Trade Publish or Self Publish?

Learn about one indicator that will help you decide between trade book publishing versus starting your own self-publishing company and how you might do both.

You’ve got a great nonfiction book topic. You’d love to place it with a legitimate book publishing company, one that pays you to publish your book. But you’ve heard that self-publishing can be a viable option, too. How do you know which route to take?

It all comes down to a matter of numbers. Numbers of copies that can be sold, that is.

Here are some questions to help you decide between trade publishing and self-publishing your book.

1. Will your topic be of interest only to a niche audience?

If your book would appeal to a large national or international audience, trade publishing is the better choice because a regular book publishing company can do a better job of reaching that audience than you can on your own.

If your book would primarily interest a specific, niche audience, trade publishing houses may not be interested.

2. Is your niche audience difficult to reach via normal book publishing sales outlets?

If so, a major publisher may feel that the potential number of copies sold will be too small for them to be able to profitably take on your project, no matter how well it is written.

3. Can you reach your niche audience on your own?

If you have the means to reach that niche audience via marketing and sales opportunities, you may well be better off to self-publish your nonfiction book.

4. Do you do speaking engagements?

Several of our successful author/clients appear before tens of thousands of people annually via their speaking engagements. If a trade book publisher feels their book’s audience is too small, self-publishing makes sense for these authors, providing the book can be marketed and sold in conjunction with their speeches. Sales are better if the book topic is related to the speech topic.

5. Do you publish a popular newsletter?

Many of our authors have quite a following through newsletters, often delivered via email. Their newsletters provides a vehicle for making interested people aware of their published books on related topics, and can offer an easy means to purchase them.

6. Are you well-known in your organization?

If you serve on a national or international board of directors for a club or organization, or if you are well-respected in your special field, you may have an audience for your book on a relevant topic, and the organization may provide the means of informing your audience of the book’s availability in their communications to members.

7. Are you still unsure between seeking trade publication or becoming self-published?

You can first try to interest a trade publisher. If trade publishers aren’t interested, self publishing your book is still an option.

If you can answer yes to the questions, above, you may be successful at self-publication.

8. Can you be self-published then trade published?

Some successful self-published books later get picked up by trade book publishers. If the author can sell a respectable number of self-published copies on their own, and if a sizable untapped audience remains who would be interested in buying the book, an appropriate trade publisher might become interested.

Copyright 2007 by Barbara Doyen. All rights reserved.

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