The Ten Best Books About Self-Publishing

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Self-publishing grows in popularity by the day, and there’s already a huge market thanks to the ease of use offered by digital media. It’s never been easier for authors to get their own work out there, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need guidance while they’re at it.

The following list is every book an author needs to become an expert on self-publishing. The books are listed ten to one, each more deserving of your bookshelf space than the last but each important in its own way. Every book on the list has a unique viewpoint, approaching self-publishing from a different angle.

Take a look at them all for a truly balanced view of self-publishing or select those that sound most suited to your own approach, but rest assured Standoutbooks only recommend the best.

10. The Business of Digital Publishing: An introduction to the digital book and journal industries – Frania Hall

If self-publishing your book is a kayaking holiday then The Business of Digital Publishing is a map of the region. It might not be all about paddling, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t essential.

Hall’s book focuses on the industry, providing an overview of the different publishing sectors and the influences that shape how they work. What makes the book so brilliant is its even-handed treatment of conflicting arguments.

If there’s a one stop shop to understanding the market your book will be entering then this is it.

9. Publishing: Principles and Practice – Richard Guthrie

Guthrie’s book provides a comprehensive guide to publishing issues some other sources skim over. Subjects such as possible cultural conflicts and varying trade practices are explored accessibly but authoritatively.

While Guthrie writes about both publishing and self-publishing, Publishing: Principles and Practice is laid out for maximum usability, allowing readers to search out relevant passages with ease. Guthrie writes in a welcoming, almost casual style mixing in interviews and real world examples to illustrate his assertions and stop things stagnating.

8. Write. Publish. Repeat.: The no-luck-required guide to self-publishing success – Johnny B. Truant and Shaun Platt

Platt and Truant are self-published authors made good, and in this book they set out to share the secrets of their success.

The focus is on achieving success purely through hard work (the ‘no-luck-required’ philosophy of their title) and the pair guarantee that effort and a decent product are all self-publishing authors need to succeed. The book runs the entire gamut of self-publishing, including pricing, formatting, covers and publishing to multiple platforms.

Appropriate to its ‘work = reward’ mentality Write. Publish. Repeat. doesn’t have the drop in/drop out accessibility of Guthrie’s book, however readers that are willing to read from cover to cover will find it a knowledgeable read written by authors who know what they’re talking about, and who they’re talking to.

7. Self-Printed: The sane person’s guide to self-publishing – Catherine Ryan Howard

Howard begins with the premise that self-publishing should co-exist with the traditional publishing industry, rather than attempt to replace it. What follows is a no-nonsense explanation of the pros and cons of self-publishing, and an identification of the kind of authors who can really benefit.

Howard isn’t out to make friends, and targets a readership who are prepared to treat their writing as a business rather than those looking for the quickest route to publication. The result is a book that’s useless to the latter but indispensable to the former. See Self-Printed here.

6. 2014 Guide to Self-Publishing – Robert Lee Brewer

An annual compendium, collecting the most up to date advice on self-publishing. The digital marketplace, and the technology on which it operates, develops so quickly that there’s a real need for a constantly evolving source of advice.

Brewer presents a host of useful advice as well as collecting contact details of freelance editors, designers, and production facilities – all essential for the serious self-publisher.

See the 2014 Guide to Self-Publishing here.

5. APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur: How to publish a book – Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch

Kawasaki takes the opposing path to Howard, describing self-publishing as a rival to the traditional publishing industry.

That’s not to say that Kawasaki idealizes self-publishing, in fact much of his advice arises from a focus on the difficulties authors could face in their efforts.

Simultaneously pessimistic and too big for his boots, why does Kawasaki place higher on our list than Howard? Because the combination of these traits provides an unusually comprehensive and broad range of advice. Kawasaki is ambitious enough to advise the reader on tactics and goals others wouldn’t, and pessimistic enough to plan for everything that could go wrong.

While Howard writes a straight forward guide for the sane reader, Kawasaki requires you to bring your own sanity. Most authors will reach a point in APE where things get a little too ambitious, but as long as they don’t begin the book thinking they have to do everything Kawasaki advises this isn’t a problem. You don’t have to eat everything at a buffet to get a good meal, but the more variety the better.

4. The Naked Author: A guide to self-publishing – Alison Baverstock

Despite the whimsical name, Baverstock’s book takes a very business-like stance on self-publishing. Baverstock posits that self-publishing is a series of investment choices, albeit that what an author is investing in is their own work.

The key, she argues, is making sure these investments – whether the resource is time or money – are handled sensibly and run at a profit. Decisions relating to cover design, formatting and pricing are all interrogated to ensure maximum return.

Her approach is an objective overview of an author’s investment choices, with the intention of informing and advising authors to the extent that they feel confident making their own decisions. See The Naked Author here.

3. Let’s Get Digital: How to self-publish, and why you should – David Gaughran

Gaughran offers a slightly more encouraging style to Baverstock, taking for granted that anyone who wants to self-publish should.

What really makes Gaughran’s book so great is the focus on digital content, the preferred environment of the self-published novel.

Presented as a guide to the varied and multitudinous opportunities available to self-publishing authors, Gaughran has written a guide to the process that energizes the reader to get started. See Let’s Get Digital here.

2. Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook Guide to Getting Published – Harry Bingham

It might be surprising that a book which covers both traditional and self-publishing places this high on the list, but the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook are a trustworthy, authoritative source with access to some of the most up-to-date advice going.

Bingham describes his book as a professional tool and it’s certainly designed for functionality, with chapter by chapter dissections further broken up into key paragraphs.

Including interviews with publishing giants and case studies on success stories, no book marries accessibility to authority better than this. Well, maybe one does.

1. How to Self Publish: A Guardian Masterclass – Ed Peppitt

A short book of around 100 pages, and costing less than a cup of coffee on the Kindle, How to Self Publish is a minimalist self-publishing tool produced by one of the most trusted and respected newspapers in the world.

Don’t confuse minimalist for incomplete: Peppitt’s book contains everything you need know, it just doesn’t contain much else. Different publishing approaches are compared to provide a sort of buyer’s guide, allowing readers to identify the best choice in relation to their own needs.

Topics covered include: writing your book, creating an eBook, the economics of self-publishing, and how to use a self-publishing company to publish digital and physical literature.

Good luck!

Self-publishing is an exciting process which puts every author in charge of distributing their own work and the above reading list is designed to allow authors to publish their work in the most well-informed, effective manner possible. At Standoutbooks we believe that that’s something every author deserves, and we’re committed to sharing the resources they need to do it.

This article is part of a series recommending helpful books for authors: for a reading list on writing a best seller check out The top ten books on writing that’ll make you a better writer, or for books on marketing your work try The only ten books you’ll ever need on how to market a book.


6 thoughts on “The Ten Best Books About Self-Publishing”

  1. There are some good picks here and a couple of books I wasn’t aware of yet. I’ll be sure to check them out.

    That said, my personal favorite isn’t included here. It’s Peter Bowerman’s The Well-Fed Self Publisher. He focuses more on nonfiction than fiction, but the book is a must-read for any author serious about the business side of independent publishing. It’s one of the older books on the topic, but he released an updated version last fall. So if anyone wants to give it a read, I’d suggest making sure you get the latest version.

    1. Hi Jennifer,

      Thanks for commenting, and I hope the new additions are useful. Bowerman’s book is indeed a great choice for budding self-publishers.

      Best wishes,

    1. Hi Max,
      Thanks for stopping by.
      How to Self Publish: A Guardian Masterclass by Ed Peppitt is a short guide published by the Guardian in the UK, there are 17 reviews for it on This list is more about finding books that will really help you as an author and How to Self Publish is a useful overview without any filler.

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