Self-publishing SWOT

Self-publishing your first book is a project fraught with anxiety. 

Some of the information on the web is inaccurate and some of it is simply wrong.   This SWOT Chart reflects that reality.   If you aren’t familiar with SWOT charts read the SWOT Analysis page first. 

This chart will fit most, but not all, new self-publishing authors


So let’s go over this SWOT analysis quadrant by quadrant


The primary objective of a SWOT analysis is to grow this list of strengths.  What follows is an explanation of these current strengths.  All new writers bring these strengths to their fiction:

New book:  Your new book is unique. No one else has ever written a book exactly like yours.  Keep this fact in mind when the going gets tough.  

Enthusiasm:  As a newly published author, you are probably brimming with enthusiasm and bursting with pride.  This is a great strength and you have to fight to keep it at a high pitch. 


Your list of weakness at this point in time is much longer than you strengths.  Don’t let that discourage you.  This is a temporary condition.  To use an engineering term, it’s a boundary condition.  One that only applies at the beginning of the process.

Not familiar with the publishing process: Self-publishing isn’t an intuitive process.  It requires research and decision making.  At the start, you may have the information needed to make intelligent decisions and that is weakness that can be reduced or eliminated over time, especially if you can find a mentor for your first project.

Not familiar with book marketing:  Writing a book and self-publishing it do nothing to prepare an author for book marketing.  Here again, the lack of experience is a weakness, a big one.  This lack of experience presents a danger: falling prey to scammers and their “offers” to help you market your book.  This danger can be lessen by being suspicious.  Question ever offer to spend money on marketing.  Ask other authors about the “offer.”  As your marketing experience grows, so does your ability to sniff out the scammers.  With more experience, your marketing savvy will increase and so will your results. In other words, this weakness is temporary. 

Lack of social media contacts:  At the beginning of you time as an author, you are probably an unknown entity.  In other words, you can’t tell a large number of people about your book. Overcoming this weakness is essential to success and it must be worked on. Continuously.

May lack funding for publishing costs:  Self-publishing a book costs money.  You need funds for the cover and for editing.  There can be other costs associated with your project.

Not familiar with business conditions:  Once your book is published, you own a book company whether you like it or not, whether you want to or not. As the CEO of your new company, you must make decisions based on business conditions, not on your ego.  This may be a bit traumatic at first.


Having a published book presents several opportunities that can be exploited.

Develop social media contacts: A book is a great way to introduce yourself to bloggers and other folks on social media.  Some of these contacts can help you spread the world about your book.

Lectures and talks in libraries and schools:

Organizations such as libraries and schools welcome authors who will come and give a presentation or a talk.  This is especially true if the book and the talk will emphasize a topic taught in school or will appeal to the library’s clients.  These events are natural opportunities to talk about your book and increase your sales.

Book events (for print books):  Some libraries conduct book fairs and invite local authors to display and sell their books.  These are generally free to participate in. Other organizations host events that will require you to purchase a table in order to sell your books.


A newbie self-publishing author faces a number of serious threats.

Vanity press publishers:  If you explore the web, you will come across pages that show ads offering to publish your book.  Almost always these ads are for a vanity press publisher.  Vanity presses have no interest in your book.  They are only interested in the thickness of your wallet because they intend to siphon out as much money as possible.

Scammers search for newbie publishers:  Along with the vanity presses, the author has to fend off scammers.  Many of these come with slick websites and attractive offers to help publish and/or market the book. For a price.  The scammers will take the money and do little if anything to provide the promised services. 

Many authors targeting the same customers:  Thousands of books become available everyday.  Many of them cover the same non-fiction topics or fictional themes.  Readers have many choices when it comes tp selecting a book on a specific topic or theme and doesn’t bode well for an author’s book sales.

Getting overwhelmed with conflicting information and issues on book marketing:  This is a serious threat.  There are tons of books, webpages and blog posts on book marketing.  Much of it is contradictory.  Other so-called marketing sites offer generic or bland advice with no explanations on how to implement that advice.