Smart Self-Publishing: Becoming an Indie Author by Zoe Winters

Zoe Winters knows her readers.

She knows that self-publishers are self-starting entrepreneurs who do not require much hand-holding as they bravely forge ahead. She also knows that her readers are intelligent and capable. Therefore, she explains basic concepts to get people started, and then backs off to let them try things on their own. Unlike the “For Dummies” books that give way, way too many details about very basic things, SMART SELF-PUBLISHING strikes a great balance between too much and too little information.

But before the nitty-gritty of things like formatting and finding cover art, you need to know if you are even cut out to be a self-publisher. Winters does not mince words here. She lists qualities that self-publishers must have, such as the ability to separate oneself from the work, the will to ignore naysayers, and the passion to stay in it for the long haul. This was my favorite part of the book. Although I appreciated the how-to part, I liked getting the big picture first. Self-publishing is fun, but it isn’t worry-free, and I liked knowing that I was going into it with open eyes and a good attitude.

The majority of the book is the useful step-by-step that beginning publishers need. Winters covers everything from formatting to cover art to copyright to marketing. Again, she gets you started, then lets you take care of the details on your own. This makes perfect sense to me. The basic steps will be the same for everyone. As you go on, the questions will be less general. This book had exactly the information I needed to successfully start self-publishing, and once started, I had no trouble figuring out the rest.

This is not to say SMART SELF-PUBLISHING is a perfect book. Because publishing is a rapidly-changing field, information becomes outdated very quickly. What’s true today might not be true tomorrow. For example, when it comes to making print books, most self-publishers default to Amazon’s Createspace platform. However, Winters devotes nearly an entire chapter to the merits of Lulu and Lightning Source, which most people don’t use. Although this book is a great starting place, one should also use more up to-date resources like blogs and the kindleboards. (To her credit, Winters herself will be the first one to tell you this.)

However, my biggest problem with SMART SELF-PUBLISHING was the tone. I understand that Winters prides herself on being straightforward, but there is a fine line between telling the truth and alienating your reader. Winters’ dedicated fans seem to appreciate her bluntness. Some even find her funny. However, I have not read her novels or blog, and came to this how-to book as a student looking for a teacher. I learned, but at times it felt as if I were being hit over the head with the lessons.

Looking back through my copy of SMART SELF-PUBLISHING while preparing this review, I see that I highlighted many useful passages on my first read-through. If you can handle the teacher-knows-best-don’t-argue-with-me tone or you enjoy a sharp sense of humor, you will find this book a good companion when preparing your own manuscripts for publication.


pie slices: 8 slices business


This book is best for: advanced writers


I recommend this book.


rating:  4 stars

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