Book Review: Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual

Note:  The review below is for the fifteenth edition, which was published in 2006.  Some of the information is dated, but the book still provides a good foundation of how to self-publish.  The latest edition that I found on Amazon was published in 2007, and the author has since written Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual Volume 2 (2009), which I haven’t read yet but which presumably has updated information on the subject.

For those wishing to publish their own book or start a publishing company, I have found no better guide than Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual. By Dan Poynter established his own publishing company, Para Publishing, in 1969.  According to Para Publishing’s web site (, Poynter has written over seventy books and revisions of books since then.  And perhaps best of all–for both him and the people who want to follow in his footsteps–he has learned the best ways to publish a book.

Granted, he doesn’t tell you how to be a big-time publisher like Random House or HarperCollins.  Instead he leads you, step by step, through the process of setting up and maintaining your own small to mid-size press.  This is definitely a good thing because as a self-published author or a new publisher, you need effective approaches that give you a quick return on investment, and this book provides many such strategies.  It also includes a detailed publishing calendar so that you can effectively plan for the publication of your book.

If there is a problem with the main bulk of the Self-Publishing Manual, it is this: Poynter is primarily a nonfiction author and publisher, and most of his advice is slanted for nonfiction writers.  He does provide some advice for authors of fiction, but it is sectioned out and in some cases feels more like an afterthought.  This doesn’t detract anything from his the book’s value, but authors of fiction will find themselves adapting his advice for their own circumstances.

As I said in the note at the beginning, I read an older edition of the Self-Publishing Manual.  If you want updated information, the Para Publishing Website is regularly updated.  Also, for more recent information on self-publishing and e-books, check out David Gaughran’s blog, Let’s Get Digital: How to Self-Publish and Why You Should.  Gaughran is a self-published author who is documenting his journey.  He wrote the self-publishing guide Let’s Get Digital, which is available as a free PDF from his site.  His blog serves as a great update to Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual.


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