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Founded by Debbie Weil, author of The Corporate Blogging Book

Attention business authors: self-publishing is no longer for losers

A few years ago, the idea of self-publishing a serious book would have been laughable. Self-publishing was for losers, right? Self-publishing was a last resort after not being able to get a book contract from one of the big name publishers.

Well, guess what. The book publishing – and reading – revolution is happening right now. The idea that self-publishing is a last resort is dead. Increasingly, for best-selling thriller writers like Barry Eisler and J.D. Konrath, self-publishing is a pre-emptive strike that enables them to retain complete control and make more money from the sales of their books (e-books in particular).

Self-publishing is now a respected option to get your book – yes, a professionally edited and designed book – directly into readers’ hands.

I’ve been mulling over how to explain this in a way that is palatable to those who think a “real” book is one published by a “real” publisher like one of the Big Six (Penguin, HarperCollins, Random House, Simon & Schuster, Hachette or Macmillan), or a business book publisher like Harvard Business Press.

Confession: I was hung up on the prestige thing myself until about 18 months ago. My book, The Corporate Blogging Book, was originally published by Portfolio. Then, in an interesting twist, I took the rights back from my publisher and self-published the updated edition on Amazon Kindle. More about that later.

First, I’ll bludgeon you with an argument: self-publishing an ebook is now so easy and quick that it would be madness not to consider it. Write your book (the hardest part), get it edited, choose a catchy title, get an eye-catching cover designed, format the manuscript for Kindle (and the other e-readers, if you wish).

Upload the file via Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform, set the price (you can always change it) – and you’re done. If your price is at least $2.99, you will keep 70% of each sale. And in case you missed it, Amazon recently announced three new Kindles, along with the Kindle Flash, an iPad competitor, all priced under $200. In other words, you can potentially reach millions of readers with a self-published Kindle ebook.

OK, I realize that argument may not work for those who are not fired up by the next new thing. Here’s another argument for those who may be stuck in old-think. Let’s use an analogy: the only way to get a top notch education is to attend an Ivy League university. Hogwash. We all know that smart, motivated students can get a magnificent education at dozens, if not hundreds, of second and third tier colleges that are less well known.

This may not be the best analogy. But I’m trying to get at the prestige thing. What is the value of prestige? What does it do for authors vs. readers? Not much for readers. Most readers have no idea who the publisher of a book is. As for what it does for authors, the prestige of a big publisher ain’t what it used to. Today’s advances tend to be very small if you are a first-time author. Publishing houses do little editing of your book. Most significantly, they do virtually no marketing and promotion of your book, unless you are a celebrity author.

What I’m getting at is that the one-size-fits-all approach – to education, to publishing, to jobs, to just about everything – doesn’t work any more. Seth Godin’s newest book, We Are All Weird, lays out this argument more eloquently and imaginatively than I can.

I’ve got a lot more to say about this topic. Stay tuned.

Useful Resources

Combating the Stigma of Self-Publishing by Bryan Young

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