An afternoon with Dan Poynter
When I heard that Self-Publishing and
Promotion Guru Dan Poynter was going to be the
keynote speaker at the annual Upper Peninsula
Publisher’s and Author’s Association in
Marquette, Michigan, I knew that I had to be
there. It’s about a three hundred mile trek
for me so I pointed my big Harley north and
jumped into the saddle. Typical of Michigan
springtime, I had to brave a little mid-May
snow to get there but it was worth the cold
I knew that Dan was an accomplished
skydiver and I have a background in that sport
as well so I was hoping that the shared interest
might be my edge to score an interview with
Mr. Poynter. As it turned out, none of that
was necessary. Dan Poynter is a true professional
and as an expert in the field of promotion,
interviews are right up his alley. Here is what
we talked about.
Dennis: You’ve been at this quite a
while. When did you begin and what got you started?
Dan: We found skydiving early in the
sport. You in 1960 and me in 1962. I went into
the parachute business as a designer of parachutes.
I had a column in Parachutist magazine
for many years. After a while, it occurred to
me that I could link the articles together and
publish a book.
Realizing that no publisher would understand
the subject or the market, I published myself.
That was 1972.
I wrote the first book on hang gliding in 1974.
Sales took off like a homesick angel. I moved
back to California and bought a home overlooking
the ocean in Santa Barbara.
Publishers wanted to know how I was selling
so many books so I published The Self-Publishing Manual
in 1979. That book has been through 16 revisions
and 22 printings since then.
Dennis: I see your name out there a
lot. You must have quite a following. Any idea
Dan: My Publishing Poynters newsletter
has 38,000 subscribers so far. The free ezine
is full of book writing-publishing tips and
resources. It goes out twice a month.
Dennis: What is it that makes you different
from the other promotion gurus?
Dan: I am an author, a publisher and
a self-publisher. Few people have published
other authors, sold their Works to publishers
and published themselves.
There is no one-way to get published. There
is no cookie-cutter solution. Each book and
each author are unique. The advice I offer people
is customized and in each case, I have been
Dennis: Is there one special piece
of advice that you’d offer to an unpublished
Dan: Get as much information as possible.
The most expensive parts of book publishing
are the mistakes. Start with the free InfoKits
Dennis: How about the hundreds of authors
who are published by small houses or self-published?
Dan: Stay away from the “DotCom” vanity
publishers. They make their money selling books
to the author, not to the public.
Some vanity/subsidy publishers have tarnished
records with a lot of unhappy customers. Many
customers have complained to the Better Business
Bureau and some publishers have been sued. Before
dealing with a vanity/subsidy publishing service,
make a Google search to check out the company.
For example, search for:
(That company name) + Scam
(That company name) + Fraud
(That company name) + Rip-off
(That company name) + "Better Business Bureau"
Read the results and be advised.
For a discussion of vanity publishers, see
Aeonix Publishing's site
For an article on how to spot scam vanity/subsidy
publishers, see the Wisconsin Bar's site.
Dennis: What sort of support do you
recommend for struggling writers? Writing groups?
Editors? Internet forums?
Dan: Forums (Listservs) are the quickest
and least expensive (free) consulting you can
get. Attend writers conferences. Come to one
of my presentations. See my calendar on the ParaPublishing
site. I speak all over the world and fly more
than 6,000 miles/week; I am probably coming
to your town.
Dennis: Supposing I have a self-published
book that’s been in print for five years, is
it too late to begin promoting it?
Dan: It is not too late, if the book
is targeted toward a narrow/specific market.
Editors will be more interested in the material
than the date. For list of periodicals, see
Book Promotion Mailing Lists.
Magazines, newsletters, stores, catalogs and
Dennis: This is your space, is there
anything special that you’d like to say?
Dan:Learn book publishing. Get as
much information as you can.
Draft your back-cover sales copy before you
wrote the book. Get Document 116 (free) at DanSentMe.com.
Best wishes. Remember, I do not want you to
die with a book still inside you.