Alternative Career Options For Self Publishers

I got poked in the eye by a wire while doing some construction work a few days ago, sprung right past my glasses and got me. Since it was my "good" eye, the one that compensates for the defect in the other eye, it left me seeing double for a day and unable to read. That got me thinking about what I'd be doing if I couldn't continue as a self publisher. I know there's a lot of new whiz-bang reader technology out there that might help compensate for the inability to read books or newspapers, but I can't imagine doing heavy Internet work with all the skim reading and scrolling without the ability to read easily.

And that got me thinking about career options for self publishers in general. I know a few self publishers who have moved on to work for large trades, but the normal career path is the opposite, with trade authors fleeing into self publishing. Many self employed people, regardless of the industry, find themselves becoming "unemployable" with the passing of time. It's not just that our skill become aligned with self employment goals, it's also that our personalities develop, shall we say, eccentricities. I have to admit that my general reaction on hearing workplace complaints from friends and strangers alike is, "Why don't you quit?" But quitting twice a week is a tough way to develop a career.

If I couldn't make a living publishing anymore, either through some physical impairment or a loss of creativity, I suppose I'd try to limp by as a consultant for a while. Telling other people how to do things you can't do yourself is a common exit strategy for many a fallen expert, and unexpectedly, a common entry strategy for not a few publishing "experts" who've never published a successful book. But consulting is a pretty tough ABC (Always Be Closing) career and I don't think I'd enjoy it at all. There was a time that I might have thought about opening a used book store, but Amazon has done a pretty good job putting limits on that particular career path.

That I would stay self employed is a given. I haven't considered myself to be employable for the last fifteen years, but I'm flexible as to the work and the pay. The problem is, most of the ideas I come up with have to do with me doing something I enjoy rather than with making a living. That's where I've been lucky with self publishing, since I enjoy it most of the time and still make a living at it. Now I know what you're thinking, that I could get rich dictating novels and screenplays to an assistant by the pool, probably an attractive Ivy league girl who abandons her education for a chance to work with me. But somehow I just don't see it in the cards, and if you do, I'd recommend putting off the morning drink at least to after supper:-)


Zoe Winters said...

Have you read Barbara J. Winter's "Making a living without a job" I love that book.

I'm with you on the self employment thing. Working in someone else's field is icky and the only way I would do it is if my only other option was to live under a bridge.

Morris Rosenthal said...


I might go for the bridge myself:-)


Bobby Ozuna said...

Mr. Rosenthal:
I am new to your site and I have just subscribed. I think your content--that I have read thus far--is good and solid. I am a self-published author and I have been "working" at the struggles of being an independent publisher for one year.
It is an honor to have met you and found your website.

I hoped perhaps you might review my homepage and perhaps my blog site, to see if whether (from a physical standpoint) I am on the right track...

Morris Rosenthal said...


Thought your website looked great (reachable by clicking your name on the comment).

Fiction is a tough sell, but you seem to be building a following, and that's several quarters of the battle.