Isn’t it funny how we look at things from our own point of view, and are then surprised to discover that not everyone shares that view? This was the case with our IndieMosh brand, where we help Aussies self publish. We initially thought that there was only one reason to publish a book, but over the last few years, we’ve noticed that our authors have pretty much one of three reasons to self publish …
1. Fame and fortune, spreading the word
When we first started helping people self publish, the aim for everyone – ourselves and our authors – was to publish a book that everyone, or at least lots of people, would want to buy. The general thinking was, ‘Why would you write a book if you’re not aiming to sell to as many people as possible and enjoy the fame and fortune that follows?’ And so we would all be looking at what the author should be doing to market, to sell, to follow up, to maximise their chances of ‘livin’ la vida literary’.
As publishing facilitators, we have learned that, for many authors, writing a bestseller and making lots of money isn’t the only reason to write a book. Sure, it’s a good reason, a damned good one (in our book!), but not the only one.
So, if not for fame and fortune, why else would you write a book?
2. To be heard, to have a say, to share knowledge
One of the main reasons people seem to be writing is simply because they have something to say and it really, truly doesn’t bother them whether it sells or not. They just want to be heard, to have the satisfaction of publishing their theories, their thoughts, their feelings, their experiences and learnings, their stories and poems, and if a few punters out there are interested, that’s just icing on the cake. If more than a few are interested, well, that’s like winning the lottery!
Not all, but many of the IndieMosh authors falling into this category are retired. They’ve lived a life, learning many things along the way, and now in their senior years feel that they would like to leave their mark, however small it may be.
When we first came across this phenomenon, it saddened us. We charge people to develop their book – there’s the formatting, the cover design and creation, and a long list of other things that go into the publishing process – and taking money from these (mostly) more mature folk made us feel guilty. We knew they’d be lucky to sell more than a copy or two, mostly because they were people without an online presence or a ready built audience, but they each assured us that no, selling wasn’t the aim, it was simply to do it, to be published, to have their say.
And do you know what? We’ve learnt that it’s actually a really good reason to publish. Over the last year we’ve published people aged 75, 82, 85, 86, 88 and (almost ready for release) 92. The thrill, the boost to their self esteem, their sense of satisfaction are all so rewarding that it is, truly, one of the best reasons to self publish. And where originally we were trying to avoid this market because we felt it was a dishonourable thing to take money from someone whom we figured would probably never recover it, we now enjoy helping those with a realistic view of their commercial chances and an authentic desire to simply ‘be published’.
But there’s an added reason for these people to publish. One day, in the distant future, someone may be adding leaves to their family tree, and when they discover great grandma’s book, they’re going to have more than just a name and a couple of dates. They’re going to have her thoughts, be able to hear her ‘voice’ in her writing, and feel closer to her and her ideas and personality, regardless of whether she’s written fact or fiction. What a lovely legacy to leave your descendants!
3. Marketing purposes
Some of the people we help publish are business people, and so a book that they can sell at their workshops, seminars etc, is a great asset to have. The flip side of the coin is that a published author has an edge when pitching for speaking engagements. And for some of our authors, their books are non-fiction manuals on their topic of expertise, which are much easier to market and therefore sell, creating a nice little income stream on the side.
For entrepreneurs and other business people, writing a book as an asset, as a part of their business, rather than being the main game, is a great way to help them develop their ‘street cred’. And additional titles – on their topic or theme – only help to reinforce their level of expertise and their place in the pecking order of ‘go to’ people.
So there you have it – my three reasons why people self publish. I keep looking at our author list and every author falls into one (occasionally two) of these three categories. Which category or categories would you fall under, I wonder?
Thanks for reading, and because you’re probably already singing it, please enjoy Reasons to be cheerful, 1, 2, 3 … courtesy of the brilliant and irreverent (and brilliantly irreverent) Ian Drury.