Producing A Self-Published Book: What You Didn’t Know…

The first time I did this the steps seemed endless. There’s content editors, copy editors, illustrators, formatters, proofreaders, bluelines, and printers. And with my second book it’s not much less endless.

While a publishing schedule is lengthy, taking months to wend through, on the sidelines are those waving flags of support, like at a marathon—the lone runner wobbling from side to side, tongue out, worried that the last mile will definitely be the last even if well short of 26. 

But if you support a self-publisher by buying a book, you inadvertently (or perhaps now and then advertently) support a handful of self-employed specialists. Being a ‘self-publisher’ means the writer hires the expert staff that produces the book. For Bonsai Heresy, this team includes three paid contractors and one astonishingly loyal friend.

One reason self-publishers are self-publishers


For those clueless about what I’m referring to—likely more than a few of you—we’re in the final phases of producing Bonsai Heresy, a book about the mistaken notions embedded in our beloved Western bonsai practice, and offering a combination of science, tradition, and anecdote as alternatives. For more about it: New Book: Bonsai Heresy

The Publishing Team of Bonsai Heresy:

  • I’m thrilled that Mary Russell is returning, the amazing copy editor of Post-Dated, to tackle this much longer and more complicated text. Currently the book is being copy edited, using feathers and other delicate polishing devices.
  • Also returning from the Post-Dated adventure is the great Portland-based book designer Jennifer Omner, whose design of my first book won a gold medal in the 2009 PubWest Book Design Awards. That was a good time. 
  • I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed collaborating with Sergio Cuan, who was an animator of Rugrats and works for Nickelodeon, to create 15 whimsical illustrations, including the cover. And he’s done exactly what I asked: parody the text with deeply heretical, non-wabi-sabi illustrations.
  • Finally, in a shocking display of loyalty, my distributor for Post-Dated, Wayne Schoech of Stone Lantern, offered to front the printing costs for the first run of Bonsai Heresy. In the publishing world supporting self-publishing truants such as myself and having them keep their rights is unheard of (my designer Jennifer Omner said she’d actually never heard of it.) I’m delighted by our long association and by his offer. And Stone Lantern is the place to buy a copy of Bonsai Heresy when it sees the light of day (roughly, February).

And even that doesn’t cover everyone, as volunteers have offered their skills, too. Leah Eads (my new apprentice’s wife) is offering her design and typography savvy with the cover, and Magdalene Hagedorn (my mother) is bringing her librarian’s eye to the bibliography.

The book should be out in late winter 2020, so there’s plenty of time to ponder, unless you’re hasty and frugal—Stone Lantern and I are considering pre-sales with a discount.

And I’ll be back to our regular scheduled programming about the minutia of bonsai once I resurface from long nights approving copy…

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  1. Jeff says:

    Pre-order is a great idea

  2. RAY NORRIS says:

    Great job Michael, looking forward to it.😎👍

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. Graham says:

    Looking forward to adding to my collection.

  4. Andy Salz says:

    Do you think it will be available in Europe?

  5. William Lee Kohler says:

    Can we get notified when we can pre order and how much. Please?

    • crataegus says:

      Yes, we’ll be notifying you for sure, we’re not quite ready to receive pre-orders but will let you know when we are. Stone Lantern and I are deciding on a price shortly– thanks for the interest!

  6. somchee says:

    Hi Michael,  As the BSOP librarian I think we need to order 3 of  your book. Will you let us know when preorders are available? I get to read it first and can’t wait.  Good luck wit sales,Barbara Devitt 

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

  7. Richard Sintchak says:

    Yes! Put up a preorder link! Even without a discount.

  8. Darlene Hutt says:

    I keep checking back for pre-order alerts. Anticipation is real!

    • crataegus says:

      Delighted to hear…it is for me too. Tomorrow the physical proof comes from the printer, and I’ll get to see what the whole thing feels like. But we should have the shipment in late April, and I’ll be in touch well in advance for pre-sales on Stone Lantern.

  9. gordonbowers says:

    I am waiting with restrained impatience for the next few months to go. As for pre-orders – will you notify your ‘followers’ via your blog if/when this is about to happen?
    Cheers, 🙂

  10. Don Erickson says:

    Enjoyed your first book and the visits you made to Willamette Valley Bonsai Society meetings. You have been an inspiration to me as well as have been your apprentice’s. Thank you looking forward to this new book!

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