Marketing With Harry Steinman: Part IIII

I am beginning to love Thursdays, how about all of you? Time for another round of do and don’t about Marketing with the very talented Gentleman Mr. Harry Steinman.

The feed back from this series has been great, but every author needs a bit of encouragement, so if you feel you have learned something here or are just enjoying listening to the story of another author, please let Harry and I know that you would like for us to continue:) Without further ado–Harry Steinman

 Pantser or Planner?

Twelve Tips to Self-Publish

By Harry Steinman,

Publisher With a List of Exactly One Book

Some authors are “pantsers”—free-form writers who write ad hoc, and then edit like crazy. Others are planners, methodical writers who follow outlines…and then edit like crazy. The best approach to writing is the one that works for you.

Publishing is another story. Only planners succeed. Publishing is right-brain territory. Pantsers succeed in self-publishing about as often as construction crews erect habitable skyscrapers without blueprints.

I studied self-publishing in workshops, read books and pestered experts with questions. Sometimes, I ignored the planning discipline, because I prefer fast to careful. This led to speed-induced bonehead decisions that were expensive to repair and humiliating to endure.

Lesson learned: planning and execution take time. Allow at least nine months—perhaps longer—to move your baby from final draft to first edition.

Here are a dozen tips so you can prepare to self-publish. See the last ‘graph of this post for more information about timelines and costs.
1. Decide on a selling strategy and stick to it. Print or eBooks? This single decision drives the entire process. I attempted both. EBook sales went well but print sales languished. IMHO, significant print sales require distribution through the traditional publishers.

2. Create a budget. Understand the process in advance and estimate the costs. Figure out how you’ll pay. I used Kickstarter to raise about half of the costs to self-publish. That will be the subject of a future post.

3. Should you just let a vendor do the work? There are dozens ready to handle all of the publishing and distribution tasks for you. Give ‘em a manuscript and, presto! Book. WARNING! If the vendor provides the ISBN, then the vendor owns your content. WARNING! Vendors will format your book, but many will not return your formatted manuscript if you choose to go elsewhere. Some will not let you go elsewhere.
Read the street-savvy guide, “Editors and Predators”. This labor of love exposes publishing, agent, and writing contest scams.

4. Shop for a cover designer. Don’t skimp here. A great cover plus a perfect blurb sell books. Weak covers produce tepid sales. You can get a cover, cheap, and it will show. I paid the price for a pro. It was the best decision I made. Look for a future post on covers and interior design.

5. Learn about book interior design and find a good designer. Good interior design is a plus for eBooks and a must for paper books. I consider the interior of Little Deadly Things to be exemplary. Check it out.

6. Amazon, Part I. Going to publish a paper edition? Create an Amazon strategy. Many print-on-demand (POD) houses act as a distributor for you for a small fee. If you use them and Amazon and other retailers will buy your book at a discount and then undercut your retail price. Amazon will always take first position in the buy box. Not sure what that means? Better learn everything you can about Amazon before you commit your resources.

7. If your strategy focuses on eBooks, then a POD that provides distribution may be a good idea. Smaller royalties for you, but no printing costs, no inventory carrying costs, and you can stick to promoting eBooks.

8. Amazon, Part II. Learn about the Kindle Select program. Great benefits, but you’ll give up some freedom with eBook sales in order to sign up. I’ll cover this in a future post.

9. Independent third-party reviewers require an advanced review copy (ARC) at least three months in advance of publication. Ignore this and you’ll empty your wallet to get an independent review—with no guarantee you’ll like the result.

10. If you publish a paper edition, choose cover and paper stock carefully. The tactile experience will enhance or diminish the reader’s pleasure.

11. Print your ARCs at least four months in advance of your production run. (Certain language is crucial on your ARC. You can find it on Dan Poynter’s website, listed below.)

12. Buy your own ISBNs. You will need an ISBN for each edition, print, eBook, library, etc. You can buy a single ISBN (bad deal) or 10 or 100 or 1000. There is only one vendor for ISBNs in the United States, Bowker. You’ll also need a bar code on a paper book.
This step is expensive but crucial. DO NOT LET A VENDOR OBTAIN YOUR ISBNs. (See Tip #3.)
I’ll share a bit more next week, enough to get you started. You have beacoup research ahead,well in advance of publishing. A good resource is Dan Poynter’s website and books.
Next week, I’ll cover an equally bewildering list of tasks, and, in future posts, discuss the importance of cover design, and interior design, of selecting vendors, and planning your launch.

Why bother with all this? Freedom. Creative control. Money. Satisfaction. Read the lengthy post, “Eisler & Konrath Vs. Hanchette” and you’ll be proud to say, “I self-published.”

Want more info on planning and costs? I’ll trade you my timeline and a breakdown of the costs I incurred for a review of Little Deadly Things on Amazon and Goodreads. I’ll send you an eBook copy, no charge, or a print copy if you cover the shipping cost (media mail is cheap). E-mail me at for your copy.
Till next week!

A Kindle best-seller

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Every purchase supports the Young Adult Writers Program at

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56 thoughts on “Marketing With Harry Steinman: Part IIII”

    1. That would actually be a great idea, if wordpress would give us a space to save our favourite posts in a folder in the dashboard or something.


      1. We could start with a mass blog post from the people we usually associate with but how to get Wp to notice short of having everyone email them?


      1. Constantly. 🙂

        I usually write YA Fantasy (big adventure, a little romance, much self-discovery and a dash of mystery), but I needed a break from editing, so for some reason I decided to jump into a paranormal thing. I said I’d never do vampires, but the idea came and seemed like way too much fun. Thanks for asking.


    1. Hey Dusty. You can read an ISBN number–there’s a logic to it–and tell a bit about the publisher. Joel Friedlander’s article is informative:

      More info than I could possible use! I did however, freak when I read that a clever bookstore owner could tell if the ISBN was from a block of 10. I didn’t want to be seen as just a guy. No sir! Mogul for me! So I wasted beacoup bucks and bought a block of 100. This is why your ebook v. paper decision is so crucial. Had I stuck to my guns I’d have saved a lot of $$. ‘Cuz in the end, I don’t give a frog’s fart if people see me for what I am: an inde writer.


    1. Absolutamente, Lee. Looks like you did pretty well with your publishing choice, yes? You sure have a pile of good reviews for “The Angry Woman Suite”. Good work!


      1. Yes, I do write books. Somewhere in that blog… hidden deep within… are posts about the books I am working on. ^^ Actually, I try to keep these posts on the top of the page for awhile, but now that I’m posting other things more often it doesn’t always work out that way. I do have category names and it’s filed under “Writing Random Thoughts”. Anyway, I never heard about the issue with the ISBN numbers. That is rather scary.


      2. So, you are the Jennifer Chandler of books-about-food-and-cooking fame? If so…cool!

        The issue with ISBN may never be an issue, or it could be. However, the edition that’s published with a particular ISBN will always belong to that ISBN. My understanding is that if you want to go to a different publisher, then you must create a different edition. Could be a revised edition. But the edition published with “X” ISBN will always be linked to that ISBN, and that ISBN is linked to the publisher, not to the writer.

        Again, if your the gourmet Chandler, then your publisher, Rutledge, is part of Thomas Nelson, a vanity Christian Press. If you like, you can email me at and let’s talk about your relationship with your publisher, see what’s what!

        Meantime, read through and learn about what a vanity press ought to bring to the table. IF you’re willing to accept a review copy of LDT and review it, I’ll send you a budget and timeline for self-publishing that may help you if you ever decide that Rutledge is not your cup of tea.

        Of course, if you are not the Jennifer Chandler of food books…um…never mind!


    1. Hello Harula,
      Thanks for the nice things you say. Your blog looks cool. Interesting idea. Well, why not read a copy of LDT and review? Just let me know what format you prefer…


      1. LOL, thanks Ionia – yes, hand delivery would be best:-) Sure, why not – but what’s the time scale? I have a busy month coming up so a deadline would be great in terms of how soon you want the review to go up, then I know I’ll make it happen. I don’t have an e-reader but have downloaded some stuff before and just read it on my PC, so whatever format is PC compatible. I’ll send you an email so you have my address:-) Thanks for the nudge…and for checking out my blog.


  1. Okay. I know this is getting to be a habit, but I am confused again. My vendor provided my ISBN #s included in the costs, I presume, but my contract says I retain all rights and ownership of all content at all times. He was adamant about that, and it is in print. My contract is for one year…He will keep the availability of the eBook up for two years and I can extend that for a tiny fee each year after. He has already provided me with a cache of files (KDP, ePub etc..), and says that I can go elsewhere after one year should I choose to. Was I had or is this possible?


  2. What a relief! I am still learning, but I think my vendor was aokay. He was marvalously easy to work with and most polite and always responded to my emails within minutes. He spent two hours on the phone with my husband answering his questions and numerous hours with me in dialog either by phone or email. Although he retains a right to, he hasn’t charged me a thing for any changes I have made so far.


  3. I find these super informative. They’re making me more and more confident of going for self publishing. It seems scary, but still a great option especially with all the tips. Thanks! 🙂


    1. Hi Veronica,
      Thanks for your kind words. No reason not to be self-confident with self-publishing if you’re self-aware. You may find it more exciting than scary when you start your project. Think of the butterflies as your body pumping out some adreneline and endolphins…uh, endorphins, stuff like that to help you gear up for a Big Task.

      I think it’s scarier to turn your ms over to an industry that’s lost connection with all but a very small handful of writers.


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