Today marks the release of a project that has literally taken two years to come to fruition. Today I published my first book without the use of an established publishing house. The book, entitled, Howto: WordPress 4, is notable (at least to me! ) in several regards.
First, though technically published by water&stone digital out of Singapore, the book is essentially self-published. I control water&stone, so the use of that company to shelter the project is merely a convenience. Self-publishing is a big change for me. Over the course of the years, I have published almost 20 books, but all within the sheltering arms of a publishing house. Given that history, finally going out on my own is rather a big change.
Second, the book is only available in electronic editions. One of the things I wanted to accomplish with self-publishing was more control over the impact of my work. I wanted to step away from killing trees for books. Given that my audience is, by definition, tech friendly, they should be able to deal with electronic editions. I’ve always been a bit put off by the waste that goes into the preparation and distribution of printed books, not to mention the return of unsold units which are bound to be pulped, at best. The issue isn’t just paper, it’s the tremendous amount of electricity and fuel it takes to accomplish those tasks, along with the massive water waste that goes with paper production. I’m done with that and that feels good.
Third, the book is a different type of title for me. Unlike my other tech books, which tend to be rather long-wind expositions on this or that bit of esoterica, this book is all about getting things done. It is a purely task-oriented how to book designed to be used as a reference by WordPress site owners. God knows we live in an era where you can Google up answers to your “how to” questions, but as we have all experienced, sometimes that process is a journey down the rabbit hole. At best, you quickly find a trustworthy source and the problem gets solved, at worse, an hour and half later you are looking at cat photos. Whether the approach taken in this book will find a warm reception from the market I cannot yet say, but we are certain to find out now, aren’t we?
The text itself is a substantial piece of work. More than 350 pages in length, and with over 200 screenshots, it strives to be a comprehensive guide to WordPress site ownership issues. One of the joys of the electronic book is that, as things change, the text can be updated. So, you can bet, that as I get feedback from the market, and WordPress itself changes, so will the book. I guess that’s a fourth reason this title is notable: it’s more of a living breathing thing. (I’ve always thought traditional dead tree media had a huge disadvantage when it came to publishing books about fast changing technologies, like open source software.)
Perhaps you are wondering, why did it take so durn long?? A fair question. I started down this path in May of 2012 (!!), even writing a blog post about it here, but then things went awry. Life intervened, along with other, more urgent projects, leading me to set aside the manuscript for an entire year. Shortly after I went back to revisit it, WordPress 4 hit beta. At that point I stopped work on the text (which was focused on WordPress 3) and focused instead on having the text updated and ready to go to market quickly after the release of WordPress 4; the goal being to have the longest possible lifespan for the book.
There’s a dedicated website for the book, http://WordPressHowToBook.com, where you can find a sample chapter you can download for free. The book is available for sale on the site, but only in PDF format at the moment. I will release in ePub and Mobi once I have it up on Amazon and Google Play Store. For the moment, you can pick up a copy for $5.99. Once we’re live on Amazon, it will jump up to its full list price, $11.99. Drop by and check it out; I’d welcome any feedback.