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Author Tip: Know the Competition


That probably sounds like an odd subject for a publisher to blog about, right? I noticed that author Naba Barkakati posted recently about the subject, and it got me thinking. Believe it or not, I’m glad self-publishing is becoming a more viable option for some projects. Here’s why…

We turn down a lot of unsolicited project proposals from authors every year. For one reason or another, our editorial team simply decides the project doesn’t fit into our current publishing plans. Many of these proposals find their way to other publishers. My guess is they’re often rejected elsewhere as well. Don’t get me wrong, by the way…some unsolicited proposals are signed and turn out to be great projects. For those that are rejected by all publishers, many probably never see the light of day as a finished product. Others become a labor of love and are self-published by the author.

If an author is willing to go through all the work to self-publish, it tells me several things, the most important is that they author is extremely passionate about the topic. After all, they’re willing to invest their own time, money and efforts to do the work of several people on a self-published product. Passion is one of the attributes I often look for first in a new author.

Self-publishing success stories are another way for us to continue mining the list of emerging topics for the future. If a self-published book does well, maybe it’s time for a publisher to hop on board and produce a book that is likely to get broader distribution.

If you’ve proposed a project to several publishers and have been rejected by all of them, give self-publishing some consideration. Take a look at Naba’s blog – he lists some good resources.

Are there any authors reading this blog who have some self-publishing experience? If so, please post a comment here or on Naba’s blog so that others can learn from your efforts.


Naba Barkakati

Hi Joe, In addition to providing a list of emerging topics, I wonder if any of the self-publishing tips and tricks could help established publishers do some things more efficiently, maybe become more agile. Let's see what others think. The most helpful input we can get are the ones that'd help publishers gradually move into a new model that incorporates the best of ePublishing, online content, and print, but retains the editing, development, and tech review steps that can help improve content.

Jeff Kozlowski

You have written a very interesting article and I one of the self-published authors you are speaking of. I just self published my second novel after receiving word back from the last publisher holding it. My novel does not seem to fall into the catagory of what Editors are currently looking for but the ironic thing is the young adult readers I am targeting love the story and I have received an abundant amount of positive feedback. If I had a publishing house behind me helping me to market I am certain my book would be read in English classrooms across the nation. Still, I continue spreading the word and getting the book into readers hands so they may benefit from the young adult lessons on its pages. I have yet to come across a sure fire way to success as a self-published writer but continue the pursuit of my dream.

I believe that with preserverance, professionalism and a strong belief in my work that the publishing world will opens its doors to me someday!

Joe Wikert

Hi Jeff. Keep plugging away. My experience is more on the non-fiction side of the fence, but I'm sure there are a lot of authors out there like yourself with great novels who can't get the attention of the larger publishing houses. If you find any tricks you'd like to share with the community I hope you'll post them here and on other blogs.

Robert Burton Robinson

Joe, I was so glad to find your blog. It is great to hear these publishing topics discussed with an authoritative voice by a major player on the inside. I work in the computer science field, but my novel is a murder mystery that I am self-publishing as a serial novel on my blog. I find it quite challenging since once a chapter is published I cannot go back and re-edit it. But I like the fact that it keeps me motivated, since I have promised to write and publish three chapters per week.

Developing an audience will take some time, and I know that I may never find a publisher for my novel, but at least I will be getting some exposure and hopefully improving my writing skills. Once I reach a certain number of visitors per day I plan to include AdSense on my blog. It would be nice to see a little income from ads. However, my ultimate goal is to published (in hardcopy).

Joe Wikert

Hi Robert. Keep at it! I'd also like to see the blogging platform evolove into one where chapters can be more dynamically edited. Right now you're pretty much forced to post one version after another. It would great if one of the platform vendors would offer a version that's more designed with book writing, review, editing, etc., in mind.


Hi Joe,

Just happened upon your blog. I think you're on to something. I'm not a publisher, but run a small web site for writers who do want to publish. I get calls or emails almost every day from someone who either wants to write a book or has a book they want published. Most are clueless about the process.

I think self-publishing is a good option for many of these people because their book is little more than a personal story about some significant life event (significant to them). It does a soul good to get these stories out, and if they can hand a completed book to friends and family, well good for them!

Others simply aren't ready for prime time and need to self-publish to learn the process and gain some sense of accomplishment.

Some, though, are more ready to be published, but don't understand the process. I'm looking for some easy ways to steer them in the right direction, so any suggestions you have would be appreciated. I'm quite familiar with book proposals for nonfiction books, but less familiar with submitting novels. Thanks for your blog!


Brooke Castillo

I am a self published writer using POD through Booksurge. I never tried to get my book published through a major publisher as I was only going to use my book for my clients. To my delight- my book, If I am So Smart, Why Can't I Lose Weight? has sold very well on Amazon with very little marketing.

It was a very simple process to get my book published. The entire process (from writing to printing) took less than four months. I have no inventory, and because I had the best selling book at Booksurge for six months, I have had publishing houses contact me and express interest in publishing my book.

As a coach, it has been a great way to communicate with my clientele and gain credibility as an author.

I highly recommend it!

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