Publishing your own book is work.
It’s not for everyone. Before you set out on the path, ask yourself a few questions. Below are my Big 14—questions that you need to ask yourself, and answer.
- Are you passionate about your topic, your book?
- Is being in control important to you?
- Is it important that your topic get published within the next 4 to 6 months?
- Do you have the time to commit to your book project?
- Do you want your covers to look a certain way?
- Is it important to have a quality looking book?
- Are you willing to make mistakes, and correct them?
- Do you have the financial resources to support your book, and you?
- Are you willing to learn from the pros and educate yourself?
- Are you persistent?
- Do you know who your buyer is?
- Do you have a niche?
- Do you want to make money?
- Are you willing to learn about the business of publishing?
Any yeses? Lots of them? The greater the number you have, the more you should publish yourself … and the more likely you will be successful.
What does it all mean?
1 – Are you passionate about your topic, your book?
Your words are you. That’s a huge investment in itself. You’ve got to love what you are creating. Really care for it. Do you? It’s like the difference between your job and your work … a job is a job, hopefully it pays the bills. But work? It’s part of your fabric, who you are. And when you love your work, passion enters the scene.
2 – Is being in control important to you?
If you want your book cover to look a certain way; the interiors to have a specific presentation style; the paper to look or feel a certain way; the fonts to be of a definite type; the editing to be done your way that allows feedback; and to make input into the marketing strategies, control is important. With traditional publishers, you become a royal pain in the tush.
3 – Is it important that your topic gets published within the next 4 to 6 months?
If your book needs to be available within the year, the odds are that it won’t happen with a traditional publisher. Normally, a book is published approximately 18 months after a publisher signs the author.
4 – Do you have the time to commit to your book project?
Creating a successful book takes time—lots of it. It’s not just the writing. It’s the book production that takes time and then all the post production marketing, which can go on for many, many months. If you want to be successful, you’ve got to become myopic at times and prioritize in favor of your book.
5 – Do you want your covers to look a certain way?
We know of few authors from the traditional publishing world that are enamored with their book covers. Cover control is like a parent withholding the family car keys from a teenager. It’s power—publishers, and their marketing departments, often have fixed ideas that are in cement when it comes to covers. I’ve wanted to put a brown wrapper on some. When I starting publishing my own books, we liked the covers. So should you.
6 – Is it important to have a quality looking book?
I have a close friend who had a book published in 2009 with a major publisher and did a visual comparison with another book published with the same publisher in 1984. The difference was amazing. The quality of the paper in the new version was thinner—it displayed the ink print on the other side; the quality of the cover in the older book—it laid flat. The newer one was already morphing open. The book that was 25 years old was in better shape than the book hot off the press. If the quality of how your book looks, feels and holds up is important, traditional publishing may not work for you.
7 – Are you willing to make mistakes, and correct them?
Every author makes mistakes. Every author turned publisher makes them. Can you forgive yourself? Can you ID where the error was generated from? Can you self-correct and redirect yourself?
8 – Do you have the financial resources to support your book, and you?
You have to decide whether you are a hobbyist or casual author publisher, or ready to dive in and publish-publish. As a hobbyist, you will go the print-on- demand (POD) route for minimal moneys ($500 to $1500). But, as a serious author-publisher, you must be ready to invest several thousand dollars. Editors, designers and printers all add up. However, if you are successful, you can make an excellent return. It all goes back to passion, time, commitment, strategy and marketing.
9 – Are you willing to learn from the pros and educate yourself?
You need to develop publishing smarts. There are plenty of books and workshops out there to help you fast-forward your learning curve. The more you learn, the fewer mistakes you will make. I come across self and independent publishers every day who have kissed off thousands of dollars by failing to educate themselves. This project is part of the investment: becoming publishing smart and getting involved.
The classic books include:
AuthorYOU: Creating and Building Your Author and Book Platforms by Judith Briles
How to Avoid 101 Book Publishing Blunders, Bloopers & BooBoos by Judith Briles
1001 Ways to Market Your Book by John Kremer
How to Make Real Money Selling Books by Brian Jud
APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur by Guy Kawasaki
Join groups such as:
For marketing, John Kremer hits a homerun with his Ten Million Eyeballs; follow my blog here and do join the Facebook group: Book Publishing with The Book Shepherd. Subscribe to Brian Jud’s Book Marketing Matters at www.BookMarketingWorks.com.
The bottom line: don’t jump in without understanding what the process is all about. Otherwise, you will kiss off a lot of money correcting mistakes before getting it right.
10 – Are you persistent?
Every successful author and publisher has “persistent” as their middle name. You must become a promoter and sales agent for your book. That requires multiple follow-ups to any leads you have … and constantly getting new ones.
It’s drilling down to aggressively finding and then going to your buyer. Self and Independent publishing can get your book to the market three times faster than the traditional publisher. In this way, you get a quick start out of the gate; but it doesn’t stop there—now, you’ve got to keep moving.
11 – Do you know who your buyer is?
The most common error we see authors-turned-publishers do is that they believe that their books are for the general masses. No, they are not. The most successful authors and publishers know who their buyer is—you may have a terrific idea for a romance series—but did you know that not all women like romance novels? And okay the ones that do may not like graphic sex scenes—they prefer just a hint? Or that some like the Jane Austen formula while others think it’s bloody boring? Yes, women are the market, but which of the markets within the market?
12 – Do you have a niche?
The more you niche within the target segment, the greater your success can become. I published a book called Woman to Woman: From Sabotage to Support in the 80s. It was for the working woman—and there are lots of them. When I spoke for a community group of women in NY in the early 90s, several nurse executives heard me and encouraged me to focus on healthcare—lots of women still, just a narrower group than all working women. After multiple studies, drilling down within the healthcare market, another book exclusively for healthcare was published. That was more than a decade ago. To date, three additional books have been published dealing with conflict resolution within the female dominated nursing workplace. Each book has been successful with multiple printings.
The moral: If you drill down within a group—your group—write and publish for it. You can be the big fish. It’s better to be the whale in the pond vs. the sardine in the ocean.
13 – Do you want to make money?
Traditional publishers pay 6 to 9 percent on trade paper books and anywhere from 10 to 15 percent on hardback books. Some pay on the retail sales price; most now pay on the net money received. It’s not really a good deal unless you have a runaway best-seller. If you target and niche your markets, it’s not uncommon to be able to sell at a 95 percent of the retail price with a worst case, 55 percent which is the wholesale discount. In publishing, number- crunching needs to be done. If you want to make money, independent publishing is your route; expect some zig zags along the way. And, you need a plan—your marketing plan—to make your publishing a success.
14 – Are you willing to learn about the business of publishing
Authors are creative; it takes plenty of imaginative juice to write a book. It’s equally important once published to now direct that creative juice to the business side. As an independent publisher, you are now running a business. You are the decision maker for marketing plans, printing, fulfillment and inventory control. You can hire people to handle it for you, but you need to know what they are doing in the first place. If you don’t, there will be trouble.
The self and independent publishing markets are growing substantially within the book world—sales are now in the mega billions. In gross revenues, traditional publishing still outsells the independent market, but their sales are on a decline. Because of the ability of the independent publisher to get a quality book published within a shorter period of time, opportunities abound—opportunities that traditional publishers can’t respond to.
It’s time to eliminate the mumbo-jumbo that small publishers run into and suffer from along with introducing a realistic and reasonable approach to publishing today.
Creating a book—and a publishing company—is a huge investment of your time
… and your money. HUGE. My personal goal is for you to come away with a variety of ideas that will enhance your authorship and publishing journey and reduce the amount of money that you would normally spend to complete it.