David Gaughran makes an unusual choice in the introduction to LET’S GET DIGITAL. Most people would start by listing their credentials, but Gaughran admits he has none. He’s not a best-selling author. He’s not a digital superstar. He’s a nobody. And that’s a good thing. Because he wants you know something important. Anyone can publish an ebook.
LET’S GET DIGITAL is divided into three parts. The first is philosophy. Before we can understand the how, Gaughran says we need to understand the why. He starts by listing the reasons big publishers are in trouble and why print books are in a death spiral. He makes good points, but he also assumes that his readers have zero knowledge of the publishing industry. Most writers have spent years working (or trying to work) within that system and know it well, so this part won’t be of much use. Besides, the audience for this book won’t need convincing that they should self-publish. They’d just like to know how.
The second part is absolutely bursting with useful information. It covers the how-to of editing, covers, formatting, uploading to sales channels, and pricing. Throughout, Gaughran urges writers to produce nothing but their best, and shows them how to do just that. He also covers post-publication work like sales, marketing, and reviews. A lot of this is common sense and the information is widely available all over the internet. However, having it all in one convenient place feels like a gift.
Gaughran also discusses how to handle a sales slump. This is somewhat of a taboo subject among indie writers and Gaughran is courageous for tackling it. His advice is mostly of the “keep calm and carry on” sort, but he also offers a few tricks to goose sales such as a revamped book description and extra promo work. However, the only thing a writer can really do is keep writing. Nothing boosts sales of a book like more books.
Part three is inspiration. Thirty-three successful authors tell their own publication stories in short essays. Every author took a slightly different path, but some common themes emerged. Self-publishing wasn’t a lifelong dream for these authors. Many of them stumbled across the idea almost accidentally. Many authors also talked about the ease of self-publishing. Turning a finished manuscript into a book really isn’t that hard. All of the contributors exceeded their own expectations. Most are doing phenomenally well, seemingly overnight. This last one might be a bit of a downer for people who don’t immediately see big sales numbers, but they are called success stories for a reason.
The other thing that came up many times, from many authors, is the importance of other people. None of them succeeded alone. They all benefited from the strong indie community that has developed on the blogs, the Kindle boards, and Twitter. Writers have always helped writers by sharing what they know, and it’s clear Gaughran has that same generous spirit. The introduction is correct. With the information and inspiration found in LET’S GET DIGITAL, anyone can publish an ebook.
rating: 4 stars
This book is best for: intermediate to advanced writers
I recommend this book