Let’s Get Digital – A Radical Free Strategy

This month will see the release of my latest book Let’s Get Digital.

As is almost compulsory in non-fiction, it now has a snappy subtitle: Not just how to self-publish, why to self-publish.

That’s not just window-dressing. I believe it is essential to have an understanding of the current state of the publishing industry in addition to learning how to publish something professionally.

Let’s Get Digital

The first part of this book will give you an overview of the rapidly changing book business. It will explain why the big publishers are in serious trouble, and how the internet has revolutionized things to the point where a writer, working on their own, can make a living out of it.

It will talk about why you don’t need to fear piracy. It will shatter the myths surrounding self-publishing, chief among them being that you will never make any money out of it.

And it will explain why this is a great time to be a writer, and how you can profit from these seismic changes that are taking place.

The second part of the book will deal with the nuts and bolts of digital self-publishing in a very hands-on fashion.

It will cover everything from finding an editor, arranging for a professional cover, how to format your book so it appears perfectly on every device, the appropriate pricing strategy for your work, and a whole host of marketing tips covering everything from blogging, social networking, reviews, competitions, to how to arrest a sales slump.

Finally, in the third part, I will present the stories of thirty-three successful self-publishers who share their journeys in their own words. Most of these guys are selling over 1,000 books a month, some are selling almost 100 times that.

There is a real mix of writers, covering all genres. Some had long, successful publishing careers but are making even more money from self-publishing, others had careers which had hit plateaued, but re-ignited when they went out on their own.

But most are people who had never published anything before, and are now either making a living from writing or quickly approaching that point. Their stories are powerful and inspiring, and I am very excited to present them to you.

I’m keeping the identities of my contributors secret for now. The plan is to name them on release day, but I may get excited and leak a few in the run-up. Anything is possible.

Overall, Let’s Get Digital will contain 60,000 words of articles, essays, and how-to guides. Some of it is information that has appeared on this blog in one form or another. Some of it is brand new. All of it has been extensively re-written and updated.

I think everyone will get something out of this book, no matter what stage they are at in their own writing career.

Let’s Get Radical

I will be doing something a little counter-intuitive with this book: giving it away for free.

As promised when I started this blog, the PDF version will be available as a free download, right here.

I will be attaching a Creative Commons License to that version which means that anyone will be free to download, email, and share it in any way. They will only be restricted from commercial use (i.e. profiting from it).

It will also be on sale at Amazon and the rest of the retailers for $2.99.

Because I am committed to producing professional titles – to the highest level – even when it is something I am giving away, my production costs for this book will be over $1,000.

There will also be a donate button beside the free version. Donations will be strictly optional, but I will be asking readers who find the book useful to kick in whatever they can to help me cover costs.

There will also be a note in the PDF version to the same effect.

I will need to sell at least 500 copies to break even (or receive an equivalent amount in donations). Will I do it? Am I crazy to be giving the PDF version away for free? Maybe not.

Here’s my thinking. The free version will act as an advertisement for the paid version. While the content will be virtually identical, it’s tough to read a PDF on an e-reader or phone. I’m hoping that sufficient numbers will spring for the mobi/epub version for the ease of reading on their device.

Because the PDF version will be free, there is a chance that it will be circulated widely. All I know for sure is that I will certainly reach a much wider circle of people than I could have with normal promotional methods.

When I was considering this strategy, I was aware of the possibility that the PDF could just be copied and passed along lots of people who will never see the donate button on my site, and never have any reason to come here.

But instead of limiting that in some way, which would hamper any chance it had of going somewhat viral, I wanted to give them a reason to come here.

As such, the book will be linked to lots of new content here on this blog. This makes practical sense too. There are a whole host of limitations to both the e-book file formats and the e-readers themselves that make things like including screenshots difficult.

Also, you can include links in e-books, but use too many and it gets ugly fast. Certain sections, like the formatting chapter, will have content which will be complemented by extra information on this blog.

I’m hoping that a good portion of the free readers will come and visit this blog to avail of this additional content. My logic is that once they become blog readers, they may feel more compelled to kick in a few dollars to help cover the costs of the book.

Will this strategy work? Well, I’m happy to be the lab rat here, and you all have ringside seats. It could be a phenomenal success, or I could be out over $1,000. And believe me when I say that I don’t have $1,000 to throw away.

The Best Things In Life Are Free

It’s a gamble, but I’ve always liked to roll the dice. In any event, making money was not my sole motivation for writing this book. Everything I have learned about self-publishing, I learned from fellow writers, for free, from their blogs.

This is a small way to give something back to the community, or, to be more accurate, pay it forward. If I can help other writers like those tireless bloggers helped me, I will be very happy. Money is nice, but there are a lot more things in life that can put a smile on your face.

The book was sent to the editor last week, and she is flying through it. At the same time, my designer is splitting pixel atoms as we speak, aiming to once again shake the very foundations of book cover design.

In other words, we are looking good for a mid-July release.

In the meantime, I will be building all the blog content that will add value for readers. As such, the blog will be getting a revamp – more in content and layout than in design (not my forte).

The changes won’t be too radical. You mightn’t even notice most of them. Generally, the will affect the navigation bar at the top.

At the moment, there are links to more information about me and my books, links to pages that group together some of my earlier articles on the digital revolution and how to self-publish professionally, as well as my much unloved haikus.

While this layout worked at the earlier stages of this blog, it has been somewhat neglected. There must be over 100,000 words of information on this blog now, but it’s not easy to find.

That’s all going to change. Over the next week or so, I will be tinkering with a variety of different ways to make this information more accessible, and hence, hopefully, more useful.

I’m also looking ahead to future content that you might find useful, and this is where I want to hear from you.

I’m already planning a more hands-on formatting guide.

I’m also considering a post breaking down the anatomy of a good cover – showing the evolution of an idea from the first mock-up to the final result. Would you find a post like that interesting or useful?

My editor will probably pop in and do a guest post on some topic. She has suggested a number of things like self-editing techniques, or the biggest grammatical errors she sees.

But maybe you would be more interested in an article on what to look for in an editor, or what to expect from them when you get one. Now is the time to speak up!

There will also be practical information on things like ISBNs, copyright, tax, and setting up a publishing company.

I would like to branch out a little. I won’t do book reviews, that’s not what this blog is about. And, I would like to continue to have guest bloggers and to interview fellow writers, and I will always cover and analyze the latest developments in the publishing industry.

But aside from those ideas, I would like to hear from you. Your input has been crucial in both the development of this blog, and my book. What would you like to see?

I would also love to hear your thoughts on my free strategy. Do you think it will work? Or do you think I’ll end up with a thousand dollars worth of egg on my face?

Either way, it’s going to be fun to find out. Even for me.

David Gaughran

Born in Ireland, he now lives in a little fishing village in Portugal, although this hasn’t increased the time spent outside. He writes novels under another name, has helped thousands of authors build a readership with his books, blogs, workshops, and courses, and has created marketing campaigns for some of the biggest self-publishers on the planet. Friend to all dogs.