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Where Are All the Self-Published Business E-books?

The biggest successes so far in e-book self-publishing have been among genre novels: thrillers, science fiction, romance.

What about business books?

You’d think it might be a natural, given that so many entrepreneurs have ideas for building business, or managing a business or creating a business and would want to get their message out before waiting too long. But while entrepreneurs might be thinking ahead in terms of how to create a new product or system or process, they might still be behind in self-published e-books. For business books, it seems the stigma of self-publishing lingers.

A traditionally published business book still has cachet. And if it becomes a bestseller, then an entrepreneur has more than a book: he or she has a calling card to build business even further. (For business leaders, or for anyone building a platform to attract an audience, a book isn’t the goal: it’s part of an ongoing dialogue with an audience of consumers and a way to increase business overall.)

The big newspapers and magazines that create and publish bestseller lists don’t include self-published titles. And for entrepreneurs, if the work isn’t noticed by the big newspapers and magazines, then it’s the sound of one hand clapping.

This is understandable. Many fiction writers have a hard enough time finding publishers, and making a living out of writing, with a traditional publishing model. For them, it’s important to find readers for their thrillers, science fiction and romance novels or stories. Royalties on self-published works are much, much higher, and often a novelist finds it more lucrative to self-publish and earn real money than waiting for royalty checks from a traditional publisher (and for the most part, the payouts are not that high).

No Way to Make a Living

For business people a book isn’t a way to make a living. Entrepreneurs for whom a book is a part of an ongoing effort to increase visibility might prefer to look for a traditional publisher. The self-published breakout book hasn’t yet appeared (in fiction, there’ve been several, including the phenomenon Fifty Shades of Grey, which went from self-published fan fiction to lucrative traditional book deal).

But publishing is changing swiftly (even if publishers are slow to change). As more and more people use e-readers, and more and more writers self-publish, it’s inevitable that pretty soon an entrepreneur will decide to come out with a killer concept that appears first as a self-published book. Which will then get picked up by a traditional publisher and given the big marketing treatment. Win-win.

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One Response to “Where Are All the Self-Published Business E-books?”

  1. Anonymous June 28, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

    Very interesting to watch the evolution of publishing. Thanks for sharing your insights.

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