If you’re an entrepreneur looking for ideas and help in writing and self-publishing a book to build your personal brand: Joel Friedlander’s A Self-Publisher’s Companion: Expert Advice for Authors Who Want to Publish from TheBookDesigner.com is an excellent starting point.

A Self-Publisher’s Companion is an uncommonly useful book about self-publishing from several perspectives:

  • Decades of traditional publishing experience. As Joel described to me during a recent interview, his father was a printer who served New York City’s leading publishers. This provided him with hands-on experience in all facets of conventional, i.e., trade, publishing.
  • Self-publishing during the 1980’s. In addition to his job as a production director at a high-end photography book publisher, Joel published his first book, Body Types. Joel’s Friedlander’s Body Types is still available, and has gone through 2 editions and 5 printings.
  • Entrepreneurial success. In addition to writing and self-publishing a niche market book using traditional typesetting and printing resources, Joel leveraged his book into a series of 5-day workshops, 7-day workshops, and–even–7-week workshops. Joel knows first-hand how to convert a book into back-end speaking and information product profits.
  • Publishing books by other authors. For about 12 years, Joel’s Marin Bookworks has been serving publishers and self-published authors, offering book design, book production, and publishing consulting. Joel’s a la carte services to other authors has helped him monitor and adapt today’s rapidly-advancing self-publishing strategies and technologies.

From blog to book

The final thing that helps set A Self-Publisher’s Companion apart is that–like many of today’s self-published brand-building books–the book originated as a series of blog posts.

Joel began his TheBookDesignerBlog.com in 2009. Joel blogs 7 days a week about all aspects of self-publishing, including writing, book cover design, typography and readability, publishing technology, and book marketing and promotion.

One of the points that came out of my interview with Joel was that A Self-Publisher’s Companion is more than a copy-and-paste compilation of blog posts.

A “particular type of book on self-publishing”

Positioning played a major role in his book right from the start. As he described during our interview, Joel had the idea of a uniquely-positioned book right from the start. To begin with, he knew what he didn’t want:

I didn’t want to do a book like the Self-Publishing Manual or The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing. These large encyclopedic books attempt to give you every piece of information you are ever going to need as a self-publisher. I mean, geez, Dan Poynter’s got what size Jiffy Bags you should buy! I didn’t want to get into that level of detail.

Instead, in his words:

The book I wanted to write would really give people an insight into what it means when you become a self-publisher, how you can tell if you have the right kind of temperament to do it, what kind of marketing goes on now for self-published books, how you get them printed.

In short:

We give people kind of an overview of the whole process and help orient them to this kind of new world of almost instant, low-cost, self-publishing.

In response to one of my questions at this point, Joel admitted that, at some points, book considerations sometimes come before blog posts are written. Some posts were written because topics were needed to flesh-out his ideas for particular chapters of his book.

Joel Friedlander’s blogging tips

Anyone interested in a first-hand look at Joel’s experiences writing and self-publishing a book based on his blog can preview the type of information in A Self-Publisher’s Companion by reading his post, How I’m Going to Blog my Book–And You Can Too.

Other points brought up during our interview was his working habits for writing his daily blog posts:

I usually write my blog in the mornings: I’m probably down now to about 45 minutes to write a 1,000 word post. Then, in the evening, I’ll format it, edit it, and post it up.

Joel’s writing habits also include occasionally writing a few blog posts in advance. He also uses WordPress’s Draft feature to capture ideas for later use.

If I have an idea and I’m sitting at my computer, I just put the title in and maybe one sentence I want to write about and I save that. When I come back, it’s there waiting for me.

Other tools that help Joel keep track of ideas include Evernote, which he uses extensively, “It’s really, really good.”

Joel also uses the voice recorder option of his iPhone to record ideas when he’s away from his computer:

More people should use the voice recorder on their phones. If you have a phone that allows you to do a voice memo, that’s a fantastic way to keep track of stuff that you would ordinarily forget. I’ve actually recorded podcasts on my phone, on the voice recorder, and packaged them up and put them on the web later. It’s fantastic!

Getting started self-publishing

In closing, Joel recommended one of his most popular blog posts, 26 Ways to Win at Self-Publishing, which was expanded by comments from readers who had successfully self-published a book. He also encouraged everyone:

Just Get Started. Get the book out there. If money is an issue or if you don’t want to go into print, do an ebook first. Test your ideas. Test your title. See if anybody responds. See how you feel about marketing the book.

What are your feelings about self-publishing a book to build your personal brand? Have you already self-published a book, or are you seriously considering it? What’s holding you back? What are the obstacles that keep you from moving forward? If you’ve already read A Self-Publisher’s Companion, what did you think? Share your comments and questions, below.


Visit Roger C. Parker‘s Published & Profitable blog—over 1,000 posts and tips for planning, writing, promoting, & profiting from writing and self-publishing a brand-building book.