By Robert Digitale
Joel Friedlander designs books. Someone once heard this and told him it must mean, “You just put the page numbers on a page.”
If only it were that easy. However, writers who want to self-publish their works quickly learn that producing a good-looking, readable book involves, as Friedlander puts it, “a whole myriad of decisions.” Many of those writers turn for insights to Friedlander and his popular publishing blog, www.thebookdesigner.com . Friedlander’s odyssey in printing and publishing spans decades, from his boyhood days watching his printer father turn lead into hot type to today’s digital, print-on-demand processes. His career has included producing high-end photography books and owning his own publishing company, releasing a book that made the cover of the New York Times Book Review.
While Friedlander has been designing books for years, he still seems surprised at the response to his latest reincarnation as an expert to self-publishers. To hear him tell it, he was simply looking for a new way to drum up some book designing jobs when he launched his blog and website in 2009.
Since then he has written 1,100 articles on such topics as attractive type fonts, copyright pages and the worst mistakes of self-publishers. His publishing blog now draws 50,000- to-60,000 unique visitors each month.
“It’s the highest traffic website in the independent publishing community,” he said. Moreover, it’s made him a believer in the value of blogging. “I don’t think there’s anything that compares with the marketing power of a blog.” The website’s success has led to new ventures, including the creation of ready-made templates that allow self-publishers to create professional-looking book interiors using Microsoft Word. The templates are sold at bookdesigntemplates.com.
Friedlander is slated to speak at two breakout sessions at Redwood Writer’s Conference, “From Pen to Published,” in April 2014. The sessions are: “Judge a Book by its Cover,” and “Publishing Pathways.” In the first, he’ll describe the five jobs of a book cover and give three ways to evaluate a cover. In the second, he’ll talk about such print and ebook publishing options as CreateSpace and Smashwords. Go to http://redwoodwriters.org/registration-from-pen-to-published/ for early bird registration for the conference.
Each self-published author’s situation is unique, Friedlander said, but all of them have a big decision to make, namely, how many of the steps in the process do they want to tackle themselves, as opposed to hiring someone to help. As they proceed, writers must realize they are starting a venture as not only the author but also as the seller of their books.“You have to have a certain amount of entrepreneurial spirit,” he says.
Still, he is quick to offer this advice to writers: “Publish.” Try different approaches, perhaps first publishing just a chapter on a website and starting a conversation with readers.
And he still expresses optimism about the role of authors.“Writers change the world one reader at a time,” he said. “But you can’t change the world with a book that’s still on your hard drive or in a box under your bed. Self-publishing is how we get those books into readers’ hands.”
Reprinted from: The Redwood Writer
Robert Digitale is a staff writer for The Press Democrat. He has conceived and edited three fictional serials that appeared in the PD using multiple writers. He has published his first fantasy novel, Horse Stalker, and is writing the second in the series, Blaze and Skyfire.