Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
How I wrote, crowdfunded, and independently published a book (blakeboles.com)
227 points by melpomene 8 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 37 comments

The expensive part isn't the writing, editing, or publishing. The expensive part is the marketing. He spent years building a following, which is fantastic. That's the hard part.

A publisher can help you jump start that step by getting your book in stores, on lists, and otherwise talked about. They take a steep cut for that, so it's up to you if it's worth it. But if you don't want to run a weekly podcast, monthly newsletter, and speaking tour, it is worth considering.

100% agreed. But as I learned from a friendly agent, publishers are increasingly expecting authors to bring their own marketing platforms (social media followings, blog followers, email newsletters) before offering contracts. Either that or you should have written an article or given a TEDx talk that went viral and thereby demonstrated a market potential.

Amazing job. I think your portuguese cover/book title needs work if you plan to publish/sell in the brazilian market.

It has a typo and doesn't sound natural.

> It has a typo and doesn't sound natural.

What's the typo and why doesn't it sound natural?

If it's about the "porque" then please keep this in mind: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUYzlYg_axo

Portuguese here: there's no error, it's fine.

Brazilian market.

Adding to that, let me offer a suggestion on how it could be improved:

Original: ”Porque continua a mandar os seus filhos para a escola?”

Grammatically correct: ”Por que continua a mandar os seus filhos para a escola?”

More naturally sound: ”Por que você continua a mandar seus filhos para a escola?”

update of comment above: I just learned from kentosi comment that "Porque" without a space in a question is gramatically correct if you are using portuguese from Portugal. So, consider that I made my suggestions in Brazilian Portuguese.

It's fine standard portuguese.


Brazil doesn't speak "standard portuguese" (whatever that is).

See, this is where you could go the extra mile and actually tell the author exactly what word it is. Do you do this at your work as well?

That went from constructive criticism to unnecessary personal attack in record time.

for those seeking more info i collected other book launches (developer focused) here https://github.com/sw-yx/launch-cheatsheet/

Thanks for sharing! Through your link, I found my way to this image. It reminded me of the time I thought I had a similar inbox indicating a successful launch, but it was just the same person's "payment failed" notification coming through!

what image?

I have no idea why it removed the link... it was a link to an image displaying an email inbox with many customer order emails, i.e. many sales being made.

Thank you for sharing this - it was an interesting read. Would be interested to see how the book does if you end up sharing something similar a few months from now. I've released a few technical e-books this year to adapt to the lockdown situation - so it's nice to read on similar journeys.

How are yours doing?

We can say... slow and steady! I can go days without a sale, and most of the time it requires active promotion. I list them directly (https://store.shahinrostami.com/) and not through Amazon/Gumroad etc, so maybe that makes it more difficult... but I'm still enjoying it!

I don't know what I was expecting but nice work that's really great. Now I want a data is beautiful coffee book..

Excellent article. The best part is the author's recognition of the importance of getting help with the editing—not only checking the grammar and spelling but also working with the author on the content and tone. That can really make a difference in how well a book is received, and it's something that seems to be overlooked by many people who publish their own books. (Design is important, too, though maybe not as much as he thinks, especially for books sold online.)

I wondered, though, whether he was able to get the same quality control with the translations. His budget of $3,700 for "Foreign translations & ebook production" isn't very much even for one language. A good translation requires a lot of time and skill to produce, especially if one wants it to read smoothly and be culturally appropriate in the target language.

I recon this book might not be as well translated as he might think. The subtitle in German is sub-par translation at least. Can't say anything about the content of the book itself, but if it's a similar quality, the book might not gain that much traction or raving reviews in other languages.

I’m also not sure how well the contents translate to German. After all, Germany has not only compulsory education but the “allgemeine Schulpflicht” (i.e. compulsory school attendance), meaning homeschooling is, for the most part, strictly illegal (Switzerland and Austria have different rules, though).

The fact that Germany has such strict restrictions was a major factor in wanting to produce in a German edition! They need as much inspiration as they can get to change their system.

True — I hired friends who have translation experience but are not super experienced. That's how I got away with that budget for two translations (+ cover & design services).

If you are thinking of producing books in multilingual editions in the future, you might want to get some independent expert feedback about the quality of the translations your friends produced this time around. Those translations might have been fine. But there are many ways translations can be inadequate, from misunderstandings of subtle but important nuances in the source text to prose that sounds awkward and unnatural in the target language. Such problems can seriously impact both how accurately your message is conveyed and how well your book sells.

I worked as a professional translator (Japanese to English) for twenty years, and I always feel very uncomfortable when a paper or book I've written is translated into a language I can't read.

Hi everyone, I'm the author of the post & book. Thanks for commenting!

Hi Blake! Kieran's dad here. So great to see your article on Hacker News. Your old bike is safely heading back to Colorado soon.

Ha, that's incredible!

Is it common to refer to typography as "interior design" in the book world? I've not come across it before.

I'm curious how much profit you can make especially after touring the country.

That sounds extremely expensive.

I managed to break even on the tour by charging small speaking fees, selling my other books after the talks, and staying with friends / Couchsurfing frequently.



About the page itself rather than its content:

Users that prefer to disable JavaScript: just zap the .fx-preloader element, the content’s all there behind it.

I wish people wouldn’t use this sort of technique. Even if you have JavaScript running, it slows site loading down for no good reason (avoiding a flash of unstyled or misstyled page is the typical reason, but it’s a terrible replacement at best). Just let the browser do its thing, please. (And if it’s loading really badly, fix your HTML and CSS so that it’s not.)

Heart tingled thinking it was Blake Bortles

So you self-published a book. Well done. Join the crowd. The very, very big crowd.

<selfpromotion> https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ridiculous-Misadventures-Foxglove-W... </selfpromotion>

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact