Review: How to Publish like a Pro for a Fraction of the Cost by Donna Joy Usher

It’s rare that I do a review, but having just sweated over the Jakirian Cycle through its various stages, Donna Joy Usher’s book was right in my bailiwick.

Usher has written a great book here. She had done one hell of a lot of groundwork and saved anyone who picks up a copy a heck of a lot of painful and time-consuming investigation. It is an invaluable first stop for anyone looking to tip their toe into the ebook or print-on-demand publishing areas, and has plenty of suggestions where to go for more details on all the other related areas such as promotion and the use of social media.

Usher is completely frank about her focus, which is mainly ebooks. The book delivers on its premise – illustrating how to publish like a professional for a fraction of the cost. If keeping the cost down is your ultimate goal, then this book is ideal for you.

The initial sections on editing and cover design were brief, but provided useful summaries, with some good references and links. I could perhaps add Stephen King’s On Writing to the list of writing guides,  for sheer entertainment value alone.

Usher also covers the other ancillary services offered by some of the publishing sites, such as editing, marketing packages etc.

In terms of print, Usher provides a good guide to publishing through Createspace, although that is the only print-on-demand option covered in detail. Lightning Source is another equivalent option, with similar printing costs to Createspace. Once advantage with Lightning Source is that you can choose your retailer discount for each territory and choose a different price for each territory as well. Having said that, most of the file preparation will be common to all print-on-demand services that utilise PDF files.

One possible downfall is the book is all about what worked for Usher – it may have benefitted from a more independent viewpoint or pooled experience of authors who have tried different things. If you are looking for simple solutions, or perhaps for how to let someone else do the work for you, you will need to read between the lines and follow some of Usher’s offered leads and do some further investigation.

I have been both sides of the coin – I have paid for partnership publishing and published through print-on-demand. Having experienced both, I would personally recommend using print-on-demand options such as Createspace. Partnership publishing was successful for me –  the process was managed to a degree and I accessed some of the machinery of distribution and book production – however the cost was higher than publishing the novel myself via print-on-demand. I got a little advice, but really the promotion and sales were back to me. I was lured, basically, by the promise that my work might be picked up by that publisher, but that never was going to happen. It was the way they preyed on the hopes of aspiring writers to motivate them to sign up – it was a business.

I think it is much better for writers to take the whole project into their own hands and publish either electronically, print-on-demand or both. That might seem a daunting prospect, but Usher’s book provides an invaluable guide into that new world of possibilities.

Donna Joy Usher’s book is available here on Amazon.

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