I had a fascinating conversation today with an aspiring self-publisher. I accompanied my kindergarten classes on a field trip to a conservation area, and during the lunch break I was chatting with our tour guide, who happens to be an aspiring author. He took the guide job because he loves working with kids, and the flexible hours gave him time to work on his creative projects.

Turns out he’s writing a book. He told me enough about what he’s done already to demonstrate that he’s actually done his research, which was refreshing. He knows the marketplace, knows what niche his book would fall into, and has plans for marketing it to the target audience. He has passion, commitment and the right mindset to make it work for him. He even sees the benefit of self-publishing and going it alone.

The problem? It’s a Star Wars-themed diet book. With a sigh, he told me that unless he can get an agent, he’s out of luck with this one because the publisher who owns the book licensing rights to the Star Wars franchise has to be involved with any authorized publication. And if he does self-publish an un-authorized publication, he wouldn’t be able to profit from it.

I feel for this guy. I think he’d be perfectly willing to pay the rights-holder a share and go it alone, if that were permissible. He is not trying to deprive them of their fair due. But he’s a little daunted by the steps he’d have to go through—and with no guarantee he’d even be successful—just to reach these guys to ask for their permission. This may be one of those rare times when even the most ardent self-publishing guru would concede that he won’t do better on his own after all. Going through Big Pub is the really only way this guy can get his book out there.

What do you think he should do? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.

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"I’m a journalist, a teacher and an e-book fiend. I work as a French teacher at a K-3 private school. I use drama, music, puppets, props and all manner of tech in my job, and I love it. I enjoy moving between all the classes and having a relationship with each child in the school. Kids are hilarious, and I enjoy watching them grow and learn. My current device of choice for reading is my Amazon Kindle Touch, but I have owned or used devices by Sony, Kobo, Aluratek and others. I also read on my tablet devices using the Kindle app, and I enjoy synching between them, so that I’m always up to date no matter where I am or what I have with me."


  1. He can try to sell it to Random House/Del Rey, the current rights holder. I think that is an uphill battle, especially without a track record in publishing.

    He can give it away online…no money, but possibly fame to build towards his next release. As long as he is not disparaging the Star Wars brand, Lucasfilm has traditionally been tolerant of non-revenue generating derivative works. No idea of Disney will be as tolerant.

    Or — my personal favorite — he can create a fictional universe to go with his recipes. Have the recipe and then write the science-fictiony back story behind it. It’s a LOT more work if he JUST wants to write a cookbook…but if he is an aspiring fiction writer as well, he could have a ball with it. Commission some nice artwork from talented semi-pro artists on Deviant Art, start a web page, promote to the sci-fi blogs…again, all a lot more work for something that might only sell a handful of copies…but he will be able to say he created this free and clear.

    Do an ebook on Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Smashwords, et al and a POD book on CreateSpace so people can order the physical book (and he can sell at convetions)…

    Believe it or not, there has already been a Star Wars themed cookbook…I think it was called WookieeCookies of something similar.

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