Things I Learned From DIY Publishing

I don't want to call it self-publishing. Partly because of the connations behind it: badly written, badly edited works with bad covers and bad design. Mainly, just plain. But also, because it isn't self-publishing exactly.

Johnny Murdoc quotes Chuck Wending to explain his brand of "self-publishing"--call it micro-pub.
As a sidenote, I like that term. “Micro-pub.” Better than indie, which carries its own debate. Better than self-published, which is a term that sounds about as dismissive and masturbatory as a term can get. (“I just ‘self-published’ my seed into this Kleenex!”) Ahh, but micro-pub! One man publishing. Like micro-brew.
Yeah. I like it.
I will hereby refer to myself as a “micro-pub.”
At least until I forget I came up with that term, which is in about — *checks watch* — ten minutes.

Micro-pub is good, but I think DIY publishing is better.

I like the term "DIY Publishing." It goes back to my leftist/anarchist/punk-ish/poor kid/immigrant's kid roots. Self-publishing sounds, yes, masturbatory. Micro-pub sounds like it's talking about quantity.

But DIY publishing explains it all: doing it yourself. I wanted to call it a "grassroots book" since it was developed all at the grassroots level: the project was the idea of one writer, no one was (successfully) solicitated, everything was done on a minimal budget (everything related to the project is hosted either on Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr), and if money was involved, it was my own (one person even offer to buy me a mouse after learning I was doing all the editing and designing on a netbook without mouse!)

It's a benefit project that I hope will help somebody (and isn't that what all writers want?). But for me it was also an experimental project on two levels: can I edit/make a book? And--can I make a book outside of the book industrial complex to benefit a larger goal? (you know someone's radical when they use the phrase "industrial complex")

Whatever you call, I have a book I (blank)-published and I learned some stuff.

1. You should have deadlines.

Admittedly, this book has taken as long as any other book to get out there. Calls for submissions started Oct 2010, ended Feb. 2011, and is being released Jan. 2012--about a year from the the time everything was due. The problem is it could've probably been done quicker (but there were problems, which I tried to avoid, then tried to do, then tried to learn from [see #2]). Furthermore, if I had strict deadlines, I could've had more time for publicity. I have (only) a month to do all the publicity I can, though I am hopeful that I can get post-release date publicity.

2. You should know how to use Photoshop and In-Design. You should know principles of design.

You should know the difference between sans-serif and serif. You should know where page numbers will end up. Spacing and font. That your .doc file will not be your final product.

I still have no real idea what I did (lots of experimentation and notes I've placed somewhere). The entire process was more difficult since I did not have Photoshop or In-Design (again, little money was spent on the project, not because I'm cheap, but because I think having a roof over my head is quite important). Indeed, I designed a book using GIMP and OpenOffice (if anyone asks, it's because I didn't want to support the design software industrial complex). Certainly not the best options, but I'm still satisfied with the end product.

Two sources really helped me:

Book Design and Production by Pete Masterson (though a bit dated)
Joel Friedlander's blog:

3. Publicity is hard.

I was never good at self-publicity. Again, it's masturbatory. While masturbation is fine and healthy, doing it in public is bad form. But as a DIY editor, this is absolutely necessary. Also, it is hard. If getting Facebook fans is hard, think about the sales. Therefore, there's no shame in self publicity. For example:

4. It will be the most rewarding terrible experience you will ever have.

I stayed up many nights either editing, designing, nearly crying that this won't be right, celebrating, then return to crying about the possibility of low book sales, etc. It's really rewarding--to see something you put time into come to completion and know that it will be in people's hands. But it is stressful.

5. You can never get enough self-publicity.

One more time:

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