Thoughts on Do-It-Yourself Publishing

Last week I listened to a teleseminar about publishing your book yourself for no cost. The teleseminar was put on by the presenter, so I know he wasn’t a guest, yet he had a host interview him. Well, I say interview him, but I use the term loosely. You see, we had to listen to the host promote this guy’s upcoming series of teleseminars for a “ridiculously low price of —-” that was so low the host could not believe the price. Blah, blah, etc.

Of course, that price was only available to the first twenty people who called in, so callers had to hurry.

Since the  host was still making the pitch at the end of the hour-long teleseminar (which started five minutes late, by the way), I assume there weren’t twenty people interested in the offer for that hour.

Why not?

Perhaps because of the content in the teleseminar. This guy was very proud of his work with professional speakers and that he coaches them into turning their speeches into published books. I can see that as a good thing, if done well.

He suggested they start out by envisioning their reader and said men read while sitting on toilets and women read while in bed. According to him, by envisioning your reader reading your book, you connect better with your reader as you write.

Well, I agree that it’s important you envision your reader reading your book, but I’d rather you think about content–what the reader needs to know that you can offer. I also prefer you strive to offer it clearly so the reader understands your points. That just seems more reader-friendly than envisioning what they do physically.

He suggested you use your friends and family as your editors. They’re free, after all.

Well, I agree you need an editor, but you need a book editor if you care at all about the quality of your book that is in print for decades and has your name on it. Friends and family love you and don’t want to hurt your feelings, so they are kind, not critical. English teachers may be an option, but only if they understand why the book publishing industry uses one manual and the periodical publishing industry uses another. You need a book editor if you care at all about your book and book editors aren’t free.

He suggested art students can fill the role of book designer for you. They’re free because they want to add your project to their portfolio.

Well, I can see that some very talented art student can design a book cover for the ages, but I think that’s about as likely as becoming the next American Idol when you’re not an incredible singer.

And what about interior design? Do you want your book to look like it was not complementary to your cover or like it was done by you? Perhaps you do if you don’t care that your book represents you professionally. If you’re simply fulfilling a dream of being published, anything is good enough and you can do it yourself. If you’re establishing your credibility as an expert in your field, you probably don’t want an I-did-it-myself  image in your published book.

Since he never said how one gets one’s book printed free, I assume he was talking about ebooks–slapping your book up on the Internet for the world to enjoy. If you print your book (whether one copy or thousands), there’s a cost involved.

And he often said how he works/consults with speakers to write their books, but he never said he donated his time and worked free. In fact, he had a series of teleseminars for a ridiculously low “investment” of something around a couple of hundred dollars, so they weren’t free either.

You may think I didn’t like the teleseminar, but you’d be incorrect. I very much enjoyed the gamesmanship and lack of answers to basic questions about quality, distribution, etc. when you spend nothing to publish your book.

There’s a lot of information floating around about publishing these days–the industry is moving away from royalty publishing, which means authors have options and need to be discerning as they sort through what’s thrown at them.

Happy writing!


2 Responses to “Thoughts on Do-It-Yourself Publishing”

  1. 1 Ted Ruybal February 10, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    As a creative professional book designer and publishing consultant, it is important to represent yourself in the most professional manner when publishing your own book. Sure you can publish your own book, sure you can get some kid who has a design program at his/hers parents basement to design your cover, but how does it reflect on you when your book looks like it has been self published and professionally published. Very few people will be willing to interview you or carry your book in their book store if your book looks self published. If you have a strong message in your book, make a strong statement by finding professionals to build the right book for you. Yes, you will have to pay money, we all do for quality service.


    • 2 expertbookpublishing February 11, 2010 at 9:13 am

      I so much appreciate your points about needing professional designers if an author is serious about his or her book’s message.

      I’d also extend your comments to apply to editing.

      Is there a place for do-it-yourself publishing? Of course there is–family histories are a good example. Those types of books are published for families by families. But anything an author intends to go public (which is what publish really means) needs professional design and editing and publishing.

      Thanks for contributing your thoughts.

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