Review: Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing by Catherine Ryan Howard

Self-Printed by Catherine Ryan HowardTitle: Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing (Second Edition)
Author: Catherine Ryan Howard – Twitter | Blog
Genre(s): Non-Fiction
How To Purchase: Links on Catherine’s blog

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The only self-publishing guide with a No Saying “Gatekeepers” rule, now fully revised and expanded

Do you think that no one has the right to stand between you and your published writer dreams? That the publishing industry is going down in flames and self-publishers are going to rise like a 99c phoenix from the ashes? That all literary agents are interested in doing is blogging sarcastically about the rhetorical question at the start of your query letter, that editors will just use your submitted manuscript for kindling and that you’ll be senile before you hear back from either of them? That once you’ve uploaded the book you finished yesterday afternoon to Amazon, it’ll be mere minutes before the money starts rolling in and you can quit your day job? Do you say things like “gatekeepers”, “The Big Six”, “E.L. James”, “legacy publishing” and “indie author” a lot? Are you self-publishing to “show them all”?

If you’ve answered yes to one or more of these questions then I do apologise, but this isn’t the book for you.

This book is for writers who consider self-publishing to be a good Plan B, or even a sideline to traditional publication. Who want to do it the cheapest and easiest way possible while still producing a quality product. Who understand that much like Starbucks outlets and Nespresso coffee machines, traditional and self-publishing can peacefully co-exist. Writers who know that they don’t have to sell a million copies of their book to start earning a living from their writing, but that they do have to work hard and treat it like a business. Who are blessed with common sense and live in the real world at least most of the time. Who find my jokes funny, at least occasionally.

If this sounds like you, then Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing may be just the “How To…” guide you were looking for.

It will tell you everything you need to know in order to publish a Print On Demand paperback and e-book, and (crucially) sell them, without sounding like anti-Big Publishing propaganda produced by the Ministry of Truth.

Be warned: you are now entering a No Saying “Gatekeepers” Zone…

Remember what I’ve said about how I give out stars? I haven’t actually blogged about it, but it’s on my Review Policy. 5 stars means that something changed my life and gave me a different perspective. I reserve the elusive 5 stars for books like Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which I read when I was young and impressionable, or We Need to Talk About Kevin, which made me bawl when I wasn’t pregnant. I gave this book 5 stars. That means that if you want to self-publish, you have to read this book. I might make it required reading for everyone who submits to me. (No, I won’t, but I might start lecturing people with page numbers from this book.)

To be quite honest, I knew most of what was in this book already. This is the book I wish I’d read several months ago, rather than having to scrape together bits and pieces of information from a variety of sources and many, many blog posts. However, as this book so asserts, there’s a lot of bad information out there. Because I am terribly untrusting, six-months-ago-me wouldn’t have read the book because I didn’t want to waste money on something that may just be another “How I Won the Lotto of Publishing/Self-Publishing!” clone.

But believe me when I say this is the book that you need to read if you want some no-nonsense, hilariously delivered, intensely sane advice.

I have two dissenting opinions from Ms. Howard, which I will dispense in a moment, but I want to underline the fact that I agree with 98% of this book. To me, a lot of it is common sense, but as she notes, common sense doesn’t seem so common. (Was that her or Mark Twain? Or both? I don’t care, we’re all correct.)

First dissenting opinion: Get Your Own ISBN’s

Now, I will say that my opinion is different than hers because I get ISBN’s for free. I’ve explained this to people before, and they seem confused. By free, I mean, without cost. I mean, I could get one hundred ISBN’s, and they would cost me zero dollars. That is because I’m in Canada and I’m self-publishing as a Canadian “publisher.” (They see self-publishers/self-employed writers and publishing companies as the same thing.) If you’re in Canada and you want to get your free ISBN’s, signing up is a simple process. Just go here: The Canadian ISBN Service System.

That being said, I feel like having your own ISBN makes you seem more professional. Of course, I can afford to be professional since I get ISBN’s free. But this is one place I think a self-publisher should be consider carefully. Just as any entrepreneur or self-employed business person, we have to think like the patrons of the big companies and give ourselves maximum discovery potential. I think ISBN’s help accomplish that. My final caveat, in a section slathered in caveats, is that I haven’t researched this very much because of the whole free thing. So I suggest you do the same and create your own opinion.

Second dissenting opinion: Don’t use her chapter to format your eBook

I respect Ms. Howard, but her chapters on formatting your eBook made me cringe. It’s not difficult or frustrating. Not even a little bit. But I will forgive her because she hasn’t seen The Best Guide Ever Created:

Take Pride in your eBook Formatting by Guide Henkel (To which I also give 5 stars, for anyone interested.)

If you got at least a B- in Computer Science in high school, you should be able to figure it out. If you’re not technically saavy, well, go ahead and hire him. He knows what he’s talking about. But it’s not hard. It took me a few hours on a Saturday to figure out how to do it. And now I’m sure it will take a lot less time now that I’ve been through it once. (As in, half an hour to an hour … if that.)

In conclusion: Read this book

You will laugh. You will learn stuff. You will feel not so alone in this whole self-publishing journey. You’ll go forth into the world, confident and professional and convinced of the importance of a matching blog color scheme.

Have you added my forthcoming release, Guarding Angel, to your Goodreads to-be-read list? You can also find me on Twitter and Pinterest.

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