Colin Dunbar’s Biography

Greetings, and thank you for stopping by this page. I do appreciate you visiting my site. I hope you enjoy your stay, and find something useful and interesting here.

Please allow me to tell you my story, and how writing and books became my passion…

From since I can remember, I have had 2 passions that captured and interested me – and these are writing (books) and business. I’m here to share more than 3 decades’ experience with you, and provide you with the tools to write your own non-fiction book, and self-publish it.

How can you benefit from my passions?

Finding my passion

I was naturally drawn to the technical writing field, as this satisfied my two primary character traits: learning new things, and my logical, step-by-step approach to things. I always wanted to know the “why, what and how”; always tried to understand something inside and out.

Technical writing was more than just my career. It was my life.

And with my passion for technical writing, I was naturally drawn to non-fiction (I’ve only read 2 or 3 fictional works in my life). Over the years, I have not only read non-fiction, but I’ve also dissected books: looking at the parts of a book, reading the front matter and back matter. And reading about the history of books. In 1990/91 I wrote the draft of my first book: Profile of the Technical Writing Profession. The literary agent that I submitted the outline and first chapter, came back to me, and advised that the publishers “did not feel there was a market in South Africa for this type of book.”

Ouch. (But at the same time, I understood the reasoning. South Africa is a small country, and the technical writing industry is tiny in comparison to first world countries.)

Around the same time I wrote my book, I completed a 1-year course in freelance journalism.

It was around this time that I also began my quest to learn about almost every type of writing form available. I started reading and learning about writing short stories, novels, scriptwriting, web writing, etc. Anything I could lay my hands on.

The Web and Self-Publishing

After my career ran the “normal” route (trainee, senior, management, contractor) in 1997 I started my own corporation, offering tech writing services (and later print-on-demand services as well). I had combined my two passions: writing and business.

1997 was also my start on the world wide web – after extensive research, I designed and uploaded my first site (my business site) and it did very well.

On a day, sometime in 1998/99, I was casually surfing the web (actually, I think I was researching something) and I came across a free e-course on netwriting, offered by a company called SiteSell. Netwriting? I’d never heard of that, so I subscribed to the e-course. I printed and read each issue, purely to expand my knowledge (remember, I was the “why, what & how” guy).

Little did I know how rewarding that free e-course would be for me a few years later.

In Nov 2003 I sold my business, and accepted (what I thought was) a dream position with an international company: to set up and run their documentation department. Also in 2003, I began my in-depth research into the web, and began looking at how to self-publish online, as my attempt with a traditional publisher didn’t go too well.

Starting in 2003, I began my research into SiteSell and their product, SBI! (in summary, SBI! is a site-building system on how to create a successful self-sustaining website, and all the tools you need are included.) After doing my due diligence, in December 2003 I subscribed to SBI!, and my site went live on 8 January 2004.


When I started my SBI! site in 2004, I was full of fire and went at it with gusto. I was generating an income from my site, selling my own ebook, and for a limited period, also accompanying software (designed and developed by myself and my good friend, Ian).

As my experience and confidence grew I responded to a job ad at SiteSell (Canada), and was successful, starting my virtual contract on 15 June 2007. And then, as my experience with SBI! grew, in 2009 I also became an SBI! Coach.

Something piqued my interest, and the designing of e-covers was a service I began considering and started researching. After a suggestion at the SBI! forums, from a fellow SBIer, as from September 2007 I began offering my e-cover design service commercially, through my website.

A SBIer posted at the forums, asking for help to format a book she was planning to self-publish. With my experience in formatting documents and manuals in my career as a technical writer, I offered to help her. And thus my book design service was born.

Only through word-of-mouth, as from August 2009 I offered my book design service, primarily to SBIers. By the end of 2014 I had designed 198 e-covers, and designed 99 books (both ebooks and hard copy).

To expand my e-cover and book design services, in July 2011 I opened the site. But, after evaluating where I wanted to go, I closed that site in 2015. My focus changed to my own writing and self-publishing (there are only so many hours in a day ) In 2010 I self-published Seasons, a collection of short stories and poems, I had written previously. Towards the end of 2012 I also self-published My Success Journal, a book where people could record their successes (and also make notes of what they learned).

As I was closing down my book design service, I felt I wanted to pay it forward, and wrote How to Format Your Book in Word – offering the steps to format a book (hard copy, Kindle, and Smashwords ebooks) as also the steps to self-publish a book online.


Some time in 2010 I began losing interest in business, and then even in writing – my two biggest passions for almost my entire life.

Family and health issues added to my downward spiral. This continued until late 2014, when I began reading my journal notes and sat down to review where I was. I began to formulate a plan to get back to where I was: motivated, excited and energized.

As a result of my burn-out, I was inspired to write an article on this phenomenon, and it will be published on my site soon.

I tapped into my embedded knowledge I had gained over many years (Think and Grow Rich, The Power of Your Subconscious Mind, to name just two classics I studied many years ago). I’m glad to say I’m back – in a big way, and I’m here to help you on your self-publishing journey: to build on the positives, and steer clear of the potholes (the negatives).


I was born in the coastal city of Durban, South Africa. When I was about 2 years old my folks moved up to Johannesburg (as result of me getting asthma); most of my childhood was spent in the mining village of Hillshaven. My folks moved from there to the Cape, and then back to Nigel (a small town about an hour east of Johannesburg), and this is where my high school career started and ended, as also where my working career started. This is also where I met my wife, whom has been there for me the last 30 years.

When I turned 11, my folks gave me the encyclopedia Brittanica (I think the reasoning behind it was that it would help me with school work), and a manual Olivetti typewriter. I was ecstatic, and filled many hours creating documents on a wide and varied range of subjects from the encyclopedia (these documents were actually A5 booklets I made up).

Midway through Grade 11, I enrolled for a correspondence course in TV Scriptwriting, and in my final school year I completed the course, and received my certificate. I made a few 8mm silent movies with friends, actually writing the scripts, and directing.

Phew. You made it to the end (or did you scroll down and skip the good stuff? ). Thank you again for reading my story. Shoot me a mail, and say Hi, or ask me a question.

Leave a legacy, write your book.

Colin Dunbar