Publishing “as if”

Publishing “as if”—meaning, for an independent writer like me, to bring out a book AS IF it were from Random House, as if it were from Simon & Schuster—is a dream and a philosophy that my partner Diana and I have been trying to put into practice for the past two years.

We published PUT YOUR ASS WHERE YOUR HEART WANTS TO BE that way, and we did the same with GOVT CHEESE: A MEMOIR. The idea is to bring out a book that, on every level—literary merit, originality, creativity… and the quality of the actual physical production—is as good or better than anything from a Big Five publisher.

Further, the aim is to promote the work and get it into readers’ hands with the same or better reach and presence as a Big Five publisher. (If you’re a writer who has relied on a mainstream publisher for such support, you know that, as Stevie Nicks once sang, “It all comes down to you.”)

Beyond that, publishing “as if” aims to follow Seth Godin’s concept of the Smallest Viable Audience, i.e. know who reads you and give them what they want… even if (especially if) they don’t know what that is until you put it before them.

Does this work? Is it fun? Is it a business model that can succeed for a broad span of writers and other artists?

One thing I can testify to: it ain’t for the faint of heart. The learning curve is ferocious. The tech tools have definitely not been perfected. (Try making WordPress work with ShipStation.) And, if you’re an introvert (like me), you’d better get over it fast.

But it can be done and the payoff is not just in dollars, which are hard to come by in any universe, or creative freedom (which can be pretty hollow if your stuff can’t find an audience), but in independence and the sense of betting on yourself and your own Muse—win or lose.

Let me recommend a blog and podcast to any who might be thinking of venturing into this uncharted wilderness. Do you know Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn? Her books, blogs, and podcasts are the cutting edge of this new indie world. Most of what she and her colleagues across the pond (she’s English and a lot of her mates are too) are beyond my ken or capability. That’s why I love it and her … and why I’m so impressed by it.

Log onto Joanna’s stuff and see what you think. Meanwhile, Diana and I will continue reporting from our own rarefied cosmos of publishing “as if.”

P.S. We’ve got a new book, THE DAILY PRESSFIELD, coming in a week or so. We’re pushing the envelope a little on this one, too. Full reports to follow!

DO THE WORK

Steve shows you the predictable Resistance points that every writer hits in a work-in-progress and then shows you how to deal with each one of these sticking points. This book shows you how to keep going with your work.

do the work book banner 1

THE AUTHENTIC SWING

A short book about the writing of a first novel: for Steve, The Legend of Bagger Vance. Having failed with three earlier attempts at novels, here's how Steve finally succeeded.

The-Authentic-Swing

NOBODY WANTS TO READ YOUR SH*T

Steve shares his "lessons learned" from the trenches of the five different writing careers—advertising, screenwriting, fiction, nonfiction, and self-help. This is tradecraft. An MFA in Writing in 197 pages.

noboybookcover

TURNING PRO

Amateurs have amateur habits. Pros have pro habits. When we turn pro, we give up the comfortable life but we find our power. Steve answers the question, "How do we overcome Resistance?"

Turning-Pro

31 Comments

  1. Tolis on November 8, 2023 at 1:37 am

    Thank you so much dear Steve. My time for publishment hasn’t come yet but one day it will, inevitably.

    I can feel from the vibes of the post that it is very hard to be an independent publisher. You must be at the edge of tech etc., and at the same time you risk everything because you can’t be known as or backed up like those Big Fives that you talk about.

    I can guess of your such adventures with Diana as a great Life to live by. By the way, I can’t wait to see the “Silver Linings Playbook” movie that you mentioned.

    Publish as if, but also Write as if.

    As if we are the Gladiator in writer’s clothes.

    As if we are Hemmingway, Tolkien, Shaekspear.

    As if we are the best in the world.

    Because we are.

    Because everyone in the world is equal to all others, and thus the best are equal to us.

    You know best.

    My best wishes to Diana.

    I have bought many of Joanna’s books, though they sit on the shelves for now. There is not enough time, neither enough power inside me. We are vulnerable and imperfect too.

    I can’t wait for Daily Pressfield. Once again to be showered by the Road.

    By the way, it could be a beautiful book to write with Diana about the experience and insights that you two gained from this adventure.

  2. Julio Baptista Barroco on November 8, 2023 at 1:42 am

    Getting back to the weekly gems from the masters after some ferocious battles with that capital R thing. Some new beasts ahead to slay – or just do the Hercules thing with that snake… Thank you for being such a deep and beautiful force for good in our world.

  3. Jackie on November 8, 2023 at 4:00 am

    Looking forward to the new book! As always many thanks for the valuable information you pass forward. Will check out The Creative Penn. Cheers to pushing the envelope. The only way to live is “as if”.

  4. Terrence Lynn Weaver on November 8, 2023 at 4:30 am

    Steve, Govt. Cheese was a joy. Excited to read the latest. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and heart with the world brother. Semper Fi.

  5. Steve MacCormack on November 8, 2023 at 5:18 am

    Can’t wait to see The Daily Pressfield!! Much love.

  6. Lisa Lanzetta on November 8, 2023 at 5:38 am

    AHO! I apologize for 🤣 when I read this. I can so relate to tech challenges and being an introvert. I’m consistently amazed by myself as I fumble around the entrepreneur trail.
    This post filled my lungs with much needed air!
    LOVE The Daily Pressfield! What a great idea! That’s how I use the war of art and turning pro.
    Thanks always for suiting up and showing up and prompting us to do the same. ✨🦸‍♀️✨

  7. Jim King on November 8, 2023 at 6:03 am

    Thank you for your insights….

  8. Tricia Cooper on November 8, 2023 at 6:19 am

    Steve and Diana!

    I look forward to Writing Wednesday morning’s like a kid opening up Christmas presents on Christmas morning.

    I love all the Brilliant insights you share with your readers; many gutsy, some gory as to the days of Resistance and Resilience 💥.

    I hang on your every word Inspired and gritty to write another day!

  9. Kate Stanton on November 8, 2023 at 6:36 am

    “And, if you’re an introvert (like me), you’d better get over it fast.”

    Who knew me overthinking myself into a puddle was just another form of Resistance? 🙂 Have a wonderful week community, Diana and Steve!!!

    • Tolis on November 8, 2023 at 7:14 am

      You too, Kate. You deserve it. Make your introvertism shine like the sun.

  10. Sue Ransom on November 8, 2023 at 7:24 am

    I’m right in the middle of this myself, and you are so right – the perils and pitfalls are legion! I’m slowly inching towards a launch date at the end of the month, and I’m exhausted! Joanna is brilliant, as is David Gaughran, and with both of them I could spend all my time reading their fabulous resources and not actually getting on with the job in hand.
    Good luck with your launch!

  11. Kathy on November 8, 2023 at 7:44 am

    Steven, wow. Here you are, getting ready to launch yet another one of your own efforts, reaching back to help others along. Pretty incredible.

  12. Sam Luna on November 8, 2023 at 7:50 am

    I’ve been writing for 25 years, but publishing “as if” — making books — has been my central preoccupation for the last 7 years. And there are so many places to cut corners if you allow yourself to be seduced by the instant gratification technology offers. When I’m in an airport bookstore I ask myself “would my books fit here? From a quality perspective, would they seem at all out of place when picked off the shelf and flipped through?” Getting to that place, as you put it above, ain’t for the faint of heart. Can’t wait for the Daily Pressfield!

  13. Chad Allen on November 8, 2023 at 7:53 am

    Yay! I can’t wait for the new book,Steven!! And thanks for this tip as well.

  14. Brian Nelson on November 8, 2023 at 8:23 am

    The Daily Pressfield. Like you’ve been reading my mind. Again.
    bsn

  15. Mark Kerson on November 8, 2023 at 10:32 am

    Hi Steve, I have published two (well, three, but one is so small it hardly counts) books this way–The Elements of Building (EOB) & Builder (BLD) (on Amazon)–and know it sells books. But after doing it for a few years I CAN’T STAND IT! It is tedious, boring, maddingly fussy , and it takes me away from writing. I’ve tried to hire folks, but the cost is prohibitive. I’ve sold thousands of books–mostly EOB–and like the income but can no longer bring myself to do the sales. Mark

  16. Joe Ciccarone on November 8, 2023 at 10:37 am

    The Daily Pressfield?? Heck yes! So excited to get this one. Ty Steve! Amazing work.

  17. Anonymous on November 8, 2023 at 10:44 am

    Great isights as usual. You are always reading my thoughts…a hug to Diana. LT

  18. Jerry Ellis on November 8, 2023 at 12:03 pm

    Ah, Steve, your posts always empower me, and I have read all your wisdom-filled books. Random House? Yeah, I have had four books published by them, and they nominated one for a Pulitzer Prize: Walking the Trail, One Man’s Journey Along the Cherokee Trail of Tears. It just published in its third language, Italian, and I returned four days ago to USA after speaking to a group of judges, doctors, and low-life writers like myself in Rome, Italy. Here’s the video of my presentation, and if anyone watches and finds it worthy, please leave a comment? Thanks, Steve, for allowing me–I HOPE–to leave this post. Much love, brother.

  19. Jerry Ellis on November 8, 2023 at 12:04 pm

    Jerry Ellis video at YouTube, as noted in his comment above. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OaBwoe7atc8

  20. Maureen Anderson on November 8, 2023 at 1:58 pm

    I’d read what you wrote if it was scribbled on napkins, Steve. And I can’t imagine you being willing to answer this question for a variety of great reasons, but here goes. Why, when you have the clout you seem to with the traditional publishers, would you do it this way?

  21. Ward Roxal on November 9, 2023 at 1:21 am

    I found the Duck Life racing game public on website, where you can play this racing game for free online on: https://duck-life4.com

  22. Joe Jansen on November 9, 2023 at 3:40 am

    Sign me up.

  23. Paullette MacDougal on November 11, 2023 at 10:22 am

    Congratulations on getting a new book out. I always look forward to your new releases.

    Maybe another title for folks like me might be “HOW TO KEEP YOUR ASS IN THE CHAIR AT YOUR WRITING DESK WHEN YOU’RE AN EXTROVERT.” Like me. Meyers-Briggs puts me ‘way over into the margin on that side.
    Paullette

  24. Mia Sherwood Landau on November 14, 2023 at 5:18 am

    Steven, you might not realize that this post is teaching me the second most important thing you have ever taught me. The first indelible truth is – Never rent a motor home. And now you are providing the second one – publish as-if or perish. Maybe it’s because we are in the same age bracket in this life, or maybe it’s the tiny flame flickering in our souls. Whatever we have in common, thank you for yet another deep truth. I treasure it.

  25. Nina on November 15, 2023 at 5:51 am

    I’ve just been considering self-publishing a few books. I haven’t done it in years. I get worried about the cost of producing a book “as If.” The cost of editing alone can be large.

    And then there is the motivation to market… When held accountable to some extent by a publisher, it seems easier to do all that work-work that takes you away from writing. When you are the publisher, it’s easy to slack off.

    I wonder if your platform, or built-in audience,makes it easier to get books into readers’ hands and earn back your investment. I worry about that, too—selling enough books to make the endeavor profitable.

    Do you have any thoughts or advice?

  26. Himachal Packages on November 18, 2023 at 4:30 am

    I appreciate it very much.

  27. tom scarda on November 20, 2023 at 3:49 pm

    Steven – I love what you are doing as an independent. Being an indy writer is the most authentic thing you can do. Watching you is inspiring.

    I have self published a few books. I have found that writing is easy compared to the marketing of the book.

    I was blessed to have some private time with Jack Canfield, Chicken Soup for the Soul, fame. When you listen to what he did to get Chick Soup out to the market, you’d be shocked and overwhelmed.

    But, as always, it comes down to the writer’s passion. If the writer is doing it for fame and fortune, it’s an uphill, depressing, loosing game. If one writes for the love of writing, there’s nothing better than being in the flow and riding the waves.

    Keep in mind, Walt Whitman, Daniel Defoe and Mark Twain didn’t have the internet. It can be done.

  28. free games on November 20, 2023 at 5:27 pm

    The second is being provided by you now: publish as-if or perish. Perhaps it is the small spark flickering in each of our souls, or perhaps it is just that we are in the same age range in this life.

  29. Manali Couple Packages on November 22, 2023 at 3:43 am

    Thanks for publishing.

  30. Arman underpin on November 27, 2023 at 12:55 am

    The concept of publishing “as if” is a game-changer. It’s like you’re inviting us to step into the shoes of the artist we aspire to be, and that mental shift can be revolutionary. Your personal experience and the stories you shared added a real-world layer to this approach, making it feel not just aspirational but achievable.

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