Being An Indie Publisher
Now that I have completed putting my book up for sale (in all the places I intend to sell it in) thought it would be good to record the experience and what I learnt (in case others might be looking to replicate the journey).
All in all there are 4 editions across 4 stores:
- Digital Edition. This is hosted on Gumroad. Comes in two flavours, pdf and Epub3.
- Paperback Edition. This is a print on demand copy and honestly my favourite version - but I am very old school like that. The only difference for this edition is the lack of full blue page blue insert at the start of the book. I found that this page impacted the binding. This edition also comes with an index at the end (more on that in a bit).
- Amazon Kindle Edition. This does away with the double page photo images that break the chapters. The graphs and tables are images and does not have an index.
- Apple Bookstore Edition. The exact Epub3 file. This one is coming soon, as it’s being reviewed by Apple.
Nearly 3 years ago I lost my Mac. At the time there were rumours of Apple silicone on the horizon and it didn’t feel like the right time to make a purchase that would least me at least 5 years. My only machine was my 2018 iPad Pro, a device with hardware that was (and is?) way ahead of it’s competition. All that was missing was suitable software.
My original hope was that Affinity would release their desktop publishing app, Publisher, on the iPad relatively soon. We’re still waiting for that release. What I found was the incredibly capable Pages app that could do just about everything I wanted. It did take a while to get used to understanding how some of these things were setup, but being able to edit things across my iPad and iPhone allowed me to iterate at a much faster rate.
Being able to share comments and update a file between myself and Mike (my editor) made the editing process seamless. This space could be better in keeping the comments history (after you’ve accepted the comments), but honestly it’s a nitpick at this stage.
The one feature that I hope Apple adds is the ability to create an Index. This was by far the most time consuming and painful exercise - and which I had to do manually. What is encouraging is that Apple continues to update this app several times a year and continues to make it even more capable with every iteration.
For Gumroad, creating a pdf and an Epub was trivial. As was uploading to the Apple Bookstore. The web interface for iTuneConnect is ok. You can tell which parts are still legacy from before Apple decided to take the web more seriously but overall no complaints.
Reformatting for Amazon was painful but hopefully worthwhile. For this edition I had to move off my iPad Pro and onto a Windows machine I have access to. Export from Pages to Word. Import it into Kindle Create and then go about formatting everything to suit the different format (ePub2?). Sadly I feel that this is a lesser edition than the others on account of not being able to provide some of the native elements that I have included in the other versions (full page images, native tables and graphes). Having said that everything looks sharp on both my Kindle Paperwhite and my iPhone.
I gave up on Draft2Digital pretty quickly because the final version was asking for too many compromises. My text and supplementary images don’t marry well with the type of book that service is catering towards. If you have a ‘novel’ type of book (a cover and then text), then this system will work a charm for you. Everyone else, it’s probably an exercise in frustration.
This has been a really incredible journey for me. From my original ideas of creating these concise books, I now have my first release across several stores and formats. The barrier to entry is exceedingly low, considering that apart from using a windows machine for a day to format the Kindle edition, everything else was done on an iPad (including all the illustrations). Creatively this has been one of the most complete things I have ever worked on. I have 3 more in the tank, although none have gone through the editing process yet. Now that I know the process, hopefully the next ones will come out faster.