why self-publish

If you’ve been following the blog recently, I’ve decided to self-publish the Grad Skool Rulz as an e-book (click here to get a free sample). I wanted to briefly address self-publishing.

First, despite my calls for online access, I do believe in traditional publishing. My decision to self-publish the Grad Skool Rulz does not reflect a view that traditional publishers are useless. Publishers do important work that deserves to be rewarded. They sort through tons of garbage to find decent materials, they edit, they market, and they make nice packages. My beef with journal publishers, for example, has to do with the value. Professors edit and review materials for free. It is now possible to distribute the work at very low price, much lower than what publishers charge libraries. But that leaves a lot of other publishing that can be done by for profit firms.

Second, self-publishing the Rulz does not indicate a rejection of peer review. The Rulz are informal advice columns, not scientific research. As imperfect as it may be, peer review is valuable. You’ll rarely find feedback as useful in blind review. The Rulz are opinions and not really the sort of material that merits the judgment of experts. I’ll continue to submit my academic research to regular journals and presses.

Let me discuss the positive reasons for self-publication. The main one is access. I wrote the Rulz because I really feel that people are getting lost in academia. So I didn’t want the book to be hard to find, buried inside a publisher website or waiting for years while the publication process finishes. Also, I didn’t want price to be  a barrier. With self-publishing, the price can be low. Few in the intended audience would be unable afford the book. I have always been suspicious of textbooks that cost hundreds of dollars. If you have Internet access and $2, you can get this book. Finally, e-publishing embodies the spirit of the new media. The e-book is flexible and direct. It’s easily updated and modified, it can be kept current.

Written by fabiorojas

September 29, 2011 at 12:04 am

Posted in books, fun

9 Responses

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  1. Fabio: For what it’s worth – I think self-publishing is a great choice for this particular book (pace the previous post on the follies of academic self-publishing). Nice work.



    September 29, 2011 at 12:28 am

  2. And Fabio: How have you decided to incorporate (if at all) the ideas of commenters on your Rulz threads? I assume some of us shared suggestions, tips and information that made its way into the final draft. Will these folks be cited? Reimbursed?


    Jenn Lena

    September 29, 2011 at 1:00 am

  3. its = their


    Jenn Lena

    September 29, 2011 at 1:00 am

  4. I’m excited for the book, and especially all of the new material. I will recommend it to grad students in our program. Fabio – Do you have an estimated publication date yet?



    September 29, 2011 at 2:06 pm

  5. Glad to see that this is coming out, Fabio. I’ve already recommended grad skool rulz blog entries and your forthcoming ebook to the first year sociology students at the Graduate Center, as well as other students interested in PhD programs.



    September 29, 2011 at 2:51 pm

  6. @Jenn Lena: Even though much of the material is collected from the Rulz blog posts, a lot of reader feedback is incorporated into the book. For example, there are three or four entirely new sections just for grad students – all suggested by readers. Many of the original rulz were written as a specific response to comments.Omar had a good discussion with me on academic taste. Beth Duckles provided a lot of good material on Liberal Arts colleges, etc. I’ve kept the text citation free since it’s mainly opinion, but there is a healthy acknowledgment section. And yes, all commenters will be paid double what I paid the commenters for my last book!

    @musa: I am trying to get it settled in the next day or so, for upload this weekend. Once you get the text and cover picture finalized, it is easy to publish.

    @KatherineKChen: Thanks for the support!



    September 29, 2011 at 5:42 pm

  7. Looking forward for it …



    September 30, 2011 at 11:09 am

  8. […] particular tips mainly are directed at academic publishing, but many could apply to any genre, and some of the linked resources were genre neutral as […]


  9. Academics need a fair trade agreement. They are like the poor coffee bean growers whose gain is just a few cents from the $4 you pay for your Starbucks Latte.

    In academic publishing *diminishing* author returns are a reality. It’s not uncommon to receive a 3% royalty on a $60 book, or even worse, 2 free copies of your own work.

    In reality, I woulde admit that I’m now earnming three times more on my epubs compared to paper.

    Piracy is also a fear, and a reality, as many students (and libraries) won’t pay those prices. E-books are democratising the market, and it is my belief that they may now be the best route for quality fiction, as well as scholarly factual works. But being a bestseller will always be a dream for the majority (logically, not everyone can be a mass-market winner!). That said, may writers would be happy with several hundred sales. And that’s more in fact that a specialist academic hardback where the typical print run for a leading publisher is now less than 200.

    Kindle and Smashwords appear to be viable option for the aspiring writer – and may in time offer a bridge to traditional paper publication. The latter, of course, can also be achieved at no cost through Amazon’s Print on Demand Service, Createspace.

    I agree that if you want to generate more impressive sales than your immediate friendship circle you will need to master basic promotional and marketing skills. But you could see that as part of the fun? Good luck!


    Ian McCormick

    July 17, 2012 at 10:10 am

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