Selling Shovels to the Miners

This post is a compilation of some of the publishing and self-publishing resources I’ve found helpful. But before we get into that, let me begin with a cautionary tale.

During the California Gold Rush, few prospectors actually struck it rich. Most of the money was made by people who sold shovels (and blue jeans, tents, pickaxes, etc.) to the prospectors. The prospectors were willing to risk everything for the opportunity to get rich quick. Some of them failed, some died trying. The shovel-sellers, on the other hand, made money off these adventurers in a slow-and-steady-wins-the race sort of way. (One of the better-known shovel sellers: Levi Strauss.)

Self-publishing is one of several Gold Rushes happening today, and although a small number of self-published authors have struck it rich, most do not. The average self-published book sells no more than 200 copies. If you’re looking to get rich quick off your self-published book, the odds are not in your favor. On the other hand, the shovel sellers — the people who provide author services — often do quite well financially.

Types of publishing services include:

  • Developmental editing
  • Copy editing
  • Proofreading
  • Cover design
  • Formatting (for print and eBook publication)
  • Book descriptions (for Amazon and other book product pages)
  • Book marketing

Among the shovel-sellers (as with most professions) there are some very competent people, basically competent people, and incompetent people who should be doing something else for a living.

Below is a preliminary list of people and organizations who offer publishing services. I’ve found them all to be reliable. I hope you find this list helpful, should you decide to pan for publishing gold.

Good luck!

– David

Start here:

At the top of the heap is Reedsy serves as a broker for a wide range of publishing services. Their extensive provider directories include many top-notch people, and Reedsy also offers a wide selection of helpful blog posts and free email courses. Start with the blog  posts and free courses, and come back to the directories if you decide to purchase services rather than implementing them yourself.


Dig Deeper: Self-Publishing gurus

In the eight years I’ve been self-publishing, I’ve found the following people to be, overall, the most helpful. Each offers a lot of free, up-to-date information on most aspects of publishing a book. They also offer paid courses, but so far, I haven’t exhausted all their free materials. Absorb and implement the free stuff before you pay for a course.

David Gaughran:

Dave Chesson:

Derek Murphy:

Joanna Penn:

More …

Once you’ve gotten your feet wet with some of Reedsy’s posts and courses and absorbed the free offerings of one or more of the self-publishing gurus, check out the resources below for more granular instruction or services.

Book covers

Indie Cover Project Facebook group:

Miblart (budget book covers and a free book cover design course):

All things Amazon

KDP University (Amazon’s extensive library of help pages and tutorials for their publishing services):

Kindle Direct Publishing Community (KDP’s surprisingly helpful user forum):


Matthew J. Holmes:

Bryan Cohen (5-day ad challenge):

Authors Optimizing Amazon and Facebook Ads group:

Nicholas Erik (higher-level book marketing guru):

Book Distribution

Draft2Digital (book distribution and formatting services):

PublishDrive (book distribution):

Copyright 2022, David J. Bookbinder

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