Sunday, August 5, 2012

How an MBA Degree Could Help Self-Publishers by Amanda Watson

(c) Shiladsen on Flickr Commons

The Business Side of Things—Things an MBA Degree Can Teach Self-Publishers

The world of self-publishing has been growing for some time now. With the growth of the e-book industry on online publishing forums, more and more authors are seeking self-publishing or independent publishes avenues. This is an exciting trend for authors. With self-publishing comes full creative control. But, of course, with full creative control, come full business control as well. While self-publishing can be a wonderful and exciting option for many different types of authors, some aspects of the "big" publishers' world will have to play a role in personal publishing. While there are many tools and resources for self-publishing success online and elsewhere, authors can benefit from some business know-how throughout the process. For help with the business-related areas of self-publishing, look to these aspects of an MBA degree education. Of course, not all self-publishers should obtain an MBA degree, but knowledge of some of the basics of a business education can be extremely useful.

Profitable Business Model
One of the most fundamental elements of an MBA education is the idea of a business model. Students take the time to learn what a business model is and how to develop a strong business model for every venture in order to be profitable. The concept of a business model can play a very important role in the world of self-publishing. Self-publishing authors should create for themselves a model of what their "business" will look like, where money will go in, and how it will profit. In most cases, authors are looking for financial success in some way or another as well as monetary success with their self-published work. Creating a business model to better structure your efforts as a self-publisher is important. This model should describe the rationale for how an author will create, deliver, and capture value through their work both economically and socially. The goal of this model is to define how a self-publisher is going to deliver to customers, entice customers to pay, and then convert that payment into a profit. This basic outline can play a very important role in the overall structure and success of a self-publishing venture.

Self-Promotion and Marketing
One of the areas that self-publishers can possibly gain the most help from in the business education world is marketing and promotion. The MBA degree delves closely into the general concept of marketing and more specific strategies for marketing success. Because self-publishers are not backed by a major "label" name that can drive their published works to the public eye, authors must do the promotions themselves. This can be extremely difficult as a little-known author without big platforms for public recognition. Take the time to build a marketing plan. Self-publishing means self-promotion. As a self-publishing author, you will have to create strategies for marketing your work to a targeted and broad audience. Specific knowledge in the areas of business administration and business can be extremely useful.

The Finances
As writers and authors the financial aspect of much of the publishing business is not only foreign to us, but is also somewhat undesirable. While of course we would like to earn a profit from our hard work, we also don't want to feel that we are writing for the sake of money. Thinking about the financial aspects of self-publishing can be not only disheartening, but also very confusing. Within an MBA program students spend a significant amount of time learning about finances, accounting, and economics. These courses can aid self-publishers in gaining a better understanding of the financial aspects of publishing and, in turn, gain more control of those aspects. Creating a careful financial plan is very important to finding long term success as a self-publishing individual.

Oscar Leeper and Ryan Black, two MBA students of Portland State University, used their business education to work with independent publisher, Bonanza Publishing, to create a more successful enterprise. Their final capstone project was focused around consulting with the small publisher to create a successful marketing plan for Steber and his over 30 independently published books. Take a look at Leeper and Black's project to get a stronger idea of how MBA knowledge can benefit independent and self-publishers.

Amanda Watson is an experienced freelancer blogger who covers web-based businesses and higher education. She writes about the latest online mba news and current trends among online entrepreneurs. You can reach Amanda at


  1. Great article. One of the reasons why I enjoy self-publishing so much is because the business side of things appeals to me. I don't have an MBA (I wish!), but I do have a less-impressive business degree, and I definitely learned things in college that are very useful to me now. :)

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