It’s Not All About the Money

Just writing that title sent me into a bit of a spin … I can just imagine how much of a hornet’s nest I could potentially be shaking up with a statement like this. After all, most people who write and publish books do them with the intent to sell. And because of that, much of what is out there regarding success in publishing very often IS about the money. And that’s ok. There’s nothing wrong with publishing for money, and sales figures are a wonderful (and easy) marker of success.

But I think it’s important from time to time to remember that money isn’t the only reason a book (even a good book) can be published. It’s important to understand this, because if you aren’t publishing a piece specifically to make money off of it, that means sales figures are no longer the only (or even the most valid) measure of that book’s success, and that’s really the type of thing that you should really know ahead of time.

So here are just a few other reasons you might have for considering publishing:

Exposure: I’ve been reading a lot this week about passive marketing and something that stuck with me was the idea that one of the most effective ways to market your work is to produce more work. Having a backlist of books, even ones that are less commercially successful, can expose you to audiences that your “commercial” books might not otherwise reach.

A Gift: Imagine you have a ton of faithful readers, a growing blog following, or a sold core of super-fans. Sometimes the best way to say “thank you” to those supporters is to give them something special (in this case, an extra taste of your writing). Creating something special just for them may not be about commercial success at all. But that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be worth your while.

A Message: Sometimes there are things that you just need to say, books that seem to beg to be written. Writing those books and publishing may not always be about sales figures. Sometimes they’re just about reaching as large an audience as you can manage. And while sales are always a part of that, they may not be the driving force behind it. You may, for instance, decide that you don’t want to sell this kind of book at all – finding that you reach larger numbers of people setting your ebook to “free” on a permanent basis.

Fun: Let’s be real here – writing can be fun, and so can seeing that writing in print. There is nothing wrong with deciding that you want to publish something just “because”. Now this isn’t permission to publish junk. If you put it in print (and especially if you charge money for it) your work should be of the highest possible quality. But there’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of the self-publishing market to create and publish something that may have no commercial audience whatsoever. It’s ok to publish just for fun.

Keep in mind that none of these reasons for publishing will disqualify you from making money. It’s always possible to find commercial success with a book, even if that wasn’t your original aim. The point of the post isn’t to say that money is bad. Rather, it’s to remind my fellow writers that it’s ok to give yourself permission to write and publish for reasons that aren’t financially driven.


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