I had pretty high hopes for David Gaughran’s latest edition of Let’s Get Digital. I’ve been following his blog for a while and have been impressed with his depth of knowledge about the worlds of digital publishing and marketing, so I expected to see a lot of that distilled into the book.
It was, and it wasn’t.
Gaughran spends a substantial amount of the book on the history of ebooks and independent publishing. That’s fine, especially for folks just getting into the business. It’s also good for these folks to know how the legacy publishing industry has responded to the advent of ebooks and indie publishing—badly—and the tactics and techniques they’ve used to try to keep these disruptive new technologies from upsetting their cozy, comfortable world.
Gaughran also spends plenty of time helping new, or new-to-digital, authors get comfortable with preparing their books for submission to ebook and indie publishers. Also good.
Where he falls down, in my opinion, is in the marketing area. Unlike Kristen Lamb, in Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World, Gaughran identifies the mailing list as being the most important tool for reaching new readers. (Lamb emphasizes the blog.) Fine. But he spends only part of one paragraph on how an author should go about building that mailing list! This is where the effort really falls down. I have two books published already, but marketing is my greatest challenge, so I was hoping for more and better guidance than Gaughran offers, and for new authors, the paucity of actionable information, especially for someone who has no one on their mailing list, this is a disappointment, or worse.
Gaughran sprinkles live links and references throughout the text and even dedicates a chapter to “Resources,” which was a good idea. I would have liked to have seen more, maybe, but these lists are a good start and I’m using some that he introduced me to.
Finally, Gaughran dedicates the last ten “chapters” to testimonials about the joys and wonders of being a successful indie author. I’ve never been a fan of testimonials and these did nothing to change my view. None that I read (I stopped reading them after about the first three) provided any information that could be useful to a new author, or even a not-so-new one. While some authors might find them motivating, their views will change if/when their experiences fail to live up to those of the testifiers. Reader beware!
In summary, let me emphasize that this is not a bad book; far from it! There’s plenty of good information, especially for the new author. But there could have been more.