Saturday, February 20, 2010

Publishing on a shoestring budget

For the longest time, there were only two paths to publication.

The first was the so-called "traditional" route, in which an author spent months or years searching for an agent, who then spent months or years shopping the book around to various publishers, in the hope that one of them would purchase it and publish it after several more months or years.

For those that did not want to wait that long, there was the self-publishing option. However, this option was an expensive one, and the upfront expense was entirely the author's responsibility. Most authors could not afford such an endeavor, and so they put their dreams of publication on hold.

Thankfully, the past few years have brought around a revolution in the publishing industry. The Internet, eBooks, and the rise of print-on-demand publishers have helped to remove the financial barrier to self-publication.

Lack of money is no longer a barrier to publication. To be published nowadays, one merely needs to invest the time.

Here are some tips for publishing on a shoestring budget. These tips assume that you have already done the hardest part of the entire process - you've finished writing your book (perhaps using something like My Writing Nook?) and are ready to share it with the world.

Layout, Formatting & Cover Design

The layout and formatting of your book depends on how you plan to publish it. If you are planning to use a print-on-demand company, you'll need to layout your manuscript in a format suitable for publishing. Thankfully, these companies make the process as easy as possible. For example, Lulu provides a template for designing your cover as well as a Word document template with the margins and spacing already configured. CreateSpace offers their layout guidelines here.

If you don't have Word or another word processing program that allows you to format your document, I'd suggest checking out Google Docs. You can upload your manuscript, format it appropriately, and even export it as a PDF document file.

The saying goes "Don't judge a book by its cover," but the fact of the matter is that most people do. An amateurish cover design may cause people to dismiss your book outright.

If you have an artistic flair, you can design your own cover using a free image editing program such as Paint.NET. If you prefer an online option, check out

If art isn't your thing, you can visit sites like 99 designs or crowdSPRING to crowdsource the design of your cover. These sites won't get you a cover design for free, but they allow you to control the entire process, and really provide a great bang for your buck.


Publishing a book requires very little upfront money. There are several different options for publishing your book.

You could choose to publish your book via a blog. Many authors have started to publish their novels online as webserials. If you choose to this route, there are several blog platforms to choose from. Blogger is the platform run by Google, is easy to use, and has the best integration with Google's other services, such as AdSense, Analytics, and AdWords. WordPress is another strong option. If you'd like to host your blog on your own site, WP is probably the best way to go.

If you'd like to publish real, physical books, then print-on-demand publishing is the way to go. PoD publishers will store your book in digital form until someone purchases it, at which point they will print a physical copy of the book and send it to the customer. The author can set the price of the book, thus determining how much in royalties they earn per sale. Royalty rates from PoD publishers are much higher than those from traditional publishing companies, with the author earning a greater portion of the proceeds (as it should be!). PoD books can have their own ISBN, and can be listed on sites such as Amazon or B&N.

There are two big players in the PoD space these days. Lulu had been around a bit longer and is very author-friendly, providing downloadable sample templates for cover and book layout. CreateSpace is newer, but is owned by Amazon, arguably the biggest book-related company in the world.

If you're looking to publish eBooks, both Lulu and CreateSpace offer this option. If you're looking to target the Kindle, you can publish your eBook via a catalog like Smashwords, or you could get in the Kindle store by working with Amazon directly.

Once you've gotten your book published, it's time to let your audience know about it. If you don't already have an audience, you need to grow one. That means marketing, which calls to my mind well-dressed, fast-talking, brash young salespeople. People-people. If you're the type of person that thinks "I could never be in sales," I'll help to disabuse you of that notion in my next post.

In my next post, I'll tackle marketing yourself and your book on a shoestring budget. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My Writing Nook now available on Android!

I'm pleased to announce that My Writing Nook is now available for Android-powered phones and devices. If you're reading this on your phone, you can get it here (this link will only work from Android's browser). It runs on all devices that run Android 1.5 and higher.

You can read all about the new version and see some screenshots by visiting the My Writing Nook for Android page.

Happy writing, Android users!

Friday, February 12, 2010

What's next for My Writing Nook?

I've been quite busy here at the My Writing Nook labs. OK, there aren't actually any labs, but saying that sounds kinda cool, so please indulge me. With this week's 1.6 release of the MWN iPhone/iPod touch app, the roll out of the shiny new document groups feature is complete. I hope that everyone is enjoying that feature.

I've got a lot of things planned for MWN, so I thought I'd take a few moments and share some of them with you.

Very near term happenings
I'm excited to announce that very soon there will be a My Writing Nook application available to devices that run Android. That means that your shiny new Droid or Nexus One phone will be yet another place that you can Write Simply Anywhere.

I'm putting the final touches on the app now, so I'd expect to get it into the Android Marketplace within the next two weeks or so. It's been an interesting experience - doing Android development. Once the dust settles, I plan to write a post comparing iPhone development to Android development.

Near term happenings
Once the Android app is out the door, I will turn my focus to working on the iPad version of My Writing Nook. I think that MWN is an application that will be very well-suited to the iPad, and I plan to be in the App Store from day one.

But what about the iPhone/iPod app?
Don't worry, I won't be neglecting the iPhone app. For the 1.7 release, I'm planning to integrate support for TextExpander touch into the app, which will allow you to really boost your word count. There will also be a few other minor features.

And the web app?
The web app continues to be fast and stable. It's the foundation of the entire MWN empire. I've got some interesting things planned for the future, but don't want to share them just yet.

It will be an interesting next few months here at MWN. I hope you'll come along for the ride.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

iPhone App version 1.6 is out - Document Groups!

The 1.6 release of the My Writing Nook app for iPhone/iPod touch hit the App Store tonight. This release includes the much-requested document groups feature.

You'll also notice that I've updated the logo. It's now much crisper, since I reworked it and it's a much higher resolution now. Hmm.... now why would I possibly need a new, higher resolution logo...

As always, I recommend that you do a synch with the web app before you grab the update, just in case. Enjoy!