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February 9, 2015
By Betty Kelly Sargent
We've come up with a short list of the top books on the ever-changing world of self-publishing.

Whether you are a seasoned self-publisher or you've just decided that publishing your book about growing up in Michigan might be a good idea, you are probably going to need some advice from the pros. Problem is, because things are changing so quickly in the indie author arena, any book more than two years old is likely to be out of date.

With this in mind, we checked in with a few thought leaders in self-publishing and have come up with a short list of what we agree are the top, general-overview books on the ever-changing world of self-publishing. All are recently published or updated, packed with essential information for indie authors, and lively, clear and, for the most part, entertaining.  Here they are:

1. Let's Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, and Why You Should—Updated Second Edition, by David Gaughran

This clear, concise guide is divided into three parts: 1) An overview of the rapidly changing publishing business; 2) The nuts and bolts of the digital publishing world, including how to find professional help, marketing tips, and social media and blogging advice; 3) Inspiring stories of 30 bestselling self-publishers told in their own words. The detailed appendix alone is worth the price of the book. 

2. Write, Publish, Repeat: The No-Luck-Required Guide to Self-Publishing Success, by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant with David Wright

“This book is the written version of our Self-Publishing Podcast, which we record every week and which goes out to thousands of writers who often send us beautiful e-mails about getting unstuck, fighting past their fear, publishing their best work, and starting a journey toward living their dreams,” write the authors in the book's introduction. In their frank, friendly, funny prose, they cover all the bases including how to create an effective marketing funnel, an attention-getting Call To Action (CTA) and a Unique Selling Position (USP).  Here's their philosophy as described in the book's second part: “There is almost a direct line between ‘how hard you work (intelligently)’ and how much success you have…you can outwork luck.”  This is a must-read for indie authors who are just starting out.

"This is a must-read for indie authors who are just starting out."
3. Publishing 101: A First-Time Author’s Guide to Getting Published, Marketing and Promoting Your Book, and Building a Successful Career, by Jane Friedman

This cut-to-the-chase, no-nonsense overview of traditional publishing and self-publishing is fresh, original, and scrupulously honest.  Friedman, a writer, author, teacher, and publishing guru answers many essential questions such as: how important is it for an author to have her own blog or website; what can an author expect and not expect from her traditional publisher; what marketing tactics should be avoided on Facebook; and what’s the secret to finding the time to write, market, promote, and still have a life? This balanced, realistic and encouraging book is filled with insights you won’t find anywhere else—a valuable addition to any self-publisher’s bookshelf.

4. Business for Authors: How To Be An Author Entrepreneur, by Joanna Penn

“My aim is to take the result of your creativity into the realm of actually paying the bills. To take you from being an author to running a business as an author,” writes Penn, and that is exactly what she does. She explains what all businesses have in common and then walks the author/reader through all aspects of these business essentials. If you want to be the master of your brand, this book will be a big help.

5. The Self-Publisher's Legal Handbook, by Helen Sedwick

The sub-title says it all. Sedwick, a California business lawyer for over 30 years, covers everything from how to select an effective imprint name to ISBNs, EINs, and SSL Certificates. This is a real eye opener for anyone involved in self-publishing—easy to read, clear, friendly, and non-intimidating—another essential title in every indie author’s library.


Betty Kelly Sargent is the founder of and co-author of The Self-Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide.