Jane Friedman, a well-known publishing educator, has published an excellent infographic comparing four paths to book publishing: traditional, fully assisted, DIY, and community publishing. As she points out, definitions in each of these categories are fluid, and you don’t have to limit yourself to only one publishing vehicle. (In each case you should be conscious of your copyright and permissions; in some venues it’s easy to give away more rights than you realize, or to agree to restrictions in how you can distribute or share your own work.)

Self-publishing is an appealing strategy to promote your expertise and your brand as a consultant or corporation. Guy Kawasaki‘s APE (Author • Publisher • Entrepreneur): How to Publish a Book is a good resource. The first thing that you’ll notice is that it’s almost 400 pages, and that’s a pretty solid indicator of how much work it takes to self-publish a book-length manuscript with professional results.

But here’s an easier way to begin: Create a free downloadable PDF of about eight to ten pages, with images, for your audience. Key it to the start of the new year as everyone begins to think about their 2014 goals. It will still need editing and formatting, but it’s a manageable size for both you and your readers. List forms are always popular, but be sure your list is relevant and focused. A chef might put together 12 Healthy Recipes for the New Year. A consultant might review their ten favorite books of the year in their subject area, or outline six top leadership strategies to implement. These topics are not wildly original but they’re endlessly popular, and it’s a good way to stretch your writing beyond the blog post and offer something to your readers while exploring the process of producing high-quality e-publications in the realm of what Friedman might call a blend of DIY and community publishing. Contact me if I can help you with writing, editing, researching, or formatting.