10 Things I’ve Learned About Self-Publishing

by | Jan 11, 2013

by Matthew Turner (@turndog_million)

Matthew, a marketer and novelist, is a frequent visitor to the blog. He last appeared here as the author of Creating an Author Brand to Boost Your Platform. Now, after a lot of study and preparation, he’s a published author. Here he passes on some of the lessons he’s learned along the way.

Self-Publishing . . . isn’t it amazing/awful/everything in between?

It has so much potential and holds so many opportunities, yet at the same time keeps you at arms length and practically invisible. We’re thrust into a large pond with many big fishes devouring all of the delicious readers.

Writing in its own right is hard, but being visible is a complete and utter nightmare.

I, like many modern day writers, began this journey with very little knowledge. Beyond Parallel had potential but nothing more. It’s now available for the world to love/hate/feel everything in between.

I still have much to learn, but here are:

10 Self-Publishing tips I’ve picked up along the way

  1. Read A Lot

    I don’t care how well read you are, you can always read more, and if you wish to become a writer by trade, your reading list needs to expand.

    It doesn’t stop at quantity, but range. Devour any genre you come cross and consider what you can learn from it. Join a Book Club, a Goodreads Group, or ask your friends to recommend their favourite reads. In general, have an open mind.

  2. Amazing People Surround You

    I’ve been amazed by the people I’ve come across in the last year. Online, offline, bloggers, authors, reviewers, and readers, they’ve all guided me to where I am today.

    Be open to possibilities and let other people enter your life. They are generous and have much to share with you. Some will be your competition, but don’t look at them like this. They’re your peers and you can help each other flourish. Be cut-throat if you like, but I doubt you’ll enjoy it.

  3. Give Before You Take

    Generosity is the single biggest aspect that modern society has. The Internet seems to give people the platform to give before they take. Isn’t that lovely?

    I know it’s tempting to sell and ask for the world, but don’t. Give more than you take and be generous with your love. You’ll be amazed by what you discover along the way.

  4. Layout & Design Is Important

    As a writer your words are vital, but the visuals that surround them are just as important. Whether it’s on your blog or within your book, make sure you take design seriously.

    As Joel can appreciate, your font, front cover, and layout all play a vital part in your success. Don’t leave it until the last minute. Make it part of your journey and love the process as much as you love your writing. 

  5. Platform Is More Than Marketing

    When I first learned about an author platform I figured it was marketing through and through. It isn’t!

    It covers EVERYTHING. Marketing plays a part, sure, but your platform is far greater. If there’s one piece of advice I can offer, it’s this: don’t consider your platform and writing as separate entities. Make your writing part of it. It’s an important aspect, of course, but not the only thing to focus on.

  6. The Importance Of Book Reviews

    It’s hard to understand just how important reviews are until you see it first hand. They are the guiding light to readers and writers alike. They’re a writer’s best friend.

    More importantly, book reviewers are amazing folk. I’m not talking about the high paid journalists, but the ones who do it to a few people at a time. These folk read hundreds of books a year, spend hours writing, and help connect writers with readers. They can be the difference between being visible.

  7. Online Communities Are A Godsend

    Online communities can come in many shapes and sizes, but they all offer something important to their members. Not only is it a great place to share your work, but the tips and tricks you pick up are incredible.

    I’ve learned so much about writing, publishing, sharing, and connecting with others via online forums, blogs, and communities. Every writer should be part of a select few. We live in an amazing time and are very lucky.

  8. You Can’t Think Like An Indie Author

    You have to take yourself seriously. You need to call yourself a writer and be proud of it. Some people will focus on the self-published aspect, but does it really matter? Really?

    Don’t be in awe of traditionally published authors. Stand tall and be proud of what you do. It’s amazing how people react when you show confidence in yourself, even if you are a nervous wreck on the inside. :)

  9. You Need To Ask Questions

    Don’t be afraid to be cheeky. Ask questions and reach out to people; no matter how big or small they are. The worst thing that can happen is no reply at all, but you’d be amazed at how many people will speak to you.

    I’ve met some inspiring people and I’m so glad I took the chance. Nerve-wracking as hell, but totally worth it.

  10. Write Every Day

    It doesn’t only improve your craft, but changes your entire mindset. When you write every day – be it a blog post, fiction, non-fiction – you start feeling like a writer. The self doubt slowly recedes and the good days become more prominent.

    Write every day and be proud when you do so. It feels amazing and keeps you moving in the right direction.

It’s A Journey

This is what I’ve learned SO FAR, but I have a long way to go. I’m far from at the end of my journey, in fact, I’ve only just begun.

My debut novel, Beyond Parallel, is now available for the world to read. I couldn’t be prouder/scared/every feeling in between.

I love learning new skills and expanding on old ones, do you?

What have you learned so far on your journey?

Share your biggest lesson learned in the comments…

Matt-TurnerMatthew Turner is a writer from Yorkshire, England. His debut novel, Beyond Parallel is out now, and if you like coming-of-age tales, it’s the perfect book for you. In the same mould as Sliding Doors, Beyond Parallel flips between two parallel tales. Grab yourself a copy and be part of an emotional roller-coaster that everyone can relate to.

Photo: bigstockphoto.com

tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. Andrew Patterson

    Awesome blog and very informative. A lot of people make common mistakes with assuming you can produce a book without editing. Yes, it is good to have several people help, but I know that when I go to get my book published (whether at a house or self), I will need professional editors.

    Thanks for the awesome post. And congrats on your first book. Sounds like you are doing things right.

    And a side note. EVERY one of the authors I associate with that are self-pubbed? They ALL get their works professionally edited and they always make back their expenditure.

  2. Maggie Dana

    The problem with this thread, and many others on the subject of writing and self-publishing, is the cavalier use of the term ‘editor’ and tossing out the costs of editing … anywhere from $200 to $5000 without defining what sort of editing is being done.

    A copy editor is different from an editor (a big picture editor) who is different from a developmental editor and a line editor. They all charge a varying amount of money for their specific editing jobs that can take anywhere from 20 hours to a couple of months, depending on what sort of editing they’ve been hired to do.

    • Linton Robinson

      Actually, that comes up in almost every discussion like this.

      And it’s kind of understood what an indie author needs or wants in the way of editing. Very seldom somebody who’s going to “rewrite the book”.

    • Adam Porter

      I agree with Linton here, and I’m fairly certain he and I both understood the sort of editing being discussed. Most indie writers are not looking to hire four different editors. They have beta readers, writer’s groups and mentors for the “big picture” stuff. I have had some clients I had to send back to the drawing board because they thought their book was “done,” but it wasn’t.

      The editor(s) I use all routinely work with both indie authors and larger publishers, and they offer whatever services are necessary from story consulting to light grammar editing, as I do. But the vast majority of editing work for indie authors we see is G&P with some light structuring.

      Most indie authors don’t have the budget for multiple editors. With my clients, I generally know within a chapter or two if the book is ready. If I see repeated mistakes or contextual issues, I use these as teaching moments, then suggest the writer rework the manuscript with these lessons in mind.

  3. Turndog Millionaire

    Totally agree, Stella. This advice is not for everyone, merely what I’ve learned in the past year. Hopefully it connects with a few folk.

    I think it’s hard to define a writer. Some will say being a blogger is, others won’t. Are journalists writers? I suppose the perception is different for different people, but I found once I started looking at myself as a writer, it helped. The advice from Jeff Goins helped in this regard a great deal.

    Like you say though, the best thing a person can do is read, ask questions, and keep improving. If you do this good things are bound to happen :)

    Thanks for the great comment :)


    • Stella Deleuze

      It’s very difficult to say. I think you are a writer if you invent stories and need to write, but, only if you also improve your skills by learning and practicing what you’ve learned you become a professional writer. If you just jot away every day, but your style never changes, you are just someone who writes. Does it make sense?

      If you have a hobby you love you want to improve, dig deeper, want to learn all aspects, so much that you almost become a nerd. That’s where the difference lies. Just emptying your brain from all the stories isn’t enough.

      Personally, that’s what I love most about writing: you can challenge yourself and become better with every book. But that is off-topic here.

      My gripe with self-publishing is the low quality. Not all books, but most of them. Everyone who can hold a pen can publish nowadays and the market is flooded with drivel, which is a shame.

      • Adam Porter

        I would suggest that, unless a person who writes is either building or continuing a career, that person is not a “writer,” per se. But I’m speaking of the vocational use of the term.

        For my part I don’t know that the question is “what makes someone a writer,” but instead, “what sort of writer are you?” I’m speaking from the perspective of a vocational writer. I write every day, whether I am working on a book of my own, a contract book or a news article, I write or research daily. That’s just part and parcel of the gig.

        I still believe that Matthew’s advice to aspiring writers is on target. Aspiring vocational writers should write every day. This is part of developing a business acumen and professional discipline. They should also engage knowledgeable beta readers and mentors to avoid putting out, as you aptly called it, “low quality drivel.”

  4. Stella Deleuze

    Hi, Matthew.

    I think this kind of advice is not applicable to everyone. I’ve been writing since 2009, wrote seven books (four novels, two short story collections, and one self-publishing educational rant), but I didn’t feel like a writer, despite writing every day. How does blogging make a you writer? It makes you a blogger. Writing–or better the will/urge to write–comes from within. It took me until end of last year, to realise I am a writer. I try to write every day to not lose connection, but I often go weeks without writing, until I miss it too much and go back to it. Does it make me less of a writer? :-)

    As for communities, etc.: I’m a firm supporter when it comes to exchanging skills, but some mistake the community sense for tid for tad, and then you have fake reviews and other wild stuff going on AFTER publishing. The community is important pre publishing.

    I’m sure you meant well, but I’m always a little weary it such advice is given as a generalisation; everyone has their own way. The only general advice I find useful is: Reading, learning, asking question, and improving. If you learn the basic skills of writing, and you are a story teller, you’re already half-way there. Having the book edited and proofread, formatted, and a good cover should be common sense.

    By the way: someone mentioned crowd-sourcing for an unedited book: I’m against it. That should be done before publishing and made clear. But as soon as one hits the publish button, it should be a ready, almost perfect, product. We owe it to our readers.

    • Linton Robinson

      I would say, Stella, that the way publishing works these days has changed the whole idea of what “ready” is. And definitely what “published to those readers we owe it to” means.
      It’s one place where the perseveration of old models lends people limits that aren’t really necessary.
      There is a lot of room for creative adaptation.
      For instance, here’s something I’ve been doing. Publish an ebook don’t promote it. Have a “Free Day”, but only notify contributors to the book or family/friends, special colleagues, etc. They grab a free copy. If they spot problems, they let you know. At some point you open up the promo to the world.

      I send corrections to indie writers all the time. Not trad-published wriiters, because their editors don’t want to hear about it and are locked in to big print runs. And I get corrections from readers. I am grateful for them, and I consider any help to other writers I like as being a good thing.

      Now you can call that “crowd sourcing” and declare it a bad thing if you want, but I have a hard time seeing it that way. I see it as mutuality. Of writers co-operating driven by mutual admiration. And possible due to contemporary technology and marketing.

      I’ve mentioned this before, but the opinion of a person working on salary for a big publisher doesn’t necessarily apply very well to indie authors. And much of the contemporary styles of “discoverability” are not really understood by the big boys, just the little guerillas in the mist. You don’t go to a suit at Doubleday and ask them how best to use a KDP Select “free day”. But indies talk about and refine it all the time.
      I’ve mentioned an innovation that I came up with myself, though I’m sure others do it.
      It is, as I say, a different game with different strategies.

      BTW, I keep scratching my head over why people think it’s so awful for the market to get “flooded” with amateur books. Are junk books driving out the good stuff? Of course not. An analogy I saw the other day was, “Does having three times as many runners in the New York Marathon diminish it because a greater percentage of the runners aren’t as good?”
      I wish writers would stop being afraid of other writers. It’s not “Hunger Games” out there. It’s a co-operative situation.

  5. Hanako Stephens

    Well it’s about time i go figure out what i want to do for my book’s cover LOL – I’m SO clueless and i make other people’s covers all the time

    • Turndog Millionaire

      It’s always the case :)

      Doing to yourself what you teach others is always the hardest thing in the world. This is what I often experience


  6. Adam Porter


    Appreciate the thoughts. Thanks. 3 suggestions particularly resonated with me: Read, ask questions, write every day. Sounds simple, but many people fail to succeed because they fail to do the simple stuff.

    Honestly, I think those suggestions could apply to life in general, but they are, IMO, vital for working or aspiring writers.

    I also want to state (again) the importance of editing and design as part of your marketing plan. While ROI considerations are important, the biggest complaints from readers responding to the new “digital revolution” are:

    1 – Poor writing
    2 – Lack of editing
    3 – Distractingly poor layout

    I recently picked up an indy published book sponsored by Amazon. Good story, but it could have benefitted from both one more round of professional editing and decent formatting. Again, decent story, but as a professional writer – even as an avid reader – I struggled to get past the obvious newbie mistakes that any pro editor would have caught.

    • Linton Robinson

      Hi Adam
      I’m intrigued by your mention of “layout” regarding ebooks.
      My experience both reading and publishing them, is that there really isn’t much in the way of layout involved, and you don’t have a whole lot of control over what there is. You can’t even spec a font for sure. You can’t wrap a picture.

      I’m wondering what layout parameters you are seeing there, and how you would implement them.

      • Adam Porter

        For me, the layout issue comes up more often in indy-pubbed print books, but for digital I’ve seen it in travel or other photo-heavy books. Non-uniform photo sizes causing weird page breaks. Treating image text as extended cutlines with similar word counts and positioning them evenly helped. I figured that out the hard way…eventually.

        • Linton Robinson

          Ah, well that’s a little different.
          You said those considerations, including layout were complaints about the “digital revolution”, which I took to mean digital books.
          Sure, heavy use of photos is a problem. Actually I haven’t seen a lot of photo-heavy ebooks. Seems kind of pointless since most are black and white only.
          I use graphics to create pages and figured out ways to make them work. I guess I took the easy way: asking people who knew more about it.

          • Adam Porter

            Sure, for B&W Kindles, but for those I would use a single image and then (optionally) provide links to online galleries if readers wanted to see more. Use the online galleries to help sell the books too.

            But, with the advent of Kindle Fires and iBooks, multimedia digital publishing offers a lot more potential for color images and video. One of my clients specializes in digital textbooks. He’s pioneering the field in S. Am at the moment. Another is a local teacher who is working to integrate iPad in schools here. I expect to see a lot more full color digital media coming soon.

    • Turndog Millionaire

      Thanks Adam, and I agree, I think most people, in most walks of life can grow by reading and asking questions. A curious mind can be a great thing.

      And yes, a great story can be hurt by a poorly edited book. I was recently speaking to a reviewer who says she is a little more forgiving to indie authors. If it’s a trad-pub book, she isn’t, and although I hope this changes, and that the standard for trad-pub and self-pub becomes the same, I feel peole are somewhat forgiving to new writers.

      HOWEVER, only to an extent. The odd comma out of place, sure. The occasional mispelling, yes. Errors on every page, heck no.

      Thanks for the comment


  7. Brian Y Rogers


    Would you please explain a little about what a ‘platform’ is, as you see it.


  8. Joel Friedlander

    One more comment on the “crowd-sourced” editing idea. I just finished reading Guy Kawasaki’s APE, a great new book on self-publishing. In the book Kawasaki tells the story of how he enlisted 75 people to review and correct his manuscript through his extensive social media networks.

    After making all the suggested corrections, he turned the book over to a professional proofreader who found (wait for it) . . . 1,500 uncorrected errors.

    So for indie authors, it’s important to realize that other authors (or readers or your aunt who once taught English) cannot provide you with the expertise and experience of professionals who have skills honed over years of practice.

    • Turndog Millionaire

      Wow, that is craziness!

      And these are my thoughts. I don’t think I will ever be one of those writers who can get away without an editor. I’m too attuned to the story that I forget the technical aspects – at least in the very final efforts

      Plus us writers get far too close to the whole thing. It makes it difficult to catch those pesky little errors

      • Kathreen

        An answer from an expert! Thanks for coibgntutinr.

  9. Turndog Millionaire

    Linton, please, I by no means accuse you of not being a pro. I don’t know you, but on the sound of things you are quite the success. Congrats.

    You may say not to apologise, but I will. My words seem to have riled you, which is a shame, but such is life.

    I think someone starting out (myself included) can achieve a lot with a positive mindset, and treating yourself as a pro can help this. I know my writing improved a great deal once I started acting like a writer, saying it to friends, and taking myself more seriously.

    Like I say, these are merely my thoughts and learnings so far. Some people will read and think I’m crazy-wrong, others may generate ideas from them. I hope for the latter.

    Anyway, have a good one – agree to disagree and all that :)


    • Joel Friedlander

      Matthew, I think the tips you passed along are very useful for authors who are thinking about getting into self-publishing. In fact, one of the reasons I invite and frequently publish articles by authors like you, who are just starting out, is to help authors who are trying to orient themselves to the sometimes confusing and frustrating world of book publishing.

      In fact, think these are some of the most helpful articles on my blog, and often the ones that get the biggest response from readers, so I hope you’ll continue to let us know how your publishing journey is going.

      • Turndog Millionaire

        The pleasure is all mine Joel, I love to contribute on this site.

        As you’ve said earlier, there are so many ways to go about things, which is so great. I see/hear of success stories each day, many carving their own way forward with unique and creative ideas.

        Love it!!!

  10. Turndog Millionaire

    Apologies Linton that this post wasn’t to your taste. It is merely the ’10 things that I’VE come across’ in the last year though. I by no means have all the answers.

    I stand by the don’t think like and indie point though. Not in action, per se, but in outlook. Consider yourself a Pro and good things then come. I suggest you read some Steven Pressfield for more on this. His two books (The War Of Art & Turning Pro – although I’ve yet to read the second, but heard many great things) are quite the inpspiration.

    Each to their own I guess


  11. Linton Robinson

    OK, I hate to be grouchy, but is it really that valuable to get advice on self-publishing from somebody who JUST PUBLISHED THEIR FIRST BOOK????

    Would you take sex advice from somebody who was a virgin up until last night?
    I’m serious. Something about writing seems to make people think they can give advice without any experience.

    And a good reason why this isn’t a good idea is the quality of this advice.
    The main mess-up being a pretty major one.
    YES, you DO have to “think like and indie”.
    Trying to play a cheap imitation of the big publishing game is probably the most common and most damaging mistake most newbie publishers make. Dumping money and time into trying to get into bookstores (probably the single biggest mistake available), flouncing around doing dilletante posing, spending money on frills, paying publicists and anybody who tells you they make you look “more professional”, trying to imitate the model (currently kind of failing) of big publishers. (Who are busily trying to buy into the indie model). Getting sucked into “self publishing company” scams so as to “look like an author with a publisher”.

    This is a really vital thing to grasp. you aren’t playing the same game, you can’t compete with multi-billion companies on their own turf and own rules, you need to learn different strategies. Almost everything an indie writer can do to be successful is something that big publishers don’t do.
    Castro and Mao didn’t spend money on pretty uniforms and parades and tanks, they fought a different kind of war than what the big armies did.
    You’re an indie, live with it, do it right.

    • Adam Porter

      Your argument assumes there are only 2 options on the table. What you call the “indie” way and the big box format. That’s a fallacy a professional would not be suggesting. There are countless price points for solid, professional work that often differ from one region to the next.

      For example, here in FL, I routinely get cover design for less than $300 and professional editing from folks with decades working for publishing houses or major dailies for less than $200. The books come out store shelf quality for less than 10% of the erroneous figure you quoted just for editing.

      • Linton Robinson

        Actually, I by no means suggested that there are only two ways to do things. Only that there are more than one way. As usual.

        I think you probably actually know what I’m talking about, and have watched indie writers mess up by trying to get into store chains (or worse, succeeding) etc.

        If you can get somebody to edit a novel for $200, great! Care to share some names and contact info?

        That was not an “erroneous” figure nor a quote, by the way. It’s a number I have seen a lot. Including right here in this blog. $3000 is a very frequently cited price. I have never heard of anybody getting a professional novel edit for $200.

        • Adam Porter

          There are certainly a lot of options and a lot of potential scams out there. I didn’t realize I was getting such a deal. Maybe it’s a personal discount or a volume discount or something. I’ve been using the same editor since she was still working for the local daily here in town and, whether I’m doing the writing or repping another author, I always do 2 prelim edits before I submit. I’ve not seen more than $1K for editing, but, again, that might be a market thing.

  12. Craig

    Great post. These are waters I have yet to jump into, so having it all summed up like this is a big help. About all I have on this so far is that you need great cover art, paying for editing is probably worth it, and a sexy author’s photo can’t hurt. Thanks for the post.

    • Linton Robinson

      You’re pretty sure that “paying for editing is worth it”? Have you run any sort of ROI tests on that? Figured how many books you’d have to sell to get back $5000 in editing expenses? Compared to how many you’d sell without it?
      You might want to think that over.
      And consider that it might not be great cover “art” that you need, but cover “design” that works within the size and format contraints of online presentation.

      • Turndog Millionaire

        I’m sorry, but that is a very dangerous mentality to have. Editing is important, and yes, in my opinion is necessary. $5,000? Well, I paid nowhere near that, and although I’m sure my book isn’t 100% free of errors, it is of a pretty decent standard.

        It comes down to putting out the best product possible, and I live by the notion that no one person can create a great book on their own. If you believe differently, fair enough, but this is my take on it.

        Do I have proof that it is worth the money? Nope, but i bet if I asked 100 indie authors whether they thought it was or wasn’t, well, I predict the answer would be yes.

        Just my two cents anyway


        • Linton Robinson

          Excuse me, but how would you know if it’s a dangerous attitude?
          Based on your experience?

          In fact, I know over 100 indie authors, and most do not pay for outside editing. Of the ones that have, very few got their money back.
          The consensus is that most writers who spend thousands on editing are doing it to avoid the work and delay of doing it themselves. And I’d say about 30% of them get inferior work they wish they hadn’t paid for.
          I’m speaking here of people with years of experience putting out several titles, okay?

          In point of fact, the whole “have to put out the best product possible” is just not true. It might be from the amateur POV, where it’s all about ego and “oh, look, I’m an author”.
          Professionally, it’s an attitude that would be laughed at in almost any business milieu. It gets preached around writing, but the reality is very different.
          “Ultimate extremes” (the best, the cheapest, the fastest) are very seldom the best motivations for making money. There is almost always an optimum.
          You are trying to put out the cost-effective product that people will pay for. Plain and simple.

          As just one example of this, you go to WalMart and buy an electic drill or egg timer or kiddy pajamas. Are they the best product possible? The best available? No, they are the products at which your needs and the price meet. Does China export the best products possible? Nope. So why are they clobbering USA in sales and putting factories out of business?

          Here’s what I’m saying. It’s never as simple and noble and excelsior as all the writing pundits say. Like so much of life. You learn by experience. You don’t seem too open to the comments of more experienced writers/publishers, it looks like to me. That will cost you. If you are trying to make a living. If you’re just trying to “be an author”, then fine, it really doesn’t matter what you do.

          But, again, you haven’t done this. You’ve made a little start at it. You might entertain the possibility that your advice to other newbies might not be solid gold.
          And I mention that mostly as a signal to other who are just starting out and reading this conversation.

          • Joel Friedlander

            If indie authors want to publish books that are unedited and rely on “crowd-sourced” editing, constant revising their books, that’s fine by me. I don’t recommend it. But haveing worked for many publishers and produced hundreds of books, I can tell you that every single book produced by professional publishers—those that have to make a profit to stay in business—is edited by professional editors, often more than once.

            There are many approaches to self-publishing and as many motivations as there are authors. I applaud people who try to put out the “best product possible” within their budget and capabilites.

            I try to make room for all opinions here, and welcome lots of approaches. However, I draw the line at personal attacks and will not tolerate them, so by all means advocate for your principles or practices, and leave others to do the same.

      • Adam Porter

        $5K in editing expenses? That’s a ridiculous figure. And to posture up over the supposed nuances of “art” v. “design” is semantic nonsense. Any graphic design professional worth the shingle hanging from his door understands the dynamics of presentation v. formatting.

        • Linton Robinson

          No need to try to get insulting. I am not “posturing” anything.

          In fact, “cover art” means something. “Cover design” means something else. You can have great artwork and a bad cover, or no artwork and useful cover. Joel’s book for instances doesn’t have “cover art”, it’s designed. Please…

          I have seen the $5000 figure. Seen a lot more in the $1000-3000 range. I would say that the $200 figure is the ridiculous one. But would love to be proven wrong. Let me know where people can get a deal like that. It would be really helpful.
          But don’t get twisted up over numbers. Substitute any reasonable igure you like into what I said about having to pay it off by sales and it means the same thing.

          • Adam Porter

            No insult was intended. When you put yourself over as an expert and denigrated the blog’s author, it came off as obnoxious, someone trying too hard to be seen as an expert, particularly when you claim to be doing so only because you were looking out for newbie authors. I admit, it was off-putting because it came off as condescending. Not that you likely care what I think, but just wanted to be clear that no insult was intended.

            As for the numbers, $1K may be reasonable in some markets. You said $5K. That’s unreasonable. Tough to justify that expense given the expected ROI for an newbie author.

            I’ve been working with graphic pros for 2 decades and we’ve always used “art” and “design” interchangeably, with the understanding that good art requires proper design in the same way an architect understands the best artistic rendering must be carefully designed. Maybe I’m assuming too much, but I wouldn’t work with a graphic artist who didn’t consider appropriate design.

    • Turndog Millionaire

      Thanks Craig, appreciate it

      I’d say yes, a cover and editing is of major importance. I keep learning all of the time though, which is one of the best things about the whole process :)


      • Lin Robinson

        I think I made it clear that this is not a personal attack, but a challenge to what was said.
        And I think, “What do you know about something you have just started doing and have not established a record of success with” is a valid challenge to an opinion.

        For instance, to say “I believe no great book can come from one person alone” doesn’t mean much if it’s not based on any real data or experience, just a priori belief.
        I believe that it’s very possible for a single person to produce a very successful book because I have seen it done, and have done so myself.

        So… doesn’t that cut a little more ice? I mean, seriously, doesn’t saying “I have seen that” mean more than “I don’t think it’s possible”?

        I’m not sure where the idea of “crowd sourced” entered this. I didn’t say it. There are a lot of alternatives to paying money for services. There always are. That isn’t some blind belief. That is a fact. Based on observation and the experience of many people with years of experience in publishing their own work.

        But one of the main things I wanted to point out (and not to argue with this kid, but for readers who are starting to produce their own books) is the idea of perfection, rather than optimal being a given. It’s not, certainly not in the business world.
        The idea of ignoring ROI in favor of a priori goals and standards is not good business practice.
        Sorry, but if anybody has any doubts, as somebody who has shown success as an entrepreneur.

        As you say, Joel, it’s good to show a variety of opinions. This is mine. And I base it on experience, not supposition. And I think it can be helpful to new publishers. They get plenty of the rah-rah. They can read this same stuff over and over. I saw some practically the same thing the other day on the site of a high school kid who published a book.

        What I’m saying is, evaluate advice. Think it over. And VERY MUCH come to your decisions based on a realistic concept of who you are. A newbie indie publisher has different answers from a professional, or from a big publishing exec or owner. You need to know that. And one thing about pros–they pay attention to the bottom line, to the ROI, to results, to strategies that fit their posture and presence in the market, to who they are.

  13. Turndog Millionaire

    Hi Ernie, thanks for the comment.

    Yes you can look at it like that, I phrased it the other way because I know many people associate marketing with selling and adverts and other communication methods. Therefore they see a platform as this horrible thing.

    Like you say, marketing is much more than that.

    However, looking at marketing in the way you mention is a somewhat out dated method, in my opinion. For example, there are now the 7 Ps, and certain people argue there are more. I try not get bogged down in this.

    Instead I see marketing as the means to create as much value as possible and express this in front of the right people. It’s a very tough thing to define though, and there are thousands of marketing books all saying the same thing, only in a slightly different manner :)

    I do think a platform, for most people, needs to be the everything. If you have a grand knowledge in marketing you can probably alter this, but many people don’t know – nor do they want it.

    However, saying that, I still look at my platform as everything, and all the marketing things I do are done to try and structure and grow this.

    Great comment though


  14. Ernie Zelinski


    I am not quite sure what you mean by:

    “Platform Is More Than Marketing”

    I believe that it is the other way around.

    In other words:

    “Marketing Is More Than Platform!”

    Marketing entails the four P’s, including the “Product”, which is the nature of your writing plus many other things. Marketing also entails cover design, your layout, your title, your subtitle, branding, images, where your book is available, etc.

    For writers who don’t know this (and many don’t), the 4 P’s of Marketing are:

    * Product
    * Price
    * Place
    * Promotion

    And here are the various aspects of the “four P’s of Marketing”:

    * Product variety (ebooks, print books, audio)
    * Quality
    * Design
    * Features
    * Brand name
    * Packaging
    * Sizes
    * Warranties
    * Returns

    * List price
    * Discounts
    * Allowances
    * Payment period
    * Credit terms

    * Channels
    * Coverage
    * Assortments
    * Locations
    * Inventory
    * Transport

    * Sales promotion
    * Advertising
    * Sales force
    * Public relations
    * Direct marketing

    If you effectively implement all of the four P’s of marketing in your books, I believe that your author platform will be part of the four P’s, but only a relatively small part. So will be elements such as foreign-rights sales (which I have sold all by myself and from which I have earned almost $200,000 for 15 of my books).

    Correct me if I am wrong. I am just this guy here in Canada who has been self-publishing for over 20 years and am still trying to get it right.
    This so-called “indie revolution” confuses me.

    But this I know to be true — it comes from writer and former book-publishing excutive Michael Korda:

    “Even the most careful and expensive marketing plans cannot sell people a book they don’t want to read.”

    Which leads into one of my favorite things ever said by Mark Twain:

    “Write without pay until somebody offers pay. If nobody offers within three years, the candidate may look upon this circumstance with the most implicit confidence as the sign that sawing wood is what he was intended for.”

    Ernie J. Zelinski
    International Best-Selling Author
    “Helping Adventurous Souls Live Prosperous and Free”
    Author of the Bestseller “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free”
    (Over 175,000 copies sold and published in 9 languages)
    and the International Bestseller “The Joy of Not Working’
    (Over 250,000 copies sold and published in 17 languages)



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