A lot of people ask me: “Why do you self-publish? Wouldn’t it be better to have your books published by a big publisher?” They say it would give me greater legitimacy and a broader reach. If one has solid credentials as I do, then there is no need to seek legitimacy. Besides, the only thing that publication by a big publisher means is that the publisher sees a low risk opportunity to make money.
The number one reason why I self-publishing is to provide readers with a better product. It is how I apply the “Respect for People” principle to book writing and publishing. Let me share with you a few examples of what goes on behind the scenes:
When the manuscript for Better Thinking, Better Results was circulating among big-name publishers in 2002, the feedback I got was that they would like to greatly reduce or eliminate the quotes from Wiremold company senior managers. They also wanted to reduce the end notes as well. I said, “no way.” And I was right. Readers constantly give me feedback that hearing about Wiremold’s Lean transformation directly from the mouths of the executives is enormously valuable. People also tell me they love the details I included in the end notes.
Recently, a big publisher wanted to republish my six-volume REAL LEAN series. But, the editor’s vision for it was a complete re-write from a totally new perspective. I would have lost the ability to say what I wanted to say, the way I wanted to say it. They would have had to find another author to re-write the books under my name, which most likely would have been a disaster.
Editorial Control. As you can imagine, the ability to say what I want to say the way I want to say it is important to me as an author. But it is also important to you as a reader even though you may not know it. I am able to provide accurate information without being forced to accept edits that change the focus of story or its accuracy. If I feel it is important to critique someone’s work, then that is what I will do. I have an editor that helps me, but I am the one who makes the final call. Sometimes I make mistakes, but they are my mistakes.
Short Lead-Time. Self-publishing means that I do not have to write lengthy and time-consuming book proposals and wait months for them to be evaluated by book editors. Self-publishing enables me and my team to get a book to market in a weeks or a few months, not a year or more. Having a short lead-time is mostly a blessing, but it could result in publishing a book that is ahead of what the marketplace needs.
Unique Projects. Self-publishing allows me to pursue work that no big publisher would ever support. Therefore, I can re-publish Principles of Mass and Flow Production solely because it is an historically important work. While the ROI on that book will be forever negative, I published it because it changes the timeline for discoveries and attributions of key accomplishments related to flow production.
Larger Royalties. Lastly, the royalties from self-publishing are greater than what the big publishers offer, which is important because book royalties fund my research.
Big publishers and editors can offer value in the services that they provide. However, I know of far more authors who were displeased with their publisher and editor than authors who were pleased — by a ratio of 10-to-one.
In summary, self-publishing affords me a greater ability to actualize the “Respect for People” principle in writing and publishing books.