It may seem strange to talk about paying to get your personal branding book published, while the media often talks about celebrities receiving 6-figure advances. What’s going on?

Celebrities, of course, is the key word in the above.

Politicians, their wives, their ex-wives, ex-CEO’s, and television personalities often get big buck advances. But, this only happens after they’ve been in the headlines. (See USAToday story about upcoming celebrity books.)

Rachael Ray, for example, one of the Food Network’s celebrity chefs and daytime TV hostess, is now in a position to command a big advance for her next book.

But, when she was starting out, Rachel’s employer had to pay to publish the first edition of her 30-Minute Meals –the book that jump started her career by getting her on Good Morning America.

Paying to get published is not a new phenomenon

For years, authors have been paying to get their books published. They’ve been paying in a variety of ways:

  • Ghostwriters and co-authors. Some pay ghostwriters to interview them and write their books. Others agree to split advances and royalties with co-authors.
  • Self-publishing. Many authors have set themselves up as publishers, mortgaging their homes, or subsisting on Ramen noodles, to pay to have their books printed, hoping to sell the books.  Vanity presses have been around forever; the first editions of many classic books were originally published by the authors.
  • Hidden self-publishing. Many authors of business and professional books subsidized the publishing of their book by committing to purchase the majority of the first printing of their book. Other authors paid their own travel expenses promoting their books around the country.

Print-on-demand and hybrid options

Today, of course, print-on-demand offers new alternatives for entrepreneurial authors.

Morgan-James, for example, calls itself The Entrepreneurial Publisher. It was among the first to offer a hybrid approach to publishing by combining traditional and print-on-demand options, depending on the quantities of books ordered.

Other traditional publishers, like Entrepreneur Press, have followed with new programs, like their new Entrepreneur House.

In the case of most print-on-demand publishing solutions, authors pay for help laying-out and publishing the first 100, or so, copies of their book for their own use, plus the creation of an Internet-based system to accept orders, print, and deliver copies as needed.

After that, you’re paid a percentage of the selling price of copies sold online.

Books (118 / 365) by somegeekintn.

Advantages of paying to get your book published

The 3 main advantages of paying to publish your own book are control, freedom, and speed.

  • Control. For many authors, control is the key issue. When you pay to get published, you don’t have to compromise; you don’t have to settle for a cover you don’t like (or, don’t get to see until the books arrive), and you don’t have to submit your ideas to a committee mentality.
  • Freedom. When you own the copyright, you can promote your book by giving away as many copies of the e-book version of your book as you want. You can print special editions of your book for key clients or to distribute to speech or seminar attendees. You can use the title for proprietary back-end products like audios, videos, events, newsletters, or yearly updates. You can even sell advertisements in your book and share it for free online, like Larry Fine did with his brand-building Piano Book.
  • Speed. Conventional publishing takes time, typically a year–or even more. Things can quickly change; events can occur and new technologies appear, that make your book obsolete in the time it takes for your book to show up in bookstores. Editorial, management, and ownership changes can also jeopardize your book’s success.

It’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons of the various self-publishing options with the possible higher visibility and broader distribution advantages of trade publishing and bookstore distribution.

Making the right decision

There’s no universal formula for publishing success. Every author’s situation is unique. Each author has to analyze the options and weigh the alternatives as carefully as possible.

Since there are now more ways to pay to publish your book than ever, increasing numbers of authors turn to book coaches to help them explore their publishing alternatives and make the right choice. New authors have to make sure they get impartial advice customized to their personal situation, as they explore ways to pay to get their book published with their available resources and skills. Do you think it makes sense for you to pay to get your brand-building book published?


Roger C. Parker offers a variety of writing and publishing ideas, coaching, and tools at Published & Profitable. He blogs 5 days a week, and his latest book helps you choose the right book title.