Think Like A Publisher

Here are the links to each chapter of THINK LIKE A PUBLISHER. 2015 Edition.

I will be putting a link up to the page here as I post each new chapter.

Think Like a Publisher 2015 Edition

Chapter One: The Early Decisions

Chapter Two: Expected Costs

Chapter Three: Projected Income

Chapter Four: Production and Scheduling

Chapter Five: Return on Investment

Chapter Six:


48 Responses to Think Like A Publisher

  1. Think Like a Publisher is nothing short of a detailed checklist for your business plan as an indie publisher, and that’s how I’m using it right now. I brought it in to my tax accountant and business adviser, who has worked with writers and artists for more than 30 years.

    She said, “This guy knows what he’s talking about.” (Particularly about the not-spending-money-you-don’t-have part.)

    I own this book in both its Kindle edition and its paperback print edition, and I am using both editions daily. Thank you for all of your work in compiling and boiling-down this wisdom-learned-the-hard-way. (As a technical writer for 30+ years, I appreciate just how much work goes into a volume like this.)

  2. Ms T. Garden says:

    I can’t wait to buy this book. I enjoy your posts and Kris’s Business Rusch. There is a tiny typo in your blurb about it’s cost. On both B&N and Amazon the book is $5.99 not $4.99.

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge and POV.

  3. Anne Stone says:


    I’ve been reading your book excerpts and looking at CreateSpace and etc., and I’m wondering if in your book you ever talk about people who use Macintosh products. I’ve noticed that it’s quite impossible to download anything from CreateSpace because they do not support the Mac. They do accept .pdf, but Smashwords does not. You can create .doc files now in iWork, but you cannot view them. I am pleased to see that CreateSpace allows for larger .pdfs but Smashwords does not, which cuts out all of us who do illustrated books. But that is another discussion.

    I’m just wondering if you address the .doc problem in your new book.


    • dwsmith says:

      Anne, not sure what you are talking about, to be honest. You don’t download anything from CreateSpace, they only produce paper books. As for Smashwords and only taking .doc files, it’s no big deal. Just use Word. And I use a Mac and word just fine and always have.

      Word is a fairly cheap problems with typical Microsoft issues, granted, but worth it. And none of this is in the book because it changes so fast. In so many ways, the book is slowly going out of date, so I’m going to need to fix it yet again. Or pull it down. But even talking about this sort of thing would be crazy because it all changes every month it seems.

    • Jennings says:

      I have a Mac and I have used CreateSpace without a problem. I use someone to do my formatting, but he sends the various formats to me and I do all the uploading to CreateSpace, Kindle, Nook, Kobo, etc. Maybe you just need some formatting help?

  4. CarlaJHanna says:

    Insightful, Inspirational Dean,

    Your blog encouraged me to self-publish my debut novel this past weekend. Thank you. I already feel empowered.

    This morning, I bought your second edition of Think Like a Publisher, eager to get past Chapter Four available here. I was not disappointed! You broke down the sales process with ease and took out the mystery of how I can get traction. Thanks.

    I want to bounce my production schedule off you:

    I have 3 novels of my coming-of-age series ready. My 4th novel is in an extended outline form (about 40 pages). This is the novel that rocked the big six publisher and why I was offered the series deal – which I rejected.

    I did my own temporary cover for the first novel, Loved In Pieces, but I don’t want it for the series. I want the 4 novels to have a similar look and feel, even though they cross genres. Book one is coming-of-age/teen romance. Books 2 and 3 are women’s contemporary fiction. Book 4 is mystery with romantic elements. I contracted out the cover designs/photography and will re-release Loved In Pieces in December (book 1 is only on Amazon POD and Kindle) with the new cover when I release Book 2 in December. I figured I’d get Loved In Pieces out to Smashwords, Pubit, etc. in December, and follow a three-month launch program for the first 3 novels. This gives me until January to finish writing the forth book, Reclamation. Jan-April for editing. May for copyediting. June 1 for launch. Yes?

    • CarlaJHanna says:

      My head is spinning, sorry. I wasn’t complete. I rushed to do the Kindle exclusive this weekend just so I could take make my mistakes early and take my time later. I want Loved In Pieces everywhere for December, hopefully with a good Kirkus review. I want a store on my website in December, too. Do I do only KDP exclusive for book 1? Or all 4?

      • dwsmith says:

        Carla, sounds great. Congrats on the writing and getting started. As for your question, as I have said many, many, many times here over the last year since the exclusive program was announced on Kindle, I am not a fan. I just don’t believe in picking some readers over others. I believe in getting books out to all readers. So you have done the first one, fine, don’t do any more until about novel twenty.

        As for having a Kirkus review, good luck. You can’t predict reviews (unless you buy them like that one over-hyped guy did). And reviews, contrary to the myth that they are important, mean little if anything to overall sales. What matters is what you are doing, which is writing, finishing, and getting out to readers your work. And more of your work. And for that I say CONGRATULATIONS!! Keep having fun and keep writing. Your best promotion is always your next book.

        • CarlaJHanna says:

          Thank you. I felt insecure about doing the KDP exclusive but was worried no one would see my novel as #200,000. I should have downloaded your wonderful book Friday instead of this morning.

          When I rejected my offer for the series, the big 6 editor scoffed at me, saying she had access to reputable book reviews and those reviews were crucial to the success of my novel. My gut instinct is that they are not because reader comments that show how the reader connected with the characters or themes seem more valuable to me on Amazon than the story synopsis and critique from a book reviewer.

          What I have found so valuable in your generous, educational blog is how you de-bunk these myths that are so fundamental in continuing the cycle of NY publisher hegemony where authors have little power.

          So thanks. No more exclusives, get the books out there, write, and connect directly with readers.

          • dwsmith says:

            Carla said, “No more exclusives, get the books out there, write, and connect directly with readers.”

            Got it. That’s the focus you can’t go wrong with and can build a great career. Keep having fun.

  5. D.L. Kung says:

    Dear Anne Stone,
    I’m also using a MacBookPro with Word for Mac 14.2.2. and finding no problem downloading the CreateSpace template or uploading a pdf to CSp, a .doc to Smashwords and a “saved as webpage” html to Kindle. I’m using the Smashwords Style Guide which you can get for free. (But I’m not doing illustrated books.)
    And I have to say that no reviews on the amazon US site (my original books were published in the UK) hasn’t dented any sales. I wish amazon would transfer my reviews from the UK site over, but they decline to do so. I wish they’d transfer all those helpful algorithms built up over in the UK for almost ten years to the US site, but they decline to do that, too.

  6. Jennings says:

    Dean, I have a question on the “why” of becoming a “publisher.” What benefit does it have vs. just publishing as yourself. I ask because I have 3 self-published novels, and my husband is about to release his 2nd self-published non-fiction. We’ve just done them as us up til now. Having owned an LLC for 20+ years (and I also have a non-profit) I’m very familiar with business, and we’ve done these as a business (kept expenses for taxes, etc). So if I’m going to go to the trouble of a dba (yet another bank acct, etc) can you explain why it’s necessary? I’m going to download your book, also, and maybe you answer the question there, but I can’t be the only one wondering. Thanks so much!

    • dwsmith says:

      Jennings, it’s just perception of bookstores, mostly. There are so many thousands and thousands of publishing imprints (names) no bookstore can keep track, so when your book appears as (publishing name) it gives it credit, even though it is just you doing it. If it is clearly published by the author, bookstores usually won’t buy it and many customers often shy away. It’s a simple step to make sure you get everyone to your work. That help?

      I’m going to be announcing a video lecture series (four weeks long with hours of tapes) on Think Like a Publisher, from step one all the way to getting books into stores and audio and all the cash streams. I should have that ready to go in a week or so, starting January 1st, with a 2013 edition of the book as well by the first of the year.

      • Jennings says:

        That makes sense. So should we move all 5 already published between us (with some 9 planned for next year) to a new “publisher”? Does that require re-copyrighting it? It should be an easy change on Amazon, et al.

        We’re on vacation in the Bahamas – I’ll get a frosty drink and talk it over with my husband. Thanks! (I do plan to start your book while I”m here – it’s all loaded on my Kindle.)

        • dwsmith says:

          Jennings, learn copyright. The Copyright Handbook put out of NoloPress. Because, I honestly don’t understand what you mean by re-copyrighting. Never heard of that and fairly certain it’s not something that even is possible under any law, even if I understood it. (grin) So really can’t help with your question because I sure don’t understand it.

          • Jeremy says:

            If that is a current picture of Jennings, she is far too young to have ever had to “re-copyright” something.

            If you created a copyrightable work before 1978, you had the option to “renew” copyright for up to 28 years.

        • Jeremy says:

          Do what DWS said.

          You might have to transfer copyright from yourself to your business entity, if that’s what you’re referring to.

        • Michelle says:

          Copyright belongs to the author. Publication rights are assigned to a publisher. You can just reassign publication rights to the publisher imprint. You might need to assign new ISBNs under the new imprint unless Bowker allows you to transfer those ISBNs to a new name, but this is unrelated to copyright.

  7. elena says:

    Hi Dean,

    I read your book in chapters last year (and sent in a PayPal payment). THANKS!

    Is this the same material? If not would you explain how it’s different?


  8. elena says:

    Some of the content I read was dated from 2009. Have those chapters been updated? I’m especially interested in updates in the parts about publishing since the industry is changing rapidly.

  9. Roscoe says:

    Dean –

    At what point is it appropriate to open up shop as a publisher? I mean, I have a dozen or so short stories in my backlog that might be worth publication, I’m working on four more and would like to finish a novel before the year’s out. Should I be opening up my publishing doors or just work on “selling my work everywhere, in as many ways as I can figure out?”

    • dwsmith says:

      Roscoe, no right answer to that. But if you start indie publishing, do it with a publisher name instead of just under your own name. But beyond that, each writer is different on how they approach getting work to readers.

  10. Daniel says:

    Hi Dean,
    I want to buy the book. Is the 2013 Edition going to be on Amazon?

  11. Daniel says:

    Or do I buy both and then read the updated chapters on the website? Sorry for the stupid questions.

    • dwsmith says:

      Daniel, just read them here free when I update them this fall. No point in buying the book unless you want to have it in your device or on your shelf.

  12. Adam Riser says:

    Dean, random question here: from reading your site for a couple of years now, I know that you advocate not giving away a percentage of your work, but what about selling shares in your publishing corporation to get the help you need–that is, making someone(s) who has a strength that you don’t have co-owner of the company with you?

    • dwsmith says:

      Get an attorney. You run into all sorts of security and partnership issues. Scary and ugly. The questions isn’t if a disaster will happen, just when.

      In other words, a really bad idea.

  13. Camilo Colorado says:


    I know you mentioned the 2013 version of Think Like a Publisher will be availablesoon. Will it be before Christmas? I just looked on Amazon and it is still the 2012 edition. Just wondering because I would like to have it as a stocking stuffer, hehe! Thanks.

    • dwsmith says:

      Camilo, actually working on the 2014 Think Like a Publisher right now. Got two chapters up on my blog and will have the others redone by the end of the year. But won’t be out until January or Feb of 2014 I’m afraid. Thanks for the interest. Much appreciated.

      • Camilo Colorado says:

        Thanks for the quick reply. I will be looking for it early next year. One more question if you don’t mind. I am not sure what your “philosophy” is on it, but do you address publishing other people’s work in your book? I know you don’t like the idea of publishers making a ridiculous percentage off of people’s work when those people can do it for themselves. Is there a way to balance it to work out well for the publisher and writer? Thanks again.


        • dwsmith says:

          Camilo, that way almost always leads to disaster. You have to want to be a small press publisher, you have to have a solid business set up, more than likely a corporation (Full C) and an accounting program and a love for entering numbers into accounting programs. WMG Publishing publishes me and Kris other people in Fiction River only and buy one time rights only. No royalties and still it’s a huge accounting pain.

          So I don’t have a “philosophy” other than trying to help writers not get screwed by the scams out there. But I do know the other side and the huge pain. If you start publishing other people’s work, give up your own writing and become a publisher. A fine path but impossible to do both for long. I know, I tried with Pulphouse.

  14. Bill Peschel says:

    Just printed out your first three chapters to study later. 2014 is going to be a big year for my publishing imprint, so I’ll be very interested in what you have to say.

  15. Camilo Colorado says:

    Hey Dean,

    I was just wondering when you are scheduled to have the revised version of Think Like a Publisher for 2014 out. Thanks.


    • dwsmith says:

      Camilo, working on it over the next two months and am going to call it 2014/15 edition. There was one area in publishing I needed to wait and see how it settled and it has now.

  16. James says:

    Using your chapters as the main topic for each weekly meeting of our publishing company in early stage formation, we are missing your sixth chapter so we bought your paperback book so that we keep moving on. Our “company” consists of my wife and I and working together on this has made a big difference. We now have thirteen in our inventory after two years of effort. Making the Break-even schedules and the calendar has really been part of our new excitement. Hope the chapters follow soon.

  17. JP says:

    Happy New Year!
    I’ve been reading your website based on recommendation from BJ Penn and it’s one of the most exciting and informative that I’ve come across. Thank you. I want to purchase the book version — should I wait until the 2015 version is published?

    • dwsmith says:

      JP, thanks. Right now, I still don’t think things are stable enough for me to feel comfortable redoing the book. So for the moment I would just read the free chapters at the top of the page and hold off until things level enough in publishing for me to feel comfortable doing another version of that book again. But first three or four chapters are all so basic, they are fine.

      • JP says:

        The book is a mini workshop and your writing is clear and well researched. An excellent investment. I had to purchase based on these blog chapters. Looking forward to buying more of your work.

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