[Self Publishing Guide] What is Self Publishing?

This post is second in a series of articles which are excerpts from our Self Publishing Guide for Indian Market. If you have not already, please read the first article of the series before proceeding with this one

What is Self Publishing

Self publishing in strict sense is a special case of publishing where author herself is the publisher. The author takes the complete control and responsibility of all the aspects of publishing – preparing the book, printing and marketing the book. In fact, anyone – be it an individual or an organization – can self publish. In our discussion of self-publishing we include publishing carried out by any individual or organization whose main business is not publishing, even if it is not self-publishing in the literal sense of the word (that is the author is not the publisher).

Self Publishing: Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages

No need to spend time convincing publishers/agents.

  • The author is the boss and has complete control over content, design, pricing.
  • Faster way to get your book published.
  • Easy to publish books for a niche audience.

Disadvantages

  • Needs financial investment for the publishing process – editing, designing, printing, marketing.
  • Lack of sales and marketing expertise. No pre-launch publicity, no launch hype with celebrities and media.
  • Chances of lower credibility because the book is not validated by an independent/traditional publisher.

When to self publish

Given the pros and cons of self publishing, there are certain cases where it work well. Some of them are listed below

  • Experts: If you are some sort of expert in anything, you could self publish a book targeted towards that audience. Expertise need not mean global fame. You could be a blogger on environmental issues with a following, for example.
  • Niche publications: The way the economics of traditional publishing works, if your audience is niche and small, publishers may not be interested in your book. If you have a way to access this niche audience and market your book, self publishing is the way to go.
  • Publishing as gift: A book can be published for gifting purposes or for distribution to friends and family. For example, you may want your book just for your family, or may want to surprise a friend by publishing his/her writings as a birthday gift.
  • Support to profession and brand building: A book can be published to establish your credibility and thought leadership in your profession. Coaches, training institutes and other professionals/organisations can publish a book themselves and distribute or sell them. It will help brand building.
  • Complete control over the book: If you do not like to succumb to the demands of the editors on how the book should start, read and end, self publishing is the option for you.

So, you are not a publisher?

And don’t want to be one either?

Hmm…

This is how a lengthy conversation explaining what Pothi.com is ends with many people.

Yes – one problem of our business is that it takes lot of time to explain to people that we do not fit into any pre-defined category from traditional publishing. Most importantly, Pothi.com is not a publisher!

What does this mean?

  • Books published through Pothi.com are published by their authors or other people/organizations behind them – not by Pothi.com.
  • Pothi.com does not do any ‘selection’ of the content except to ensure that it is technically fir for printing and that it is not against the law or our terms and conditions.
  • The entire responsibility of content, its accuracy and quality, its preparation lies with the author/publisher, not with Pothi.com. Same is the case with Book Design, Marketing, Promotion and Sales.

What does Pothi.com do then?

Pothi.com provides tools and services to help you through all these steps of publishing. Meaning

  • There are detailed information and guidelines on preparing your book
  • There are tools for formatting and cover design (e.g. blog to book tool, cover design wizard)
  • There are reasonably priced services for editing, designing etc. if you need help in preparing the book
  • There is an e-commerce store where you can list your book for free and sell it without bothering about logistic hassles of printing, maintaining inventory and shipping them
  • etc.

What’s the future direction Pothi.com will take in that case?

  • Create More technological tools to make the publishing process easier and financial burden minimal
  • Figure out some innovative ways to help authors widen the reach of their books
  • Develop Technological Solutions for filtering out good content from bad

Ouch! So, you will never, never be a publisher?

Pothi.com – the platform will remain Pothi.com the platform. It will not become a publisher. We may or may not have a parallel business as a publisher, but that would be under a separate imprint most likely. We haven’t decided anything on that front yet.

That’s sad! Pothi.com can’t help me become the next Chetan Bhagat.

In all likelihood you are right. Exceptions can occur, but Print on Demand based self publishing model is not optimized for creating best-sellers. It works better for books with niche audience or publications for small, targeted audiences. It is also good for casual publishing.