Weekly Journal

The Journey of Self-Publishing

Brian Gruber

17th August 2017

Times are tough for publishing but opportunities for unbridled content creation are unprecedented. I love the process of self-publishing and know I should pursue an agent and a publisher — can it be cowardliness or laziness? — but prefer the DIY process. Own my own copyright, have the work on Amazon forever via print-on-demand and Kindle, make changes as I like — add photos! Add reviews and press interviews! Add new material! Maybe it’s because I’m 62 and have spent a career marketing and packaging other people’s content, but why not write what you want in the way that you want? Amazon’s CreateSpace platform provides that for me with generally excellent customer service and pretty idiot-proof tools. Pick your paper, set your pricing and distribution, write a description, create an author’s page, cherry-pick from the interior and cover creative service options, get editing help if you like.

For my second book, I traveled around the world on a Kickstarter-funded project called “WAR: The Afterparty,” to explore the after-effects of a half century of U.S. military interventions. I ended up in Cambodia after trekking through Central America, the Balkans, the greater Middle East and Southeast Asia. I began putting the book together on the Cambodian coast and finished on Koh Phangan.

Residents at The Castle now have a copy of this book! 

For “WAR: the Afterparty,” I exploited a whole range of web tools. Kickstarter to fund my travel and writing. Couchsurfing and Airbnb for low cost travel, CreateSpace for publishing, Skype for remote interviews, Apple for content creation and sharing. My college journalism professor and thesis committee member even followed my WordPress blog posts via Facebook and offered to edit the project for free.

Here is some information on links for accessing DIY tools that I have used for self-publishing and travel writing.

Amazon’s CreateSpace

You can pay Amazon’s CreateSpace a couple hundred bucks for interior creative services, a thousand for editing, four hundred for cover design or be a real do-it-yourselfer and pay nothing at all. There are many self-publishing platforms but Amazon makes it easy, with robust tools and full integration into their dominant platform. Sign in with your Amazon account, or create one, and you can literally create your cover, set pricing and distribution, choose paper and trim size and be online (forever) selling in an hour.

“I love the process of self-publishing and know I should pursue an agent and a publisher — can it be cowardliness or laziness? — but prefer the DIY process.”

Amazon’s Kindle publishing platform

Or make it really easy for yourself and start with Amazon’s Kindle publishing platform. Creating an ebook requires even less formatting, decision-making and preparation. You don’t have to choose font sizes because devices and platforms do that themselves. And Kindle now allows you to use their platform to do a paperback version. Hard to spend any money here. We played with the Kindle platform at Content Castle yesterday and had a book created and ready to publish in under a half hour. By the way, many other platforms, and we are not necessarily a fan of the Amazon corporation, but these are our fave for ease of use, cost, and range of tools.

 Couchsurfing

If you want to do travel writing for cheap, check out couchsurfing.com. It’s a terrible name — I don’t want to surf on someone’s couch, thank you very much. I stayed in a villa in Kabul, Afghanistan for three weeks, connected with a Kurdish surgeon who showed me northern Iraq and served as a free interpreter for my book interviews, and enjoyed free lodging in Ho Chi Minh City. I had a great time and made lifelong friends. Beware flakes, over-promisers, and no-shows by reading the vetted reviews before arriving in the country, but Couchsurfing is a delightful way to meet people and reduce your average lodging costs for that overnight splurge at the Sofitel. Sign up, create a profile, start to score reviews from visitors or hosts, and you’ll be part of a massive worldwide community of travellers.

Consider trying CreateSpace.

Kickstarter

And just in case low-cost travel and publishing tools are not enough, get friends and complete strangers to fund your writing adventures. Kickstarter is only one of many, many crowdfunding platforms but it is the biggest by a factor of six last time I checked. Another super easy-to-use platform — a few tens of millions in venture capital funding will do that for a site — with a few critical how-to’s: leverage your community as most of your funds will come from people whom you know and trust; create a brilliant intimate video telling your story with heart; deliver creative and project-relevant ‘rewards’ for contributors.

Yes, if you are going to write, why not live by the sea at The Castle, where your libertine instincts can run free and you can tell stories, not for an industrial publishing machine (RIP) but because you have a story to tell. Take advantage of the mesmeric scenery and write the story you’ve always dreamed of writing, then be brave and try out self-publishing! If you’d like to know more about self-publishing and Brian Gruber and his work, feel free to contact us here: www.contentcastle.asia/contact.

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