on self-publishing (and just publishing)

Here are a bunch of links I’ve been storing up for a while about self-publishing. Assuming one has experience in writing, editing, illustration, book design, and printing, or can outsource some or all of those tasks, the only hurdles one has to worry about with self-publishing are marketing and distribution. Unfortunately those are fairly huge hurdles. :/

What do you think about self published books? – Signal vs. Noise: 37Signals is working on its next book and poses this question. Lots of good advice in the comments. Especially noted that despite the general reputation of self-published books being somewhat inferior in quality, there is the tremendous exception of Edward Tufte‘s books, which are brilliantly written and beautifully printed. And self-published.

What do you think about self-published books? – Tim O’Reilly’s response: Tim posted in the comments to the question above and then expanded his comments in this post to oreillynet. This is the point of view of a more traditional publisher, albiet one that grew from a self-publisher. Some discussion on distribution here, and packaging (where one does all the writing, design, and layout, and then hands over camera-ready copy to a publisher for printing and distribution).

How to be Your Own Publisher — NYT Review of Books: article with an emphasis on POD (Print-On-Demand) publishers such as iUniverse and XLibris. Also a strong note that self-publishing is vanity publishing and thus bad. “With all this democratic activity, self-published authors have essentially become the bloggers of the publishing world, with approximately the same anarchic range in quality that you find on the Web.” :/

Jim Minatel on self-publishing: Jim is a Wrox editor who I’m pretty sure I’ve met a bunch of times at author events but you know I’ve met 40 million people and my head is full so I’m sorry that I can’t remember you Jim. In this post he criticizes self-publishing as a whole lot of work and suggests that self-published books will be of inferior quality to that of a traditional publisher. But self-publishing might be “rewarding.” I can’t argue with the more work part. But given my experiences with his list of things publishers are supposedly good at I am not, shall we say, wholly convinced.

My Life as a Lulu: Erika Driefus discusses her experiences with lulu.com, a new and increasingly popular web site that does self-publishing print-on-demand, transactions, and fulfillment. She loves it.

Seth Godin’s Advice for Authors: This isn’t about self-publishing, its about publishing in general. I can’t disagree with a single thing here. I particularly like the part about publishing being like venture capital. Like investing, where most of the stuff you invest in goes horribly wrong.

I have no conclusion to this post. Carry on.

One thought on “on self-publishing (and just publishing)

  1. Laura: It’s OK that you don’t remember be specifically. I suspect I was trying to pitch you on signing your next book with me instead of Sams. 🙂 But I do remember meeting you at a Waterside event, and I think at a Que/Sams author party too. Anyway, I agree with your meaning about not being wholly convinced about the quality of things publishers are supposed to be good at. Anything subjective or artistic (and editing, indexing, etc are both) will be subject to broad variations in quality and resist the attempts to use things like statistical process control to improve them. Even more reason though why an author should think twice before self-publishing and running the gauntlet of hiring their own editors, indexers, proofreaders or even more dangerously to their relationships relying on those services from their friends and significant others.

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