It must be official ...
It must be official ...

An Author’s Journey – The Decision to Self-Publish

Summary: Third in a series of articles on the creation of Don’t Think So Much. Self-publishing is an innovative option - some thoughts on going it alone (versus finding a publisher).

Through the first few months of my journey, I was focused on writing the content and getting the edits done. There was a lot of new and exciting stuff on the way – discovering how to publish, print, and distribute – but I had to get the thing written before I could get to the fun part.

When the editing was almost complete, and I could see the light at the end of that first tunnel – joy. The learning journey was beginning! I dove right in, and right away was faced with an important decision. To self-publish, or find a traditional publisher? There are many sides to the decision, but in the end it was all about my vision for the book. What was I trying to accomplish here – what was my goal?

  • Money – Well, no, not directly. I never harbored illusions of making the NY Times Best Sellers list – it’s not that kind of book. Now, the per-copy profit on each book sale is relatively small, and self-publishing gets you a bigger margin. But the big publishing house is able to deliver a broader and deeper distribution channel – volume makes up for the smaller margin.
  • Fame – You probably won’t find many self-published works on the shelves of your favorite bookstore. Plus, the big houses will have many promotional moves in their playbook – they have done this many times, and I have not.
  • Experience – I have never published a book before, so there is plenty of new things to learn, new skills to gain. I knew how to write already, but I didn’t know how to make a physical book – and business and technology processes were a completely new world to me.

I suppose I could use these three “archetopics” to describe my central motivations – but I there were other elements of the decision that were very important to me.

  • Money – I was very much looking forward to the idea of starting a publishing business – my own little LLC, with assets and expenses and a bunch of supporting technology to create some value. My revenue target has always been to cover my expenses …
  • Fame – … and change my conversations around topics that really fire my imagination. I enjoy speaking publicly on these topics, and a book should help me open more doors.
  • Experience – Digital innovations have made it much easier to publish, print, and distribute – a perfect lesson in miniature of the democratizing and empowering nature of new tech.

In the end, it really was no contest. Self-publishing was an opportunity to soak up an incredible range of new experiences and knowledge. I was excited about learning the art and science of book internals (front matter! index! page layout!), as well as the graphic design work required for the cover. And what a great chance to put my marketing ideas to the test – a perfect way to dive deep into modern eMarketing techniques.

But most of all, I wanted to scratch that entrepreneurial itch, and truly start a business. So I dove right in, finding out that every step of the way was a) chock full of awesome learning experiences, and b) not well documented! It is not a process for the faint of heart; no simple icons to click here, you really have to put on your research hat and self-teach a lot of new skills.

Before long, I was ready to go with a new LLC, a bank account, a PO box, stack of forms and a fancy company seal. It looks great, very official – and what a kick to add my company address to correspondence. It really made the process real for me, as I was scratching a long-suppressed itch to start a business and create something of value.

So many other cool new things to learn – next up, how to create a book …

This is one of a series of articles on the creation of Don’t Think So Much; check out the finished book on Amazon – now available in hardcover!.

# 20 November, 2019

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James MacLennan

... is the Managing Partner at Maker Turtle LLC, a digital consultancy focused on creating value in ways that align with your strategy and drive engagement with employees, customers, and stakeholders. He is an active creator, providing thought leadership through on-line & print publications, and public speaking / keynotes.