Category Archives: Publishing Information & Advice

Self-Publishing Simplified (In 21 GIFs)

Writers are so cool. You should become a writer.









So write something already.

it's hard







You got this.

Writing words








After a lot of in-between stuff (mostly drinking and browsing the Internet), you finally finish a manuscript.








You start querying, but publishers are all like:


Nope GIF








So you go through the five stages of rejection: Rage, indignation, indifference, alcohol, and finally:











After you’ve recovered (if you ever recover) you decide to start pursuing other options. Self-publishing is so easy! And free! Who needs professionals? Not you.

Monkey typing








You’re at a crossroads. Publish RIGHT NOW, or do things right?

What is right







You decide to do some research. Good for you.

Homework research







Maybe you shouldn’t do it all yourself. After all, your novel deserves the best. You hire some professionals to help you along the way.










You’re doing it. You’re really doing it. YOU’RE PUBLISHING A BOOK.

Signing with a self-publishing company








Meanwhile, your editor sees your manuscript for the first time.

editor GIF









So you revise.

Typing GIF









Your cover designer gets all artsy-fartsy-awesome.

Artys fartsy
















Turns out those professionals were a good idea. After a lot of behind-the-scenes work, your book is everything you dreamed it would be.  

finally published








Now it’s time to make some money!








Crap. Marketing is hard.

blog marketing









Reviewers can be brutal.








But nobody can keep you down for long. This book is going to work.










You FINALLY sell some books. Looks like that hard work is paying off. You’re so awesome.

You're so awesome






Now start over.

Panda new


Tomorrow! — Free Self-Publishing Seminar

Join us tomorrow evening at the London, Ohio Library for a free Self-Publishing Seminar. London-Public-LibraryWhether you’re an aspiring author or an accomplished novelist, this seminar is filled with valuable information for anyone interested in how successful books are produced.

The seminar will last from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. with a Q&A session afterward. The London Library is located at: 20 E. First Street, London, Ohio 43140. This event is free and open to the public. No RSVP required.

Find this event on the library’s website here. 

Columbus Publishing Lab CEO, Brad Pauquette, has been helping authors at all levels successfully navigate the publishing industry for almost a decade. In this seminar he’ll cover the five key steps to producing a professional book. From editing and cover design to pricing and distribution, learn how to turn your manuscript into a marketable book.

If you’re considering self-publishing, do your homework. Read up on your options and don’t let free resources like this seminar pass you by. We’ll see you there!

Questions? Email us at

Can’t make the seminar? Get smart self-publishing advice here in The Self-Publishing Handbook. P.S. It’s free!

Free Publishing Seminar — London Library

The London Public Library will be hosting a free Self-Publishing Seminar on Tuesday, March 31 from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The library is located at: 20 E. First Street, London, Ohio 43140. Bring your publishing questions! There will be a Q&A session after the seminar.

Find this event on the Library’s website here. 

Whether you’ve completed a manuscript or you’re interested in how great books are produced, this seminar will teach you the ins and outs of the publishing industry. Columbus Publishing Lab CEO, Brad Pauquette, will cover the five key steps to producing a professional book, and teach you how to find success no matter what your experience or budget.

Here are just a few of the topics we’ll cover on Tuesday:

  • Editing: There’s more to editing than just correcting typos. Learn the difference between developmental editing, proofreading and copy editing, as well as how to hire the right person for each job.
  • Book cover design: Your readers WILL judge your book by its cover. Learn tips for creating a cover that speaks to your target audience, all while staying within your budget.
  • Distribution: ISBNs, barcodes, discounts, print on demand–book distribution can be a complicated process. Learn how to make your book available to readers around the world simply and easily.

From your word processor to the bookstore shelf, a lot of work goes into creating a professional self-published book. Don’t miss this free seminar for all the knowledge you need to make your book project a reality!

Questions? Email us at

Now Accepting Manuscripts

Calling all authors!

Columbus Publishing Lab is currently accepting manuscripts. Whether you’ve written the next great American novel, or you’ve documented your story in a memoir, we can help turn your manuscript into a professional product.

There are lots of self-publishing companies out there, but we pride ourselves on being different. Here’s what sets us apart:

  • We’re not a book factory. We have experience-tested processes, but we understand that not all books are created equal. A fantasy book requires a different touch than a contemporary fiction novel, and a book of poetry is a whole different animal. Too  many big self-publishers treat every book the same. We understand that your project is unique, and we’re here to make sure your vision is actualized.
  • You get a personal experience. Columbus Publishing Lab is a collective of experts, and we’re all working to make your book a success. When you have a question, or need an update on a project, you’ll have a dedicated representative ready to take your calls and answer your emails. You can expect conversations with real human beings, not voicemail robots.
  • We’re an open book. We started Columbus Publishing Lab because we were tired of seeing self-published authors get coerced into purchasing sub-par services, and talked into unnecessary expenses. We pride ourselves on being open and honest with our authors. You keep 100% of your rights, you receive 80% of net earnings, and we’ll never try to sell you a service you don’t want/need.

If you’re interested in becoming a Columbus Publishing Lab author, I invite you to contact us directly via email at or call us at: (614) 441-9777. We’d love to chat about your book project over a cup of coffee.

Author Spotlight: R.K. Blessing

Maybe we’re a little biased, but we think Columbus Publishing Lab authors are pretty clare r coverawesome. We recently had a chat with R.K. Blessing, author of Clare R., to talk about his self-publishing experience.

Find Clare R. on here.

Like every author who has finished a manuscript, Blessing had to make a decision. Self-publish, or seek out a traditional publisher? For Blessing, self-publishing made the most sense.

Blessing said he first learned about Columbus Publishing Lab after attending a self-publishing seminar. “It was very informative and really got me thinking about the route of self-publishing. It seemed much more viable, and made the idea of publishing seem that much more possible. In other words, I could make a dream become a reality,” Blessing said.

After doing researching on self-publishing companies, Blessing decided to stop into our office and see if Columbus Publishing Lab would be a good fit for his project. “Being able to meet with a group of people in-person and discuss the hard copy of my work was a no-brainer,” Blessing said.

Blessing knew his novel wasn’t ready to go to print right away, and he was dedicated to improving it before handing it over to his readers. After choosing Columbus Publishing Lab,  he commissioned a developmental edit to ensure he received detailed, professional feedback on his manuscript. Blessing said he was nervous to place his first novel into the hands of an editor. “That book contained a lot of emotion, good and bad… I wanted to write something personal, something folks could relate to. To do this you have to become vulnerable and open up [to your readers], as well as open yourself up to criticism and critique. This is what makes your work better,” Blessing said.

Blessing had an idea for the cover, but was willing to let the cover designer take the reins. Being so close to the story, Blessing said it was nerve-wracking to entrust someone else with his idea. “The cover I thought of initially seemed romantic and dramatic to me, but I knew it was dry. It needed more. When I saw what the designer came up with I laughed. I knew it was perfect. It had the flare to draw people in, and…it also maintained qualities I was hoping to use. I couldn’t have been more pleased,” Blessing said.

As an author who has successfully published his first book, Blessing said he would highly recommend the self-publishing experience to other authors. “Writing is not easy by any means. It takes a lot of work and reworking. The thought of going to a big publisher and having them shut you down is very discouraging. Working with Columbus Publishing Lab allows you room to grow during the writing process,” Blessing said.

Learn more about Columbus Publishing Lab packages and services here. 

Blessing said his favorite part of self-publishing so far has been seeing his writing improve along the way. He also enjoyed watching the different parts of his book come together. “Everything got smoother and smoother, and then CPL sent me an email telling me my book was on its way. Hooray!”

“In the end I had a finished product to be proud of, and one that is available for people to read. Self-publishing allows writers to get past that initial hurdle, and from there, the sky’s the limit.”

Blessing currently has a novel and a children’s book about fly fishing in the works. He plans to self-publish both with Columbus Publishing Lab.

We love working with talented, passionate authors like R.K. Blessing. If you’re interested in self-publishing, we invite you to contact us here. A real, live person is on the other end.

Giveaway: The Self-Publishing Handbook

Five free paperback copies of The Self-Publishing Handbook are up for grabs! Enter this Goodreads giveaway before 12/15 for a chance to win this compact guide to producing great books.

Find the giveaway on Goodreads here. 

The Self-Publishing Handbook is a practical guide to self-publishing the right way, and producing a high-quality, profitable piece of literature.  Brad Pauquette, the author, has worked as a publishing consultant since 2008. From New York Times bestselling authors, to self-publishers and small presses, he’s helped authors and publishers at all levels produce great books.

“The Self-Publishing Handbook equips you with the practical street smarts to self-publish your book.”

-J. Delaney, Amazon reviewer

Waiting to see if you won a paperback copy? You can get a free PDF of The Self-Publishing Handbook by signing up for our mailing list. Gain access to this valuable information right away! Get your free PDF here.


Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Self-Publishing Handbook by Brad Pauquette

The Self-Publishing Handbook

by Brad Pauquette

Giveaway ends December 15, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win


Support Indie Authors — Give a Book for the Holidays!

We couldn’t be prouder of our authors.

combine_imagesThey’ve invested in quality services and put in the time to market and promote their books. Because of this, authorship is paying off for them. Columbus Publishing Lab authors have been featured in 614 Magazine, The Columbus Dispatch, Columbus Alive, Good Day Columbus and other local media. You can walk into many independent shops around town and find Columbus Publishing Lab books on the shelves. Our authors have put in the hard work, and as a result, they’re  selling books and getting noticed. 

As any self-published author can tell you, selling books isn’t easy. Any author who’s interested in some form of monetary success operates as a business person–an “authorpreneuer.” And while there’s been a great movement in the past few years to support local businesses, too often local literature is overlooked. You eat at restaurants that grow their food locally, you go to small-venue concerts to support local musicians, and you seek out local artisans. We eat local, shop local and even listen local. Why not read local?

The holidays are just around the corner. As you’re out buying gifts, or shopping the Internet from home, consider choosing a book by a local author. James Patterson isn’t going to get excited if you order his latest book for Christmas, but an independent author will be thrilled, and genuinely appreciative, to hear you’ve purchased her book.

Looking for Christmas present ideas? Find great local literature here. 

Whether you prefer fiction or non-fiction, e-books or print books, self-publishers are producing quality books that deserve to be read. I encourage you to seek out an independently published book, and consider giving it a shot. Who knows? You might find your new favorite author in the process.

Read local!

Interested in working with Columbus Publishing Lab? Contact us here.

Three Reasons to Skip Traditional Publishers

The other night I was giving a seminar for Columbus Creative Cooperative on the different paths available to writers when it’s time to publish their work.  One attendee asked “How many rejections should you get from traditional publishers before you consider self-publishing?”

My answer is simple–zero.  Self-publishing is not the path to take because everyone else has rejected you.  In fact, if small and large publishers alike are rejecting your manuscript in substantial quantities, you might want to scrap this manuscript and move on to a new project.  Choose self-publishing because it’s a path that makes sense for you.

The truth of the matter is that if your book is as good as you think it is, and you have $5,000 to invest in producing and marketing your book, you’re not getting much from a traditional publisher that you can’t do for yourself.

Here are three reasons to skip the line for traditional publishing, and decide that self-publishing is right for you:

1) Pennies on the dollar.  The standard first-time author contract through a traditional publisher pays 7% of net.  That’s 7% of whatever the publisher makes comes to you, the author.  On average, this equates to 30-50 cents per book sold.

Working with a company like Columbus Publishing Lab, or Boyle & Dalton, among other reputable providers, you receive 80% of net, which is more like $3-$8 per book sold.  Even if you only sell 10% of the number of books you would through a traditional publisher, you’re still going to make more money.

2) Time is money.  On average, it takes 3-5 years to see your book in print through a traditional publisher from the time you query your first agent.  During those years, you’ll spend hundreds of hours writing query letters, jumping through hoops and grovelling.

What if you could actually apply all that time to your writing, and to selling your book?  About 1% of manuscripts that seek an agent actually find one, a fraction of those actually find a home with a publisher.  Is this really how you want to spend your life?

If you self-publish, you can see your book in print in as little as 6-12 weeks, including all 5 steps that a traditional publisher would use to produce your book.  All that time you would have spent contacting agents and publishers (which will likely result in nothing), you can now spend finding readers for your book, and writing the sequel.

3) You’re not a trained pony.  A traditional publisher will pay you pennies on the dollar, takes years to produce your book, and they’re going to rip your baby out of your hands and do whatever they want with it.

When you traditionally publish, you forfeit all creative control of your book.  A nice small press may allow you to voice your opinion and exercise influence, or they may not. Rest assured that at the end of the day the publisher is going to do whatever they think is best.

And don’t forget about all of the time you spent querying agents, jumping through arbitrary hoops and brown-nosing to get your book into the hands of a  real publisher.  Half of the criteria you have to meet and the tasks you have to complete (and all of the query formats and conferences and blah, blah, blah) have no relationship whatsoever to what it takes to write and sell an awesome book.

When you self-publish correctly, you should still work with real professionals and allow them to exercise their expertise to make your book the best that it can be.  But at the end of the day, you make every decision.  You retain all creative control.

You also don’t waste your time jumping through hoops and putting on a show.  If it makes sense and it’s good for your book, do it.  If it doesn’t, or it’s just not your style, don’t do it.  You’re the boss.

This advice only applies if… your manuscript is excellent, and you commit yourself to producing a great book.

Don’t choose self-publishing because you’re out of options.  Choose self-publishing because your work is awesome, and you’re ready to invest in yourself.  Choose self-publishing because it makes sense, and it’s the best path for you.

How many rejections should you get from traditional publishers before considering self-publishing as an option?  ZERO.  Choose self-publishing because it’s right for you, and if it is, don’t waste even a minute of your life on those bloated, pompous, bureaucratic traditional publishers.

Life is short.  You’ve got better things to do.

Self-Publishers: Share What You Know

We’ve all seen them. Microsoft Paint cover, skewed interior type, a “Foreward [sic]” at the beginning — the bad self-published book. It’s easy to look at a book like that and snicker (admit it, you’ve done it). It’s easy to look at those badly  self-published books and write them off. Why should you care about the bad decisions of other authors? One less book to compete with your Amazon ranking.

Bad self-published books impact all self-published authors.

Every time a self-published author cuts corners, every time they skimp on editing, or fail to do their research before publishing their book, quality self-published books lose a little credibility. Opponents of self-publishing thrive off of bad examples. These poorly produced books become the ugly poster child for the self-publishing industry as a whole. Authors who have spent time and money investing in a quality book get lumped in with these botched books.

This is especially frustrating in an era when more and more self-publishers are treating their books as an investment. Many of today’s self-published books rival traditionally published books in quality and marketability. But when bad books are more prevalent, the self-publishing stigma perpetuates. Unless smart self-publishers stop sneering and start sharing information, this stigma will prevail.

If you’ve self-published a quality book, you’ve done your homework. You’ve researched the market and you’ve avoided book factories and scam artists. You’ve found an editor who has experience and can improve your  manuscript. You’ve worked with a cover designer to come up with a dynamic book cover to show off your work. You’ve invested time and money in the finished product. And even if you didn’t sell a million copies, you’ve still produced a book to be damn proud of.

You know what you’re doing, now help someone who doesn’t.

You don’t have to sell your marketing secrets, or adopt a Createspace nightmare as your personal project, but there’s a good case to be made for self-publishers sticking together. The next time you see an awful example of self-publishing, write a blog post about the rewards of self-publishing the right way. The next time you’re tempted to make fun of an awful book cover, Tweet your book cover designer’s website instead (your designer will appreciate it, too!). The next time someone asks your opinion on their manuscript, give them your honest opinion, and then point them toward a professional editor.

Prevent the self-published books that give your book a bad name.

Prevent a prospective author from making the same first-time mistakes you did. Prevent a prospective author from hitting “publish” immediately. Self-published authors helping self-published authors, spreading information and encouraging each other to put in the hard work.  This is how more quality self-published books will come to fruition. This is how more talented authors will buck the system and get into self-publishing. This is the way we’ll bust self-publishing stigma. 

Share what you know. Improve the industry. 

Maybe it’s naive to think quality self-published books will ever outnumber their mass-produced, cringe-worthy counterparts. But if we work together, we can change the way people view self-publishing, and as quality becomes the standard, create a standard of quality even the snarkiest critics can’t deny.

Questions about self-publishing? Contact us at

The Self-Publishing Spectrum

Some of this information is an excerpt from the “Navigating Publishing” seminar Brad Pauquette will be providing for Columbus Creative Cooperative on November 12th.  The seminar is free and open to the public, get the details here.

The publishing industry can be broken into three large groups:

Traditional Publishing – books published by one of the “Big 5” publishing companies–Hachette, Harper Collins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House or Simon & Schuster, or one of their imprints (subsidiaries).

Independent Publishing – books published by a publishing company that isn’t owned by one of the Big 5, and that produces the work of authors who do not share in the ownership of the company.

Self-Publishing – books published in which the author is one of the primary financiers or decision makers within the production process.

Self-publishing encompasses a huge spectrum of publishing processes and strategies.  From the little old lady who pays a vanity publisher to produce her book to celebrities like Jim Carrey who approach the process with tens of thousands of dollars, lots of different people are self-publishing and for different reasons.

For simplicity, we’ll break “self-publishing” down into three big categories–vanity publishing, hobby publishing and author-publishing.

Vanity publishers typically want a hands-off experience, where they’ll be treated as if their book has been published by a legitimate for-profit publisher.  The cost is often high, and in most cases, the author has little to no realistic expectation of recovering those costs or turning a profit on the book.

Hobby publishers are your typical CreateSpace users (note that not all CreateSpace publishers are hobby publishers, some use a professional production process).  This person has little money to invest in the production of his book.  While of course they hope their book will go bananas and be the next Fifty Shades of Grey, sales will be fairly modest.  The hobby publisher may spend a little money here and there, but is mostly interested in free tools and resources to get the job done.

Author-Publishers are self-publishers in name only.  In reality, they’re creating small publishing companies.  The budget to produce a book may range from a few hundred dollars to $50,000+, but the author-publisher (AP) will invest money in their business.  The only difference between the AP and an independent publisher is that the AP is producing his or her own work.  While the AP may choose to do some tasks herself, she does have a budget available to spend on the production of her book, to hire expert editors, designers and various marketing services.  The AP is expecting to invest money in her project, and is ultimately expecting to return a profit.

The notable quality of author-publishers is that they treat their project as if they’re starting an independent publishing company (one that just happens to produce their own work).  This means committing themselves to the same process that a publisher would use, which begins with objectively examining their manuscript for ways that it can be improved.

Real publishers use a five step process to make their books the best that they can be (and the most likely to be profitable).  As an author-publisher, you can replicate these same five steps.  For more information, check out The Self-Publishing Handbook: Five Key Steps to Professionally Publish Your Book, which you can get for free (click here).

The disadvantage to author-publishing is that there are a lot of hats to wear.  Within your new micro-publishing company, you’re the CEO, COO, director of marketing, creative director and so much more.  Before self-publishing, it’s important to honestly ask yourself whether you’re the type of person who can effectively wear all of those different hats.  Remember that any job that you can’t do well you’ll need cash to pay for, or your results will suffer.

From a career standpoint, there isn’t a lot of merit to hobby publishing or vanity publishing.  You’ll see your book in print, and that’s always fun, and you’ll meet lots of interesting people at author fairs, but that’s about the end of the road.

However, author-publishers can make real income and successful careers.  Like any startup business, there’s a lot of risk, but effective author-publishers can and do turn a profit on their projects, even with a limited investment.  Like any other micro-enterprise, success is determined by product quality, market research and contracting experts, with a little bit of intuition and luck.

Companies like Columbus Publishing Lab, among others, make experts available to you.  Expertise helps you protect your investment, like insurance.  Especially when you’re working with a small budget, it’s important to know that your dollars will hit their mark.  When you can only do it once, it’s often worth it to pay a little more to know that it’s done right, rather than taking a risk with your only shot.

Companies like Author House, among others, charge exorbitant rates for editing, design and production work, and pay very little for books sold through their distribution channels.  It’s nearly impossible to make a project profitable with those kind of numbers in play (or the poor production work), which is why these companies belong in the Vanity Publisher category.

Columbus Publishing Lab is set up for author-publishers.  Whether you’re approaching your book project with a lot of money or just a little, we want to help you put that investment to its best use, to improve the likelihood that your book will be widely read and that your project will be profitable.  We’ve helped lots of different authors with lots of different budgets to invest their money in ways that make sense.  You can be a successful author-publisher, and we’d love to offer our expertise.

Brad Pauquette is the author of The Self-Publishing Handbook and the CEO of Columbus Publishing Lab. He has worked as a publishing consultant since 2008.