Since my last post, I’ve been learning about online teaching and working on developing my first online course. However, today my mind has drifted over to something else that is kinda related – ebooks. I woke up on Saturday morning to find an email from Kindle Direct Publishing. I’m guessing I received the email because I have published an ebook . and there is a whole war/debate going on in regars to Amazon’s tactics within the ebook community that I am only marginally aware of (because I only have so much time in my day – sorry, but I can’t keep up with it all).
I’m not here to weigh in on that argument. I’m thinking about it from a slightly different perspective.
About a year or so ago, I had an editor at a highly respected publishing company in my field approach me about writing a book. She had read an article I had published in a journal and wondered if the main argument could be developed into a full on book. I was excited and honored to have been approached like this and of course I wanted to do it. But good grief, do y’all know how this process works? It takes forever.
First, I batted some ideas around with my editor and then developed an outline for the book. We went back and forth on this a few times, had an in person meeting at a conference, and then it was pretty much good to go. Time to complete? Probably about six months (more on that in a bit).
Then, I was supposed to develop a sample chapter. I needed to do a solid draft of Chapter One (think 25-30 pages), send that to my editor, maybe get some feedback and make some revisions. From there, the chapter, along with the outline, would go to a set of reviewers who would look over my materials and give feedback. Assuming that went well, I would have gotten a contract and started writing the book.
If I had my act together and did all of that, I could have had a contract within a year. Then it would take me another year to write the book – maybe slightly longer. The book would need revisions (they always do), I’d make those, and eventually the thing would get published – which could take six months to a year from the time it was considered “done” on my end.
So how long does it take to do a book from conception to publication? Let’s say at least two years and maybe slightly longer.
Now, I’ve written a book before. I knew what I was in for. The difference was that the first time around I was super excited and totally into it. This time around, I was not into it at all. I grew less enamored with the concept of the book. I was very uninterested in the total start to finish publishing process.
So, instead of working on the first chapter, I started working on my first ebook. To be clear, traditionally published books can of course be offered as ebooks, right? And I typically prefer to buy an ebook version of most books for my kindle. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. In this case, I’m talking about me taking total control in the publishing process. I write the book. I decide what content goes in the book, and I decide when it’s ready to be published. The timeline is 100% in my hands.
For my first book, I already had pieces of it written. I pulled those together and filled in the gaps. It took about two months. Then I published it on Amazon. It wasn’t that hard.
And I totally loved it.
I loved that I could get my work out in an accessible format quickly to teachers. You want to know how some of my latest research can be applied in your classroom? You don’t have to wait 2+ years to find out. I can produce an ebook at least twice a year and probably still publish an article in a journal in-between all that.
Thankfully, I have tenure so I have the freedom to do that. Of course, I would suspect that ebooks are not highly valued in the university world. They are not peer-reviewed. No one from a high profile publishing house offered me a contract. No one sought me out. I got the idea, and I made it happen.
Of course my ebook would probably have been better if it had gone through some sort of peer reviewed process. As much as I hate to admit it, the revisions I do on any piece always result in my work being better. That said, I think the book is pretty good on its own.
And what happened to my traditional book and potential contract? I told the editor I wasn’t into it. I said that while I had appreciated her help, I just wasn’t into the whole process. I told her I wanted to work on developing a line of ebooks. I never heard a single word back from her.
If one point of doing research is to connect it back to the people it’s supposed to serve, then we need to find more efficient – and cheaper – ways to make it happen. Ebooks are a route to this. Issues with quality can be worked out over time. For example, it would be easy to pull together a group of people who review such books and provide feedback for the author to do with as he/she sees fit. People could come together in small groups on their own. It could be a for hire service where you, as the author, choose to hire one or more people to review your work and provide feedback. There are ways to make it work is my point.
I currently don’t see that the publishing of ebooks is causing any sort of stir in the academic world, but I am guessing it’s because most academics haven’t gone that route just yet. But I could be wrong. I tend to be out of the loop on this sort of thing.
What do you think? If you are an academic, what are your thoughts on this particular route of publishing? If you are a teacher, what do you think about having access to books that could provide you with the latest research in a practical, accessible fashion more quickly than the traditional publishing route?