The Self Publisher as a Businessman

One of my many failings as a self publisher is that I'm better at giving advice than taking it. I've noticed over the past year that some of the best reactions to my blog posts come when I write about what an idiot I've been, so today I'm going to admit a few of my shortcomings as a businessman. The most glaring of these would be my failure to strike while the iron is hot and make hay while the sun shines. The print-on-demand model I advocate is probably at its high water mark, I envision more things in the future going wrong than going right, yet I haven't written a new book since 2004. What kind of businessman is a self publisher who doesn't grind out new books just for the sake of making money?

Frankly, I'm not really sure where the problem lays, though I generally blame my indolence on the fact that I'm earning more today than I ever did as a trade author and the government gets nearly 50% of my incremental earnings. Unfortunately, there's a perfectly logical business solution to the success tax, which is reinvesting some of the income into the business of self publishing. I should be buying new software, traveling to conferences and networking, and stocking up on equipment and reference materials. Instead, when the IRS gets my Schedule C and sees that my business expenses don't come to 10% of my gross income, they must gather around and laugh.

Anybody can hold a tag sale and make a few bucks selling everything they own, but a businessman should be focused on where the money is going to come from next year and the year after that. Any respectable self publisher would at least be thinking about publishing new editions of existing titles, but I'm pretty happy with my books the way they are, and I had my fill of writing new editions of an existing title for McGraw-Hill. If I ever work up the courage to get married, I want to get married to a woman, not to a book. Some of the most successful nonfiction authors have been married to the same book for over twenty years, and the spin-offs never quite measure up to the original. That's too much like having kids who never grow up and leave home.

In addition to poor title management and poor tax management, I probably have the worst time management of any self publisher I know. The closest thing to a schedule I maintain is sporadic commitment to this blog! Maybe that's why a few readers have suggested that I publish the blog as a book, but I get tired just thinking about it. I'm more inclined to go back to trying to write fiction at this point, not because I think I'll be successful, but to please myself. And that's about the worst failing a self publisher can demonstrate as a businessman. The day I go back to writing books without any consideration about who will buy them or how I will market them is the day I stop telling people I'm in the publishing business.

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