Monty Waldin on self-publishing wineries

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.

monty waldin a corking wine adventure book coverThe 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.

–This is part of an ongoing series about the European Wine Bloggers’ Conference

Evan Schnittman spoke to us at the EWBC, sharing a really deep knowledge of the contemporary publishing scene.  I think he gave a really good, succint history of digital publishing and highlighted some of the bigger differences between digital publishing and conventionally printed books.

For now, let’s talk about some of my personal highlights.

The iPod moment

Schnittman suggests that the Amazon Kindle was a revolutionary moment for ebooks and self publishing.  For once, the hardware was awesome and competitive with books for long reading sessions.  For once, the selection of what you could read was massive and mainstream enough to make the e-reader competitive with books.  He compares it to the iPod which was a piece of hardware that offered a large selection of mp3s at the iTunes store.

And Evan didn’t mention it, but the Kindle and iPod both made it easy to enjoy pirated content.  Any stolen mp3 could be played on an iPod.  Any document can be converted to a txt and added to a Kindle.  We also talked a bit about the development of “the cloud” and how important that was to making an approachable and usable ebook reader.

To Print or Not to Print?

Schnittman made an interesting distinction between different types of text.  He explained the differences between books that you read front to back and reference books where you consult an index and then go to a very specific part to just read one entry (e.g. dictionaries, directories).

Then, within those groups, there were a few more interesting distinctions.  For example, some printed editions of directories will be replaced entirely by digital versions while others will benefit in increased sales thanks to their digitalization.  He specifically mentioned the Princeton Reveiw’s Complete Book of Colleges and the OED.

When the Princeton Review’s college directory was first put online, publishers worried that it would hurt sales.  Why would anybody buy the book when it was totally searchable online?  Well, the reputation of the book grew thanks to its online incarnation and sales of the printed version increased consistently over time!  Other books like the Oxford English Dictionary are so cumbersome that it really makes a lot more sense for them to be digitized and they will probably go entirely digital.


Another key part of Schnittman’s talk was about the possibility of self-publishing.  And this is probably the part that affects O’Vineyards the most.  Almost nothing can stop individuals like me from self-publishing now.  Amazon’s new self-publishing model that allows you to sell infinite ebooks and even real world books made out of paper and everything.  They’re printed on demand and they look and feel just like books at the library.  Pretty snazzy world we live in.

I feel like I’m not doing Schnittman justice but you’ll see the videos when they’re all posted.  And in the time being, you can check out the huge number of articles on Schnittman’s blog which is full of insight about the brave new publishing world we live in.

How to find us

Domaine O’Vineyards, located in the North Arrondissement of Carcassonne, is just minutes from the Carcassonne train station, the Medieval City, and the Carcassonne Airport.
GPS coordinates: 43.259622, 2.340387

Wine, Dine, Relax at our Boutique Vineyard
Unique thing to do in Carcassonne
Wine Cellar. Winery Visits. Wine Tasting.
Wine & Food Pairing

North Arrondissement of Carcassonne
885 Avenue de la Montagne Noire
11620 Villemoustaussou, France
Tel: +33(0) 630 189 910

  1. Best by GPS.
    Follow the signs to Mazamet/ Villemoustaussou using the D118. At the end of the last straight part of D118, you will come to a roundabout with the Dyneff gas station.
  2. Take the exit towards Pennautier. Continue 500m to a small roundabout and go straight over.
  3. Look out for the second road on your right, Avenue des Cévennes which curves up hill (about 1km) to Avenue de la Montagne Noire on the left.
  4. At the last juction, bear left. the road sign “Ave de la Montagne Noire” (confusing as it seems to show a right turn)
  5. After another 500m you will see our red brick color building in the middle of the vines.