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At various times, I’ve pondered writing a book, and I’ve found a few things as a result of poking published authors I’ve run into.
- Writing a book of any length is a time-consuming, labor-intensive process.
- Collaborating on a book is fraught with the risk of disappointment in your co-authors.
- For all your trouble, you’re unlikely to make very much money. At least, not in the realm of technical books.
- In light of the point above, you write a book because you’re passionate about your topic, and for the glory of saying, “Hey, I wrote a book.”
True as those sentiments doubtless are, I still want to write a book, but I’d rather make money at it than not. My good friend Greg Ferro has published a small e-book about technical blogging, as an experimental foray into the independent book publishing marketplace. This model makes more sense to me. Greg has published the book electronically, hosted on someone else’s platform for a nominal charge. There is no DRM, so there’s the obvious risk every content creator faces: people copy the file and giving it to all their friends. That said, early indications are that the ebook will do okay.
One of the most interesting things to me about this approach is the potential for a long-term trickle of income. I do some commercial writing, and those are one-time payments. I’m contracted to write a piece. I write the piece. A content director sort of person accepts the piece, and moves it into the editing and publication phases. I send an invoice, and money appears sometime later. Done. Who gets the trickle benefit of the piece? The publisher – not me. They get the income stream for the long-term in the form of ad revenue generated (indirectly, usually) by my piece.
If I publish content myself in the form of an e-book, the long-term financial trickle benefits me. I have the burden of advertising the availability of the e-book, and hoping word of mouth and SEO does the rest. But still, a good e-book that interests the right niche audience should do reasonably well, enough to make smaller undertakings worth the authoring effort.
At least, that’s the theory. Now, I need to move into actually writing the e-book I’ve conceived of.
Ethan Banks writes & podcasts about IT, new media, and personal tech.
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