With the addition of so many tools today to publish your own books, reports, video, and audio content, there is a raging debate about the merits of traditional publishing versus self-publishing. While both have their pros and cons, self-publishing is becoming a more attractive option every day. No cranky publishers to deal with, no arguments over who owns the intellectual property, and no revenue sharing.
Traditional publishers make the argument that there is a sea of mediocre self-published content out there that provides little value; that the traditional publishing process filters through the coal to find you the rare gems. While there is much truth in this, a gem is a gem no matter whether it is self published or not.
One other argument for traditional publishing is that the publisher assumes much of the risk in printing the first edition and responsibility for marketing and distributing the publication once it is published. Again, while also largely true, if you ask any author they will tell you that you can’t rely solely on the publisher’s marketing efforts if you want to sell copies of your book or report.
Many authors are turning to self publishing for a myriad of reasons. Stephen Pope, President of Pope Consulting Inc., advocates self-publishing special reports as a way to provide useful content in smaller bite-size chunks and make more money. There are services such as Lulu.com and CreateSpace from Amazon which will physically print one book at a time at a minimal cost compared to the expensive revenue-sharing models of traditional publishing. Many services will even take your blog and print it as a book, such as SharedBook.com. This is in addition to digital publishing services, such as YUDU.com, that will eliminate printing costs by emulating printed publications online.
The litmus test for whether or not you should self-publish usually comes down to the content and its intended audience. If the content is well written, comprehensive, and the audience is broad, traditional publishing can offer credibility and distribution channels you might not be able to access on your own. If the content is short, the audience is small, and the topic has a small window of relevance, self-publishing may be the best method.
The wonderful thing about publishing today is that the options are almost endless. In order to effectively create, publish, and share your expertise with world, it may require combining multiple methods. For instance, many published authors publish “teaser editions” of their books on YUDU.com with the first chapter or two in order to drive sales of their book. There are many authors who will even publish through traditional channels with their first work and then self-publish subsequent work. The key is to utilize the tools available to you in order to maximize your influence.