The book is so popular that I couldn’t find a cover image and had to take one myself.

Review: 12 Easy Steps to Self-Publishing For Busy People (Second Edition), by Terence W. Tam

I read a version of this book that has already been superseded at least once — I think I wrote away for my free copy back in the mid-noughties — so I was pleasantly surprised to find its content more relevant and less out-of-date than I had anticipated.

You probably won’t find anything earth-shattering in 12 Easy Steps to Self-Publishing For Busy People — it’s the same old advice that gets trotted out in every essay on the subject. But Tam does well to focus on carving out the right niche for your writing, and targeting the right audience. Of course, the publishing industry has moved on, and we target audiences in different ways these days.

With the rising popularity and cheaper distribution of eBooks, self-publishing has become a relatively simple task. It’s certainly a lot easier to get your book into Amazon than it is to convince the bookstore owners down the road that they want twenty copies of your latest tome. In the online space, self-published authors can finally compete head-to-head with traditionally published authors…and occasionally win.

Part of that is due to the change in marketing tactics, with authors now having a lot more direct contact with their fans. Back when the author was drafting this book, Facebook didn’t exist. Social media is now one of the primary ways writers interact with their fans and potential fans, and even traditional publishers recognise its value, pushing their signed authors to maintain an online presence.

What most disappointed me about 12 Easy Steps to Self-Publishing For Busy People was the number of typos it contained despite the author’s frequent calls to invest in professional editing. And they were simple errors, such as repeated periods or incorrectly placed apostrophes. Even the book layout was awful, with the page numbers appearing on the right-hand side of every page, so that it was tucked into the binding on left pages.

And then there was the title…I just couldn’t figure it out. There weren’t twelve chapters. There wasn’t a list of twelve steps. And it didn’t seem particularly aimed at busy people, or any other specific group of people (other than those interested in self-publishing). Given the author’s advice for creating catchy titles, I suspect he created the title without really thinking about how it related to the content. Maybe that’s why he was giving away this version, and why he released another book in 2007, called Seven Easy Steps to Self-Publishing For First-Time Authors.

In hindsight, I’m not really sure why I read it, but it’s done now.

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