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Kenny Kemp

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The Road Traveled
Why They Win
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The 7 Steps to Self-Publishing Success
By Kenny Kemp   

Last edited: Sunday, June 29, 2003
Posted: Sunday, October 01, 2000

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Advice from the Grand Prize winner in the Writers Digest National Self-Published Book Awards.

1. The Fun Part: Writing it
a. Your most important research takes place in the bookstore.
b. Let Mom read it, then your siblings, then friends, then strangers that read that kind of book.
c. Put it away for awhile to simmer -- then come back to it with a fresh view.
d. Print it out, take a highlighter, and mark every cliched and hackneyed phrase. Delete ‘em and substitute a new, more interesting and unique phrase.
e. Let people you don’t necessarily like, but still respect, read it. This will be your true st feedback yet.
f. Don’t dispair! It’s getting better all the time!

“A book is never finished -- we only give up on editing it.” -- Anon.

2. The Interesting Part: Designing it.
a. Take a camera to the bookstore, take pictures of books that catch your eye. You get 2 seconds for your book to grab a reader. Walk down an aisle and note the books you see out of the corner of your eye. These are the attention getters.
b. Find a book you like and copy it! Note how the cover lays out, the title page, the verso of the title page, the numbers, the barcodes, the price.
c. Resource: Dan Poynter’s The Self-Publishing Manual. (
d. Show it to friends (in the order above). Listen, do not defend!

3. The Scary Part: Entering the Marketplace
a. Mr. Internet is your friend: Today, more than ever, information is available -- and it’s free. You just have to know where to find it.
b. Self-Publishing versus Traditional publishing. Pros and Cons: learn more faster, lower costs, greater heartbreaks, more control, more knowledge for your next book. More money!
c. Printing options:
i. Traditional: web press / offset printing
ii. On Demand: Xerox Docutech-style machines
iii. E-books: /
d. In the browser window, type “self-publishing” and prepare to be amazed at the resources.
e. Don’t forget the bookstore -- Browze using the search word “self-publishing”
f. The #1 place to go: Amazing and free information.

4. The Exciting Part: Your Finished Book!
a. Hot off the press: Now what?

5. The Hardest Part: Marketing the Book
a. Sales Outlets
i. Retail stores: chains (B&N, Borders); independent stores
ii. Libraries & schools
iii. Institutional: corporate and premium sales
iv. Internet:
v. Your very own website.
b. How to get it to them: Wholesalers & distributors
i. Chains will only buy from established distributors/wholesalers.
ii. Visit the Library: Literary Market Place for lists and names
c. Book Signings
i. Crucial and informative -- use props!
ii. Book signings are desert: they are best when they come last.
iii. Bookmarks
iv. Goodies
d. Internet Options
i. secrets: placement, reviews, sales. “Associates Program”
ii. “Build your own website for $99; maintain it for $20 per month!”
(2) Microsoft “Front Page” web design program.
(3) Domain names
(4) Search engines and rankings
e. News Releases and Free Publicity
i. Email is tailor-made for distribution of news releases.
ii. Book signings: always include a seminar -- more value for the buyer. Give away information, charge for the book.
iii. Develop contacts at newspapers -- they are looking for news and have little time to write it. They will often use your news release -- verbatim!
iv. What is a ‘best seller’? A book that sells out its entire print run.

6. The Most Satisfying Part: Reader Responses
a. Include order blanks for more books on the last page of the book, as well as ads for your other books. “People want to be sold, but not pressured. Give them information and they will buy your books.”
b. Ask for reader responses in the book and give them an email address to send them to. Ask them to post them on Put them on your website and in your news releases.
c. People don’t buy books -- they buy authors! Always tell your readers and purchasers about your next book. Don’t be offended when people idly flip through your masterpiece and then ask, “What else have you written?” Tell them what’s coming next. Get their information and put them on your mailing list.

7. The Sweetest Part: Holding your first book in your hands. To quote George McFly: “There’s no telling what you can do if you put your mind to it.” Good luck!

Web Site: Kenny Kemp's Studio

Reader Reviews for "The 7 Steps to Self-Publishing Success"

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Reviewed by Meg Leigh (Reader) 4/11/2003
a little hard to follow in places but a great article nontheless and it doesn't tell me how bad my writing must be if I am considering self publishing.

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