Jan 092012

Got a book inside you waiting to get out? Well, then meet Paul Emmerson. He’s just written one. In fact he’s done more than that. He’s actually published it himself.

So what was the process and how much did it cost? I thought I’d find out more about it:

There’s a slideshow here with further information on the book’s production. And if you liked the interview, you might also be interested in Peter Viney’s self published videos.

 Posted by at 1:50 am

  14 Responses to “Paul Emmerson on self publishing”

  1. Hi Vicki

    Nice interview :-).

    As it happens I have just written a review for this book for Business Issues (IATEFL BESIG’s newsletter). Paul has done a great job, and I think the book is well worth buying. These are good quality, ready-to-go, photocopiable materials, ideal for stimulating discussion with managers learning English.


  2. Thanks Evan! Yes, if folks want to buy the book they can get it here.

  3. Very nice interview indeed. For me the hardest part seems to be getting my thoughts to translate well into written form. Maybe it’s just that I’m too critical of myself, but either way it always takes me much longer to write than I original plan for.

  4. Oh, Dear Vicki, you seem to have a bad cold … I hope you’re feeling better!
    Yes, a very nice interview, thank you. Paul has put out some good material before – we once had him for a workshop which was extremely good.
    So, yes, I’ll probably go for his new ‘work of art’

    Thank you and a very happy 2012 to you!

  5. Oh Joan, yes, I was getting over a bad cold when I recorded this. I didn’t realise how rough I looked till I started editting it. But I’m much better now thanks.
    Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Great interview guys.

    I teach a bit of in-service now and there aren’t any suitable materials about so I have to make all my lessons. I’m OK with this but I also give sessions to new teachers who really have problems. I know that publishers think about profits and so may prefer general books with a mass market but there is a niche for in-service books too. They could just cut costs down and publish smaller titles as e-books. Images could be minimal and from their collection and the format could follow a set theme etc etc.

    I think we go on and on about innovation but I still see the same things redone. Branching out into cheaper but more interesting e-books will show that we are pushing the boundaries and keeping up with tech. After all, the most popular Xmas gifts in 2012 were tablets and numerous book shops and music shops have gone down the pan as they didn’t keep up with e-content. Maybe it’s time we did.

  7. I agree, Phil. Electronic publishing is opening up a host of new possibilities to make more niche materials available at very low costs and the number of new e-books coming onto the market is growing at an astonishing rate.

    I think one of the biggest challenges e-book publishers face is getting their voice heard when there are so many other voices clamouring to be heard. May be what’s needed is some sort of ELT writers co-operative where writers band together so they can sell their wares in the same web-marketplace.

    There’s ‘The Round’, which strikes me as a very interesting and noble venture by Lindsay Clandfield and Luke Meddings. There’s also Teachers pay teachers but of course it’s not ELT specific. But quite possibly there’s also room for a website that’s simply a store – somewhere where folks like Paul with digital products can sell their electronic wares alongside other ELT authors. Should we set one up?

  8. Hi Vicki.

    I’ve been saying the same thing. I think there’s a gap between articles and books and, as a reader, I often want to read more about what I see in journals or on blogs. So, I don’t see why SIGS couldn’t have a mini ‘shelf’ or e-book supplements on their sites written by the people who appear in their publications. they could take a small percentage of the sale price to cover the cost of having someone to check the books and manage the site. This is perfect for TD books as the SIGS have most of your target market. On a bigger scale, TESOL or IATEFL could do the same.

    Most apps ares sold at a low price and make money from quantity so if there TD e-books could reach a big target market then they could be the same. Personally, I find the style of e-book reading more informal and prefer practical and enjoyable books as opposed to academic ones. This is probably because I sit and read in the living room or at break time. So, being able to buy various cheap, practical and short e-books written in a style I don’t have to think too much about would be ideal. For instance, 52. It’s perfect for home reading which is what many people do as they can’t afford 3G/4G tablets.

    I’ve approached quite a few people about publishing e-books and the answer always seems to be ‘you would be better self-publishing’, I only found one place that would even start a shelf of titles. I hope The Round really changes things and we see new readers and ideas come through from people who are active teachers as they are on the front line.

    I know some people talk of the ‘7 year plan’ in getting a book released and that definitely came a cropper when tablets and mobiles exploded. The market and needs change quickly. I used to work at EF, like you, and back in 2003/4 they jumped fully into Blended Learning and online ESP modules with mobile devices. The rest of the industry seems to be doing that only now. In my opinion, EF are always way ahead because they keep tabs on what’s going on or is going to happen and jump straight in.

    Anyhow, the next few years should be interesting.

  9. The sigs do indeed sound like a very logical place to put such mini-e-books. You’re right that they have the same target audience. Having someone checking the books would be ideal, but it would also increase the workload, and of course it would mean more site management work for the sigs. I’m in awe of the work the tireless unpaid volunteers do for sigs as it is, so for instance, I’d hesitate before asking BESIG volunteers to add these tasks on. Another model would be to do no checking of the work, so have a website that’s more like a Teachers Pay Teachers model where anyone can post anything, then rely on readers reviews and numbers of downloads to ensure the good stuff rises to the top. It would take more work to set up, but once running would require less maintenance. Does that sound sensible or silly?

    Another TD publishing possibility for authors that I forgot to mention Phil is Anthony Forrester. At English Language Books Publishing they’ve been publishing some old EFL TD classics as e-books. You can see the list here.
    Anthony struck me as a very pleasant and switched on guy so I wonder if he would be interested in publishing other new TD e-books.

  10. Thanks for the reply and links Vicki.

    It’s a vicious circle in a way that a good book needs and editor, a proofreader and a designer but they need to get paid or get a percentage. I like The Round’s idea of each member sharing those responsibilities. This also saves pay and tax issues.

    I do a bit of proofing for a journal and have managed a small series of articles so I can’t imagine how much work handling a book is BUT a 20 or 30 page e-book should be manageable if enough structure is given first. I know a few people who are eager to get into editing who would be interested in proofing but an experienced editor may be more helpful at the early stages. Then again, perhaps author should be allowed more creative freedom.

    Thanks again.

  11. Yes, in case I wasn’t clear, I think good books need good editting and good design. I’d envisaged the costs as being up-front author costs, but you’ve suggested a model I hadn’t thought of here Phil – giving the designer and editor a royalty. Would TD books sell in large enough quantities to make it worth their while?

    The other thing good books need in order to do well, I think, is good marketing. And I think that’s probably the hardest thing in today’s market. How can single authors (and publishers with small lists) be heard amongst the clamour? So I’m still wondering if having a site where indie authors can band together to sell their wares is a good way to go.

  12. Well, how about a ‘you scratch my back and I…’ idea? So, writer A edits writer B’s work then they swap roles or writer C gets involved and so on. Eager volunteers could chip in if they are looking for experience. It does look pretty good on your CV after all.

    As for design, well a good image from ELT pics on the cover should help. Publisher has some templates or ibooks. That’s all better done by the writer. I’ve worked on some platforms though for writing apps and that could work for e-books too so you’d just need to add the chapter content. You could also make them interactive. Of course, companies would charge you for using the platform but I hope some tech savvy folk can put one together for writers at some point.

    Marketing? Well, sales is what seems to happen a lot in that people write and then try to convince people to buy it. Marketing should be about finding what they want and providing it so if you know enough people interested in a subject and write something then you should be on the right path. I definitely think it needs reviewing in journals and being online where teachers (the target market) go.

    I think some journals went digital so the rest will follow eventually. This means you could just buy an edition of say, BESIG from the app store, read it and then browse for associated ELT e-books. This is what I hope happens as we are really in the middle at the moment. For me, I don’t work anywhere that using paper of any description. One place has BYOD, mainly laptops and another has iPads. We don’t even have whiteboards. This is out of choice and necessity as there are never suitable books and they are too expensive, students would lose them too. But more than that, students actually laugh if you give them a copy of something. they see that as their parents generation.

    Speaking of that, I don’t know why people aren’t releasing iTunesU ELT courses. If I had a Mac I’d give it a go.

  13. Totally agree with all your comments. We (ELT Teacher 2 Writer) think there’s a lot of talented teachers out there who would make excellent writers but will never get the chance from the big publishers, and therefore never be able to tap into the training in how to write that publishers only provide (and then in an often ad hoc way) to their contracted authors. The ELT T2W modules on training teachers how to write great ELT materials might prove useful in this respect? They aim to democratise writing and teach the necessary skills so that writing is available to the masses – not just the ‘commissioned’ few. Let us know if you think we can help in some way with your venture.

  14. Gosh Karen, I thought of the Round but forgot to mention ELT Teacher 2 Writer which of course is also aiding new writers. Many apologies for that and congrats to you for getting it going.

    I think between you, ELT Teacher 2 Writer, Phil and The Round have got some great ideas for supporting indie writers through the writing process. The thing that I don’t think is covered is how those books are going to be marketed and sold. Phil, I think you might feel more confident about that than me, but I’m still wondering whether what’s needed somewhere is a website where indie ELT e-books can be listed together.

    As I understand it, depending on how the author publishes them, what currently happens is ebooks become available from a variety of sites like Smashwords, Amazon, the author’s own website etc. I think Indie e-book writers would benefit from being part of a substantial ELT list, rather than being one of a small number of titles from just one publisher, or being in amongst all kinds of other books at a big one.

    Actually another person we haven’t mentioned is the ever helpful John Walsh at Bournemouth bookstore. I think he already has an ebook store where authors can publish. It means indie titles wind up in amongst large series’ from all the big publishers so visiblity is an issue, but at least they have an ELT home. So am I scratching my head about a problem that doesn’t exist?

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