Experiments, Marketing Strategies, Publishing Hacks

Hack This: Promote Your Work Using GitHub

There are two kind of self-publishers in the world: the All-In Amazonian, and the Spread-it-Arounder.

I am in the latter camp.

Amazon created self-publishing, and I admire them and thank them for that. But at the moment they wield too much power over self-published authors, and Power Corrupts, Lord Acton, etc, etc, and all that jazz.

So! Let’s hack ourselves a new solution: GitHub to the rescue!

GitHub, as every hacker knows, is the collaborative software development platform based on `git`, a version control system used by programmers.

Are you a programmer? Ever wondered while polishing off your novel, “Damn, how do I track my final tweaks? What if there’s a regression? What if there’s file corruption down the road? Should I hash my ebooks? How do I know that what I’m publishing is my actual document?”

And fine questions they are, and not just for programmers-turned-novelist like moi.

So how does using GitHub, of all things, help spread your work around? Well, you’re licensing your ebooks Creative Commons, right? (You should be. If you’re not, google-fu yourself silly and then come back here.) And since the best promotional weapon an author has is FREE (this is, by the way, the only thing the All-in-Amazonians and the Spread-it-Arounders agree on), then it stands to reason you want your books everywhere they can possibly be!

For my part, I encourage piracy of my work. Every time I see a new torrent, I cheer. Piracy isn’t the enemy — that would be the somewhat lackluster, but more nefarious, obscurity. (Pity the MPAA isn’t fighting against that phantasm.)

So. Slap your work up on GitHub. Get yourself some repos, one for each novel, short story, or other text-based work you want to version control. Set yourself up with some SSH keys to make your life easier. Boom! Now you know exactly when a commit was made to your project. And since GitHub stores code for thousands of high profile open source projects, you know they take their security and data integrity seriously.

Now comes the fun part. Your novel is published. Give it away! Charge for it on Amazon, of course, but give it away to the DIYers who lurk on GitHub. Check out my repos for an idea of how this works:


Get the drift?

Now, you could argue that GitHub is a niche market, and your grandma doesn’t want to have to download calibre and build ebooks on the command line, as my HOWTOs instruct the reader to do. And that’s fine. But it *is* a niche market, and a passionate one, of people who love to build things.

Give them something to build. Give them a free ebook for their trouble. Ask for a tip. Who knows. They might even give you one.

Written by: J.M. Porup

Novelist J.M. Porup is An American Dissident in Exile. Read More


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