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Lessons from self-publishing – part II

My Detox CookbookAt the close of Lessons from self-publishing – part I, I’d gone off to two big book events in New York City for a crash course in publishing. Upon my return, it was necessary to dive bomb into manuscript preparation and print production. My deadline was little more than two months away and this was a one-woman operation!

Why a 2-month deadline? Good question. My plan was to launch the cookbook as a vendor at the annual conference of naturopathic physicians. That year’s conference date was August 10th, which gave me two months and ten days before setting up my table in Salt Lake City’s convention hall. While there is something intensely gratifying about creating from what feels like thin air, the flip side of that is that it’s a lot of work. Planning is everything. So here’s the next lesson:

Lesson #3: Assemble a team of knowledgeable professionals to help you bring your self-published title to fruition:

  • proofreader
  • copy editor
  • book designer for design & layout
  • book cover designer

Because I had already clocked more than two decades in the publishing industry, I was familiar with many of the steps involved in producing a book. In fact, my first job in the industry was typesetter — I worked on one of the very first computerized typesetting systems that replaced “hot metal”. A lifelong artsy type with considerable graphic design experience and a chronic do-it-yourself’er, I never considered outsourcing any part of the book design or layout production. However, I called upon a commerical photographer friend to shoot the cover art and contracted with another business associate for proofreading and copyediting. If there’s one thing I’ve learned — the hard way — it’s that I cannot proofread my own typing.

A favorite highlight of creating Eating Clean was the photo shoot. A friend gave up her airy, white kitchen with a center island for a morning and the photographer and I moved in. With bags full of all sorts of fruits and vegetables, and dishes prepared from the book’s recipes, I filled the counter top with my bounty. Experience on catalog photo shoots had taught me about filling the camera frame, which meant that I needed to think about what would show in the background as well. Thus the hydrangea plant in the rear, peeking over the blender, and a soup pot on the stove. It took us exactly three hours to set up, photograph, and return B’s kitchen to its original state.

If you’re wondering where and how to start on your own self-publishing project, Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual is the penultimate guide. Visit his site and you can sign up for his free electronic newsletter, too. In the meantime, stay tuned for the next segment!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Maureen Madden-Kershaw April 16, 2007, 11:10 pm


    I love your information packed blog. It is incredibly educational and so interesting that it reminds me of the utter pleasure in being inside a book store to browse with no limit.

    The Lessons From Self-Publishing Part II is just what I need. It is thoughtfully put together and uncovers some of the mysteries.