The death of Dan Poynter touched a lot of people in the self-publishing world. Below is an article/obituary from Publishers Weekly about Dan, and comments from many people who contacted us and wanted to share their feelings about him.
Obituary: Dan Poynter
By Calvin Reid
Nov. 5, 2015
Dan Poynter, author and self-publishing pioneer, died on Tuesday after a long illness. He was 77.
Well known in the book business for his 1979 work The Self-Publishing Manual, Poynter was one the earliest advocates of quality self-publishing. He produced scores of books, seminars, reports and articles on the subject long before digital technology transformed it into an easy-to-adopt option for authors.
After beginning his career in the aviation industry as a parachute-designer, Poynter stumbled into the publishing business. When he went looking for a book on the then-emerging sport of hang gliding and couldn’t find one, he decided to publish his own book on the subject. That effort led him to write his groundbreaking title on self-publishing.
Poynter founded Para Publishing in 1969. The company focused on technical books and manuals about sky-diving and parachute design. The house’s list eventually expanded to include books on a variety of topics, including self-publishing and writing. Although Para Publishing grew to include multiple staffers, Poynter often described the business as “the world’s largest one-man publishing company.” In 1986 he launched the newsletter Publishing Poynters and subsequently wrote more than 100 books on writing and publishing.
He was a founding member of the Publishers Marketing Association (now called the Independent Book Publishers Association) and in 1992 that organization awarded him its Benjamin Franklin Person of the Year Award for Lifetime Achievement. Poynter received numerous other awards for his work in publishing. He also received honors for his passion: skydiving. (He was inducted into the National Skydiving Museum Hall of Fame.)
Poynter has been hailed a visionary and mentor by a new generation of digital publishers. A number of these digital publishers, including Smashwords’s founder Mark Coker and the Independent Book Publishers Association, have posted tributes to Poynter in the wake of his death.
I just heard the news that Dan Poynter passed away over the weekend. Like many other authors, I found his Self-Publishing Manual to be invaluable. It helped guide me through the self-publishing process. And knowing how the book business works also helped me when I sold other books to commercial companies.
Dan used to call himself “Mr. Self-Publishing,” and although it is not clear who popularized self-publishing first—Poynter or Tom and Marilyn Ross—he certainly was one of the rare individuals who left a strong legacy. I did not always agree with everything he said and did (especially encouraging everyone, including people who had no business self-publishing, to take the plunge), but I will always appreciate his generosity.
William A. Gordon
Publisher, North Ridge Books
Editor, “Gordon’s Radio List”
Rancho Mirage, CA
Today we have word that Dan Poynter passed away this weekend. My heart is so heavy. I met Dan in 2000, it was like meeting a rock star. He was such a great, personable force of nature. Always on the move. Always thinking about how we could each achieve our publishing dreams. He helped push me from a self-publisher, toward becoming a traditional publisher, then a distributor.
But the time I spent with him that I recall most fondly was when he was in Reno for a parachuting convention. THOSE were his real people. THAT was his real passion. He took me all over the convention floor, introducing me to folks, explaining what this and that was for. Did you know he taught himself to sew so he could create his own parachutes (Para Publishing came about because there were no good books on parachuting as a hobby)?
He dies the godfather of thousands of books, the force that pushed people to take the final step to publishing.
Damn, I’ll miss you, Dan Poynter!
Beagle Bay, Inc.
Book Shepherd and Publishing Services
Dan Poynter Self-Publishing Pioneer Dies
By Lee Foster
A truly great and original pioneer in American thought and commerce, focused on publishing, died on November 1. His name was Dan Poynter. His name might only be known in publishing circles, where he was a leading advocate for decades for a practice that was once obscure and derided, but is now mainstream: an author self-publishing his or her books.
Dan Poynter had the vision, which was so American, to be an entrepreneur and take charge of his product, which in this case was the publishing of books. He had the vision in the era before technology caught up with him and said, “Yes, Dan. You were right all along. Now we’ll make it easy for everyone.”
I have known Dan for decades, and somewhere in my condo in Berkeley is my dog-eared copy of his inspiring book The Self-Publishing Manual. My last encounter with him was at Mike Larsen’s February San Francisco Writer’s Conference. We were both presenters. I came in on Friday to give my first of three panel talks. I knew that Dan gave his main talk on Thursday. We met in the lobby at the Mark Hopkins for breakfast and a cup of coffee. His manner was a bit subdued. Maybe the cancer that killed him was already asserting himself.
Dan also fell off a ladder and sustained severe injuries, which contributed to his health stresses. But Dan lived a long and full life, and accomplished much. It is helpful to pause for a moment to salute, as they die, the pioneers who created our self-publishing path and moved it forward. Then we should return to our daily tasks to advance the visions they made possible, and do our best to present our content creations to a worldwide audience, within structures that we control.
Dan Poynter would have wanted us to do this. Our success is his most enduring legacy.
I can’t tell you how much I learned from Dan Poynter. I will remember the day he invited me to speak on book publicity in the late 1990s at his writing and publishing workshops at his house, perched on the cliffs overlooking the ocean in Goleta, California, as one of the finest days of my career.
I can tell you that he was a generous, knowledgeable and spirited teacher. He also had a wry sense of ironic humor.
One of the most memorable things he said to people was that bookstores are terrible places to sell books.
Another is that you can and should diversify your intellectual property lines and create and sell what you write every way possible.
For those of you who want to take a journey back in time to get a hefty taste of his numerous gems of book publishing wisdom, here’s a link to a free handout on his ParaPublishing website containing a hand selected set of Dan’s own best quotes: parapublishingarticle.
I’ll miss you Dan. You carved an amazing path, made your mark, and helped more people become authors and publishers than any of us can ever imagine.
Paul J. Krupin
Search Word Pro & Direct Contact PR
DirectContactPR.com, and SearchWordPro.com.