some photographers are clearly much more upbeat, optimistic, and enthusiastic than others. Photographers who have worked for 25 to 30 years seem aggravated by how rapidly and radically technology has commoditized the conventional markets for photography.

Thus, Fast Track Photographer will not only be helpful to serious amateurs who are considering turning pro, but also to companies that use old-school, big-name photographers to help them sell products and services. People entering the photography business today must cope with marketplace realities that are fundamentally different from the business environment that existed when older-generation experts built their businesses.

“If you want to find your sweet spot in the photo world, resist the temptation to emulate heroes,” writes Sanders. “Unless you are just like them, the odds of succeeding by adopting their strategies is very low. Better to let them inspire you by how boldly they have pursued their own sweet spot in the business.”

Head shot of Dane Sanders“The old mode of learning from an expert and slogging away until you’ve earned the right to put your name out there is too slow for our fast-changing, digi-flat times,” writes Sanders. He notes that no one is an “expert” anymore because no one really knows what new developments will occur in the next 5 to 20 years and how these developments will interact dynamically to create whole new possibilities for photographers. He suggests that, “An attitude of staying creatively adaptable may be the single most important asset in extending your lifespan as a photographer indefinitely.”

As a writer, I was interested to learn that “Fast Track Photographer was originally self-published and geared only toward wedding photographers. Amphoto Books published a revised and expanded edition to help amateur and working photographers in all genres strengthen and develop their businesses.

Cover of Fast Track PhotographerReaders of The Fast Track Photographer might also be interested in The Fast Track Photographer Business Plan. This new book is designed to help you devise an overall business strategy to support your creative vision. It also contains techniques for running a creative business.

For more information, visit: www.fasttrackphotographer.com

Find Practical Advice for Digital Imaging Workflows at dpBestflow.org

PHOTOGRAPHERS. If your digital imaging workflow involves more work than flow, check out the dpbestflow.org website produced by the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP).  The term dpBestflow is shorthand for Digital Photography Best Practices and Workflow.

The site features dozens of practical ideas for developing a workflow that can make your work more efficient, effective, and profitable. The dpBestflow site recommends best practices for cameras, computers, color management, image editing, metadata, file management, data validation, file delivery, and copyright registration.

A lot of the advice will be useful to any creative professional who wants to streamline and improve the processing, production, and preservation of digital artwork.

For example, if you don’t understand why investing in a good monitor matters, read some of the detailed information in the site’s section on Monitor Calibration and Profiling. Not only does Project Director Richard Anderson clarify the difference between calibration and profiling, but he also explains different types of monitors, including spec-sheet terms such as illumination type, DDC-enabled, bit depth, pixel-response time, and gamut.

At last year’s WPPI Conference, I saw two experts involved in the dpBestflow project give a two-hour presentation entitled “I Need a Workflow that Works for Me.” The presenters, Judy Hermann and Jay Kinghorn, reminded newcomers to professional photography that their profitability and future business growth can depend on the type of workflow practices they establish now. Essentially, they said the less time you waste tracking down the files you need, the more time you can devote to learning new skills or pursuing new business.  Plus, some of the images you shoot and save today might have historical value later in your career.

In the presentation, Hermann and Klinghorn highlighted “good, better, and best” practices at all stages of a workflow including:

  • capture and ingestion:
  • image editing and organization;
  • image correction, printing, or output;
  • file delivery;
  • archiving and storage; and
  • finding archived images.

 To scan the type of practical advice on the site, download the dpBestflow Quick Reference sheet.  This two-page PDF condenses a lot of the best advice presented in more detail elsewhere throughout the site.

At the dpBestflow.org site, you can also download the handouts from the two-hour and four-hour presentations that resprentatives from the dpBestflow project presented.  

If you find digital-imaging and archiving terminology and acronyms confusing, check out the excellent glossary in the Resources section of the dpBestflow site.

Personally, I really admire this website because I know just how much work can be involved in condensing complex subjects into concise, easy-to-comprehend explanations—particularly in fields in which the technology is continuing to evolve.

Another thing I like about this site is that it includes links to several longer white papers that can provide greater insight and context than the get-straight-to-the-point content we’ve grown accustomed to.

For example, you can link to white papers that discuss raw file processing and print rendering, non-destructive image editing, preparing files for delivery, and using a digital camera as a film scanner.

Part of the funding for the dpBestflow project came from the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program of the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress wants to ensure that many of the images being digitally captured today will be properly preserved for future generations and historical records.

Senior Project Manager Peter Krogh explains that, “dpBestflow helps translate the intricacies of preserving digital images into useful information that can be incorporated into everyday working habits.”

Links:

dpBestflow Quick Reference
American Society of Media Photographers
www.dpBestflow.org

Is Marketing Morphing Into Editorial?

WRITERS. Are the lines between marketing and editorial becoming increasingly blurred? That’s what PR Newswire suggests in this YouTube video:

Content: Marketing Morphing into Editorial

Marketing Is Content Cover
The YouTube video is based on a white paper that PR Newswire developed for clients and prospects.

The video was developed in conjunction with the PR Newswire white paper: “Marketing Is Content.” It features marketing experts who contend that content-marketing has become so important that many marketing departments are building their own “editorial departments.”

These departments are being staffed by editors, journalists, and writers who know how to tell good stories. (In fact: The video’s narrator even admits: “Editors, it turns out, have a long history of synthesizing what audiences really want, and fashioning content that informs, excites, or entertains them.” )

One expert interviewed in the video is Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Instittue, who observes that now that marketing departments are establishing editorial teams, “There is no difference between what a marketer does and what a publisher does. The only difference is how they make money.” 

Sure, there is some truth to that statement. But it seems to me that today’s most successful publishers are staying ahead of the curve by ramping up both the quantity and quality of the content they produce. They are then using this content to further build their own brands.

In the video, the marketing executives define compelling content as “storytelling with a purpose.” And while I would agree that everyone has a good story to tell, it’s important to remember that marketers and publishers have different purposes for developing good content.

For example: Publishers need to retain loyal readers while constantly pulling in new readers. They can do so by aggregating content and information from a richer variety of sources. Publishers can produce stories that offer a broader, more balanced perspective from which readers can make good decisions.  Plus, publishers earn credibility by addressing consumer concerns that a marketer might prefer not to publicly acknowledge.  Maintaining credibility will become more important than ever as publishers strive to get more revenue directly from communities of readers.  

Right now, the editorial goal of marketers is to replace “interruptive messaging” with engaging content that will open two-way communications between companies and their customers. The reason marketers want to develop high-quality content is to help them strengthen their brands and generate leads.  

Some marketers understand the concept of content marketing better than others. Some companies just can’t seem to take their sales hat off no matter what. So they end up producing content that is just slightly less annoying than an infomercial.

The companies that “get it” seem to have figured out something that editors and journalists have been trying to tell pushy advertisers and PR people for years: “Back off! Readers get sick of being constantly sold to everywhere they look. Many people would actually love your company more if you would simply help them find answers to questions that aren’t being clearly explained anywhere else.”  

As professional writers and editors, we should be encouraged that marketers are starting to understand that deeloping quality content is not easy. First it involves listening to customers/readers to find out the type of information audiences really want, then committing the time, talent and resources needed to effectively deliver that information.  

We shouldn’t regard writing for traditional publishers as our only option for building an economically viable career. Sure, writing for magazines and publishing companies can be fun. But not if you find yourself working for a stuck-in-the-past publisher that believes the only way they can succeed is to compromise their editorial integrity by submitting to the ill-conceived whims of some advertisers.

In my opinion: the key to building a satisfying writing career is to pursue opportunities with those enlightened companies (publishers or marketers) who genuinely respect the brand value that talented journalists can help them create.

It’s not difficult to see which companies really get it, and which ones don’t. Just look at the type of content they publish!

LINKS

VIDEO: Content: Marketing Morphing Into Editorial

PR Newswire

RELATED POST

Editorial Excellence Can Help Marketers Escape Content Chaos

Are Designers Making the Most of Digital Textile Printing?

DESIGNERS. As I have watched digital-printing technology evolve to enable fabrics, wallcoverings, automobiles, and other surfaces to be custom-decorated, it always struck me that the printed examples shown in trade-show booths seemed a bit unimaginative.

It could have been due to time or budget limitations, but it’s more likely that the printing-equipment manufacturers first needed to demonstrate that the technology they were selling could replicate existing printing processes. So they simply used designs similar to what was currently being produced by designers experienced in textile or wallcovering design. Likewise, to show digitally printed T-shirts, the booth planners used designers whose work typically needed to conform with the limitations of screen-printing presses.

A recent post by Kristen Turner on the Ponoko blog indicates that I’m not the only person who feels that many designers haven’t yet caught up to everything that’s now possible in textile printing.

The post showcased some digitally printed silk and wool scarves from the spring/summer 2011 collection from Charlotte Linton and appeared under the headline:  “These Scarves Show What Digital Printing Is All About.”

Turner pointed out that “One of the greatest things about digital textile printing is that designs can have unlimited colors at the same cost as a single color. Yet designers using digital fabric printing still cling to flat designs with a few, flat colors.”

In her post, Kristen Turner highlighted Charlotte Linton designs that “have all of the life of hand-rendered illustrations and all the depth of photography,” including designs that looked like pages from a silk sketchbook. One Charlotte Linton scarf featured a polka-dot design of marsupial face photographs.

Image of colorfully printed scarf by Charlotte Linton
Digitally printed scarf designed by Charlotte Linton

The post attracted comments from Andy McDonald of the Centre for Advanced Textiles at the Glasgow School of Art who argued that “the greatest thing about digital textile printing lies in the ability to make an item only after it has been purchased, coupled with the potential for each item to be unique.”

McDonald also raised these questions: “What are the creative opportunities for designers once production shifts from just-in-time to on-demand? Why is digital textile printing not being explored in the same way as 3D printing?” Andy further commented, “The greatest thing about digital textile printing is that collections can have unlimited designs at the same cost as a single design. Yet designers using digital fabric printing still cling to fixed collections, with a few fixed designs.”

If you have come up with some fresh ideas for digitally printed textile designs, we would love to see them!

Note: Ponoko is an online service that enables creative people to turn their ideas into real things, and sell them to the world. More than 75,000 user-generated goods have been instantly priced online, made, and delivered from Ponoko’s digital factory network in Wellington, San Francisco, Berlin, Milan and London.  

LINKS

Ponoko

These Scarves Show What Digital Printing Is All About

Five Trends in E-Books

Tablet PC and booksWRITERS. The ongoing evolution of e-books may change how you think about the type of content you suggest when submitting a book proposal to publisher. For example, consider these five e-book trends that Philip Ruppel, the president of McGraw-Hill Professional, listed in a recent post on Mashable.com.

Enhanced E-books

“The e-book of the not-too-distant future will be much more than text,” writes Ruppel. “Interactivity has arrived, and will change the nature of the e-book.” For example, he says an e-book could contain a video showing how to fix a leaky faucet or pronounce foreign-language words as you read them. A novel could provide a platform in which the author can have a live exchange with reading groups.  Thus, in your book proposal, you might want to suggest creative ways to make the content more interactive.

An End to the Device War

Ruppel believes that consumer confusion will lead to quick consolidation around a few winners in the market for e-readers. He says consumers will care less about which device they use and more about the experience provided by the software, the portability of titles, and accessibility to a full catalog of titles.

E-books Costing More than $9.99

Although the $9.99 price for established bestsellers might have sparked initial consumer interest in e-books, expect future e-books with unique interactive features to cost more.

An Upsell for Value-added Extra Features

With enhanced e-books, publishers can interact with their customers in new ways. For example, clicking a help button will point readers to the publisher’s site where they can pay extra to download a tutorial about a specific point in the book they don’t fully understand.

An Expanded Role for Publishers

Producing a conventional technical or reference book requires a team of editors, copy editors, proofreaders, and designers. Producing digitally enhanced e-books will require even greater technical expertise.

In addition, Ruppel believes that with the skyrocketing amount of content being posted on the web, customers will seek out and pay expert content providers that can aggregate and contextualize information. As he puts it: “Commodity content is everywhere (and largely free), so high-quality, vetted, edited content—which takes a staff of experts—will be worth a premium.”

This last prediction, of course, should boost the morale of dedicated, professional freelance writers who have been dismayed by the flood of poorly researched, sloppily written content being churned out by low-paying content mills.  

Link:  5 E-Book Trends That Will Change the Future of Publishing