Publishing a non-fiction book in the internet age is no easy feat. Author, serial entrepreneur and podcast superstar Stever Robbins talks to Pubslush about his experience in the publishing world and writing his first book.

The idea for “Get-it-Done Guy’s Quick and Dirty Tips to Work Less and Do More,” originally came out of Robbins’ highly-successful podcast of the same name which has been downloaded more than 9 million times on iTunes. “A publisher approached me about writing a book about personal productivity”, recounts Robbins. “I then had the silliest thought I’ve ever had: Sure, I’ll do that. Writing a book sounds like fun!”

Little did he know, a great deal of the publishing process would be far from “fun.” First Robbins had a fight with the publisher over the book title. “I wanted a short title for easy word of mouth. They insisted it be ‘Get-it-Done Guy's 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More.’ Not only can no one—including them—remember the title, but Amazon’s recommendation engine cuts it off after the word ‘to’. In other words, we probably killed all word of mouth and all automated recommendations.”

Robbins’ problems with the publisher didn’t end there. He also disagreed with the publisher’s choice of cover art as the text would be difficult to read from a distance. “I even paid to have the cover redesigned at my own expense, but in the end they still went with the original cover”, says Robbins. To make matters even worse, at the end of the process he was then forced to rewrite the whole book from scratch - just 6 weeks before the final deadline.

Having said that, Robbins concedes that his experience writing and eventually producing the finished book was not all bad. “When I finally held the completed book in my hands, I had no idea how proud I would feel – it was an amazing feeling!”

Clearly, writing a book from start to finish, and a non-fiction one at that, is a major undertaking and a serious accomplishment. But Robbins has some cautionary words for the first-time writer starting out in the big bad world of publishing. “I read a statistic that reading is down 15% plus in the last five years, while the number of books published is also up dramatically. As a result, whether you receive support from a traditional publisher or are self-published, it is very difficult to get your book to stand out from the crowd”.

As far as the much vaunted e-book revolution is concerned, Robbins is also fairly pessimistic. “If you self-publish and want to make money selling the book, it’s easier to produce for digital distribution without needing a publisher. The problem is, that’s also true for the other 99,999 newbie writers who are writing books this year. So unless you believe you’ll be able to stand out from the other 99,999 and capture your share of the market, you’re book will probably end up as an extended business card at best, and an exercise in self-indulgence at worst.”

Those who think that self-publishing is the answer, therefore, should realize that this route is by no means straightforward. Robbins explains that even though you may make more money per book sold, you won’t gain the same credibility as that of an author attached to an established publishing house. In practical terms this means that self-published authors usually don’t get their books featured in major “media PR venue” such as newspapers or television news programs. The New York Times for example has a policy of not reviewing books which have been self-published.

In all this doom and gloom, Pubslush’s system seems to stand out as the one ray of hope in a world positively drowning in content. All in all, Robbins agrees that Pubslush could be a “very worthwhile experiment”. “Not only does it give the
writer an initial taste of the challenge of getting real support for the book, it also gives some degree of confidence that a book will have an audience,” he concludes. With this kind of endorsement from an author who has undergone many of the trials and tribulations of the formal publishing world, it would appear that Pubslush has the potential to be very successful indeed.

Author's Bio: 

Alex Levin is a writer for Pubslush, a social philanthropic publishing platform that uses crowdsourcing as the first step in the publicaation process to discover promising, unrepresented writing talent. Learn about our one-for-one book giveaway charity here.