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The Self-Publishing Manual: How to Write, Print and Sell Your Own Book (Self-Publishing Manual: How to Write, Print, & Sell Your Own Book) Paperback – May, 2003
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The bible on self-publishing. Highly recommended by virtually everyone in the industry -- even other authors of books on the subject (many of whom probably followed the advice in Poynter's previous 11 editions). --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Now in it's 9th revised edition, Dan Poynter's The Self-Publishing Manual is the seminal, benchmark publication which is "must" reading for anyone contemplating publishing a book. All the necessary questions are answered, all the "tips, tricks & techniques" for successfully publishing a quality title are laid out step-by-step using a very methodical system for producing a commercially-successful book beginning with applying the simple organizational plan to research your subject and put your thoughts down on paper. The publishing information will enable you to get your book into print quickly and easily by going direct and cutting out the middlemen, including getting the copyright for your own book, setting up your own publishing company, and benefiting from the tax breaks. Equally important is learning the secrets of low-cost book promotion, the (sometimes shocking) facts about advertising, setting up a distribution system, promoting your book with feature articles and radio/television interviews, spinning off electronic editions (including selling your information on-line and on CD-ROM). No one should venture into publishing without a thorough reading of The Self-Publishing Manual, and even then, keeping it within arm's reach for continual reference at every step of the publishing project. -- Midwest Book Review
One of the best how-to-do-it books. -- Money Magazine
This is the first book I recommend to those considering becoming a publisher. -- Jan Nathan, Executive Director Publishers Marketing Association --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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First, an overview. The book is laid out nicely and is extremely easy to read. It brings you through the process from conceiving of a book idea all the way up through production and distribution. Lots of imagery and examples are packed in here along with some quotes for good measure. Now onto the guts.
One of the falling points of most books that I have read or at least looked into in regards to self-publishing and/or marketing make the claim that these techniques are applicable to both fiction and non-fiction, but they are specifically written for non-fiction. That, of course, is a load of garbage. Marketing fiction has some major differences from marketing non-fiction. Fortunately, Poynter indicates up front that he is not an expert in the fiction market, which I appreciate. Being a fiction author myself, I will review this book mainly from that point of view.
The recommendations Poynter uses for researching and writing a book are pretty much geared toward non-fiction. There are a few items that may be of interest to a fiction author, but this is an area to skim. If you are a non-fiction author, this will probably work great for you as Poynter is obviously very organized and thorough. One technique any author can try, fiction or non-fiction, is to send query letters to agents and publishers, just to see if anyone thinks the book is viable. This is good, even if you plan to self-publish as their feedback could be quite valuable. Who knows, someone may end up offering you a huge advance that you didn't expect.
Book production is a good section for any author to read who is planning on having an actual printed book. It gets highly technical but is good for you to know. Keep in mind, this edition is a few years old and was really written before the rise of print on demand (it's getting less and less taboo, especially since some large publishers are planning on utilizing it in the wake of the eBook boom). He makes the assumption that you are going to have your own print runs, which you may do, but it will be costly. If you use a service like CreateSpace, even if you have your own publishing company, a lot of this is taken care of for you with an easy-to-use interface. Again, it is still probably a good idea for you to understand how the technical side works, just so you can understand industry standards and insure that your book looks and feels like a traditionally published book.
The marketing section is great for a non-fiction author but is only worth a skim for a fiction author. There are some marketing techniques that carry for all authors, but remember this book is specifically for non-fiction authors. Many of the techniques to rope media coverage are based off of expertise, which will not have the bearing on media for a fiction book as it does for non-fiction. Matter of fact, it's the "expert author" angle that helps with a variety of marketing techniques for non-fiction. Readers of fiction, at least in what I have read and seen, don't care what you're an expert in. Matter of fact, Poynter indicates that it is, for the most part, easier to market non-fiction than fiction (ugh, too bad he's right about that).
The section on reviews is quite thorough also. Again, there is some material specific to non-fiction but reviews are important for fiction also. Matter of fact, empirical research has been done on the effects of reviews on book sales and it does indeed have a huge impact. There is quite the extensive list of reviewers in here so have a look. Like any other book related to marketing or publishing, take opinions with a grain of salt. There are some points in here that I don't necessarily agree with but others that I do. Actually, he specifically mentions avoiding paid reviews. In the last couple of years, paid reviews have been on the rise, especially since some of the big reviewers now charge money for their reviews (like Kirkus Reviews and Publisher's Weekly).
The biggest downfall of this book is simply that it needs another update. With the rapid changes in the industry, some of the viewpoints are a little old fashioned. You'll probably be able to tell what those are. An example is distribution and booksellers. First, there are book selling chains listed that are not in existence anymore. Though Poynter does not overly harp on the importance of bookstores (even in 2007 he recognized the downfalls of brick and mortar bookstores), there is still a lot of information on getting into them, information you can probably skim if you are a fiction author.
Another issue here is one that is in most non-fiction. The viewpoint is skewed to what the author is trying to defend or is the main subject of the writing. That's fine, just make sure you allow yourself to look at multiple viewpoints. A specific example is his opinion of the traditional publisher. He discusses an Indie author who ends up going traditional as "selling out" to a big publisher. Obviously, he's an expert in self-publishing so that's going to be his forte. There are ups and downs to each type of publishing and that includes traditional but there are plenty of people who have made a good living in the traditional world, as well as in the self-publishing world so don't feel bad if you end up garnering the interest of a traditional publisher and going that route. Do what works for you, considering the argument over of traditional publishing vs. self publishing is not going to have a conclusive winner anytime soon.
There are supposedly some updates in the Dan Poynter's Self-Publishing Manual: How to Write, Print and Sell Your Own Book (Volume 2), which is a condensed book that goes side by side with this one. I haven't reviewed it yet but I will and let you know. Regardless, this one still needs an update.
Conclusion: This book is worth picking up if you are self-published or are considering your publishing options, regardless of your genre and regardless of whether you are a fiction or non-fiction author. A non-fiction author will get more out of it but a fiction author will get a lot too. It gives you a look into the publishing world and provides some inside information that may help you in your decision. There is a ton of information and lots of examples you can use and it's reasonably priced.
but it is power packed with a lot of good media contacts and ways to work
the system as well as publicize your book. It admittedly is a carryover
from some of his previous work but provides a marvelous number of in depth
useful sites to check out.
What I can say is that I have been reading a lot of how to books on self
publishing and self-promotion and each one is unique and has their own
take on the field. I recommend that you buy as many as you can afford
if you are serious about self publishing and self promoting. The market
is changing and knowledge is power.
author of a soon to be published book on Amazon Kindle entitled:
Sex Education For Adults, Secrets To Amazing Sex and Happily Ever After Too
publication date January 10,2013
My one small quibble is that some of the links he cites are no longer valid. I can't blame Dan Poynter for that; he died several years ago.
I learned a lot about the book covers, editing and publishing, organizing your work, writing styles, marketing and distribution, pricing, copyright registration, ISBN registration, besides the technology end and much more. For the great informaiton that he shares, it's well worth the price!
The only two features I wished Dan would have discussed are picture quality and writing software. I've decided to write a book on these items anyway since most self publishing authors don't seem to promote these two features.
Blessings to Dan for all he has done and continues to offer authors.
I had the honour of participating in one of Dan Poynter's workshops.
This book gives and gives. It should be priced according to its value.
You will study each page and be delighted that Dan Poynter is by your side leading you through the publishing maze.