"The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic." ~ John F. Kennedy

52 Great Blogs for Self-Publishers (Joel Friedlander, book designer and author of A Self-Publisher's Companion

Kickstarter, a promising new funding platform for creative projects. A free website, Kickstarter lets artists give their fans a chance to show their interest in a new project. It doesn’t charge the artist a thing unless the project meets its minimum. When project meets its minimum, investors are charged for what they pledged and are guaranteed the reward they signed up for.

Unconventional Guides. Nonfiction agent David Fugate explains when it makes sense to choose self-publishing over traditional publishing. in a section on contracts, he suggests which clauses you might want to line out. He tells you how to build a platform, craft a winning proposal, and find an agent. I bought it when I read what Tony Levelle wrote to the WriterL listserv (quoted here by permission): "Fugate's paper is damned expensive. I only bought my copy when I was sure it had a money back guarantee. After reading it (The Fitzgerald), I felt it was easily worth ten times what I paid, and recommend it highly. It is absolutely the best thing I have read on how the publishing industry really works, how to get agent, and what a really good nonfiction proposal looks like. Superb explanation of platform needs, too."
You can find Fugate's paper here: Unconventional Guides (click on Unconventional Guide to Publishing).
(This is an affiliate link, which means this website gets a commission if you purchase it.)

This site participates in Amazon and other affiliate programs (including the Unconventional Guides' program), earning commissions on purchases made after linking to a title through this site. These fees help support the cost of maintaining this site.


The Fine Print of Self-Publishing: Everything You Need to Know About the Costs, Contracts, and Process of Self-Publishing by Mark Levine. Read this book before you hire and pay a publisher to publish your book.

"Self-publishing as a universe is heavily larded with people who have been conned by fake (subsidy) publishers into believing what the con artists told them: of course you can make bookstores take your books, of course you can get reviews, of course you can get signings; of course you can sell a million copies.
"Real publishers are leery of these deluded souls. Bookstores frankly hate them. Readers don’t know they exist."
~ Jennifer Stevenson, in an interesting discussion, To Self-Publish or Not to Self-Publish on Christina Baker Kline's blog, A Writing Year

"I submit as a law of editorial physics that the author's desire to include a fact in her narrative is directly proportional to the effort she expended to find it out, not to its relevance."
~ Peter Ginna, When journalists become authors: a few cautionary tips

"When it comes to self-help bestsellers, the average number of chapters people read is two. Now when you're talking about fiction, people will tend to finish it, because it's a big long story. But when it comes to self-help and inspiration, if it's a bestseller, it's two."
John Gray in an interesting interview on how he learned to hone down his message to a length people will read (interviewed by Steve Harrison)

“Hope has two beautiful daughters: their names are anger and courage. Anger that things are the way they are. Courage to make them the way they ought to be.”
~ St. Augustine

"We do not write because we want to; we write because we have to."
~ W. Somerset Maugham

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Self-Publishing and Print on Demand

Indie publishing, digital publishing, and POD resources

• Basics of self-publishing
Printing is not publishing.
• Ebooks and self-publishing (ins and outs, pros and cons)
• Self-publishing success stories
• Warning: Scams, bad deals, and other ways to lose money
• Links to resources and advice on self-publishing
• The truth about print-on-demand (POD) publishing
• Self-publishing (a basic booklist)
• Blogs about self-publishing
• Why you should get your self-published book edited
and tips for working with editors
• ISBNs and other product identifiers
• Getting reviews and promotion for self-published books
• Book design and production
• The essential parts of a book
• Editing, design, and production (overview of the process)
• Book design software
• Footnotes and endnotes (InDesign)
• Fonts and typography--the basics
• Books on how to design books

• Quotation about self-publishing in history

This world of "indie publishing" is full of new opportunities, new problems, and lots of effort, so do your homework, see the long-range picture, pay attention to what rights you want or are giving up, and do things right the first time to avoid expensive mistakes! I've created this page of links to save you the time it has taken me to learn what's what!

Self-publishing (a.k.a. "self publishing" with no hyphen) is NOT the same as "print-on-demand" (POD) publishing (printing is only one aspect of publishing). It is also not the same as subsidy publishing. It is important to understand the differences between them, even if you have money to burn, because there are issues of control and ownership, as well as economics. Do not, for the sake of temporary convenience, give up rights you may want in the longer term.

Print-on-demand is a digital printing process with which you can print as few books as you want--one at a time (as they are ordered and paid for). A traditional publisher like Random House can use POD technology. So can a self-publisher (someone who publishes independently). But a self-publisher can also use the same offset printers the regular publishers use, if printing in sufficient quantity (typically 500 copies and above).

Publishing is the broader process that includes printing as well as editing, typesetting, design, production, publicity, marketing, and distribution. A commercial publisher handles all of these steps and publishes the book under its own imprint (say, Doubleday), purchasing rights from an author (often through an agent), covering the costs of production, and paying the author a royalty. A subsidy publisher also publishes under its own imprint, but expects the author or organization to cover the costs of production. (Mind you, sometimes commercial publishers effectively do the same thing, agreeing to publish a book, or a special edition of a book, if the author/​organization promises to purchase a sizable number of copies, enough to cover basic costs.) The subsidy publisher owns rights to the book and authors receive royalties, but any author expecting sizable royalties in this set-up is probably delusional.

Self-publishing means paying for all the costs of publication yourself. Organizations often self-publish, typically creating an imprint just for that purpose. The biggest problem with self-publishing is distribution. The big advantage is that you have more control over the whole process and keep more of the revenues from sales.

When you self-publish, these are some of the more mechanical but important things you must pay attention to: choosing a good printer, getting an ISBN number from Bowker, getting copyright forms and registering with the Library of Congress (and getting the Cataloging in Publication form from the Library of Congress so you list the right CIP data on the copyright page if you want your book in libraries), getting a bar code for the cover (for scanning price, etc., in bookstores), making sure all the right pages are in the right place and order (copyright page, preface, etc.), arranging for the book's cover design (one of your most important investments), arranging for endorsements and testimonials to go on that cover, developing a marketing plan, arranging for publicity (free coverage as opposed to paid-for advertisements, which are seldom worth the investment), arranging for radio and TV appearances, book signings and other public appearances, making sure you're listed in all the right online places, and so on. (Marketing a book can take almost as much effort as writing it. You're not done when the manuscript is completed! But this is also true when you are published by a regular publisher; you can't expect them to do much for you, and whether they want to publish you will depend partly on how good they think you are at marketing yourself.)

This is a world full of new opportunities, new problems, and lots of effort, so do your homework, see the long-range picture, pay attention to what rights you are giving up, and do things right! To read up on digital publishing (eBooks and the like), which the purchaser can read on an eReader, see section on Publishing and ePublishing, including eBook Basics and Beyond, Ebook devices and platforms, and E-book rights, developments, conflicts, pricing, and struggles for market.


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Self-Publishing 101


Skim down a bit to find explanations of the differences between self-publishing and print on demand and between vanity publishing, subsidy publishing, and self-publishing.
• Are There 5 Reasons to Stick With Major Publishers? No, There Are Zero Reasons (Michael Levin, Huff Post 7-10-14). Read all the way to the bottom and the five main reasons more authors are turning to self-publishing.
• Publishing Options: How to Choose the Best Method for Publishing Your Book (PDF, Michael J. Dowling with Carol White). Excellent white paper on the advantages and disadvantages of traditional publishing, self-publishing, and subsidy publishing (where you pay someone lots of money to handle everything for you, in return for which they charge you far more than the cost of printing to buy your own books).
• Publishing Basics (Ron Pramschufer, Self-Publishing, free download). Tons more practical information here. Get instant quotes for different page counts and trim sizes, and sign up for his newsletter.
• The Real Costs of Self-Publishing a Book (Miral Sattar, Media Shift, 5-15-13).
• The True Costs of Self-Publishing (The Cadence Group) and When Self-Publishing Makes Sense
• Stop the press: half of self-published authors earn less than $500 (Alison Flood, The Guardian, 5-24-14). Despite a few high-profile successes most authors struggle to sell, according to a a 2012 survey of 1,007 self-published writers. "Romance authors earned 170% more than their peers, while authors in other genres fared much worse: science-fiction writers earned 38% of the $10,000 average, fantasy writers 32%, and literary fiction authors just 20% of the $10,000 average" [an average skewed by the few top earners].
• Technology allows more writers to self-publish (Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press, 6-8-14). Lessons learned about the prospect of self-publishing, as told partly by Cari Noga's story about her book Sparrow Migrations, a novel about a 12-year-old boy with autism, who witnesses the “Miracle on the Hudson” from a sightseeing ferry and becomes obsessed with the birds that caused the plane crash--as "part of a changing publishing industry, transformed by easy access to ever-improving technology that allows virtually anyone to print a professional-looking book, coupled with an e-book. The writers keep the royalties and the rights to their work. Most authors give up the rights when they sign a contract with a big publishing house. But self-published authors also must market the books themselves, and manage editing, production and cover art, among other issues." So facilitators of those processes are appearing as new businesses.
• When an author should self-publish and how that might change (Mike Shatzkin, Shatzkin Files, 4-17-14)
• Comparing self-publishing to being published is tricky and most of the data you need to do it right is not available (Mike Shatzkin, Shatzkin Files, 2-13-14)
• Interviews on Self-Publishing (Writer&Artists site). Some of these interviews with (mostly genre fiction) writers are full of practical tips and insights.
• Print-on-Demand Self-Publishing Resources (excellent frank overview by Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, including pros and cons of POD service, and links to good blogs about POD self-publishing, etc.)
• Self-publishing a book: 25 things you need to know (David Carnoy, CNET Reviews 7-27-10)
• Self-Publishing Basics: Four Ways to Publish Your Book (Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer, 10-13-09)
• Publishing Resources for Editors & Book Shepherds (PDF, annotated and compiled by Bonnie Britt for the Bay Area Editors' Forum, 11-15-11)
• Comparing self-publishing to being published is tricky and most of the data you need to do it right is not available (Mike Shatzkin, Shatzkin Files, 2-13-14)
• The Fine Print of Self-Publishing, Fourth Edition - Everything You Need to Know About the Costs, Contracts, and Process of Self-Publishing by Mark Levine. Which POD publishers are good and which are not so hot.
• Getting Ready to Publish (Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer, with a LOT of good basic explanations for anyone just thinking of trying to self-publish -- or become a self-publisher)
• How Do I Decide? Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing (an ebook by literary agent Rachelle Gardner)
• Options for Self-Publishing Proliferate, Easing the Bar to Entry (Alina Tugend, NY Times, 7-29-11)
• How to Self-Publish Your Book: A practical guide to creating and distributing your e-book or print book (Carla King--I haven't looked at this one)
• Guide to Self-Publishing (free download from the excellent FriesenPress, which has published a couple of the books I've worked on--beautifully)
• Vanity Publishing or Self-Publishing, a good chart showing the basic differences between them (Self-Publishing, a helpful site)
• How Much Does Self-Publishing a Book Cost? (indie fantasy author Lindsay Buroker, 11-29-12)
• Great reasons to self-publish: 7 case histories (Alan Rinzler, The Book Deal, 10-8-12)
• Why Self-Publishing is a Long Tail Business (Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer, 3-8-10) "When you combine specialized information that experts in a field commonly possess with very targeted marketing and automated web delivery systems for either printed or electronic books, you’ve got a long tail marketing machine."
• "Why in the world are you publishing that book yourself?" (Susan Albert, Lifescapes, 4-22-13, on why, when she is still successfully publishing books the traditional way, she is self-publishing "A Wilder Rose." Good reasoning.)
• New Publisher Authors Trust: Themselves (Leslie Kaufman, NY Times, 4-16-13). Taking advantage of a new service offered by his literary agency, Pulitzer Prize-winner David Mamet will self-publish his next book. Publishers don't deliver the marketing they promise, but money is also an issue. "While self-published authors get no advance, they typically receive 70 percent of sales. A standard contract with a traditional house gives an author an advance, and only pays royalties — the standard is 25 percent of digital sales and 7 to 12 percent of the list price for bound books — after the advance is earned back in sales."
• Lazy Literary Agents In Self-Publishing Money Grab via Argo Navis (David Gaughran, Let's Get Digital, 4-22-13). As Paul Lima sums up so nicely. Agents, as middlemen, re-insert themselves into the world of self-publishing, adding little but taking a cut and creating opportunities for other middlemen.
• Who gets the ISBN for your self-published book and why? (Pat McNees, Writers and Editors blog, 7-16-13)
• Reality Checklist for Self-Publishers (by all means read this straight-talking advice from Dave Bricker, 1-23-13, author of The One Hour Guide to Self-Publishing: Straight Talk For Fiction & Nonfiction Writers About Producing & Marketing Your Own Books
• One Writer’s Tale of Self-Publishing (Paul Lima, Everything You Wanted to Know About Freelance Writing, 5-2-12). Check out the archive of Paul Lima's articles about self-publishing.
• Advice for Authors, 1 (Seth Godin, July 2005). Example: "Please understand that book publishing is an organized hobby, not a business."
• Advice for Authors, 2 (Seth Godin, August 2006). Example: "Understand that a non-fiction book is a souvenir, just a vessel for the ideas themselves."
• Find a Literary Agent or Self Publish: How to Decide (Fern Reiss, PublishingGame.com)
• Can someone explain to me how POD and subsidy publishing works? Peter Masterson does so, on Publishing Basics.
• The Advantages of Print-on-Demand Book Printing (Dana Lynn Smith, The Savvy Book Marketer, 3-29-10)
• Step-By-Step Self-Publishing (among other resources, Christy Pinheiro provides a list of reviewers and sites that do author interviews
• Decisions, Decisions: Three Different Paths to Publication by Alethea Black, Cιline Keating, Michelle Toth (The Practical Writer, Poets & Writers, 5-03-11). Alethea’s agent sold her collection of short stories to a commercial publisher, Cιline signed a contract for a novel with an independent press, and Michelle launched her own press to self-publish her novel. They compare notes.
• Dick Margulis's series on self-publishing (words/​myth/​ampers & virgul3). Dick helps produce other people's books, and writes helpful blog entries too:
~Do it yourself? Not so much. On not doing it all yourself."... it is the quality of the finished product, together with the energy and skill used to market it, that determines its ultimate success. Can you execute all the steps yourself, well enough to turn out a good book?"
~Gardening, garage software, and garage books , built around this metaphor: " The capacity of a barrel is defined by the height of its shortest stave."
~Rolling your own
~There's no crying in baseball on the difference between authors and writers
• How To Sell Your Self-Published Book in Bookstores (Jason Boog, Galley Cat, 5-17-13)
• Working With Self-Published Authors (Karen Schechner, Bookselling This Week, 4-24-12 -- on how bookstores can work with local writers) Savvy booksellers are establishing programs that clearly define their requirements and streamline the consignment process

• Indie Author (blog of April L. Hamilton, author of The Indie Author Guide: Self-Publishing Strategies Anyone Can Use
• Digital Digest: New Tools Transform Self-Publishing (Adrian Versteegh, Poets & Writers, 2-29-12). An excellent overview of the pros and cons (and practical realities) of self-publishing.
• Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA, formerly PMA). Some articles are available to public; many more are available to members only. Worth joining if you're seriously trying to publish your own books.
• Go Publish Yourself (another good guide to the basics)
• Self-Publishing Review (SPR) (a central site devoted to self-publishing news and reviews)
• Book Construction Blueprint (many useful articles by Joel Friedlander, TheBookDesigner.com)
• Basics of Self-Publishing: Introduction (Moira Allen, Writing-World.com
• Self-Publishing. Ron Pramschufer's site, helping authors become publishers -- get a copy of free e-book Publishing Basics). Scroll to bottom for links to specific categories.
• Frequently Asked Questions About Children's Books (Ron Pramschufer)
• The Business End of (Self-)Publishing FAQ, Creative Minds Press for SPANnet.org). How do I decide on a book price? and other essential questions
• The Hybrid Writer: Balancing Traditional and Self-Publishing. Bob Mayer published over 40 books with traditional publishers before he decided to go DIY and convert his backlist into e-books. It has reinvigorated his career, but it’s not for everyone. (Bob Meyer, guest-blogging on Publishing Perspectives 7-25-11)
• Where Publishing Gets Practical (Aeonix Publishing Group's practical articles)
• Book1Blog. Experts Dan Poynter and Danny O. Snow on book self-publishing and print-on-demand (POD) technology
• Publishing Poynter archives (Dan Poynter's newsletter)
• Eight Reasons Why Self-Publishers Fail (And How to Easily Avoid Them!) Peter Bowerman, Publishing Basics
• Ten Home Truths About Starting In Self-publishing (Patty Jansen on SF Writing, Must Use Bigger Elephants, 1-19-12)
• Frequently asked questions about self-publishing (answered by Ron Pramschufer)
• Frequently asked questions about book printing (Gorham Printing)
• Independent Publisher "The Voice of the Independent Publishing Industry" (many helpful articles)
• Self-Publishing discussion group on Yahoo
• Online publishing communities (Creative Minds links)
• 10 Things I Learned Self-Publishing My First Book (JoAnn Collins, Publishing Basics 2-13-12)
• Self-Publishing: Tips, Tricks & Techniques (James A. Cox, Midwest Book Review)
• Book editing and publishing process explained well (Dick Margulis, 40 minutes total, TV interview from Brian Jud's weekly program, The Book Authority)
• The Creative Penn (blog on writing, self-publishing, print-on-demand, Internet sales and marketing for your book)
• Self-Publisher’s 5-Minute Guide to Book Printing Processes (Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer, 11-9-09)
• Dictionary of Printing Terms (Well & Drew)
• Digital Printing: What It Is, What It's For, and Why It Isn't Just "POD" (by Robert Goodman, Independent Book Publishers Association--for members only and it's probably worth subscribing, if you're investing $$ in self-publishing)
• How much does it cost to publish an illustrated children's book? (Ron Pramschufer explains the process)
• Common Typographical Errors (Aeonix's signs of a nonprofessional product)
• How to Be Happily Published (or Self-Published) (Judith Applebaum, Sensible Solutions)
• How to Self-Publish a Book (Kelly Spors, WSJ, 8-29-06). Quoting from that story: "It's easy to self-publish a book, but it's not so easy to sell it."
"I cannot tell you how many people I know that tell me they have 5,000 copies of their book sitting in their garage," says Jan Nathan, executive director of PMA, a Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based association for independent publishers. "What makes someone a good author unfortunately does not necessarily make them a good publicist."
• iPad Could Help Self-Publishers Kick Open Doors (Laura Sydell, NPR Weekend Edition, 4-3-10)
• Self-Publishing Resources (Marilyn Ross)
• Options for Self-Publishing Proliferate, Easing the Bar to Entry (Alina Tugend, Shortcuts, NY Times 7-29-11). Understand the options, have realistic expectations, and understand that, as Mark Levine says, “A lot of people have been told that they have talent, but they really don’t. Everyone has a story to tell, but everyone doesn’t have a story to publish.”
• Dan Poynter's ParaPublishing tips on publishing (clock on the links for more info -- by the author of Dan Poynter's Self-Publishing Manual: How to Write, Print and Sell Your Own Book (Volume 1) and the sequel, same name, Volume 2 (how to use new techniques to write your book even faster, use new technology to publish it for less, and how to use social media for promotion).
• To Self-Publish or Not to Self-Publish (Mick Rooney's Dublin-based site, good for researching various POD printers and "publishers"). Also available as a book. Rooney periodically publishes a publishing services index, rating available self-publishing and POD services.
• The Profitable Publisher (Marion Gropen's blog for independent publishers, including self-publishers and micro-publishers)
• Reference Desk for Publishers, on site of The Profitable Publisher (Marion Gropen's blog for independent publishing community)
• Print on demand: Self-publishing getting started primer (Paul Lima, The Six-Figure Freelancer 4-20-09)
• Reality of Starting a New Publishing Company (Morris Rosenthal, Foner Books 6-22-06)
• Secrets of successful book covers and titles (filed under Marketing, publicity, and promotion)
• Writing the Book on Self-Help: A Publisher's Cautionary Tale (Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, NY Times 11-13-07)
• So You're Writing a Book, Eh? (Larry James's useful page of tips on where to get things done, such as finding a bar code)
• Book Awards for Self-Published Authors (Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer)
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Watch out for sharks!


On the fringes of publishing are enterprises that prey on people who yearn to see their book in print. Read “Writer Beware,” Victoria Strauss's blog posts warning about “the sharks out there in the literary waters,” including fee-charging agents, dishonest book doctors, fraudulent subsidy publishers, and fake contests. Strauss also maintains the Writer Beware website of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Though the organization's focus is on fiction, the information they provide is useful for nonfiction writers too.

DO YOUR HOMEWORK: CHECK OUT SELF-PUBLISHING AND POD FIRMS
If you're going to self-publish through one of the firms marketing to the huge new self-publishing industry, you owe it to yourself to check out a few references that tell you what to expect, so you go into a deal with your eyes open. Consider especially investing in The Fine Print of Self-Publishing, Fourth Edition - Everything You Need to Know About the Costs, Contracts, and Process of Self-Publishing by Mark Levine (on Amazon you can "search inside this book" and see what you're getting).

Dog Ear Publishing has an interesting negative-marketing approach to competition among self-publishers (subsidy publishers), which might be useful to the those considering various print-on-demand publishers. Dog Ear first lists the Self Publishing Pros Cons, suggests a strategy for comparing various POD publishers/​printers
(The Insider's Guide to Self-Publishing)
, and then compares what it offers to other houses, and that's where you can get some practical insights into AuthorHouse (one of the big three firms, with flaws), Book Surge (Amazon.com sales only), Infinity Publishing Service (Dog Ear's chief toughest competitor), iUniverse, Lulu.com ("ideal for a graphic designer who only requires a few books"), Outskirts Press, PublishAmerica(they subtly refer you to the huge amount of online criticism of this company, links to which you can find below), Tate Publishing, Trafford Publishing (in Canada), Wheatmark Book Publishers, Wordclay, Xlibris (the smallest of the "big three" self-publishing companies), and Xulon Press (Christian self-publishing).

These are useful comparisons. Dog Ear makes it easy for you to see what the issues are in the contracts of these firms! As always, it pays to do your homework. You do not want to sign away rights (or say yes to expenditures) without understanding what you're doing.


Ron Pramschufer, of RJ Communications, wrote about Book Expo 2009: "Ten years ago I made the point that if these Vanity/​POD/​Subsidy Publishers were really publishers, why weren’t they at Book Expo… Not long after that, they all had large booths at the show manned with dozens of smiling salespeople. This year…. The largest Vanity Press of them all, Author Solutions , who owns Author House, IUniverse, Xlibris and Trafford, had a single 10Χ10 booth with a few men in suits sitting in chairs behind a table. Lulu? Didn’t see them there at all. Booksurge? Didn’t see them there either. I guess we’re back to the Vanity Press publishers really aren’t publishers now… are they?" You may find his archive of articles on publishing basics helpful.

Read up on various options:
• Self-Publishing Basics: Four Ways to Publish Your Book (Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer 10-13-09)
• The Fine Print of Self-Publishing: Everything You Need to Know About the Costs, Contracts, and Process of Self-Publishing by Mark Levine. Read this book before you hire and pay a publisher to publish your book. Lulu.com (for example) does not make the list of recommended firms to work with. Read why, and what you should base your choice on.
• Print on demand. Wikipedia's entry explains basic principles; see especially POD enablement platforms
• Choosing a Self-Publishing Company (Ray Robinson, pres. of Dog Ear Publishing, on Writing-World.com)
• Kremer's list of print-on-demand publishers (a list, unevaluated, which includes subsidy publishers)
• The Publishing Game (Fern Reiss). Reiss's books and articles on self-publishing (she's done it so successfully herself that in her case ASJA reversed its policy on not granting membership based on self-published books. Reiss makes the important distinction between POD publishers and POD printers. With only a couple of the POD printers, including Lightning Source and CreateSpace (which have arrangements with Ingram, a distributor), can you get books into bookstores and libraries--most of which won't otherwise accept most self-published books.
• Printing at Lightning Source vs. Create Space—the differences are remarkable (Larry M. Edwards, Polishing That Prose, 4-10-13). The quality of printing is better with LS; CS is better at hand-holding newbie writer-self-publishers. And then there are prices and discounts.
• Lulu vs. CreateSpace: Which Is More Economical For The DIY Author? (April Hamilton, Indie Author 3-16-09)
• Lorna Suzuki on why she switched from POD to Lightning Source.
• BackInPrint.com. The Authors Guild, through a partnership with iUniverse, makes out-of-print works available through online bookstores and the nation’s largest book wholesaler. For most titles, no charge for AG members to participate. Not all books are eligible.
• New Model for University Presses (Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, 7-31-07)
• Online Book Publishing (Eileen Gittins, Chief Executive, Blurb, interviewed by Leslie Walker, Washington Post, 5-4-06), transcript
• Book Publishing Royalties Compared, for several self-publishing companies (Mill City Press, "empowering authors with 100% royalties and complete publishing control")
• Scribd site lets writers sell digital copies(Brad Stone, NY Times 5-17-09)
• Web Printing: Not All Things to All Potential Users (Printing By Design, 5-11-12). Some of the variables to consider when choosing between a web printing company and a sheet fed printing one--and that's a different KIND of "web").
• Tom Benjey's run with print-on-demand self-publishing (guest post on Writers & Editors blog, 2-17-12)

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Warning: Scams, bad deals, and other ways to lose money

Watch out for sharks!

On the fringes of publishing are enterprises that prey on people who yearn to see their book in print. Read “Writer Beware,” Victoria Strauss's blog posts warning about “the sharks out there in the literary waters,” including fee-charging agents, dishonest book doctors, fraudulent subsidy publishers, and fake contests. Strauss also maintains the Writer Beware website of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Though the organization's focus is on fiction, the information they provide is useful for nonfiction writers too.

Vanity/​Subsidy Publishing, Vanity/​Subsidy Presses, and Author Mills
• Writer Beware on vanity/​subsidy publishers (the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America maintain great resources on publishers and literary agents who take advantage of novices).
• A.C. Crispin on literary scams and Writer Beware's two-thumbs down list of publishers to avoid
• Some General Rules for Spotting a Scam Publisher (Preditors and Editors)
• Author Mill (Wikipedia) and Author Mills and a Request for Contact (Victoria Strauss, Writer Beware). Writes Strauss: "Unlike vanity publishers or self-publishing services, author mills don’t charge upfront fees–-which is why they can convincingly present themselves as 'real' publishers–-but they often do their best to turn their authors into customers, heavily encouraging them to buy their own books, or incentivizing self-purchases with special offers and discounts." The best examples of author mills: PublishAmerica and VDM Verlag Dr. Mueller (an "academic author mill"). What allows them to thrive: minimal editorial gatekeeping, low production costs (acquiring,editing, designing the book -- how you give them the book is how it's printed), low set-up charges for reproducing the book, high cover prices, minimal marketing, a predictable number of sales to author and author's family and friends. The author doesn't pay up front but at the back end, buying expensive copies of his own book.
• The largest Vanity Press of them all, Author Solutions, owns Author House, IUniverse, Xlibris and Trafford, writes Ron Pramschufer, of RJ Communications. Self-publishing and vanity publishing are NOT the same! Do your homework, and watch your wallet.
• Author Solutions Takes Signing Scam To Miami Book Fair (David Gaughran, Let's Get Visible, 8-13-13). Enticed by AuthorHouse offers like this one, authors pay $3.999 for a one-hour slot at an AuthorHouse/​Author Solutions booth at a big book fair ($7,999 for the premium package). "This is likely to be profitable for Author Solutions. In 2011, it had over 50 authors signing books, netting at least $199,950. The following year was even better with more than 60 authors participating, bringing in at least $239,940." The cost of a booth: $1,000.
• We take it as a sign that publishing is in distress when a firm that so badly exploits writers merges with Penguin/​Random House. (Not unlike Arianna Huffington making multi-millions on Huffington Post, whose blog posters were paid zero.)
• Self-Publishers Want Millions From Penguin (Adam Klasfeld, Courthouse News Service, 4-30-13). "Penguin Group's self-publishing branch, Author Solutions, cheats writers of royalties and charges them to correct typos in manuscripts that the company itself inserted, three unhappy authors claim in a federal class action."
• Book Publisher and Distributor Listings (a big list, with "not recommended" next to the publishers reported on negatively to Preditors & Editors)
• Vanity/​Subsidy Publishers (Writer Beware's excellent explanations, including "Vanity Publishers in Sheep's Clothing," on the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America site, but relevant for nonfiction too)
• Author Mill (Wikipedia) and Author Mills and a Request for Contact (Victoria Strauss, Writer Beware). Writes Strauss: "Unlike vanity publishers or self-publishing services, author mills don’t charge upfront fees–-which is why they can convincingly present themselves as 'real' publishers–-but they often do their best to turn their authors into customers, heavily encouraging them to buy their own books, or incentivizing self-purchases with special offers and discounts." The best examples of author mills: PublishAmerica and VDM Verlag Dr. Mueller (an "academic author mill"). What allows them to thrive: minimal editorial gatekeeping, low production costs (acquiring,editing, designing the book -- how you give them the book is how it's printed), low set-up charges for reproducing the book, high cover prices, minimal marketing, a predictable number of sales to author and author's family and friends. The author doesn't pay up front but at the back end, buying expensive copies of his own book.
• Pearson Buys Author Solutions (Victoria Strauss, Writer Beware, 7-19-12). "Last March, word went out that self-publishing giant Author Solutions Inc (owner of AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Xlibris, Trafford, WordClay, Palibrio, and several others, and contractor for the self-pub divisions of several major publishers) was looking for a buyer. Now it has one: Pearson, the parent company of Penguin Group. Will the stream of complaints from authors end, with Pearson as owner?
• 5 Ways Author Solutions, Inc. Limits Writers & Authors (Seuss's Pieces)
• Peter Masterson on Vanity Presses (and on unethical firms that pose as subsidy presses)
• Digital Self-Publishing Shakes Up Traditional Book Industry by Geoffrey A. Fowler and Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg (WSJ.com 6-3-10),or 'Vanity' Publishing Goes Digital.





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Ebooks and self-publishing (ins and outs, pros and cons, how to's and how-not-to's)
• The Basics of DIY E-book Publishing (Brian Klems, Writer's Digest, 2-21-13)The 7K Report (Hugh Howey, Author Earnings, 2-12-14). "Our data suggests that even stellar manuscripts are better off self-published." He's talking mostly about genre fiction and ebooks, but this is definitely worth a read. Publishers are not giving authors a big enough share of earnings and authors are wising up.
• What We Learned Publishing Digging Into WordPress (Chris Coyier, Digging Into WordPress, in which authors talk about printing, pricing, discounting, affiliate programs, piracy, etc.). Interesting presentation. Among lessons learned: "If you are confident you have a great book and have enough of an existing audience to give it some sales momentum, self publishing is the way to go." They explain their thought processes and decisions about whether to issue a print edition, how to price a print edition, whether and how to use discount codes, whether to pay for a professional editor, rewarding customers who find typos, handling customer service efficiently, ups and downs of selling through affiliate programs, how best to ship the book (whether to pay for tracking info), whether to create an index, how to prevent pirated versions, whether to have a website dedicated to the book, and so on. Check out their blog Digging Into Wordpress.
• How to self-publish an ebook (David Carnoy, C/​Net, 6-1-12). Basic tips for e-book publishing and best options for publishing quickly and easily.
• How Much Does Self-Publishing a Book Cost? (Lindsay Buroker, with
• BB eBooks - Developers Working with Developers (for those who can talk techie)
• The Amazon 7K Report (Hugh Howey, Author Earnings, 2-12-14, emphasizing sales on genre fiction) What publishers are doing wrong with ebooks that makes more and more genre fiction writers, in particular, turn to self-publishing. "Traditional publishers only have to pay 25% of net revenue to the author...; self-published authors on Amazon’s platform keep 70% of the total purchase price..." As authors get better at doing the math, publishers may have to offer more generous shares to hang on to authors.
• The Amazon 50K Report (Hugh Howey, Author Earnings, 2-19-14) This one is a bit more techie, and is based on one day's sales figures on Amazon.
• The B&N Report, Author Earnings) Looking at the the combined effect of royalty rate, sales volume, and sale price on Barnes & Noble sales to see where authors are doing better, sale for sale. Among other surprising findings: "Self-publishing authors as a group are worth more money to Barnes & Noble than a business relationship with any traditional publisher, even the largest of the Big-5."
• How to Self-Publish an Ebook (Chandra Steele, PC, 12-8-11).
• Bad Math Among eBook Enthusiasts (Tim O'Reilly, Tools of Change for Publishing, 12-5-07)
• Why one successful novelist now starts with eBook and then does POD edition (Joanne Penn, read the article AND watch the persuasive video, which is different and adds to the message)
• How the e-book landscape is becoming a walled garden (Mathew Ingram, Gigaom, 2-29-12). Apple’s decision to reject an e-book by Seth Godin because it contains hyperlinks to books in the Amazon store is just another example of how the oligopoly that controls the market for e-books is turning the landscape of reading into a walled garden. Should e-bookstores only carry their parent company’s titles? Welcome to the platform-dependent bookstore of the future.
• Is Amazon's Kindle Select Bad for Indie Authors? (This discussion on Goodreads raises lots of important points and provides links to many helpful articles. Among points made: Amazon is a few steps away from totally dominating the market (this is both pro and con--that's where the market is, but you are also helping them in their power grab). Publishing exclusively on Kindle Select means you rule out other parts of the market. "They have a $500,000 pot, and all participating authors will share. That means the best selling authors will take their share, and everyone else divvies up the rest. You can't earn more unless the best sellers earn less because the size of the pot remains unchanged." If you remove your book from other distribution channels, you lose your ranking there, etc. "Amazon Prime members (the people who are paying to borrow books in the KDP Select program) are limited to one "borrowed" book per month. What kind of lending library is that?" And so on.
• Seduced by the Dark Side--Amazon Select (Diana Layne, Five Scribes blog). Layne reports on the numbers after she posted one of her two novels on Amazon Select. " I don’t look at it as giving my books away for free, but rather investing in promotion to reach a worldwide audience....by keeping the price at $2.99 for a while, I’m hoping to lure more readers into taking a chance on an unknown author." (LOVE that background photo.)
• Tips for Self-Publishing in the iBook Store (Mark Koker, founder of Smashwords, 11-3-12)
• Three mistakes to avoid when self-publishing an e-book (Maria Murnane gets tips from Joel Friedlander)
• Five Ways to Recognize a Bad Editor (Popular Soda). With the recent ebook explosion, dozens of freelance editors have popped up, self-promoting, taking payment, and supposedly editing ebooks. How can you tell if you’re getting a good deal from a reputable freelancer or about to be screwed over by a misguided (potentially malicious) hack? Here are our five signs of bad editors.
• Can Ebook Data Reveal New Viral Catalysts to Spur Reader Word-of-Mouth? (Mark Coker, Smashwords blog, 4-25-12). See Coker's slideshare presentation at Chicago RT Booklovers convention 4-11-12: How Data-Driven Decisions *Might* Help Indie Ebook Authors Reach More Readers . Interesting figures, including: "60% of Top 20 Bestsellers Longer than 100K Words." But readers of romance novel prefer shorter novels, and readers of erotic novels prefer still shorter novels. See data on how price affects units sold and which price ranges are the "sweet spot."
• The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (Mark Coker, Smashwords, free download)
• Smashwords Book Marketing Guide (Mark Coker, Smashwords, free)
• A Newbie's Guide to Publishing. Is it possible to make a living as a genre fiction writer? Yes it is, says Joe Konrath and tells all, on this blog
• Ebooks and Self-Publishing - A Dialog Between Authors Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath Get a (PDF file here.
• eBook Basics and Beyond (Writers and Editors)
• Eisler’s decision is a key benchmark on the road to wherever it is we’re going (Mike Shatzkin, Shatzkin Files 3-21-11)
• So You Think You Can Self-Publish an eBook? by Candice Adams, EditorMuse. See also her Proofreading Ebooks. Good info; varied spelling of e-book.
Ebooks & Ebook Readers (Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer)
• EBook basics for authors: formatting (Writers and Editors)
• EBook basics for authors: DRM, or copy protection (Writers and Editors)
• New Service for Authors Seeking to Self-Publish E-Books (Julie Bosman, NY Times 10-2-11). The new distribution and marketing service of The Perseus Books Group will allow authors to self-publish their own e-books. "The new service will give authors an alternative to other self-publishing services and a favorable revenue split that is unusual in the industry: 70 percent to the author and 30 percent to the distributor. Traditional publishers normally provide authors a royalty of about 25 percent for e-books.
"The service arrives as authors are increasingly looking for ways to circumvent the traditional publishing model, take advantage of the infinite shelf space of the e-book world and release their own work."
• Would million ebook-selling author John Locke be better off with a publisher? I think he very well might… (Mike Shatzkin, Shatzkin Files 6-26-11)
• Estributors Redux (Joe Konrath 6-27-11,
More to come. Meanwhile, Mike Shatzkin's blog, The Shatzkin Files, is one place to keep an eye on, for this topic.

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• How winning a literary prize can change your life (Alan Rinzler interviews several award winners. Holly Payne got several awards for her self-published novel.)
• 25 Independent Presses That Prove This Is the Golden Age of Indie Publishing (Jason Diamond, Flavorwire, 10-1-13). Indie publishing is not the same thing as self-publishing, but they have some things in common--including niche publishing.
• Self-published memoir shortlisted for PEN/​Ackerley prize (Lindesay Irvine, The Guardian, 4-22-08). " Jane Haynes's Who Is It That Can Tell Me Who I Am? is an unflinching journal of her life as a psychotherapist, revealing as much about the author as her patients."
• Seismic Shocks and Publishing Industry Predictions (Jill Schultz's blog on Goodreads, 5-17-13). To her surprise, Schultz finds her book in a Barnes & Noble store, two weeks before its pub date. "POD books are now treated like all other print books. Bookstores can order POD titles for a full discount with the no-hassles return policy. These titles are listed alongside their legacy-published kin. " A surprising turn of events, great for indie authors.
• Self-Publishing Success Stories: The Anatomy of a Kindle Bestseller (Joanna Penn, The Creative Penn, 1-21-13)
• Some Things That Need to Be Said (Amanda Hocking, 3-3-11
• Wool Author Makes Print-Only Deal with Simon & Schuster (Michael Cader, Publishers Lunch, 12-12-12). Hugh Howey, author of the self-published NYT and USA Today ebook bestseller Wool, makes a print-only deal with Simon & Schuster. "Print-only deals remain rare, though not singular (and they may become more common as the 21st-century version of the old paperback license)." And he gives examples.
• A Self-Publishing Success Story (No Magic Required) (Allison Horton, Vook, 11-7-12, on science-fiction, fantasy, and thriller writer Andrew Mayne)
• How babysitting a mountain lion helped me make $100,000 in self-publishing (Andrew Mayne, Hidden Frequency, on the importance of finding a niche and making the most of it)
• Self-published novel by Terry Fallis wins Leacock award (CBC News, 4-30-08). Fallis, a Toronto-based public relations consultant with a background in politics, won $10,000 for his novel The Best Laid Plans.
• Stay Tuned: A Self-Published Book About TV Gets a Major Publishing Pick-Up (Dave Itzkoff, Arts Beat, NY Times, 1-2-13) Simon & Schuster's Touchstone imprint acquired Alan Sepinwall's self-published book, The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever. The secret to its success? "Mr. Sepinwall combined 'smart, fair-minded assessments meant to provoke discussion' and interviews with creative talent, producers and executives to provide 'a terrific book.'"
• The Mill River Recluse by Darcie Chan. See Erin Collazo Miller's story about the novel (About.com Bestsellers, 9-12-11). In May 2011 Darcie uploaded her quiet but satisfying novel to Kindle, where sales trickled in, then ticked up a bit. Wondering where people who read ebooks found them (there is no library for ebooks), she sought sites that recommended reduced-price eBooks. She reduced her price to 99 cents (to get it out there and develop a readership, making it as easy as possible to read her book). Her social media accounts didn't help get her known (they are useful when you already have a large following). She started word-of-mouth by getting the book featured on promotional sites for low-priced ebooks. Her book was featured on E-Reader News and within 2 days she had sold 600,000 copies, was on the New York Times bestseller list for quite a while, was featured in WSJ, etc. Her book had sold almost 700,000 copies as of October
• 8 Keys to Self-Publishing Success (Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer, 3-11-11, writing about Larry Jacobson's adventure writing and self-publishing The Boy Behind the Gate: How His Dream of Sailing Around the World Became a Six-Year Odyssey of Adventure, Fear, Discovery and Love
• How an Enterprising Author Sold a Million Self-Published Books (Mark McGuinness, Copyblogger). CJ Lyons as author-entrepreneur, and on the work of promoting one's book.
• Elf on the Shelf founders' sleigh ride to success (Colleen Leahey, CNN Money, 12-12-12). The authors "self-published five thousand $30 box sets seven years ago after countless publishers rejected their manuscript....They funded production with the sale of Pitts' Pennsylvania house and a newly opened credit card. That first year, every single Elf on the Shelf unit sold." Customers got a poem and an elf, about which parent/​columnist Petula Dvorak laments: The Elf on the Shelf: It must be stopped! (each night parents must move the elf to a new location-- a tradition that apparently took place before these commercial elves came on the market)
• Kickstarter.com: Giving a Swift Kick to “Men of the Cloth” (Beverly Gray's blog 12-4-12). "Kickstarter.com is a prominent crowdfunding website that establishes ground-rules, collects donations through Amazon.com, and takes a small cut for its trouble. Kickstarter rules require that no money actually change hands unless the entire fundraising goal is met. "
• Self-Published Author Signs a Three-Book Deal, Heralding New Adult Fiction (Leslie Kaufman, NY Times Media Decoder, 11-14-12). Losing It (Cora Carmack's novel about a 21-year-old virgin in her last year of college sold 5,000 copies within first four days, 32,000 by 12 days.) New adult fiction: for readers in college years and twenties.
• Self-published authors find e-success (Deirdre Donahue, USA Today, 12-30-11). Michael Prescott self-published his thriller Riptide and "earned more than $300,000 before taxes this year by selling more than 800,000 copies of his self-published e-books." He already had a backlist of titles edited and published the traditional way, and his publishers let those books go out of print. "E-books are changing the way authors and readers connect."
• Self Publishing: Second Class No More? (Terri Giuliano Long for IndieReader.com, 10-3-12, picked up by HuffPost, too). The stigma is gone, the range of options has empowered some authors to assert more control over their career (but paralyzed others with too much choice), and the money comes in more steadily--without those long delays in payment when authors go the traditional route.
• Jon Clinch self-publishes ‘The Thief of Auschwitz’ (Ron Charles, Style blog, Washington Post, 10-4-12). "Using Amazon’s CreateSpace, he posted “What Came After” under the pen name Sam Winston in December 2011....Sam Winston — the man with no publisher and no background — sold almost 10,000 copies." Now he's self-publishing The Thief of Auschwitz under his own name.
• The Self-Publishing Bestseller on ‘How I Did It’ (Dean Wesley Smith, Kirkus Reviews, 8-23-12)
• How My Self-Published Book 'Wool' Became A Hot Movie Property (Hugh Howey, HuffPost 5-23-12)
• Young Writers Dazzle Publisher (Mom and Dad) (Elissa Gootman, NY Times 3-31-12)
• "For Paul Alexander, a writer living in New York, Amazon offers a welcome alternative to the old way of doing things. Alexander wrote a 9,500-word story called 'Murdered' last year and had it published as a Kindle "Single," a short-form e-book. Priced at $1.99, "Murdered" enjoyed a four-week run as Amazon's top-selling Single. The true-crime story continues to generate royalties for Alexander, who figures he has taken in about $50,000 from the mini e-book — more than if he had written it for a major magazine. And with more leeway on word count, Alexander said, 'It gave me a freedom I didn't have before.'"~Amy Martinez, Amazon.com trying to wring deep discounts from publishers (Seattle Times, 4-2-12). "Amazon.com, the company that changed the way people buy books more than a decade ago, now appears poised to rewrite the rules of publishing.'
• How to become an e-book sensation. Seriously. (Beverly Akerman, Globe & Mail 4-27-12). "This is a story about the end of the gatekeeper. About the movement spreading throughout media....It’s about the reading public – the great unwashed, the hoi polloi – no longer letting tastemakers decide what’s worth reading. It’s about the masses seizing the means of publication."
• How I Became a Best-Selling Author (Alexandra Alter, Wall Street Journal, 12-9-11). Read this to learn about her strategy for pricing and for buying banner ads and paying for expedited reviews. "The hardest part for me is uncertainty," she says. "I deal better with rejection than uncertainty." See also WSJ's sidebar: A Reader's Guide to Self-Published Big Sellers 12-9-11
• How Amazon's KDP Select Saved My Book (David Kazzie, The Corner, about his novel The Jackpot
KDP Select Free Promotion — Discoverability Experiment: One Month Later and Feeling Fine! (M. Louisa Locke, 2-1-2012).
• Oh heck, I'll just publish it myself (main points from a Globe and Mail story available only to subscribers). It took Saskatchewan author Mary-Ann Kirkby 7 years to produce a book about a little-known, secretive prairie culture, and no publisher wanted it. "Using a $35,000 line of credit to print the first 5,000 copies of I Am Hutterite two years ago, she has since sold more than 50,000."
• Dan Poynter's list of 155 successful self-published books. Many books now well-known started as self-published books, including What Color Is Your Parachute by Richard Nelson Bolles, In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters, The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield, A Time to Kill by John Grisham, and The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr.and his student E.B. White.
• Secret of Self-Publishing: Success Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, Small Business, WSJ 10-31-11). Authors With a Following Make Money Going It Alone, but It's a Slog for Others
• True “do-it-yourself” publishing success stories will probably become rare (Mike Shatzkin, The Shatzkin Files, Idea Logical Company 11-6-11)
• Self-Publishing Hall of Fame (John Kremer's list and write-ups -- click on a letter of the alphabet, on left, to call up examples)
• A benchmark event happened today. Mike Shatzkin (Shatzkin Report, 5-17-10) reports on J.A. Konrath's ventures self-publishing his mystery novels--making publishing history by selling e-book rights directly to Amazon Kindle. "Signing up new books for what publishers would consider reasonable advances just got harder. So did maintaining a 25% royalty rate for ebooks." (Authors: expect at LEAST 25%.)
• Joe Konrath's response to David Gaughran's guest post 11-11-11 (on A Newbie's Guide to Publishing) lists seven reasons it makes sense for him to self-publish.
• More authors turn to Web and print-on-demand publishing (Elham Khatami, CNN Technology, writes about Still Alice by Lisa Genova (a novel about a 50-year-old Harvard professor's struggle with Alzheimer's disease) and Mommy Confidential: Adventures from the Wonderbelly of Motherhood by Melinda Roberts
• How Lisa Genova used social media to turn a self-published book into a NY Times bestseller (David Meerman Scott, WebInkNow, 1-30-09). Part of her advice: "You absolutely have to have a Web site. Get a profile up on Facebook and MySpace right away. When you get press, people will immediately want to go to your site. And link to the amazing reviews and news that comes out. Your site is your business card; it is how you show the world what you’re doing. A site facilitates everything you’re trying to do, and you don't need to spend thousands of dollars. You can do it yourself."
• How the self-published book "Rich Dad Poor Dad" got launched as a bestseller (26 million) although author Robert Kiyosaki is not a "best writer" -- and though some have questioned his advice (John Kremer's Self-Publishing Hall of Fame)
• Amanda Hocking, self-publishing's heroine:
——Amanda Hocking, Storyseller (Strawberry Saroyan, NY Times Magazine, 6-17-11). Really interesting analysis of why she succeeded (she's a good storyteller with a light touch--she provides escape) and how she ended up self-publishing eBooks, and with whom, and why.
——Amanda Hocking, the writer who made millions by self-publishing online (Ed Pilkington, The Guardian, 1-12-12)
——Authors catch fire with self-published e-books .Carol Memmott, USA Today, 2-11, reports that young Amanda Hocking's self-published (digitally) young-adult paranormal novels are selling hundreds of thousands of copies through online bookstores. "Hocking credits her success to aggressive self-promotion on her blog, Facebook and Twitter, word of mouth and writing in a popular genre — her books star trolls, vampires and zombies." But she's not the only such success in self-publishing.
——This story doesn't end there. In her own blog, Amanda Hocking explains why she's considering a four-book deal with St. Martin's Press, referring us also to a York Times story about the auction for that deal: Self-Publisher Signs Four-Book Deal With St. Martin’s (3-24-11). In becoming a bestselling self-publisher, writes Julie Bosman, in the Times, "she became a reluctant spokeswoman for the practice of self-publishing, which allows authors to sell their books directly to readers without the help of a traditional publisher." Explaining herself to her readers: “I want to be a writer,” she said. “I do not want to spend 40 hours a week handling e-mails, formatting covers, finding editors, etc. Right now, being me is a full-time corporation.” She wants career stability, better editing, and for her readers to be able to find her books in bookstores, which they can't right now.
• Mike Wells threw teen novel Wild Child in the bin and was shocked to find it being sold on Amazon (and getting rave reviews)
• Elizabeth Hand's review of Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature by Linda Lear(in the Washington Post). One of many such self-publishing stories about books that are now classics. (Lauren Paxman,Daily Mail, UK, 10-5-11)
• Handselling 14,000 copies of self-published books on NY subway. Trymaine Lee's story in NYTimes (7-9-10) about reformed criminal's self-help book, hand-sold to a targeted market)
• John Gray, author of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus on his path from writing a self-published book (which he used "as calling card") to writing a bestseller list (audio interview by Steve Harrison, promotion specialist)
• John Locke on his self-publishing e-book supersuccess. Guest-posting on J.A. Konrath's blog A Newbie's Guide to Publishing, Locke, who has six titles on Amazon's Top 100 list for Kindle sales, explains (in the Q&A) that his success is based on niche marketing, the formula for which is:
1. Identify your target audience
2. Find out where they live
3. Shove your book down their throats.
Read both his post and the Q&A, where he and others agree that it costs about $1000 to have someone cover design and format your e-book (plus the cost of any art work). When he lowered his cover price to 99 cents (as a loss leader to his more expensive books) he found his sales increasing exponentially -- to more than 300,000. And he never tried the manuscripts (light entertainment) on a traditional publisher.
• A new self-publishing success story emerges (Emma Mustich, Salon, 6-21-11) But what (if anything) can authors lose by opting for online self-publication?
• Making It: Children's Books by Peter Barnes (Elizabeth Chang, Washington Post Magazine, about a journalist who developed a niche writing and publishing children's books about vacation sites). (Specialize. Find a targetable market!)
• The Rise of Self-Publishing: Authors Unbound. Virginia Heffernan (NY Times Magazine, 4-26-10) writes that in the competition between so-called traditional publishing and "microniche publishing" (a microniche being "a shade larger than a self"), "self-published books are not just winning in terms of numbers but also making up ground in cachet....small and crafty can beat big and branded." And much of the stigma once attached to self-publishing is gone, though there is still much chaff with the wheat. Be sure to click on, and read, the comments.
• Self-Published Kindle Author Lands Deal in Obsolete Ink-and-Paper Format (Dan Nosowitz, Gizmodo, 7-11-09, and be sure to read the comments). About Boyd Morrison, author of The Ark
• Self-Publishing Sees Triple-Digit Growth Since 2007 (PW, 10-24-12). Growth is faster in e-books than in print, and three big companies dominate the field: "In 2011, CreateSpace dominated the print segment, supporting the creation of 58,412 titles (39% of self-published print books). Smashwords topped the e-book producers with 40,608 titles (nearly 47% of total self-published e-books). The combined divisions of Author Solutions (now part of Penguin Group) produced a total of47,094 titles and Lulu Enterprises checks in with 38,005 titles. The Bowker analysis shows that beyond these four players, no company has more than 10% of market share. Small presses, a category that is defined as publishers who have produced 10 or fewer books, accounted for 34,107 self-published titles in 2011 divided between 21,256 print books and 12,851 e-books."
• Publishing Market Shows Steady Title Growth in 2011 Fueled Largely by Self-Publishing Sector (Bowker, 6-5-11)
• Self-Publishers Flourish as Writers Pay the Tab (Motoko Rich, NY Times 1-27-09)
• Self-publishing: Doing it yourself & doing it better (Mark Medley, National Post, examples from Canada 6-12-10)
'Vanity' Press Goes Digital by Geoffrey A. Fowler and Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg (WSJ.com 6-3-10). "Much as blogs have bitten into the news business and YouTube has challenged television, digital self-publishing is creating a powerful new niche in books that's threatening the traditional industry. Once derided as "vanity" titles by the publishing establishment, self-published books suddenly are able to thrive by circumventing the establishment."
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Links to other resources and advice on self-publishing

There is also a wealth of information and advice available online. Check out some of the links below.

• How to Publish with KDP (Joleene Naylor, 8-16-13, Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors)
• How to Publish on Create Space Joleene Naylor, 9-2-11)
• How to Publish on Smashwords (Joleene Naylor, 10-7-11)

And Now, the Tricky Part: Naming Your Business (Emily Maltby, WSJ, 6-29-10) and Name Choices Spark Lawsuits (Emily Maltby, "Start-Ups Can Get Mired in Costly Trademark Scuffles With Bigger Firms," WSJ, 6-24-10)

AuthorHouse, complaints about. Do your homework before signing with Author House. On this site are some complaints. See also The Fine Print of Self-Publishing, Fourth Edition - Everything You Need to Know About the Costs, Contracts, and Process of Self-Publishing by Mark Levine (on Amazon you can "search inside this book" and see what you're getting).

BackInPrint.com. The Authors Guild, through a partnership with iUniverse, makes out-of-print works available through online bookstores and the nation’s largest book wholesaler. For most titles, no charge for AG members to participate. Not all books are eligible.

Barcodes for Books (Wendy J Woudstra, Publishing Central)

The Biggest Mistakes Self-Published Authors Make (Dana Lynn Smith, The Savvy Book Marketer, with links to five of the biggest mistakes that self-published authors make, along with tips on how to avoid them, Sept. 2012)

BEA: Why Small Publishing Will Save the World. Literary agent Janet Reid reports from Book Expo about the coming artistic revolution. She doesn't know what it will be--maybe an enhanced e-book--but it won't come from traditional book publishing, which is not set up to invent things. Writes Anthony, in Comments, "Essentially, what it boils down to is decentralization and just-in-time (JIT) content models based on nimble movers and shakers that can turn on a dime."

A benchmark event happened today. Mike Shatzkin (Shatzkin Report, 5-17-10) reports on J.A. Konrath's ventures self-publishing his mystery novels--in this case selling e-book rights directly to Amazon Kindle, making publishing history. "Signing up new books for what publishers would consider reasonable advances just got harder. So did maintaining a 25% royalty rate for ebooks." (Authors: expect at LEAST 25%.)

Beyond the Book: Special Media Shift Series (PBS)
• The Book Publishing Industry of the Future: It's All About Content (by Felicia Pride, 10-24-11)
• 5 Reasons E-Books Are Awesome, Even for the Very Reluctant (by Jenny Shank 10-25-11)
• How a Novelist Bypassed His Publisher and Raised $11,000 on Kickstarter (by Simon Owens 10-26-11)
• E-Book Publishers Must Provide Flexible Access to Avoid 'Media Hell' (by Dorian Benkoil, 10-26-11)
• 5Across: Beyond the Book: E-Books and Self-Publishing (video roundtable discussion moderated by Mark Glaser 10-27-11)
• Is Amazon Short-Changing Authors? (by Jon Peters 10-27-11)
• Mediatwits #25: The 800 Pound Gorilla of E-Books: Amazon (an audio podcast hosted by Mark Glaser and Rafat Ail 10-28-11)
• What Do You Think About Amazon's Power in Book Publishing? (poll conducted by Mark Glaser 10-28-11)
• Why Self-Publishers Should Consider Using Lightning Source (by Carla King 10-28-11)
• How Social Networks Might Change the Way We Read Books (by Audrey Watters 10-31-11)

BISAC and BIC, the American and British "categories" on the backs of books, also called Subject Headings, explained briefly. For more detailed answers to frequently asked questions, see the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) tutorial. Here is a little more about BISG (IBPA, 2007)

Blurb, a behind-the-scenes tour of Blurb's print-on-demand facilities (Vimeo video).

Blurb and Lulu (Eileen Gittins, Chief Executive, Blurb, interviewed by Leslie Walker, Washington Post, 5-4-06) Here's Blurb's website.


Blogs about self-publishing


• 52 Great Blogs for Self-Publishers (Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer, 11-23-10). A clickable list, by the author of A Self-Publisher's Companion
• Book Marketing (Penny Sansevieri)
• Well Fed Writer (blog of Peter Bowerman, author of The Well-Fed Self-Publisher: How to Turn One Book into a Full-Time Living and several other in the well-fed series
• Kindle Formatting (Joshua Tallent, eBook Architects)
• EPUB Straight to the Point (Elizabeth Castro)
• Author Blogging 101: How Long Should Your Blog Posts Be (Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer -- one of the most helpful blogs and sites in the biz)
• A Newbie's Guide to Publishing (JA Konrath)
• The Creative Penn (Joanna Penn)
• Book Marketing Maven (Dana Lynn Smith, The Savvy Book Marketer)
• There Are No Rules (Jane Friedman, Writer's Digest, insight on the future of publishing)
• The Book Deal (Alan Rinzler, An Inside View of Publishing)
• Kindle Nation Daily (for all things Kindle
• Digital Book World (DBW)
• Scot's Blog (some numbers may help things make sense)
• ABookInside.blogspot.com. How to Write and Publish a Book. Author Carol Denbow on how to write a nonfiction book or novel; find a publisher or publishing option; and market your book for free.
• John Kremer's Book Marketin and Book Promotion
• The Book Shepherd (Judith Briles)
• BiblioCrunch's tips for self-publishers
• Aaron Shephard's Publishing Blog (self-publishing with Amazon, IngramSpark, Lightning Source, CreateSpace, and Kindle)
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Book Publishing 3.0, a video of Richard Eoin Nash's provocative half-hour talk on the future of book publishing. Nash's start-up, Cursor, is "a portfolio of niche social publishing communities, one of which will be called Red Lemonade." Combine Kinko's (which democratized copying) with Netflix (which brings in "if you liked this, you may also like this") and you go from "The 20th century was about sorting supply" to "the 21st century will be about sorting demand" and Oprah's book club. "The end is connection." He also speaks on Surrounding the Audience: Cursor and the Social Publishing Community, or, Apres Le Blockbuster, Le Niche. If that's not enough, read What Does Publishing 2.0 Look Like? Richard Nash Knows by James Turner.


Children's books, self-publishing
• How much does it cost to publish an Illustrated Children’s book? (Ron Pramschufer, Publishing Basics, 4-10-07). This is a good overall view of the process.
• What are the differences between publishing a trade book and a children’s illustrated picture book? ( Ron Pramschufer, Publishing Basics)
• How to Get Your Children's Book Published (David Henry Sterry, Huff Post Books, 1-10-11). Read this if your secret goal is to make a book that a major publisher will pick up.
• Illustrated Children's Books (RJ, SelfPublishing)
• Children's Books (JC Publishers, Go for the Gold section, Why children's books, which require illustrations, are poor candidates for print-on-demand self-publishing).
• Frequently Asked Questions about Children's Books (RJ, Self-Publishing)
• Download a free eBook Publishing Basics
• Children's Book Printing (RJ, SelfPublishing, with warning about trim sizes from vanity presses)
• Making It (Elizabeth Chang, Washington Post, 7-12-09). Chang developed a niche market writing and publishing children's books for travel destination sites.
• Publishing Basics newsletter (subscribe and/​or scroll through archived articles)

CreateSpace and Lightning Source: Tom Benjey's run with print-on-demand publishing (guest blog, Writers and Editors 2-17-12)



Digital Self-Publishing Shakes Up Traditional Book Industry by Geoffrey A. Fowler and Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg (WSJ.com 6-3-10),or 'Vanity' Publishing Goes Digital.

eBook Economy (news about and resources for the digital publishing revolution). First quote on deck: "The ebook also allows authors to skip over other hurdles, including the very cold reality that most offline retailers won’t stock a self-published book on their shelves. Though online retailers like the Kindle and Nook stores can still give preferential treatment for major publishers, they’re able to provide a wide swath of inventory from the long tail." ~ Simon Owens, The economics of self-publishing an ebook, on The Next Web: Media

Ebooks and self-publishing (ins and outs, pros and cons)
• A Newbie's Guide to Publishing. Is it possible to make a living as a genre fiction writer? Yes it is, says Joe Konrath and tells all, on this blog
• Ebooks and Self-Publishing - A Dialog Between Authors Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath Get a (PDF file here.
• Eisler’s decision is a key benchmark on the road to wherever it is we’re going (Mike Shatzkin, Shatzkin Files 3-21-11)
• New Service for Authors Seeking to Self-Publish E-Books (Julie Bosman, NY Times 10-2-11). The new distribution and marketing service of The Perseus Books Group will allow authors to self-publish their own e-books. "The new service will give authors an alternative to other self-publishing services and a favorable revenue split that is unusual in the industry: 70 percent to the author and 30 percent to the distributor. Traditional publishers normally provide authors a royalty of about 25 percent for e-books.
"The service arrives as authors are increasingly looking for ways to circumvent the traditional publishing model, take advantage of the infinite shelf space of the e-book world and release their own work."
• Would million ebook-selling author John Locke be better off with a publisher? I think he very well might… (Mike Shatzkin, Shatzkin Files 6-26-11)
• Estributors Redux (Joe Konrath 6-27-11,
More to come. Meanwhile, Mike Shatzkin's blog, The Shatzkin Files, is one place to keep an eye on, for this topic.

E-books: Where they are going, a compilation of enlightening articles on the subject.


The Essentials New Publishers Need to Know (Fern Reiss, PublishingGame.com

52 Great Blogs for Self-Publishers (Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer, 11-23-10). A clickable list.

Find a Literary Agent or Self Publish: How to Decide (Fern Reiss, PublishingGame.com)

Finding a Printer (Dick Margulis,words/​​myth/​​ampers&virgule, 12-17-09)

The Fine Print of Self-Publishing: Everything You Need to Know About the Costs, Contracts, and Process of Self-Publishing by Mark Levine. Read this book before you hire and pay a publisher to publish your book. Lulu.com (for example) does not make the list of recommended firms to work with. Read why, and what you should base your choice on.

Formatting. Desktop publishing (DTP), explained nicely by Wikipedia, allows anyone with a computer and page layout software to print and publish readable documents. For a truly professional look, a book ought to be designed by a book designer working with software that can present camera-ready copy, software such as InDesign (Adobe), which replaced Pagemaker, or QuarkXPress. Here's a good explanation on Publishing Basics about why not to design a book using Word. Formatting for eBooks is a different kettle of fish. Here's a brief basics of eBook formatting for authors. Reader ratings of eBooks are often lower when the formatting on a title is badly done (typically because done on the cheap, offshore).

Getting Ready to Publish (Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer, with a LOT of good basic explanations for anyone just thinking of trying to self-publish -- or become a self-publisher)

Getting reviews for self-published books

Glossary of Printing and Graphic Arts Terms and other helpful explanations in the PressProof Resource Manual. See also Glossary of Printing Terms (Printing ForLess.com).


Hall of Shame. Irked or appalled by a badly edited or produced book? Submit details about it to the Hall of Shame, sponsored by the blog, An American Editor. Check out the first nominees. Send your nominations to hallofshame[at]anamericaneditor.com (after reviewing instructions for submissions).

Handselling 14,000 copies of self-published books on NY subway. Trymaine Lee's story in NYTimes (7-9-10) about reformed criminal's self-help book, hand-sold to a targeted market)

How Amazon Could Change Publishing (Sramana Mitra, Forbes, 5-16-08)

In Pursuit of Plan B: Dealing with the Reduced Availability of Lightning Source Books on Amazon.com (With a Strategy for Maintaining Profits) by Aaron Shepherd. One of many helpful resources on Aaron Shepher'ds Self-Publishing Page

• Is KDP Select Salvation or Damnation for Indie Authors? (carolyn McCray, Publishing Perspectives, 1-20-2012). Ultimately, whether KDP Select works for you depends on the strength of your sales across various platforms. The pros and cons of the program.

How to create a PDF (Yaquina Press)and other helpful pages from Yaquina Press (for Lulu.com), including Don's Guide to Choosing a Font, When Is Landscape Not Landscape (about page orientation, not gardening), and Lossless vs lossy compression of images.


How to Self-Publish a Book (Kelly Spors, WSJ, 8-29-06). Quoting from that story:
"It's easy to self-publish a book, but it's not so easy to sell it."

"I cannot tell you how many people I know that tell me they have 5,000 copies of their book sitting in their garage," says Jan Nathan, executive director of PMA, a Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based association for independent publishers. "What makes someone a good author unfortunately does not necessarily make them a good publicist."

The Hybrid Writer: Balancing Traditional and Self-publishing. Bob Mayer published over 40 books with traditional publishers before he decided to go DIY and convert his backlist into e-books. It has reinvigorated his career, but it’s not for everyone. (Bob Meyer, guest-blogging on Publishing Perspectives 7-25-11)

Information in a Nutshell Radio. Felice Gerwitz interviews experts about writing and publishing (including marketing).

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ISBNs (International Book Number System) for Books, Software, Mixed Media etc


• ISBN FAQ (frequently asked questions)
• International ISBN Agency
• Who gets the ISBN for your self-published book and why? (Pat McNees, Writers and Editors blog, 6-2-13)
• Getting an ISBN through a reseller that handles the process for you (ISBN San)
• A concise guide to book industry product identifiers (ISBN-13 Task Force of the Book Industry Study Group, Inc., IBPA), on EAN, ISBN, GTIN)
• U.S. ISBN Agency (Bowker) and helpful links (ISBN user manual, how to convert 10-digit ISBNs to 13-digit ISBNs, etc.)
• ISBN Converter (Library of Congress)
• Placing an ISBN barcode block on your book cover (Yaquin Press)
• Summary of study of ISBNs and e-books and SPAN's blog responseWhat does the study mean? (posted 1-6-11 -- read these before getting an ISBN for your e-books)
• Barcoding Guidelines for the United States (Book Industry Study Group, BISC)
• ISBN history
• Mythbusting the ISBN (LJN Dawson)
• Getting an ISBN and Companies that will submit certain ISBN applications to the US ISBN Agency (Bowker's list)
• E-book ISBN Mess Needs Sorting Out,” Say UK Publishers (Liz Bury, Publishing Perspectives, 3-11-10)

Bad Egg Series on ISBNs and the Self-Publisher
(Michelle A. Demers site)
• 1. The ISBN System
• 2. How to Purchase an ISBN
• 3. What's in a Number (what the numbers in an ISBN mean)
• 4. The Hidden Cost of Free ISBNs
• 5. The Advantages (and a Few Disadvantages) of Owning Your ISBN 7-20-11
• 6. ISTC and ONIX for Books 7-24-11
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Is Print the New Vanity Press? (Mary Ellen Bates, EContent blog, Dec 2010). Seth Godin, a best-selling author of Permission Marketing : Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers, is leaving his traditional publisher and plans to distribute his content in several media,including audio books, apps, podcasts, and print on demand. In this young new market, "whether a book is published and distributed by a reputable print publisher or self-published in ebook form is not as important as whether or not the content is immediately available, is reasonably inexpensive, and meets a need," reports Bates.

John Locke on his self-publishing e-book supersuccess. Guest-posting on J.A. Konrath's blog A Newbie's Guide to Publishing, Locke, who has six titles on Amazon's Top 100 list for Kindle sales, explains (in the Q&A) that his success is based on niche marketing, the formula for which is:
1. Identify your target audience
2. Find out where they live
3. Shove your book down their throats.
Read both his post and the Q&A, where he and others agree that it costs about $1000 to have someone cover design and format your e-book (plus the cost of any art work). When he lowered his cover price to 99 cents (as a loss leader to his more expensive books) he found his sales increasing exponentially -- to more than 300,000. And he never tried the manuscripts (light entertainment) on a traditional publisher.

The last laugh: If self-published authors owned the midlist (Alan Rinzler, The Book Deal). Don't skip the comments.

Kickstarter: A new way to Fund & Follow Creativity.For the 9th Annual Year in Ideas, the NY Times Magazine includes Subscription Artists, describing Kickstarter as a form of market research for artists: "At Kickstarter, creative types post a description of a project they want to do, how much money they need for it and a deadline. If enough people pledge money that the artists reach (or surpass) their financial goals, then everyone is billed, paying in advance as you would for a magazine subscription. For goals that aren't reached, nobody is charged." (1-21-11) Writing about Kickstarter months earlier, in A Few Dollars at a Time, Patrons Support Artists on the Web, NYTimes, 8-24-09), Jenna Wortham described the process as "micropatronage," which allows artists and creative entrepreneurs to gauge in advance whether an idea has appeal, and allows microinvestors to feel included in a creative venture. (Thanks to Rhea Wessel for raising this topic for discussion on WriterL.)

Losing the Secondary Business Can Kill You (Mike Shatzkin, 5-23-10, on the changing value chain: e.g., how in the past someone with money got "self-published" through a traditional publisher; changing role of independent bookstore)


MediaShift Your Guide to the Digital Revolution, with PBS host Marc Glazer, has posted a series of Carla King's articles about self-publishing, under the label BookShift. Here are the stories and when they appeared:
• Self-Publishing, Author Services Open Floodgates for Writers (3-1-10).
"Lisa Alpine, a member of my Wild Writing Women group, is a book-birthing coach and author of the upcoming anthology, "Exotic Life: Laughing Rivers, Dancing Drums and Tangled Hearts." She advises using Lulu or CreateSpace only for printing cheap proofs. "Proofs can cost up to $75 from print companies, but I upload my latest PDF to Lulu, click the print button, and get a copy of my latest experiment in the mail for under $10," she said. "It's an affordable way to learn, to play with the design, fonts, even the order of my stories."
• The Pitfalls of Using Self-Publishing Book Packagers (3-25-10)
• How to Pair Smashwords and Scribd for Ideal E-Book Strategy (Carla King, BookShift (5-3-10)
• Want Your Self-Published Book in Stores? Weigh the Options (6-10-10)
• 2010: The Year Self-Publishing Lost Its Stigma (12-29-10)
• The Advantages of Middleman Services for Self-Published e-Books (3-18-11)
• The Easiest, Cheapest, Fastest Way to Self-Publish Your Book (4-7-11, Carla King on using Smashwords to create your own eBook and CreateSpace to self-publish your own print book).
• Carla also speaks on the first of three informative panels at the Commonwealth Club of California in 2010. You can listen to the podcast online: Self-Publishing: Tutorials from the Trenches

Options for Self-Publishing Proliferate, Easing the Bar to Entry (Alina Tugend, Shortcuts, NY Times 7-29-11). Understand the options, have realistic expectations, and understand that, as Mark Levine says, “A lot of people have been told that they have talent, but they really don’t. Everyone has a story to tell, but everyone doesn’t have a story to publish.”

PhotoBook Press (for heirloom-quality photobooks, made with archival paper and Smyth-sewn-signature bindings, which, unlike those from POD presses, which are glued, won't fall apart)

Printers and Printing
• Price Lists for Short-Run Printing. Gorham Printing's price lists provide side-by-side prices that make it easy to compare the relative cost-per-copy of digital (print-on-demand) printing and offset printing--for books of various sizes and for various sizes of printings. Note that offset printing is done in signatures of 16 pages (this has to do with how large sheets of paper are folded and cut). You'll see from the page lengths in the digital and offset columns that digitally printed books aren't organized by those 16-page units, but if there's a chance your book will one day go to larger printings, offset will be more cost-effective, so you may want to design with page totals divisible by 16 in mind. Offset printing doesn't generally make sense for printings of fewer than 500 copies. Check out Gorham's Frequently Asked Questions, too.
• Book printers (Aeonix list, helpful info about printers, including digital printing)
• Print-on-Demand (POD) Printers and Publishers (John Kremer's pretty full list on Book Marketing -- with some annotations)
• Top 101 Book Printers (John Kremer's list of short-run and long-run printers)
• The Fine Print of Self-Publishing, Fourth Edition - Everything You Need to Know About the Costs, Contracts, and Process of Self-Publishing by Mark Levine (on Amazon you can "search inside this book" and see what you're getting).
• Printing Your Book (SPAN answers to frequently asked questions)
• Printing on Demand (Pete Masterson on the economics of POD printing)
• Print pricing 101 (and related issues) by Dick Margulis
• Printing your own book through an offset printer (Foner Books). A useful explanation, though I'd hate to think what a book cover for which one paid $200 would look like. Understand the principle; the prices might be off.
• Why should I buy my offset printing from SelfPublishing.com rather than directly from an offset printer? (Ron Pramschufer, Publishing Basics 7-31-11)
And consider this: Rather than do it all yourself, consider a small independent publisher, and let them worry about the printing:
• Independent Publishers and University Presses (NewPages.com)

Print on demand: Self-publishing getting started primer (Paul Lima, The Six-Figure Freelancer 4-20-09).

The Publishing Game (Fern Reiss). Reiss's books and articles on self-publishing (she's done it so successfully herself that in her case ASJA reversed its policy on not granting membership based on self-published books. Reiss makes the important distinction between POD publishers and POD printers--only with a couple of the POD printers, including Lightning Source and CreateSpace (which have arrangements with Ingram, a distributor), can you get books into bookstores and libraries--most of which won't otherwise accept most self-published books.

Reference Desk for Publishers, on site of The Profitable Publisher (Marion Gropen's blog for independent publishing community)

The Rise of Self-Publishing: Authors Unbound. Virginia Heffernan (NY Times Magazine, 4-26-10) writes that in the competition between so-called traditional publishing and "microniche publishing" (a microniche being "a shade larger than a self"), "self-published books are not just winning in terms of numbers but also making up ground in cachet....small and crafty can beat big and branded." And much of the stigma once attached to self-publishing is gone, though there is still much chaff with the wheat. Be sure to click on, and read, the comments.


Secrets of successful book covers and titles (filed under Marketing, publicity, and promotion)

Self-Publishing Basics: Four Ways to Publish Your Book (Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer, 10-13-09)

Secrets of successful book covers and titles (filed under Marketing, publicity, and promotion)

Self-Published Kindle Author Lands Deal in Obsolete Ink-and-Paper Format (Dan Nosowitz, Gizmodo, and be sure to read the comments)

Self-Publishers Flourish as Writers Pay the Tab (Motoko Rich, NY Times Book Review, 1-27-09)

Self-Publishers Get Help. Penguin Starts Service as Big Houses See Digital's Potential (Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, WSJ 11-16-11)

Self-Publishing Basics: Four Ways to Publish Your Book (Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer, 10-13-09)

Self-Publishing: Tutorials from the Trenches (free podcasts of three excellent panels on self-publishing presented at the Commonwealth Club of California in 2010). The three panels are
• 1. Options, Directions and Resources. What does it take to publish a book, and how do you choose which route to follow? Discover your options, from traditional to cooperative to true self-publishing, with industry experts who’ve done it themselves. (Lisa Alpine, Peter Beren, Carla King, and Paula Hendricks) The audio is a little weak on this one.
• 2. The Nuts and Bolts of Making Books. What does it take to publish a book, and how do you choose which route to follow? Discover your options, from traditional to cooperative to true self-publishing, with industry experts who’ve done it themselves. (Joel Friedlander, Lee Foster, V. Vale, Paula Hendricks)
• 3. Book Sales and Marketing. Bookstores are closing; newspaper book reviews are almost gone; and online options can be overwhelming. What’s an author or publisher to do? (Scott James, Elizabeth Block, Teresa LeYung Ryan, and Paula Hendricks)
(Click on the link to listen online; right click and save the mp3 file to your computer; or go to Joel Friedlander's site both to listen and to see the names and affiliations of those speaking (one of them being Joel, on whose site I discovered this series).

Self-Publishing: Reports from the Front Lines, special issue of TalkingWriting, a fresh new online magazine. Articles include:
• Bound for Indie Glory by Martha Nichols
• Dominique Browning: “I Love Skipping the Editor!” (Judith A. Ross interviews the former head of House & Gardening about starting her own blog
• Does Self-Published Mean Self-Conscious? (Nikki Stern)
• “Half-Publishing” to Respect My Father’s Privacy by Ashley Taylor. It’s Not Simple When Family Stories Turn into Books
• The Penny Novel in an E-World by Fran Cronin (a profile of Con Chapman, E-Book Indie Author)

Senior authors embrace self-publishing (Diane C. Lade, Sun Sentinel, 12-17-12)

Sites Let Amateurs Be Published Authors Without the Book Deal (Leslie Walker, Technology, Washington Post, 5-4-06)

SharedBook gives individual users and website owners a way to collect and publish their photos, stories and data from multiple sources into a book.

So You Think You Can Self-Publish an eBook? by Candice Adams, EditorMuse. See also her Proofreading Ebooks. Good info; varied spelling of e-book.

So you're writing a book, eh? (Larry James's useful page of tips on where to get things done, such as ordering ISBNs or Library of Congress catalog numbers, finding a bar code)

SPAN (Yahoo) forum on self-publishing (a useful discussion group, with those who've done it advising those who haven't)

Stigma of self-publishing
Self-Publishing Stigma Is Perishing ( Abbie Jarman, Utne Reader, 8-2-02)

Subsidy publishing vs. self-publishing: What's the difference (Moira Allen)

Two surveys highlight the “satisfaction divide” between indie and
trade-published authors
. Australian author Karin Cox makes clear how dissatisfied most authors are with their publishers' marketing efforts, which is one reason they are more willing to self-publish (5-26-12)
• Catherine, Caffeinated (Catherine Ryan Howard's blog post breaks down some of the results from Taleist survey of self-published authors, many of them romance novelists, apparently, 5-24-12)
• Not a Gold Rush – The report of the Taleist Self-Publishing Survey 2012. This survey asked 61 questions of more than 1,000 self-publishers. Their excellent infographics show that
• 10% of authors earn 75% of royalties.
• 70% of authors format their own book
• 41% paid for a cover designer
• 29% paid for copy editing
• 42% have never changed the price of their book
• 56% would rather sell their books cheaply or give them away to get more readers
• 42% would rather charge a higher price and make more money from fewer
readers

Suppliers recommended by Dan Poynter (Para Publishing)

To Self-Publish or Not to Self-Publish (an interesting conversation on Christina Baker Kline's blog, A Writing Year)

There Are No Rules:An Exciting Future for Authors (That Can Succeed Without Publishers or Agents) (Jane Friedman's blog, Writer's Digest, 6-24-10). Publishers are cutting back on how much they publish, brick and mortar bookstores are declining in importance, and media companies that succeed will do so by finding how to reach a niche audience, says Friedman. If it's time to focus on the reader (or community), maybe Kickstarter is a practical model, using patronage to "fund & follow creativity." Let your fan base support your serious work.

Thoughts on the Editing Process (Cheryl Anne Gardner, Self-Publishing Review, explains the various levels of editing to self-published authors)

Useful online resources for academic publishers and self-publishers (Mary Ellen Lepionka, Atlantic Path Publishing)

Vanity Publishing, Vanity Presses, and Author Mills
The largest Vanity Press of them all, Author Solutions, owns Author House, IUniverse, Xlibris and Trafford, writes Ron Pramschufer, of RJ Communications. Self-publishing and vanity publishing are NOT the same! Do your homework, and watch your wallet.
• Self-Publishers Want Millions From Penguin (Adam Klasfeld, Courthouse News Service, 4-30-13). "Penguin Group's self-publishing branch, Author Solutions, cheats writers of royalties and charges them to correct typos in manuscripts that the company itself inserted, three unhappy authors claim in a federal class action."
• 'Vanity' Press Goes Digital by Geoffrey A. Fowler and Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg (WSJ.com 6-3-10). "Much as blogs have bitten into the news business and YouTube has challenged television, digital self-publishing is creating a powerful new niche in books that's threatening the traditional industry. Once derided as "vanity" titles by the publishing establishment, self-published books suddenly are able to thrive by circumventing the establishment."
• Vanity/​Subsidy Publishers (Writer Beware's excellent explanations, including "Vanity Publishers in Sheep's Clothing," on the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America site, but relevant for nonfiction too)
• Author Mill (Wikipedia) and Author Mills and a Request for Contact (Victoria Strauss, Writer Beware). Writes Strauss: "Unlike vanity publishers or self-publishing services, author mills don’t charge upfront fees–-which is why they can convincingly present themselves as 'real' publishers–-but they often do their best to turn their authors into customers, heavily encouraging them to buy their own books, or incentivizing self-purchases with special offers and discounts." The best examples of author mills: PublishAmerica and VDM Verlag Dr. Mueller (an "academic author mill"). What allows them to thrive: minimal editorial gatekeeping, low production costs (acquiring,editing, designing the book -- how you give them the book is how it's printed), low set-up charges for reproducing the book, high cover prices, minimal marketing, a predictable number of sales to author and author's family and friends. The author doesn't pay up front but at the back end, buying expensive copies of his own book.
• Pearson Buys Author Solutions (Victoria Strauss, Writer Beware, 7-19-12). "Last March, word went out that self-publishing giant Author Solutions Inc (owner of AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Xlibris, Trafford, WordClay, Palibrio, and several others, and contractor for the self-pub divisions of several major publishers) was looking for a buyer. Now it has one: Pearson, the parent company of Penguin Group. Will the stream of complaints from authors end, with Pearson as owner?
• 5 Ways Author Solutions, Inc. Limits Writers & Authors (Seuss's Pieces)
• Peter Masterson on Vanity Presses (and on unethical firms that pose as subsidy presses)
• Digital Self-Publishing Shakes Up Traditional Book Industry by Geoffrey A. Fowler and Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg (WSJ.com 6-3-10),or 'Vanity' Publishing Goes Digital.
• Tom Benjey's run with print-on-demand self-publishing (guest post on Writers & Editors blog, 2-17-12)




Web-Savvy Authors Reap Fame, Fortune Sramana Mitra, Forbes (7-18-08) on Elle Newmark's self-published historical novel The Book of Unholy Mischief, launched in iUniverse and picked up by Atria and Washington Square Press.

What advice do you give a writer? Mike Shatzkin writes: "...when we discussed with a leading agent a panel we’re planning for our January Digital Book World conference called 'Stalking the Wild Blogger: Scouting Blogs and Self-Published Content for Fresh Voices,'which is about agents and editors finding authors through blogs and self-published books, he said that is now something that 'every agent does.' He explained: 'it is now the standard way to find new clients.' That means that blogs and self-published books using ebook and print-on-demand models are now part of the overall commercial structure of publishing. They are not something separate and inferior, as 'vanity publishing' was in the past." ~ The Shatzkin File, 8-25-09

***What We Learned Publishing Digging Into WordPress (Chris Coyier, Digging Into WordPress, in which authors talk about printing, pricing, discounting, affiliate programs, piracy, etc.). Interesting presentation. Among lessons learned: "If you are confident you have a great book and have enough of an existing audience to give it some sales momentum, self publishing is the way to go." They explain their thought processes and decisions about whether to issue a print edition, how to price a print edition, whether and how to use discount codes, whether to pay for a professional editor, rewarding customers who find typos, handling customer service efficiently, ups and downs of selling through affiliate programs, how best to ship the book (whether to pay for tracking info), whether to create an index, how to prevent pirated versions, whether to have a website dedicated to the book, and so on. Check out their blog Digging Into Wordpress.

Why I Joined the POD People (Richard Grayson)

When anyone can be a published author. How do you find something good to read in a brave new self-published world? Laura Miller (Salon, 6-22-10)

When SHOULD you use a subsidy/​POD/​vanity publisher? (Marion Gropen, The Profitable Publisher). In responses, Dick Margulis emphasizes: "PRINTING on demand is a technology, digital printing, that can be used by all kinds of publishers, from Random House down to the individual self-publishing her first book....you can buy print-on-demand service directly from a printer with no middleman. So-called PUBLISHING on demand is a phrase vanity presses latched onto to co-opt the “POD” initialism and suck people into the vanity press business model. The problem is that a lot of people who understand the difference nonetheless play into the vanity presses’ hands by tossing around “POD” without clarifying the distinction between print-on-demand (the technology) and publish-on-demand (the business model)."

Will Self-Pubbing Hurt My Chances? (agent Rachelle Gardner, 6-28-11). Times have changed!

Writing the Book on Self-Help: A Publisher's Cautionary Tale by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg (WSJ, 11-13-07)

Yahoo discussion group on Self-Publishing (free, and you can ask questions)

You're an Author? Me Too! (Rachel Donadio on self-publishing (New York Times Book Review 4-27-08)




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Getting reviews and promotion for self-published books

• Getting reviews for self-published books (Midwest Review).
• How to Get Your Self-Published Novel Reviewed (C. Patrick Schulze, This Business of Writing 4-16-10)
• John Kremer's list for Book Marketing and Book Promotion (includes competitions that welcome self-published books)
• Book Awards for Self-Published Authors (Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer)
• Smashwords is Now Publishing Author Interviews (Dianna Dilworth, MediaBistro.com, 8-22-13). For Smashwords authors.
• How Indie Authors Sell Books (Jason Matthews, How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks_
• How to Get Reviews for Self-Published Books (Joel Friedlander, Writer's Digest 3-30-11)
• The Best Reviews Money Can Buy (or, Book Reviewers for Hire Meet a Demand for Online Raves, by David Streitfeld, NY Times, 8-25-12--note 300+ comments)
• Where to Get Self-Published Book Reviews (SPR)
• How to get your self-pubbed or e-book reviewed by bloggers (Stephanie Lawton 8-18-11)
• Authors Unbound (providing indie authors who epublish with events at which they share their work and connect with fans)
• Download the Universe (a science e-book review site, with reviews by science writers)
• Indie Reader (a site that features and reviews books of indie authors)
• Blue Ink Review is an example of a pay-for-your-review site. It pays reviewers $75 for a review and charges the self-published author $395 for a review (as of November 2012), or $495 for "fast track" (review to be completed in 4-5 weeks).
• Kirkus Indie Kirkus Reviews has an Author Services set-up similar to Blue Ink Review, and reviews on Kirkus may be negative (that is, honest). See How to get your (self-published) book reviewed
• Darcie Chan started word-of-mouth on her quiet novel, The Mill River Recluse, by getting the book featured on promotional sites for low-priced ebooks. After lowering the price to 99 cents and being featured (for free) on Ereader News , her sales jumped in two days to 600,000. Sites that promote low-priced eBooks (typically for a fee) include
~ Ereader News (tips, tricks, and bargain books for your Kindle)
~Pixel of Ink (free & bargain Kindle books),
~Kindle Nation Daily (free books + Kindle tips + news, commentary)
~ The Frugal eReader (frugal finds under nine for the Kindle)
~Bargain eBook Hunter (briefly traps free Kindle books)
For more on "fake book reviews":
• The furor over 'sock puppet' Amazon book reviews (Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times, 9-4-12). For more on this topic see Fake ("sock puppet"), not quire kosher, and poison reviews
• The "sock puppet" scandal: How to stop fake book reviews online (Laura Hazard Owen, paidContent, 9-6-12)
• And Why Beholdest Thou The Mote In Thy Brother's Eye...? (Barry Eisler, 9-4-12)

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The truth about print-on-demand (POD) publishing


Before you jump into POD, do your homework. The following may help get you started thinking through the possibilities and economics of the POD option. As Marion Gropen points out in Self-Publishing vs. Using a "Self-Publishing Company" (The Profitable Publisher), "you do not need a “POD publisher” to use POD printing. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of POD printers who will happily print your correctly formatted manuscript as a book for a far lower cost."

Miss Snark, the literary agent, warns: "POD/​scam mills are companies set up to persuade you, the author, that printing your book with their company is the equivalent to having it acquired by a publisher. They charge you money. Unlike a respectable vanity press, they don't copy edit or produce high quality products. They are out to make money on volume. They prey on author's insecurities and lack of knowledge. POD/​scam mills are the scum of the earth. Whether a company is the scum of the earth depends on how they run their business, not how they print their books."

When SHOULD you use a subsidy/​POD/​vanity publisher? (Marion Gropen, The Profitable Publisher). In responses, Dick Margulis emphasizes: "PRINTING on demand is a technology, digital printing, that can be used by all kinds of publishers, from Random House down to the individual self-publishing her first book....you can buy print-on-demand service directly from a printer with no middleman. So-called PUBLISHING on demand is a phrase vanity presses latched onto to co-opt the “POD” initialism and suck people into the vanity press business model. The problem is that a lot of people who understand the difference nonetheless play into the vanity presses’ hands by tossing around “POD” without clarifying the distinction between print-on-demand (the technology) and publish-on-demand (the business model)."

Fern Reiss (whose five books have been successfully self-published) points out that using a POD subsidy publisher precludes many sales or makes them difficult: "by the time you pay the POD/​subsidy company, and factor in the wholesale discount that the middlemen require, the price points are too narrow for most bookstores or libraries." (Bookstores generally want a 40% discount and the right to return books.) POD subsidy editing is substandard and although major review media such as Publishers Weekly and Library Journal occasionally review self-published books, they never review POD subsidy books. Digital printing may be a good idea in some circumstances, but you don't need to "sign with" a POD subsidy publishing to do digital printing.

What you want to do is arm yourself with enough knowledge that you can take advantage of POD printing if it makes sense for you, but not if it doesn't. One way to use it, for example, to create an early version of a book to test on readers, get reactions, and then improve the book (it's like asking people to read a manuscript, but making it more readable and portable for them). Maybe do this more than once. Then use POD to create a test run of the book. Then, if the book seems to have potential, do a regular print run with an offset press. Be sure to protect your rights and weigh the economics of each approach.

Harlequin's foray into vanity publishing of romance novels. Paid subscribers to Publishers Lunch Deluxe got a useful summary of Harlequin's "Harlequin Horizons" self-publishing enterprise, an effort to make money from the romance writers it doesn't publish by selling them vanity publishing. The sharp rebukes from writers included an announcement from Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA), which, concerned that the new 'self-publishing' venture's "sole purpose appears to be the enrichment of the corporate coffers at the expense of aspiring writers," declared that "NO titles from ANY Harlequin imprint will be counted as qualifying for membership in SFWA." Bestselling novelist Nora Roberts, in one of 799 responses to a story on the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books blog, wrote: "Vanity press is called vanity for a reason. You’re paying for your ego. That’s fine, dealer’s choice. But it’s a different matter when a big brand publisher uses its name and its resources to sell this as dream fulfillment, advertises it as such while trying to claim it’s not really their brand being used to make money on mss they’ve rejected as not worthy of that brand in the first place." Writes SFWA prez Russell Davis: "Already the world’s largest romance publisher, Harlequin should know better than anyone else in the industry the importance of treating authors professionally and with the respect due the craft; Harlequin should have the internal fortitude to resist the lure of easy money taken from aspiring authors who want only to see their work professionally published and may be tempted to believe that this is a legitimate avenue towards those goals."


• A head to head comparison of major Print On Demand publishers (Clea Saal, with specifics on royalties and discounts)
• Three self-publishers sue Author Solutions (Adam Clasfeld, Courthouse News Service, 4-13-13) "Despite its impressive profits from book sales, Author Solutions fails at the most basic task of a publisher: paying its authors their earned royalties and providing its authors with accurate sales statements. Author Solutions also fails to take diligent care of its authors' works, making numerous and egregious publisher errors - errors made by the publisher, not the author. These errors include errors on book covers, in addition to various typographical and formatting errors. In fact, Author Solutions profits from its own mistakes. Aggressive sales techniques ensure that these errors are corrected only for a fee of several hundred dollars...."
• The Fine Print of Self-Publishing: The Contracts & Services of 48 Major Self-Publishing Companies--Analyzed, Ranked & Exposed by Mark Levine
• The Fine Print of Self-Publishing (list of self-publishers analyzed in Mark Levine's book -- includes a list of the best publishers and the worst, and some that are just so-so)
• P.O.D. SECRETS REVEALED: The Most Expensive Packages are JAW DROPPING! Shame on Them! (WritersWeekly.com, 12-5-12) Angela Hoy provides dollar amounts for most expensive packages for black-and-white-interior books at the most popular P.O.D. publishers. Read her whole POD Secrets Revealed series
Whispers and Warnings (WritersWeekly.com and Booklocker forums)

• Dehanna Bailee's database of print-on-demand publishers (but, as she says, do your homework before you sign up with one of them)
• A Cautionary Tale about POD by Joanne Gail Johnson (Joanne Gail Johnson's experience, with informative reader responses, Publishing Perspectives)
• AuthorHouse reviewed (by Mick Rooney, whose POD, Self Publishing and Independent Publishing site offers frank reviews of various POD enterprises)
• Writer Beware's "Two Thumbs Down" Publishers List (updated 12-31-11 to reflect closures and name changes)
• Can someone explain to me how POD and subsidy publishing works? (Pete Masterson, Publishing Basics)
• Five Things Your POD Subsidy Publisher Won't Tell You (Fern Reiss, The Publishing Game; read her on Print on Demand, too)
The Joys and Hazards of Self-Publishing on the Web (Alan Finder, NY Times Personal Tech, 8-15-12).'
• Dollars and Deadlines' 7 Biggest Mistakes POD Authors Make--and How to Avoid Them (Jelly James-Enger, Kindle edition)
• Beall’s List: Potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers (maintained by academic librarian Jeffrey Beall. On Facebook: Beall's List of Predatory Open-Access Publishers
• Clea Saal's helpful articles on POD:
• Is POD for me?
• What Is POD?
• A chart showing what various POD firms offer (or don't offer) (be aware that "royalties" is a slippery term in this context
• Beware of...
• Beware: Treacherous clauses ahead
• Fee or Free?
• Royalties, the R-word
• Do's and Don't's 101
• Sales Rankings
• Library of Congress 101 (CIP, PCN, MARC, LCCN)
• Balancing A Promotional Budget
That's a sample of a list of useful articles to help you think through whether POD is for you, and if so, what you need to think about. Clea Saal has done much of your homework for you.

• Goodbye Byline: Hello Big Bucks--The Writer's Guide to Making Money Ghostwriting and Coauthoring Books by Kelly James-Enger. Kelly self-published this book, print-on-demand, and reports on the experience in More Straight Talk (and Real Numbers) about POD Sales (on her Dollars and Deadlines blog).
• Five Good Reasons to Go POD (Kelly James-Enger, Dollars and Deadlines, 11-15-10). Here's an interview with Kelly: There are no rules (Writer's Digest 4-18-12)

• POD Is Not Vanity Is Not Self-Publish (Miss Snark, the literary agent; be sure to read the Comments section)
• Making Books Self-publishing companies are in the business of selling dreams. But what if the dream becomes a nightmare? (Paula Span, Washington Post, 1-23-05)
• Print on Demand Publishing, Bruce Hartford and SF chapter of National Writers Union on how to do POD, with comparisons of six vendors (March 2007). Oddly laid out, but follow the bread crumbs and you'll find some info.
• Print On Demand: A Definition and a Comparison (Michael LaRocca, WebProNews)
• A print on demand (POD) case study (Foner Books, the example being Ingram's Lightning Source). Cost for Amazon CreateSpace vs Lightning Source and POD Book Price
• Vanity Publishers in Sheep’s Clothing, part of a section on Vanity/​Subsidy Publishers (Writer Beware, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America)
• Writer Beware on Print-on-Demand Publishing Services, discussing Pros and Cons, sales statistics, important issues to consider, electronic self-publishing, and other things to thoroughly understand before you take the plunge. See also Writer Beware's take on (and explanations of) vanity and subsidy publishers.
• The Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing with Print on Demand (Wendi Moore-Buysse, The13thStory.com
• Self-Publishers Flourish as Writers Pay the Tab (Motoko Rich, NY Times, 1-27-09)

Publish America (warning stories about one POD "publisher")
•Making Books: Self-publishing companies are in the business of selling dreams. But what if the dream becomes a nightmare? (Paula Span, Washington Post, 1-23-05)
•49 copies thread (on Absolute Write) and here's the full AbsoluteWrite thread on Publish America and here's the Condensed Version: Reasons We Don't Recommend PublishAmerica
•The PublishAmerica Scam (Lee Goldberg, A Writer's Life). See also So You Are Thinking About Publishing America? (a radio discussion -- click on transcript, for text of the interview; Making Books (Paula Spann, Washington Post, 1-23-05: "Self-publishing companies are in the business of selling dreams. But what if the dream becomes a nightmare?").

• Airleaf Victims Fight Back! (website about experiences of victims of a publishing scam). See also Airleaf Victims blog .
• The Truth About Amazon Publishing (Laura Hazard Owen, paidContent.org--The Economics of Digital Content, 11-2-11). As a digital publisher, it's doing great. As a print publisher, not so hot. One reason: It doesn't do well with brick-and-mortar bookstores.
• The Truth About Amazon Publishing, Part II (Laura Hazard Owen, mocoNewsnet ("healthily obsessed with mobile content"). More about Amazon's lacklustre print sales as a publisher.
• No More New Titles For Seth Godin’s Amazon Imprint, The Domino Project (Laura Hazard Owen, paidContent.org 11-29-11). "His biggest takeaway, he writes, is the importance of 'permission': 'The core group of 50,000 subscribers to the Domino blog made all the difference in getting the word out and turning each of our books into a bestseller.'" Here is a story about that Domino project: The Bestsellers: Seth Godin’s Imprint Bundles E-Book With 200 Free Songs (Laura Hazard Owen, paidContent.org 7-1-11)
• The Truth Behind POD Publishing WBJB's 8-part series of online radio about the multi-billion-dollar “pay to be published” publishing industry.



Why and how you should get your self-published book edited


and why and how you should first edit it yourself

• Every good ebook needs a good editor (Harriet Evans, The Guardian, 6-12-11). "Who knows whether Gone With the Wind would have been as successful had it been called, as it originally was, Pansy, after its eponymous heroine, Pansy O'Hara, before Margaret Mitchell's editor at Macmillan persuaded her to change the name to Scarlett?"
• What Every Self-Publisher Ought to Know about Editing (Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer, 1-29-10, on the importance and functions of developmental book editors, copyeditors, production editors, and proofreaders)
• Should You Hire a Professional Editor? (Jane Friedman, Writer Unboxed, 3-19-10). "Even the best editor in the world can’t turn a mediocre work into a gem. But they can make a good work great."
• 7 Deadly Myths and 3 Inspired Truths About Book Editing (David Kudler, guest-posting on Joel Friedlander's blog, The Book Designer, 2-15-13)
• Should writers hire editors? (Writer Beware's excellent links, some of which are included here, too).
• Making the Author-Editor Connection: The Importance of Being Edited (Anne Ross, guest-posting on Joel Friedlander's blog, The Book Designer, 4-20-11). How to find, work with, and budget for book editing. The number one priority in your budget should be editing.
• A Professional Editor Takes on Self-Editing (Linda Jay Geldens, guest-posting on Joel Friedlander's blog, 10-5-12). Read the many comments. Bottom line: Self-editing is important but not enough: we can't see all our own errors.
• 6 Ways Copyeditors Make Your Book Better (Linda Jay Geldens, guest posting on Joel Friedlander's blog, 5-25-12)
• Should I Hire a Freelance Editor? (agent Rachelle Gardner, 3-25-10)
• Will Automated Copy Editors Replace Human Ones? (Michael King, AJR, 4-15-14). No, but they can be useful.
• Should You Pay Someone to Edit Your Work? (Nathan Bransform, agent-turned-author, 10-5-09)
• Should You Hire a Professional Editor? (Jane Friedman, Writer Unboxed, 3-19-10)
• Tips on Working With an Editor (Northwest Independent Editors Guild)
• What to Expect from a Professional Critique (Margot Finke)
• The Doctor Will See You Now (book doctor Lisa Rojany-Buccieri on what book doctors can and cannot do)
See more such pieces on Writer Beware links.
• The Editor-Author Relationship; Five Reasons Why Self-Published Authors Need an Editor (Dick Margulis, Intelligent Editing)
• What editors and copyeditors do (links to many helpful articles on the topic, Writers and Editors)
• Book doctors: what they do
• What a Good Editor Will Do for You (Jerry Gross, Writer's Digest 3-11-08)
• 21 top tips
to make the most of your freelance copy-editor or proofreader
(Society for Editors and Proofreaders)
• 21 top tips
to make the most of your project manager or managing editor
(Society for Editors and Proofreaders)

Edit yourself or hire an editor? See how well you do on these quiz-based primers for authors (all written by me, Pat McNees, for my column Grammar Corner, for the newsletter of the Association of Personal Historians):
• Capitalizing Titles (Pat McNees, Grammar Corner, APH newsletter)
• That, Which, and Commas (setting off nonrestrictive phrases, Pat McNees's column for APH newsletter)
• To Hyphenate or Not-to-Hyphenate (Pat McNees, a quiz-based explanation of appropriate hyphenation, Grammar Corner, APH)
• What Is Wrong with These Sentences? (Pat McNees, a quiz with explanations, Grammar Corner, APH)
• Use the (Right, Rite, Wright, Write) Word (Pat McNees, Grammar Corner, APH). Spellcheckers reveal many errors, but they fail to detect wrong words that sound almost right. Circle the incorrect words.
For more on writing well (and correctly, see Style, grammar, and word choice, a popular page on the Writers and Editors website)

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Basics of book design and production

Here are some helpful resources that, taken together, form a primer on the subject! Below this section is one on typography and fonts, and below that the titles of good basic books on book design.

The essential parts of a book (in order)

• What is the difference between a preface, foreword, and introduction? and what is their purpose? (Pat McNees, Writers and Editors)
• An Unabridged List of the Parts of a Book (Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer 9-29-09)
• Parts of a Book How many of these elements does your book design have? (Jacci Howard Bear, About.com)
• The Title Page (Joel Friedlander, 2-1-10)
• ISBN 101 For Self-Publishers (Joel Friedlander, 11-19-10)
• Deciphering the Bookland EAN Bar Code (Joel Friedlander, 10-22-09)

Editing, design, and production
(overview of the process)


• Book editing and publishing process, explained well (Dick Margulis, 40 minute video, TV interview from Brian Jud's weekly program, The Book Authority)
• 20 Things You Need to Know About Self-Publishing (Joel Friedlander, download free PDF)'
• Page Layout Programs (Aeonix, on why PageMaker and InDesign are preferable to Word, which is not good on layout software)
• This is How Huge Door-stopper Fantasy Novels Get Made (Irene Gallo, Tor Books -- this is for mass market production)
• Book Design for Self-Publishers, one of several helpful entries from The Book Designer, Joel Friedlander's blog of practical advice for indie publishers. See especially his delightful semi-tongue-in-cheek essay, The Death of Book Design. Among useful entries:
~Self-Publisher’s 5-Minute Guide to Book Printing Processes
~What Every Self-Publisher Ought to Know About Editing
~Book Design & Page Layout Software: A Guide for DIY Authors (11-8-10)
~Making Print Choices
~Don’t Let me Find You Bleeding in the Gutter—Understanding Book Terminology
~Book Design: Points and Picas Primer (3-21-12)
~Why Publishers Love Hardcover Books (including the financial incentives that favor hardcover)
• Book production process (links to all of the articles, by category, in Joel Friedlander's series, on The Book Designer)
• Book Design: Don’t Get Confused By Typeface Point Sizes (Joel Friedlander, 2-1-12) See section below on fonts.
• Book Design (excellent Wikipedia page)
• Publishing Basics (helpful articles on book design and other topics)
• 22 Top Book Designer Tasks for Getting Your Self-Published Book Into Print Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer (a site FULL of informative articles)
• Anatomy of a Beautiful Page (Pamela Wilson, New Rules of Book Publishing)
• The 4 essentials of a design critique. Designers are trained to critique designs. Clients aren't. Here's how, clients can react to design proposals -- and, designers, here's how to listen. (Felt & Wire, impressions from the paper-obsessed, 4-13-11)

Book binding
• Book binding (video demo of high-speed binding of Abraham Lincoln book at Edward Brothers, in NC--with links to do-it-your-self binding and stitching nearby), 11 minutes
• A brief history of book printing and binding (cj madigan, Shoebox Stories)
• Japanese stab binding & book binding
• Easy How-To Professional Looking Home Book Binding (YouTube video, Robin House showing case binding process). Along the right side you'll find links to other demos of binding.
• Understanding Book Layouts and Page Margins (Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer)
• Casewrap vs Dust Jacket? Self-Publishers Make the Hard(cover) Choice (Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer, 1-14-10)
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Book design software

(InDesign, Quark -- and can/​should you use MS Word?)

InDesign and Quark Xpress are the design software brands most favored by professional designers, but for designers starting out they often recommend InDesign, which is the most popular. No professional designer designs in Word! There is definitely a learning curve. One popular place to learn how to use InDesign is Lynda.com's online training tutorials on InDesign. Says designer cj Madigan, "Their InDesign courses are taught primarily by Anne-Marie Concepcion or David Blatner, the gurus of InDesign, in my opinion. lynda.com also allows you to drop in and out. Concepcion and Blatner also run InDesignSecrets, which is a great free resource."

Adobe sells InDesign in two ways: You can buy InDesignCC (a subscription mode., which is part of Creative Cloud, so you can sync settings like keyboard shortcuts, presets, and workspaces across multiple computers-- see FAQs for InDesignCC ), or you can buy InDesign CS6. Here's one page linking to Adobe tutorials.

• InDesign User group
• FAQs about InDesign on Adobe Creative Cloud.
• Page Layout (Word processing vs. a layout program), Aeonix Publishing Group (describes various types of software, offering suggestions such as this: "They may offer certain advantages (usually a low price), but you'll have greater difficulty finding a printer who can support them."
• The Non-Designer's InDesign Book by Robin Williams (helpful for those just learning to use InDesign)
• Real World Adobe InDesign CS6 by Olav Martin Kvern, David Blatner, Bob Bringhurst
• InDesign Help and InDesign tutorials
• InDesign Secrets (all things InDesign, forums and other resources)
• InDesign Secrets
• Plugins for Adobe InDesign
• From Word to Kindle (How to Format a Text-Only Document in Microsoft Word and Convert It to a Kindle eBook—For Free, by Aaron Shepherd)
• Why Use InDesign Instead of MS Word? by David Blatner, InDesignSecrets.com (for those of you stubbornly and very very slowly trying to format a book in Word)
• 7 Reasons NOT to Use Word to Typeset Your Book (Walt Shiel, Five Rainbows, 8-26-12)
• WORD VS. INDESIGN and other common first-time questions from our design customers (Jonathan Gullery, Publishing Basics 5-29-08)
• Why Use InDesign Instead of MS Word? (David Blattner, InDesign Secrets.com, quoting Bevi Chagnon, a consultant for the federal government)
• WORD VS. INDESIGN and other common first-time questions from our design customers (Jonathan Gullery, Publishing Basics, 5-29-08)
• Improve the Way You Merge Cells in InDesign (Indiscripts, IndDesign Scripting Playground, which offers many tips on scripting)
• Create and manage high-quality ISBN/​EAN-13 barcodes from within InDesign (indiscripts)
• The Hidden Way to Highlight Styles

Footnotes and endnotes (InDesign)


(Thanks to Frederic Ganne for these)
• All About Footnotes and Endnotes with InDesign (carijansen.com)
• InDesign scripts (Peter Kahrel), including this: Various foot- and endnote tools, including Convert footnotes to endnotes

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Fonts and typography--the basics


Once you become aware of design traditions, you will begin to feel the designer's irritability when confronted with things like poor letter spacing, inadequate white space, and too many fonts and typeface styles in one document. And you will appreciate a beautifully designed book more. As a novice, at least learn the basics:

• Basic Font Types (Purdue Online Writing Lab). The copy needs editing but the content and illustrations, showing the differences between serif, sans serif, and decorative fonts, and what not to do with them, is great for beginners.
• They're Not Fonts! (Allan Haley, AIGA, 10-21-02) " “Typefaces are designs like Baskerville, Gill Sans or Papyrus. Type designers create typefaces. . . . Fonts are the things that enable the printing of typefaces. Type foundries produce fonts”
• A typeface is not a font. A font is not a typeface. (Jon Tangerine, 8-22-08) "Typeface = a type family’s design." "Font = one member of a type family." "Using the Georgia typeface example, the 'Georgia Regular,' 'Georgia Italic,' 'Georgia Bold,' and 'Georgia Bold Italic' in my library are all fonts of the Georgia typeface."
• Font or typeface? ( Yves Peters, The FontFeed, 9-11-08)
• Whitespace (Mark Boulton, A List Apart, 1-9-07, on macro whitespace and micro whitespace). Go here for more Boulton articles on Design: Typography and here for more articles on other aspects of design.
• Tricky Type Terms (Ilene Strizver, Fonts.com). Explanations of italic vs. oblique (two different varieties of angled, or slanted, typestyles), tabular vs. proportional figures (tabular figures will align perfectly; proportional figures will not); standard vs. discretionary ligatures (characters joined to form a new character, or characters that nest together).
• Proposed Standards for Book Typography (Dave Bricker, WGB, 12-2-12). This useful entry includes suggested solutions for controlling widows, orphans, runts, and off-balance spreads.
• Dick Margulis has useful material on his website about book design. You can read a sequence of clear, brief explanations of typography, the architecture of the page --especially the chapter opening, the color of the paper and ink, and font choice and spacing. See especially The Color of the Page , including his explanation of ladders, rivers, and pigeonholes . Dick provides an interesting perspective on fonts and italics in an entry called Mix and match typefaces , for example.
• Understanding Fonts & Typography (on Joel Friedlander's blog, The Book Designer)
• Book Design: Don’t Get Confused By Typeface Point Sizes (Joel Friedlander)
• Picking Fonts for Your Self-Published Book (Joel Friedlander, 6-15-12)
• Writers: The Only 9 Fonts You'll Ever Need (Jane Shafron, Your Story Here -- a great overview of classic fonts)
• Familiar Faces. Designer Michael Brady has posted a PDF scan of "The ABCs of Type by Allan Haley, a "useful guide to some of the key features of various faces, [which] gives illuminating background information about the provenance and development of some of these faces."
• A calligrapher explains his art (Master type illustrator Seb Lester tells Salon.com writer Benjamin Wheelock about calligraphy and designing letterforms.)
• Cool Fonts: Where to Download and How to Install ("darkside," HubPages)
• The End of Times New Roman: Font as a Writer (Ben Graves, HubPages). Courier (a monospace font) is superior to Times New Roman (a proportional font) for accurate, precise word and page count.
• The Measure of Type and how to take advantage of it (James Felici, Creativepro.com)
• Historic fonts from Walden Font (Wild West, Civil War, Colonial, German Fraktur, various kinds of script, including German)

Books on how to design and produce a book


• Book Design and Production: A Guide for Authors and Publishers, by Pete Masterson
• The Non-Designer's Design Book: Design and Typographic Principles for the Visual Novice, by Robin Williams
• The Non-Designer's Design and Type Books, deluxe edition by Robin Williams
• Robin Williams Design Workshop by Robin Williams and John Tollette
• Thinking Like a Designer: How to Save Money by Being a Smart Client by Michael Brady
• How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer by Debbie Millman
• Elements of Typographic Style, by Robert Bringhurst (for professional editors and graphic designers)
• The Complete Manual of Typography: A Guide to Setting Perfect Type, 2nd edition, by Jim Felici (for the average self-publisher--read the Amazon reviews)
• A Freelance Editor's Guide to Book Production, by Rachel Hockett Youngman (36 pages, Editorial Freelancers Association) At lulu.com Or download PDF at: the-efa.org
• Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students, by Ellen Lupton
• The Complete Manual of Typography, by James Felici (not itself a model of typography, and expensive, but helpful if working with InDesign).
• Type & Layout: Are You Communicating or Just Making Pretty Shapes, by Colin Wheildon
• Perfect Pages: Self Publishing with Microsoft Word, or How to Design Your Own Book for Desktop Publishing and Print on Demand, by Aaron Shepard (almost everyone advises against designing a book in MS Word, but if you do…)
• All About PDF Stamps in Acrobat & Paperless Workflows by Thom Parker (explains a tool often used by indexers, etc.)
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Self-Publishing and Indie Publishing
(a basic booklist)


Before you engage in self-publishing, check out some of the following guides. (These are affiliate links to Amazon.com; if you buy anything after clicking on our link we get a small commission--which helps support maintenance of this site.)

• Aiming at Amazon: The NEW Business of Self Publishing, or How to Publish Your Books with Print on Demand and Online Book Marketing on Amazon.com by Aaron Shephard. Particularly useful if you intend to sell most of your books through Amazon.

• The Indie Author Guide: Self-Publishing Strategies Anyone Can Use by April Hamilton. See also April's companion website (with supplementary materials) and Publetariat (an online community and news hub for indie authors and small, independent imprints), which she started.

• Publishing Basics: Navigating the Self-Publishing Minefield by Robert Bowie Johnson, Jr. with Ron Pramschufer (free download from Ron Pramschufer's website); also available as a free download: Publishing Basics for Children's Books, though I don't see it there right now. (Request the printed Publishing Basics to get samples of paper, etc.).

• The Fine Print of Self-Publishing, Fourth Edition - Everything You Need to Know About the Costs, Contracts, and Process of Self-Publishing, 4th edition, by Mark Levine (on Amazon you can "search inside this book" and see what you're getting). Available now in Kindle, too. Levin reviewed publishing contracts, customer service and other factors for several dozen "self-publishing companies," assigning them ranks as Outstanding, Pretty Good, Just OK, and To Avoid. Many qualify as "to avoid," including firms many indie authors routinely use. His advice on contracts is helpful, as most are author-unfriendly, and if you aren't experienced you may not even know what that means. So do your homework!

• Think Like a Publisher: A Step-By-Step Guide to Publishing Your Own Books by novelist Wesley Dean Smith (read it free online or purchase it).

• Dan Poynter's Self-Publishing Manual, 16th Edition: How to Write, Print and Sell Your Own Book , 16th Edition by Dan Poynter. There is now also a Volume 2 (about digital editions, etc.)

• Unconventional Guide to Publishing by nonfiction agent David Fugate (expensive, but his publications come with a money-back guarantee)

• Plug Your Book! Online Book Marketing for Authors, Book Publicity through Social Networking

• Top Self Publishing Firms: How Writers Get Published, Sell More Books, And Rise To The Top: And Make Money Working From Home With The Best Print On Demand Self-Publishing Companies by Stacie Vander Pol.

• The Well-Fed Self-Publisher: How to Turn One Book into a Full-Time Living: by Peter Bowerman (especially for commercial writing)

• Bestseller in 30 Days, Find an Agent in 30 Days, and Publish a Book in 30 Days ). Three shorter books by Fern Reiss, called collectively The Publishing Game

• Beyond the Bookstore: How to Sell More Books Profitably to Non-Bookstore Markets, by Brian Jud

• John Kremer's Self-Publishing Hall of Fame

• Publicize Your Book: An Insider's Guide to Getting Your Book the Attention It Deserves by Jacqueline Deval

• Guerrilla Marketing for Writers : 100 Weapons to Help You Sell Your Work by Jay Conrad Levinson.

• Complete Guide to Self Publishing: Everything You Need to Know to Write, Publish, Promote, and Sell Your Own Book, 4th edition, by Tom Ross and Marilyn Ross

(Of possible interest, on designing for the Web: Design for Hackers: Reverse Engineering Beauty by David Kadavy, who one reviewer calls "the Malcom Gladwell of web design."

Quotation about self-publishing in history

"...everything about the economics of American publishing until the end of the nineteenth century discouraged the publication, promotion, and distribution of American literature and encouraged the publication, promotion, and distribution of British literature, which thereby dominated the cultural scene. Thus began a pattern of alternative publishing, in this case, self-publishing, arising out of a desire to pursue an aesthetic agenda at odds with that of the major American commercial publishers and to protest the economic circumstances under which the commercial publishers operated. Looking back, we can easily see the significance of this rebellion; one historian sums up,"most of the nineteenth-century writers whom we now think of as important to the development of American literature published their own works" (Denison 193). We can distinguish between the writers in the early part of the century, writers like Irving, Cooper, Hawthorne, and Poe, who were self-published at a time when almost all authors were self-published in the sense that they paid the costs of publication, and writers later in the century who were self-published because of lack of support from or in protest against the commercial publishing industry. Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass, Henry David Thoreau's Walden, Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, all of the work of the last half of Herman Melville's career, and Stephen Crane's Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, among other books, books that were seminal in defining the ideas of American art and the American character, were self-published."
~ Robert L. McLaughlin, from "Oppositional Aesthetics/​Oppositional Ideologies: A Brief Cultural History of Alternative Publishing in the U.S."

Other resources on Writers and Editors website

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From Elizabeth Hand's review of Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature by Linda Lear, in the Washington Post, 1-24-07, link below:

"The Tale of Peter Rabbit" first saw light in 1893, as an illustrated letter to Noel Moore, the 4-year-old son of Potter's former governess: "I don't know what to write to you, so I shall tell you a story about four little rabbits." Years later, in 1899, Noel's mother suggested that Potter turn her picture letters into a children's book. Potter already had successfully marketed her drawings as Christmas cards and pamphlets, but publishers had rejected "The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Mr. McGregor's Garden."

So, in a move that has brought hope to would-be authors ever since, in September 1901 Potter withdrew her savings and paid for a first printing of 250 copies of her book, with another 500 copies ordered and held in reserve. The cost of her venture into self-publishing: 11 pounds.

"The public must be fond of rabbits!" she marveled a year later; "what an appalling quantity of Peter." By 1903, there were 56,470 copies in print. Today, the book has sold more than 45 million copies worldwide in 35 languages.

Links to other resources on Writers and Editors website
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