The Secret to Publishing Success

by | May 28, 2012

Okay, I’m going to come clean with you about this whole blogging thing. (And yes, this is about self-publishing, too.)

When I started this blog, I knew almost nothing about blogging, about WordPress, about linking, keywords, traffic or any of that stuff.

Yep, I was truly a “clueless newbie.”

But something about blogging really struck a chord with me, and kept me moving forward.

Now that the landscape had changed so much in book publishing due to ebooks, internet marketing, social media and the economic downturn, it was time to take the leap.

Like a lot of people—maybe like you—I started reading everything I could find about blogging and how to do it.

But also like a lot of people, it seemed like the more I read, the more confused I got.

In true “clueless newbie” style, I had no idea what was important and vital to know, and what just didn’t matter:

  • Was Blogger the best platform, or WordPress, or did it even make a difference?
  • Did I need a designer, or could I do it myself, even though I knew absolutely no HTML, CSS, C++ or whatever that stuff is.
  • Did I have to keep my articles to 350 words maximum? Or was it more important to really explore a topic, no matter how many words it took?

Oh, there was a lot of advice around, but much of it was contradictory or incomplete.

I tried setting up a blog on my business website, but despite hours wrestling with software, I couldn’t get it to work.

Blogging and Self-Publishing

In a lot of ways blogging is very similar to self-publishing.

And the situation I just described is almost identical to the one many authors find themselves in when they get caught up in the enthusiasm for self-publishing.

I stumbled along, spending more hours than I want to admit reading other people’s blogs and researching. And sometimes I wondered if it was really worth it.

Lots of writers get to that point too, and it’s disappointing to think of all the books sitting unpublished because their authors just couldn’t figure it out and gave up.

You can’t blame them, but we’re all worse off because their voices aren’t being heard, nobody is reading their stories, learning those lessons, and that’s a shame.

Creating an Award-Winning Blog/Book

Today, a couple of years later, my blog is read by tens of thousands of people all over the world every month.

My inbox is full of inquiries from people who would like me to work on their books and I get requests for interviews, guest articles, and speaking engagements all the time.

I’ve got a big article in Writer’s Digest this month, and correspond with publishing people everywhere.

So what happened?

Education, that’s what. e-learning, to be precise. While I tried to figure out blogging, eventually I stumbled on a free ebook that lucidly described exactly how to build a successful blog.

There was an audio version of the book and for weeks I listened to it over and over, trying to grasp the lessons that would work for me.

It seemed that the training course offered by Yaro Starak, the blogger who wrote the ebook, cost $500. I was aghast. I didn’t have $500 to spare, and started to wonder whether or not I was insane to even think about it. $500 for blogging? Isn’t that supposed to be free??

But I didn’t have all the time in the world, and knew that the help of someone who had gone where I wanted to go, who could show me what was important, and what wasn’t, would be invaluable.

You probably also know how much time it can save, because you already know how much time it takes to find out the simplest things about blogging, or about book publishing. Random Googling isn’t a very efficient process.

Oh Yeah, You Have to Work, Too!

Over the coming months I studied the lessons in this course, and tried to do each of the recommended exercises.

It took time and thought, but my blog articles got better. More readers commented, more people linked to my content, I got more followers in social media.

There were days when it seemed like nothing was happening at all, that I was simply “pouring from the empty into the void.”

But little by little, reader by reader, it grew to where it is today.

Online Training Comes to Self-Publishing

Since then I’ve bought and studied several other online training courses, because now I know they work—as long as you do the work.

And it’s also why I’ve wanted to bring this same kind of organized, goal-driven learning to self-publishing.

Over a year ago I started thinking how I could do that, and provide the same kind of launchpad for authors that I had been able to use as a student of blogging.

Because life has lots of distractions, and because there’s been an incredible amount to learn to create and deliver the course I imagined, it’s taken me much longer to create than I thought it would to get this course ready for you.

Which makes it even more exciting to tell you that I’m getting ready to launch that course I dreamed of, and that I think it’s going to be fantastic.

If you’re looking for in-depth education on self-publishing, the kind that brings you to this blog and others like it, I think you’re going to be pretty excited about it too.

The course is called The Self-Publishing Roadmap, and I’ll be talking about it a lot more over the coming weeks as I get ready to open registration to the public for the first time.

As part of that conversation you’ll be invited to learn some of the key steps to publishing success though a series of videos. Whether or not you think the course is for you, I hope you’ll take the time to check them out.

Don’t miss this opportunity to find out about the Roadmap and how you can join an amazing group of people going through this course together. It’s easy. Just put your name on my early notification list and I’ll let you know as soon as we’re ready to go.

Here’s the link: The Self-Publishing Roadmap Advance Notice List

Are you in a situation where you’d like to cut through the confusion, find out how to strategize your publishing, learn how all the pieces fit together? Tell me in the comments.

But first, here’s that link again, so you don’t forget to get on that list: The Self-Publishing Roadmap Advance Notice List

Photo by camdiluv

tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. Katie McAleece

    I can relate to the beginning of this blog in many ways. Even though I’ve been blogging, seriously, for a little over six months- I feel like I started yesterday and I have no clue what I’m doing.

    I’m excited about your course! I know it will offer so much helpful advice, if it’s anything like your blog. I get so much from every post. So thank you for writing!

    • Joel Friedlander

      Thanks, Katie. It took me a while to find my way as a blogger, but I have to report it’s gotten more enjoyable and productive every year I’ve been doing it. And blogs like yours continue to inspire me.

  2. betty ming liu

    Joel, what you’ve accomplished with this blog is amazing. I think I might be ready for your course. But two groups of questions: 1) Since your course isn’t about blogging, would you recommend Yaro Starak’s course? Also wondering if he believes that daily posting is important because if it is, I don’t know if I’ll ever manage that. 2) How will your course be set up? I’m worried about the time commitment for watching videos and going through the lessons. 3) Okay. One more nosy question — love the “reply” feature that you have on your blog. If it’s a plug-in of some sort, can I ask the name of it? Thanks!

    • Joel Friedlander

      Hi Betty,

      I just found your comment in my spam filter for some reason!

      1) Yaro isn’t offering the Blog Mastermind course any more, but has a new venture called Become a Blogger with Gideon Shalwick, a video blogger. I haven’t seen the course but you can find it at There are a variety of blogging programs, some of them good. I’m going to be offering a course specifically on author blogging later this year also.

      2) The course is video instruction but you can go at whatever speed you like. All the video, transcripts and PDFs are downloadable, so you can work however it works best for you. There may be some live calls but they will be as a supplement. The lessons are broken down into short videos so it’s pretty easy to access just the information you want.

      3) Darn, I’ll have to find out, my designer did all that and I have no idea!

      Thanks for your interest Betty, I’ll email you some details.

  3. Doug

    Looks like you’ve also been studying launch formulas. Best of luck with your launch.

    • Joel Friedlander

      Thanks, Doug. It’s quite a challenge for a content creator to cross over into the world of product launches. This is my third launch and the first for the public, so I’m learning quite a bit.

  4. Ellen Roddick

    What about blogging tips for writers whose books are being published by a mainstream publisher that expects authors to be active marketers? In other words, a roadmap to blogging but not to self-publishing.

    • Joel Friedlander

      Ellen, see my comment to Carol Costello, above. The roadmap to blogging is coming, but this post focuses on the roadmap to self-publishing. Thanks for the input and for your interest.

  5. susan troccolo

    Almost forgot…congratulations on your course and your incredible success! I look forward to seeing the finished product.

  6. susan troccolo

    Hi Joel, my friend at Lighthearted Travel asked me if I wanted to take over her blog so now I’m in the middle of doing everything from taking iA Writer tutorials–easy and that’s the point of course–to figuring out Dropbox versus iCloud. Ay yi yi, so much to learn. I feel a little like Lianne (above) talking about a mass of rotating small parts. I’m returning to a lot of your older pieces on blogging to try and figure it out. Still hoping to keep it fun and easy….

    • Joel Friedlander

      Hey, Susie that’s great. If you need any help, let me know. WordPress is great software and should make your job a lot easier. Welcome to the blogosphere!

    • Chelly

      Kim That’s an interesting apporach. See, if I had a novel to provide in weekly installments, I would probably post it on my blog rather than keep it for a small email audience, unless of course i was looking more for beta readers than to build an audience. I can definitely see using it for contests, but I can also envision using either facebook, twitter and/or the blog for those things also. And you’re absolutely right, information tends to be passed around like a hot potato on Twitter. Thanks for chiming in!

  7. Lianne Simon

    I feel like I did when I learned to fly helicopters. Sitting in the middle of a mass of rotating small parts, any one of which could fall off and cause the rest to disintegrate. The problem I see with most courses is they’re either too general or are specific to someone else’s world. How modular, how adaptable, are your lessons learned?

    • Joel Friedlander

      Love that image, Lianne. Yes, lots of little parts flying around!

      Although it’s impossible to create something that will please everyone equally, I’ve tried to make it both streamlined and useful to a wide variety of authors. And, as always, I’ll be soliciting comments and suggestions about how we can make it better to I hope you’ll let me know, thanks.

  8. Jo Ann Kairys

    Hi Joel, I’m one of those self-publishers who almost gave up sorting out the publishing maze. But I persisted and learned valuable lessons along the way. I’m excited to look into your course, as I have 3 more children’s books in the works. Your blogging content has helped me tremendously on my author journey. So, I’m sure the course will be fabulous!

    • Joel Friedlander

      Thanks Jo Ann, although I’m not an “expert” on children’s books, most of the content in the course applies to any kind of publishing.

  9. Ros Nelson

    RE: “Today, a couple of years later, my blog is read by tens of thousands of people all over the world every month.”
    LOVED reading those positive words. Your hard work paid off. Congrats!

  10. Denise

    I’m waiting eagerly for your course. I have a couple of my books out to beta readers now, but it seems like the more I learn about self-publishing (and I have learned so much from your blog and reports!), the more I realize how much more I have to learn. When do you expect the Self-Publishing Roadmap course to start?

    • Joel Friedlander

      Hi Denise, thanks for that. I’ll be posting the videos I mentioned in the article over the next couple of weeks, and registration will begin immediately after that, around the middle of June. Hope to see you in class!

  11. Carol Costello

    Joel, this is fantastic! I infer from the comments that a lot of this course will be about blogging, which is great. Can you give a sense of how much will be about the mechanics of getting a book up and how much will be about marketing and blogging? Thanks again for being the quinoa in a world of Post-Toasties!

    • Joel Friedlander

      Thanks, Carol, you always crack me up.

      Here’s the bad news: there’s almost nothing about blogging in the Roadmap course. That’s because just dealing with self-publishing is a huge subject that really deserves an intense focus. And we cover print books, print on demand, and ebook publishing. It starts with your manuscript and ends with ongoing marketing.

      Here’s the good news: I’ve been developing tons of content to help authors with blogging on an ongoing basis—because that’s what blogging takes—and will be following up the Roadmap with that promptly.

      So stay tuned!

  12. Louis Shalako

    For the longest time I blogged ‘into the void.’ And like you, I discovered the internet had all kinds of resources, and after three years, I got quite an education. The challenge is to separate the wheat from the chaff.
    What is relevant? What are the simple techniques that don’t take up too much time and actually work? The scientific application of basic techniques seems to work well and it works almost instantaneously. I’m well on my way to twenty or thirty thousand page hits this year. That will only happen if I keep going and do the work–just as you said.

    • Joel Friedlander

      Louis, wise words indeed. Glad to hear about your success, it’s only going to get better as you continue to learn and grow. This is exactly how I intend to help people, and hope to save some from those years of trying to learn how to “get it right” by cutting directly to what matters most in self-publishing.



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