Top Ten Things Not to Do if You Decide to Self-Publish Your Book

Photo by ron dyar on Unsplash

 

This post originally ran on October 12th, 2015. Those with memories of an elephant might like it again. For the rest of us, I hope you enjoy it.

* * *

The inspiration for this list is my latest effort to self-publish the next John J. Cannon story titled His Revenge. Since I had absolutely no experience in publishing, the journey was a long winding road marked by plenty of mistakes. I’m sure the trial and error method is not over yet, but here is some of what I learned. Don’t forget I’m a fiction writer, so some of these lessons have been enhanced with dubious facts to make them more exciting and hopefully humorous. I would, therefore, resist publishing this list on the Huffington Post. (hear that, Arianna?)

Top Ten Things Not to Do if You Decide to Self-Publish Your Book

10 If you decide to self-Publish your book, do not drink any alcoholic beverages four weeks before and two weeks after you hit the publish button. If you do, at best, those little things you forgot are not necessary. At worst, you find out after six weeks you submitted the wrong cover with the manuscript. (You know the one. It has “fiction” spelled “fuction”).

9 If you decide to self-publish your book, do not try to edit the manuscript yourself. If you do, at best, you will have a fool for an editor. At worst, your book will be featured on a blog with the lovely title of “The Poorest Written Books of the Year.” (You are so lucky to have the top position)

8 If you decide to self-publish your book, do not think you don’t need to know how to format the interior. If you do, at best, your readers will be treated to several blank lines. At worst, your book will resemble something created by a room full of monkeys on keyboards. (Yeah, it can be done, but that one page with only the word “then” on it took the cake)

7 If you decide to self-publish your book, do not think that the cute Crayola picture done by your youngest as the cover is relevant to the book. If you do, at best you will miss some sales due to the confusion. At worst, you will get some letters from outraged parents who thought the story of a mass murderer was for children. (Ah well, you can always refund the money)

6 If you decide to self-publish your book, do not think you don’t have to follow the instructions on the publishing site. If you do, at best, you will finally give in and start over following directions after wasting many hours. At worst, you will be locked out of the site for one hundred years. (Most places have no sense of humor when it comes to messing with their process).

5 If you decide to self-publish your book, do not think the various choices offered by the site are not significant enough to understand the differences. If you do, at best, you may end up with a book that does not make you happy. At worst, your book is so expensive to produce you have no royalty or room to promote. (You are independently wealthy, Right?).

4 If you decide to self-publish your book, do not think you don’t need to order a proof copy. If you do, at best, you will miss some of those messy little typos and double periods. At worst, you totally missed the fact that you mislabeled the chapter headings and now have two of each. (The reviewers will have so much fun pointing out the mirror effect).

3 If you decide to self-publish your book, do not rush the process. If you do, at best, there will be something overlooked, but no one will notice. At worst, you forgot to include the dedication that you already read aloud to the recipient. (Hard to convince the person you were sincere after this omission).

2 If you decide to self-publish your book, do not think you can skip the marketing. If you do, at best your family and friends will carry you for a couple of sales. At worst, you will be one of several hundred thousand books published simultaneously and will be entirely lost in the numbers. (You did expect to sell your beautiful book, right?)

1 If you decide to self-publish your book, do not lay awake at night worrying about possible mistakes instead of planning every detail. If you do, at best, you will feel out of control. At worst, you will have a lot to worry about since, without planning, mistakes will happen. (Even with planning, there could be some, Nobody’s perfect).

97 comments

    1. Thank you, Chris. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Well John the warnings have been given, it’s up to them now .For a start they’ll have to read your wonderful, well thought-out post. Then they’ll have to be sensible enough to follow the Do’s and reject the Don’ts. Now if only I’d read numbers 2 & 9 properly I might not have been in this mess.
    Hugs

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hahaha. Thanks, David. The nice part about a mess is a little tea and toast helps get out of it.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. great way to live life in general, i think )

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much , Beth. I agree with you. Great point. 😁

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I scored four out of ten. I’m not saying which four, although I’ve no doubt you’ve already spotted them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have the same four, I think. Thanks, Keith.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great tips, John. Number three is a great tip for everyone!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Being in a rush never helps a process no matter what it is. Thanks, Jill. You and I get our philosophy credits. 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Words to the wise, for sure! Self-publishing is frought with landmines of the Bouncing Betty variety.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t hear the term ‘Bouncing Betty’ for years. Thanks, Liz. 😊

      Like

  6. Amen! I’ve self-published two books, working on number 3. Hired editors, cover artist and formatter, uploader. Enjoyed the process and the results.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You went the intelligent route, Joy. I always hire an editor and cover artist. I learned to format and upload so at least I can say I have those life skills. Thaks for the visit. 😁

      Like

  7. Reblogged this on Bonnie Reads and Writes and commented:
    Hilarious! Self-Published authors must read!

    Like

    1. Thank you for the share. 😁

      Like

  8. Hilarious! Reblogged on Bonnie Reads and Writes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. 😁

      Like

  9. Great list, John. Had to chuckle at number six and seven.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Joan. Always good to laugh after the fact. During the fact is no so funny. 😁

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This is true.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I might have to print this list out and tape it to my desk, John. Good job!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Put it in size 14 font too. Thanks, Dan

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks John.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. For me, it was definitely be a flat-forehead process, seeing a mistake and slapping my forehead. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think we all have that reaction. I would add a few course word as the hand hits the skin. Thanks, Tim. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  12. #9 for sure. It’s amazing what you’ll miss or screw up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, indeed. Thanks, Teri.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. This was funny, but with a big dose of truth.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. Thanks, Jennie.

      Like

  14. While this was meant to be humorous, it carries a solid dose of truth! Every tip is noteworthy! Thanks, John!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jan.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Sage advice here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Charles

      Like

  16. Wise advice from the keyboard of one who’s been there, John. I appreciate the School of Hard Knocks sort of education!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah. I made every mistke that could be made.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Sound advice from what I know about the process.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Reblogged this on Kim's Musings.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for sharing my post, Kim

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Great advice, John, with your clever touch of humor. I did everything myself with my current release, but had an editor. It was a grueling process compared to paying a publisher which I did for the first two books. But I am happy with the results and may do it again. But maybe not. Paying someone else just might be worth it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. But think of the feeling of accomplishment and terror. Heady stuff. Thanks, Lauren.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Agreed, John. It was stressful at times, then a great feeling of accomplishment. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  20. D.L. Finn, Author · · Reply

    I think back to my first go at self publishing and now, so much learned. Great list, John!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Denise. It is some curve for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Great tips and I appreciate the humor infusion. The whole thing seems daunting enough to me to avoid it completely! I need a big dose of courage I think.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You can get tht dose in glass of wine for sure. It is very scary. Thanks, Maggie.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Dear John,
    funny and real.
    Thanks for making us laugh
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Always nice to hear about your laughter. Thanks for letting me know. 😁

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing, Michael

      Like

  23. As always great tips, John! Thank you for presenting them with humour. Have a nice day, and enjoy your lunch! xx Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the comment, Michael

      Like

  24. This list just scares me from even thinking of ever writing and self-publishing a book!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gotta be brave buckeroo

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Okay then. With you in my corner, I’ve got incentive 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Now wait. I’m a chicken.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Pffft… Don’t even try to convince me. You are so NOT!

        Liked by 1 person

  25. Hello, John, this is why I don’t self publish. I find it easier to leave some of this to someone else. A great list.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can see that

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Well, you cured me, John. If ever I thought to publish a book – I sure don’t now!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good. Run away, GP.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 🏃‍♂️

        Liked by 1 person

  27. Ha! Hilarious list!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Willow. 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  28. Gwen M. Plano · · Reply

    Another hilarious list, John. 😂 I’m not clever enough to self-publish but if I were, I’d be sure to follow your guidance, wise sir. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Gwen. 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  29. “… do not try to edit the manuscript yourself.”

    Truer words were never spoken.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Andrew.

      Like

  30. petespringerauthor · · Reply

    Not an easy decision for sure. Always good to keep a sense of humor.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Almost a requirement. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing, Aurora. 😊

      Like

  31. I found this disturbing John, since you busted me on number 2. I have three E books to my name, one actually paid to write, and being the dolt of self-promotion, sold zip copies. I just can’t blow my own horn. sigh Though wrapped in jest, you hit many nails on the head. sigh

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There is a lot of me in these as well. Horn blowing is not my stong suit. Thanks for reading what is painful for both of us. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. One of the many things we share. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I am considering giving up novel writing. So much hard work and so difficult to attract readers. The definition of insanity is doing the same behavior and expecting a different result. That to me is novel writing in a nutshell. If I spent $100K I could make a difference but that is not going to happen. I enjoy blogging and maybe after this novel is done I’ll just stick with that. Sorry to bend your ear.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It’s okay. I think just loving to write is what it’s all about. How it fills you up. That’s all I know John, how much it grounds and means to me.

        Like

  32. I can’t imagine how stressful it must be! Just the writing alone is something I can’t do add self publishing to that… I salute all of you writers who do it I know it isn’t easy.

    Like

  33. That dedication WOULD be awkward, not gonna lie.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha. Thanks

      Liked by 1 person

  34. Sound advice, John.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Mark

      Liked by 2 people

  35. Golden Top Ten, dear John! Thank you! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m glad you liked it, Maria. Thank you.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Very catchy & painful for many, dear John! 😂😂😂

        Liked by 1 person

  36. Brilliant, John. This should be a “must read” for every writer who wants to publish. I’m speaking from experience, and your list is so WRITE ON!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My pleasure, James. Thank you for the comment.

      Like

  37. […] Top Ten Things Not to Do if You Decide to Self-Publish Your Book […]

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing

      Like

  38. […] Top Ten Things Not to Do if You Decide to Self-Publish Your Book — Fiction Favorites […]

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Stephen for the share.

      Like

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