What's MicroPublishing?

MicroPublishing is the term I use to describe the current reality that every writer, blogger, or even hobby story writer who wishes to publish, absolutely can publish...and in nearly any format.

Previously, being published was reserved for the chosen few who made it through the gatekeepers at the big publishing houses. It used to be that if you submitted an unsolicited manuscript to a publisher, it would be relegated to the slush pile, imagine a pile of manuscripts in a dank basement.

It might never be seen again. That's no way to motivate talented writers, right? The reality at present is that if you want to publish, you can publish.

Thanks, Amazon?

While Amazon deserves credit for totally obliterating the gatekeeper structure of the mainstream publishing world by opening both their Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace for print publishing programs, their metaphorical ax also took down the reasonable judgment that accompanied such a structure, thereby allowing anyone to publish.

The result? A lot of poorly written and negligibly edited books and publications. But thanks to Amazon's online review system, a powerful peer-to-peer gatekeeper system of sorts, it's possible to seek out the solid from the otherwise.

More than books

Micropublishing includes much more than books and ebooks for the Kindle. Micromagazines are also a powerful weapon in the micropublisher's arsenal. True to the nature of micropublishing, they're highly-targeted at a select niche.

For example, The Minimalists have partnered with Minimalissimo and 5Style to create both a journal/blog and a micromagazine (Volumes, pictured below) dedicated to the pursuit of a minimalist lifestyle.  Volumes is a premium publication and annual subscriptions run $20.

Brian Gardner at NoSidebar and Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist, both well-trained writers and, as it happens they're also minimalists, have created a micromagazine called Simplify.  They offer each issue at just $6 or a lifetime membership for $20. They offer both a single PDF download or an online reading experience.

That brings us to a discussion about appropriate formats in micropublishing.

Formats abound

Both Volumes and Journal, are online publications, however, as I mentioned just above, Simply Magazine offers both a PDF download per issue or an online reading experience. There is no right way to micropublish when it comes to your micropublishing products, however, there is a choice to be made...and an important one. 

Just as you wouldn't expect a PDF on the Oxford English Dictionary to be well-represented on an iPhone, each micropublication you consider has a preferred, perhaps optimal, medium.

The ever functional PDF, first popularized by Adobe, remains a very effective way to publish in the micropublishing space, and it's very functional for reading on most laptops and tablets, but smaller tablets and smartphones will likely need an online option to maintain the elegant and pleasurable experience I believe we should aim for.

For micromagazines published in landscape orientation, such as Thom Chambers' In Treehouses, laptops and larger tablets are ideal for maintaining the visual experience. Simplify is published in portrait orientation and therefore could be read on almost all digital devices.

The format you choose for your micropublication, whether it is an online experience, a PDF download, or both, will largely depend on audience preference. If you really wanted to serve all audience preferences, and you had the time to do so, you could publish for a landscape, portrait, and online reading experience. 

The format is also influenced by the frequency and length of your micropublication. If you're planning a series of short books, you might choose a portrait presentation in either .mobi or .epub for importing into either the Kindle or iBooks, respectively. Conversely, if your micropublication is much longer and will be more like a micromagazine with multiple issues, your audience might better appreciate a PDF.

A rich space, ripe with opportunity

As you can see, there are many options to consider for the micropublisher. The medium, format, and audience preferences can be many. However, it remains a rich market ripe with opportunity for the micropublisher willing to take their time and develop their publications appropriately.