Book Review: 14 Steps to Self-Publishing a Book by Mike Kowis, Esq.
Disclaimer: I received this book through a Goodreads giveaway for the purpose of writing this review. No other compensation was offered or requested.
Back in the day, self-publishing was the province of cranks and egomaniacs who couldn’t find a legitimate publisher. “Vanity presses” preyed upon people who thought there was a large untapped market for dreadful poetry and paranoid ravings. Sometimes a good book would manage to surface from the self-published world, but it was rare. Times have changed. New book distribution models, fancy software and the existence of e-books mean that self-publishing can be quite viable for the author who’s willing to put in the effort.
It’s not easy. There are still vanity presses that will charge big bucks for a worthless product, and the sheer variety of available options can confuse and frustrate the budding writer. Thus this book, which provides a helpful template of things to do that will improve chances of success. Mr. Kowis is the author of Engaging College Students: A Fun and Edgy Guide for Professors, and uses his experience with that project to inform his advice.
The first step, as it turns out, is not “write a book.” Mr. Kowis presumes that you have advanced to the first draft manuscript stage, as his first step is “finalizing” that manuscript. The final step is marketing the finished book, with many stops in between.
At several points the author suggests paying a bit more to hire a professional (for editing and cover design, for example) rather than attempting to do everything yourself. (I note that I did not find any typos in this book, and while the cover is not spectacular, it works very well for the slim volume this is.) The steps seem complete enough, and the author gives suggestions on where to search next if you need more information.
The second part of the book discusses costs involved in self-publishing, and the differences between Mr. Kowis’ first book (kind of fancy) and this one (bare bones and reusing some resources paid for during the first book’s publishing.)
The third part is ten lessons the author learned from writing his first book–I’m not going to give many spoilers, beyond acknowledging that yes, it is difficult to get reviews even when there are free copies available. Even folks like me who do reviews on the regular can feel like it’s pulling teeth, so don’t feel too bad if your friends don’t come through.
There’s an appendix which turns the 14 steps into a checklist, but I recommend treating the order as a guideline more than a rule as some things need to get done simultaneously.
There are lots of guides to self-publishing on the internet, but it’s nice to have it all in one place on your shelf. Consider buying this one for your writer friend who’s been considering self-publishing.