(Part II of a five-part series)
Unless you’re willing to do an enormous amount of homework and preparation to learn the process and business of self-publishing, you’ll waste your time and money. You’ll also likely damage your brand as an author.
As Marion Gropen, a leading expert on independent publishing, puts it:
One consistent theme throughout my career has been that there are two types of new authors/publishers. The first looks at our business, sees skilled professionals working hard, realizes that there is complexity and does his or her homework. He or she learns the ropes, and the best ways to get from barebones basics to the goalposts. . .
The OTHER type of newbie decides that he/she already knows all that is necessary. After all, this is a very simple task, and if it’s not, well that’s because the dinosaurs at the legacy publishers don’t know how to do things in the new world. . .
The first type is frequently successful. The second usually spends a ton of money and time and gets almost nothing for it. And the old hands who tried to help watch in sadness. . . .
Please, be the first type, and not the second. I’m tired of breaking my heart watching lemmings run off of cliffs.
(Here’s Gropen’s hard-nosed essay on whether you should self-publish.)
Also read author James Altucher’s excellent, insightful (and funny!) post 21 Things You Need to Know About Self-Publishing 2.0.
So, this post will aim at helping you prepare to self-publish and to face the hard realities of the challenge—and the adventure—you’re about to undertake. It will be a relatively short post, recommending the resources I used in my preparation. If you do your homework right, exploring the resources listed below, you’ll end up with a shelf full of books, subscriptions to a number of e-mail lists and much more insight into publishing.
Fortunately, others have done much of the work for me. For example, here is publisher Jacqueline Simonds’ excellent Self-Publisher’s FAQ and list of books. And here is novelist August Wainwright’s 50 Best Sites for Indie and Self-Published Authors. I emphatically recommend you spend a great deal of time exploring the recommended books, discussion groups, web sites, and other resources on self-publishing. Of these many resources, here are a few that I’ve found particularly helpful:
- Self-publishing expert Aaron Shepard’s books and blog
- The Author Marketing Experts newsletter
- The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing by Marilyn Ross and Sue Collier
- Author Dan Poynter’s books, newsletter, and other materials
- The Independent Book Publishers Association, which offers many benefits
- Author John Kremer’s book and web site
- Michele DeFilippo’s book Publish Like the Pros (free download)
- The Yahoo self-publishing discussion group
Finally, there are the 16 articles I’ve written for the Marketing & Publishing Resource on the web site of the National Association of Science Writers. These cover just about all I’ve learned about self-publishing.
Here are links to the other articles in this series:
- I. Making the Decision
- III. Choosing How to Self-Publish
- IV. Operating the Publishing Machinery
- V. Key Steps to Marketing Your Book