Anonymous asked: "I am a writer like you. I am now working on Book #1. You clearly know what you're doing with books, and what compelled me to write was your "Reader, you are my publisher" comment. Honestly, it took my breath away. It made me feel like I am on the right path in electing to pole vault over the agent/publisher industry gatekeeper and self-publish. You CLEARLY know what you're doing. I am wondering if you can recommend one or two solid books on self-publishing, because the whole thing is just overwhelming to me. I want to do it right."
I'm sorry to disappoint you, but here is the deal.
THERE ISN'T ONE SOLID BOOK ON SELF-PUBLISHING OUT THERE. NOT YET.
At least not one I came across, so beat me silly if I'm wrong.
It's all too new, this self-publishing business.
(Maybe I should write one, once I know enough, cause right now I hardly know shit.)
Everything you see me do I have learned by trial and error, and maybe I appear like I know what I'm doing, but I really don't. I spread my fingers wide and stretch out my arms and stumble around in fog, praying to flighty self-publishing gods that they will lead me out to the right path. And every time the stinky bastards make a distant exit look like something shiny, only to have me drop onto a pile of dung, laughing at me with their tinny voices. I'm not kidding. The bruises still hurt. And daily I doubt and worry and tear out my hair and froof up my flabby ass and plant in front of my laptop screen and venture into the Internet lands and try things and cross my fingers.
However, it's not all the awful.
There ARE some books which I've read and which have guided me somewhat. Only, I'm warning you, it's not a standard set of books you would expect. At least, it's not books you have heard from fellow writers about, I'm sure, except maybe one. I'm not some flimflam or swindle, I'm being honest, okay? I came into writing from social media. Before social media I did marketing, before that I had a startup, before that I was a filmmaker, before that I was an interior designer (God, I actually had to pull up my ancient resume to remember all the shit I did in my life). I studied architecture in school, for Christ's sake, and I'm from Russia, so I have absolutely no clue about the right way of going about this, like some smart writer who has studied writing in a prestigious university will tell you.
Let me list for you the books that have helped me and stayed in my head as plummy voices droning on for years. I will also list the books I have heard about from others, but haven't read myself. You be the judge, okay? Try all or none, but at least it will be a start for you.
BOOKS I HAVE READ:
- I groomed my marketing skills on Seth Godin. I have read most of his stuff and his blog. I don't read it anymore, only check it occasionally. The book that changed my perspective on marketing was PERMISSION MARKETING. It teaches you to stop making lots of useless noise and actually draw people in to buy your stuff.
- ZAG by Marty Neumeier is the book I recommend for every writer to read, and it will take you only 2 hours. It's the best book on branding out there, in my opinion, and it will teach you how to brand yourself, because, let's face it, when you self-publish, you create your own brand. If you won't do it right, you will fail.
- Stephen King's ON WRITING is like my Bible. It is not a book on self-publishing, it's a book on how to be a professional writer and be very good at it. Meaning, in the end you will make money and support yourself. It taught me a simple lesson of shutting myself away, writing for 4 hours and/or producing 2K words a day (and not stopping until I do), and reading for 4 hours a day (in my case, only 2, but I'm working on reading more).
BOOKS I HAVEN'T READ:
- Since my start-up days I have heard great things about Guy Kawasaki and about his book APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur: How to publish a book. I haven't read it, but you are welcome to try. I'm sure it's great.
- Of course, because I adore Chuck Wendig's toes, I have heard raving shouts from people that have read his book The Kick-Ass Writer: 1001 Ways to Write Great Fiction, Get Published, and Earn Your Audience. Give it a try, I'm sure you will learn a bunch of great stuff and laugh your ass off.
- I think I have heard Hugh Howey mention Johnny B. Truant's and Sean Platt's book Write. Publish. Repeat.: The No-Luck-Required, Guide to Self-Publishing Success. He said it's great. You be the judge. Try it. Sounds legit.
It's funny how none of these books are written by a woman author, have you noticed? Are there any? I'm curious. Maybe one day I should write it, call IT something like NO-NONSENSE SELF-PUBLISHING, OR GETTING NAKED AND SHAKING BOOBS. Or something.
A simple Google search revealed that there ARE self-publishing book written by women, but I have never heard of any of them. Hmmm...
Well then. Overall I would say, it seems like everything changes so fast in the publishing industry that by the time you're done reading one book, the information might be obsolete. I think the only rule you can take from all of this is...
If you're excited about something, share it. If you're gloomy, share it. Get out there and ask people for help. Have someone who can professionally edit your book, format it, design a great cover. Or learn how to do it yourself. If you're self-publishing, you gotta be a business owner, and your business is writing books. So, you have to write IT well, package it well, etc. Until you can write well, however, it doesn't matter how well you package it, you won't go far.
People love great stories. Write a great story. Have your friends read it. If they will get excited about it, they will want to help. Everyone is connected to everyone. You will find the right people. If your friends are not excited about your writing, hole up, make money some other way, and keep writing UNTIL IT'S GOOD.
Oh, and if you want to read more, I have written a bunch of blog posts on self-publishing. Let me know if these are helpful and what you want me to write about more. I'll be glad to do so.
Wait, one more thing. I have also read a lot of stuff by David Allen (Getting Things Done), Tim Ferris (The 4-Hour Work Week and his blog), and Malcolm Gladwell (Blink). Those are just authors/books that helped me become an entrepreneur, so maybe check them out too.
Okay, okay! I will shut up now.