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Independent Journals, Self-Publishers

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There are countless articles, blogs, even entire websites offering advice to authors considering self-publishing their book or manuscript. From start to finish authors can find advice on how to get into book stores, how to do their own composition, how to find the best printer. The list goes on and on.

We’ve even written a few posts ourselves on the subject:

So much has been said about self-publishing it got me thinking, aren’t independent journals self-publishing, too? I’m defining independent journals as a periodical publication created by an individual or a team that is not associated, supported, or funded by a large publishing house, a university press, a society, and/or a small independent press. These are the important subset of journals that are created for the sole purpose of publishing their title; these are journals that are not a society member benefit (but maybe a society has formed around them); they are a stand-alone entity.

When someone decides to start an independent journal aren’t they faced with many of the same types of challenges and decisions as an individual who has written, and now is producing and promoting, his or her own book? The journal staff has to decide what the journal will look like, how they will create the production file/manage the composition, how they will distribute, and generally how they will manage their production costs versus their profits.

Sure, there are differences. For journals the distribution model can be more complex—the issue of subscriptions comes into play—but they are still faced with the question of how to get into a brick and mortar store. Both have to navigate the contracts and distribution arrangements with the bookstores and distribution companies. Both still have to battle Amazon if they so choose. Independent journals have to figure out how they will vet content and manage author agreements and compensation—when we know for self-publishing authors the content vetting wasn’t necessary and the author’s compensation depends on final sales. But in the end, time and resource management and opportunities for promotion and exposure are paramount for both to succeed.

A lot of what is written for self-publishing authors can also be applied to independent journal publishers to help with these shared key issues. If you’re thinking of starting, or are in the early stages of independent journal creation and management, I would recommend reading some of the best posts I’ve found to date that translate well to journals—not including, of course, the Sheridan posts already listed above:


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