Not that long ago, the only path a writer could take to get herself published was a murky trail through a wilderness of gatekeepers known as agents and editors. That wilderness, now known as traditional publishing, grew up around printing technology that not only made the mass printing of books possible, it made the mass printing of books necessary.
In other words, it was economically impossible to print a single copy of a book from the time of Johannes Gutenberg’s many inventions (around 1440) all the way through the end of the 20th century.
Like so many other industries, the staid world of book publishing has been completely upended by digital technology. No author has to bow before the tastes and vagaries of agents and editors if he doesn’t want to. The ability to publish one’s own books is now back in the hands of authors where, in my opinion, it belongs.
Now the question isn’t “May I publish my book?” but “What’s the best way to publish my book?”
The best way to figure out your answer is to understand how you intend to use your book. Is it genre fiction? Ebooks only might be best. Is it an art book full of imagery? Then a full-sized coffee-table, full-color book may be the best option to suit your material. Is your book going to be used to teach? Then it might be best to do both an ebook as well as a print book.
Of course costs are a consideration. Books-on-paper are far more costly to produce than electronic books, more time-consuming as well.
So what are my intentions for String Theory I?
It’s primary purpose is to provide easy-to-use patterns for folks interested in making lap quilts for people with Parkinson’s disease. It is also going to be used as a fundraiser for the Comfort Project.
There’s also my intended audience—quilters. What works best for them?
Quilters are, by nature, a tactile lot. We stroke fabric, rub batting between our fingers, move blocks around on design walls as we create our masterpieces.
Yes, many of us use online video tutorials to learn certain techniques, look at photographs on the web, learn patterns from bloggers. But we still love our paper, our books.
In addition, it is much easier to provide a premium for a donation in physical rather than digital form. Not that we can’t do both paper and electronic versions of this book. Chances are good that we will. But with a fundraising opportunity coming up at the end of June, the print version is the most pressing.
So that’s where we’ll begin.