Author: Bob Fowke

Publisher: YouCaxton Publications


From defining the various aspects of self publishing, including ‘postering’ and pasting a message on a wall, with references to as far away a place as post Mao Zedong China, through to modern-day America, with the possibilities of a paperless society, Bob Fowke takes us through the intricacies of self publishing, including its history, in such a way that we are encouraged in the knowledge that we, too, can self publish (and they do say that there is a book lurking inside everyone). As those who are familiar with the format of Fowke’s series Guides for History Travellers will well know, the renowned author never satisfies himself with a merely straightforward narrative, but always seems to find snippets of information that add that extra little bit of enlightenment along the way. In this case, he adds “Guide tips for self publishers” at the end of each of the major sections of his work, with the topics covering a wide range of issues that are of key interest to those who are interested in self publishing: discoverability; pricing; retailers; printers; e-books versus printed books; and writing and publishing.

Fowke, always so keen on illustrations, has, this time around, confined himself to black-and-white reproductions of artwork of such illustrious personages as William Caxton, Jane Austen and Edgar Allen Poe, rather than the more humorous sketches to which his readers have been used in the past. That self publishing is a key concern of Fowke’s can be seen in the fact that, in 2011, he set up YouCaxton, a publishing concern operating on a Print on Demand basis, “to help fellow writers self-publish their work”.

Due to his personal experience of the pitfalls of self publishing, Fowke’s warnings to those who dare venture into such a minefield are clear and sincere: “If you’re intending to self publish, make your choice of provider very carefully, the tigers are real and publication itself is only the start of a long and arduous process and there are countless hurdles to overcome once the book is out there: reviews to be secured, distribution to be set up, discoverability to be enhanced, technical glitches to be surmounted and the endless race for publicity to be won.” In short, this guide is a valuable text for anyone who is a relative newby to the publishing and writing industry, as well as for any library and information science student who wishes to gain an extremely valuable and insightful overview of the art of self publishing. The only wish that I did, occasionally, have was that he would cut his sentences slightly shorter (but then, I also tend, alack, to err in the selfsame direction)…

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