Any Author Writer Can Publish Online with Pressbooks Tool

So easy even a writer can publish a book

Pressbooks is a simple way to sail through book publishing (photo MPelland)

I’ve been hand-to-hand wrestling with the online e-publishing industry searching for a way to help my fellow writers and authors. I’m hot on the trail with a new tool called Pressbooks, brought to us by Hugh McGuire, a serial web entrepreneur. He writes for O’Reilly Radar (O’Reilly Media is one of my favorite companies on earth). He founded LibriVox and Book Oven, among other book-centric web companies. This time, I hope he gets it going for real and for a long time.

What Is Pressbooks?

Right now, it’s a totally free online tool to write and produce your book in an elegant and well-formatted digital file. You can publish .epub, print-ready PDF, InDesign-ready XML, and of course HTML as simply as setting up a WordPress blog. McGuire says the tool is “free for authors and very small publishers.”

Hold on a second while I gleefully envision a little tiny person trying to publish a book….

Anyway, if this tool grows and thrives, I guess it will be aim at making money. However, from what I have read of McGuire over the years, I doubt he’ll exploit writers and authors or dip into our pocketbooks very deeply.

Why Pressbooks Will Be Publishing’s Star

  1. It will probably remain the least costly option for putting your written work in front of your audience.
  2. It is intended to produce a clean, tight file formatted beautifully and very readable.
  3. You control how your book is put together. The system is easy enough that you can write your book and format it section by section, in the cloud, without running it through a funky word cruncher that spits out crap.
  4. No need to pay a service to format your book. If you can write a blog, you can write your book. (Still, I strongly encourage having a developmental editor (like me) review your manuscript.  <—shameless plug )
  5. The company will undoubtedly work toward getting your book to the major digital distributors at the push of a button as they develop this thing.
  6. See a Chris Brogan interview with McGuire about Pressbooks’ finer points.

Pressbooks and You, the Author/Writer

It’s not too early to become an early adopter of this tool. If you’re working on a book, thinking about a book, or exploring digital or self-publishing, try Pressworks online system. It’s seriously simple, takes under five minutes and costs nothing, zero, zip, nada.

  1. Follow the link in the preceding paragraph.
  2. Create a user id and then follow the link in the email that is sent to you.
  3. Change the password they set up for you into one you can remember.
  4. Log in and begin to write your book.
I’m not kidding. It’s that easy. Noodle around and you’ll discover you’ve actually created a website which is —or will be—your new book. You’ve created a new domain, named after you and Pressbooks. Click some tabs, set up a profile, read the simple choices you can make and begin typing, “It was a dark and stormy…”
You can replicate this success anytime to start another book. Maybe it’s so easy that you’ll finish a bunch of your books.

My Take on Presswords

I have struggled with Smashwords, and though I like the company for the most part, they have issues. Their biggest problem is the clunky, teeth-gnashing machine that sucks in your MSWord file (the ONLY kind of file you can input) and spits out a digital file. You have a smaller than 50-50 chance the resulting file will not have to be reworked or rewritten to be accepted, at least into their premium catalog. Their formatting requirements are awful and tough to meet.

Kindle’s process at Amazon is somewhat simpler, but still requires  outputting a special kind of file before attempting to publish. Download software, study a lot of rules, and make corrections if your coding and styles don’t make nice with theirs.

LuLu and BookBaby and so on — pay your money and take your chances. Then pay some more money—set up fees, royalty discounts, annual maintenance fees. etc, etc, etc. For authors with unlimited budgets who know for certain their first book will top the charts and make back all they spent on getting it out there, these choices might be cool. Thing is, most ebooks sell fewer than 50 copies.

So, my take on Presswords is as simple as their take on digital publishing.

I love WordPress. It’s easy, I can do it, and I can control it. There are thousands of designers out there working for me as they figure out newer ways to make WordPress-based stuff sparkle. I love open-source. I really love value for no or for few dollars.

I’m going to watch Pressbooks and work with their system as it matures. I’m betting this is not the last you hear from them. McGuire says the most important thing people can do in their lives is create something from their own minds. This can only make that easier to do.

Go give it a look and tell me what you think.

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5 Responses to “Any Author Writer Can Publish Online with Pressbooks Tool”

  1. Sounds intriguing! And perhaps it’s just the thing to attract an audience[?] at little or zilch expense! I have a finished short story collection meant to be published as a single entity. Is this a possible outlet for me as there are presently a plethora of self-pub “help” sites vying for attention and/or clients! It is becoming confusing! I am with LinkedIn but I do not have Facebook or its joined-at-the-hip site Twitter! (This is all getting to be too much & too complicated!) It is already taking up a lot of valuable time sorting through LinkedIn & others soliciting for my attention! Gimme a break! Please advise if possible. Thank you. Sincerely, Fred Holtz

  2. Hi Fred –
    Thanks for your input! Stick around OnText and you’ll get plenty of advice. I believe Pressbooks would be perfect for your collection, and you can work on it bit-by-bit.
    Yes, there are tons of self-appointed self-pub help sources. Problem is, many only have info on products they represent.
    As for social media – I like LinkedIn. Google+ is perfect for me. More interaction and less hawking. I’ve no use for Facebook, and am considering winding my Twitter down. I have thousands lot of followers, but many don’t give a hoot what I tweet, they just sell stuff.
    If I can help you, let me know. Writers have to stick together. Go try out Presswords and see if it feels like a good fit for you.

  3. Hi Maryan,
    Thanks for this post and the research/product-testing it entailed. I’ve been looking for a way to epublish my two out-of-print books. The publishing houses have reverted (given?) the rights to me and I have the manuscripts in primitively formatted word docs. Do I sound like a viable candidate for Pressbooks?

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