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Self Publishing Overview

Many Famous Authors Have Self Published

Some of our most famous authors, including Sam Clemens and Ben Franklin, published their own books. It was, during their time, an honorable, and profitable, way to get their works in front of the public.

Self Publishing Isn't Subsidy Publishing

Along came the scam artists who, for a sizable fee, would publish almost anything, regardless of its value, by printing a hundred or so copies, and the authors could consider themselves 'published.' This scheme became known as vanity press or subsidy publishing because, as a rule, it was the author who paid and who ended up with boxes of unsold books.

Some of the schemes included 'marketing plans' which generally meant the books would be listed in the vanity press' catalog. Vanity press/subsidy publishing is, by and large, a rip off.  You'll still see ads for this kind of operation.

Technology Has Legitimized Self Publishing

Today, technology means we again have legitimate self-publishing.

It's grown out of four market forces:

  • The first is the purchase of major trade publishers by conglomerates and mega-corporations. These mergers have meant publishers now have to focus more on profits than ever before, and the result is, among other things, fewer new authors published and fewer truly thoughtful books released.
  • The second is the personal computer. As computer memory has grown and software improved, it's become possible for almost anyone to design and 'typeset' a book.
  • The third is changes in printing, including high-speed copiers that come close to mimicking the printed page. These presses mean that runs as short as a single book are economically possible - hence POD or Print on Demand. Even the term, POD, is broadening as more and more trade publishers also make use of the technology.
  • Finally, the Internet has given individuals a way to reach a world-around market. With their own web sites, and by working with online booksellers like Amazon.com, Barnes and Nobel (Bn.com) and others, it's possible for a writer to publish her own books and actually make a small profit.

It's now possible for an author to publish their own works, perhaps even setting up their own mini-publishing company to do so. Production set-up costs are often under $500.

Requirements for a Profitable Self Published Book

Of course, simply publishing your book yourself doesn't guarantee profits or fame. Everything that applies to a trade book also applies to you, including:

  • A book with a truly marketable subject.
  • Knowledge of your market an how to reach it.
  • A well written, well edited (including copy editing) book.
  • A great cover
  • A well produced book
  • Distribution and Marketing

In some ways self-publishing is rather like the recycling symbol - you know, arrows chasing their own tails. Marketing is so key that it effects every other part of your book, even the writing.

Next we'll look at what's meant by a truly marketable subject for a self published book.

Meanwhile, I'm going to suggest that you order Dan Poynter's Self Publishing Manual - you can read the complete review here.



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