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A venture into self-publishing

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This post is part of the TOC podcast series. You can also subscribe to the free TOC podcast through iTunes.


MindfireCover.jpgScott Berkun is a long-time O’Reilly author, but he decided to self-publish his latest book, “Mindfire.” Similar to my earlier podcast interview with Dan Gillmor, I wanted to get Berkun’s thoughts on his experience of having published both ways. Why did he venture into the world of self-publishing? Is he happy with the results, and will he ever work with a traditional publisher again? Those are a few of the questions he answers in this TOC interview.

Key points from the full video interview (below) include:

  • Self-publishing was a learning opportunity — Some authors are curious to learn the finer aspects of what goes into making a book, and Scott quickly learned a lot with the “Mindfire” experience. [Discussed at the 1:05 mark.]
  • Blogging and book writing have always gone hand-in-hand for Scott — His blog is a wonderful sounding board and helps him shape whatever book he’s currently working on, including the title, cover and more. [Discussed at 2:10.]
  • Self-publishing is both easy and hard — Technology makes it easy to publish almost anything these days; it’s all the work that goes not only into the writing, but also into the editing, cover design, proofreading, indexing, marketing, etc., that makes it so challenging. [Discussed at 4:35.]
  • Self-publishing also requires self-promotion — Author platforms are more important today than ever before; it’s true for traditional publishing, too, but even more so for self-published products. [Discussed at 8:25.]
  • The PR effort required was the biggest surprise — Berkun used a giveaway campaign to build momentum and extend his future reach. [Discussed at 9:54.]
  • How can traditional publishers avoid losing authors to self-publishing? — Berkun turns the question around and asks why this decision is an either/or. [Discussed at 17:14.]
  • The opportunity to learn from self-published authors — Editors often abandon their authors who test the self-publishing waters when what they should really be doing is talking more with them to learn what’s working and what’s not. [Discussed at 20:43.]

Additionally, the 10 most common questions Berkun is asked about self-publishing can be found here, and our entire interview can be viewed in the following video.

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  • theantibush

    Can you define self-publish?
    Sometimes people say they self-publish but really all they are doing is sending it off to a vanity publisher.

    Do you mean self-publish as in being your own publisher, with your own ISBN numbers, with accounts at a printer?

    Thank you

  • larrywest

    Self published work is coded into the ISBN. A librarian in Nigeria and a Wikipedia reviewer immediatley regard it as an unreliable source, spam by any other name.