The internet is swarming with writing and publishing blogs. Which ones are worth reading?
I dip into lots of blogs, and get inspiring and useful insights every day, but I don’t want to overwhelm you with the list of my 50 favourites! So I had a little think and came up with this Sampler of just four blogs, to help you get started on the self-publishing path.
Note: I first wrote this blog post in 2013, and am updating it in 2022. Things have changed quite a bit over 9 years, as have my recommendations… except for this first one, who remains top of the list!
1. Joanna Penn, thecreativepenn.com
Joanna Penn is an Englishwoman who lived in Australia for a while, and that’s where I attended one of her workshops on social media in 2011. (If you ever get a chance to hear her speak, jump at it.)
- Successful self-publisher of both fiction (novels) and non-fiction, who has learned on-the-job. She started self-publishing before ebooks and print-on-demand revolutionised the industry, so she has a useful before-and-after perspective.
- As JF Penn, she has sold hundreds of thousands of copies of her thrillers. Lots of traditionally published authors can only dream of that many sales. She publishes non-fiction as Joanna Penn.
- Her success is meaningful for the rest of us, because it has been achieved by working hard and smart over a period of time, analysing and adjusting and working some more. It’s NOT one of those cases where someone sells a million copies because of freakish coincidences. Her success is repeatable by ordinary mortals.
- She is courageously and generously transparent about the ups and downs of the writing and publishing life. She even shares her sales figures.
Things to look for on this blog:
- My favourites are Joanna’s articles on book marketing, where she draws on her own experience and the experiences of other indie authors. As a start, go to this page of her top marketing posts.
- Extensive use of video and podcasts, for those who’d rather watch or listen than read, and tips for how to start using those technologies yourself.
- Masses of free resources, as well as some great online (paid) courses, if you want to go a bit deeper on certain topics. Wisely, she even has a “Start Here” page to help you find your way through the hundreds (thousands?) of articles.
This website is an encyclopedia of self-publishing. Use it as a library.
2. Anne R. Allen and Ruth Harris, annerallen.com
Anne R. Allen and Ruth Harris are US publishing industry veterans with a wealth of knowledge, and they also often host high quality guest posts from various other writers, editors and publishing industry professionals.
They are generous and straightforward with their knowledge, including being honest about all sorts of mistakes that they have stumbled into and then overcome.
They are actually from the traditional publishing industry, but so many of the posts are filled with excellent tips and ideas for self-publishers, which is why they make this list.
Great content on:
- How to write a book in the first place, including evading the many so-called “writing rules” that are always flying around the internet.
- What to do with that manuscript once you’ve written it.
- Exploring new ideas for book marketing, as well as plenty of alerts about hazards and scams to avoid.
Anne has quite a dry sense of humour which I always enjoy.
Posts appear weekly, and this blog is well worth subscribing to. Pretty much everything I read from Anne and Ruth is worth the time.
3. The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), selfpublishingadvice.org
ALLi has become a very useful place to get ideas and advice. It is a member organisation with paid subscriptions, but lots of the information is available publicly for free. ALLi was founded in the UK and has a global membership.
These are my favourite parts of this website:
- A blog with latest news from the self-publishing world and events or technologies that impact self-publishers, as well as tips on how to do our job better or explore new possibilities.
- A list of ratings for self-publishing services. This is so valuable for dodging scams, truly. If you get an “offer from a publisher”, PLEASE check it here first. A lot of those publishing offers are not really publishing offers at all.
- Ratings for awards and contests, to help you avoid spending money on contests that have little value or prestige.
It’s also the only self-publishing organisation that I am currently a paid-up member of. I keep signing up to ALLi again each year because of:
- An excellent members-only Facebook forum for asking questions of the group. Often some of the most experienced self-publishers, such as Joanna Penn, will pop in to answer your question.
- Extremely useful discounts on Ingram Spark, a massive print-on-demand printer and distributor that I use for all my books.
- Advocacy for members who run into serious difficulties with various platforms.
You can check out the membership details here (I’m very happy to be an affiliate of this organisation).
4. David Gaughran, davidgaughran.com
David Gaughran is an Irish author whose site is full of great tips for marketing your self-published book. He takes a different angle to many of the other self-publishing gurus, providing a nice balance.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of David’s website and blog is that there’s not much on it! That might sound a bit strange… but he only publishes a new post when he’s got something really good to say, and in the meantime just updates his articles when details change.
This means there’s less overwhelm when you go to his site looking for information and inspiration.
And he is extraordinarily generous with what he is learning from his own publishing process.
This is another site that is well worth subscribing to. You’ll receive an excellent free ebook and marketing tips once a week.
Blogs listed previously:
These are the three blogs that were listed in my previous version of this post, and why they are not in it this time.
- Molly Greene, romantic suspense author at www.molly-greene.com has had really great material but is on hiatus.
- Joel Friedlander of thebookdesigner.com has sold his business. Such extraordinary content from Joel and his team over many years.
- Michael Hyatt of michaelhyatt.com has moved into leadership training. This is one of the benefits of a blog… you can change topic if you wish!
So that’s my Sampler of four blogs to get you started in self-publishing. They are all very different people, and very different blogs. If I didn’t mention your blog, fear not, I still love you. Another time!
It was very hard limiting this Sampler to just four, but I hope these will give you a useful cross-section of information, if you are just embarking on the self-publishing journey.
Tell us which blogs you love, and why. Help other writers. I love to read your comments!