Amid all the discussion about self-publishing we can forget that each decision to publish is a specific, unique, and very personal calculation.
Hey, there are as many “reasons” to publish a book as there are people to publish them, but some authors are ideally placed to make use of the self-publishing tools available these days. You might be one of these authors if…
- You are an authority in a niche field. Some authors are well known in a field that is small and easily reached through affinity magazines, on-line forums, or professional circles. With access to the likeliest market for your book and existing authority, self-publishing might be the most profitable avenue for continued sales to this type of audience.
- You are a consultant to business or government. Many worthwhile books on a subject of narrow interest are published by business consultants both as an alternate revenue source, but also as a way to supercharge their reputation within their field.
- You are an established author trying to break into a new genre. Authors who have been pigeonholed as “non-fiction” writers or “how-to” producers can face an uphill struggle to sell any other type of book to editors. Some authors have self-published, using their existing publishing platform to establish sales, and therefore interest, for their new genre.
- You are an activist with a passion for a cause. Activist authors usually have two assets that make them great candidates for self-publishing: an organization to promote their cause, and the passion that makes them spokesmen for that cause. The support of an organization, or just the assured sales to legions of followers make the economics of the publishing decision easy to calculate.
- You are a novelist, short-story writer, or a poet. The vast majority of these authors will never receive a contract for a book in their lifetime. Self-publishing allows an author to see their work in print in a way they can share it with the world, which is the driving force for many writers. Many of these authors have flocked to so-called self-publishing companies on the web to realize their dreams.
When I made the decision in 1986 to publish Body Types it was for many of these same reasons that I’ve written about here: I had some expertise and a good deal of authority in this very niche subject, which was known to only a few thousand people, all of whom I knew. What’s more, there were no books on the subject in print, and nothing had been written at all on the subject for many years.
In promoting Body Types I became an authority on a new branch of study, no matter how miniscule. The book established a place in the market, getting reordered year after year. Eventually it went through two editions and four printings, profitable from the first printing. I was invited to teach at holistic centers, events and conferences.
I would be interested in your reason for publishing, or the discussion you have with yourself when you think about becoming a self-published author.