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Why I self-publish

August 25, 2011

We are less than two weeks away from the release of the re-written (and with 50% new content) second edition of Building a Discipling Culture: How to launch a missional movement by making disciples like Jesus did. The official release date is September 6.

As we’re moving towards that date, I thought it’d be fun to explain a few reasons why I self-publish. Publishing is a tricky thing these days, isn’t? With ereaders and the democratization of ideas via the internet, the publishing industry is left in quite the quandary and authors are in the middle of it. Now I’ve had a number of great experiences with Christian publishers and I really want to honor and be appreciative of what they do. In fact, for one of our next books, we are looking at working with a publisher and go for mass distribution as it will serve as an introductory book to much of what we do/think when it comes to discipleship.

But for today, I thought we could look at why we’ve chosen to self-publish. As with all things, there is nuance to decisions and there are drawbacks for any decision, but this is why we’ve gone with self-publishing:

  1. I can say what I think needs to be said in the way I want to say it. Editing is a tricky thing. Up to a certain point, it’s extraordinarily helpful. But sometimes I wonder if we spend a bit too much time thinking about our “target audience” to the point that we change what we’re trying to communicate in an effort to connect with them. What I’ve enjoyed about self-publishing is I’m able to work with fantastic editors, but in the end, I get to make the call about the content I’m trying to develop and the style I want to fashion.
  2. Texture is really important to me. We have three core content books that we’ve released. One is a standard paperback. But the other two I had a very specific vision for in how I wanted it to look and feel. For instance, I wanted our Launching Missional Communities: A Field Guide book to actually feel like a field guide. I wanted it to be big enough that two people could get around it at a coffee shop and go through, work with it, answer the questions we’ve provided, etc. In other words, the content and the layout weren’t done in a vacuum. Because of the financial straits many publishing companies find themselves in, I’m not sure this vision could have been realized apart from self-publishing.
  3. Ebooks are the great democratizer. As soon as you take paper, oil, distribution and printing costs out, book publishing suddenly became a lot more accessible. There has never been a better opportunity for people who want to go the self-published route.
  4. More profit = cheaper training. My guiding philosophy about books in the space of discipleship and mission I inhabit is that they are always meant to be supplementary. In other words, while resources like this are incredibly helpful, the best way to understand and learn to do discipleship mission is to go out and be trained in how to do it. For 3DM, that’s why Learning Communities are so essential. Making wider profit margins by self-publishing has allowed us to drive down the price of our communities by a staggering amount, making it far more accessible. With traditional publishers, we wouldn’t be able to see a profit margin that would allow us to do that.
So there you have it! Four quick reasons for why we self-publish. There are more, but those were the ones that popped into my head this morning. In the mean time, September 6 is right around the corner and ebooks are coming. 😉
16 Comments leave one →
  1. August 25, 2011 2:53 pm

    do you have this book in paper copy too? Sounds like a great read!

    • August 26, 2011 7:46 pm

      We’ll have it in paperback in the next 6 weeks!

      • January 30, 2012 6:00 pm

        Ok, so where does one buy it? We are an ACNA plant up in Greenville, SC. I believe you know a mutual friend, Rich Butler…
        I don’t do electronic stuff…don’t know why I just can’t read it…but I am a bookaholic…so VERY interested in the paperback.

      • January 31, 2012 2:07 pm

        Check out our website:

  2. August 25, 2011 5:17 pm

    Wonder if there are any spiritual parallels to be learned here…

  3. August 25, 2011 5:35 pm

    Thank you for continuing to go first in the creativity and ingenuity it takes to build and move this missional movement. The resons you give above, although seemingly practical, are at a deeper level so loving to the people of God.

  4. August 25, 2011 6:18 pm

    Who do you self-publish with? Could you do a post on what you have learned along the way?

    • August 26, 2011 7:45 pm

      We have developed a system of self-publishing where we keep certain pieces of it in house, export some things out of house (like proofreading and come copywriting, layout) and then print through a local printer.

  5. Aaron permalink
    August 25, 2011 6:46 pm

    Hey Mike. Can’t wait to read it! When will Covenant and Kingdom be available again?

    • August 26, 2011 7:44 pm

      C+K ebooks will be avaiable on Sept 6. The hard copy will be back in stock at the end of the month.

  6. Aaron permalink
    August 25, 2011 6:53 pm

    Hey Mike,

    Can’t wait for the new edition! When will Covenant and Kingdom be available again?

  7. August 26, 2011 12:55 am

    Been waiting for the ebooks from 3dm since We first partnered with you guys. Thanks for making this available!

  8. August 26, 2011 10:38 am

    Mike, can you recommend a group through which one can self-publish?

  9. August 26, 2011 9:00 pm

    Thanks Mike for the insights. I will be finish writing my book on equipping parents this fall. And I have been pondering this question.

  10. September 5, 2011 7:23 pm

    Yes, but WHERE can we buy them from? I can’t find an affordable bookstore for any of your material… help?

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