OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
When I first started this blog back in Dec 2008, one of the first people I met online was Joel Friedlander.
We did the same course on how to start blogging, but Joel was already way ahead of me in self-publishing as he had started years before and was (and still is) an expert on the topic.
Plus, I've had Joel on the blog and podcast before – check out our discussion on how to make a professional standard print book interior here.
Today, I am pleased to share his latest book, The Self-Publisher's Ultimate Resource Guide, with you along with an interview with him and co-author Betty Sargent.
How did you two decide to team up on the creation of The Self-Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide?
It’s an idea Betty had been kicking around for a long time. When she and her staff created a Resource Guide for www.BookWorks.com, it quickly proved to be one of the most popular offerings on the site.
It also became apparent that probably what every self-publisher needs most—whether just starting out or a seasoned pro—is a reliable, curated guide to the resources needed to publish a professional looking book.
We’ve divided the Resource Guide into three main sections: Prepare, Publish, and Promote.
This gave us a framework that every author, whether they’ve already been through the process or not can easily understand. This was important to us because the Resource Guide was designed to be helpful to all authors, no matter how much experience they have had.
In the Prepare section we list everything from how to find a Developmental Editor, a Cover or Interior Book Designer, or a Translator, to where to look for Grants and Funding for Writers.
Lists in the Publish section include where to find eBook Conversion, POD and Distribution Services, Book Production Software and Short Run Printers.
Then in the Promote section we list Book Review Services, Social Media Consultants, Website Designers, Marketing and Publicity and Writing Contests, Fellowships and Prizes to name just a few. We have 33 categories in all and will continue to expand on those in our quarterly updates.
You call The Self-Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide a “Living Book.” Could you explain that?
Because everything changes so quickly in the self-publishing world—some companies go out of business and new services pop up all the time—we’ve committed to updating the Resource Guide four times a year. Otherwise the book would quickly become dated due to the constant waves of change we experience on pretty much a non-stop basis.
This also allows us to respond to our readers in a timely fashion. When a reader knows about a valuable resource we haven’t listed, we can check out their suggestions and, if appropriate, add those that meet our guidelines. This will keep the Resource Guide constantly current.
The same goes for our 33 categories. Even though we just published a few weeks ago, we’ve already discovered categories that need to be added to the book, and we welcome suggestions on others as well. That’s why we feel this is a living document. It morphs, it changes, it grows, and the resources are always right up to date.
(By the way, if any of your readers have a suggestion to make or a site, service, product, or vendor they would like us to include, they can use the form we’ve set up at http://www.spresourceguide.com/contact and we’ll be happy to check them out.)
I see that the Resource Guide launched as the #1 bestseller in its category on Amazon. Through your long experience in both traditional publishing (Betty) and indie publishing (Joel) you’ve both launched many many books.
What’s the secret to getting off to such an impressive start?
Three things really:
- Filling a genuine need— Although there are some excellent short lists of services for authors on blogs and websites around the web, as far as we know there is no central, one-place-to-go to access a comprehensive list of the best of everything available for self-publishing authors. There was an urgent need for such a resource and we decided to try to fill that need.
- The quality of the book that we created—Of course, as with any self-published book (or traditionally published book for that matter) the content has to be fresh, original and well organized, and the package has to look professional in every way. Betty took on the responsibility for creating the content, deciding on the 33 categories, researching the self-publishing universe to bring together the best of the best in every category, and writing introductions to each section to help the reader expand her understanding of self-publishing in general. Joel added to the content and then turned his talents to designing a smart, attention-getting cover, designing the interior of the book, overseeing the copyediting and book production to ensure the “package” was professional in every way.
- Targeted marketing— As for the marketing, that was Joel’s baby. He pulled out all the stops and combined his years of experience as a leading blogger in the self-publishing world (TheBookDesigner.com) with his sophisticated knowledge of what works and what doesn’t work when trying to reach a specific market. The result speaks for itself.The initial marketing of the book was driven by two main factors that are both the result of Joel’s years as an influential blogger in this field. First was the work he’s put into building a responsive email list of people who have been “pre-qualified” as interested in the topic and, second, on the extensive network of thought leaders, writers, and other bloggers Joel and Betty have developed over the years. These two elements cannot be discounted, and they are the reason we started off with a bunch of positive reviews right on publication day, and the reason people like Mark Coker, Michael Hyatt, Dan Poynter, and yourself have helped promote the book from the beginning.
Here's my own quote about the book:
“Independent authors need a team to help create a fantastic finished product, and finding the right people can be a challenge when you first start out. This book will help authors to locate professionals to edit, publish and market their work – helping them to stand out in the crowded marketplace.” Joanna Penn, www.TheCreativePenn.com
What do you think the future holds for self-publishers?
We agree that the future is bright for self-publishers but the landscape is changing fast and it is important for every indie author to be aware of this. Here are three trends to keep in mind.
- Quality. The professional content, look and feel of your book is more important than ever. If you want to stand out in this increasingly crowded marketplace you must make your book the best it can be. We suggest you use the The Self-Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide to find the services you’ll need to make this happen.
- Collaboration. Indie authors are starting to work together on publishing and marketing their books and it is starting to pay off. By pooling their energy and knowledge they get more done, faster, and are able to reach even more readers than they ever could by working on their own. This includes discounted boxed sets of books that appeal to the same readers, collaborative websites and even collaborative publishing teams where authors can share in the work of publishing each others’ books with the skills they already have.
- Tech Smarts. New services, products and marketing strategies are springing up all the time. Savvy indie authors need to pay attention to these new developments, especially the growing interest in mobile computing, and adapt these to their own publishing platform. For example, more and more authors are becoming aware that if they want to maximize sales of their books, they really need to start learning about internet marketing and all the technology behind it. While lots of authors remain averse to marketing their own books, the new technological tools available give us more reach, greater selectivity in who we address, and the ability to “soft market” our books without coming across as nagging shills.
Any final thoughts?
Lots of people have written about how easy it is to publish these days, and more and more authors are taking the leap into publishing their own books. But with a complex endeavor like book publishing, you really need to rely on proven professionals to help you reach your goals. The Self-Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide is going to make that faster, easier, and more satisfying than ever before for thousands of authors, and that’s why we put the months of work in to make it a reality.
You can find The Self-Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide on Amazon or at TheBookDesigner.com.