Monday, 1 October 2012

Guest Author Post - Linda Katmarian on Self-Publishing

Adventures in Self-Publishing: Laying Down the Bones

Some say self-publishing is for the brave of heart and the foolhardy. I say it’s for the adventurous and never mind those who disapprove. In my opinion, traditional publishers have pretty much closed the doors on authors, especially debut authors. As I see it, their way of doing business often erects an obstacle course for writers. Self-publishing has its drawbacks too, but it does offer some hope and reward to writers who are willing to engage with this new trend in publishing. My advice? Be a pioneer.

That said, there are basic things you need to do to publish your masterpiece. (I am assuming here that you have a completed manuscript that you have work-shopped it thoroughly.) There are no hard and fast rules for starting off on a self-publishing venture, but here are some things to consider.


The first thing you need to do is educate yourself about self-publishing. God knows there is plenty of information out in cyberspace, but it’s a little daunting sorting through it and making sense of it all. Some of it is not good advice and some sites are plainly devoted to making money for themselves rather than helping authors.

I suggest you start out with a Self-Publishing Roadmap course that is offered from time to time by Joel Friedlander at The Book Designer ( ). This six-week course is not cheap, but you will be paying for the expertise that Joel offers. It’s a big time saver in terms of acquiring the information you need and being eventually able to discern what is good information and what is bogus. Joanna Penn at The Creative Penn ( also sells a course on publishing which is more affordable, but not as detailed as Joel’s.


The second thing you need to do is look at self-publishing as a business. You may protest that you are a writer, but in this day and age you must also be able to wear a business hat no matter which path you take to publication, traditional or self-published. I, more than anyone, would love to just be able to focus all my energy on writing, but that is not the world we live in. We are light years away from that old-fashioned notion of the creative writer plunking out his or her stories on an old Olympic typewriter and placing the finished product in the hands of an eager publisher.

So if you are a business, what are the initial things you need to do? This varies from country to country, so check out the rules in your own country. I can only speak for what is required in the United States, but some of the information is relevant and just good business sense wherever you come from.
  •  Choose a publisher name. In the United States, you will need to file a business name notice. The name I chose for my DBA is Scheherazade Bookworks.
  • Publish your statement in a locally-approved newspaper for the required 30 days. (Not a requirement in all countries.)
  • Be prepared to keep track of income and expenses from book publishing. Open a business account at your local bank using your publisher name. You may want to consult with an accountant or your tax preparer.
  • Keep a list of expenditure. You may be able to claim deductions at tax time.
  • Set a budget. Self-publishing can cost you anywhere from $1000 to $50,000 dollars. You will have to make realistic decisions about your goals and what you can afford and what you can forego. You are going to have to evaluate how you can get the most bang for your buck. Most importantly, you will need to be aware that there are people out there who will happily separate you from your money. In setting a budget, you need to understand which services you can do yourself and which you will pay someone else to do. There are many things to consider such as book cover design, editing, formatting, distribution, marketing, and so on that can be quite costly. If you don’t see the point in laying out money for at least cover design and editing services, you may live to regret it.
  • In the United States, open an account with Bowker and buy your ISBN numbers. (I assume other countries have a similar method of maintaining a publisher database as ISBN numbers are accepted worldwide.) It’s not cheap, but you might as well buy a set of ten because print and e-book formats all require their own ISBN. Currently, it costs about $250 for ten in the US, whereas I’ve found it is considerably cheaper in Australia, for instance, ($80). Some author services will furnish you with a free ISBN. That’s fine, but realize that they will probably be listed as the publisher and that may not be something you want on your book cover, etc. You also want to retain editorial control of your book's metadata in Bowker, which you can't do if you are not listed as the publisher. 
So there you have it from a newbie—my quick and dirty version of laying down the bones, the first steps in creating the structure from which you will launch your self-publishing venture. Once you get past these first steps, there are many other things to consider such as:

·         preparing your manuscript for publication
·         setting up your author platform
·         utilizing social media and so on. (This is usually required from the traditional publishers. How much more important it is for those of us going the self-publishing route.)

These are complex decisions and part of that initial self-publishing education I suggest you get for yourself. Take one step at a time and remember to breathe. Eventually the dust will begin to subside and your decision-making path will become clearer. Uh, at least that’s what I tell myself.

Author Bio

Linda Katmarian grew up in the Midwest and graduated with a Master’s Degree in French literature from Illinois State University. In June, 2012, after a long career as a technical writer, she was able to finally commit herself to writing fiction full time. She lives in Southern California and is working on publishing her debut novel, ‘Dreaming of Laughing Hawk’.

You can find Linda herea;

For further reading, I suggest you go one of the sites Linda mentioned, The Book Designer. This is a direct link to checking if you're reading to self-publish and how to go about it.

And here is another link with real-life stories about self-publishing from a wonderful blog I follow, How to Plan, Write and Develop a Book.

Thank you for sharing, Linda. It is especially exciting when a RFW member embarks on the exciting journey of becoming a published author.

  • Any questions for Linda? She'll pop in from time to time to take questions from the floor. I know you're just bursting to know more about self-publishing, so fire away.

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  1. Very helpful information in this post, Linda. Thanks for this insightful post.

  2. I've learned a lot from this post Linda. I wish you all the best in your venture.

  3. Dear Linda,
    Thank you for writing this informative post. I have always thought I would send something off to different publishers. Here you offer an alternative.
    Best wishes,

    1. Keep all your options open, Anna. You'll find the way that works for you.

  4. Linda,

    Very wise words and as a self-published author, I have made every mistake in the book, some of them costly. I wish I had had this advice 4 years ago. It is so important to do your research, know what you are getting into. Things have changed dramatically and continue too. Thank you for your recommendations.

    1. Ah, Yolanda, you must have some tips to share too!

  5. Hi Linda
    Great advice. I must consider those classes since I'm self published and know nothing about promotion.

  6. The stodgy old world of traditional publishing is mostly inaccessible to new writers. The doors are closed to you because you are an unknown, a risk to the bottom line, and the publishing game is all about big dollars. Self-publishing is an exhilarating breath of fresh air--no need to abjectly genuflect before agents, editors and publishers and mumble your prayers in hopes of seeing your work in print. I suppose we can thank Amazon's ground-breaking sales strategies for opening the flood gates to would-be authors--and also all the entrepreneurs offering services to authors.

    Mine is a cautionary tale. I am just beginning the journey. It is all very confusing. Every week brings a new revelation. There are plenty of pitfalls. I'm telling you to learn as much as you can from those that have successfully completed the journey. There is much conflicting advice out there and you must constantly reassess the ever-changing rules of the road. So keep your antenna up, but know there is now much more opportunity to succeed as a writer.

    1. Yes it is possible to succeed in self publishing. Linda Gillard, who posted here recently, enjoys huge sales - 25,000+ copies sold of just one if her many titles. She is currently guesting on my blog.
      Does anyone else have success stories?


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