5 Things That Shouldn’t Surprise You About Self-Publishing

POSTED ON Apr 27, 2010

Joel Friedlander

Written by Joel Friedlander

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Sometimes it’s good to just kick back, push off the deadlines, turn off the ringer on the phone, and daydream a little. If you’re self-employed, doesn’t that mean you get to goof off once in a while? That you’re the boss, not that pesky little nagging voice in your head?

Starting off in self-publishing can seem like a perilous journey. Getting into a new venture is always exciting and scary at the same time. Exciting to be doing something new, but scary because you don’t necessarily know what to do first, or how to sound like you know what you’re doing. But you pick it up soon enough.

As you move forward you have to keep your bearings. That means you remember what your destination was when you set out from shore, and you keep aiming for that destination until you get there.

Making Lists

Here are 5 things that shouldn’t surprise you about self-publishing. They are realizations you have after you’ve decided to publish a book.

  1. Self-publishing is not a get-rich-quick scheme And I think that’s been proven quite a few times by now. Yet new self-publishers have that gleam in the eye. They’ve read the stories, they’ve been to Lulu.com. Why not them? But I’m willing to bet you didn’t start writing to make a killing on the internet. You had something else in mind. Remember that thing, it will guide you well.
  2. You will meet many wonderful—and a few not so wonderful—people in indie publishing Truly one of the great things about social media is that it’s so social. I’ve always been impressed by the collegiality of publishing. Maybe it’s because few books compete directly with each other, but people in publishing—particularly indie publishing—are extraordinarily helpful to newcomers. And a bonus: they’re pretty literate, too!
  3. You cannot imagine the variety of niches into which people are publishing I mean, just wander around Amazon for a while and take in the richness of interests displayed there. Here, for example, are five titles plucked almost randomly from amongst the millions of pages on Amazon:
    • The Art of Making Fermented Sausages
    • Unsigned Beauties Of Costume Jewelry
    • Antique Sewing Tools and Tales
    • Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming
    • The Yugo: The Rise and Fall of the Worst Car in History

    Whatever you’re interested in, there’s probably some other people interested too. You just have to find them.

  4. Nonfiction publishing almost always pays—over time If you really do your homework, and publish a book with genuine value, and do just an adequate job of pushing it into the world, I think if you keep at it long enough, you will eventually be profitable. Of course, you have to publish efficiently to start with, but as long as you do something to let people know your book is there, and that it can address a real need, often it’s just a matter of time before someone finds it. Too many people quit trying when they haven’t sold out in a few months. See #1 above.
  5. The single most important thing is to ‘Be the Market’ This is the clearest path to success for nonfiction self-publishers. If you are part of the market that’s interested in the subject you’ve written about, you’re at an advantage. You know what these people need, you know what questions they’re asking, and you know what was confusing when you first got into this field. That all adds up to a book with value, if you can translate your experience into teaching that helps people new to your field, or new to your level of expertise.

Well, there you have it. None of these things may surprise you, but they bear repeating, and remembering, too.

Takeaway: The availability and diversity of self-publishing makes it one of the greatest opportunities of the new media age.

Image: Stock.xchng / Harrison Keely

Joel Friedlander

Written by
Joel Friedlander

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