“Writing is a delicious agony.”―Gwendolyn Brooks
“Publishing a book is like stuffing a note into a bottle and hurling it into the sea. Some bottles drown, some come safe to land, where the notes are read and then possibly cherished, or else misinterpreted, or else understood all too well by those who hate the message. You never know who your readers might be.” ― Margaret Atwood
I stared at the screen. My word count was 2,000 words in an hour.
I wasn’t writing an academic article. It was a mystery novel.
Before you jump to another browser tab, hear me out. Though I began fiction writing on a whim, I independently published (indie published) 7 books between December 2017 and May 2019. During that time, I also co-authored an article, completed an academic book manuscript for a university press, and revised several journal articles.
And I just left my tenured professor position two months ago.
How are the two events connected? I realized that self-publishing was a viable income stream. Not replacement income, but a growing income stream. I made $10,000 my first year of publishing. Book income, along with other sources of income, could make a viable salary.
But money isn’t the reason academics should consider self-publishing, though it’s a fantastic side benefit.
My argument for independent publishing complements rather than conflicts with traditional article and book publishing. Rank and tenure committees will not count indie books on par with a traditionally published book — though it should count toward public intellectual engagement.
5 Reasons to Consider Independent Publishing
Perhaps you’re an educator who has developed a new preschool curriculum. Or a psychologist who’s created a unique method of battling writing anxiety.
Or, perhaps you’re a political scientist like me. I’m publishing a writing retreats for scholars book with a colleague. Combined, we have decades of experience planning writing retreats. We wanted to share the joy with other scholars.
2. It boosts scholarly writing productivity
Writing mystery novels didn’t stop my academic writing and publishing. Fiction writing actually enhanced my scholarly productivity. Writing fiction gave me a new appreciation for the emotional, mental, and intellectual challenge of academic writing.
As an academic editor friend once told me, “I feel liberated when I write a poem. I feel accomplished when I write an academic article.”
The two writing activities complement one another.
3. Extend your contributions and reach
Sometimes, when we publish an academic article that might benefit the public, we’re too tired or too confused to ‘translate’ the article. Publishing an ebook and paperback can make sure your insights are shared widely.
4. It’s fast
Academic publishing need not be fast, but if you’d like to share something new, such as a how-to book about computer code, it takes 24 hours to have your book go live on various ebook platforms.
5. Reach more people through a translation
Check with your traditional publisher about your contract to see whether they hold worldwide and translation rights. If not, consider writing your own translation if you’re a multilingual scholar.
Convinced? Let’s walk through the basic steps to independent publishing.
7 Steps to Publication
If you wrote a series of child development scholarly articles that you now want to transform into an ebook, consider the concentric circles around your small scholarly audience. Who would enjoy this knowledge, and would they or the institutions they work for be willing to purchase this book?
2. Write the manuscript
You’ll not only want to drop much of the jargon from your original piece, but you’ll also want to revise your book into an easy-to-read format. Don’t be afraid of bullet points, subheadings, and relentless outlines.
3. Hire an editor and proofreader
Hiring an editor takes an initial investment, but if you keep the book current and visible, it should continue to earn money. You need to hire a line editor and proofreader for the manuscript. Most non-fiction books are short, so it shouldn’t be cost-prohibitive to do this before publishing.
4. Cover design
5. Consider paperback and workbook
It’s easier than ever to produce an ebook and paperback. Kindle and Nook allow you to publish paperback versions on their platforms. If you want to distribute to independent publishing stores and libraries, you can purchase an ISBN number and upload your book to IngramSpark.
You can also create a workbook. Here’s a fantastic overview of how to create a workbook.
With the introduction of the deliciously beautiful Vellum software, you can format a book in under 5 minutes. You can still hire a formatter, but it’s much easier to purchase Vellum for Mac (buy a onetime or permanent license).
7. Upload to platforms
Next, upload your ebook to Applebooks, Google Play, Kindle, Kobo, and Nook. If you use digital distributors (StreetLib, Draft2Digital, and/or PublishDrive), you can reach hundreds of stores and countries around the world.
Though the uploading process takes some time to learn, you only have to do it once. And your book will be live on hundreds of stores within a day or two!
8. Share the love
Now that you’ve published the book, you’ll want to consider how to let people know about it. If your main goal is earning money, then you’ll want to research book promotion newsletters, Amazon ads, Facebook ads, and Bookbub ads (don’t worry, you don’t have to unless you want to make money).
If your goal is to share the book with a particular audience, such as classroom teachers, consider reaching out to school districts to buy your book. Offer a workshop or webinar to accompany the book. The possibilities are endless.
In closing, you’ll want to consider independent publishing as a bow in your scholarly quiver, just like traditional publishing, public presentations, and social media.
This post was previously published on The Writing Cooperative and is republished here with permission from the author.
Have you read the original anthology that was the catalyst for The Good Men Project? Buy here: The Good Men Project: Real Stories from the Front Lines of Modern Manhood
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project and want to join our calls on a regular basis, please join us as a Premium Member, today.
All Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS.
Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.
Photo credit: Unsplash