It All Started as a Daydream

Welcome to Writers Glen!

I love to sit on this leafy carpet here under dappled sun and gaze out over vast vistas. Writers Glen—my place to think, speculate. Ruminate over what I know and what I don’t. And, believe me, there’s so so much that I don’t know.

I much admire the laser-focus specialists who plunge down into minutia—spend lifetimes getting to know all there is to know about narrow but deep matters of passionately shared interest among a few fellow savants.

But my mind doesn’t work like that. It hops about like a bee seeking pollen. I know about many things but not much about anything. I’m not a team player. That’s for sure. Tend to wander off into this or that until I think I know the gist. Then— sure as night, something new beguiles me.

Could this be why I’m a self-publisher?

Writing is the core of my career. Computers a close second. Teaching— did that. Enjoyed it. Some say I did it well. But a siren song lured me out of the classroom and into magazine publishing, computer software development, and now? Now I’m into self-publishing.

Of late, I’ve been thinking deeply about workflow—how to bring worthy books to attention of receptive readers with least cost and effort.

You see, my self-publishing workflow is a mess. I’ve published three books; well into a fourth. Snippets and scraps and half-starts scattered about disorganized computer files. Writing is challenge enough. But typesetting— marketing— everything takes so long. So much effort. So little to show for it.

Must be a better way.

Dream like, I see a vast publishing empire, bookstore just off the lobby, seven floor office suite, creative juices animating the crisp editorial pipe-line leading to publication of books that matter; books that touch minds and hearts of readers near and far.

Oh, and a penthouse for my personal residence.

Ah, sun-addled fantasy.

But now, wraith-like, my software development avatar pipes up.

“But why not? Why not your very own publishing empire?”

“What are you on about?”

“Why not a Publishing Empire in a Boxtm?

“A box?”

“A box. Yes.”

“Crazy talk,” I retort.

“Never know unless you try.”

“OK. OK. Never hurts to dream. What are we talking about here—“

“Told you. A Publishing Empire in a Boxtm"

“Meaning?”

“Books, compelling content, the art and craft of book design and typography, the business of book marketing.”

“Spare me! I’m just me. Army of one. How can I possibly—“

“Hush! Never hurts to dream.”

“The whole enchilada? In a box?”

“Yes! Just 4.53 inches by 4.37 inches by 1.92 inches. Not counting two monitors and a keyboard, of course.”

“But you’re talking non-trivial software.”

“Open source. Everything you need. Free.”

“I don’t know. Sounds like a lot to learn.”

“So? Teach yourself.”

“Says you.”

“Baby-step by baby-step, baby. Baby-step by-baby-step.”

“OK. We’re talking about managing the entire publishing cycle, right?”

“Soup to nuts. And more—“

“More?”

“Automating pesky administrivia!”

“In a box.”

“Yes. A box.”

“Won’t fit.”

“Says you.”

“OK wise guy. Here goes—“

  • Book idea
  • Research
  • Content
  • Market
  • Book proposal
  • Market
  • Composition
  • Synopsis
  • Outline
  • First chapter
  • Budget
  • First draft
  • Developmental editing
  • Revision
  • Copy editing
  • Front matter
  • Back matter
  • Final draft
  • Book design
  • Cover design
  • Interior design
  • Images
  • Illustrations and diagrams
  • Typesetting
  • Proofreading
  • Corrections
  • Prelaunch marketing
  • Marketing lists
  • Social media
  • Cover blurbs
  • Prelaunch reviews
  • Book promo web site
  • Printers
  • Distributors
  • Launch
  • Launch party
  • Launch publicity
  • More social media
  • Post launch marketing
  • And still more social media
  • Book events
  • Publicity
  • Advertising

“Never know ‘til we try.”

“You’re nuts. But for sake of argument, how do we even begin?”

“Well, think about your big-time traditional corporate publishing conglomerate.”

“I’m thinking.”

“Who does what how?

“You kidding? No way they’d all fit into a tiny box.”

“We’re talking about a model here. Simulation.”

“So?”

“We’re talking code. Code and data. Cyberspace.”

“But still—“

“Simplify. Focus on the who. Take your traditional publisher. Who keeps the publishing cycle spinning?”

“You mean job categories.”

“Of course.”

“Might be easier to think about the ‘does what’ part.”

“Give it a go—“

“OK. Found this:

  • Acquisition
  • Planning
  • Designing
  • Art Directing
  • Production Management
  • Distribution
  • Selling
  • Marketing/Promoting Publishing

“My point exactly. You’re a self-publisher. You do that all stuff already, right?”

“Well— I’m a writer. Mainly—“

“Who self-publishes. So you do all that stuff already.”

“I guess—“

“How well?”

“Got me there. You know me too well.”

“Point is, you need to do that stuff much much more efficiently so you have more time to write.”

“Point taken.”

“Tell me— why do you write?”

“Just something I’ve always done.”

“Enjoy it?”

“Yes. No. Sometimes. Mostly—“

“So you’re just into it for the money.”

“Don’t I wish.”

“If not money, what then?”

“Love books. Love to read. But there’s this voice. Inside. Just wants to speak out.”

“Saying what?”

“Don’t know. Something beautiful. Something that matters.”

“So you write.”

“Yes. But it’s hard.”

“Why?”

“Finding time. And the marketing part. It’s hard!”

“Wallah! The exact point I’m trying to make. You’re a self-publisher. You need a super-efficient workflow so you can effectively market your books and still find time to write.”

“And you think I can find that in a box?

“Count on it!”

“The mind reels. So you’re saying that I must totally upend the way I publish my books?”

“Could say that.”

“But how in blazes can I find time to do that? Head space?”

“Baby steps, baby. Baby steps. Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

“So what are we looking at?”

“Jot this down—“

  • Dedicated hardware
  • Open source software
  • LaTeX
  • Markdown
  • Command-line programming
  • Web development

“I’m outa here! I know enough to know that I don’t have time for this. You expect me to wade into this techie pipe dream? I have books to publish. More than I have time for now.”

“You’re a writer, right? Write about it.”

“These are humongous topics.”

“Break it down. Step-by-step.”

“And you think people will find it interesting?”

“Think of it as play. Adventure. New horizons. Joy of discovery. And, the best part—“

“The best part?”

“It will help you publish more successful books with less soul-crushing administrivia.”

“That’s all?

“It’ll help other self-publishers step up their game as well.”

“That’s something.”

“Something indeed.”

“Dedicated hardware? What’s that about?”

“You’re serious, right?”

“Wouldn’t have asked if—“

“No. Are you serious about self-publishing?”

“Three books published. Fourth on the way. What do you think?”

“Then you’re the proprietor of a small business.”

“So?”

“So, your work space should be business like.”

“Meaning?”

“So I’m looking over a list you threw out—“

“Remind me.”

“You remember…

“Book idea
Research
Content
Market
Book proposal
Market
Composition
…”

“Ah, yes, that.”

“Know what I see?”

“No doubt you’re about to tell me.”

“I see information. An information ecosystem. Now imagine that a bit-rot virus runs rampant through that ecosystem—corrupts files, deletes them. How would that impact your self-publishing business?”

“Devastating!”

“And suppose a chaos virus infects your information ecosystem. You find self-publishing directories and files all jumbled up and mixed in with personal email, to-do lists, photo files, and myriad other stuff that has nothing to do with your self-publishing business?”

“You’ve hacked into my computer, haven’t you!”

“No. But I know your sloppy disorganized ways.”

“Ouch!”

“So— dedicated hardware. You need secure business-like workspace free from tempting distractions.”

“A Publishing Empire in a Box.tm"

“Bingo!”

Next post: Destination: Publishing Success