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Advice for authors who want to self-publish

textbooksFor authors who aren’t the regular, follow-the-crowd type, and feel they’re not suitably recognized by traditional publishers, there are alternatives, said media researcher Donna Besser.

One alternative, Besser said, is the small press. Small press publishers, she said, range from an individual poet publishing a personal book for selling at readings, to a small corporation with a dozen employees that publishes 50 books per year. For authors who want to self-publish, Besser offered this advice:

  • You most likely will not get rich and you’ll have to work twice as hard without any guarantee of recouping your time.
  • Learn about marketing and public relations. Read a book, take classes or attend a conference on marketing.
  • View book publishing as a business.
  • Find your niche.
  • Protect your product legally by copyrighting it.
  • Sell your book in many markets, not just one, in spite of a seemingly limited academic universe.
  • Develop a business plan, a set of goals and a mission statement but remain flexible to deal with ambiguity in the marketplace and fickleness of the audiences — faculty/adopters, students and readers/collectors.
  • Keep a fixed, small overhead. Working with freelancers or any outside services are fine if the price and quality are suitable.
  • Don’t bet the farm on one book. Longevity is the goal. You don’t get experience, contacts and reputation with early shut down.
  • Look for rich content, derived from intense involvement in the topic that generates a compelling text.
  • Hire a professional book cover designer. Graphics and photography are not expenses — they help sell the product.
  • Test the cover, even on family and friends.
  • Think about and plan details of each developmental stage in creating and producing seamless content-title-subtitle-cover design-interior-weight of paper-font-format-color-back cover for a total harmonious end product.
  • When selling the book, the objective is generating exposure, telling as many people about your book as possible, and making the book readily accessible.