Author: Michele DeFilippo

Publisher: 1106 Design

ISBN: 9780985489908

For many years, aspiring authors were often subjected to the indignities and frustrations endemic to the world of commercial publishing. Then something wonderful happened. Or something sort-of wonderful. Or at least wonderful sounding: the world of self publishing.

Now, would-be published writers no longer have to be victimized by the Byzantine practices of commercial publishing. That’s the wonderful part. The not-so-wonderful part is that the world of self-publishing is itself becoming maddeningly complex, resulting in a dizzying variety of options and obligations that can overwhelm the aspiring author. Authors looking for help now face a  burgeoning sub-genre made up just of self-publishing guides, each urging the author in slightly different directions, and sometimes giving radically conflicting pieces of advice.

Into this fray steps Michelle DeFilippo with her book Publish Like the Pros: A Brief Guide to Self Publishing. As the owner of a company called 1106Design, which works with authors to prepare books for publication, she knows her territory well.  Her advice ranges from cover design to acquiring an ISBN number, from dealing with distribution channels to marketing one’s book.

This breezy and comprehensive guide will be of value to novices. But there’s a caveat:  the book is heavily skewed in favor of the kinds of services DeFilippo’s company provides and away from the current crop of  well-known self-publishing firms. The book often reads like a promotional brochure for her company – in fact, there are several direct pitches to the reader to contact her to secure her services.

The author is right when she suggests there are potential drawbacks in dealing with many of the better-known self-publishing companies – they do, as she asserts, often dangle fantasies of success before unsuspecting, vulnerable writers – but there is also a good deal of value in what they do. And for some writers, a self-publishing company like Xlibris, CreateSpace, or Outskirts Press might be the perfect
option. Unfortunately, companies such as those are dismissed with derision in the book in favor of the approach 1106Design takes, which is to hook up writers with independent cover designers, editors, proofreaders, and other book production specialists.

DeFilippo is also right when she reminds the reader that publishing a book is serious business, and to be successful, one must treat the enterprise seriously. But to my mind, she is rather unfairly dismissive of the value of other POD (print-on-demand) publishing companies, which do produce some attractive and professional books (along with the usual "dreck" – what else is new?).

This slim, 75-page book offers no objective comparison of services or companies, and she makes some assertions, such as claiming that “reviewers won’t even open a book from most of the self-publishing companies” that are simply not accurate. I attribute such statements to a genuine belief that her company’s approach is the best, but it does readers a disservice to offer such a one-sided overview of a multi-faceted industry.

Those seeking publication should listen to what DeFilippo has to say, get the value from her book that it certainly offers but explore other options as well. There is no one-size-fits-all in publishing, and while I appreciated what DeFilippo had to say about the books she helps to produce, I urge prospective authors to explore all the avenues available to them, and be suitably wary of anyone who tells you what you must do to be published. The old days of my-way-or-the-highway are long gone. For that, we can all be grateful.

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