I need advice for and help with the self-publishing process.
May 18, 2010 4:58 PM   Subscribe

Writing a book that will be self-published at the end of the summer. I have questions about writing, layout, self-publishing and more.

I raised enough money in order to study, learn and write a book this summer. See more: Autodidactism 2010. [note: raised is past tense. I am not trying to raise more money, or hawk my project.]

The summer is here, and I've started writing. I want to write and draft my essays mostly on paper, as my computer is far too distracting. However, I have some questions about the process after that. Please forgive the multi-faceted aspect to this question.

1) I am thinking about planning / outlining / editing in Scrivener. I downloaded its trial and it looks excellent. However, it is not a layout program. What should I use for layout, in terms of self-publishing? How should I export what I do in Scrivener to this program? I have no idea how to design a book, and obviously I am alone on this since I'm self-publishing this. It should be about 100 pages, mostly black and white text (except for a color cover, maybe one or two diagrams / images which can be black and white). I also want to make the book available as an ebook. How do I use Lulu's templates? Also, any advice you have in general about using Lulu / making the process go smoothly would be greatly appreciated.

2) I want to have a wiki, where registered users can edit (with required modification comments) and anonymous users can comment on drafts. I have a domain / hosting space, so that's not a problem. Is MediaWiki the best solution, or Google Docs, or something else? I don't want to write or edit in the wiki, but I do want to make community editing possible while still having it be easy for me to merge community changes with local drafts / iterations.

Finally, any recommendations as to what I should do this summer are welcome, although unnecessary. Thanks in advance for all your help.
posted by zenja72 to Computers & Internet (2 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The Self-Publishing Manual: How to Write, Print, and Sell Your Own Book by Dan Poynter will help you.

One particularly useful piece of advice I remember from that book is to find a well-designed book that looks like how you want your book to look (in terms of layout, formatting, etc.) and use it as a model for your own book's design. Look at what they included in the front and back matter, how much whitespace they used, where they put the page numbers, etc. -- really examine the design of each page and section and analyze why it "works."
posted by Jacqueline at 6:18 PM on May 18, 2010

Best answer: 1. Scrivener: Awesome program, but not a layout tool. As you're going to be dealing mostly with text, you might want to try doing your final writing in OpenOffice. As the gods would have it, there's a book about writing a book with OpenOffice and it's self-published on Lulu as well. I have an earlier version of this book and found it very helpful.

2. Wiki: Gina Trapani of LifeHacker fame recently published a book using MediaWiki both as a collaborative tool during the writing/editing process, but then also published the finished product in a modified MediaWiki. This seems very similar to what you're trying to do. Here's a link or two to get you started.
posted by webhund at 8:38 PM on May 18, 2010

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