Florida Tech Software Engineering Major Starts Publishing Company

What started as a joke among four high school friends, quickly grew into a thriving, small business.

Casey Doran, a Florida Tech grad student earning his master’s in software engineering, wrote a musical with three high school buddies. When a high school drama department in Gainesville wanted to produce it, they realized they had to get that script published. But no one wanted to publish it.

“So we did it ourselves. They all did the creative stuff. I handled the logistics and technical issues related to going to print,” Doran said. “Once we had the workflows in place, we realized we could save lots of other small-scale projects plenty of time and heartache.”

And, thus, Spacewalk Publishing was born.

software engineering
Casey Doran, Florida Tech grad student, founded Spacewalk Publishing with three friends from high school.

“I kinda feel like I’m not actually in the field,” Doran said. “I always think of myself as a software engineer first. We look at all the traditional challenges that publishers face – inventory management, capital management, digital IP – and we take the shortest route around those problems. It’s 2017 and we have technologies and tools to the point where these shouldn’t be problems.”

One Stop Shop

From design, distribution, editing and publishing print materials, to software development and audio production, these guys are basically a one-stop-shop for the average person who wants to produce and sell above-average content. Daniel Batcheldor, physics and space sciences department head, happened to be one of those people.

Doran took Batcheldor’s Observational Astronomy class a few years ago, and they continued to keep in touch. So when Batcheldor wrote his book, Astronomy Saves the World: Securing our Future Through Exploration and Education, Doran offered his services.

software engineering
Dan Batcheldor, physics and space sciences department head, published “Astronomy Saves the World: Securing our Future Through Exploration and Education” with help from Spacewalk Publishing

“He made me aware of some components to publishing for which I didn’t have the resources,” Batcheldor said. “For example, digital formatting for hardcopy printing, digital formatting for the e-book version, contacts for the graphic designers needed for the cover art and the setting up of the Amazon listing.”

Spacewalk Publishing has other ongoing book and music projects that are all still under wraps. Including some software that is still in early development.

“Our sole goal was to enable ourselves then, and all of our awesome customers now, to tell amazing stories, regardless of what those stories are,” Doran said.

Those awesome customers have turned into successful clients who continue to use Spacewalk Publishing for other projects.

“I decided to have Casey help as I think it is important to use local companies for business and to support a company run by Florida Tech students,” Batcheldor said. “We’ll be working together into the future too. With the upcoming audio book, paperback, and I really need someone to sort out my rather pathetic WordPress website.”

Tips of the Trade

If you think you might want to publish something, Doran offers a bit of advice.

  1. Make great friends. We succeed because we have a great art department and tons of support from our friends and family.
  2. Tell the stories you want to read.
  3. Lean into your brand. Be yourself.
  4. Your counts are small and your margins are going to be small. Plan on that.
  5. Every copy you sell will be because you sold it. Lead the conversation.
  6. You don’t have a clue what you’re doing. Good. Build from nothing and be ready to learn.

“We’re a foursome of non-publishers who’ve done a lot of self-publishing,” Doran said, “Helping independent projects get from where the creators are to products ready for sale.”


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