Writers On Writing / Busting self-publishing myths with Joel Naoum


We chatted to book publisher, editor and consultant Joel Naoum, ahead of his course Online: Self Publish Your Book,  starting 7 September, on what inspired his career in books, myths about self-publishing and what he’s reading at the moment.


What inspired you to pursue a career in books?

I was always a big reader and fascinated with books, but I think my grown-up interest in the publishing industry came from my mum. She was lucky enough to be published by one of the big publishers in the early 2000s and I went along with her to a Sydney Writers Festival and sat down at a table with a bunch of my favourite authors and I thought, “This is amazing!” But the weird thing was I found myself more interested in talking to the other people at the table – book publishers, editors, publicists and general publishing people. The people have continued to be the reason that I like this industry and even aside from the books (which are pretty great) you won’t find a finer group of people than book people.

What are some myths about self-publishing that need to be busted?

There are a few, but like with all advice in publishing there are several caveats! I think the biggest myths are that people who self-publish are just publishing out of vanity or it would be impossible to get published any other way. I personally know of many authors who publish partially with traditional publishers and partially on their own, and others who made the decision to pursue indie publishing and leave their publishers behind. That doesn’t mean it’s always the right choice, but it’s definitely a valid one for some writers.

The other myth that gets my goat a bit isn’t really about self-publishing per se, but it’s related. And that’s the myth of the shrinking ebook market. A lot of traditional media outlets and traditional publishers have talked about this over the past few years, and while it’s certainly true that the ebook market has contracted (or plateaued) for traditional publishers that is not the case in the indie publishing world. The world of indie publishing is extremely dynamic, fascinating and growing all the time – it’s just a bit invisible to the traditional book world.

What are you reading at the moment?

A few different things on the go at once. I’ve just started (and am loving) Miranda Tapsell’s memoir, Top End Girl, which comes out at the end of April. I’m also deep into Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter, which I started right after finishing his latest book, Recursion, which was also fantastic.

Joel Naoum is a Sydney-based book publisher, bookseller, editor and consultant. He is currently the non-fiction category manager at Booktopia and runs Critical Mass, a publishing consultancy. Joel previously ran Pan Macmillan Australia’s digital-first imprint Momentum Books. He is the chair of the board of Writing NSW and in 2011 he completed the Unwin Trust Fellowship researching digital publishing experimentation in the United Kingdom.

Join Joel Naoum for his course Online: Self Publish Your Book, starting 7 September. Enrol here>>

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