First Time Published

A small account of my experiences and what I learned when publishing the first Drop Bear Roy book.

I have to admit I’ve had a lot of brain storming sessions about a lot of creative projects and being the web geek that I have become over the last decade and a half, publishing a traditional book wasn’t something that often entered my creative sessions. It wasn’t that I thought it was a bad idea, just more that I thought it was more an unreachable goal compared to the ease that I have in creativity online. After spending so many years in the web industry its easy for me to imagine something and then simply create it. There are no hoops to jump through and there is no approval process to creating your own vision online. So my thoughts were always of road blocks when it comes to publishing a traditional book.

It wasn’t until the day that I imagined two very cool new children’s book characters. Admittedly I originally had planned them for a game development on the iPhone or the iPad or both when I first thought of them. But at the time I could see them as being so much more. So I investigated the thought of first introducing Drop Bear Roy and Max the Fox in children’s books. I knew this could work as the nature of Drop Bear Roy can encompass many adventures and help deliver positive messages to the kids of the world.

I made the decision right from the start that i would undertake the publishing of the book myself. I have learnt over the years and especially in traditional creative processes that often the beauty of the idea is lost in trying to get the idea off the ground through countless and often pointless meetings, and often ends in being cast aside due to creative road blacks that are out of your hands. So the idea of using a publisher was ditched after a bit of research.

So the process of creating a books started, but I knew even by not using a publisher that I still couldn’t do this alone. I knew what I could achieve, what I couldn’t do on my own and areas of publishing I would need to research. So rather than start with any potential road blocks I got down to doing what I could achieve. I started conceptualizing the first book, the story, the illustrations and connected with a very talented illustrator from Java to deliver the finished pieces. I’ve been trained professionally as an illustrator but my 15 years of web design and development have seen that talent dwindle so I couldn’t have possibly achieved the results without bringing in an illustrator. During the illustration process I started researching the requirements for having a book published, the legal jargon at the front, the ISBN and so on. Turned out to be a time consuming process but now that I have learnt that process the next book will be much easier.

When the book got closer to being finished I started to gather some of the artwork to seek printing quotes and to forward to potential distributors. I even targeted publishers even though I knew I wouldn’t be needing their services I knew eventually that I would hit someone that would lead me to the next person who would put me in touch with an interested distributor. This took a few weeks to get to a point where I finally had a distributor interested in taking the book to sale.

Let me share what I have learned briefly from this process of creation, publishing and finally distribution. It surprises me the process that is required in traditionally publishing a book. Traditionally when you publish a book you write a manuscript, you find an agent who then shops this script to publishers. Eventually (if you’re lucky) a publisher takes on your book. The publisher then organizes the print and distribution of your book. It’s easy to see where people have struggled to get published in the past. Take a look at the Harry Potter series for example. Knocked back by publishers on numerous occasions and finally picked up by a small time publisher and the series has become one of if not the most successful publication and now movie franchise in history.

Another note on the traditional form of publishing is there are a lot of people who need to be paid, which results in splitting the sales in many ways in order to pay for this process of publishing. When you self publish there are a lot less people in the loop which means less people to pay and more chances of making a living off your publications. On the other hand, using a publisher gives your book more chance of succeeding, but your book would need to be very successful to gain profits from book sales. In my mind the parameters of a successful book have changed dramatically over the last few years. There is a greater weight put on digital strategies. We are now seeing large book chains closing down stores simply because the digital revolution has cut into this traditional method of publishing and selling books. This is not to say that traditional books are dead, but that simply the larger book chains failed to heed the signs of the digital revolution and simply were too late to make the fundamental changes to stay afloat.

So for me from the outset of creating this book I knew that I would have to put a lot of time into a digital strategy to help market and distribute the book. Creating a kindle version of the book was important and eventually iPad versions will come.

I felt that even though the book industry was going through this gaping change I knew with a well thought out digital strategy a self published book can still be a great success. It’s early days so lets see how it goes.

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