self-publishing – winning!
Readers know that I decided to self-publish The Grad Skool Rulz ($2 – cheap!). It’s an advice manual for people in PhD programs. It also contains advice for assistant professors as well. I want to share what I have learned about self-publishing.
First, you need a decent plan if you want to succeed at self-publishing. Any decent editor will tell you that your book depends on getting the message out to the right people. So, when I decided to make the jump and self-publish, I only did so after realizing that the blog provided a great advertising for the book. The Grad Skool Rulz had a consistent following and three of them have been reprinted on the website “Inside Higher Ed.” I had an audience and a product that people liked. As long as I gently reminded people about where to find the book, I knew I could get people to consider getting the book.
Second, if you are used to executing your own self-managed projects, self-publishing isn’t so bad. To publish the Rulz, I had to do the following: produce a text, edit it, format it, create a cover and open an account. This, it turns out, is a fair amount of work, but still way, way easier than getting tenure, writing my dissertation, or dealing with the crises that pop up in my life. In other words, if you can actually write and you have self-direction, it isn’t that bad. There are even books and websites that tell you how to do it. And of course, I had lots of help. A friend designed the cover, orgtheory fans helped me edit the text, and so forth.
Third, self-publishing can be profitable. Once I realized that the Rulz had a notable audience, then all I needed to be profitable was for a small handful of people to shell out $2 a pop. Orgtheory links really help there. It adds up.
Fourth, self-publishing can be more successful than regular publishing. At the current rate, which is much lower than the weeks after initial release, my self-published e-book will likely sell more copies in one year than my physical book has in almost five years. Some of it is due to content. An academic monograph has a much more limited audience than an advice manual, but it shows that with the right product and strategy I can get a better outcome from self-publishing than traditional publishing.
Five, this is a format for retaining control over the content. The Grad Skool Rulz are opinionated and not suitable for peer review, but I knew from reader response that the Rulz were valuable, Thus, self-publishing is a good choice.
I don’t recommend it for everyone and it isn’t suitable for all texts, but I can say from personal experience that self-publishing works.