Let’s Talk Real Estate

I can’t afford administrative assistants. So self-publishing productivity comes down to offloading as many routine administrative hassles as possible onto my computer.

As a serious self-publisher I need to:

  • Pop long-forgotten research notes up into my monitor with a few keystrokes
  • Generate book proposals, publishing plans, and marketing plans with least effort
  • Style and typeset trade-quality books as I write
  • Publish beautiful marketing collateral on my inkjet printer
  • Seamlessly manage contacts, calendar events, income and expense transactions, and book inventories

It all starts with suitable computer hardware and software.

Simple fact: If not for the internet self-publishing would be a risky deep-pocket game. And if not for the computer, the internet would be a science-fiction fantasy.

My Manhattan Office Suite

Stark fact:

My computer is the most essential tool in my self-publishing endeavor. It’s my virtual army-of-one Manhattan Office Suite. I have architectural plans—nine floors and a penthouse. Working hard toward completion. But there’s much yet to be done for lean-and-mean occupancy. As it stands, I'm metaphorically tripping around scaffolding and ladders, dry wall and plaster dust, and the smell of fresh paint.

I’m serious about making money by writing and publishing novels and nonfiction. I’m doing business. So I entrust my creative work and publishing business—contacts, calendar, contracts, finances, and asset records such as domain names and ISBNs—to a computer exclusively dedicated to self-publishing.

I’ve deleted games and other distractions. I’m organizing directories and files to simulate my virtual office tower—house my creative workflow and self-publishing business.

I’m building a publishing empire in a box.


Goal: Maximize work efficiency; minimize distraction. This brings me back to the first Golden Rule of Indie Publishing:

Time is my most precious asset

I’m a writer. I need every hour of creative focus and noodle time I can muster. I need to learn things. Imagine things. Transform my thoughts into informative, evocative, words.

I need uninterrupted quiet time.

As a serious self-publisher, however, I have ever-pressing but essential non-creative tasks competing for my time. I need to be organized. I need a place for everything in my information ecosystem and everything in its place. I need to carve through administrivia and inefficiencies like a hot knife through butter—not so easy given my voracious curiosity and jump-around mind. I can’t afford an administrative assistant, so my computer is my next best hope.

Hardware Options

I’ve given much thought to real estate—that is, suitable computer hardware. A notebook computer is tempting. But do I really want to take my self-publishing business out into the wide world of anything-can-happen-and-sometimes-does? What if my notebook computer is lost, stolen, or run over by a garbage truck? More, it’s not the wisest policy to trust public wi-fi with my business affairs.

I’m not into heavy audio, video, or mega raw photo file processing. So I don’t need much computing power. A recent-vintage castaway computer might work fine. The more RAM the better, of course. Four to eight gigs would do nicely. USB and HDMI connectors are essential. Disc capacity is not a big issue since I can attach external hard drives if pinched for space.

I could go high-end and spend a lot of money. But it’s not necessary. A Raspberry Pi 4 might serve. It supports dual monitors, which I highly recommend since I can display PDF output on the left and content and template editors on the right. The Raspberry Pi 400 is another possibility—integrated computer and keyboard. Takes up little desk space. [2]

I've also looked into “micro PCs.” Many suitable computers in the $100-to-$300 USD range on Amazon. A few sporting an Intel i3 or i5 CPU, 8 GB RAM, and 250 GB SSD disc drives. Tempting.

What about an Apple iPad?

I do enjoy sitting my easy chair and composing notes and book chapters. But the iPad is a silo. Apple wants to lock me in and not let me out. It’s a toothache to program on the iPad—tried it and gave up in frustration. So I write on my iPad while sipping a latte at Starbucks, sitting in my leisure chair, or awaiting a flight at the airport. But I transfer drafts via email, VPN, or the cloud to my home office virtual Manhattan office for editing, typesetting, and production.

The Verdict

My hardware decision came down to an Intel NUC. Benefits:

  • Space-saving
  • Power sipping,
  • Outstanding performance. [1]
[Intel NUC - image courtesy of System76]

Among other things, the diminutive NUC supports two monitors—essential for productive work.

I’m considering one of those micro PCs for local backup. But that’s fodder for another post.

Next post: My Publishing Empire


[1] Intel NUC Products. Quality. Innovation. Scale. u r l: https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/products/details/nuc.html (visited on 02/02/2022).

[2] Raspberry Pi 400. Your complete personal computer, built into a compact keyboard. u r l: https://www.raspberrypi.org/products/raspberry-pi-400/ (visited on 02/02/2022).