Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Tag Archives: self-publish

The Most Helpful Book I’ve Ever Read About Self-Publishing . . .

It sure can seem like a lot of the info on self-publishing is generated primarily to make money, not to help folks really learn what they need to know.

In fact, many sources of “expertise” are misleading and aimed right at our bank accounts.

This is my 85th post on Self-Publishing—many about my own experience and many about what I’ve found that makes sense, and has a sense of service about it

It’s also my 31st post featuring Joel Friedlander—usually about posts on his blog, The Book Designer. JoelsBook

I just finished reading his book A Self-Publisher’s Companion: Expert Advice for Authors Who Want to Publish.

In the book, Joel says:

“Instead of a how-to book, I decided to create a kind of ‘why-to’ book.”

“I went through the archives of my blog looking specifically for articles that contained my best advice for new self-publishers. I ignored the articles that dealt with specific tools like writing software or page layoutsI wanted to find, and to offer to you, the articles that would come together to give you an overview of the self-publishing possibilities we have available today, to warn you of mistakes that are easy to avoid if you only know about them, and to encourage you to use these tools to pursue the publication of your ideas, your history, your dreams, and your personal story.”

On the site Wordpreneur they say this about Joel:

“The man knows his stuff. He won the AIGA ’50 Books of the Year Award’ for his work at Aperture Publishing. And the Printing Industries of America Gold Award as well for his book design and production. Born in the Bronx, New York, and educated in Buffalo and Danbury, Connecticut, Joel now owns and runs Marin Bookworks in San Rafael, California.”

My own first impression of the book was that it definitely “has a sense of service about it”

Here’s an excerpt that exemplifies that service-attitude:

“Each author who decides to self-publish has a logic all their own. Some books may be more profitable than others, but in my experience this is not what moves authors to publish. The more you understand your own motives and goals, the more likely you are to succeed in self-publishing, because you will more accurately define that ‘success’

And, there are many comments that reveal his motivation for being so involved with the Book-World, like this one:

“I love self-publishing because of the absolute finality of the process. At the end, you are left with a book in your hand, one that will probably outlast you and most of the people you know.”

And, combining his service orientation with his own experience:

“When you self-publish, you get to define success, to set goals for your own publication. In a way, you’ve already won.”

Then, there are the warning statements, like:

when authors go looking for a way to get their book into print, all too often they are seduced by misleading or downright fraudulent advertising by the industry that’s sprung up to sell services to these authors.”

And then, the abundance of sage advice, like:

“Avoid overwhelm, burnout, and weeping in frustration. The solution is to approach your new business as . . . a business! Do what you can do well, and the things that you are interested in.”

“Leave the rest to the many skilled practitioners who are only too happy to help.”

Last, a summation of the book itself, about three-quarters of the way through:

“Think about what you know that others might find interesting. Know your niche and how to market to people with similar interests. Create a quality product. Take one step at a time and build credibility, leveraging into larger and larger networks. Take the long view, seeding success tomorrow by your actions today.”

I should add that he gives an even-hand to fiction and non-fiction writers.

This is an extremely valuable book, written in a voice that makes consistent sense, based on hard-earned experience.

Here’s his table of contents:

A Self-Publishing Orientation

Why Self-Publishing is Entering a Golden Age
“I Want to Be a Book Publisher”
Two Kinds of Self-Publishers ~ Which One Are You?
7 Scenarios for Successful Self-Publishing
The Self-Publisher’s Self-Questionnaire
Four Ways to Publish Your Book
5 Good Reasons to Self-Publish Your Book
What Hasn’t Changed in Self-Publishing
5 Things That Shouldn’t Surprise You About Self-Publishing
8 Answers That Help Self-Publishers Get Up and Running
What Does It Take to Make a Publishing Company?
Is It Time to Kill “Jerry”?
How to Get Unstuck
Top 10 Worst Self-Publishing Mistakes ~ Explained!
The Secret to Successful Self-Publishing
Things I Love—and Hate—About Self-Publishing
26 Ways to Win at Self-Publishing


Does Book Design Really Matter?
Book Design Tips for Authors
Cover Design Tips for Self-Publishers
3 Ways Self-Publishers Fail at Cover Design
What Book Designers Do to Get Your Self-Published Book Into Print
The Death of Book Design
Designing Books

Social Media for Authors

Rise of the Content Creators
The Hub & Outpost Method to Organize Your Social Media Marketing
How to Get Started on Twitter
Self-Publishing Pro and Con(temptuous)
17 Ways for Writers to Publish Their Content
Why Authors Shouldn’t Blog Their Books
The Big Problem With Blogging Your Book
Self-Publishers and the Social Media Divide

The Ebook Revolution

The Problem With “E-Books”
Is the Paradise We’ve Lost the Beautiful Page?
Less Expensive, Bite-Sized, Available for Take-Out: The Book of the Future
EBooks Today: Futility or Utility?
6 Keys to Self-Publishing Success in the Age of the Ebook

The Electronic Life

Why Self-Publishers are Exhausted
I Am My Keyboard
Frustrated Self-Publisher Escapes DIY Trap
The 5-Million Word Typewriter and How to Stay Focused
Two Things All Content Creators Can Do

You Are the Market

How I Sold 10,000 Copies of My Self-Published Book
What Writers Need to Know Today
Why Self-Publishing Is a Long-Tail Business
Author Branding: The You That Is Everywhere
Author Platform: What Are You Waiting For?

Read it—Come back here—Tell me what you think :-)
Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
* Google Author Page

Are Self-Published Creative Writers Prostituting Themselves?

Many creative writers who pursue self-publishing, which demands a massive effort to self-promote, have what seems like a plaguing moral dilemma

Let me give you links to a few other posts here that bring up “issues” for the creative writer:

In An Attention Deficit World, What Kind of Novel Do You Write?

“Success” Is Vastly Over-Rated

Do Creative Writers Have Social “Responsibilities”?

We’re Infected by Materiality . . . < This one has other authors who’ve left some fascinating Comments :-)

So, back to the “issue” of self-published creative writers—slaving away to create literature that has lasting value—needing to communicate effectively in arenas that definitely don’t resonate to literary writing—selling themselves for well, what is the definition of prostituting?

My Oxford dictionary says: “put (oneself or one’s talents) to an unworthy or corrupt use for personal or financial gain”.

And, for those who like to ponder, it gives this etymology: “mid 16th century (as a verb): from Latin prostitut- ‘exposed publicly, offered for sale’, from the verb prostituere, from pro- ‘before’ + statuere ‘set up, place'”.

So, originally, prostituting merely meant to place oneself before; and, even in its modern sense, a writer would only be a prostitute if they were promoting for personal or financial gain in an unworthy or corrupt way

Enter Dana Sitar, freelance journalist and indie author.

You can check out her blog, DIY Writing, and her most recent book, A Writer’s Bucket List: 99 things to do for inspiration, education, and experience before your writing kicks the bucket.

I discovered her through Joel Friedlander’s blog, The Book Designer, and her guest post, Why Even a Novelist Should Know How to Write Strong Copy.

Near the beginning of her post, she says:

“Fiction authors spend a lot of time developing strong skills for creating characters, incorporating tension, drawing a reader into their world, etc. But when it comes to finding a platform and connecting with readers, that style of storytelling won’t cut it. For these, any writer will benefit from understanding the basics of writing compelling copy. Even if you don’t want to work as a shill, studying the skills can boost your overall writing and style and career.”

Then, she details a few areas where an indie author can prostitute themselves apply what’s called “Copywriting” to help them in their promotion efforts; and, she also gives a few valuable links for learning about Copywriting:

If you’re a creative writer and you are or will be considering self-publishing, do go read the whole post :-)

If you’ve already explored or used copywriting to promote something, please share your thoughts in the Comments
Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
* Google Author Page

Is Self-Publishing Good or Bad? & Are Self-Published Authors Doing It “Right”?

I’m sort of a “self-published” author—it depends on one’s definition in a rapidly changing field—but, I prefer the title “Publishing-Aided” author.

Many folks use the term “self-publishing” for any book that isn’t produced by the Big Six (and two of those look to be merging).

Also, even though there are 64 posts on this blog about “self-publishing”, most of the material is about the U.S.A.

I hope my readers from other countries can fill out the global picture in our Comments :-)

A company called Bowker is, in the U. S., the official ISBN Agency.

The article Self-Publishing Sees Triple-Digit Growth in Just Five Years, Says Bowker seems to show self-publishing as a major force in our Book World.

Yet, author Melissa Foster has written Are Self-Pubbed Authors Killing the Publishing Industry?

To me, Melissa’s piece is a mixed-bag of opinions and the 80+ comments that follow it show how polarized people are about “self-publishing”.

Melissa says: “Self-published authors have created a devaluing of the written word, and, some of them are scrambling to see how low they can go to get noticed.”

I say: While I realize that Melissa is wanting to make a point, she states the case far too broadly.

Her “devaluing” refers to low-priced e-books and various methods folks are using to promote their work—she calls them “gimmicks”.

Melissa says: “The lesson may be that if indie authors don’t value their work, chances are no one else will either.”

I say: First, she calls them “self-published” then “Indie” yet, even in the confusing early days of this phenomenon, those two terms seem quite different

Then: Is charging a low price for a book automatic proof that the author doesn’t value their work?

In our materialistic culture, is it a “rule” that one must always charge “what the market will bear”—especially, when that market is being so heavily manipulated that people are struggling to get along?

While Melissa is an “award-winning author of three International bestselling novels” she alsoteaches authors how to navigate the book marketing world, build their platforms, and leverage the power of social media, through her author-training programs“.

In those 80+ comments, Melissa admits that her post was not edited

Strange, since this is one of the most common complaints leveled against self-published authors.

Also, in those comments, she goes head-to-head in personal attacks with another person

I get the feeling that her post is more a come-on for her making money telling other authors how to “succeed”.

The real shame, in this radical phenomenon called self-publishing, is that there are so many authors out there trying to make money preaching to other authors

No matter the Numbers and Dollars, it will be quite some time before authors (or, readers) can definitively claim to confidently comprehend what Value self-publishing has bequeathed to our Book World.
Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
* Google Author Page

Publisher Helps Local Libraries Become Community Publishers !

Should We All Self-Publish A Book? was a previous post that featured libraries’ new capability to be Print-On-Demand publishers.

Now we have a further development:

Authors Can Now Design, Publish and Distribute Books in Print and Digital Formats Through Libraries !

It’s one thing to walk into a library with your book on a flash-drive and be able to walk out with a printed edition.

It’s something else again to use the library to Design, Publish, and Distribute that book!

In Print and Digital Format!!

Auto-Graphics has partnered with FastPencil to let local libraries offer these services to You:

  • Connect: Collaborate easily and securely within the content management system and directly connect to publishing and retail industry leaders as well as social networking platforms.
  • Write: Write, edit and manage projects on the web or from any device. Track revisions and version history and work with multiple editors and contributors.
  • Convert: Using the Publishing Setup wizard, convert files into multiple formats for both print books and e-books to prepare for distribution into a variety of channels.
  • Publish: Through the publishing module, directly upload files as a new project or write, convert and publish directly through the content management system. This module provides a unique ISBN number and distributes to hundreds of book retailers.
  • Sell: Access an independent e-commerce and order fulfillment system through FastPencil’s Marketplace. Custom URLs and BookBuy widgets are automatically generated upon publishing to assist with marketing campaigns. Royalty reporting is captured and displayed on a dashboard.

Nifty, eh?

The only thing that could be better is if it weren’t, for now, restricted to the U.S.A.

Another angle from a press release:

“Auto-Graphics, Inc., a leading provider of tools, technologies and services that enable libraries to create, manage and provide personalized access to print and digital collections, and FastPencil today announced a partnership that provides library patrons with access to FastPencil’s book publishing engine through its Library Management Platform™. Library members will have the ability to use FastPencil’s next-generation publishing platform to write, design, publish and sell books in print and digital formats directly through their local libraries.”

Naturally, doing all this through your local library is phenomenal but you can, right now, access all of FastPencil’s Services from your own home.

I used FastPencil to publish my book Notes from An Alien and will use it to publish the two follow-up volumes in the series.

They also provide Wide-Distribution to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iPad, and Ingram for around $300.

By the way, having a book distributed to Ingram instantly opens it up to being offered by many other WebRetailers.

And, last nice fact: FastPencil collects all the royalties and pays you directly

Sound interesting to you?

Let me pique your interest further

You can, for Free, use FastPencil’s Site to write, edit, and proof your book; along with inviting others into the process (each person given permission to only make valuable comments or make changes to your Work-In-Progress—you decide—plus, all this power of production is free until you feel completely ready to hit the Publish button :-)

Do check out FastPencil’s Opportunities; then, come on back and let us know what you think in the Comments
Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
* Google Author Page

Writers Beware ~ One of The Big Six Just Got Trickier…

As if writers didn’t already have a rough time when getting ready to publish.

Legacy or Self-Publish? Shoot for an advance or pay for it myself? Which method of self-publishing?

I previously published a post called How Can Writers Avoid Being Scammed?

It appears there’s going to be a new wrinkle in the tortured landscape of publishing decisions.

Publishers Weekly reports Self-publishing Goes Big Time.

Penguin, Big Six publisher, buys Author Solutions, Big Scam

Try this Google search: author solutions writer beware

Or, check out David Gaughran’s article on IndieReader, Penguin’s New Business Model: Exploiting Writers.

Even Jane Friedman weighed in

Any writer seriously looking to publish should read all those articles but let me share two excerpts.

From Mr. Gaughran’s article:

“Before they leave the clutches of Author Solutions, however, writers are subjected to never-ending phone calls hawking a string of overpriced, useless services, including the press releases described above. As such, the average customer spends around $5,000 over their “lifetime” with the company, but only sells 150 books.

“The performance of Author Solutions is so poor that the press release announcing the purchase by Penguin can’t even tout their own customers’ success, and instead lists self-publishing stars such as “Lisa Genova, John Locke, Darcie Chan, Amanda Hocking, Bronnie Ware and E.L. James” – none of whom used Author Solutions to publish their work.”

From Jane Friedman:

“Self-publishing isn’t exactly the future here. It’s rather making money off a growing number of people who are writing and seeking professional publishing services. As easy as it is to e-publish, it’s not a straightforward matter to navigate the options and produce a professional product that actually sells. Thus, there’s no shortage of people seeking assistance with DIY self-publishing, whether in print or electronic formats. Unfortunately, many people seeking help are not well-informed, don’t have the patience to research their options, and end up writing a big check to someone to make the headache go away. (And by doing so, they’ve assured their sales will be exactly the number of family and friends they can convince to buy their poorly edited, poorly designed book via Facebook wall postings.)”

My personal choice for self-publishing is FastPencil.

Yes, the author pays upfront.

I published Notes from An Alien in print and e-book and got a distribution contract to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Ingram, and iPad for $250.

Go figure
Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
* Google Author Page