Considering Self-Publishing?

Self-publishers range from those who only envision selling a few books to those who sell thousands of them. Many New York Times bestsellers began their publishing journeys via the self-publishing route. The usual reason is that they couldn’t get a publisher to pick it up and/or get an agent to become their champion, thus never getting it to a publisher’s doorstep.

Self-publishing’s Hall of Fame includes mega seller John Grisham. His first book, A Time to Kill, started out published by the author after multiple rejection notices and was later sold to Fleming H. Revell for a few thousand dollars. Revell in turn sold it for over a million dollars for much needed cash.

Management guru Tom Peters rolled out In Search of Excellence in self-published format before it was bought by New York; and Ken Blanchard started his One-Minute series from the kitchen table as did What Color is Your Parachute? author, Richard Nelson Bolles. Betty J. Eadie birthed Embraced by the Light on the self-publishing route along with Sandra Haldeman Martz with her When I Am an Old Woman, I Shall Wear Purple and Richard Evans with his The Christmas Box.

Then, there are a couple of reference gems that started the self-publishing route. Consider Robert’s Rules of Order by Henry Martyn Robert and the all-time classic, The Elements of Style, by William Strunk, Jr. and EB White. To date, over 10 million copies of those tomes have been sold. All were rejected by traditional publishing the first go around. The authors had their vision and did it themselves. By the time New York came to the party, the checks written were quite hefty.

There is a difference between self-publishing and independent publishing.

Most people put the two in the same pot. Don’t. Self-publishing is certainly on your own. So is independent. Within the self-publishing category is what we call the “hobbyist” or “casual” publisher. Making money isn’t the key factor. Just having a book is. Most self-published books look, well, self-published. Money isn’t dedicated to quality, although the content can be quite good. If you plan on selling fewer than 300 copies, this is a reasonable route to take.

Consider self-publishing if:

  • You really plan on doing just one book;
  • You plan printing a limited number of copies;
  • Your primary goal is not to make money;
  • You consider publishing an avocation, not a vocation;
  • You want to do a “test” to see if there are any buyers out there; or
  • You didn’t know there is any other way and no one talks to you about creating your own publishing imprint.

Reprinted from “Rick Frishman‘s Author101 Newsletter”
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