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Are you publishing for your fans? If so, do you have enough to justify the effort? Do you have a way of reaching them? Is there a better vehicle than a book for reaching your goal?
Are you publishing so your fans will have something to recommend to their friends? Is it in a form that they’ll happily recommend? What’s the half-life of this cycle–will friends recommend to friends and to friends to infinity? If not, how big an audience do you imagine reaching?
Are you publishing for strangers? How will they discover you? Or are you playing the lottery, figuring someone has to come out of nowhere with a big bestseller, it might as well be you…
Or are you publishing to make a point, to wave your book in front of a particular audience like a red flag in front of a bull?
Are you publishing to win an award or become a critic’s darling? Good luck with that.
Are you publishing for your clients, with the intent of mailing the book directly to them? This is both easy and effective, but it isn’t publishing, it’s mailing them a book.
Are you publishing this book to make a living? Good luck with that. (Less than 3% of newly published authors make enough in royalties and advances to be happy to live on).
What you write is directly related to who you are writing for, and deciding to publish has nothing at all to do with deciding to write. Publishing is a business decision, a financial risk and a marketing project. If your goal is to generate reach, to share your gifts and your point of view, you can skip all of those and just give your work away.
There are people who should publish, who I hope will publish and who will create books we can’t wait to read. And there are important books still unwritten, books that should be created and shared. Too often, though, we seek to follow a path where there isn’t a sensible business model, and all that happens is nothing. Go, write. But think twice (or three times or six) about publishing the traditional way.