Friday, November 13, 2009

The business of self-publishing

A commercial publisher looks upon any new book as an investment of its resources as this publisher wants to make a profit. Book publishers are interested in books that fit their specialty, fit a market niche, and will sell well enough to make money.

Self-publishers need to approach their venture in the same way. So set aside your subjective evaluation of your work and look at your book from a publisher’s perspective.

Questions for aspiring authors to consider before publishing:

  • Do you have a compelling title?
  • Is the projected length appropriate for your genre?
  • How many illustrations will you have? Who will create these?
  • What is the projected completion date?
  • What are the leading competing books (author, title, year of publication)?
  • How does your book compare to the competition? How does it differ? What makes it stand out?
  • Name three benefits for readers of your book.
  • Who is your audience? How will you reach them?
  • How will you price your book? Is it appropriate for the genre?
  • How many books must you sell to break even? To make a profit?

Ultimately, authors must also decide upon their goal for the book. Is it to make money off book sales? Is it to establish “expert” status in your field? Is it to serve as a platform on which to base a consulting career? Your reason for publishing should be an important consideration in deciding on how many resources you intend to invest in the project.


  1. Very succinct and to the point, Sue, thanks. I raise many of these points with clients and I'm sure you do too. Sometimes it seems that helping clients get clarity about what they intend to do, and why, is a large part of my job.

  2. Thanks, Joel. I appreciate you reading--and your comments!