Do You Have An Unanswered Question About Self-Publishing?

Last week I posted [Insert Great Idea for Blog Post Here] and invited you, my lovely blog readers, to suggest topics for me to blog about, because I was out. On Friday I posted Speak Now: Earning Money From Self-Publishing By Talking About It (thank you, Diane) and I’ve decided that, based on your feedback, I will start posting little episodic look-backs at my writing/self-publishing/coffee-drinking journey so far, a kind of Published (or rather, Not Published. Subtitle: *Hopeful voice* Yet?), in keeping with the tradition of Mousetrapped, Backpacked and Travelled. I also plan to blog soon about… well, um, blogging, as suggested by Katharine, Arlene and others, a kind of follow-on to Does My Blog Look Big In This?, which was really just about aesthetics.

Here are some other ideas that’ll be coming up:

  • Using Gumroad to sell files/e-books from your own website
  • Using MailChimp (a great service, but a bit of a tricky user experience)
  • Taking e-books into the real world
  • Social media timesavers
  • How I’m using Pinterest to promote Travelled
  • My absolute favorite plotting books in the world ever

Screen Shot 2013-01-25 at 15.38.17

Another idea suggested by Sheena and seconded by Steph Laura Jones was a kind of “Ask Catherine” corner where readers could ask me anything about self-publishing and I’d answer the questions in a blog post.

Now, if you’ve happened by my Contact page in the last couple of years, you might have encountered one or more of the numerous methods—a list of dire warnings, a huge sign, a check-box that confirmed the sender hadn’t included any self-publishing questions in their message—I’ve employed to deter people from asking me questions. This isn’t because I don’t like helping other self-published authors, because I do. It’s because of the Reverse Rudeness Syndrome such correspondence leads to.

Reverse Rudeness Syndrome occurs when a self-publisher sends me a question by e-mail, doesn’t receive a response to it and then feels that I have been rude to them. Whereas in actual fact, it’s them that’s been rude to me. I must have upwards of 200,000 words on here about self-publishing, which I’ve nicely arranged into accessible categories and made available for free. On top of that, I have a 120,000+ word book on the subject that isn’t expensive. On top of that, I make a portion of my income from workshops, consultations and other services which is essentially a form of question-asking, and people pay money for them. So when a person happens upon my site, spends absolutely no time reading anything on here and instead goes straight to the Contact page to ask if CreateSpace ship internationally (or, my favorite question, “How do I get people to buy my books?”), they’re just being lazy. And they want me to reward this laziness with a sacrifice of the one thing that’s most important to me making a living: my time. So I don’t, because why should I? And then another e-mail comes, admonishing me for not answering the first and reminding me that I’m no big-shot and that I shouldn’t get too big for my boots.

Or if I’m feeling particularly charitable, I answer the question, and then another e-mail comes with a follow-up, and now I have to decide whether to embark on a never-ending e-mail exchange with this person or to stop it now. So I stop it now, and then another e-mail comes, admonishing me for not answering the second one and reminding me that I’m no big-shot and that I shouldn’t get too big for my boots.

And then there’s the people who don’t send me reprimands, but are out there in the blogosphere, quietly thinking I’m a horrible person, when this whole enterprise exists to help other people self-publish.





But there’s another problem: sometimes, people e-mail me with questions that aren’t answered anywhere on here, questions that could do with answering. No surprise, considering the self-publishing world is a-changing all the damn time. But if I open myself to individual questions, it’s opening the floodgates. And if I respond to any of these messages, who is benefiting? Only the individual who sent the message, unless I go on to write a blog post about it. So what’s the solution?

Well, as Sheena and Steph suggested, a kind of virtual suggestion box. *Opens virtual suggestion box*

Screen Shot 2013-01-25 at 15.26.34

You can ask any question about self-publishing you want, even if it’s something you fear is embarrassingly basic (basic questions are totally fine because new people are coming to self-publishing all the time). The small print here is that you won’t get a response other than your question appearing on or being the basis of a future blog post, and if you don’t get a response, it might be because I’ve already written 10,000 blog-posted words on the subject and you just need to take thirty seconds to go look for them.

Please tell me if you wish to remain anonymous, otherwise your first name and Twitter username might appear on this site.

Click on the pink image above to ask your question.

Bring it on!

(Sheena and Katharine, if you’d like free digital editions of Self-Printed 2.0, please get in touch with me. Thanks.)

12 thoughts on “Do You Have An Unanswered Question About Self-Publishing?

  1. chicken wings for the soul says:

    Thank you for that Catherine, and no better gurl to come up with a fancy pink answer to the problem of getting floods of emails. PS I don’t need a copy of your book Self-Printed 2.0 because I have already bought my own, and practically worn down my kindle referring to it as often as I do. It was the best couple of dollars I ever spent, and in my humble opinion, the best thing any would-be self-publisher could spend their money on. Although, I also think traditionally published authors could learn a lot from the marketing/social media chapters too. Sheena Lambert.

  2. Beliefs of the Heart says:

    Shoot! I was going to ask how to get people to buy my books. Instead I’ll ask, how does it feel internally when you get requests for what you’ve already written? Pissed? Disappointed (as in, “what’s the use?”)?

    I think I’d be bouncing between frustration and happiness; frustrated they don’t read it, and happy cuz I know it’s needed.

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      To be honest I don’t feel anything except that they’re incredibly lazy. It’s only ever people who never read my blog who do this. They happen upon a site with self-publishing advice and instead of reading any of it, they hop straight to the “Contact” page and send the blogger a question about their individual problem. Sometimes people genuinely have searched and can’t find their answer, but you can tell them from the Lazys and I don’t mind that so much. I’m not a dragon, after all—people should feel free to contact me. But if you’re not going to pay me the respect of taking a second to see if the answer is already on my site, then I think it’s a bit rich to expect me to take the time to respond.

      The joys of the Contact page… ;-D

  3. stephlaurajones says:

    Great jusitification for not replying to individual emails and very fair, it is such a waste of time. Very excited about Ask Catherine and Does My Blog Look Big in This.

  4. minalobo says:

    In my day job I’ve learned, again and again, that:

    1. Some folks are the stars of their own show and they’re incapable of seeing there are other folks with *their* own shows, and life’s all about them, them, them. Serve me, me, me! Serve me NOW!

    2. As you wrote, folks are lazy. (I count myself among that group.) But then, I hope I’m courteous enough to not bug someone if the answers to my questions have already been made accessible in some way or other.

    3. “Does My Blog Look Big in This?” = LOL. :-D

  5. Misha herwin says:

    Brilliant idea. Totally agree about the laziness of people. Self publishing in my experience is hard, hard work, most of which is first learning how to do it and then promoting your work. It also takes a lot of time, so it’s especially cheeky if to save their time people want you to use yours answering questions that have already been dealt with on your blog.

  6. Sumiko Saulson says:

    I am going to let my readers know… I always refer anyone who asks me about self-publishing your way anyway because you have the most complete and amazing collection of blog posts on the subject I’ve seen anywhere. Thanks for all of the good advice you’ve continually made available to us.

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