Self publishing – 10 things to know

Joe’s Post #107 – The More I Learn, the More I Know I Don’t Know (or something like that)

From PBS

From PBS

Having read a bit on the whole self-publishing thing, I have come to one conclusion. I need to read a lot more.

Here are a few things that I need to know more about.

Call it a top 10.

  1. Understand my rights and copyright. This is, like, lawyer stuff. Lots of big words and long sentences. This is going to be hard.
  2. Understand social media marketing more than I do. I need to know how to build audiences, get traffic to a site, and figure out this damned twitter thing.
  3. Read up on publishing options and houses that do that kind of stuff.
  4. isbnUnderstand getting and using ISBNs. I don’t even have a clue about those things, yet.
  5. Understand marketing way better than I do right now. I think most of my family will buy my book, but that’s about it. I need to find a way to market it to about a billion Chinese.
  6. Read up on the technical aspects of publishing, from formatting to layouts and fonts to computer programs and platforms. And all that design stuff. Cover. Back-cover. Art.
  7. I am the world’s worst editor (especially of my own stuff). I’ll need to find someone to help me with this.
  8. Learn how to negotiate. I can barely get someone to add extra cheese to my pizza without a surcharge, so this is going to be a toughie.
  9. I need to figure out this whole pricing thing. How much is my book worth? I’m thinking that I’ll charge $1,000,000 for one and hope like hell just one person buys it. All I need is one person.
  10. Go and talk to people who own book stores and actually buy local authors. Do these people still exist? I’ll try to find out.

But more importantly, the one thing I absolutely MUST do is write!


But I tell you, there’s a lot to learn. A lot.

Sorry there’s not a lot of answers, yet. This process is just beginning.

More coming.

Any thoughts from others?

9 thoughts on “Self publishing – 10 things to know

  1. 1. There are courses in law schools about this stuff, which, if you take them, graduate, and pass the bar exam, will hold you in little stead in the day-to-day practice of copywriter law.
    2&5. I don’t think you learn to understand marketing. You have a feel for it, an entrepreneurial instinct for it (like the guys who sold pet rocks or hula hoops), or you don’t. I don’t, I just don’t, and many don’t. That’s why 3. remains an option. PS: Forget about Twitter. It’s crawling with book hawkers, and twitter users quickly learn to gloss over those kinds of tweets.
    4.There’s a site, which I’d have to dig through all of my files to find, that explains all that, and sells you ISBN numbers. I think that if you google BOWKER you’ll find it. However, Smashwords and, I think, Amazon, will give you an ISBN number if you publish your book on their site.

    You’re welcome, I’m happy to have fired up your confidence and self-promotional spirit.

  2. Brave of you to dissect this whole self-publishing mess. Yes, there is a lot to learn. So much so that it almost takes the fun out of writing. I echo Jerry’s comment above re Twitter. It’s crawling with thousands of book hawkers, the 99 cents or free copy types. No fun in that. I think I’ll just go into denial for now and focus on the one thing that counts in the end – writing.

  3. Totally with you on your list of things to learn more about. Having done it once and not all that well, these are lessons learned; Copyrights – apply for one before sending off your story. Social media – good luck – try not to appear as a self-centered snob. Publishing – consider all options, narrow down to several choices then read other’s comments about their experiences with them. Bowker will sell you an ISBN- cheaper if you purchase ten at a time, they’re not bread and don’t go stale. Marketing – can’t answer that – find a friend in any marketing business, ply him or her with all your questions, then use what you’ve learned. Cover and interior design – take a tour of authors’ books already published and see what you like for your book – shop around. Editor – be picky, look at their quals and experience, try them first with a few pages. Negotiation? Know what’s high and low so you know what to negotiate and expect – shop around, again. Pricing – know what the book cost you including shipping, design costs, etc., expect to make $3 – $5 per hardcopy; $2-$3 softcover. Libraries and Bookstores didn’t want self-published books in 2012. Some of that is changing, so at least approach a couple of each before you decide what route to take to publish. Glad to hear Helga’s and Soffer’s comments re Twitter – haven’t entered that joyful realm as yet and would rather not. Write on Friends!

  4. Hi
    Not sure if you’re up for taking any courses but SFU’s continuing education program offers an Editing certificate with some really great courses. I’m not 100% sure but I think you might be able to take a few of the courses without having to do the certificate.

    I did the cerificate and I found it really helpful on various levels. There were a couple classes I didn’t care for but the networking and information I learned from other students made the class worthwhile.

    In reference to layout/design/costs, they have a course that may be right up your alley:

    Good luck on your learning aventures! I’d be happy to send you some of the materials I got from those classes if you’re interested!


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