The Self-Publishing Case Study #1- “The IFILM Digital Video Filmmaker’s Handbook”

The original DV Filmmaker’s Website Homepage, 1999.

In the Fall of 1998, I launched a simple e-mail newsletter and website that would ultimately change my life and lead to works that have influenced tens of thousands of people. “The DV Filmmaker’s Report” and the companion website, were one of the first online resources devoted to consumer digital filmmaking. In the months that followed, the newsletter grew into a 360 page self-published book, the original Digital Video Filmmaker’s Handbook.

By the Spring of ’99, my email list had more than 5,000 subscribers and I had sold hundreds of books, directly from my website. A few months later, I signed an unprecedented 50/50 publishing deal with one of the earliest Internet video companies, IFILM Networks.

The 2nd cover to my self-published 1998 edition of the DV Handbook.

IFILM would later purchase Lone Eagle Publishing, an established publishing company, with my book as one of the factors that initiated the conversation between IFILM founder/CEO Rodger Raderman and Jeff Black, Lone Eagle’s publisher.

The IFILM Edition of the Digital Video Filmmaker’s Handbook, 2001.

The IFILM Digital Video Filmmaker’s Handbook was released in the Spring of 2001. The book became a bestseller and has been used as a required text in numerous colleges and universities. There are more than 42,000 copies of the DV Handbook are in print (including the self-published edition I sold between 1998 and 2001).

The success of the DV Handbook provided an opportunity for me to travel to country and the world, teaching and advocating digital filmmaking at dozens of schools, film festivals, and media events. Among my fondest memories, are walking into bookstores in London and Amsterdam, and seeing my book on the shelves.

For many years, people have asked my why I have yet to publish a new edition of the manuscript. There are a number of factors that have influenced me:

1. No other publishers were willing to enter into another 50/50 partnership.

I’ve encountered a number of publishers and agents who refused to believe I had a 50/50 book publishing deal, until I show them some of my royalty statements. I have still received interest from several established publishing companies; however, the best deals have offered me 12-14% royalties.

2. The new publishing offers have sought to lock-up the book rights for “in perpetuity.”

In other words, giving up control of your book and any derivatives, for a lifetime… ie. forever. That’s an idea never worked for me, for any of the media projects I’ve created. Which is why I put term limits into my original publishing contract and how I still own the book rights today.

3. The market is flooded with digital filmmaking books.

Browse Amazon and you’ll find an ever growing variety of DIY filmmaking books.

4. The transition for standard definition video to high definition.

Over the years, I’ve written hundreds of new pages for the DV Handbook; however, for a period the technology was in major state of transition from standard definition video to the new high definition video formats. I found myself having to cover a substantial amount of old and new technology. Now that digital TV is in full effect across the US, I can relegate standard def information to one chapter on legacy video formats (including analog video formats).

5. I was tired of being known as “the digital filmmaking guy” or the “hip-hop documentary guy”.

My 6 years on the road evangelizing digital filmmaking and producing my documentary Paper Chasers had burned my out substantially. In 2006, I moved from Los Angeles and spent a couple of quiet years in Austin, Texas removed from the indie film and hip-hop mainstream. Though I never stopped producing videos, taping interviews, or writing, my works became more focused on social networking technology, online learning applications, and web development. So now, I’m cool with being known as “a cutting edge technology, multimedia guy.”

Self-Publishing A Decade Later- The Digital Video Filmmaker’s Handbook 10 Year Anniversary Edition

I’m super excited about the new DV Handbook. There are so many amazing technologies and resources available for filmmakers today, everything from low cost HD cameras, inexpensive editing systems, mobile phone cameras, HD video streaming, DVD on demand, social networking applications, stereoscopic 3-D cameras, and so much more.

I call this the 10 year anniversary edition, because 2010 is a mid- point between my 1998 self published edition and the 2001 IFILM edition.

When I published the original DV Handbook in ’98, there was none of the on demand publishing technology that exist today. My process was to pre-print the book covers a hundred at a time, print, cut, and bind the book interiors in short runs. The book was spiral bound and produced in small quantities, with no interior color pictures or text.

There was no, Amazon Advantage program, Adobe PDF format, or any of the numerous publisdhing tools we are exploring in this course.

My publisher’s game plan is as follows:

1. Complete the writing and editing of the new text. Writing about all that I have learned over the last decade. As well as featuring case studies of some of the many filmmakers and film projects that have benefited from the DV Handbook.

2. Self publish the new edition in January 2010. Self publish a Spanish and French edition by the Spring of 2010.

3. Promote, market, and sell enough limited edition, self-published books to re-introduce the brand and generate revenue far greater than any advance offer I have received thus far.

4. Solicit inspiring offers from publishers and distributors to help take the book worldwide, on my own terms, once more.

5. Hand over publishing to my new partners.

6. Get back to multimedia producing.

In this case study and course, you will have an opportunity to follow the Digital Video Filmmaker’s Handbook 10 Year Anniversary Edition, from manuscript to the first book signing. You will also learn from case studies of a dozen other self-published books and authors. To learn more, click the link below.

Digital Media Recipes- The Self-Publishing Course- Case Study #1

“The IFILM Digital Video Filmmaker’s Handbook”

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