The King of Self-Publishing – an interview with Dan Poynter

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Introduction

For those who have self-published any of their works, one of the most important points of reference is The Self-Publishing Manual. The author of this fantastic manual is none other than Dan Poynter. Dan has written some 116 books. Some have been sold to publishers and most he has published himself. He has also published several other authors. During the past 35 years, Dan has experienced every phase of the writing-publishing business – whether it is as an author, publisher or self-publisher.

Naturally, with his vast experience, he is regarded as an industry leader. Dan has served as vice-president of the Publishers Marketing Association and as president of the Parachute Industry Association, chairman of the board of the US Parachute Association and president of the International Hand Gliding Commis­sion. His base is Santa Barbara.

As is the case for most in Asia and Africa, it is often difficult to meet such eminent speakers in person. However, we, in Malaysia, are about to have the unprecedented honour of hearing Dan speak. He is going to be one of the speakers at the upcoming Malaysian Association of Professional Speakers to be followed by a Book Writing Boot Camp early in April 2005.

In anticipation of the huge turnout, Dan has very kindly agreed to answer a few questions. Without further ado, please, let me introduce Dan Poynter.


Aneeta: Hello Dan. Thank you for agreeing to this interview.

Dan: Aneeta, I am looking forward to this return trip to Malaysia. I made many friends in September 2003 and I am looking forward to honouring them for the books they have published since then.

Aneeta: You know, Dan, when I wrote and published my first book, I was chastised many times for self-publishing it. Personally, I enjoyed the process but for the benefit of our readers and as you have published over 100 books now, can you tell us why you would advise someone to self-publish rather than go to a publisher any day?

Dan: It is nearly impossible to get a publisher today. They seem to be publishing celebrities only. They know that business, sports and film stars have a following or audience. The publishers know they will sell more books when the author has an audience. If you publish yourself, you will make more money, get to press sooner and keep control of your work.

Aneeta: It is my observation, that there is a growing trend amongst many would-be-writers to pay a company to ‘take-care’ of the publishing for them. I have always thought that if you have to pay someone to publish your book for you, you are indulging in vanity publishing. For the benefit of our readers, can you please explain what really is vanity publishing?

Dan: In self-publishing, we sub-contract the printing (we do not own presses), editing, proofreading, cover art, etc. The challenge with the vanity presses is that they have a terrible history of not delivering on the services they promise.

Aneeta: In all your 35 years of writing and publishing, I am sure you have seen many changes. What are the three most significant changes you have observed? Are these changes all for the better or worse and why?

Dan: Offset printing, the computer, the Internet and digital printing. Now you can write, publish and promote your book faster, easier and for less money than ever before.

Aneeta: Is this your first time speaking in Asia? If not, when were you here before and do you see any changes?

Dan: I visited Singapore and Malaysia a year and a half ago. I am looking forward to returning.

I think one of the things that surprised me most was the high level of writing and publishing. Many, many writers are truly eloquent and the books are gorgeous—certainly world class.

Aneeta: I have read the statistics bank on your website and it is really interesting reading. However, I have a specific question that concerns lots of people who self-publish and are based in Asia. When I asked Amazon.com whether I could list my books for sale on their site, I was told that unless I have a publishing company that is registered in North America AND have my books available for shipment from North America, they could not consider my request. What would your advice be to self-publishers, and publishers alike, in Asia who would like their books to be listed on Amazon.com?

Dan: Upload your printed book and eBook to LightningSource. They will inventory them, print the pBook on demand and get them both listed on Amazon.com. See http://www.LightningSource.com.

Aneeta: You have also stated in your Statistics Bank the rates of literacy in the US and just to quote:
One-third of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives. Many do not even graduate from high school.
58% of the US adult population never reads another book after high school.
42% of college graduates never read another book.
80% of US families did not buy or read a book last year.
70% of US adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.
57% of new books are not read to completion.
–Jerrold Jenkins. http://www.JenkinsGroup.com

I think that these figures are perhaps no different from the ones in Malaysia! What would you suggest, we, as self-publishers, do to encourage people to read more?

Dan: One-third of all books are sold in the United States. 90-million people are reading books. Books are an efficient way to entertain (fiction) as well as to learn or solve a problem (nonfiction). Books are very common in the U.S.; people naturally look to books for entertainment and information.

Aneeta: Can you please explain why it is important for authors, especially those who are self-publishing their works, to attend writers  conferences.?

Dan: This is a challenge for writers because most of us are introverts. But a writer needs to get out of the house to learn from others. A writers conference will accelerate your writing project.

Aneeta: I understand that in line with your trip to Asia, there is a Boot Camp being organised. It’s called The 2005 Write & Publish Mastery 2 day Boot Camp With Dan Poynter . Can you please give us some information about this boot camp and, in particular, answers to the following questions:

Aneeta: Who should attend this Boot Camp?

Dan Aspiring writers, authors and those who are searching for a systematic way to get started on their book and looking for alternatives to getting their book published (the non-traditional way), ie in this case to learn about self-publishing

Aneeta: Where and when is this Boot Camp?

Dan 9-10 April 2005 at Sofitel Resort, JB

Aneeta: What will the participants learn and how will they benefit from this Boot Camp?

Dan On day one, we focus on teaching them the systematic way to get started on writing  using my unique writing system called “Write Your Book By-The-Numbers”. I will help them visualise the entire project and guide them through the process. On Day 2, we focus on the publishing aspects, ie – share with them my new book model and the alternative ways to get their books published, on producing the printed and ebooks, on marketing, promoting and distributing their books and those who opt for self-publishing …how to get started. We will leave them with a roadmap on self-publishing

Aneeta:Why are you holding it in Johor Bharu and not Kuala Lumpur?

Dan This event is catered for both Singaporeans and Malaysians

Aneeta:How much are the registration fees for this Boot Camp?

Dan The official fee is RM4750 but early registrants (or during promotion) only pay RM3800 for installment scheme and RM3420 for those who opt for full payment. Plus Malaysians get a travel/room voucher valued at RM500 for the inconveniences of having to go to JB. Singaporeans get free transport by coach. This fee covers all cost for the programme including materials, hotel expenses and accommodation (one night twin share), 2 days boot camp, free copy of my book, pre-boot camp workshop or preparation, post-boot camp e-coaching (3 months) and as part of the coaching, access to our e-mentorship portal with datavault of articles and special reports, my newsletter and be part of our e-group community of independent authors &  self-publishers.

Dan Where can one register for this Boot Camp?

For more information, please log on to www.authorworks.biz/greatstory
where they can register online or contact Sherlyn at +603-90596218 or fax: +603-90596248 or email sherlyn@authorworks.biz

Aneeta: Thank you.  What advice would you give to those who are hesitant about taking that first step in publishing their own books?

Dan: Your book will provide you will a new credibility and a new profit center. Your book will change the direction of your life.

Aneeta: Thank you, Dan. I am sure our readers will find it all useful.


This piece may NOT be freely reprinted. Please contact editor @ howtotellagreatstory.com for reprint rights.

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