Sunday, 2 February 2014

Self-publish with Integrity by Dan Holloway

There are plenty of “How-to” books out there for self-publishers. Just as self-publishing has taken off, so too has a whole industry devoted to providing self-publishers with the services they need, or at least the services they’re judged to need. Plenty of these books are, I’m sure, great; but they also tend to emphasise certain aspects – marketing, sales, technical details and so on – at the expense of others. What if you want to go a little deeper than that?

Dan Holloway’s Self-publish with Integrity would be a good place to start. There’s plenty of practical advice here, from building a platform to finding a printer to editing – but, as Holloway says, “these things were never, for me, the biggest challenge I faced when I self-published. The toughest thing by far has always been knowing how to filter the deluge of information and great advice that comes my way, remembering always exactly why it was that I started writing.”

That “why” – the reason you put pen to paper or finger to keyboard in the first place – is fundamental to Holloway’s book, as he invites you to ask yourself what “success” means to you. It’s a very individual issue, after all, and probably varies considerably from person to person. Is it selling your book in substantial numbers, or being able to give up the day job? Or is it writing to the best of your ability and not compromising on your personal vision?

“‘Success’ isn’t always ‘success’”, Holloway warns us. If the success you ultimately achieve is not the kind of success you value most, then ultimately, paradoxically, you’re not really successful at all. We’re guided through the pitfalls that lie in wait for the unwary: the pressure to succeed, the importance of knowing what you really want from self-publishing, and the perils of self-doubt and comparing yourself to others. Holloway reminds us that self-publishing does not begin and end with ebooks, or even with print books, and it certainly doesn’t begin and end with Amazon sales rankings, whatever some people would have you believe.

However you approach self-publishing, there’s something here for you. If you’re not even convinced that self-publishing is for you – and it’s not for everyone – this book might just help you to make up your mind. If you’re already treading the self-publishing waters, this book might help you to re-examine what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. To push this feeble analogy a bit further: it’s easy to get sucked along by the current. Not getting caught in that current, but forging your own direction, is the most rewarding thing you can do, and probably the only thing that can lead to any lasting satisfaction. I think I always knew that really, but those currents are damn strong, and there was a time when I got swept up in them. I ended up miserable and tempted to give up before I’d even really got going. This is why I wish I’d read this book before I self-published; it would have saved me an awful lot of angst.

Self-publishing is probably never easy; whatever you want to do, and however you want to do it, you’re probably going to have to face a lot of problems along the way. But having a copy of Self-publish with Integrity to hand might just help you through those tough times. Dan Holloway’s like a kindly friend; he knows what you’re going through, and – more to the point – he might just be able to help. Recommended.