Updated March 29, 2018
Are you a writer who wants to make a living from your writing? This course is definitely an opportunity to consider. I think it’s right for some, but not all, and I’ll tell you why. I hope this post will help you decide if it’s right for you.
My relationship with Self Publishing 101
I purchased Self Publishing 101 in March 2018. I did not get it for free. I have watched or read the transcripts of all the main sessions and the bonuses. (I have not watched all videos in the Tech Library.)
I bought this course to learn, and to vet for my readers, many of whom are writers and authors. My goal is to provide a realistic picture of what’s inside the course so you can make an informed decision.
I am an affiliate for this course, meaning, if you click through one of my referral links below and purchase the course, I will receive a commission. Rest assured, I’m a paying customer and I have consumed the information in the course. I am not an uninformed affiliate throwing my link around simply to make money.
What is Self Publishing 101?
Self Publishing 101 is an online course by author Mark Dawson, a former traditionally published author who currently makes 6 figures per month self publishing his books.
Authoring a book involves two things: writing and marketing. Self Publishing 101 is about marketing.
How much does Self Publishing 101 cost?
$497. You can pay for the course in one lump sum or in 12 payments of $49. There is a 30-day money back guarantee.
Additionally, you might incur incidental costs. These are paid-for tools and services suggested by Mark throughout the course. However, I appreciate Mark’s obvious effort to guide students to free options when he can.
Too much? Get a taste of Mark’s teaching style & tips for FREE in his 3-part mini course called “List Building for Authors” which is helpful on its own. (Scroll down slightly to find it.)
How much does Mark Dawson make from actual book sales?
Some have wondered whether Mark makes the bulk of his income from selling books, or from selling courses like this one.
It’s a fair question. Mark was kind to answer in the comments below. Here’s what he said:
Book sales make up most of my income. I’ve done six figures each of the last two months, and will this month. I post extensively about it in the SPF FB group.
When is Self Publishing 101 available?
Enrollment typically opens once or twice a year for about 2 weeks at a time. Get more info or sign up for the waiting list here.
My overall thoughts
This course is impressive. As book marketing goes, it’s very thorough and filled with ideas. However, I suspect some won’t like it. Why? Because it flips a lot of common assumptions about publishing upside down. (Should your Table of Contents really be at the beginning of your book? Why not make your book free forever?) As an out-of-the-box thinker, this course appeals to me.
While I appreciate and respect traditionally publishing, I’m sad it’s not open to more people. There are so many gatekeepers and hoops. I love how self publishing levels the playing field and gives anyone a shot. Mark maps it out.
Who is Self Publishing 101 best for?
Authors who want a proven roadmap for marketing their book(s). Dawson offers good reasons and proof for his approach. It has worked for him, and for many of his students.
Authors who will write multiple books. This method assumes you are in this for the long haul. The more books you write, the better results you’ll have.
Authors who want to make a living writing and don’t care about getting traditionally published (or want to move away from it). Assuming you write compelling books, this course will provide you with the tools to make good money as an author, no traditional publisher required.
Authors who want to take control of the final product. I’ve heard the frustrations of traditionally published authors who don’t like their book cover or disagree with final edits, but in the end, they have to relent. If you’re prepared to tackle the book publishing process yourself in exchange for complete control over the final product, consider this course.
Authors who want to keep more of their book profits. Because you set your own pricing, and because you don’t have a traditional publisher (and perhaps a literary agent) taking a cut, you will likely keep more of your per-book profits.
Authors who don’t want to blog. Writers are often advised to build their platform through blogging. For some, the thought of writing books + creating content for a blog is overwhelming. Dawson doesn’t think regular blogging is necessary.
Who should pass on Self Publishing 101?
Authors who want writing advice or tips. This course does not cover the writing process. It covers marketing.
Authors who don’t plan on writing multiple books. If you only plan to write a book or two, you will definitely pick up excellent tips, but I don’t think it would be worth the cost of the course.
Authors who dream of being traditionally published. A traditional book deal is a legitimate dream and one I support. The stigma attached to self publishing is dwindling, but let’s be real, the type of credibility traditionally published authors enjoy is hard (or impossible) for self published authors to attain currently.
Authors who want to segue into something larger, like a speaking career. If speaking is a dream of yours, I recommend pursuing a traditional book deal. The credibility will definitely give you a boost.
Authors who want to be widely known vs. being happy to just write. Some writers hope to use their writing as a platform and gain exposure. Other writers simply love writing and are content to know there are readers enjoying their books. If you hope to gain wide recognition, traditional publishing is probably a better bet.
Authors who want someone else to spearhead the publishing process. The steps in Self Publishing 101 are detailed and straightforward, but they will definitely take work. Some authors don’t have time for this. If you are willing to relinquish final decisions about your book in exchange for professional help in the areas of editing, design, distribution, etc, then traditional publishing is probably a better fit.
Is Self Publishing 101 only for fiction writers?
No. The sales page seems to indicate that, and I wondered the same thing, but once I got into the course, it became clear most of the material can be applied to writers of all genres. In addition, there are multiple places in the course where non-fiction examples are highlighted specifically.
Is Self Publishing 101 only for self-published authors?
Mostly, yes. However, if you are a traditionally published author and your publisher has put the marketing reigns in your hands, you will likely benefit from this course.
Don’t traditional publishers take care of marketing for authors?
No, not always. Unless you are well known (i.e. already a successful author, a celebrity, a head of state, etc.), marketing often falls on the author’s shoulders. Traditional publishers assume authors will use their own platforms (blogs, social media channels, email lists, etc.) to market their books. In many cases, publishers do not provide a marketing budget either.
What does SP101 include?
- 8 main modules, each with multiple sessions (lessons). Each session has a video (slides, as opposed to a talking head) and most have a video transcript and a printable cheat sheet.
- Tech Library with 14 step-by-step tech tutorials
- 2 bonuses about author networking & writing FB Ads copy.
- Private Facebook Group
Here’s an overview of the modules:
- Module 1: Build Your Platform
- Module 2: Pre-Publication
- Module 3: Amazon Exclusive or Wide?
- Module 4: Go Exclusive
- Module 5: Go Wide
- Module 6: Generating Traffic
- Module 7: Advance Teams & Launching
- Module 8: Getting Reviews
Is Self Publishing 101 worth it?
The course costs $497. If you want to maximize your earnings from writing, you aren’t sure where to start and you are not married to traditional publishing, yes, it’s worth it.
Note: Much of the course is dedicated to setting up your site, social media accounts, a mailing list and more. If you already have an online presence or have done any research in the space, much of the information will be familiar. It was for me. However, unless you are very familiar with book marketing, I suspect much of the information will be new. It was for me. I learned enough to say I would pay $497 again.
Things I like about Self Publishing 101
Mark’s experience & style. Mark is a former lawyer. He’s also authored many books, and marketed them successfully. He’s made hundreds of thousands of dollars doing so. He’s thorough, detailed, sensitive to the ethical / legal aspects of the process and knowledgeable. (According to Forbes, he made $450,000 a year…several years ago. I’d venture to guess the number has increased since.)
A focus on building your list. Everything Mark does revolves around his email list. This is incredibly smart (and something a lot of traditionally published find tricky to build because they are several steps removed from their readers).
Community. SP101’s Facebook Group has over 1,500 members at the time of this writing. It gives you a chance to ask questions, get ideas, share ideas, ask for advice, get support, provide encouragement and interact with other writers who “get” you.
Success stories. There are multiple students who have shared that SP101 has helped them turn a corner. Here is a sampling:
In-depth information. The course is packed with information. There is a lot of information in this course. Have I said that?
Packaged well. It’s hosted on the Teachable platform which is easy to navigate and familiar to many.
Lifetime enrollment. You’ll have access to current and future updates of the course.
30-day money back guarantee. That’s just good customer service.
Things you should know
Cost. For many, the total cost is prohibitive, but there is a payment plan.
Potentially overwhelming for some. There are a lot of moving parts to Mark’s plan. That’s both good and bad. It’s super thorough, but also might be overwhelming for some. The good news is, he offers several timelines, checklists and to-do lists throughout.
An ever-changing landscape. There’s no doubt this course will need updates as online things change (they always do). Mark specifically said he will keep things updated which I appreciate, but it seems like it might be a monumental task.
Want a taste?
If you want a taste of Mark’s teaching style and tips, sign up for his FREE 3-part mini course called “List Building for Authors” on this page (scroll down slightly).
I’m generally anti hype and I lean in the direction of skepticism, especially with online courses. (I’ve seen plenty that are little more than a glorified ebook costing hundreds of dollars.) However, I was impressed by this course. If you meet the criteria above, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with this one. The amount of information is vast and deep. Check out Self Publishing 101 here.