Self-publishing, amateur radio and what it means for RSGB, ARRL etc

Over on Twitter, this week, my pal Rachael Lucas, who has recently self-published an amazing successful first novel, drew my attention to some ‘interesting comments’ from the established publishing industry about self-publishing. Let’s just say, the comments weren’t encouraging. They reminded me of music company executives who hadn’t worked out how downloads would revolutionise their industry.

I’d casually wondered about self-publishing before, but I decided to look into what you needed to do to publish your own book. It turns out remarkably simple to get your eBook content onto Amazon. Clearly, you need to write something compelling and to be able to market it. Social Media is your friend, after all.

What does this mean for amateur radio publications? Well, if you’ve an idea and you want to put an eBook together, it’s simple! What does it mean for established publishers such as RSGB and ARRL? Time will tell, but I’d guess they will get squeezed as we see a shift towards self-publishing. That should mean that the breadth of titles available increases – up until now, ARRL/RSGB would presumably only commission titles that were reasonably mainstream. With subject matter experts able to self-publish, it would be good to feel that a wider and more esoteric range is available ( though sales may not be that high!).

For ARRL/RSGB who have traditionally made some money out of publishing, this represents an opportunity (or a threat, depending on your standpoint).

And yes, I have some ideas – I just have to find time to apply brain to keyboard.

Tim Kirby, G4VXE, is a regular contributor to and writes from Oxfordshire, England. Contact him at [email protected].

4 Responses to “Self-publishing, amateur radio and what it means for RSGB, ARRL etc”

  • W3FIS:

    Consider writing for some of the on-line journals like “The K9YA Telegraph” to get your feet wet.

  • I don’t think self-published eBook are going to put a significant squeeze on ARRL. It would be too difficult to put together something of the size and quality of the Handbook, the Antenna compendiums, and several other of their main titles. If anything I think self-published eBooks will focus on smaller more limited topics, like just QRP or microcontrollers, but will probably not replace ARRL books on these same topics.

    As far as self-publishing, this site is an example of that! 🙂

  • Scott W9VHE:

    Sounds like a good process to use if you can get the rights to out-of-print books,self publish them yourself. Plenty of those out there, especially the QRP books as mentioned above.

  • Stu WØSTU:

    I have self-published two study guides for FCC licensing in the past year:
    – Technician License Course
    – General License Course

    Each book is 6×9″ format and covers all question pool content for each of those two license classes with simple explanations and tons of graphics. The books highlights specific question content and language within a framework of real explanation that helps to sidestep “brainless memorization” in favor of true comprehension of amateur radio. It’s a friendlier read than the ARRL study guides as well.

    I found it relatively easy to self-publish, and I enjoyed having complete creative control over the projects. I market these books on Amazon, on the web site, and via a growing number of retail distributors. I think self-publishing is particularly attractive for the amateur radio community, and I plan to continue.

    Interesting piece. Thanks.

    Stu WØSTU

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