If one Googles ‘self-publishing’ almost four and a half million results are flagged up. Apart from anything else this indicates that a plethora of material is out there for anyone seeking information or advice. The same universal caveat applies to information about self-publishing as it does to advice from any unknown source. It needs to be approached with caution. Many websites are there with the sole intention of encouraging the ‘visitor’ to part with his or her money.

Self-publishing Guides: Some common faults

In his book, The Practical Guide to Self-publishing, Paul Chiswick states that his primary objective is to try to save any one who intends to self-publish as much money as possible. He has carried out research on several of the titles that are currently available on this subject. He found that many ‘self help’ books place their emphasis on the issue of marketing and sales. The assumption is that the author intends his or her work to become commercially successful. Chiswick’s experience does not bear this out.

Another myth he has exposed relating to the ‘self-publishing’ guides is that they tend to assume that writer wishes to publish a novel. The content of many other ‘guides’ seeks to support just such a venture to the exclusion of other forms of writing.

Chiswick discovered that some publications delve deeply into theoretical aspects of self-publishing when, in his opinion most people accessing such information wish to know how to do it as opposed to the technical aspects of the process.

There is, according to Chiswick, a lack of advice on e-books. He feels this is “…an important and rapidly growing market”.

Where the money goes in self-publishing

Paul Chiswick has identified two principal areas of cost to the would be self publisher. Copy-editing and proof-reading represents the ‘high end’ of book production. Chiswick points out that the cost of these services, when provided by professionals will cost a minimum of £2,000. He also quotes a staggering £10,000 and even more in extreme cases. Those costs do not include the price of producing the book.

In Paul Chiswick’s opinion the tasks of proof-reading and editing can be carried out by well read friends. He is a strong supporter of writers’ groups and feels the members of those ‘communities’ are able and qualified to carry out such work.

In addition to the above there is the expense of cover graphics. When this is carried out professionally it can prove very expensive. As far as Chiswick is concerned an attractive and appropriate cover design can be achieved by an amateur who makes use of one of the popular computer programs.

Finally, Chiswick turns his attention to the subject of finding a suitable printer. Here he is quite specific in that he recommends two companies by name.

Whether or not Paul Chiswick’s ‘The Practical Guide to Self-publishing’ can be described as the definitive work on the subject is almost impossible to assess. What is beyond dispute is that it does what it says on the label and is very practical in its approach to the subject of self-publishing. It is readable and sound. If it has a fault it is that, unless it is regularly updated, it will soon become out of date. It cites several websites. It is probable that they will be superseded quite quickly.