A few people have asked my why I am independently publishing my new book, That You May Know: A Primer on Christian Discipleship. In other words, I’m not using a traditional publisher to get my book to design the book cover, edit the text, market the book, and distribute it. Instead, I actually want to do all of those things myself.
Is that crazy? Probably. But here are the reasons why I’m going to do it anyway.
I Like Marketing
The pre-2010 Jacob Gerber would not recognize that sentence. I never intended to like marketing. To be quite honest, I always thought marketing was ridiculous at best, and manipulative at worst. But, somehow, I ended up as the Senior Marketing Director for a marketing agency, which is my full-time occupation. (I am a pastor bivocationally, which means that I support my family working in a role other than as a pastor.)
And somewhere along the way, I started to like marketing. I started liking marketing a lot. In fact, I came to realize that I had always loved marketing, but I just didn’t know that what I loved (content creation, promotion, search engine optimization, web design, etc.) actually falls under the umbrella of marketing.
To me (that is, post-2010 me), marketing this book is an exciting challenge that I kind of want to keep for myself. Will it be hard work? Absolutely. Do I have the reach of a traditional publishing house? No way.
But do I get to leverage everything I have learned about marketing to get my book out there? Yes! Do I get to learn a ton about real-world marketing along the way? I’m hoping so!
To turn the marketing of this book over to a traditional publisher would be, from my perspective, a lost opportunity.
I am Entrepreneurial
I like starting things. I have tons of ideas about things to start. So, I don’t actually see the publication of this book as the end of a journey, but as the beginning. I have more ideas for books in this series to write, and I’d like to keep everything together, under one publishing roof that I control (more on that in a moment), without having to shop individual books out to individual publishers.
Also, I’ve actually been publishing for awhile now–just not of my own books. I have three eBooks available through the Amazon Kindle store by Charles Spurgeon, and one by John Calvin. The Charles Spurgeon eBooks are a completely new compilation of sermons that Spurgeon preached over the course of his ministry into canonical order (rather than the chronological order in which he preached them), and the John Calvin eBook is a new edition of Calvin’s book, The Necessity of Reforming the Church. I manually added several pages missing from the version scanned in from Google Books, and I created chapter and section divisions to make the book a bit more digestible for modern readers.
Publishing is fun for me, and now I have my own content to work with.
I Want to Control My Content
In addition to the reasons that I want to independently publish, there are a couple of reasons that I don’t want to traditionally publish regarding the control I would have over my content.
First, I’d like to have the freedom to discount/give away as many books as I want. There are probably ways of doing that with a traditional publisher, but I want direct access to be able to do some cool things with these books without asking for permission.
Second, I’m worried that going with a traditional publisher would change the way I use my own blog. As I talked about on Monday, I wrote That You May Know originally in the form of exegetical commentaries, and then I converted my exegetical notes into more structured blog posts, which I used as the basis for the sermons I preached on these passage. (I posted links to all of that content at the bottom of Monday’s post.) Finally, I took the blog posts and edited them into a book.
Would a traditional publisher be willing to allow so much of the copyrighted material from the book they were publishing to remain floating out there on the internet? Probably not.
So for all these reasons, I am publishing That You May Know through my own publishing house called 19Baskets. The vision of 19Baskets is to Gather Up the Fragments, preserving and publishing the leftovers from feasts that God has provided to his people through his word in the past. (There were 12 baskets of fragments when Jesus fed the 5000, and 7 baskets when Jesus fed the 4000. 12 + 7 = 19)
Again, this book is just the beginning. I’m really excited to continue working on this for a long time.
So, what do you think? Leave me a comment to let me know if you think I’m completely off my rocker here.