What You Need to Know About Self-Publishing: Seek Opinions

In conjunction with the release of my self-published book A Path to Publishing: What I Learned by Publishing a Nonfiction Book, I’m offering this series of posts on what you need to know about self-publishing.

When working on a self-published book you may have put together a passable first draft, and even managed to spruce up a pretty decent second draft. However, chances are your argument or story will have some significant holes in it, to say nothing of some sections that readers will find confusing.

While working on my third draft of A Path to Publishing I couldn’t think of any significant changes to make, so I sent it off to several friends and colleagues to read it. Sure enough, one reader found the same glaring flaw in two of the book’s chapters.

She very gently suggested that those two sections needed significant revision. She was absolutely right. I had a few doubts at first about those sections, but I had decided they worked fine. Thankfully she pointed out some other reasons why needed to be not only rewritten but largely deleted.

And that brings us to the challenge of editing your own book. You always need perspectives other than your own to make sure your book flows and makes sense. No matter how talented you may be as a writer or an editor, you can’t catch all of your own mistakes.

Depending on your relationship with your friends and family, you may ask them for help. However, remember that a good editor will not worry about hurting your feelings. A good editor needs to feel comfortable pointing out all of your book’s flaws. Will your friends and family be able to do that?

My friends through social media and blogging have been a tremendous help in reading drafts of my books, while several key friends and family members have helped at times as well. However, I think it’s important to choose your readers carefully and to give them deadlines that can be flexible if need be.

In addition, keep in mind that these friends may publish their own books some day. Guess who they’re going to e-mail before anyone else for help…