I work for a publisher, but often question whether I want to self-publish my first book, for reasons this article makes clear:

Should you follow the traditional or self publishing path? Numbers ..., By Stephen Spatz on The BookBaby Blog, March 19, 2015.

Can we hear from some among us who have self-published, chosen not to, or are weighing it? 

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Hi!  I looked for you on Linkedin - but there were several people with your name.  Is the Aviation field your speciality?  I'm writing my very first book and thinking about self-publishing. 

This weekend at a conference, I met two people whose manuscripts had been declined by our press--one of them by me, personally. I was delighted to find out that both had been able to self-publish successfully. You see, they had worthwhile subjects, but very tightly targeted markets--and markets that prefer not to pay hardback book prices. (We usually start with a hardback edition, to serve the library market and professors.) The tight focus and probable pricing issue made them a losing proposition for us, but did not preclude their potential through other channels. It's a lesson in persistence: NEVER lose hope just because the established presses say no. A so-called "rejection" often simply means, "It won't work for our particular markets and pricing structures." Every book can be published. Whether it's successful depends on many things--first and foremost, someone's willingness (a press or you) to shoulder the risk.

I have written four books published by already existing commercial publishers - the first of these was William Collins (before it was HarperCollins) so you don't get much more commercially advantageous than that. The next three were by smaller publishers. The next two books I published myself. The big problem is marketing and promotion. Cost of production is relatively small (<£1000 per book) but getting the books known is a real challenge.

That is the other side of it, true. The academic press I work for can, with the press of a button, send notice of a book to 1,500 distributors worldwide. Libraries and bookstores buy from these distributors. For that, you accept a much smaller piece of the profits--but it could very well come out in your favor.

That sounds like a possibility I would consider - but I don't know any such distributors here in U.K. I did employ a Promotion Agent but he did little but arrange book signings. But if you are not well-known and the bookstore itself doesn't promote the signing, very few people turn up: at one signing, absolutely no-one! I did pay for flyers in magazines. It wasn't too expensive but I have no idea how successful these were.

In response to the discussions related to marketing your books, I've attached a handout my colleague prepared for a publishing workshop last week. This guide to self-promotion is as important to those going through a traditional publisher as it is for those self-publishing. Either way, your success depends a great deal on the degree to which you promote the book yourself. Our two best-selling books last year were not the ones we anticipated based on popularity of the subject; they were the ones that became the mission of the authors to sell. These authors take every chance they have to speak to a group--always with a box of books in tow.

Enjoy and comment!

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