Eleven Questions for the Indie Publisher: Featuring Phil Simon

Posted By on August 25, 2010

This is the first in a new series that will focus on the independent publisher. If you’d like to be featured, please let me know!

Your name: Phil Simon

Your website/blog: www.philsimonsystems.com

Your bibliography: Why New Systems Fail and The Next Wave of Technologies

1. What is your background? I am an independent technology consultant, author, writer, and dynamic public speaker for hire. I focus on the intersection of business and technology and have written two books: Why New Systems Fail and The Next Wave of Technologies. My next book is called The New Small and will be out in November. I also write for a number of technology media outlets and sites and host the podcast Technology Today.

2. What led you to self-publishing? I started writing in 2008 and wasn’t sure that traditional publishers would be interested in what I wrote. Ultimately, I didn’t care. I wanted to hold my book in my hand. I published the first edition of my first book, Why New Systems Fail in February of 2009 through AuthorHouse. After a proper publisher picked up that book (Cengage) and Wiley did my second book (The Next Wave of Technologies), I decided to try a different approach to self-publishing for my third book: The New Small. I started a publishing company (Motion Publishing) because I may publish other’s books in the future.

3. What have you found to be the biggest challenge in self-publishing? At first, it was finding an editor well-versed in my topic (technology) yet comfortable with the English language. I had some really big disappointments at first. I have overcome that obstacle now.  There’s still a bit of a stigma, but I’m convinced that my audience will buy the book without regard to the logo on the spine of the book.

4. What has been the biggest surprise about self-publishing?  That there are so many different options. For my third book, I’m using the same print-on-demand company (Lightning Source) as traditional publishers. I can also use the same cover person who worked on the second edition of my first book. In short, if you know what you’re doing, you can use the same resources to produce a book that’s essentially indistinguishable in quality from those of traditional publishers. Of course, you have to spend the money to ensure this; many self-published books lack quality control and I want to avoid that.

5. Describe your writing process. I have moderation issues and liken myself to a bulldog. Once I get an idea in my head, I want to make it a book—and soon. For me, waiting on traditional publishers was tough, especially since my topics involve technology. If I wrote fiction or non-fiction/historical books, then maybe I’d be more patient.

6. How do you stay disciplined? Two words: electric shocks. All kidding aside, I set goals for myself and make them happen. I know going into a book that I will blog less, play less golf and tennis, and travel less. I put a date in my head and work towards that date. Don’t even think of getting in my way. :-)

7. How are you financing your publishing project?  I listened to a talk a few weeks by Seth Godin about the state of the publishing industry. In it, he mentioned the site Kickstarter. I did a little research and figured, “Why not?” I’m trying to raise $4,000 to cover some of my costs. After only 20 days, I have reached 75 percent of my goal. Being social media-savvy is paying dividends, I guess.  It’s a really neat model and I’m happy with the results so far.

8. What is your favorite self-marketing idea? Well, it’s hardly my idea, but getting others to get the word out is just plain smart. In The New Small, I am profiling twelve different companies and their use of emerging technologies, one of which is social media. These companies are inclined to promote the book for me, reaching out to their Facebook and Twitter audiences. The word of mouth (WOM) that they’ll generate will do more than any PR firm I could hire.

9. What advice do you have for burgeoning self-publishers? Get your book out there and don’t worry about perfection. As Voltaire said, “The perfect is the enemy of good.” Take the time and spend the money to make the book as good as possible. Then get it out there. There’s no reason to wait for lit agents or traditional publishers to green light your book.

10. When you’re not writing what do you do for fun? Golf, tennis, poker, movies, reading, exercising, and going to concerts.

11. What project are you currently working on? The third book: The New Small. 

About The Author

As a writing coach and publishing consultant, I have worked with hundreds of authors, helping them write, edit, and publish hundreds of books. My book The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing is slated for publication by Writer’s Digest in March 2010. I currently own Self-Publishing Resources; we provide book writing, book packaging, and book marketing services for self-publishers and small presses.

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