Blog ReviewsBlog, Reviews
ServiceScape Incorporated
ServiceScape Incorporated

A Self-Publishing Formula That Works


If you are an author who is currently self-publishing, or planning to self-publish, Self-Publishing Formula is a valuable resource. The site is packed with up-to-date information on writing, publishing and marketing your book. The site offers a regularly updated blog and a weekly podcast, along with courses, resources and a weekly email newsletter.

SPF offers an excellent range of tools to help authors keep up with the complex and fast-moving world of self-publishing. The mastermind behind the site is Mark Dawson, an award-nominated USA Today Bestselling Author, who has published more than 20 books and sold over 2 million copies. SPF really is a one-stop resource for self-published authors, offering everything from a free starter package and video training, to a closed Facebook community where authors can network and get answers to their questions.

Navigating the site

The site is user-friendly and easy to navigate, with clearly displayed links to the blog, the podcast and the online courses currently on offer. A handy start here page shows a brief introductory video, and invites new visitors to download their free resources. On that page, you will also find a direct link to the podcast, an invite to join the private Facebook Group, and directions on how to download the SPF app, should you wish to. The app lets you listen to the podcast, download the free books, and log into any courses you are taking, with just one click, from your phone or mobile device.

The blog

The SPF blog aims to educate, inform and entertain, with regular news from the self-publishing industry, along with a lot of practical and actionable tips that cover writing, publishing, launching, and marketing your self-published books. Topics covered in recent posts include:

  • How to build your author website
  • Big name authors who are now self-publishing
  • How to work effectively with a critique partner
  • Branding yourself as an author
  • Steps to building a successful author career
  • How to be more productive
  • How to get found by readers
  • How to increase your writing speed
  • Word counts and whether they really matter
  • The ten most valuable tools for an indie author

The blog also publishes a Weekly Write-Up every Wednesday, where they collect together any news that may affect self-published authors. This can cover anything from changes in Amazon's publishing terms, to new author services that companies are launching, to changes within the major social media networks that could affect authors.

The SPF podcast

The podcast runs weekly and includes interviews with authors making their name in the self-publishing world. Authors Dawson has interviewed include Ian Sutherland and Laurie Wright, among many others. The topics covered by the podcast are wide-reaching, and as with any podcast, the conversation can go off topic, often revealing even more valuable snippets of information. Recent podcast episodes include:

As you can see, there is a huge variety within the topics offered and the authors invited on to the podcast. All podcasts are available to listen to for free via a variety of apps, or you can listen direct via the website. You can also, of course, download the SPF app and listen on any device.

Book marketing

Any self-published author knows that writing and publishing a book is only half the battle. SPF places a strong emphasis on marketing your book, looking at every stage in the process, from pre-publication tasks (such as cover design, blurb writing and building an email list) through to planning a launch, and running advertising campaigns to boost ongoing sales.

Resources that are particularly useful to help you market your books include these podcast episodes:

The first two of the free books listed below are also valuable resources if you are planning paid advertising campaigns for your books.

Free resources

If you click on the resources link in the website header, you will be taken straight to a page where you can opt to receive seven eBooks for authors, completely free. The books on offer are:

  • Mastering Simple Facebook Ads
  • Learn Amazon Ads
  • Writing a Page Turner
  • How To Work With An Editor
  • Writers' Yellow Pages
  • Ten Tips For Topping the Romance Charts
  • The Vault

Once again, the topics covered are varied, with something that will be of interest to most indie authors. The last eBook on the list, The Vault, is a compilation of the transcripts of fifty SPF podcast episodes, packed with tips and strategies for self-published authors. The eBook is searchable, so you can easily find the topics that most interest you.

These books form part of the SPF "starter package," which also includes a three-part video series on getting started with Facebook Ads, to compliment the book on the same topic. Along with these downloads, subscribers receive a useful weekly newsletter by email, and an invitation to join the private Facebook group.

Courses for authors

Self-Publishing Formula also provides three paid online courses for authors.

These courses are open for registration at specific times throughout the year, but if the one you are interested in isn't currently running, you can join a waiting list to be notified when the course opens again.

Self-Publishing 101 claims to teach you everything you need to know from the moment your type THE END on your manuscript. The course covers formatting your books for publication, making your books available on all major sales platforms, cover design, writing your blurb, creating your website and building your mailing list, getting reader reviews and creating a launch plan for your book.

Advertising for Authors markets itself as the premier social media advertising course specifically crafted for writers. This course is aimed at people who already have a basic knowledge of social media advertising and is suitable for authors at the intermediate to advanced level, writing both fiction and nonfiction. Some topics in the course include how to create and target your Facebook® Ads correctly, how to monitor your ads, optimising your Amazon product page, and optimising your Amazon® ads campaign. There are bonus modules on using specific platforms, namely Twitter®, YouTube®, and Bookbub®, and a further module on copywriting for success.

In the Cover Design for Authors course, authors learn to craft cover designs that attract attention, boost visibility and increase sales. The course covers effective design, understanding genre, and familiarity theory (or why it's better to fit in with what readers expect of your genre rather than stand out), as well as practical Photoshop® skills to enable you to produce a professional-looking cover that sells your book. The course also gives you access to a private, students-only Facebook group so you can share tips and ideas, and get feedback.

On the courses page, you can also access the free List Building for Authors mini-course, described as a three-part Masterclass to show you how to use simple, cost-effective Facebook ads to find prospective readers and get them on to your mailing list.

The author behind the site

Most indie authors know that to become successful, you have to be able to wear the hat of a marketer as well as a writer. Mark Dawson, the brains behind the SPF website, has certainly embraced that idea. Dawson had his first two books traditionally published, and while they were initially well-received, without marketing momentum behind them, they quickly sank without a trace as Dawson puts it. The author decided to learn about publishing, marketing, advertising and self-promotion to ensure future books didn't suffer the same fate.

He went on to publish over 20 books, both fiction and nonfiction, and now enjoys a high six-figure income and an amazingly flexible lifestyle. Based in Salisbury, England, Dawson is now a USA Today bestselling author, who has been featured everywhere from Forbes to The Financial Times and interviewed on national radio.

Mark Dawson's commitment to helping other authors succeed is reflected in the lengths he has gone to make the SPF website a resource library for new and established self-published authors. It is a website well worth bookmarking, for any writer thinking about self-publishing or struggling to make a success of marketing their current books.

Get in-depth guidance delivered right to your inbox.