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Self-publishing advice wanted!

November 5, 2012

I’ve been working on a book, not a deeply academic volume at all, more a practical handbook for professionals and students. Slightly more specifically, it’s a visual identification guide. It has a long way to go, but I’m hoping to have it finished early in the new year. I am very keen for it to be open access when it does come out, possibly with a paid print on demand version if needed. My idea was to publish it via WikiArc – possibly as WikiArc Press or similar, and then if the process isn’t too arduous (or someone else is willing to help) to make the imprint available to others who might want to do something similar. Specifically I thought I would create a static version – available via pdf and Kindle/ other ebook formats, have an associated wiki area on WikiArc to allow user revisions, and to make print on demand of the static version available via Lulu or similar. Although it isn’t a major piece of scholarship, I would like it to be seen as a “serious” book, with ISBN etc., and I do intend to ask various people to scrutinise the work before it is released. Does this all this seem worthwhile?

A number of people I know have experimented with archaeological self-publication – Guy Hunt, for example, who used Blurb for his photographic collection The Dig, and Martin Locock, who originally made 10 Simple Steps to Better Archaeological Management available via Lulu (if I remember correctly, my apologies if I don’t). More recently (in fact, currently!) Alun Salt is working on self-publishing an ebook on Archaeoastronomy.

So what I’m looking for from this post is advice, or comments. Is it a quite a good idea or a horribly bad one? What is your experience of self-publishing? Will potential future employers (in other news, I’m a paid academic with an office and everything now) look at a self-published book on my CV with derision, and should I care if they do? If I did make an imprint for open access archaeological handbooks, would you be interested in contributing (hint: you wouldn’t make any money)? Let me know what you think.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. November 5, 2012 4:46 pm

    ubiquity press, has got some funding to do some Open Access digital books. you may want to hit them up to see if they would be interested in yours.

    On a practical note you have to buy ISBN’s it batchs 10 for £100 I think or something like that. Turning a PDF into a kindle book is relatively straight forward and there are now several programs that do it.

    • November 5, 2012 4:46 pm

      correction- you have to buy ISBN’s in batches,

    • matthewlaw permalink*
      November 5, 2012 4:54 pm

      Thanks Doug, that’s good to hear about Ubiquity. I’ll look into it. I hadn’t looked in to ISBNs so that’s good to know too.

  2. Lee permalink
    November 16, 2012 5:00 pm

    It’s been a while, but I recall the ISBN thing as being mainly form-filling. If I were you, I’d be looking more at trying to get a DOI number – that would ensure it was referenced by things like Google scholar.

    Personally, whilst I admire your principles in wanting to make the book open-access I’m not sure I’d do the same (I guess I’m more selfish). As you suggest, I’d be worried about the impression it makes on my CV. Perhaps that impression is unfounded or perhaps not (after all, once the press has a name who’s to know that it’s self-published?). Before going that route, I’d be inclined to look into grants for underwriting the cost of publication to make it open-access: I would think any such package would score bonus points on the CV front and easily outweigh any concerns a panel may have about the book otherwise.

    • matthewlaw permalink*
      November 17, 2012 12:52 pm

      Hi Lee,

      Thanks very much for those comments – looking for a grant to make the publication open access is a very good idea.
      And yes, you’re right, a DOI is also an important consideration.


  1. Follow up to ‘Self-publishing advice wanted’ « Adventures in Archaeology, Human Palaeoecology and the Internet

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