Self Publishing Teaches You to Let Go


My last post here was about how I published my first photo book for the Kindle. It was quite a challenge even though it is a fairly simple process. The simplicity is going to make some of my friends crazy as they begin creating their own books. You start with a Word document. First tip in the Kindle guide to formatting is to insert photos if you are using them, don’t copy/paste from somewhere else.

Most people I know are the artistic “type” or like to be in control of everything having to do with their writing, art or photography. With print books you can be in total control. However eBook reading devices and apps are becoming more popular and are now showing books in color. For a photographer with 100,00+ images covering topics and places that too numerous to count that is a dream come true. Full color printed books are e-x-p-e-n-s-i-v-e. You can offer your photo books from Print on Demand (POD) services but the prices are likely to limit your audience. On a Kindle or Nook all of a sudden you can unleash your creativity and show the world your talent with photography and with words.

Writers have it easier than artists and photographers. Create a Word .doc file with your text, all those extra pages you see in books like copyright, appendix, resources, upcoming books, dedication and you are pretty much done. Your cover needs to be created separately, every eBook publisher has the specs for covers, but the one thing to remember is that the cover needs to look professional. You are up against authors with big budgets that have awesome covers. It is the part of your book that needs to “catch the eye” of people browsing the online bookstore. Have you ever been in a bookstore, picked up a book, looked at the cover and went “yuck” and put it back on the shelf without a second look? That’s what your online book needs to get past.

One other thing you need to consider is that in print books you have all the “fluff” at the beginning. Download a Kindle book from an established author and open it (I downloaded a James Patterson book). Where is the copyright page? Where are the acknowledgements and dedication? When I open the book it’s on the prologue or Chapter 1 *boom*. Now go choose another book to just “Look Inside”. Kindle and other eBook publishers give your shoppers a percentage of the pages of your book to browse online (like you would at an actual store). If you have a short book and those pages are all the “gotta have” pages there is nothing there to “hook” your readers. Put those pages at the back of the book and your “Look Inside” is text or photos that entice the reader to click the 1-click to buy button. Also, I don’t like the eBooks that just “end”. Give your book reader a sense of being done, and what to do to find more.

Some things to know about how your book displays in eBook readers:

1. Your reader can choose their font size and type.
2. Not every app or reader shows your book the same way
3. Color photos will be black and white on readers that don’t offer color.
4. You can’t control the page breaks – see 1 and 2 above
5. You can’t control the size of images, whether they are viewed in portrait or landscape

You lose total control. But you gain an audience. Plus you can add teasers to your next book, or direct people to your website. As a photographer I’m excited – can share my photographs and knowledge in a new way without worrying about the constraints of print publishing. If a book is popular enough, I’ll offer it as a print coffee table book, but I am under no pressure to do so. I have books of essays,fiction, non-fiction and other text books planned also, but I will be publishing as many photo books as I can. And I can add screenshots to the non-fiction how-to books. How cool is that?

What is your book idea and are you able to let go of print restrictions and let your reader determine how they want to consume your information?