As a businesswoman, marketer, university educator and author of a self-published book, Get DARE From Here – 12 Principles and Practices For Women Over 40 To Take Stock, Take Action and Take Charge of the Rest Of Their Lives, that I produced with Create Space, the Amazon affiliate, here a few short insights on why self-published books should warrant consideration and support from mature women.
1) For the most part over-50 female readers are not a prime customer group for legacy publishers. A publishing house typically invests editing and marketing capital in brand-name fiction authors, well-established, with a following of readers and other social media corollaries that yield a practically risk-free return on the publisher’s investment in said author. Female readers over 50, perhaps seeking quality fiction as well as non-fiction books that appeal to our priorities, needs and concerns at this point in our lives, have very limited choices, aside from mysteries or romance novels. In fact, one article cited a cursory mall-intercept survey of consumers leaving one of the large bookstore chains, and noted that many of them were women over 40 complaining that “there are no smart fiction books for us. Had industry leaders done such research sufficiently well in the past, they would have ferreted out the fact that women over 40 feel underserved, and perhaps traditional publishers would not be languishing right now.
2) To that point, two authors who appeal to our target audience are prime examples of their own brilliant strategic, operational and marketing acumen in becoming publishing mega-brands (note I didn’t say they were literary masters): Danielle Steel (love her or hate her, her most successful books feature vibrant women of almost all ages) and prolific mega-brand mystery writer, James Patterson. Before Patterson turned to churning out bestsellers, he was the head of one of the most fabled ad agencies in the world, J. Walter Thompson. Patterson is successful because he knows what sells, he knows how to sell, and he writes to sell. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that!
3) Be that as it may, there are non-traditional publishing models that work simply because they are smart about positioning and marketing their books as lifestyle brands. Two of the very best companies that do this are Rodale Press, started by health enthusiast Robert Rodale decades ago, and Hay House, started by healer and teacher, Louise Hay, with just one hugely successful book, You Can Heal Your Own Life, published in the 1980s. Today, both Rodale and Hay House are powerful publishers because they know how to create, develop, launch, sustain and further mine multiple revenue streams from the same titles, often written by consultants, psychotherapists, financial experts, and other service professionals, many of whom are over 40 and writing for the over-40 reader.
So, to all those out there who feel the quality of self-published books is not as good as those that emerge from traditional publishing houses, please understand that the economics of traditional publishing have made it almost impossible for our peers – i.e., consultants and authors over 40, writing for an over-40 reader – to make any decent money from publishing with these companies. And that is if we are fortunate at all to be awarded a book deal, without already having an established brand and enormous following. That is the model: the author must prove there is a market for her books, not the other way around. Hence, many authors over 40 start out self-publishing, and many of us continue that way because we get to keep more of the revenues.
As for the traditional publishers who truly get it right, both Rodale and Hay House help their authors to market not only books but their consulting services and other products. That their titles are almost exclusively about physical, financial and spiritual health, and their audience, though diverse, comprises a great number of over-40 consumers, is something that self-publishers and the firms that have emerged to serve us, are noticing. Boomers want to live forever. Any book or other product or service that helps us feel we are taking better care of ourselves – physically, spiritually, financially or otherwise – deserves our support.