Everyone loves a good story, and it’s even better when the story is based on authenticity. This aspiration is what led Brian Hunt, proprietor of Bellevue’s Big Byte Books, into online publishing.
After a career burnout in 2012, Hunt left his digital marketing job with the idea of writing and self-publishing a book on ancient Egypt. An avid American- and Egyptian-history buff, he started researching the topic, but soon found himself immersed in the self-publishing process.
“I decided to learn how self-publishing works and came up with the idea of publishing something out of the public domain,” Hunt said. “I had so much fun, I kept at it, and Big Byte Books now has over 660 titles on Amazon and other platforms in e-book and print-on-demand formats.”
The company’s downloadable reading materials include abridged memoirs, letters, and diaries from the 19th and 20th centuries, all annotated, embellished with facts about the author, and refreshed with a new cover and introduction. According to Hunt, there are few publishers who do this type of work, and even fewer who do it comprehensively.
“Most public-domain books on Amazon are poorly formatted, not annotated at all, and they also have terrible covers,” said Hunt, describing his inspiration to create a good historical online reading experience. “Many that have been republished aren’t even fact-checked or corrected.”
Using his technical skills and digital marketing savvy, Hunt optimized the book postings for the online audience to make them searchable by historical topic. Today, Hunt says, the company’s best-seller has sold over 3,000 copies, and over 100 titles are being digitally advertised on Amazon to drive visibility.
“Modern audiences don’t know much about these events and times, and these authors were good writers, but unknown,” Hunt continued, “It’s gratifying to bring authentic accounts of history into the light and see these authors being discovered.”
Hunt said the best part of running an online publishing business is the lack of inventory. However, he also cautioned business owners to remember how competitive it is to sell on the internet and acknowledged it’s all about creating digital visibility for the product.
Hunt also encouraged entrepreneurs to approach a prospective business holistically. “I fell into something that brought multiple skills and interests together, but to be successful, entrepreneurs have to be able to balance business skills with passion,” Hunt said. “No matter what you do, running a business is hard, and it is sometimes so exhausting, you risk losing sight of that passion.”
How does it work for him? “Selling online is about persistence, and the challenge of trying this or that, and that’s what keeps it fun for me,” Hunt said.