Self-Publishing vs. Self-Surgery

The Disclaimer:  Today’s blog is based on my opinions which are based on my experiences.  Not everyone has the same experiences and, therefore, may not share my opinions.  I am a humble soul, so you should not consider my words to be from God’s blog to your eyes…unless of course the font changes to heavenly blue…then you will know it is God speaking.  Okay, here we go…

dummiesI have decided that self-publishing is not much different from self-surgery.  Yes, the better advice has always been to go with the professionals.  They’re trained and experienced.  You should let them do their thing and you should simply sit back and go with the flow… just don’t try any of it by yourself at home.

But, let’s play this out a little and see where it goes.  First, self-publishing has become a lot easier and more acceptable because of new technology and services available on the Internet.  Nowadays, lots and lots of people can self-publish a book.  And, if they’re good at it, or pay someone else who is, the finished product can be spot on with anything a traditional publisher produces

Now, what about surgery?  I bet if I search the Internet long and hard enough I will surgeryeventually come upon a step-by-step guide to removing a gallbladder.  How complicated can it be?  Insert a few tubes into the abdominal cavity, slide in some snips.  Cut the organ free.  Suck it out through one of the tubes with a vacuum cleaner.  Solder or weld the cut ends together and close.  There now, didn’t hurt a bit.  In fact, if you were to get really good at this, you could write an instructional manual and self-publish it.

snoopyOkay, I admit I am being a bit frivolous.  Both self-publishing and self-surgery are more difficult than the scenarios I have presented.   But let’s concentrate on the more realistic venture of the two:  self-publishing.  It can be quite daunting if you have never done it before.  To begin with, you have to write a book.  That is no easy task.  It is a lot of work to write a book, even a bad one.  Not only do you have to come up with a decent story or a respectable compilation of advice and observation, you need to put it all down in some kind of coherent digital form that is grammatically correct and has no spelling mistakes.  Neatness counts, too.

Next, you have to come up with some money to cover your expenses.  You’ll have to pay someone to proof and edit what you’ve written.  If your book is illustrated, you need to pay for an artist.  You’ll need a good cover planningdesign.  That’ll cost you.  After all this is done, you will need to have your work compiled in proper digital form so that the computers at the printers will take all the data and poop out a book that looks professional.  If you have the time and skill, you can do this last part yourself.  It is not, as they say, brain self-surgery.  One other concern—unless you go it totally alone, do all the prep work yourself and simply hire a printer—you need to carefully research which self-publishing service you choose to work with.  Depending on whom you select, your wallet can take a considerable, and unnecessary, hit.  Do your homework.  There are books out there to help you learn the process and choose a service.  Two that I found helpful are:  THE FINE PRINT OF SELF PUBLISHING by Mark Levine and SELF-PRINTED, THE SANE PERSON’S GUIDE TO SELF-PUBLISHING by Catherine Ryan Howard.  Portions of these books are quite helpful.  There are others, check them out.

delivery3So, after several months, or years whichever is the case, you have written your book,  had it edited and proofed, selected a self-publishing service and now you stand on your  doorstep as boxes of your newly published efforts arrive.  Enjoy this amazingly exciting moment…it most likely will not last long.

If you wish only to write for yourself and you don’t care a book-binder’s fanny if anyone else ever sees what your creative juices have squirted out, then you should have abandoned the entire process discussed above.  But, if you are like most authors, you wish to have at least a few books available for your friends and relatives to ooohandahhh at.  That being the case, read on…

collage3Now comes the most difficult part of self-publishing:  marketing.  Marketing is the process whereby you attempt to publicize, distribute and sell your book to as many human beings on planet Earth as possible.  Ultimately, you will need to reach thousands and thousands of people if you have any expectation of being successful.  Yeah, good luck with that.

I do not want to sound discouraging here, nor do I intend to instill upon you a sense of hopelessness.  I can tell you this:  be cautious about all the stuff (I was going to say lucky“crap” but I will be polite), that you read and come across on the Internet and elsewhere.  It makes no nevermind who or what the source of this information is.  They all may have good intentions, but little of what they suggest has much effect.  Hold that thought; I’ll have one that connects to it in a minute.  What you really need, really really really need, is………l u c k.

There are many, especially the advice-givers, who are yelling at me right now for having such a horrible attitude.  Listen—$%*#&—hear that?   That’s them yelling at me.  But, I bet if you talk to a handful of other self-publishers like you, you will find that they have sold very few books despite making every effort to do just that.  So what to do?

You must not give up.  You must keep the faith.  You must keep your eye on the prize.  You must embrace every cliché that has ever been written about staying the course.  This means a lot of work.  This means doing all the stuff (crap) that those advisors tell you to do (this was the thought I asked you to hold for).  Leave no stone unturned.  Here’s why:  it is the only likely way that somewhere along your journey you may encounter some……..l u c k.  It is the same rationale as buying a lottery ticket.  The chances you will win are extremely lotteryremote.  But you won’t even have that chance if you don’t have a ticket.  That is why you have to attempt an honest effort to market your book.  You never know when something will come your way as a result.  What works for one, may not work for another.  Much of it has to do with……l u c k.

I am not going to go into detail about how to market your book.  You can find hundreds of articles on that.  Just Google marketing or self-publishing and go from there.  The Bible of marketing self-published books is a tome titled, 1001 WAYS TO MARKET YOUR BOOKS by John Kremer.  Mr. Kremer is probably one of those who were yelling at me a few paragraphs ago, but now that I’ve recommend his book, he’s not quite as angry with me.


Okay, with scalpel in hand, suck up some anesthesia to offset some of the pain, and get ready to slice and dice.  Self-surgery?  Self-Publishing?  Either way, I wish you the best and, oh yeah, lots of……..l u c k!


Marc Kuhn is the author of three books.  Recently published is an adult historical novel, THE POPE’S STONE.  The other two books are for children:  NEVER GOOSE A MOOSE…And a bunch of other things you should never do!; and ABOUT A FARM, lessons for life regardless of where you live.

All three books are available at and each has its own .com website under its title.

About Marc Kuhn

I am a retired radio exec. I've worked at major stations in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Miami. That was then. This is now: I've published seven books and this blog thingy. Need to know more? Really? Okay, I bare/bear all at The other links are for the websites of each of the books I've written. I've been busy! Hope you'll stop by and check them out. Thanks for your interest!
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