Writing a Book

If you are reading this page, I'm assuming that you are planning to write a book. Welcome to the club! I have written two books for a Publisher (iText in Action and iText in Action—Second Edition for Manning Publications), I have self-published a handful of books (e.g. Gebeten, Reflection Infection, and Entreprenerd), and some of my short stories were published in anthologies published by publishers such as Godijn (Zonderlingen, Et in ventum...) and LetterRijn (Dood door onschuld).

On this website, I want to share my experiences in the field of self-publishing. This is not the definitive guide. I can't claim that I have tested every service and every sales channel. Nevertheless, I think it's interesting for people to read about my this or that service before trying it out themselves.

I won't tell you how to write a book. Every writer has their own writing process. Personally, I use different approaches. When I want to write a book, I plan every aspect of the writing process up-front. I am kind of a freak when it comes to meeting deadlines. I get very nervous when I am about to miss a self-imposed milestone.

I never start writing a book without training my "writing muscle" first. For instance: before writing Gebeten and Nijlpaard voor Kerstmis in 2019-2020, I forced myself to write at least one short story a week in the context of the weekly writing assignments on the Dutch schrijvenonline website. I also created a writing calendar listing all the writing contests in Flanders and The Netherlands, and I forced myself to participate in as many contests as possible. That year, I won three first prizes, five publications in short story anthologies, three publications in literary magazines, and eight honorary mentions. By the time I started writing my full-length books, my writing engine was running smoothly, and I was able to write five days a week, at a speed of 2,000 to 3,000 words a day.

Once the manuscript was finished, I spent most of my time on producing and marketing the books. My writing engine fell silent. To write my next book—an English rewrite of my Dutch book Gebeten, I wrote at least one short-story in English a week for half a year by participating in the monthly Furious Fiction and the weekly Reedsy Writing Prompts contests. I selected 28 of those stories and published them in a book Reflection Infection that I used to test different publishing services. I didn't do any marketing for that short fiction bundle because that book was created for testing purposes only. Moreover, English isn't my mother tongue, and participating in those contests helped me improve my writing skills. Some of my stories even made the long-list of the Furious Fiction competition. Once more, I was ready to start writing the full-length book I really wanted to publish: Entreprenerd: Building a Multi-Million-Dollar Business with Open Source Software.

You may have a completely different writing process, but this is how I work. I build up the discipline by forcing myself to write short stories, I gain motivation by winning awards and honorary mentions, and then I start writing in a very structured way, on regular hours, producing a predictable amount of words a day.

That's all I can say about writing a book. In this guide, I'll talk about what happens after you've finished a first draft of your book. I mentioned the books I wrote because you're going to see some of those titles appear in many of the screen shots of the eBook distribution and print-on-demand services I used.