Click Here To Purchase A Self-Publisher's Companion

Author: Joel Friedlander

Publisher: Marin Bookworks
ISBN: 978-0-936385-11-2

To self-publish or not to self-publish: that is the question – at least for many writers today. Whether ‘tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of outraged agents and editors, or by opposing, end their stranglehold on the publishing process. To self-publish, perchance to dream (of career advancement, prestige, book tours). Thus, traditional publishing doth make cowards of many writers, who meekly wait for affirmation – and a contract. Ay, there’s the rub. The time-honored publishing route is an undiscovered – or at least baffling – country from which many writers never return with ego intact.

OK, it might not be a tragedy worthy of Hamlet’s soul-searching soliloquy, but there is a real problem that writers face today. As traditional book publishers consolidate, agents become ever more selective, and unknown writers face insurmountable-seeming hurdles trying to break into mainstream commercial publishing, would-be authors face an important question. What used to be a fairly limited range of options – keep pounding on the gates of the publishing establishment, or submit your work to a “vanity press,” bringing out an expensive, limited edition of one’s work – has expanded into an intriguing and potentially profitable range of possibilities.

The growth and increased legitimacy of self-publishing has become one of the important stories in the world of contemporary letters. While some writers still fear the stigma that might have clinged once-upon-a-time to self-publishing, most scribes today realize that self-publishing has become a wholly legitimate path for writers in today’s digitally enabled multi-platform environment. But they likely still have lots of questions.

One of the most reliable and user-friendly guides to this brave new world of self-publishing is Joel Friedlander, a long-time advocate and help-mate for self-publishers. His book (really just a modified collection of his blog posts at, A Self-Publisher’s Companion is, or should be, required reading for anyone who wants to know more about this growing phenomenon.

As Friedlander notes helpfully, and frequently, there is no single type of “self-publishing.” That term has morphed into a sort of catch-all for a variety of publishing motives and products, from collections of confessional poetry and cookbooks with sentimental value for a small circle of family and friends to important titles in both fiction and, more commonly, non-fiction.

I like this book a lot, and learned a great deal, as will any writer. If you haven’t really been paying close attention to the growth in print-on-demand (P.O.D.) publishing, or are baffled by the prospect of using social media to promote your work, don’t despair. Friedlander walks you through you the basics. I appreciated his smart and reader-friendly guide to Twitter (which I had previously dismissed as a vehicle primarily to critique Snooki’s latest adventure or transmit gossip about some pending Sweet-16 party somewhere).

The best parts of the book are where Friedlander lays out the reasons for self-publishing, rather than the mechanics. As he himself acknowledges, “Instead of a how-to book, I decided to create a kind of `why-to’ book.” Here’s just one example of his informed boosterism: “People are funny. Given the chance, tens of thousands of ordinary people have decided to publish their own books over the last few years, and more are certainly on the way. I applaud every one of these authors for taking their destiny into their own hands, for turning a deaf ear to the people who said ‘You can’t do it’ or ‘You’ll look a fool.’ They accomplished something. They expressed themselves in the world – these are not small things.”

He’s right, of course. Those are not small things. Friedlander helpfully directs readers to other books and online resources to get specific information about the how-to stuff that he doesn’t cover. But you’ll feel more than sufficiently grounded in the self-publishing movement after reading this book. And, very likely, re-energized in your own writing ambitions.

Click Here To Purchase A Self-Publisher's Companion