Thursday, January 08, 2009


If you’re thinking of self-publishing, I recommend you read David Carnoy’s December article in CNET Reviews. In fact, copy it and save it for future reference. After he gave up on getting his manuscript published by a big publisher, he started researching self-publishing companies. He eventually decided on BookSurge, owned by Amazon.

He titled his article, “Self-Publishing a Book: 25 Things You Need to Know.” After talking about his journey of deciding on a publisher, he goes through the tips. He starts out with: “Self-publishing is easy,” but tip #6 is: “Creating a ‘professional’ book is really hard.”

He offers bad news (“Even if it’s great, there’s a good chance your book won’t sell.”) and good advice (“Niche books do best.”).

He gives suggestions about how to spend your money, like “Buy as little as possible from your publishing company” and “If you’re serious about your book, hire a book doctor and get it copy-edited.”

And he tells the truth: “Self-published books don’t get reviewed” and “Electronic books have potential, but they’re still in their infancy.”

All in all, an informative article from someone who has first hand knowledge and a platform to share.


  1. I did as well, Charlotte. I copied it to my hard drive so I can refer to it.

  2. Good article. Bookmarked and saved. Thank you.

  3. I work for a publisher, Wheatmark, and when I read that article I kept yelling, "Yeah! You tell 'em!"

    Until I got to the parts about how self-pubbed authors don't ever get a fair shake and how self-publishers are hiding behind opaque glass about their policies and pricing. It made me so sad.

    We work incredibly hard to maintain an ethical and customer-oriented business. We are open and honest about our policies and strive to make sure that our authors are educated about the process.

    Wheatmark also offers a free author resources for anyone, including an amazing marketing workbook and an active blog.

    I'm hopeful that as the publishing industry shifts it will be even more open to self-published authors.

    The can be successful. The No. 1 Western Fiction book on Amazon is by Jim Best, one of our authors. He used to publish traditionally but got sick of the bull. Now he works with us and has had more success than ever before.

    So good luck to you all and don't give up!

  4. #4 is important. Good self-published books are few and far between. Most authors are poor judges of the quality of their own work. They need the judgement of someone else whose livelihood depends on correctly judging the quality of a book. An editor at a traditional publishing house isn't going to have his job long if he buys inferior books, but a subsidy press won't stay in business if it turns away inferior books.

    Authors need feedback from people in the industry. Usually the only feedback they get is an uninformative rejection letter. Some authors revise and continue to revise until the rejections turn into an acceptance; others stop trying and self-pub. That's the reason for so few quality self-pub books.

    What's really sad is the second book of a self-pubbed author. It's usually worse than the first. Whereas the author had some feedback and did some revisions on the first before giving up in the face of rejection, the second book goes right into self-publication and ends up being worse than the first. An artist's trajectory should be upward, not downward. You don't serve your art by taking shortcuts.

  5. If anyone is interested in learning more about Wheatmark (of which I have no professional or financial interest), you can go to

    Thanks for stopping by Kat.

  6. Hi Mark.

    Good points. One of the few good things about being rejected is that it makes you look again and again and again at the manuscript. I totally see what you mean about the second book an author self-publishes may not get that rewriting.

    I, of course, recommend a good outside editor. But just about all authors can benefit greatly from a critique group or trusted readers. At no cost.

  7. That was an interesting and informative link. I don't entirely agree with every point from personal experience but it does emphasize that it's not just a walk in the park. Self-publishing is a big step and should be researched first. And get that ISBN number!

  8. So true. Self-publishing is a BIG step. And I agree about the ISBN. Gotta have that to sell.

  9. I'm on the border about self-publishing my children't book about my dog, Rascal. I see pros and cons on both sides. I'll probably try traditional first and see what happens.

    Morgan Mandel

  10. thank you! I just self-published for the first time and am not liking it at all. I'm off to read the article.

  11. When I worked at the paper we would get a lot of self-published books on our desk, and usually the only reason we ever bothered with a book was when the writer was local.

    The problem, even with some of the better books, was, as Mark mentions, that the authors were poor judges of the quality of their own work.

    At the very least a copy editor was needed. One book --- a memoir by a Vietnam veteran --- had the potential to be a decent personal history of that war, if only the writer had hired a copy editor.

    Others need more work. I've seen everything from weird stream of consciousness narratives that were terribly written, muddled even for stream of consciousness, to monstrous re-hashings of old ideas without any fresh research or a fresh take on the subject.

    Even if you're writing a family history that's going to be presented as a gift, the author needs to stand back and let someone else take a look at it.

  12. Susan, I'd like to hear more about your experience. If you'd like to guest post, let me know.

  13. Todd, thanks for your input. It helps to see it from the side of someone who would have been writing a review or story about the book.

    Self-published books need to be edited and of the same quality as books published by a big house or small press. Listen to Todd. He knows what he's talking about.

  14. As I saw on Faithful Publishing's website recently -
    "Writing is hard, publishing darn near impossible!"
    So many wrong ways to do it...

    L. Diane Wolfe

  15. Very interesting quote, Diane, and true on a number of levels!


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