Four Reasons to Publish a Book (And Why it Matters) by Bob Baker

In a previous column I covered five reasons to “self-publish” a book. This month I’d like to examine a more basic premise: the underlying reasons people want to become authors and publish a book ? any book via any method ? in the first place. In other words, what are the motivating factors that drive people to transform their ideas and words into a tangible form?

I’ve narrowed the reasons down to four. Understanding these factors will help you appreciate your role as an author, know where you fit in, and enable you to invest your time, money and energy where they will be most effective.

1) For Yourself

I believe the most basic motivation to publish a book is self-serving. But I don’t mean that in a bad way. When you have worked hard to write, edit, design and print a book, it feels fantastic to hold the finished product in your hands. It creates an incredible sensation of accomplishment and satisfaction in taking an idea and seeing it through to completion. This primary benefit of producing a book comes from within. You’re now a published author … and it feels good!

2) For Recognition or Credibility

This second reason to publish a book also makes you feel good, only the source of your joy comes from outside of yourself. People recognize and congratulate you for being an author. You see your pride and joy sitting on a bookstore shelf or listed on Amazon. People do more business with you because you are a published author in your field. You are quoted in a newspaper article as the author of your title. A group invites you to speak because you have written a book of interest to its members. The world has recognized you as a published author … and this too makes you feel good.

3) For the Benefit of Others

This is where things get interesting. Once you enjoy a sense of satisfaction that comes from both internal and external sources, an evolution may begin to take place. As you get feedback from readers and fans, you realize that your words (whether they are fact or fiction) are having a positive impact on people. Your book delivers a benefit to the people who read it.

Sometimes, this third reason is at work simultaneously with the first two, but often it comes later. It may take a while to understand that you inform, inspire or entertain readers with your words … and contribute something of value to their lives. This shift in thinking motivates many authors to focus more on what others get out of their books and less on what they get out of it themselves. This sense of giving can also make you feel good.

4) For Money

Obviously, many authors think about this aspect from the get-go. And there’s nothing wrong with that. If you’ve taken the steps to write and produce a book, and you’re being recognized as an author and delivering value to readers … you have every right to want to prosper from your efforts ? or at least break even and maybe have a little spending money left over.

Or perhaps you dream of writing a blockbuster bestseller and living off the royalties for the rest of your days. By all means, dream big. But just know that creating an immensely popular book involves connecting with an audience and taking a lot of steps that are not required to enjoy the benefits of reasons 1 through 3.

Understanding Where You Fit In

I list these four reasons to help you determine your priorities and be at peace with your role in the publishing process. If your main motivation to become an author is “for yourself,” then all you have to concern yourself with are the writing, editing, designing and printing aspects ? and the good feelings that come with being a published author.

If you want to write a book “for recognition” or “for the benefit of others,” then be prepared to spend time and energy on marketing and creating awareness. If you’re motivated to publish “for money,” then on top of everything else mentioned above, know that you’ll also have to focus on making sales.

It’s important to understand that you can publish a book, feel good about it and enrich the lives of others without a lot of sales and profits involved. Heck, you could even give away your book to the people most likely to benefit from it and still accomplish reasons 1 through 3. But if making money looms large on your radar screen, just know that it’ll take several more steps to reach that goal.

There are no right or wrong answers here. It’s all about determining what you want to accomplish with your book … and then being realistic and effective in turning your book publishing desires into reality.

About Bob Baker

Bob Baker is the author of “Unleash the Artist Within,” “Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook” and “Branding Yourself Online.” Get FREE access to Bob’s collection of inspiring articles for writers, authors and book publishers at and visit for more info on his books.

(This column first appeared in the St. Louis Publisher’s Association newsletter.)