Self-publishing can be a bit of a rocky road. Even if you get help on writing the book, there's often more behind the scenes than people realize. There's so many paths to take to get to a destination, sometimes you're not sure where to start or which path to pick once you've started.
Which is where Self-Publishing School can help.
Chandler Bolt's school takes you through all the steps of self-publishing, from idea-generating to what happens after you're published and done! The thing I love about SPS is Chandler knows writing isn't a one-size-fits all craft, and so he breaks down all the steps in a number of ways. He gives you details, a timeline, and the overall idea, and there's no shame in picking and choosing which way you're going to turn. You also get access to a facebook group where everyone gets to ask question and interact, foster friendships, and learn from each other.
The Prologue: My Experience
I joined SPS in 2014, I think, as really my first 'you-can-do-it' program. I got a coupon from NaNoWriMo for some percentage off Createspace (yup, it was that long ago), and after I published my first book I stumbled upon SPS. I wasn't really sure what the deal was, but I was curious and so watched the three free videos where Chandler gives you some of the basic overview process of Self-publishing and what his school is about. It was full of helpful information, and I honestly could have stopped there if I wanted, but of course after the wind-up and the pitch, I was interested in seeing more, so I paid for the year-long subscription and started the courses.
There was enough information for me to print out the timeline, tips, assignments, and what-have-you and fill a binder. I think I still even have that binder somewhere around here for reference material.
So, without giving away the whole process (because where would the fun be in that?), I'll give you the takeaways.
Act One: The Social Scene
I found Chandler and the staff knowledgeable and willing to talk with you if you had any problems. They understand that nothing is a one-size-fits-all, and different people are going to have different roadblocks. And it really didn't matter if the answer was literally in the text of the program, they'd guide you through and make you feel heard (while also reminding you of where to find more answers, should you need them). You knew they were busy because they were running SPS and many were also working on their own manuscripts, but I never found conversations/lessons hurried or rushed. It was very much a positive experience from the SPS staff, which included Chandler himself (and I only mention that to let you know that it/he isn't one of these "Hey, I came up with the program but I'm a figurehead and too busy to run it so here's someone else to get attached to while I'm out making money" kind of program/leader).
The social aspect was positive as well. When you get the year-long membership, you get access to a membership portal and a private facebook group. The group is where a majority of students would congregate from all over, with questions from the technical to the ideal. Things were kept pretty much on point without being militaristic, the group never devolved into "Your opinion is wrong and so I'm going to throw things and call you names", and was a fairly safe place to ask all kinds of questions. Celebrations of "Hey I got my first book out!" were had, encouragement was shared, problems and pitfalls were worked around, and most of it was from the community itself (READ: The group had been curated so well that the admin and mods didn't need to hold our hands to make sure we all behaved), so that was nice.
Act Two: The Academic Roll
One of the things I found helpful and really loved was the SPS Rolodex; a section of the membership portal has a list of people from editors to illustrators that SPS has personally vetted one way or another. I really liked this because instead of SPS going "Here's what you need to do and here's a link to someone I've heard is supposedly very good and if you don't like it you can find one yourself", they referred you to the Rolodex which many names had been personally used by SPS staff. So it gave an element of trust; so long as you yourself trust the staff, you knew you could trust the names and you'd be getting as good quality product as they were. So basically there was little to no potential for you to get jipped after days shopping around for a book cover designer only to find someone with basic Photoshop skills and a FIverr account that talked a good game (nothing against Fiverr -- I found a really reliable and skilled editor on there once for reasonable prices. Only problem was that everyone else loved his work as much as I did, so he's often busy and has to close up shop in order to do said quality work).
The process itself was pretty straightforward. Chandler lays out several of his basic methods for free in many a format, so it's good quality stuff right off the bat. However, after you sign up you get an in-depth look at all the process, and that's where much of the value came in for me; instead of it being a more thorough regurgitation you just spent over $100 on, it is a thought-out, honest explanation and a deep look at the process from idea to after-publish marketing campaign. And that's one of the things I deeply enjoyed. More value for more money, but it was real value. SPS doesn't just take you from idea (or no idea, really) to publish and say "Good job, for $200 extra I'll tell you how to actually use your published book for sales". Instead, SPS takes you from having literally no idea for a book and walks you through the process to getting an idea, fleshing it out, drafting, refining, testing, launching, publishing, after-publish-marketing, and rolling that post-launch momentum into a revolving door of passive income.
Act Three: The Wrap-up.
In the end, SPS was very good for me. As a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed newbie it was extremely helpful. It's been helpful reference material now that I'm this many years out, and I still refer to the blog regularly. They keep in touch on a semi-regular basis through email (news and opportunities for Alum, job openings, tips and tricks) and there's always something interesting to read about when they do stuff. It's good for many a stage of the self-publishing journey, and my favorite part is the fact that, like I said, SPS ultimately gives you a map of the self-pub world and says "here's the recommended trail through the woods and your path-buddies. If you want to take one of the other paths on this map, however, that's cool too. Keep an eye on the signs and watch out for 'gators." So it's all free choice on how you get from A to Z, with many a way to grab at the information presented. Twas a good section of my life.
Epilogue: Resource List
A quick linked-up guide to navigate SPS, in case you're interested on finding out more on your own (I mean, you could just go and Google them, but the links are here, so....up to you.)