passed away yesterday after a long illness.
Dan led the indie author movement long before the movement had a label, and long before many of its current beneficiaries were even born. Tens of thousands of writers over the last three decades have benefited from the best practices wisdom of his Self Publishing Manual, not to mention his hundreds of presentations over the years at writers conferences around the world.
Dan was a mentor to me, long before he even knew me. I first read his Self Publishing Manual about 12 years ago, before Smashwords was even a glimmer in my eye. I was drawn to Dan's book because he explained the business and process of publishing. He provided writers the tools to think, act and publish like professional publishers. If you've followed Smashwords at all over the last eight years, you'll see the DNA of Dan pervades much of what we do at Smashwords.
Dan was an early ebook reader and ebook advocate, long before it was trendy.
I remember when I first spoke with Dan in early 2009. I emailed him and invited him to publish on Smashwords. He invited me to call him at home over the weekend. I remember I felt giddy as a star struck teenager, and I immediately found him to be gracious, selfless, caring and absolutely dedicated to empowering writers with transformative knowledge that he knew would help change the world. I interviewed him for the blog (read my interview with Dan Poynter here) shortly after that conversation.
Dan changed the world. All of us - Smashwords and every indie author - are operating in a world that Dan first envisioned and, more than anyone, helped to encourage in his multiple decades of self publishing advocacy and education.
Above all, Dan was an incredibly nice guy. He made himself available to every writer any time, whether at a writers conference or on email or when they called him at home. He wanted to help writers achieve their dream.
Dan was an early supporter of yours truly and Smashwords, and he went out of his way to open doors for me in the early days when the stigma of self publishing meant that most everyone else greeted me with suspicion. Dan knew my mission was to democratize publishing for the benefit of writers. I had the great honor to present some of my first presentations alongside Dan at the IBPA and San Francisco Writers Conference.
In many ways, the rise of ebooks helped Dan realize his vision too. Ebooks enabled every major retailer to stock self published books, so it was this democratized distribution that finally helped the world realize, appreciate and enjoy the extraordinary talent locked between the minds and fingertips of ordinary writers around the the world. Dan believed in the potential of every writer when the rest of the industry thought most writers weren't good enough.
Dan was also stubborn. He was a fighter and an eternal optimist. I learned early on during the course of his illness that he didn't like talking about it with me. He took pride in beating the odds, and he did for a long time. And he never stopped looking forward to publishing his next book, never stopped living and never stopped looking forward to helping the next author be that much more successful.
Dan was a living legend. I'll miss you Dan. So long and thanks for your immeasurable contribution to the world of writers, authorship, publishing, books and human decency.
If you have memories of how Dan touched you, please honor him by sharing your memories below.
Photo credit: Dropzone.com