Thinking About Self-Publishing? Read This Book

by Joanna on November 21, 2008

I first heard about The Well Fed Self-Publisher when Yvonne Russell wrote about it one weekend at the Writers’ Cafe.  When she told me about not just the book but the way the author Peter Bowerman had connected with her - modelling all the behaviours he talks about in his book - I knew it had to get to the top of my Amazon wish list.

Yvonne highlighted the book to me because she knew I had a book (or two) in the pipeline, and that I was thinking about self-publishing as a way to get the material out there.

Trouble was the idea wasn’t more than an idea for long enough… until I read The Well-Fed Self-Publisher that is.

The book covers every conceivable angle of publishing your own book.

It’s packed full of practical suggestions including detailed information (including websites) of how you can get in touch with the people and businesses who’ll help you get your book in print.

There was too much to absorb on one reading but it’s broken down into manageable sections which means it’ll be easy to go back into it and pull out the relevant information as and when I need it.  So it becomes an invaluable reference source on my shelf.

But the most important thing I got from the first read was the encouragement to take ownership of and responsibility for managing the process of publishing, marketing and selling your book.  All with a view - as his strapline puts it - ‘to turn one book into a full-time living’.

I know I’ve got a lot of work to do to move my draft* to published, selling and keeping me well-fed… but I also know I’ll be turning to The Well-Fed SP every step of the way.

Notes On The Well-Fed Self Publisher

What The Book Covers

Why go down the self-publishing route, getting your head round sales and marketing, getting the internet to work for you, building your book, reaching your market (including Amazon), getting publicity and generating spin-offs.  All with associated information, addresses, links and lists of resources.

What The Book Is Like

It works on two levels.  I’m going to come back to it (over and again) as a reference guide.

But I also found it easy and enjoyable to read through cover to cover in just a few sittings.  Bowerman has an easy writing style.  Combine that with the experience of writing, publishing, and making a living from it, and you get the strong impression that he’s sitting down beside you, talking you through step by step what you need to do to follow his progress and match his success.

Learning points I’m not going to attempt a resume of the world of self-publishing here, because it’s complex, and the information is still settling in my head.  The thing that’s clearest to me after reading this book is that there’s only one person who can make the process work for me, and make my book successful.  And that’s me.

Some Quotes

Successful marketing of a book simply involves letting  your various audiences know you’re out there - on a consistent basis, in a variety of ways, and with a message they can hear through the clutter.

Let word of mouth advertising work its magic for you, and the only way to do that is to have lots of books out there, even free ones.  Unless your books are very expensive to produce, don’t be stingy.

One thing to improve it: The one question I was left with was whether the situation had changed post-publishing given the arrival on the scene of Print on Demand services like Lulu.  Fortunately Peter was good enough to answer some of my questions when I sent him a follow up e-mail… confirming my impression that this is a guy who really walks his talk, and makes the most of his written material by the commitment he makes to connections and follow up.

Thumbs Up/Down: This was a most definite thumbs up.  I know I’ll be using it over and over again, and I suspect you will too.

Who It’d Be  Good For: Any writer thinking about self-publishing, or looking for ways to promote, market and sell their book

More About The Book

You can buy The Well Fed Self Publisher direct from the author’s site, or on Amazon.

The Well-Fed Self-Publisher: How to Turn One Book into a Full-Time Living

294 pages long, $19.99 from the author’s own site $13.57 at Amazon

(These are affiliate links)

Joanna Young, The Confident Writing Coach
Because our words count

* I’ve finally decided that the first book in the ‘Confident Writing’ series is going to be a ‘best of’ compilation of material I’ve already written here.  It seemed like the easiest and quickest way to get the first book done, and the most effective way to capitalise on the material I’ve already produced here but could do with a wider audience.

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Brad Shorr 11.21.08 at 12:18 pm

Thank you for the detailed review, Joanna. More and more authors seem to be taking this route. Is there a perception in the market that self published books are of lesser quality? I’ve heard writers express a concern about that issue.

Brad Shorrs last blog post..You Know You’re Old When …

Lillie Ammann 11.21.08 at 12:20 pm

Congratulations on deciding what your first book will be. You have a ton of valuable material here to work with.

As you know, I’m a big fan of self-publishing though certainly not as experienced or successful as Peter Bowerman! Most of my clients self-publish, and I love helping them turn their ideas into published books.

Lillie Ammanns last blog post..Thanks to October Commenters

Joanna 11.21.08 at 7:26 pm

Brad, that’s a very good question and an issue that’s addressed in the book. The answer is yes, which means you need to work hard to dispel those negative perceptions and create a 100% professional looking product. Bowerman’s book is self-published and you’d never know. The main advantage of going down this route is that you get control of promoting and marketing it. After bitter experience with my only published book this seems like a *very* big advantage.

Lillie, thank you! I thought about including your excellent primer on self-publishing but thought the post was going to get over-long… I’ll find a way to highlight it a future point I hope.

Lillie Ammann 11.21.08 at 10:04 pm


My Self-Publishing Primer is really a primer, whereas Bowerman’s book is a college textbook.

Someone who is in the early stages of deciding whether they’re interested in self-publishing might start with my primer to get an overview. Then if they decide they want to pursue it future, they can move on to The Well-Fed Self-Publisher to really learn how to do it.

Lillie Ammanns last blog post..Thanks to October Commenters

--Deb 11.22.08 at 3:27 am

Thanks to John Roach’s loan, I’m reading the first two Well-Fed Writer books right now and they’re excellent.

And, hmm, I really WOULD love to get my novel published!

-Debs last blog post..Pondering

Joanna 11.22.08 at 9:26 am

Lillie, yes, that’s a good way to look a them.

-Deb, glad you’re enjoying the books. Now you just need to change the sentence to: I would love to publish my novel!

ru4real? 11.25.08 at 5:13 am

I really like the idea of self publishing. I have a friend who has written one book already and has another one in the wings. I think I’ll recommend this method to her.

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Joanna 11.25.08 at 10:16 am

Hi, glad you found this of interest. The way I see it it’s a hard work method - but with good rewards.

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