Dan Poynter’s The Self-Publishing Manual: How to Write, Print, and Sell Your Own Book, 15th Edition is a must-read for any would-be self-publisher. Written in a no-nonsense, “Just the facts, Ma’am,” style, Poynter describes how to self-publish a book, from the planning stages to when you hold your book in your hand and beyond.
You’ll find the book especially helpful if you’re going to publish in the “traditional” manner, meaning that you plan to obtain pre-publication reviews, print offset, target libraries and bookstores, and do your own fulfullment. If you’re planning to use print-on-demand technology (POD) and to mainly sell your book online, some of the steps described in Poynter’s book can be skipped or altered, but the book is still invaluable. It will give you an overview of the publishing process, something you should definitely familiarize yourself with before you self-publish anything. If you don’t have a good grasp of the basics, you won’t be able to decide when it makes sense to deviate from or skip a step.
The main topics covered in the book include starting your own company (in the US), book production (typesetting, cover design, printing), book promotion, distribution, and fulfillment. Included in the back is a handy calendar that lists what steps you should do at each stage of the publishing process. There’s also a list of publishing resources to help get you started (book designers, printers, etc.).
This book is a must-read. If you can only afford a few self-publishing books, buy this one.
Poynter recently published Volume 2, which covers POD, eBooks, and audio books. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend this one; only buy it if you have money to burn. You can find just about all of the information online, especially by joining the Yahoo POD Publishers group. Peruse the group’s archives and you’ll know just about everything covered in Volume 2, plus the information will be up to date. The realm of eBooks, in particular, is still new and in flux, so what was true last week might not be true next week.
Tom and Marilyn Ross’s Complete Guide to Self Publishing: Everything You Need to Know to Write, Publish, Promote, and Sell Your Own Book (Self-Publishing 4th Edition) is often mentioned in the same breath as the Self-Publishing Manual. The Ross book covers the same topics, but in a chattier style. If you can only afford one, I’d give Poynter’s the edge because he periodically updates the content and issues a new edition, whereas the Ross book hasn’t been updated in a while. But if you can afford both, buy both. Each mentions things the other doesn’t, and reading two different overviews of the same process can be interesting and informative. You might find that you prefer one style over the other.