Firstly, thanks to @Chest Rockwell for giving me the OK on this.
As the title says, I've just published my second book of original jokes and it's available now for £4 on Amazon.
It's called "OK Jokes 2" and is the follow up to "OK Jokes" which was published in 2017.
Why is this thread-worthy? Well, partly because I'm quite proud of it and partly because I knew nothing about the world of books, publishing or what may be involved before I set out on this journey. So, as well as a bit of shameless self-promotion, I thought I'd share what I've learnt along the way.
Firstly, I'm not a professional comedien, writer and don't feel I have any particular talent for this, so it's really a hobby. Despite that, I've been genuinely touched and surprised by the positive feedback I've gotten from the books, especially book 2.
I've always liked a gag, and would regularly be the annoyig one at the bar telling his mates whatever I'd heard or read in the week. About 5 years ago, I started thinking of some puns, and would put the odd one on Facebook as a status. I'd get the usualy "likes" and a few comments, and it started to grow. After a while, I got a bit bored with it and stopped. I was in the pub one night and some people I was friends with on Facebook (but hadn't seen or spoken with for years) made a point of coming over and telling me they really enjoyed my jokes and wondered when I was going to post more. So I started again, and it started to scratch the little itch I had for a bit of creativity. I started posting on Reddit, Sickipedia, Twitter (I even had a joke stolen by Keith Chegwin) and other social networks. Sometimes, I'd see my jokes re-posted and shared, just like "proper" jokes would be.
About 3 years ago, someone said that I sould put what I've written into a book. That kind of scared me a bit, just as I had no idea where to start and I've never been into books of any kind. Then, one day, I found a book in my drawer written by FWA alumni John Atkins (who would later agree to support me by writing my foreword). I remebered speaking with him at the time he wrote it, and he told me that he'd self-published his book all by himself.
And so that journey began. In 2017, Amazon were still using something called CreateSpace which was clunky as hell. It did however give you the basics for making your own book, with a view to publishing on Amazon. You could pick a page size and download a Word template you could simply populate with your content. The cover designer was terrible, but you had the ability to upload your own artwork if you wished.
I wanted a nice cover, and so I turned to Fiverr.com having seen the wonderful things Paul Rose (Mr Biffo) had done with his YouTube stuff. He told me how it worked and I found literally hunreds of people all setup to make Amazon-ready book covers for your self-published work. I stumbled accross a lady in Austria, sent her my breif and she nailed it in her first effort.
OK Jokes was published in October 2017 and sold just over 100 copies. I could account for about 8 of those sales, so others came from word of mouth and my basic efforts of pushing it on Facebook, Twitter and a few other places. I also contacted Dave Gorman, having been on Genius some years back. He seemed to remember me well, and I sent him a copy that he aknowledged and again, was kind about. At this point, I have to be honest in saying I was starting to look for a bit of reassurance that what I had done at least had some worth.
Feeling rather content, I regained a bit of enthusiasm for it all and kept writing. Someone asked me when book 2 would be out and so I took stock and was surprised to see I had about 200 more jokes that could go in a second book. I picked the "best" ones and started work on OK Jokes 2.
OK Jokes 2 came out last week and has just sold its 40th copy. I'm pretty chuffed with that, especially as the feedback has been more positive than my first effort. Amazon now use their own system called Kindle Direct Publishing, which is much more slick than when I did the first book.
You may ask why I've done this, and I've been told that I "must secretly be hoping to catch the eye of someone" so that it goes further. The honest truth is, it really is just a hobby and I enjoy it. The thought of doing this professionally scares the hell out of me, and I don't think I'd enjoy being under pressure to do something that's come semi-naturally to me over a period of time. That said, having your own book, printed and in your hand is wonderful. Even if I just had that one copy, it would be worth it, as something to hold and own as a record of something I've done. The fact that many people have read them is great though, and I am pleased that people have. I don't want to be famous and have no expectations to be, but I think we all secrelty like to show off a little? I guess I've done that in a reasonably comfortable space.
Here are some tips based on what I've learnt should this be of any interest to you whatsoever.
Don't think too much, just do it. I know I'm not a profressional and my jokes don't hold up to the well-known jokers, but I've learnt they're "OK" enough to not cause any offense. If I'd had listened too hard to my own inner-self, I wouldn't have put this out there for fear of ridicule and I no know I'd have missed out.
Don't deliberate too much. Often the first decision you make is the best one you make. I promised myself I would go with gut instinct and accept what seemed right the first time. I knew that if I questioned stuff too much, I wouldn't do it. The title, selection of jokes, the order of the jokes in the book, the cover, the price were all my first options. They seemed to work well enough and so I'm glad I didn't mess about tweaking stuff.
People are generally more kind that you think they'll be. People that have generally liked them have gone out of their way to let me know. Nobody has said they hated them, so either they don't or they're too kind to tell me.
Don't think you'll make money or become the next big thing. You won't. I sold over 100 copies at £4.99 of the first book, making £1.01 on each one. I gave the money to the local lifeboat station, as I just wanted people to read my thoughts, not make money. Book 2 has 50% more pages but is selling for just £4. I'm only making 5p per book, so the lifeboat station will miss out this time, but I'm hoping it just means more folk will read (and maybe enjoy) my work.
Fiverr.com is really cheap. The total cost of the artwork for each book didn't break £20, and there are some seriosuly talented folk on there.
If you sell books in the US, you have to worry about US tax demands which is a little scary.
Anyway, that's me, that's OK Jokes and that's self-publishing in a nutshell.