When it comes to self publishing courses, not all are created equal. It can be quite overwhelming to shop for a course that has everything you need and (ideally) nothing you don’t. So, how do you choose which is the best self publishing course for you when many appear to offer the same thing but promise different outcomes, timelines and even costs?
We’ve compared 24 different online courses, ranging from free Youtube channels all the way to university courses and everything in between. We found there to be far more differences than similarities across the board. And if a decade of publishing and marketing experience has taught us anything, it’s how to sift through the hype and savvy marketing strategies to dig deep and find what it is you’re really getting for your money.
Full transparency, after doing all this research, we developed a self publishing course of our own. We don’t claim that it’s the best for everyone in every circumstance, and the point of this article isn’t to point you in our direction. It’s to empower you to make the best decision for your book, whether you choose our course or another one that’s a better fit!
Below are a few questions to guide your research and help you identify the best self publishing course…for you.
For additional information, check out our free ebook: 8 Common Self Publishing Mistakes.
6 Questions for Choosing the Best Self Publishing Course:
1. Which stage of the process are you in?
Are you already finished with your manuscript or do you still need help writing and/or editing it? Some courses come with writing and editing support, and others assume you’ve done all that beforehand and are now ready to learn the ins and outs of self-publishing. Some authors may wish to couple these services into one course, but others seek out separate professionals for writing and editing advice and services.
Keep in mind that if the course includes writing and/or editing services, it will likely be a lot more expensive and may be hard to decipher how much you’re paying for each service. We’d recommend cutting costs by hiring writing help from professional coaches or instructors when you need it, and editors who specialize in editing.
Similarly, you’ll find courses that couple self publishing with marketing, so you’ll need to decide if you 1) want to learn it all from the same person/agency and 2) if you’re even interested in thinking about marketing at this point, or if you just want to focus on one thing at a time. It goes without saying (hopefully) that you will have to invest time and money into marketing your book(s) eventually. Unfortunately, you can’t just publish it and hope readers will find it. You’ll have to drive traffic to your book page and encourage them to buy.
If you do purchase a self publishing course that also offers marketing, make sure you have lifetime access so you can take advantage of the marketing guidance whenever you’re ready for that step, even if it’s months down the road. Also, try to understand how much you’re paying for each to see if it makes sense to bundle them, or purchase separately.
2. What are your publishing goals?
This is an important question to ask yourself because there is a lot of hype out there. Let’s face it: Probably every author would love to write a bestseller, and every writer would love to make a living on their craft. The reality is that very few of us will actually achieve either, especially with our first book, but you’ll still find courses promising to help you become a bestseller in 90 days, or to teach you the one simple trick to making a living from your writing. It’s important to get super clear on your publishing goals, and remain realistic.
Our answer? If you truly think you have a bestselling book on your hands, you might want to reconsider your decision to self-publish in the first place. You’ll have much better luck with a traditional publisher representing you.
Also, I don’t want to burst any bubbles, but the reality of making a full-time living off of your writing is possible, but difficult. And while there are things you can do in the self-publishing process to increase your chances (ie professionalism, quality, a great book, etc), the majority of this work will require savvy marketing after the book is live and available for purchase.
Look for a course that doesn’t cut corners, that places a high emphasis on professionalism and quality and doesn’t promise the impossible, while still helping you achieve the goals you set out to hit in the first place.
3. What’s your timeline?
Similar to the last point, we’ve seen courses that promise to help you publish in as little as 30 days (or faster). We know that one of the benefits of self publishing is that it offers a faster timeline than traditional publishing, but the truth of the matter is that to do it professionally, and in a way that doesn’t look self published, it will still take time.
We generally take 3-5 months to self-publish books of outstanding quality and professionalism, which is often the amount of time it would take a traditional publisher to bring your book to life…but without the year or so it would take to write a book proposal, find an agent and sign a publishing deal. So, three months is still pretty fast for quality work you’ll be proud of, but doing it faster than that likely means cutting corners. You’ve put a lot of time and effort into writing your book, make sure you take the time to be proud of the finished product. Plus, you can use the time it takes to go through the publishing process to get your marketing plan in place.
4. What’s your preferred learning style?
Online courses often vary in style, so it’s best to start by considering how you learn best. Do you want on-demand learning so you can go at your own pace, or would you prefer to be held accountable to deadlines? Is a chronological course organization important to you, or do you plan to skip around just to fill in your knowledge gaps? Is it crucial to have access to a live instructor when you need to ask questions, or are you okay without it? Do you prefer videos, or written material, or both? Do you need visual aides to guide your learning?
If you’ve taken other online courses, think about what you liked and didn’t like about their structures. Many of us learn differently, so it’s important to choose the best self publishing course for you, and that might differ from your other author friends.
5. Does the curriculum offer everything you want/need to learn?
Many courses will let you preview their curriculum, either on their sales page or you might need to email and ask for it. We highly recommend reviewing the course curriculum because it can provide a lot of insight into the content you’ll engage with, the structure of the course, the depth or brevity of the lessons and materials, and the overall path the course will take you down.
Most of the time, it only allows you to see the titles of the lessons, but it should be enough to get a general idea of what will be taught in each. Take a close look and make sure everything is what you’d expected. We’ve found that we’re often misled by reading the marketing copy on the sales page, only to find that the curriculum is missing a lot of information we might have expected. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, move on to the next course.
In our research of 24 of the best self publishing courses online, we found the prices to range from $0 – $7,000. Without having taken all of them, we can’t weigh in on whether the age-old saying, “You get what you pay for” rings true or not, but our experience has taught us that self-publishing is fairly straight forward, once you cut out the confusion and overwhelm, so there doesn’t seem to be enough variation to make thousands of dollars of a difference.
We recommend getting clear on what you need and what you don’t need, and then narrowing your search down to the courses that fit those needs. Then determine how much those skills are worth to you. If you’re reading this post, it’s probably safe to assume that you’re willing to pay something (or you’ve already tried a few of the free options and found they were lacking a lot of pertinent information, or you had to spend too much time piecing it all together). Consider what other expenses you’ll encounter to bring your book to life, and choose a course that fits your style, your needs and your budget.