In a time when it is possible to produce, publish and distribute books yourself, why should you make the effort to find a publisher? Why not do it the easier way, knowing that your book will definitely see the light of day? There are some reasons you should consider before embarking on a solo publishing trip.
The main reason for you as an academic (or nonfiction author) is simple: serious publishers function as institutions of quality control for your written thoughts. Your friends and colleagues might find your research credible and well written, but that’s not enough in academia. By going through the publishing process with an accepted and known publisher, your book will be more legitimate than any one you do on your own. Especially when you strive for an academic career, you should go to the best and most suitable publisher for your book. It makes a difference, whether it says in your publication list „self-published e-book“ or, for example, „XY University Press“. With good publishers comes a certain quality (or at least the appearance of quality).True, not every well-known publisher also works hard to ensure good quality books (I won’t mention names).
The second reason lies in the experience publishers have in publishing books – it’s their business, right? So they have the network and know-how to promote your book to specific audiences. If you choose self-publishing, you have to do all the promotion, distributing your book into online bookshops, producing websites, social media, etc. yourself. That’s a lot of work. While it might seem easier and less work to produce and publish your own book, the entire promotion machine will suck the life out of you, if you want it done properly. Of course, there are also websites that will do some of this work for you – for a fee. In the end, I think, it will cost you more time, effort and money to publish your own book than publishing with a publisher. (I produced an e-book, which you can find here on this blog site, but I didn’t do anything else with it, because I didn’t want to invest all the time, money and effort.)
These might be the two most crucial reasons why you, as an academic writer, should make the effort and find a publisher for your book project. In this Publishing Your Book series, I want to give you some advice on how to do so. The things I say will apply, if you write academic/non-fiction books, whether you have a finished manuscript, such as a dissertation, or a book idea in your head. My advice is based on my own experiences with publishing non-fiction books and on what I’ve read in the literature from (former) academics, editors and publishers.
If you have any questions concerning or exceeding my advice, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or contact me directly via e-mail.