In Memoriam: Dan Poynter

Nov 4, 2015 | Book Publishing

Dan Poynter died of cancer on Sunday at the age of 77 after a remarkable life of contributions in many areas. His first love was parachuting. You can read about his contributions and awards and patents and all that in his Wikipedia bio. You’ll also read about his books on stem cell therapy and on how to be an expert witness.

Since you’re reading this blog, my guess is that you have some interest in self-publishing. Dan was the first person I know of who had two key insights. First, he understood that people often buy niche books through niche channels. He also figured out that you can sell a lot of books through those same channels. Mainline publishers weren’t interested in those books, but you could publish one yourself and sell it profitably.

Dan took what he learned from publishing and selling parachuting books, and wrote his first Self-Publishing Manual in 1979. It’s been updated several times and it’s still the go-to book if you want to learn about self-publishing.

That’s all very impressive but I’m writing this memorial because of the kind of man Dan was, not because of his accomplishments. Dan was a friend, generous with his time and enthusiasm and encouragement. He was also a gentleman, in the highest and best meaning of that term.

The word “gentleman” is almost always preceded by “old-fashioned” these days, but that’s what Dan was. He was unfailingly gracious and polite. You could have a spirited discussion with him about almost anything and be certain you would remain friends.

I will miss all the great information and insight Dan Poynter shared, but I will miss Dan the gentleman more. We are all poorer now that he is gone.