Nathan Bransford, Author

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

What Are the Best Resources for Self-Publishers?

So. I'm embarking on a project to self-publish a Guide to Writing a Novel.

What are the best resources for self-publishers? What are your favorite blogs, message boards, and books?

Art: The bookbinder by Anonymous


Rafe said...

Guy Kawasaki's APE (Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur) is really good.

Alaniya said...

Currently going through the CreateSpace (Amazon) process to publish my book - pretty mainstream, but very easy - Alaniya Patton

Josh said...

I've gotten a lot of value from the Absolute Write forums. Also, the book "Self-Editing for Fiction Writers" changed the way I look at revision, and I consider it a must-read for all my writer friends.

Deb Nam-Krane said...

I love Catherine Ryan Howard's Self-Printed

Tracy Marchini said...

I spent some time:

- in the Writer's Cafe at KindleBoards
- considering Dean Wesley Smith's method (I don't agree with him 100%)
- watching what Deborah Geary was doing when Select came out.

Sometimes it gets a little militantly pro-self-publishing-anti-traddie, but I feel like that's calmed down a bit!

Cuz'n Jill said...

I would really like to see a chart comparing CreateSpace, Author House, and all the other self-publishing companies. It would be interesting to see what each could offer for the same manuscript.

If anyone learns of such a chart, I hope they'll post it. Otherwise, Nathan, I hope to find it in your book.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't get an agent? You?

Nathan Bransford said...


I have an agent, I'm not considering a publisher for this project. Self-publishing all the way.

jeffwenker said...

You might want to talk to this guy or connect with him on linkedin. I've got a friend who is making a living as an independent book editor, Jim Thompsen. I can hook you up with him if you like. Of course there's, but if you know about Guy and APE, you know about them. I self-published a novel using createspace and have three more up on kindle. Message me here if you want

Carmen Webster Buxton said...

The Digital Reader is a good site to follow for things like info on self-pub start-ups and digital publishing technology developments.

Valentine J. Brkich said...

Mark Levine is the guru of self-publishing. You should read his book first before you make any decisions:

Livia Blackburne said...

Lurking here. If anyone can recommend a good nuts and bolts guide regarding ISBNs, formatting, making a publishing company, etc I'd be interested

Seeley James said...

The point of entry for anyone considering independent publishing should be Luckily for the world, she chronicled her first year trying this, that and the other thing.

After that, the indie world is evolving so rapidly, that joining author's groups and engaging other authors slightly ahead of you and fairly parallel to you is the next step.

But the step everyone should take is having a reputable services firm. As a reviewer, I've been shocked by the awful results pouring out of AuthorHouse. I queried several authors from various outfits and found to be the one most respected by their featured authors and the most comprehensive in offerings (no financial consideration has ever been given to my by them, this is my opinion). There are others cropping up that I've not researched.

Peace, Seeley

Rick Daley said...

I've found the best resources to be personal relationships with other authors.

Sue Quinn has posted a number of great articles on her website, and she's doen very well with her self-publishing efforts, so she has valid advice:

Mark Anthony Given said...

I have three eBooks on smashwords. I had to rely upon an Editor from formating to book cover to how to promote it. Paid 7$ on Facebook to "promote," "Paradise Montana," my original screenplay and was getting 15 "Likes" a day. they were all Fake profiles. FB Scamed me! let me get back at it...

Markus Innocenti said...

Joel Friedlander is a good resource - he's got some new templates available to help format in Word, and he's solid on basic marketing and using social media. Joanne Penn is always coming up with something useful. and there's a guy called Nathan Bransford you need to keep an eye on...

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Thanks for the shout-out, Rick!

Livia - I have a whole series on formatting that should help get you started. Good luck! :)

Melissa McPhail said... is great, as mentioned above.

So is I've learned a lot from her. has lots of great info/guest posts on their blog about indie pub.

And Duolit's is fabulous. So is seems like an obvious one.

Lastly, Ashley Barron's has been helpful with info/experiences shared. She just launched a new site at

Good luck with your WIP, Nathan.

Melanie Schulz said...

I've recieved alot of help from Susan Kaye Quinn's blog.

Marie Loughin said...

JW Manus gives detailed advice and instructions on building e-books at her website "Ebooks = Real Books," including cross-platform problems and some fancy formatting instructions. An valuable website if you plan to build your own e-books.

Christine Monson said...

How to be a Writer in the Catherine Hyde & Anne R. Allen.

Anne R. Allen's blog is an excellent source of information for self-published writers and those who seek to be traditionally published. Although, the former pertains to you. Click Here to check out her site.

Kristi Helvig said...

The Writer's Guide to ePublishing blog and The Creative Penn are great. Even though I'm going the traditional route for my upcoming book, I read those blogs daily.

Just One Foot said...

I've very successfully used CreateSpace. It was very self explanatory, easy to make fixes, easy to design and order. I've been pleased with the quality of the product and wouldn't hesitate to use them again in the future.

Judy Berna

Natalie Aguirre said...

Susan Quinn is a great resource. I included her blog link when I commented last week, I think. Also The Indelibles is a blog of self-published authors and Susan is part of that group. There is a resource page on that blog. Here's the link:

In February, they had an online conference for 3 days. There's a website but I don't have the link. You could get it from Susan or by searching the Inelibles posts for February. Hope this helps.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Natalie's talking about IndieReCon - an online indie conference (Feb 2013) with a ton of up-to-the-minute info from leading indie authors.

Natalie - thanks for the nudge! I added a link to the Indelibles site.

Stacey Brown said...

My friend in publishing sent me this link. Been helpful. Some stuff I knew, some information I hadn’t thought about.

Wil Forbis said...

Robert Gryphon has an ever growing blog roll collecting exactly these kinds of resources:

Elizabeth Seckman said...

anon...seriously, snarky and chicken? Geesh. Man up.

Best of luck on the venture. I have no clue how to self-publish, I will watch you and learn.

HM Ward said...

Sarra Cannon has a bestselling YA series. She's very sweet and I'd listen to anything she has to day. KindleBoards/ Writers Cafe has a butt load of info great for new indies. They can help you with about anything. The best part is that there are NYT and USA Today bestselling indies in there, freely sharing info and talking to everyone. Plus there are cool ppl in there like Sarra, Hugh H (Wool dude), Sara Fawkes (Anything He Wants Series), Bella Andre (Sullivans), and a bunch more. Here's the link:,60.0.html Come by. Say hi.

Sarra Cannon said...

Thanks for the mentions Stacey and Holly :) I have plans to put up a lot more info on my Indie Writer Resources, but for now I do have a screenshot walk-through for uploading to KDP and PubIt. There's also a guide to everything you need to know/decide before you're ready - ISBNs, blurbs, title, etc. Hope it helps anyone looking to selfpub. The guides are here.

I agree with Writer's Cafe on Kboards. I also get a lot of great info at WG2E, David Gaughran, and Susan Kaye Quinn's site listed above. Best of luck Nathan! Self-pub is AMAZING and such a great opportunity for authors today.

Shaunna said...

Guido Henkel has a comprehensive guide to ebook formatting on his blog. You might want to hire out that aspect, but I found it fascinating to learn enough about HTML coding to be able to produce my own ebooks for the kindle and the nook. You will also be indebted to the programmer who created Calibre in this endeavor. And Joe Konrath and somebody else have a great ebook on the subject. You have to wade through the rhetoric (because, of course, Konrath is a die-hard self-publisher and a little caustic) but there is a great deal of helpful information you can pull out of it, if you're so inclined.

maine character said...

Another vote for Joe Konrath, as with this recent post.

Laurie Boris said...

Indies Unlimited ( has great info and weekly tutorials on how to do various things related to self-publishing and social media. (Full disclosure: I also write for them.) I also read The Passive Guy, Konrath, Anne R. Allen, and Joel Friedlander. There's so much good material out there. It's a great time to be a self-publishing author.

Anonymous said...

There is not an easy way the first time you do it - if you want to produce a quality product.

Of course I assume you have had test readers and some editing/service advice at this point.

You have to do the research. Start with contacting printers in your neck-of-the-woods. They usually have binders that they work with quite often that they can recommend a few best ones for your project.

You might be able to cut costs by doing some of the layup yourself - ask your printer. They will tell you if there are more potential savings.

It is a learning curve, but it is probably worth it to go ahead and do this. At least you will value any services you contract for in the future.

Julie Musil said...

Susan Kaye Quinn has great resources on her blog. Good luck!

Angela Brown said...

Susan Kaye Quinn is a definite good choice. You've been given her name so let me also add Maria Zannini. She put together a free guide call the Self-publishers Punch List. Very, Very helpful.

Angela Brown said...

Maria's website might be helpful lol!

Nan said...

Lani Diane Rich and Alastair Stephens at Great podcasts about the art and craft of writing as well as a lot of information about self-pubbing. Plus, they have formatting and editing services as well as cover design and blurb and tag line writing. Great, great resource! And they're a delightful fun couple.

thewriteedge said...

I haven't used it myself, but seems like a site chock full of information and resources.

Sophia said...

Check out Guido Henkel's guide to formatting your book for Kindle and Nook. I have a simplified guide on my blog (, as well, but Guido's guide addresses things like adding images in, which mine does not.

thewriteedge said...

Here's another one: WAEnet might have some good leads. It's a social network for writers, agents, and editors that launched more than a year ago and has been a great platform for learning and networking.

Mira said...

@ Livia - awesome! :D

I really like this list - there's folks I haven't heard of that I will definitely check out.

And - I have nothing new to add. Everyone has mentioned my recommendations, but I'll talk about my favorites.

A couple I'm sure you know:

I'll second Susan Quinn and Ann R Allen's blogs - both great.

I know you know about Konrath, at the Newbie's Guide to Publishing, of course. He just recently did a series of helpful posts about pricing and discoverability. He's got great ideas, and backs everything up with his own experience.

David Gaughran doesn't post alot, but when he does it's exceptional information. His site is called Let's Get Digital.

So, I assume you know about the Passive Voice, but just in case, it's my favorite.

I'm going to try and link the site correctly:
The Passive Voice.

Passive Guy does a daily round-up of important industry and self-publishing news. I can keep up with everything that's going on, just by checking in daily. He's a lawyer, and he also adds helpful commentary about lots of stuff. The tone of blog is definitely pro-indie/critical of Industry, but if that bothers you, ignore it and go for the information, same as with Konrath.

I think that Kristine Rusch's articles about the business of writing are brilliant and fascinating, and I agree with most of it (occasionally not all :). Here's her blog (if I linked correctly): Kris Writes

A couple people mentioned Joel Frielander above. He shares alot of good stuff about marketing, but he really shines around book covers and analyzing them. He also recently created some templates for inside the book - Chapter headings, etc., which he sells. His site is here:
The Book Designer

If you look at his sidebar on the right, there's a link to 36 self-publishing blogs he recommends for more self-publishing goodness. He admits this list needs to be updated (doesn't have the Passive Voice, a travesty) but it still has some very good blogs.

This is pretty cool. If I think of anything else, I'll come back. :)

dmichaelolive said...

I've used CreateSpace, an amazon company for seven books. Their guide will walk you through the process and the results are very good. Plus it only costs you ~$5.00 for a proof and the same for books. You can sell them through virtually every channel available for $25.00. Compared to "Self Publishing companies like iUniverse, it's the only way to go, as long as you feel comfortable doing everything yourself, including marketing.

Mira said...

Oh, I thought of a couple. I'm not going to link them, because I know you know them, Nathan. But if you're collecting a list, they are good potential people to be on there.

I haven't read them myself, but Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, has books and articles that many find helpful - mostly about the nuts and bolts of self-publishing.

Bob Mayer is worth mentioning. I see him commenting on blogs alot - he has alot of info. He consults and has workshops....I don't honestly know if he belongs on this list - you might know better than I.

I wish Barry Eisler had a blog about this, but he doesn't. Nonetheless, I will mention him.

Draft2Digital is a new digital downloader similar to Smashwords, but it downloads to Amazon, and Smashwords does not, unless you're specially selected. The word on the street seems positive so far, but you always have to think about how much percentage you want to give up - that's with Smashwords too. You asked for blogs, etc., which this isn't, but what the heck, I'll throw this in.
Here's the url:

And just to show how wonderful Passive Voice is, here are just three of the upcoming posts for tomorrow:

11-Year-Old Raises $5,500+ on Kickstarter to Self-Publish

Apple CEO Tim Cook to Testify in eBook Anti-Trust Case

Top 10 Tips For Self-Publishing Print Books On Createspace

Okay, that's all I got for now. :)

Linda Pressman said...

I self-published on CreateSpace and did all the work myself, from margins to dropped capitals to alternating headers. I couldn't have done it without the absolutely amazing group of writers in the CreateSpace community, always willing to lend a hand and their expertise with anything that came up. I haven't maximized my use of GoodReads for my book, though I should, and have done most marketing through Facebook, Twitter and my blog. Something must have worked because my book, Looking Up, was just awarded the Grand Prize in the Writer's Digest annual self-published contest.

Dianne Greenlay said...

The Writer's Guide to ePublishing (WG2E)is a fantastic resource and their post tonight is a virtual encyclopedia of self-publishing information. I think one could access information on nearly any publishing topic that one might have a question about.

Peter Dudley said...

I'm astonished that Mark Coker has received only one mention, and no link to his free Smashwords Style Guide.

Don't be fooled by the title. The content in here is full of best practices for formatting a manuscript for multiple platforms. Anyone familiar with (real) desktop publishing will know most of the tips in here, but even an old FrameMaker user like me (Frame 3.0 on Unix before Adobe acquired it) picked up some good tips.

Other than that, I'd say there's nothing more valuable than a helpful mentor, and I've found that most self-published authors who got help from someone are more than willing to pay it forward, including me.

Unknown said...

So are you going to write this book or are we going to essentially it for you?

Nathan you are hands down my favourite agent cum writer and all- around helping hand for writers. You are one of only two blogs I subscribe to (the second one is very recent and not about writing). I believe you absolutely deserve your successes. But this surprises me.

This seems like 'hey, I, Nathan Bransford, well-known and respected name in publishing, am going to write a book all about how to self-publish as a guiding beacon of light so all of you out there might benefit from my wisdom'.

(cheers, applause, messages of support)

'Great! Thanks everyone! Right, so tell me what I need to know...'

Nathan Bransford said...


]I'm actually writing a guide to writing a novel not a guide to self-publishing.

Mira said...

Wow, Unknown. I wonder if you realize how harsh and critical your post was.

And - in my opinion - unfairly so. Even if Nathan were compiling lists and information for an eventual book (and I think that would be cool), doing research and asking for community input is a well-respected and appropriate way to do that.

Nathan is representing himself as a learner here, and not as a 'guiding beacon of light'. And we can all benefit from the wisdom he collects. Self-publishing in this way is a terrific way for all writers to learn about self-publishing. I'm sure Nathan would discuss the process and give credit in his book.

You know, sometimes I find myself having unrealistic expectations of Nathan, which got set up back when he was my 'dream' agent and I sort of idealized him, but I've learned to check myself. He's just another writer trying to share his work, and as a fellow writer he is just as entitled to community support and understanding as any other. Asking him to meet some previous 'ideal' is unfair and unrealistic.

Anyway, I hope you'll think twice before you post something so hurtful again.

Karen A. Chase said...

One of the best blogs is Steena Holmes' who has both self-published and traditionally published her books.

Shameless self-promotion, is my own site, 224Pages. It's a design resource for authors who need book covers, author websites, book trailers and more. Too often authors patch together materials based on a book cover, but we focus on creating branded marketing materials for authors and their books.

abc said...

So, not a resource, but a great interview with Neal Pollack at A.V. Club about writing and failing and getting back up and it talks about self-publishing, as well. Not too mention the sometimes icky feeling of "branding".,93689/

Karen Myers said...

See this:

Karen Myers said...

Sorry - here's a shortened URL.

Robena Grant said...

My first suspense is in the KDP Select program and free until Saturday. Great for name recognition for someone like me. You might not need this. But my book is now #2 in FREE Books in suspense. It goes into print and all digital in May.

Kindleboards was amazing. I did a lot more listening and learning than commenting but there was also a section called Book Bazaar where you could promote your book, and bump it up the list once a week.
Time consuming at first, but tons of information on how to go the self-publishing route.

Marilyn Peake said...

I've been self-published for almost one year now. It’s been a wonderful experience! I have to admit I’ve all but disappeared from the Internet lately, as I work on writing a new novel; but I’m hoping to return to chatting with fellow writers on my favorite sites in the near future. Some of the most helpful resources for self-published writers I've found are:

Hugh Howey’s Blog The wildly successful Hugh Howey has a fantastic blog post today about how to succeed as a self-published author – some of the best advice I’ve seen anywhere about how the world of self-publishing really works and how to succeed as a self-published author.

David Gaughran’s Blog David was one of the first self-published writers in the new era of digital self-publishing to offer fantastic advice on self-publishing. His blog contains a wealth of information on this topic. Back when I was more active on the Internet, I was lucky enough to have my own post about self-publishing featured on David’s blog: Time Traveling Through the Past Decade of Publishing .

Anne R. Allen’s Blog I’ve found Anne’s blog to be very helpful.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s Blog Both traditionally published and self-published, the recipient of many awards and the only person to ever win both a Hugo award for editing and a Hugo award for fiction, Kristine provides a wealth of information about self-publishing on her blog.

Dean Wesley Smith’s Blog Both traditionally published and self-published, bestselling author Dean Wesley Smith has some very strong opinions on publishing. (He’s married to Kristine Kathryn Rusch and they run workshops together.)

The Passive Voice This blog covers a variety of topics on writing and self-publishing.

Joe Konrath’s Blog Having been both traditionally published and self-published, bestselling author Joe Konrath has some very strong opinions and lots of information about publishing.

And, of course, the Kindle Boards frequently have very helpful and informative discussions.

Marilyn Peake said...

Oooops, sorry. I checked the first eBook I self-published on Kindle. That was almost two years ago, not almost one year ago. Time is flying by, I swear. :)

Sharyl Heber said...

One of my all time favorite books on writing is 'A Story is a Promise' by Bill Johnson.
He is an amazing teacher in person as well. I've taken a few classes from him at the Central Coast Writers Conference in San Luis Obispo, and had him edit some of my work.
Important concepts on establishing story questions and proceeding then to answer them. I refer to this continually in my own writing and use the concepts when editing the work of others.

If your book is going to include any discussion on publishing, I love Anne R. Allen's Blog

Good luck in the writing of your book! Very exciting!

Anonymous said...

The KDP...Kindle Direct probably where you'll want to begin experimenting and reading. Whether we are fans of Amazon or not, like them or not, they are the place where more/most e-books are sold. Smashwords is another good source. I would bet you have the knowledge to do this on your own without too much help.

This next particular blog (No More Harvard Debt) helps a lot of people because the blog author self-published two excellent non-fic books about student debt and he's been featured in more than one place in mainstream media. He's a very nice person, too. So reading his blog posts about his venture into publishing his books might help. He's also very honest.

And learn about formatting e-books. HTML is like learning a language, but it's not impossible and you're bright. You'll have no problems :)

Anonymous said...

Also...a lot of people don't like to be locked into exclusives, however, I found the three months that I was locked into the Kindle Lending program helped boost sales. It's an option not all want to take because you can't distribute anywhere else for three months. (My biggest worry was more about the retail web sites I love and support) But I found that it worked for me. I also believe in lending e-books. And three months is not all that long.

Ernie J. Zelinski said...

I am surprised three well-known people were not mentioned. I self-published my first book in 1989 and have had 750,000 copies of my books sold worldwide. These three people have been the most helpful.

1. Dan Poynter - Author of "The Self-Publishing Manual"

2. John Kremer - Author of "1001 Ways to Market Your Books"

3. Jane Friedman - One of the most astute people in the business today.

I cite Jane Friedman because of many reasons. Here is one:

In a recent article in "Writer's Digest" magazine, Jane posed this as one of the most important questions for people considering self-publishing their book:

"Do your readers prefer print or digital?"

Jane Friedman's question is so basic. Yet it is important and overlooked by most people (talk about clueless), including many so-called book experts who are nothing but impositors.

I read blogs and articles by people claiming to be book experts saying that ebooks are definitely the way to go without giving consideration to print books. (Anyone who says "print is dead" is either lying or brain dead.)

None of these so-called experts have ever posed this important question. This just shows that they are not even close to being as astute as Jane Friedman.

Ernie J. Zelinski
Internationall Best-Selling Author
"Helping Adverturous Souls Live Prosperous and Free"
Author of the Bestseller How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free
(Over 175,000 copies sold and published in 9 languages)
and the International Bestseller The Joy of Not Working
(Over 250,000 copies sold and published in 17 languages)

Heather Marie Adkins said...

A couple of people have menioned Dave Gaughran's blog, but his blog isn't even the greatest thing he has done regarding self pub. He wrote a book called Let's Get Digital: How to Self Publish and Why You Should. On my phone so no link but you can search it on Amazon. Absolute best purchase I made when I was first starting out.

inklings Anon said...

I've read a couple of the posts on here, and I may duplicate what others have said but I believe in Create Space. First of all they have tons of resources for advertising and marketing. Also, a nobody can go on Create Space and have paper copy books available at all the top retailers web sites plus local retailer web sites. They present the books to wholesalers in a catalog for them to purchase books for their stores. Create Space you can completely customize your book and your price. You get a proof copy to see how it all looks and trust me, you'll want a proof copy as 12 point font is jumbo print on a create space page. As far as digital I'd go exclusively with Amazon Kindle for the first 90 days. They have a lot of benefits by choosing them exclusively. Smashwords is good for getting your digital copies to a bunch of different places but they are way to particular on formatting. Once you get the formatting down it makes getting to every possible digital book provider... if you can get the format right without going nuts

inklings Anon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fred said...

I second whoever said Writer's Cafe over at Kboards. There are threads on there about every facet of self-publishing from cover art to formatting, etc...And it's a fun place to hang out.

Anonymous said...

I feel like a mothing-in-law who can't wait to give unsolicited advice, but I'm curious about whether or not you're self-pubbing a digital book or a print book, or both. From my own experience I would recommend digital. But that's just opinion :)

AarTiana said...

Hi Nathan! Well, I see a few people have already told you hehe!

Mark Coker and Smashwords is great for eBooks because it does every format, and after this, I bet you can still upload it to the Kindle Store on Amazon, Nook Store for Barnes & Noble, and iBooks at Apple iBookstore (and others). He takes care of the ISBN number too. As noted in other comments earlier, his free eBooks are awesome!

I just love David Gaughran's book, Let's Get Digital, and he even has it in PDF format for free!

So if you need some in print, I noticed Lulu's prices were getting higher. I was looking at since they also handle the ISBN issue but if I decided I didn't care about these on my printed ones, I might use or another Print On Demand or similar service (I hadn't done my research fully in this area yet).

Looking forward to what you finally decide! :-)

Stephanie Cain said...

I don't know much about self-pub myself, but my friend Laura VanArendonk Baugh has had a lot of success self-pubbing her nonfiction book about dog-training as well as a short fiction piece. I do know she established a small press to do her self-pubbing, and she had a great platform as a dog trainer.

Anonymous said...

I just saw a facebook update about self-publishing where the author was complaining about not making enough money, so I wanted to add one more thing.

Self-publishing is different for every single writer who does it. Don't get caught up in what anyone else says or writes about it either. Make it your own experience, and add your own style to it.

Karen said...

Nathan, I have gone off with plenty of blogs to research after reading all the comments. Thanks so much for asking the question.

Sam Trayson said...

I absolutely love the Kindle Template at

I've used it for quite a few books now and it works beautifully.

Gail Kearns said...

Laura Pepper Wu has a blog. Another good resource is Dan Poynter's self-publishing manual. I'm a protege of Dan's and have been working with self-publishers for 20 years.

Mike Mallory said...

I am editing some old family correspondence from the 1840s-70s (200ish word.doc pages) and want to only get about 25 copies made to give to family members. Who, What, Where should I go?

Kayanna Kirby said...

Sometimes the most direct way is best.
Firebrand publishing is a full service self publishing company that is reasonable. They have a money back guarantee and 100% royalties.

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