While writing my book, I had to make a lot of decisions about self-publishing, format, layout, sales channels, imprints, and a lot of stuff that never really occured to me until I was up to my neck in publishing information. I found one article from Jancis Robinson’s site particularly useful. It was written by Monty Waldin, who you might know from Channel 4’s Chateau Monty or his extensive reference work for biodynamic wines.
The article describes Monty’s journey through self-publishing (subscribers only) and it really helped inform my decision-making process. My book is different in many ways but I faced a lot of the same decisions. Anyway, for other winemakers who are considering writing a book, check out that article. And also How to publish your own wine book (free for all).
Then I saw that Monty commented about my book. He said some nice things about me and the book, and I’m flattered that he’s flattered. But all that fluffy stuff aside, he said some really cool things about wine books being self-published. Gives you a sort of global perspective of how things are changing. He recalls the period where wineries would commission wine writers to devote a book to their Domaine. Off the top of his head, he mentions Chateau Yquem, Chateau Margaux, and Daumas Gassac (Languedoc in the house).
These differ from my book since they are full length and each one is really centered around a single estate. But back in the day, you would have been crazy to spend the hefty chunk of cash to promote your region generically. Like buying a thousand billboards and having them just say “Drink wine.” without any mention of your own estate.
But today the costs are different. The metrics have changed. I can put out a shorter book and make it about the whole appellation and it’s not exorbitantly expensive.
Monty’s comments appeared in the subscribers section, but I imagine nobody minds if I relay his comments here for you to read.
Flattered Ryan O’Connell found my article on e-publishing useful but even more pleased to see a wine-grower like Ryan putting e-pen to paper.
Professional wine writing is in flux at the moment, seen as an extravagance by most newspapers and book publishers.
Since Jancis published my article a well known female wine writer has been in contact to say is doing what Stephen Skelton MW and myself have done, which is to ditch slow- and low paying publishers for fairly risk-free print-on-demand self-publishing using lulu dot com (Stephen’s books are on Viticulture and UK Vineyards, mine on biodynamics). Said wine writer also appears to relish the greater freedom she will have editorially over what is published by going it alone.
In the old days some of the wealthier wine producers commissioned wine writers to write books about them. Off the top of my head such books already exist in English on Chateau Yquem (Olney), Mas de Daumus Gassac (Mackenzie) and Chateau Margaux (Faith) – but all three tomes could perhaps do with a revision having been published in the 1980s (or earlier) and to be published on paper an in e-form.
What Ryan has done is an example of how technology is allowing smaller, lesser known producers to do what only the big boys and girls could do until recently.