I recently delivered a workshop to fellow psychologists at the British Psychological Society to share my experience of self-publishing. It was a consideration of what I’ve done and how that might or might not apply to other people’s work and experience. As I was doing it, I was very aware of just how much is changing and how fast that is happening – and my aim was to help people consider the practical and ethical issues around this.
It led to a lively and really interesting day. The people there had different experiences and different specialisms as psychologists. This in itself was refreshing as most of us do our CPD in our own specialism and we don’t often get to cross paths – it was nice to meet educational, clinical and forensic psychologists amongst others. Some had traditional publishing experience and some didn’t.
For me, the discussions we had and the nature of the day were relevant to other professions too. Psychologists are not the only ones asking these questions. My reflections are as follows:
- Let’s explore this together – this was a very different style of workshop or training event from those I used to deliver ten or twenty years ago. No longer is it enough to dispense “expert” advice, certainly in this area. I can point to resources and sources of help but it doesn’t serve anyone in my view for me to give detailed instruction on technical aspects of uploading files and so on when these instructions change rapidly and are all to be found online. I can’t remember how I did it and it would be different next time anyway. We’re in a world of learning by doing as we go along which is a big challenge for many of us. The great thing about this from my perspective is that it frees us up to talk about the more professional and ethical issues around this rather than focusing on the “how”.
- We want to reach our clients or potential clients - my first book, Keeping Your Spirits Up, came from articles I’d written and photocopied for clients. Putting it together as a book felt like a logical next step, if nothing else to tidy it up into one place. The technology is available for any of us to do that now. This opens all sorts of doors.
- A book is a substantial business card in an increasingly noisy and busy world. It can be difficult to stand out or to be remembered. The book itself might not make you much money (or it might…. ) but as a professional, you also have your first line of business – and the book can led people to you for those services.
- The control inherent in self publishing can be great news for more entrepreneurial professional types. Many professions are already self publishing by having stocks of pamphlets available to their clients. The technology just means that you have the same level of control (over design, content, quality, title, pricing, timing and speed of production) as you would over your own newsletters or mailshots – but now can produce a book of as high a standard as traditional publishers.
- It’s fun – for those who like a project, this can be a fun and rewarding one. Writing and publishing my books has been challenging at times but has also meant coming into contact with loads of people that I otherwise wouldn’t have met and has also led to paid work. It takes time and energy (but doesn’t everything?) and at the end of it, you have a saleable product. This is often the holy grail of self employed and small firm professionals who usually only have one key product to sell – their precious and limited time.
One source of support and advice that I strongly recommended was membership of the Alliance of Independent Authors – and here’s the link to find out more….