Dear Writer-Friends,

I've been self-publishing since 2011, and I've shared the knowledge I've gained in two books: the Indie Author Survival Guide, Second Edition, and For Love or Money. I'm not an indie rockstar or a breakout success: I'm one of thousands of solidly midlist indie authors making a living with their works. These books are my way of helping my fellow authors discover the freedom of indie publishing. Write on, writer-friends!

S.K. Quinn, Independent Author of Science Fiction

CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR QUICK START GUIDE TO SELF-PUBLISHING and to be notified when the 3rd Edition of the Indie Author Survival Guide releases!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Thinking of Self-Publishing? Put These Books in your Self-Publishing Toolkit

Everyone and their friend is thinking about self-publishing these days.

Having been in the business for a few years (which still amazes me), I have some thoughts on the subject (wrote a whole book about it, in fact). And while my Indie Author Survival Guide is meant to be fairly comprehensive, you'll be well-served by having a range of books in your Self-Publishing Toolkit.

This really should be called a Modern Writer's Toolkit, because every writer in 2014 should have a basic knowledge of the industry, their craft, and the options that self-publishing offers, even if they're headed down the trad-pub path at the moment (seriously, these things can change quicker than you think).

Self-Publishing Resources
"The guide is for the heart as much as the head." 
I wrote the Indie Author Survival Guide to take a writer from deciding whether to self-publish, through the publishing process (including details like formatting and hiring cover designers), and on to writing the next book. I also have a page for writers here on the blog, including webinars on Facing Your Fears, a list of Freelance Providers, and many other resources.

The Indie Guide is a good place to start, but you'll need more than just one book in your Self-Publishing Toolkit.
David Gaughran's blog is a wealth of information about the industry, but his Let's Get Digital book was the first one I read that made the intellectual argument for self-publishing. This is a great summary of the tidal forces that have changed the industry.

David's Let's Get Visible is a great follow-up that covers one of the biggest challenges facing indie authors (and really, every author): discoverability.

Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant's Write.Publish.Repeat is a great workman's guide to success in indie publishing. They are extremely prolific (and successful) serial writers, and their No-Luck-Required approach is very much in line with my personal philosophy of writing a lot, getting it out there, and moving on to the next book.

It's no secret that some of the indie world's biggest successes are writing in romance, and the The Naked Truth About Self-Publishing gives us a peek into how that happens through a series of tell-it-like-it-is essays from The Indie Voice authors, a collective of 10 bestselling authors who really know their stuff. Keep in mind that what works in one genre doesn't always work in others, but there are many nuggets of wisdom in this book.

Writing Resources
At the core of any successful self-publishing author's career isn't just a knowledge of the industry, a close relationship with her readers, and daring willingness to put her work out there: there's also an accomplished storyteller. No matter how much marketing you do, it's virtually impossible to sell a book that doesn't capture the readers' imaginations. A successful writer will always be writing and always be seeking to improve their writing. These books have each had a significant impact on me, and I highly recommend using them with your current WiP to see how you can take it to the next level.

If you get a chance to take a Story Master's workshop, do it! I took one last fall and found it incredibly well-spent time and money. This book, Write Your Novel From the Middle, by James Scott Bell, gives great insight to a tiny moment - the midpoint - that can help you bring out the power in your entire novel. He covered it in Story Master's but I still pulled more insight out of the book. It's a short, but very effective read.

Most writers don't lack a command of the language. Or the ability to be creative with story ideas. The biggest problem for writers is (generally speaking) crafting a well-structured story. Blake Snyder's Save The Cat is written for screenwriters, but the story-telling structure he lays out will bring a sturdiness to your story upon which you can drape all your lovely words. And don't forget the follow up book, Save The Cat Strikes Back. It will give you insight into the third act of your book in particular.

As an indie writer, you're no longer limited by any publishing schedule but your own. Most authors want to write faster, as well as better, and Rachel Aaron's 2k to 10k helps you do both. Also see my post on Writing Joyfully. Some people think that you have to choose between writing faster and writing better - I'm convinced that doing both is the key. Faster writing means more writing. More writing means better writing over time. Everyone has their own process, but you have to keep experimenting to find your most productive writing zone.

More screenwriting tips! Seriously, folks... screenwriters are the storytellers of our Screenwriting Tricks for Authors, and particularly for romance writers, Writing Love: Screenwriting Tricks for Authors II. See also my post Screenwriting for Novelists, my lessons learned in a nine month screenwriting class.
age, and borrowing tricks from the screen not only expands your understanding of storytelling, there are direct lessons that can be applied to the page. Alexandra Sokoloff has two excellent books,

There are many, many other great resources out there! (Please leave your recommendations in the comments!) But these will give you a solid start on your Self-Publishing Toolkit.


  1. I have been following your blog (and you) forever and I love posts like these! I started a Pinterest board with all my favorite writing craft books (and self-pubbing) resources. Here is mine:

    1. Followed! (And thank you!) I love the Art of War for Writers by JSB (also the War of Art by Steven Pressfield). AND Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman/Becca Pugsili! There are so many good ones out there. :)

    2. I have all of these and highly recommend them. But I don't have The Naked Truth 'cus the cover scares me. Seriously, just haven't picked it up yet. (The cover does scare me, tho) I would add "Story" by Robert McKee and "The Writer's Journey" by Christopher Vogler.

    3. LOVE "Story" by McKee and of course Volger's book. And the cover is... startling! LOL But there's lots of good stuff inside.

  2. Great write-up! Writing is a talent, and it must not be wasted. As with everything that we had been entrusted, we should let it grow and share it with the world.> self development plan, writing ideas

  3. Fantastic resources, Sue! Thanks for putting them all together.

  4. Hi Susan - Looks like a great list. Although I haven't read it yet - on my ever growing TBR - I'm told Stephen King's, On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft is "must read."

  5. Like runners, I think writers just have to find their own pace. Something you can do realistically, yet that also continually pushes you. Some write at a rapid pace, others not so much. But the key, as you noted, is to figure out how to do the most possible and still maintain quality. (And again, that threshold is different for everyone. One of my favorite authors of all time, Stephen King, is notoriously prolific. Another of my favorites, George R.R. Martin, seemingly writes a book a decade. It all works.) Also like running, I believe you can train yourself to improve no matter what your style is.

    Love all of these resources, and even found a new one to add to my shelf. (Writing From The Middle ... such a cool concept, I just have to check it out! :)

  6. Terrific list. I would add THE SELF-PUBLISHING TOOLKIT by Daphne Dangerlove.

  7. I just bookmarked this page.
    I'm planning on doing a workshop at my local library on Paths to Publication, where I'll explore different routes: querying agent, submitting to small pubs, self-publishing. I will want to provide a link to this post (and a few of your others) -- as soon as I figure out the best way to share links so the audience can find them later ... uh ...

    This being a full-time author gig is going to involve more than writing all day, huh?

  8. Oh, wow, such great stuff here. Your Indie Author Survival Guide is awesome and had a huge impact on me. HUGE. I just downloaded Bell's "Middle" book. Haven't cracked it open yet, though.

    Susan, thanks for always being such a great resource for this community!

  9. Thanks Susan. I'm new here (consider yourself "discovered"). I'm halfway through Write. Publish. Repeat. These guys are real inspirations. I'm in the midst of pulling my trad-published writing partner over to the Dark Side. And Julie, crack open Bell's book. It's a real eye-opener and a quick read. Adding your blog to my Feedly, Susan. Always on the lookout for a kindrid YA\MG spirit.

  10. Great list, I have many of them already, but you menitoned some I hadn't heard of before. I've been debating whether or not to buy Bell's book. thanks for the info.