21 Things You Need to Know About Self-Publishing 2.0

21 Things You Need to Know About Self-Publishing 2.0

Reader Comments (101)

    • James, I cldn’t be bothered to get past the first 140 characters…

      Nah, just kidding. Forget cliffhanger endings to paragraphs: I wanted to have a cliffhanger ending to my first sentence!

      Really good stuff and and I’ve already tweeted it. I’m that kind of guy.

      Love it.

    • Hi James,

      Great post on publishing 2.0. Do you think that the distribution in publishing 2.0 is nearly as bloated as 1.0? Is the shift big enough? What is 3.0?

      I ask because I am very interested and heavily invested.

      I started a self-publishing platform called accel.io where experts can self-publish “interactive content” – think tumblr + gumroad. Its the easiest way for authors to publish any kind of content (mixed text, videos, etc..) with interactive widgets.

      But its also free for anyone to setup a white-labeled marketplace and sell guides from their website.

      So you ge the benefits of easily selling your content, engaging your audience (and actually getting their contact information), and distributing across a lot of other sites.

      Our pilot site is startupplays.com where we’ve sold over 14,000 guides in less than 9 months.

      I’d really love your feedback on the concept vs the 2.0 platforms (kindle).

    • Wow, that post was a book in itself. It was one of the best posts I’ve read on Copyblogger. Well done, good and faithful servant to the writing gods…

      • Could not say it better. That is one of the most practical, value-added posts I’ve read in a long time on the self-pub venture. Thank you for your hard work.

      • I think this is one of the best posts I’ve ever read. Ever. I bought the book and plan on using this post as a blueprint for my own books. Thank you James for turning yourself inside out and spilling your guts all over. It’s working.

    • Hello James. For a guy who never gets to responding to comments, I’d say you’ve been quite generous here.

      I’m not a self publisher, at least not till I just read your post. 🙂 I’m just an ‘older’ dog on the cusp of learning social media. It’s fascinating and I’m in awe of all you guys (& gals if I must be politically correct) who know and do so much with it.

      I’m just reading whatever I can find, and to your point, I find myself being led all over the place. It’s good I suppose but I keep thinking I might be missing something important in the last place I was reading.

      Well, I’m determined to get some skills going here.

      All that aside, what I actually wanted to tell you is how much I enjoyed your article, a subject I’m not even interested in yet couldn’t stop reading. And I just realized that I don’t even need to tell you why. You already know and have it well crafted. Honestly, these skills you have in this space are impressive. Hope I get there some day.

      Thanks for helping all of us and allowing us to help you.

      All the Best,

    • Hi James – fantastic post. I was really interested in the audio bit. I’ve become slightly obsessed lately with audio on my blog. I always used reading aloud as a way to make my posts flow better and then thought, “Hey, why don’t I just switch the mic on?”
      I’m still at the Mac and mic stage, but the feedback (from readers, not the mic) so far has been very positive.
      Next step is to deliver my posts as conceptual dance pieces.
      Thanks for all this great content – it has inspired me to think bigger and put a book together.

  1. Thank you for this priceless post, is full of useful information ready to follow and apply. Keep up the good work James.

  2. This is a fascinating post on a topic that I’ve been obsessed with as of late (publishing, self publishing, how, when, why). I have two questions and I would be delighted to get your input 🙂

    1) Why be in a bookstore? You mention getting listed in the NYT bestseller list which would be amazing but is highly unlikely for, well, pretty much any of us. Are there other reasons why being in a bookstore is key? Other downsides to NOT being there?

    2) Is there a minimum length to be considered an actual book? I say this not because I’m incapable of stringing together enough words but because my audience are exhausted parents of new babies who have no time to shower much less read 350 pages (average length of most books) on baby sleep. My thought was to write a series of shorter, highly targeted “fix X problem” books that might only be 50-75 pages each. The idea being that they really only want to focus on their particular issue and don’t care about reading the about the entirety of childhood sleep challenges.

    I would love your thoughts on this strategy. Is there something that makes this a particularly good/bad idea?

    Thanks so much!

    • Hi Alexis, thanks for writing in.

      A) I don’t think it’s necessary to be in a bookstore. Btw, even if your publisher says, “we will get you in bookstores”, they usually don’t. For every placement in a bookstore (sideways, front table, front cover facing outwards) the publisher pays the store. Usually they just don’t bother any more.

      Furthermore, bookstores are disappearing. In NYC they keep closing down. IN SF there are no more B&Ns (which is good for my favorite: City Lights, but now it’s too crowded in there). So what bookstores?

      B) Length doesn’t matter anymore. It mattered in the days when people thought “a book” was 200 pages, give or take. But when my friend Kamal (see one of the above links) Ravikant wrote his book, it was about 40 pages and became a bestseller.

      Another example is Hugh Howey’s “Wool”. Now it looks like an extensive book. But initially he did 4 Wool book in about 60-80 page installments and then did the “Wool Omnibus”. All 5 books were on the bestseller list and now Wool is out in paperback.

  3. Thank you so much, James! This was just what I needed to hear. Here’s one question: How can you do a print book if you self publish? Here’s another: If you’re on a tight budget for marketing your book, which of these are the most important to focus on/get right?

    • Jessica, thanks so much. Here’s my answers:

      Print book: no problem. Createspace.com allows you to do a print-on-demand print book. Not only that, if you hit a button that says, “Call Me”, their customer service calls in 60 seconds. It’s great. My book just out (all of my books actually) have print versions, whether I self-published or not.

      On marketing: the best thing you can do cheaply is to actively participate in the ongoing social media conversations about your topics. Even being in this blog is a way to participate in community. You build a trusted voice in that community, which translates into readers. Kevin Kelly discusses this at kk.org in a class post called “1000 True Fans”

  4. James,

    Thanks for this post… super useful considering what I’ve got myself into at the moment. I’m going to bat this back across the pond to a friend of mine and see if we can’t come up with a few Qs for you to A. I’m actually not really one for birthdays and all that tosh, but coincidentally you post has been a great 50th for me… not kidding!

    Kind regards,

  5. First, this is an excellent starting point for people who are deciding if/when/why to publish a book.

    Second, I thought I would suggest a different way of looking and marketing (thanks to author/coach Michael Port) and that is, it simply builds awareness. It is unfortunate that sales/marketing has been made to feel icky or just a bunch of gimmicks by some industries. But that’s not the way it needs to be at all. It’s simply letting people know, particularly those who have a problem/issue you can solve that you can do so. When it starts feeling obnoxious, you probably are doing it wrong.

    Third, I’d like to reply to Alexis and the question of length. There are people teaching that it’s okay to write 1500 to 2000 words and call it a book, or to post a handful of pics with a bit of text and call it a book. As a writing/publishing coach, I whole heartedly disagree. At some point, people may accept 5 pages to be an ebook, but we’re no where near that point yet I don’t think when, as James mentioned, you want to produce the best, most quality product you can.

    However, the idea of shorter vs. 300 pages is perfectly fine and rational for the exact reasons given. Some audiences will work their way through a couple hundred pages if the content is good enough. But some won’t. In my opinion, you start getting to book length for nonfiction for adults in that 60+ range or so. Too much below that an in the print world, you are in what most people call a booklet or maybe a report or white paper. Giving people just enough as well as meeting their expectations for what a book is supposed to be can be a balancing act. Knowing your audience well, testing a bit, will help you figure it out. One suggestion would be to do a handful of topics in shorter books and when those are done, sell them all as a set for those who would like it all.

  6. Nice post. I’m about to delve into the world of self-publishing myself, in an interview I’m doing with one such author whose book is about to be released. I’ve been back and forth on it, but I LOVE posts like this that really break it down. I think my main sticking point has always been the lack of quality control, but people seem to be realising that more and more, which can only be a good thing for us all.

    Funnily enough the above interview will be for a Sci-Fi / Fantasy blog I started writing for last year. I offered my services as a staff writer for the exact same reasons you refer to above – building a name for myself, making contacts and friends. Now people are starting to seek me out for reviews and previews, and in return I get the satisfaction in helping out some tremendously talented writers, who in turn help promote some of my other work.

    Sure, I’m a bit short of 10 million visits to my site right now (or even 10!), but I’m having a ball… and moving in the right direction at least.

    • You bring up a good point about quality control. But like in everything: music, TV, movies, books (no matter how they were published), art, businesses, etc, 95% is no good, 5% is good. Or somethiing like that. I think we all start off in the 95% and then with work and persistence sometimes (with a little luck) find ourselves in the 5%.

  7. I really want to thank you for this article , Man I spent more than 45 minutes reading and you would have spent more than a day writing it,I come to your Book later , First you are a great writer, How you kept me engaged and not let it go, that was incredible. The First Time I read a above 2000 word post.

    From Your Post I have one Questions I want you to answer in that one day after post for comments
    I write about Success Blog so for whom I should write for?

    Now coming to your Books , Looking forward to it, Even if it is not related to me , Even it doesn’t benefit me, Reading a writer like you is worth the money

    Now Come to My Publication I never wrote a book yet except for my diary that I am doing for some months Now , and It is just for one person to read, whenever that person comes , even after years.

    So That’s My Self Publish for One Reader.

  8. Thanks for a value-packed post full of wisdom – it’s great to have this kind of advice from the voice of experience. I think titles and book covers are really important – first impressions and all that. Apart from titles needing to sound right and trip off the tongue, doesn’t it make sense to try to include relevant keywords, to increase the chance people searching online will find it?

  9. James,
    Absolutely excellent post. I wish I had this when I published my first book. I especially like your advice for writing in your own voice and going out on a limb – both in the book and blogging. Too many people are trying to be like someone else. I find people respond when we are authentic, even if it is controversial.

    What’s your opinion on Amazon Select where you list your book exclusively with Amazon in exchange for the opportunity to lend it?


  10. Very useful post. I recently had to decide between self publishing and going with a publisher for my first book. I’ve opted for a publisher for now as I thought it would be easiest for the first book but when it comes to the next one there’s a high chance I will go down the self published route. Hopefully with one published book behind me self-promoting a second book would be a lot easier.

    Do you think having had a few books published the traditional way first helped when it came to self publishing?

    PS. Love you tip about sharing quotes on Pinterest

  11. James,
    Thanks for this excellent post. Great information! You’ve helped crystallize several vague ideas with which I’ve been toying over the past few months.

    One thing in particular that caught my eye was the vocal fatigue you and your friend experienced in the process of recording your audiobooks. You see, I’m a voice teacher. Recently, my business has expanded from traditional work with singers to include coaching professional speakers. Issues like the vocal fatigue you describe are common complaints–and easily preventable.

    I would love to dialogue with you about how to convert my vocal technique/voice care seminars into books. (See? A vague idea, crystallized!) No rush…there is a lot to do before I reach that point. (A website, for example.)

    Thanks again for an intriguing, informative post, James. You’ve given me the beginnings of an entirely new direction for my business.

    • Kristin, thats very interesting and I’m sure there’s a market. It really surprised me how much my voice hurt by the end of day one. And I still had day two to go! Ugh!

      You should do a blog. Maybe go over common mistakes people make with their voices. Then guest post on a place like this (copyblogger). Then I bet you will have all the material you will need for a book. One that i would DEFINITELY buy.

  12. Wow, in depth post here – I loved it and you even made me laugh a few times. I’ve edited a couple of self published books but, until I read this post – hadn’t thought of putting out my own. Maybe that’s something that will be in the works at some point for me.

    On another note, many of the tips you shared are applicable even for those of us who aren’t sure if we’re ready to self publish just yet as means of simply growing an audience.

    Thank you for this awesome share.

  13. My deepest gratitude to you for this post. I commenced this journey yesterday! I wrote the first paragraph to my book yesterday after putting it off for over a decade! I’ve bookmarked this post for reference throughout my process.

    The question I have at this point is in regards to copyrighting my book. What resource can you point me to? What does the process involve?

    Thank you so much again!

  14. Hey James,
    I’m a 20 year old English Major who wants to write a book. This article was so promising to read. It definitely seems doable.

    Now, I was wondering if I should worry about getting a lot of professional work done? Or just do the Kindle publishing? I don’t have a lot of money after all.

  15. I knew that my strategic planning (read: procrastination … ) would pay off! Now that I’ve found the exact right time to publish ALL of my books, I now have the key, the road map, even the permission to finally do it!

    So now I just need to read this post again when I’m really ready … oh, that’s today. Nathan Barry recently wrote about how the difference between Marco Polo and other explorers was that Mr. Polo documented his journeys. He put it out to the world. Back in the day, he had to practically hand deliver it to each reader. The power of the publishing world today is that you Hit Publish and, potentially, the world is at our fingertips.

    Thanks for this in-depth look into the current world of publishing. I’m glad you’re not attractive to employers, otherwise we might not have ever seen this post … because it probably would have been edited 17 times, chopped up, spit out, and … never published. Thanks.

  16. I have completed a 53,000-word memoir of my 47 years as an aviator, military and civilian. About 220 6X9″ pages, many small full-color illustrations. I realize my potential audience may be relatively small…have you any suggestions re: marketing this book?

    BTW I am not a newbie in this business, having written 20 hard-cover books dealing with piloting subjects since 1971.

    Your comments/suggestions will be appreciated.

  17. As a freelance editor, I loved #14. Though writers want to, no they cannot skip this step. I would say a small percent of the tiniest percent of writers can do without any line editing, copyediting, or even proofreading and produce a high-quality, polished book.

    Editors really are helpful. My advice to anyone seeking editorial help out is to ask for a free sample so they can see for themselves. (I certainly offer samples!) I also recommend you aren’t shy to ask whatever comes to mind in order to feel comfortable having someone else work on your book.

    Awesome post. Lots of varied information jam packed in it.

    -Lauren I. Ruiz

  18. “The middle class is dead, every major corporation is systematically firing all of their employees, and we all are going to have the choice of whether or not we want to be artist/entrepreneurs or temp staffers.”

    Well, nothing like some bleak prospects to either have you out on the ledge or committed to a plan for your own future. Thanks James for sharing real, usable information and sparing us the rainbows and unicorns tripe that is inundating us.

    • It’s doom and gloom…until it isn’t. My book is very much about how Choosing Yourself is the only alternative away from the doom and gloom.

  19. I am a newbie self-publisher but I have had some moderate success with two cookbooks that I self-published on Amazon Kindle, and I actually went a different route than you advise here. I thought I would share my experience because it works better for me on my part-time schedule (I’m a mom of three kids under four).

    Instead of first building a blog and audience, since that for me would have been much more time consuming, I wrote my first book (Cooking Without Measuring) about my unique home cooking methods, and marketed it solely using KDP promotion days, which basically means I put no time into marketing. On this book I made about 300 sales in a year (actual sales, not free downloads). I then wrote and published another book about baking (Baking Without Bothering – Muffins and More) which was the same length and the same amount of work as my first one, but on this book I had triple the amount of sales after my first KDP promotion and people began writing comments and reviews on Amazon. Not all were complimentary – a few complained that the book didn’t have enough recipes. Valuable feedback! I re-published the book with more recipes and am now working on my next Baking Without Bothering book. I’ve had several people contact me about different opportunities thanks to this book as well. So while some people start with a blog and move to a book, I found it worked much better for me to write a book, see if there was interest in the topic (not so much with my first but definitely interest with my second) and now I plan to leverage that into more books and probably a blog and other platforms. So essentially I took the opposite direction than many would advise. But it worked for me! Just wanted to remind people that there are no hard and fast rules.

  20. Self-publishing is awesome for the writer that doesn’t want to go the traditional publisher route. I totally get that. But how much money do you think a person needs to put together to properly self-publish? I know just getting some form of a book out there is relatively inexpensive but once you start talking about all of the options like audiobooks, editors, video… it looks like it gets expensive.

    • Guy Kawasaki says $2k. I think that’s for the basics. But the basics can be fine while you get your feet wet. That’s what I did at first. Only with this latest one I spent a bit more on editing (NIls Parker, who is a great editor of many bestsellers) and cover design and inside design and audio, etc.

  21. James,
    Thanks for the great post. I have found the answers to the comments just as valuable. If you already published through Kindle, do you think it would be worthwhile to submit the Word Document to Create Space and create a paperback version and then republish to Kindle. I believe that I am guilty of the “obvious self-published” book. Thanks for the information.

    • Yes, I did that with two of my books: “FAQ ME” and “40 Alternatives to College”. No need to republish to Kindle either. The pages will link automatically.

  22. This is a very insightful post, thanks James. I found your first couple of lines incredibly amusing and as writers, unless we go in to romance novels, I’m not sure we’re attractive based on our profession.

    Your comments on Pinterest are very interesting; I personally get around 50 unique visitors per day from pins on one of my blogs. I find it works well but in terms of community, there really isn’t much of one yet or less so than other social networks at least.

  23. James,
    Thanks so much for an insightful and helpful post. I’ve read a lot on self-publishing and still got a lot of good take-aways from this. I appreciate the care you put into the post. Two questions:

    1) Any good references on Facebooks ads for testing? I’ve run a few ads for my page in the past, but wasn’t very adept at targeting. I know it’s possible, but it isn’t intuitive (at least for me). Also, what kind of budget did you decide was enough of a test for your cover and title ideas?

    2) Can I hire Ryan Holiday to help me market my book too, or did he take you as a client due to a prior relationship? Sounds awesome!

    Thanks again. I really enjoy your blog and look forward to reading your book. It’s a message I whole-heartedly subscribe to.

    • The great thing about Ryan is he’s very approachable, he will hear what your book is about and try to figure out what marketing angles you might have. If you have a novel, though, he might not do it.

  24. James,

    I agree with guest posting, but I cringe when I read an email and it’s all about the person writing to me. I’ve learned from Jon Morrow and Derek Halpern the right way to reach out to bloggers. I don’t speak about incorporating links, and I don’t ask for one or two ‘follow links’ within the guest post. Guest posting is not about you. It’s about what YOU can do for a blog owner and their audience.

    • Yes, exactly. A good example of this is this post I did here. Most of the links are back to copyblogger and in 6000 words I think I did only one link back to my post and one link to my book. I have to go back and count though. But I specifically did not do a lot back to me.

  25. Thanks so much for this post James, you’ve shown us that there’s MUCH more to publishing a book, than just the writing of the book itself. I know someone who’s always telling me he’s going to write a book, he’s a great writer, but he doesn’t like doing hardly any of the other things you’ve spoken about here.

  26. I’ve been wanting to write a book ever since I started reading novels.

    A little over a decade later, I’m not even close to such a feat.
    It’s become a broken record type of promise to myself.

    But now, in a more realistic perspective, I think I’d settle for all the perks of publishing a book by maintaining a blog.

    I’ve gotten lots of ideas from this post.

    Additionally, I’ve read nearly every post you’ve ever contributed to Thought Catalogue. Although I’m not fully able to many of your experience, I’ve learnt from them and have a lot of respect for you.

    I was wondering how you are so comfortable writing about such personal issues, and being completely honest and blunt about them. My own writing is a lot less “scandalous”, let’s say – and yet, I only share with those I trust.

    Anyway, sorry for the LONG comment.
    Keep writing, please!
    Take care.

  27. Thank you.

    I want to write something more meaty so I can express how much I appreciate all the great information you shared, but really “Thank you” says it all.

    I’m starting a new blog this fall, starting it from scratch. I think it could lead to a book so I’m soaking in all the self-publishing information I can find. I’m keep your article at the top of my list.

  28. Yep, I read every word.

    What I want to know is what is going to happen in two days after launch!?

    And I am glad that one of the three things you figured out with live ads was that God is.

    This is a keeper. I have lots of clean up to do in my writing…and your points are well taken.

    • Good question on after launch:
      A) first off, using the techniques described above, my book that came out yesterday morning is at #1 for all non-fiction at kindle.

      But the key is consistency. Yesterday was my initial marketing but now I have to do two things. One is out of my control at the moment.

      A) word of mouth – the book has to be good. Then it will find it’s right place in the ranking system.

      B) I continue to do marketing. For instance, on Amazon I can see the top quotes people highlight. I am making a Pinterest board for that and will link that to FB, etc.

      C) I continue to do my twitter Q&As where I will point people to sections of my book if they provide relevant answers.

      D) I’ve spaced out some podcasts/interviews over the next several weeks to keep the book in play.

      But ultimately, it’s got to be a good book. That’s why we write.

  29. Hi James, thanks for connecting the dots, am three years invested into writing my first book on Personal Policy and was already dizzy deciphering what my platform would look like, now i know it’s a simple 21 steps LOL.

    Yes i write for the love of it but do want to put out a high quality product of value. I’m having trouble finding a content editor to help tighten and tidy things up, any suggestions on how to get this done affordably?

    Choose Yourself looks great, I’m guessing we think about a lot of the same things, will review after reading. As part of my project I’m building an open-source wisdom database and whole-heartedly invite you to add a policy of your choosing!

    My Best Regards, Jeffrey Hotchkiss

  30. Thanks for this post which I will print out for detailed study. One of the very valuable things I grasped from the notorious Seth Godin was to look at books differently thsan I was used to. If I could add something to the 21 points I would add: “make it a tempting souvenir”. That certainly does not fit to all type of books, but to many that I can think of, even ones that are on a serious or demanding topic.

  31. Thanks for such a great, informative post. There is a lot to digest, but it is all so useful.

    As a copy-editor, my favorite (of course) is #14! I have become quite jaded towards self-published books because I am so tired of reading unnecessary mistakes. I’m not talking structural problems with the text (which is a whole other issue that editors deal with), but simple grammatical and punctuation problems that just should not be missed.

    As a writer, I loved this whole post. It’s given me a lot of things to think about.

    I would like to comment on the issue of length. Many of us have journal-type essays or articles that we don’t know what to do with. I have begun looking into the idea of E-Shorts like Kindle Singles. This is a great way to get people looking at your work, without the time commitment of a book. It can also help you to build your platform so that your name is more easily recognized when you do publish a book.

    Thanks for the tips. Now I’m off to look at your books.

  32. Nice work. I’ve been contemplating writing my first book for some time now. Half the difficulty is just not knowing what to expect along the way, and if i’m prepared enough yet. These tips really helped clear some questions up and I feel much closer now. Thanks James.

  33. This is a great, straightforward and very well written post! (I might have to buy some of your books now 🙂 You had me laughing but most importantly, walking away with some very valuable information.

    Thank you, thank you!

  34. Wow, that was a lot of useful information. Thanks for the great post-I know that took awhile to write, but I enjoyed all of it. Will have to check out the book.

  35. James,

    Thanks for a brilliant post. Certainly has encouraged me to be proactive and not procrastinate for another year….. I have a note in my study which says: “Books do not write themselves” but actually you have nailed it with this post. It’s what happens after the words are on the screen. Do they stay on the hard drive or reach an audience? Just like my note which gathers dust every year… I shall make a coffee and print out your post. As I am ‘the other side of the pond” $2k converted to sterling does not look a bad investment. Many thanks again, Wordsmith 🙂

  36. I took four pages of notes . Thank you . I now have another 100 ideas on how to get my messages out to support parents . Thank you so much for sharing your valuable information and interesting experiences .

  37. James, Thanks! Now, that’s what I call thorough! I’ve picked up on most of these over the years I’ve been learning the hard way. One thing that makes a huge difference, in my own experience is learning when to let go of your book (as creative expression/art/literary validation,/etc.) and re-imagine it solely as a product. A consumer product. If a writer can switch hats easily, it will mean better marketing and more books.

  38. Thank you for this very interesting info. I have written a book and have had it edited. I’m now talking to Outskirts Press about publishing my book – at my expense of course. They talk a good story. Do you have an opinion about them or another do-it-all or do-as-much-as-you-want publishers?

    My book is about my many years in aviation and it starts like this:

    “What if he won’t let go?” I worried again and again. This fear not only preoccupied my thoughts during daylight hours but even invaded my sometimes not so restful nights.

    As an average size woman, 5’5″ and 125 pounds, I would be unlikely to be able to overpower even a below average size man. Of course this is true of most women but I had a special reason for my obsession: in just a few days I would be starting my new job as a flight instructor.

  39. What a great post, especially the first 12 or so. After awhile I couldn’t read all of them– and got a little lengthy. But super — Wow! good job. I appreciate the tips — about gut wrenching and all that stuff — and where to go and who and how to interact.

    It all works. I’m so happy I discovered social. And thanks again!

  40. What a damn long post! Jeez…

    And, I don’t usually waste paper on printing posts, but I did on yours. It’s a keeper!

    And, you had me reading all the way through… so don’t worry.

    I really appreciate the way you handled the material; the reality of writing and publishing all too often falls prey to gloom and doom. You managed to keep in real and keep all the marvelous possibilities alive. That’s a gift, my friend.

    I am also envious how you managed to fit so much valuable content so succinctly through out the entire post. Ever paragraph had a good one-two punch.

    I am in the process of building my platform and also in the middle of being a seminary student, getting my certification as coach and taking a class as an apprentice writer. I am really moving along carefully and building in layers as I am able. And, I had this idea. Can I ask your opinion?

    Simply, I am unable to produce robust books right now but I can produce shorter versions (how-to, educational, transformational life) without taking away from a more robust version later. I wanted to use this to test the market, a vehicle for marketing and giveaways as well as a way to get out there sooner rather than later. What do you think about this idea?

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge and for caring… not just about your craft but about ours.

    Mario Zeleny

  41. Great post. One reason that more books are being sold online is that brick and mortar bookstores are going away. Borders is gone, Barnes is cutting stores. The whole publishing dynamic is changing, just as record stores and one-screen movie houses have disappeared.

  42. Thanks for the many helpful comments. I write fiction, which is more difficult to market than nonfiction. My efforts to find a professional to help me market my books have been unsuccessful. Not even responses to calls and emails. Is fiction a marketing bugbear?

    • I think fiction is much more difficult. With non-fiction you can build a story around the process of the book, as well as around the content of the book.

      With fiction, unless you are a celebrity, it is hard to market.

      One recommendation I have is to google “Maria Murnane” who writes “single women romantic fiction” and does very well marketing her books and writes about how she does it on a blog. one idea she has which I think is fun is she creates personal pages (not fan pages) for her characters. This way her “characters” can directly engage with their “friends” that are actually fans.

  43. Thank you so much for this post! I had many of these same thoughts in mind, but it helps to know that they are working for others. I hope you knock it out of the park with your book launch!

  44. This is really a great post and motivates me to self publish. Would you be able to share how many days/hours you actually took to write/edit the entire book?

  45. Love this article! So happy to see my favorites like Altucher and No Meat Athlete featured on Copyblogger over the past few months 🙂

    I haven’t been able to read ALL the comments, but I would like to give my two cents on #20 as I don’t think anyone has hit on this yet.

    I feel like video is an afterthought for most folks, when it should really be a crucial core focus for any content marketer:

    1. YouTube is a search engine, and the 2nd largest only to Google. According to Alexa rankings, YouTube is the 3rd highest traffic site in the world, after Facebook and Google. Not to mention the fact that Google owns YouTube, which means any content created there will feed heavily into your google ranking (similar to the Google+ relationship).

    2. YouTube is a social network. A huge one. Nuff sed.

    I own a brick-and-mortar landscaping business, and like every other content marketer I focused on what I thought was most important: the blog, facebook, linkedin, etc. All very important, obviously.

    But now I’m hitting YouTube hard because as you can see on Alexa it receives more traffic than Bing, Yahoo, Twitter, Amazon, Wikipedia, and basically every website on Earth except for two.

    Peace out, and I’d love to hear other opinions / fact checkers!

  46. Wow! What an amazing article. You literally blew my mind! I’m not there yet but when I am I’ll be scouring this post. (which I’m bookmarking and saving in Evernote) Thanks so much for your wealth and depth of information!!

  47. I am only thirteen and I am dying to publish one of my books. Some adults may be thinking that I am just a kid and I can’t write, but my friends love my books. Even my teacher like some of other writings and storg stories I did for class. I don’t know if there is a legal age for publishing a book or not, so should I wait or not?

    • Megan!

      Yes, you can publish at any age you want, and you should start NOW! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise… sure it’s going to take you a lot of time, probably more work than you think up front but it is soooo worth it, just DO IT!

      Here’s my best tips for you:

      1. Go read James Altucher, the guy who wrote this article. On his site JamesAltucher.com, he talks about all alternate options and things kids should be doing INSTEAD of going to college, and publishing is one of them. He also has lots more good advice about self-publishing.

      2. Google “Man Cans Success Story”. This kid is like 17, but he started this company when he was like 13. Both HuffingtonPost & Entrepreneur did stories covering this.

      The point being that you can do whatever you want even as a teenager, and if you just keep researching you will find dozens and hundreds of kids your age who have published or started successful companies.

      So obviously, the last tip is:

      3. Keep researching, and JUST DO IT. It will be a lot of work, but way more fun than any “regular job”, and better paying in the long run.

      And of course, there’s always the chance that you hit it big and become a millionaire before age 20… no guarantees… just sayin… 😉

  48. James, you say here, “I now give that book away for free, and two others, when people sign up for my email list. The email list is another good way to build distribution and readership, and giving away free material to people who sign up is a good idea.”

    But that doesn’t seem to be working.

    Am I missing something here? I signed up, but no download link, no link to a page offering the content.

    It seems to me that consistently following through on what we offer is key to building enough reader trust that they’ll feel confident to buy!

  49. James – thank you so much for great content. It is probably the best post on self-publishing I have ever seen. Actually, it is so comprehensive that it looks more like an Ebook itself 🙂
    Great job James.. I am so impressed (and inspired).

  50. Thank you so much for this post. I’m sharing it with my writers’ group. Some of us blog, some write poetry, and some are writing children’s books. I think there’s something here for all of us.

    I’m only on step 4 so far, but I’m inspired to keep working at writing, building community, and doing good work.

    Thank you.

  51. James, I just came across this article now and I love the brute honesty put forth in your writing. I’ve just taken this path and many of the 21 points listed have hit home and will be thoroughly put to use as I continue my journey. One thing I’ve learned is the marketing aspect of your book is the hardest thing to do, a welcome challenge I am taking on. Thanks for posting and I’ve posted your article on my blog at GoodReads. Thanks for the words of wisdom!

  52. I have lots of a book written out that I am going to be soon offering as a smaller ebook with a course I have, but I eventually want to take it to amazon (at least). I’d be adding more content and hopefully enlisting good help and investing into it so that it’s AWESOME.

    The thing I am wondering about, though, is that it is an instructional book but I don’t think the instruction is done or can be just after reading the book. It’s for charting your cycles for natural birth control, so as you can imagine it’s important to use it correctly so as not to sacrifice effectiveness.

    How do I go about presenting that on amazon? I don’t want people to buy it and have me saying throughout the book that they should consult with someone, as well and that come as a surprise to them and make them feel like they were tricked into buying something incomplete.

    I notice a lot of people with booming online businesses tend to publish books that are sort of valuable but don’t feel complete, and I don’t want to be “that” person.

    Any ideas?

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