Your book is a big part of who you are. You’ve written it to get your message out, to build your brand and professional credibility, to satisfy a longstanding desire to express yourself, to teach, to communicate in depth about something important to you—and, yes, to be respected and admired.

            Authoring a book gives credibility and career enhancement as well as the satisfaction of sharing something important. It feels good to see a book with your name on it.  It is an achievement of which you can be proud. Your book reflects who you are, what you know and what you want to tell others without you having to say anything. The book speaks for you. Let’s face it, being the author of a book is impressive—just as you’re impressed when holding the book of a colleague or acquaintance.  

Twenty years ago it was hard to break into publishing because there were only so many publishers and the field was something of a closed circle—if you did not have a personal contact, getting your manuscript to the right person was extremely difficult, if not impossible. That was the heyday of the literary agent—a member of that “inner circle” who would, for a sufficient fee, arrange for someone with decision-making power to take at least a brief look at works by unknown writers. If you didn’t have a publisher with at least a toe in the mainstream, you had almost no way to get your book to the marketplace.  Today we have numerous ways around publishers, with Amazon and others ways to get to the marketplace and easy-to-use technology to create the book.  You no longer must put books letter by letter into molds to create words on the page.  With word processing, Photoshop, InDesign and other programs, just about anyone can “publish,” that is, create a book.

These days, with the Internet and the inexpensive “publishing” it allows, and with online outlets such as Amazon and B&N.com, there are many routes to getting your book into print, including inexpensive do-it-yourself self-publishers, once cynically called “vanity presses”—in which you take on all the roles involved in bringing out a book: design, layout, cover art, typesetting, editing, marketing, distribution, sales and more. There are many web-based self-publishers that will sell you these services. You can cobble together several different providers to create what you want, supervising each constantly to make sure they follow your wishes and then making sure that the various pieces meld together in a way that satisfies you.

            If you want to explore the do-it-yourself route, click on our “do it yourself” link for a list of the major self-publishers. Then visit their sites, find out what they offer and at what price, and become your own project manager. We wish you the best of luck if you choose to self-publish. There is much to applaud about it—as well as some issues of which you should be aware.

A positive element in self-publishing is that you have total control over the content and the packaging. You are not following the requirements of a publisher who may be pig-headed or who doesn’t understand your work. You’re the boss.

A negative element, and the biggest drawback to self-publishing, is getting your books to the marketplace—into bookstores, gift stores, specialty outlets, and other retailers where books are sold.  More and more books are being sold outside the bookstore today, in other retail stores, such as upscale dress shops and sports stores.  These are called “gift” sales or sometimes “special” sales. Yes, self-published authors can get their books into some stores—say, the one in your neighborhood, where the owner knows you.  These stores will take your books on consignment.  If you are lucky enough to sell a good number, they will order from Ingram, a central wholesaler, although getting books from Ingram takes time—usually a few weeks.

Of course, if your book has an ISBN and is listed in Books in Print, any store can order it for a customer—but it can take a few weeks for the book to arrive. It is hard to sell a lot of books that way.  Some authors have done it.  Every once in a while there is a self-published runaway success, such as Eragon by Christopher Paolini, which was later picked up by a major publisher.  But books like that are the rare exception. Most self-published books end up sitting on the garage floor as the author becomes increasingly discouraged by the effort it takes to promote and sell a book in a national and international marketplace, while competing with thousands of other authors.

Self-published books rarely have any effective distribution. Without knowledgeable, skilled distribution, you cannot get your book to the market.  Fortunately, we do now have Amazon, which will take any book. So self-published authors do have that avenue to the market—and it is a good one, albeit limited.

Not all authors need distribution. If you are a professional, such as a massage therapist or a college teacher, you can sell your book to your clients or students as well as get it into local stores by speaking with the store buyers and leaving copies on consignment. If you give speeches, having a published book gives you something to sell and something for interested audiences to buy.  They are your market. However, for most authors, who hope to sell their books to the larger world, their books die on the vine without distribution.


Publishing with Ronin

Ronin is a well-established publisher, in business since 1983 and now marking our 35th anniversary. Ronin’s co-founder, Sebastian Orfali, publisher of the very successful, groundbreaking And/Or Press, has been credited with having launched West Coast Independent Publishing in the late 1970’s, when publishing took off in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is a hidden industry, with few realizing that the Bay Area is the largest center of publishing per capita outside of New York City.

At Ronin we have more than 150 paper titles and more than 100 ebooks currently in print. We are experts in low-cost, high-quality book production. We do project management, handle the clerical aspects of getting your book into all of the databases, editing, book design, layout, cover art, digital rights management—and we provide top-of-the-line, world-wide distribution with live-person sales team to personally present your book to buyers. into all book-selling channels.

            Through our distributor—the leading book sales and distribution company in the United States—your book will be marketed and sold nationally and internationally. Our distributor, PGW/Ingram, is an unrivaled marketing and sales organization that no self-publishing arrangement can come close to duplicating.

            Ronin will not publish just any book, however, as those old vanity presses did, just to get your money. Slap anything in a cover and call it a book. We are a nonfiction publisher, and we take our motto seriously: “Books for Independent Minds.” Our specialty areas are self-help, medicine, life skills—with attitude, spirituality, pop culture, psychedelia, and a “fringe series” of unusual and offbeat topics, such as ghost hunting and underground comics. Our work is literally an open book: go to our site for a look at our backlist, or search for our books with any search engine.

            We are experts in creating books with high commercial appeal, experts in producing them to reflect what an author wants to communicate, experts in bringing them to market, experts in marketing them through all available channels, and experts in selling them to bookstores—both independents and chains, online and as ebooks.

            If Ronin agrees to co-publish your book, you will be tapping into our decades of proven experience and expertise in all areas from design creativity to national and international sales. This is something that no self-publisher can possibly provide.

            The first step, if you think you may have a Ronin Publishing book, is to send us a query and we'll go from there.