I had the pleasure of meeting Peter Bowerman at an American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) conference. He has been published through a traditional publishing house. He has also self-published. He can compare the pros and cons of both through the benefit of experience. If I am not mistaken, I believe he was also the first self-published author to be an ASJA panelist. Naturally, if the ASJA has such confidence in Bowerman, I believe he is credible and that everyone should at least listen to what he has to say.
Bowerman put everything he knows into his book The Well-Fed Self-Publisher. He is so generous, that if you buy the book as part of his Biz-in-a-Box package, you get access to all of his sample contracts, e-mails, and other documents you need to be a successful self-publisher.
What I Like
There is much I like about The Well-Fed Self-Publisher. It is well written, and in chronological order as you will need it for the entire publishing process. The first thing you will learn is why you should self-publish. The most poignant example he gives is how poorly the publishing industry treated already-famous Dick Cavett. Cavett was a popular talk show host who was quite personable and so popular that reruns of The Dick Cavett Show (1968-1974) are still aired today. As Bowerman points out, if the publishing industry would turn down the likes of Cavett, the rest of us don’t stand much of a chance.
Then Bowerman gives you all the information you could need. For instance, you will have to think like a business person. You need to track your expenses and income. You will have to decide how to distribute your book and the best method of printing. He tells you exactly what marketing is and is not. He even explains why you don’t need a so-called self-publishing company, but you will need to procure the services many provide or claim to provide. Those services include an editor or editors, a printer, distributing company, and more. You may not need all these services, but since Bowerman has all the information needed about them printed in one convenient book, you might as well read about them and consider whether they are right for you.
As an editor, I appreciate that the book is edited very well, too. Many books today, whether self-published or not lack the benefit of a good editor. I am proud to recommend a book on publishing, that also recommends a good editor, has been edited itself.
What I Don’t Like
Actually, there isn’t anything I dislike about the material itself. The only thing I did not like is the standard of the cover. My book, as with most books after I read them, looks brand new, yet the layers of the cover started to separate. I had to tape the corner to stop the peeling. I will say that so far it seems to have only peeled in one corner, so I don’t know if it is a consistent problem or if it was just my copy. It is not enough to keep me from recommending the book, because the material is just too good to let one minor (and fixable) annoyance stop me.
Get your copy of any of Bowerman’s books. I can promise you will find it well worth the cost. In fact, I recommend the book to most of my clients, especially those who have never published a book of any kind.