After lots of difficulties, my new book is finally out: “Martial Arts, Self-Defense and a Whole Lot More: The Best of Wim’s Blog, Volume 1”
The title is the same as the tag line here on my blog. Simply because it describes the content perfectly: I write mainly about martial arts and self-defense but cover a lot more ground. If anything, I usually try to find the links between these topics and many other ones. To me, in many cases that’s more interesting than just explaining how to do a leg kick, though I cover things like that too.
This isn’t a book I had planned on writing though. The idea came to me about 2 years ago when I was reading a post of an A-list blogger. He mentioned that he had received numerous request for bundling his blog posts in a book so people could read it in a more practical way than having to sift through his entire blog all the time. So he did just that and to his amazement, it turned out to become a bestseller.
Not long after reading that, I received an email from one of you (Thanks Dave!) who asked me to do the same thing and I started thinking about it. A while later, I got another query for this, and then another, and so on. So I figured, what the heck, I’ll just do it and see what happens. And off to work I went.
The first part was selecting the most relevant posts. This wasn’t all that hard: I simply looked at my site statistics and quickly found out which ones got the most views over the years. Then I added a couple I particularly enjoyed writing and felt should be in there too. As I wanted as much as possible to keep the spirit of what a blog is, I asked a couple friends of mine to guest post for the book. They graciously agreed so I have brand new pieces of the following people in there too:
- Loren W. Christensen
- Marc MacYoung
- Rory Miller
- Alain Burrese
- Kris Wilder
- Mark Mireles
The next step was re-formatting and re-writing everything. This is necessary because there are some limitations to e-books that don’t exist on a blog. For instance, using bullet lists is not a good idea. It can mess up the lay out completely. As I make extensive use of bullet lists here, they all had to go.
There were lots of issues like that, small stuff really but it was necessary to take care of it so you get the best experience possible reading the book on a Kindle or other e-reader. Then I also spent a lot of time re-writing the posts. In part to take out typos and other errors, but also to improve the writing a bit. The content itself didn’t change but I think it looks better and reads easier now than before.
The last part of re-writing consisted of adding notes. For some posts, I felt I needed to add some more information after some of the comments I got on them here. In other instances, I wanted to explain my reasons for writing about certain things. Due to the fleeting nature of blog posts, that stuff tends to get lost in the flow of a blog but I think it’s relevant. So this book was an opportunity to emphasize those aspects.
And then the trouble started. Long story short: it took over a year to cut through the red tape to publish my book with Amazon as a non-US resident. This wasn’t their fault or anything, just some IRS hoops I had to jump through over here. Last week, I finally got it sorted out and I can now publish as much as I want. I will now proceed to do just that…
The final part was making the cover. It took me half a day but I’m pretty happy with it: red and black are the colors of my school, the cover picture was taken at my school and my oldest student is in the picture with me (his name is also Wim, by the way. :-) ) I then uploaded it to Amazon and yesterday evening, I was sitting on the couch with my lady, we went over the details one last time and then I hit the “publish” button.
I woke up this morning and already had several sales… A bit later, I checked the rankings and the book was at #34 for “Martial Arts” books in the Kindle store, in less than 24 hours. Wow…
First of all, thanks for the support! I very much appreciate it. If it weren’t for you, the readers, then there wouldn’t be a point in me writing anything. So thank you for supporting my work!
Second, this is for a large part the reason why I published with Amazon.
My previous books were all done with traditional publishers and overall, this was a very positive experience. However, the biggest issue I have with them is the time it takes to publish a book or video. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand the reasons for this and that’s just how publishing works, but still: every day my book or video isn’t out there for you to buy, that’s income I’m not getting and will never make up for. Given the technological changes in publishing over the last few years, I decided to go with Amazon as they can get the book out pretty much as soon as I finish it.
The thing you should know is this: writing is a lonely job. You sit behind a desk for hours on end, talking to yourself inside your own mind, trying to figure out the best way you can get that conversation on paper. You do that for months (sometimes even years) on end until you finally have a finished manuscript. Maybe it’s different for other authors but for me, it isn’t over then. It’s only over when the book finally comes out for readers to buy that I can consider it “case closed”. Until I see it available in stores and on-line, that conversation in my head isn’t finished. I know this sounds a bit weird (Big surprise, Demeere is weird…), but that’s how it is for me.
So if one of my books or videos is on a shelf with a publisher for a long time, I get restless. It keeps nagging at me and I keep on rehashing it through my mind, thinking of how I could have done it differently and better. By then, even though it’s technically possible, I can’t change it anymore. But in my mind, it feels like I still can. Once the book or video is published, then it’s really over: it’s out there, warts and all, and I have no other choice but to accept it.
At that point, I can finally close that chapter in my head and move on completely. Which is why publishing with Amazon felt like a great match for me: 12 hours from completed manuscript to publication.
Just flat out awesome.
The second reason I picked them is the level of control I get over the book. Here’s what this means:
- I publish what I want. I really doubt a traditional publisher would have been interested in this book: it’s a mix of many different things, just like this blog. This makes it harder for them to market it, which I totally understand. But I have dozens of projects like this lined up: ideas for books and videos that I think you might find interesting but that are not the latest fad or something that fits comfortably with a particular publisher’s brand. Now I can make them all happen. Cool!
- I have full editorial control. I’m sure some of the posts I included would have been refused by a traditional publisher. Rightfully so if you look at how to make sure the book sells the most copies, but these posts are important to me so I want them in there.
- The cover is completely what I want it to be. It may not be the best cover ever designed, but for somebody who’s never done this before, I think I did OK. The cover holds all the elements I think are necessary and I got to use the picture I wanted because it symbolizes the content of the book rather well.
I wanted to take the time to explain why I went with Amazon because several people had contacted me to know why the book wasn’t out yet. I picked Amazon for the reasons mentioned above but had to wait until I got through all the red tape. That is now over and done with and I’m all set.
My next project is to start compiling the next volume of this series. As soon as I’m done with that, I’ll publish that book too. In the mean time, I’m preparing for my first video. There are some technical issues I have to deal with but they’re almost completely sorted out so I can start shooting very soon. I’ll publish that video as soon as it’s done too.
Once again, thank you for all your support. Not just for this book but also in here throughout the years. I very much appreciate it and am looking forward to your comments and feedback so I can keep on improving my blog, books and videos.