Most of the non-fiction authors I have spoken with fall into one of four mindsets: Artist, Advocate, Expert or Investor.
Choose the mindset that best matches your personality and use the tips below to build the best publishing strategy to match.
The Artist is the non-fiction author who is in love with the art of writing and believes-like Henry Miller-that “writing is its own reward.” This type of author simply wants to publish to make their own work available to the public. He or she does not usually care what people think about the work, they just want to tell their story.
The Advocate is the non-fiction author who is passionate about an academic discipline, a profession, a specific industry, a lifestyle or a cause and wants to use their publication to create awareness and share their passion.
The Expert has formal academic training, certification from a regulating board of professionals and/or unique life experience that gives them insight into a subject that the public does not have. Experts usually publish information that solves a specific problem shared by a specific group of people.
The Investor is someone who strategically chooses to write and publish on a specific topic because it is likely to generate a lot of income.
As you read the list, you may have found more than one mindset that reflects your publishing motivation. There is nothing wrong with that. If you ever decide to publish more than one book, you may have a different mindset for each new title. There is nothing wrong with that either. But if you are going to be able to make the best publishing decision for your new book, you need to be honest with yourself about why you want to publish so that it is easier for you to decide how you want to publish.
Tips for Choosing Your Publishing Path
There is absolutely nothing scientific or divine about the four publishing mindsets I’ve identified. They are simply helpful mental shortcuts that allow me to give you a few publishing pointers that are related to your motivation without me knowing anything about your personal circumstances.
I offer them as a simple guide based on my past experiences with other authors.
- The Artist would most likely be happier working with a traditional publisher than by self-publishing. This arrangement allows them to spend their time writing while the publisher manages the business of publishing at no cost to The Artist.
- The Artist may have a few disagreements with literary agents and editors who-in The Artist’s opinion-want to make too many changes to the text to make it easier for readers to enjoy, but the freedom to focus on their message and not the logistics of publishing may make it all worth it.
- Even if The Artist self-publishes their work so they can keep creative control over the entire publishing process, they can still pitch the manuscript to a traditional publisher while the self-published version is in circulation.
The Advocate will most likely choose the publishing pathway that best compliments their long-term goals related to their passion.
- If The Advocate simply wants to promote awareness and does not plan to make a career out of championing their cause, then selling their manuscript to a traditional publisher is the most effective option.
- If The Advocate wants to build a career platform, a business or an organization that is related to their message, then there is a toss-up. Self-publishing is the best way to guarantee that the message gets out, but a partnership with a traditional publishing company helps gain the prestige associated with being a published author. The choice comes down to whether they prefer keeping complete creative, distribution and marketing control (self-publishing) or if they prefer partnering with experts who let them focus on promoting the book and building their career, business or organization (traditional publishing).
- If The Advocate already has an established career platform, a business, or an organization the decision is most likely based on their availability of time and budget. If they don’t have the time to learn how to self-publish or the money to partner with a self-publishing company or freelancing professional, but they do have enough time to learn how to partner with a traditional publisher (this takes a little less time because you don’t have to master as many technical details), they may go the traditional route. If they do have the time to learn how to self-publish their book or they at least have enough money to hire a self-publishing company or freelancer, they may choose to take advantage of self-publishing technology to keep control of their book.
The Expert is almost always a busy professional who is in the midst of practicing whatever they have their expertise in. The exception-of course-is the retired expert.
- The Expert who is still actively working will most likely want to use their publication as a type of business card for what they do, so self-publishing is the best way to keep complete control. Savvy experts often attract traditional publishing companies who will offer to take over the publication later, but they are likely to begin their career as self-published until they build a relationship with a traditional publishing company-like “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” author Robert Kiyosaki.
- The Expert who is retired-and who likes being retired-will most likely be happier by partnering with a traditional publishing company to let them do all the heavy lifting in the production and distribution process.
- The Investor almost always prefers to self-publish so that they can keep most of the profits from their book sales.
Only you can decide which publishing option is best for you. The four personalities-the artist, the advocate, the expert and the investor-are simply mental shortcuts to help you appreciate the variety of options.
Question-Which publishing personality matches you best?
Image Attribution: "Wanees Zarour" by Fadi Freij - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons