View Full Version : One self-publishing success story

Tsu Dho Nimh
09-07-2006, 01:19 AM
With self-publishing, you need a niche to fill or share. If you are a teensy little romance novelist trying to make it by self-publishing, you are going to be squashed by the publishing juggernaut called Avon. You either scramble onto the juggernaut or become roadkill.

If you can find a niche that is too small for the juggernauts, yet with enough customers to pay your bills, it's a whole different story. This guy (http://www.aim.org/speakers_individual/P4061_0_14_0/), Alan Korwin, an acquaintance of mine, has made a career in a niche that he carved for himself. Alan bought a gun and realized he had no clue what was and was not legal to do with it. OK, he knew killing people was illegal.

He saw the lack of information as an opportunity, unlike the thousands of bewildered gun buyers who preceded him, whined, and did nothing. He was already a good technical writer, so he did the research, got verbal committments from local gun shops to take the book on consignment, wrote a book called The Arizona Gun Owner's Guide, created Bloomfield Press (named for the street he lived on) to qualify for the ISBN, and had a local printing company print up a few hundred copies.

He could afford it - technical writers are well-paid and we know how to buy print services. If the idea had flopped, he was out a few hundred bucks. If the book took hold, sales income would pay him back and then pay for the next press runs. If your sales can't pay for the next batch of books, something is terribly wrong.

For a while Alan was living the self-published author life: schlepping cartons of books in the trunk of his car, setting up booths at gun shows, and working his butt off promoting the book with appearances on local TV shows. Were his fellow tech writers jealous? Heck no, it's great to see someone succeed.

Getting them into AZ bookstores was fairly easy - it was well-written, easy to read, well-produced, and it filled a need for local stores. Shelved next to the hunting and shooting books, it sold and sold and sold.

Bloomfield is now a niche publisher ... the largest producer and distributor of gun-law books (http://www.gunlaws.com/books.htm)in the country. Maybe the only one, too. Thanks to the constantly changing laws, he has a very secure niche. I'd hate to try to knock Alan out of his niche ... he's literate and dangerous.

09-07-2006, 09:39 PM
Excellent example, Tsu. :Sun:

09-07-2006, 10:36 PM
It may be useful to note that most, if not all the self-publishing success stories are NON-fiction.

Sometimes fiction writers get all excited about self-publishing success anecdotes, and figure "if he can do it, I can do it," without acknowledging the differences between fiction and non-fiction.

The original poster knows this, and I don't mean to suggest otherwise. I'm probably restating the obvious, but, hey, someeone's gotta do it.


Tsu Dho Nimh
09-08-2006, 03:22 AM
Jan -
I agree. There are abundant niche markets in non-fiction that can be exploited by good writers who know their subjects. But fiction ... the Celestine Prophecy and Eragorn. One had money enough to print and bind thousands of copies and the other had parents in the publishing business.

Also, Alan was smart enough to know he needed to get the LC cataloging info, the ISBN, and a distribution channel to make buying his book easy for bookstores and gunshops. He stopped selling out of his trunk by the time the third printing came out.

James D. Macdonald
09-09-2006, 12:09 AM
Most of your real self-publishing success stories are in specialized non-fiction (a fact I've been repeating here and elsewhere for years).

I know several of them (and in addition to being great writers, they're natural salespeople, and they bust their butts), and have nothing but solid respect for them.

But like Tsu said, if what you've got is a category romance novel, or a mystery, or a fantasy -- good luck.

09-09-2006, 04:40 AM
With self-publishing, you need a niche to fill or share. ...
An admirably concise and precise summary.