Self-publishing a book: 25 things you need to know

Note to readers: I originally published the article back in 2008 and have updated it a few times, most recently on June 13, 2012. This article primarily addresses self-publishing a print book, though many of the tips apply to e-books as well. For specific information about publishing an e-book, see my companion article, " How to self-publish an ebook."

I know, I know. This is a column about cutting-edge electronics. So, apologies to gadget-heads as I take a brief sojourn into the land of self-publishing, which has become a lot more high-tech than a lot of people realize.

A few years ago I wrote a book. A novel. "Knife Music." Contrary to what you might think based on my day job, it's not a cyber-thriller, though it is a mystery/thriller with a medical/legal slant.

Its short history is this: I worked on it for several years, acquired a high-powered agent, had some brushes with major publishers, then, crickets.

I could have tried to go for a small publisher, but I was told mine was "a bigger book" with more commercial aspirations and prestigious small publishers were interested in more literary tomes. I also learned that many small publishers were being wiped out by the "self-publishing revolution," a movement that's not so unlike the "citizen journalism" or bloggers' revolt of recent years that's had a major impact on mainstream media, including this publication. The basic premise is anyone can become a small publisher. You call the shots. You retain the rights to your book. And you take home a bigger royalty than you'd normally get from a traditional publisher--if you sell any books. … Read more

How to self-publish an ebook

A while back I wrote a column titled " Self-publishing: 25 things you need to know," which was mostly about how to create and sell your own paper book. After folks asked me to do something similar for e-books, I created this article, which has now been updated a few times.

I begin with one caveat: The whole e-book market is rapidly evolving, and a lot of self-publishing companies are offering e-book deals bundled into their print book publishing packages, which makes them harder to break out and evaluate. It's all quite complicated, and in an effort to sort through the confusion, I've decided to offer a few basic tips and present what I think are some of the best options out there for creating an e-book quickly and easily. As things change -- and they will -- I'll do my best to keep this column up to date. … Read more

Logitech goes for broke with $50 Harmony remote

Just four weeks ago, Logitech unveiled two new entry-level models in its popular universal remote line, the $80 Harmony 600 and the $100 Harmony 650. Apparently, though, those models just weren't cheap enough for Logitech. The company has now taken the wraps off the Harmony 300, which will retail for just $50--making it the most affordable Logitech remote to date.

To hit that ultra-affordable price point, of course, there had to be some compromises. The 300 controls only four products, it lacks the LCD screen found on the step-up 600 and 650 models, and most of the buttons aren't backlit. It also has only a stripped-down version of the activity-based control functionality that Harmony models are known for--there's just a "Watch TV" button to fire up your TV and cable/satellite box, and switch the TV to its proper input. … Read more