The Path to Self-Publishing

Self publishing was the path I chose to follow as a romance writer for a mostly niche audience of Nigerians and other Africans both at home and abroad. Going the route of self-publishing can be a lonely, challenging but at the same time rewarding venture. For academics who think self-publishing may be a viable prospect, there are various platforms and options to pursue.

According to Claire Morgan, for the academics guide to self-publishing, there is no “one size fits all” solution. Authors attempting to self-publish their papers, books, and other research materials need to explore what each format offers in terms of compensation, communication, and other factors. These are,


ResearchGate's community extends to 2.7 million academics, most of them in medicine and the biological sciences, though all disciplines are welcome. Tens of millions of papers have been uploaded to the site, which serves as a blend of publishing company and social network, nurturing collaboration between researchers worldwide. Best of all, it costs nothing to sign up and share.

“Everything on ResearchGate is centered around and for the convenience of the researcher,” says Bengsch. “They can follow their peers’ work easily and share their research with them. If researchers have a question, they can ask their peers in our ‘topics’ feature and receive a helpful answer within a few hours. This is also how researchers often find their collaborators on the network.”

Bengsch also points out how users take advantage of analytics to gauge the popularity and perceived validity of their work. “Researchers can build and monitor their reputation on ResearchGate. This is especially useful for researchers who chose to publish their work online. Everything they contribute can be evaluated by their peers. This evaluation is the basis for our RG Score, a new way to measure scientific reputation.”


“Lulu has helped countless academic authors who seek more control of their ideas and curricula publish books that they can then make available directly to their students and peers at a price they dictate,” says Dan Dillon, Lulu‘s director of product marketing. “Lulu offers authors, both academic and not, the opportunity to take full control of their work and focus on creating the best content rather than finding a publisher. Taking their work directly to their audiences has helped countless academic authors create an impact.”

For academics with longer works looking to publish in ebook or bound formats, companies like Lulu might be best. Prices vary depending on what an author wants, ranging anywhere from free to $3,199 for the most generous package. Complimentary consultations are available to help authors decide which format and services suit their specific needs.


Although Smashwords cannot quote an exact number of scholarly participants, researchers and professors like Rojas use the site to create and distribute ebooks for general and academic audiences alike. Rojas called the site “excellent, easy to use, and user-friendly.”

Every academic’s self-publishing journey varies, and Rojas explains how he came around. “Grad Skool Rulz began as an advice column on the blog. People kept telling me that it should be a book. Eventually, I agreed. Once I got tenure, I compiled all the columns into a book,” he explains.

“Then I decided to self-publish for the following reasons. First, the book is blunt, and I didn’t want anonymous referees interfering with the message I wanted to get out. My views on graduate school are much more blunt and direct than most professors are comfortable with,” he says. “Second, I wanted the book to be accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. Smashwords is easy to use, and the authors choose the price. I now charge $3. Third, I make more money per sale than I would with a regular publisher. So: blunt material, access, and money all factored into my decision.”

Once a writer formats their manuscript according to the Smashwords style guide, they can upload a cover image and distribute the final product in a variety of formats, including epub, PDF, mobi (Kindle), and more.

“If the book is properly formatted and meets the legal and mechanical requirements of our retailers as described in the Style Guide, we distribute the book to the Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo and to public libraries,” says Coker. “The author sets their own price and retains all rights to their work. The author earns 60-80% of the sales price as their royalty. Smashwords takes a small commission on all sales of approximately 10% of the retail price. The retailers report the sales back to Smashwords, and we pay the authors quarterly.”

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I am really not an academic but I have read the entire piece and I think it covers most of the options available. I think for those outside of the academia, Amazon Kindle direct publishing and Nookpress are also viable options.