Self-Publishing vs Working with a Firm

Date Published: December 18, 2018

Publishing an analyst report through a firm means you enjoy the benefits of trading on someone else’s banner and there are varying amounts of support available that range from simple editing and layout to research support and analytics to coaching and management support.  And yes, there is the marketing and sales process including media outreach, access to email databases and account development to consider.

But at what cost to the person actually adding the value?  What if I were to tell you that, depending on the deal, some writers are getting as little as 25% of the NET revenue for publishing a report through a third party?  Would that cause you to reconsider this type of arrangement?

And even better is that your work is not your own.  Copyright is owned by the publisher so not only are they taking the biggest chunk of the money, they get your work.

Think about it for a moment.   You do the hard work, provide the actual value and walk away with a fraction of the money and you leave the work behind.  And how much effort is going into promoting your personal brand?


Now, this isn’t to disparage the benefits of publishers as they can offer a writer benefits that are not easily obtained but once you realize that there are ways to replace the services that they offer their attractiveness wanes.


Product development: Develop your topic with description, TOC, objectives. And who are you and what is it that makes you worth buying.  This is where the lack of analyst brand comes into play.  You have to be sold to the market.

Crowd funding: Select companies capable of committing to projects in exchange for pricing concessions and research shaping.  (Note that does not mean one trades objectivity for cash). Their funding launches your project and funds your product development.  Your financing threshold shouldn’t require more than 3 commitments and $10,000.

Research: Comprehensive research and market outreach process making sure that marketing the report is part of your objective along with connecting with anyone and everyone you can.  The engagement process will boost revenue potential.  Need a list though.

Quality control: The good news is that there a ton of editors out there who can support your efforts for reasonable money.  Yes, you have to be able to write properly but an editor takes you to another level.   Expect to pay up to $1,000 for 100 pages but the output is worth it.  Negotiate a press release or content bits as well.  You should also be willing to obtain a reviewer to act as an unbiased third party to challenge your processes, perspectives and assumptions.

Media: Media is an important element as well. A decent press list takes a few hours to develop and connect with.  A fact sheet about the report and what you are working on is a good place to begin and a willingness to share to details with reporters and editors generates results.  And befriending outlets and people with large audiences boosts your marketing potential. And your press release (which I address in a bit) will serve as a means of being picked up

Marketing list: This is an area where you can expect to encounter some expense and time investment.  Lists are crucial to your marketing process.  Yes, media outreach gives you exposure but in today’s age people need multiple opportunities to see something.  Be prepared to spend some money building a contact list (or obtaining another’s list) if you are going to adequately research and promote a report.

Content marketing: An effective content marketing strategy entails a well written press release, a fact sheet about your report and your observations distilled into key talking points that you feel provides real value to the market. From this additional social media oriented items can be developed.  There are sites for you to share content beyond tweeting you release to your likely limited amounts of followers.

Follow up: The sales process for people can be a bit daunting or at least awkward for some.  Simplest way forward is email marketing with sending content from the report to people that you engaged with during research and anyone else you ran into along the way.  The offer to talk over findings if there is interest is another option.  But for the extroverts, I think that calling people to ask for a sales is fine but finesse matters.

Events: While webinars are far too frequent today I think that they can be useful tools to market reports and establish your brand.  However, without a firm you are left to do this on your own and that isn’t likely going to get you as far.  Partnering with a third party makes sense here.

Following: This is a long term process but a critical issue in marketing and selling knowledge based products and services.  You need people to follow you in some capacity.  It makes the marketing process far simpler and effective it improves your overall practice.  Establishing takes time though.

Sales channels: There are resellers who can load your reports into their collections.  I would not expect much to come out of this though since their clients prefer to work with brands and brands take time to build.  They also want volume so the odd report here and there isn’t likely to garner much attention but this can be mitigated in some cases

In additional to the editorial support there are resources out there to help you market and sell your report, build your brand and improve your research process.  The benefit is that you can put more time into your research and product development and less time into business development.  Yes, it will cost you but still less than the publisher will charge and you still get to keep the work.

Obviously there is a lot more to this process than I laid out above but hopefully one can see that there are options to publishing reports and monetizing knowledge beyond firms looking to outsource reports.

Risky?  Most certainly but to borrow a phrase, Qui audet adipiscitur

Who Dares Wins