Words of Advice for Self-Publishing Writers….

So I keep hearing from self published writers that “they” told them to do this. Or that. Or to market this way. Or that. No clue who “THEY” is, but “they” is spouting out some pretty damned bad advice. So, here are a few words of advice for those considering self-publishing their work. It is possible to climb into a boiling pit of lava, but it is not necessarily a good idea.

Not useful?

Okay, here’s some real advice.


Well, maybe. It depends on why you are doing it, and what you are willing to do with that self-published book.

1. Do you understand the mechanics of writing a novel? Do the terms “info dump, character development, show vs. tell, etc.,” mean anything at all to you?

(If you answered no, you should not self publish. If you answered yes, read on.)

2. Are you aware that even editors need editors, and that even if your sister told you that you wrote a really good story, this does not mean you wrote a really good story, fit for eyes other than your biased family members?

(If you answered no, please do not self publish. If you answered yes, read on.)

3. Are you willing to pay an editor, or trade an editor, or at the very least, join a crit group and make sure you submit it chapter by chapter so you find errors and inconsistencies?

(If you answered no, please do not self publish. If you answered yes, read on.)

4. Are you working with a graphic designer?

(If you answered no, please continue to read below.)

5. Do you have at least a base knowledge of graphic design, so you can have a professional, well designed and attractive cover that works for the e-industry? If you are not working with a graphic designer, because you think you can do it yourself, do you understand pixels; know what PPI means; understand the difference between 72 and 300 PPI; have basic knowledge of Photoshop, Gimp, or some other advanced photo design program?

(If you answered no, do not self-publish. If you said yes, read on.)

6. Do you understand book sizes, book trim, fonts, formatting, layout, how to properly format a book for all the different e-publishing formats? (This is for your interior book, not the cover.)

(If you answered no, do not self-publish.)

7. Are you aware of how much disdain is now being heaped upon “self-published authors” because SOME self published authors don’t give a rat’s ass whether or not they are putting out a quality product?

(If you answered yes, and don’t care, PLEASE DO NOT SELF PUBLISH!)

In short, should you self publish? If you have a quality project, well-written, edited and formatted, with a simple but tasteful or advanced attractive book cover, yes. Why not? The world is your oyster. What a great time it is to be an author.

But if you just want to toss your crap out there, there are other places for that. They are called garbage cans or recycle bins.

If you would like to address any of these questions further, please feel free to put your questions in comments.

Other things to consider:

One of the things “they” apparently are advising authors to do, in terms of marketing, is to go onto Facebook, befriend hundreds and thousands of other authors, and when they accept your friendship, post a link on their wall. PEOPLE, this is bad form. Would you come in to my house and slap a poster on the wall without my permission? You would? Please do not come to my house.  Or friend request me on Facebook.

Marketing a self-published book is hard. Nevertheless, just bombarding people with your crap is NOT one of the ways to do this. Basic rules of etiquette still exist. Here is a list of things you should NOT do.

1. Do not befriend people on FB and then immediately spam their wall. Yes, a link to your book or Website IS spam. If they want to recommend your book on their wall, please let them do it. So how do you get them to notice your book? Well, AFTER you have become their friend, you are welcome to post a few status updates about your book. Then they could come to your wall and see if they are interested.

2. Do not use one of those sites that put your picture on a billboard, in Times Square, etc., etc., and put pictures of your book in every possible situation, and pretend your book really DID appear in all those places, and on Oprah, to boot. Get real. Be honest.

3. BE REAL. Post funny links. Blog regularly. Give people a reason to come to you. Blitz marketing is not going to work. It’s been tried. If you can find a way for things to go viral, that’s awesome. But bugging people does not work.

4. Don’t ask everyone you meet if they will review your book. And if you are going to request a review, PLEASE make sure you can write a properly constructed sentence, and query letter, let alone a book.

IN FACT, LET ME MAKE THIS PERFECTLY CLEAR. If you cannot write a sentence, what on earth makes you think you can write a book?

Just some self-publishing food for thought.


About Natalie R. Collins

Natalie has more than 30 years writing, editing, proofreading and design experience. She has written 20 books (and counting), has worked for the Sundance Film Festival, and as an investigative journalist, editor, and proofreader. She embraces her gypsy-heart and is following her new free-thinking journey through life. Follow her as she starts over and learns a bunch of life's lessons--some the hard way.
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One Response to Words of Advice for Self-Publishing Writers….

  1. Pingback: Should I self publish? « Advice from a Caterpillar

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