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When should you give away a book - and why?

There are really three types of giveaways in my mind - and each has a different purpose:  

* Thank you give-aways to people who helped you with your book - there are usually less than a dozen of these, often people who you mention in your acknowledgements - but it is a great way to appreciate those who have helped in some way. They become good cheerleaders for you and we all know that personal referral does sell books.

* Review copy give-aways to people who you are asking to do reviews, provide interviews, or write articles about you, your expertise or your book. When these are well-placed and followed up on, they are "gold" to your book sales.

* Contests and other promotional give-aways - these are often in conjunction with an appearance, a radio interview, for raffles to your key audiences, for charity events where your likely readers could be in attendance and so forth. These have mixed results depending upon the other promotion around them and how targeted the audience is for your genre.

I tell my clients to plan about 5% of your total anticipated first years sales to various types of give-aways.

 

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How to Write and Publish the Perfect Book

When it comes to publishing, there is a certain recipe for success. And while nothing is guaranteed, there are significant activities which must happen in order for your book to have a chance at success. I often speak of promotion, websites, and gathering a social media footprint. Today we’re taking a look at the equally important back-end issues. Now, I can’t guarantee if you follow this that you’ll come out leading the charge with the most perfect book, but you’ll certainly be close. Writers never intentionally write a bad book, or a book that’s not marketable. We do our best, and we often hope for the best. But in a world full of clutter, you have to do more than that. You have to step out to succeed, and you have to learn the ropes of your market and the publishing industry. Here are 11 points for you to consider:

1) How big is the market for your book? Before you launch headlong into a campaign or even write your book, be sure you know the market for it really well. Often, I find that authors don’t take the time to study their market. This is important because you need to know first and foremost if there is a market for your book. I know this might sound odd, but hear me out. Some years back I worked as a literary agent and was being pitched by this super-talented author. He’d written a book on why good men fall for bad or mean women. He was proud of this book, saying there was no other book like it on the market and further, that he’d written it for men. There are two problems with this:

First, that there is no other book like it on the market. If there isn’t a book like it on the market, there might be a reason why. It’s not that there are no new ideas, but most of the models that work consist of books that fit a certain, existing market. Second problem: a self-help book written for men. No offense guys, but women buy 97% of all self-help out there. If you’re writing a good book with a great topic but for the wrong audience, that’s a problem. Know the market.

Go to bookstores and talk to booksellers, they can be the best source of information for you. Ask them if they have a book on your topic and then have them point you in the direction of where those books are shelved so you can see for yourself what the competitive space looks like. If there isn’t a book on your topic, see if you can find out why. Ask a professional you trust. This could be your bookseller, or it could be a marketing professional. You’ll save yourself thousands of dollars by doing this. Regarding my talented author with a book written for the wrong market, once we repositioned him it was fine. It took little effort but saved him countless hours, dollars, and frustration.

2) What will you call it? When we worked with author Marci Shimoff, she told us that she spent two long weeks agonizing over the title of her book: Happy for No Reason. Marci was featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul, The Secret, and had done extensive speaking events worldwide. Why would she agonize over the title of a book? Because the title (and the cover) are the most important elements of your book. People will judge a book by its cover and title, you can be certain of that. If you’re debating on a title, or even if you’ve settled on one, do not take chances. Find a professional who can give you important feedback. If a title is unappealing, too confusing, or too tied to branding that isn’t clear or benefit-driven, you could lose sales. Remember: the title of your book isn’t for you; it’s for your reader. Make it matter to them.

3) Don’t fall in love with your own ideas. This is a big one. It’s great to love your work; in fact, you should love it. You should be passionate about it. But don’t love it so much that you aren’t open to feedback. Feedback is critical to any successful book launch campaign. Further, if you aren’t open to feedback, you might miss some advice that could save your book and you from spending thousands of dollars pushing something that isn’t quite ready for the mainstream - or worse, a book that’s missed its mark only slightly. Be open to feedback and then seek that feedback from professionals you trust and respect.

4) Do you know how to compete with major publishers? If you’re self-publishing your book, or even trying to find a major NY publisher for your book, why would this matter? Because, as much as some folks like to say that NY publishers are doing it wrong, they are still the driving force behind the industry. Knowing when they typically release a majority of their titles and what their strengths and weaknesses are is important. Why? Because you need to understand what the competitive landscape looks like. It’s important to note, for example, that major publishers don’t generally publish to the niches. Why is that? Because they are focused (and must focus) on bigger areas: celebrity titles, trends, etc. Even the things (like the Snooki book) that might turn our stomachs. In an upcoming piece, I will spend some time discussing how NY Publishers work, as well as how you might compete with some of these giants.

5) What’s the "look" of your work? I’m speaking specifically about branding and book cover design. I would never trust my book cover to anyone less than a professional designer. Why? Because there are certain things you don’t want to leave to chance. This is another reason why you don’t want to get too close to your work. You might love a book cover that’s totally wrong for your book. Now, don’t misunderstand me. You should love your final cover, absolutely. But don’t love something that many professionals advise against. This could mean trouble. Further, you should do your research. Look at other covers; see what appeals to you and what does not. Make sure the cover is simple and powerful in design. If you have a brand aligned with your business, make sure there’s a synergy between them. Also, your cover shouldn’t be too complicated. If you have to explain the cover (or book title) you need to keep searching for a simpler message. Remember: you aren’t going to be able to be everywhere and speak to every consumer interested in your book about what the cover or title means. It should pique their interest without confusing them.

6) What other titles are competing with you? Knowing your competitive space is not only important, it’s mandatory. As I mentioned in #1, you want to identify your market and know that there’s an audience for your book. Once you do, however, you’ll want to get to know that market even better. You should read most (if not all) of the top books in your category (to the degree that time allows, of course). You should know the authors who write them and if possible, network with them via email, their blogs or (if you’re lucky) in person. Why is this crucial? Two reasons: The first is that you want to know what other titles are out there because your book needs to somehow align with the market. Also, what happens if you do research and find that there’s another book exactly like yours? Glad you found out now, aren’t you? Now you can change your book slightly to support a similar, but unique, message. Second, networking with other like-minded authors is always a win-win. It’s great if you can get to know them, share information, helpful tips, maybe even some upcoming networking events. Knowing your "neighbors" in publishing is never a wasted effort.

7) Who is your target audience and how will you reach them? Who are you writing for? Who is your audience? If you aren’t sure, now is the time to find out. Specifically, you want to make sure there’s an audience for your book and you want to know how to reach them. By reaching them I mean selling to them. If you’re unsure, a professional can help you identify this. The reason you want to do this early on is so that if needed, you can incorporate elements into your book that matter to your reader and make it more appealing to your audience. Identifying your target market and how you will access them is important because this could help you align with them before your book comes out. Let’s say that your audience is heavily into associations. This could be a great outlet for you to market to and even, if you’re so inclined, to position yourself as a speaker. If you’ve written fiction, this is important as well. Key associations in your market can be very helpful to your success both through promotion and networking. Authors have a tendency to isolate themselves. Yes, I know this is a stereotypical way of describing an author, but let’s face it, between writing, research, and promotion we’re clocking a lot of computer hours at our desk. It’s important to allocate some time to step out of your comfort zone and get to know the audience you are writing for.

8) How will someone buy your book? You might say: Duh - in bookstores and on Amazon. Well, maybe and maybe not. As I mentioned in #4, bookstore shelf space is often occupied by books published through major houses, therefore getting space on these shelves can be difficult. Your local store or stores may stock you, but that’s never certain until the book comes out. I recommend that you offer your book on your website and if you aren’t interested in shipping and fulfillment then link to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or whatever online e-tailer you feel most comfortable with.

9) What’s the best time to launch? Timing is everything, especially in publishing. Fall is always a big time for book releases. Publishers tend to publish their biggest titles in the Fall, making this sometimes a rough time to launch. Rough, but not impossible. If you’re launching in the Fall you will need to start your efforts early. And speaking of that - when will you start marketing your book? As soon as you have the title and branding complete. Start early, often I recommend six to eight months prior to the book launch.

10) What’s the unique message?How will you differentiate yourself from the competition? Your book is not the field of dreams; readers won’t beat a path to your door just because you wrote it. Remember that you must be different. You must be unique. It’s critical to identify your unique marketing message and, as well, identify your elevator pitch. What’s your elevator pitch? It’s a short, concise message that will help sell your book. It’s short, benefit-driven, intriguing, and all about the reader.

11) It’s not about you. The biggest and most important message in all of this is that despite the hours that you’ve toiled writing your book, at the end of the day it’s not about you. It’s about your reader, and moreover, it’s about what your book can do for the reader. If you keep this in mind as you move through the process of writing and publishing your book, you will have a title that will attract readership and help your writing career gain momentum.

Now that I’ve given you several ways to succeed, how do you align yourself with professionals you trust? First, do your homework. Read their websites, blogs and newsletters if they have one. If they purport to be social media experts, make sure you take a look at their social media footprint. I’ve had companies pitch me who say they are experts at social media yet they have no Facebook Page or Twitter account. That doesn’t seem very "expert" to me. References are always good to have as well. In fact, the more you can ask others who have been successful for the names of people they trust the quicker it will be for you to find people who have a good track record.

If you hire someone, make sure they can work hourly for you. You just want an opinion, perhaps some brainstorming time. You likely don’t need a package, just an hour, maybe two. You don’t need to spend your marketing budget on this process, but whatever you do spend can potentially save you a lot once the book hits the market.

Succeeding isn’t always about getting to the starting line on time. Often, it’s about all the work you do to get to the starting line and then, hopefully, to a successful finish. Our books are often an extension of ourselves, our businesses, and our personalities. But success requires more than just a good book. It requires a lot of sweat equity up front, and while it may seem like a hefty price for a book that hasn’t even launched, I can guarantee you this: The more you do now, the more you’ll save and succeed in the end. Good luck!

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Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques. http://www.amarketingexpert.com

 

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Is a Subsidy Publisher right for your project?

This is a guest post from fellow consultant Shel Horowitz. He originally did this as a post on LinkedIn and I liked it so much, I asked him if I could post it here. Thanks, Shel.

 

It doesn’t sound like it would be a big deal, but the organization that assigns the ISBN to the book is the publisher. When your publisher is a subsidy house (such as Trafford, AuthorHouse, XLibris, iUniverse—all owned by the same company, incidentally—or Outskirts, Infinity and their hundreds of competitors), anyone in the industry can tell by the ISBN that you went with a publisher that does no vetting, that will take anyone who can pay the fee (other than hate speech or smut), that doesn’t give a flying f about whether the book has been proofread, let alone edited—and that in most cases will have a very generic cover and interior design. The industry, having seen vast quantities of junk coming out of these presses, assumes that anything with one of those labels is junk.

And the unfortunate reality is that 90 percent of the books coming out of these presses should never have been published. There’s certainly a lot of junk coming out of true self-publishing, too—but the percentage of good stuff is much, much higher.

Now there are a few reasons why in some cases it makes sense to go this route, as long as you know what you’re getting into and have good reasons. For example:

  • A client of mine whose book was good enough to publish traditionally told me he was in his late 80s and didn’t want to wait two years to find a publisher and have the book come out, and likewise he didn’t want the hassle of being his own publisher. He went with iUniverse, and probably sold a lot fewer books, but got it done very quickly at relatively low expense.
  • Infinity (my favorite of this ilk) got wind of my Grassroots Marketing for Authors and Publishers and begged me to let them publish it. I let them do their own edition for the book trade. If a bookstore wants to order, I let them order Infinity’s edition. If an individual orders, I fill the order from the books I printed under my own ISBN (which cost me half as much per copy as Infinity’s). What I got out of it was outsourcing all the hassles of dealing with bookstores, as well as “street cred” with subsidy-published authors who might hire me for book consulting or marketing consulting/copywriting.
  • Professional speakers often use these companies because they don’t want the hassles, and because they have a built-in market that doesn’t care that their books are ugly and overpriced. In that market, they can pay the $9 per book to get them printed, because they sell them direct for maybe $25. In a bookstore, where comparable books might be $18 and the bookstore takes 40 percent, the numbers don’t work.
  • Finally, when I get a client with a crappy book that has a sharply limited life expectancy, I recommend these companies. If you’re going to sell 100 or fewer books during the life of a title, there’s no point setting up a publishing company, choosing printing and design vendors, etc., or paying someone to do it for you.

In true self-publishing, you buy your ISBN block and you choose your vendors for all the services you need (such as editing, design, indexing). And you set the price of the book. Some subsidy houses will allow you to supply your own cover and interior. Some will even let you set your own price. And some subsidy houses also offer on-demand printing services where they don’t assign an ISBN; in this case, you are buying short-run printing from a company that happens to also offer subsidy publishing services, but you are not subsidy publishing. Many people use companies like Lulu and the printing arm associated with Infinity to do Advance Reader Copies (ARCs). I used Lulu to do a relative’s vanity project in  run of 6 copies. I didn’t ask for ISBN and I didn’t use one of mine. I was simply using them as a printer.

But ultimately, there’s only one test that makes the determination whether a book is self- or subsidy published: who obtained the ISBN from the official ISBN agency (Bowker, in the US).

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Book shepherd and publishing/book marketing consultant Shel Horowitz’s two most recent books are Grassroots Marketing for Authors and Publishers (self-published) and Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green (Wiley), both of which have won multiple awards. Visit him at www.FrugalMarketing.com

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How Can You Make Your Book Successful?

Doing a commercially viable book involves many facets - all of which have to present and firing on all cylinders to create a successful project.

* Product - your book has to be well designed and produced and have a definable target audience of sufficient size to sell a "reasonable" number of books. One way to determine this is to go to Amazon and put in the key words for your book. See how many other books there are in your genre, what are their sales ranks? how long are they? how long have they been out? who published them? — all kinds of excellent competitive information available to help you.

* Pricing - Once you know that you have a well-produced book with a reasonably sized market that you can reach, then you have to make sure it is priced right for the market. You can’t base your retail price on anything except the price the market expects for your type of book. You can get a lot of this information from the research I suggest above.

* Place - Once you have your product and pricing right, then you have to understand the places where you will sell it. This includes everything from your trunk, to book stores, to non-traditional locations (gift shops, boat stores, RV stores - whatever suits your genre), to the internet, and more. You have to consider ALL the possible places that a potential buyer will look for your book and try to be there. Every distribution channel has a different cost and it is the combination of all your channel choices together that will make up your profitability picture. You can’t look at any one of them in isolation.

* Promotion - Most people think this is the only part of marketing that is important, but as you can see it is the very last piece of the puzzle to consider. Once you have everything else in place, THEN and only then, can you think about promoting your book. The saddest thing I see is people who spend time and money on promotion when they haven’t adequately addressed all the other pieces of the puzzle. Promotion comes in many flavors and some are costly, but many are not. I am not a big fan of paid advertising for independent publishers as it is just too costly to make a pay off. The four areas to consider are internet, broadcast, print and live presentations. A combination of those well executed, will provide success.

There is no quick fix or magic bullet - it is many things done consistently and well, over time.

I have been in the marketplace with my book since 2004. My strategy has shifted over that time as success has come, as the industry has changed, and as the books sales have changed. I’ve done two editions over many printings; have used wholesalers, a national distributor (Midpoint) and now use LSI. I’ve had sales into every part of the travel business and have had publicity in everything from the AP (3 times) to Money Magazine, to AAA to AARP and hundreds more - all from my own efforts with a small infusion of a publicist’s help early on. You can see some of it here: http://www.roadtripdream.com/media2.html

There is nothing special about what I did - I had never written professionally, knew nothing about the publishing business, and had no special help that isn’t available to each of you. It is about having a little money to invest in your own success, persistence and dedication to being successful, getting involved in (and understanding) the publishing business, understanding your own genre, and never giving up.

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Is Distribution for POD an Oxymoron?

Recently a question was posed to me about distribution for POD books. While I believe that is really an oxymoron, it does cause considerable confusion, even among authors that do traditional off-set book printing.  Distribution in the traditional sense, implies book stocking at some level - either at a warehouse or in a retail location. With the advent of print on demand, the idea is to eliminate warehousing and provide just-in-time delivery to the consumer. So how can you have both? Or should you want to? Here is my reader’s question:

In your opinion, if trade distribution doesn’t work well for the POD publisher, what do you think is best to get your books sold and distributed? I’m a little confused by the statement that stores ’seldom stock’ books from LSI. Do they order from them or not?

Here is my answer:

You have to understand the difference between “available nationwide” and “in store stocking”. In a BN (or other large store) there are approximately 80,000 titles at any one time – out of several million books, that isn’t many. And those titles have approximately 6-8 weeks to prove themselves, or they are out of there! 

What LSI gets you (through Ingram) is availability – BN has access to it in their system via the Ingram database as “available” for order if someone comes in and asks for it. If they get enough requests, they may actually put it in the BN system, vs having to look it up on Ingram’s system and their stock.  If BN (for example) decides to “stock it” or “carry it”, the first level of doing that is to have it available in their (BN) warehouse vs through Ingram’s warehouse. If that goes well, they may try store stocking in a few stores where the demand is coming from. If that does well, then they may try it in other similar stores, etc.

 To get regular store stocking, you have to have one of two things. A distributor that has enough confidence in your ability to promote your book regionally or nationwide as apprpriate (and therefore be “worthy” of store stocking) or enough people coming in and asking for it because of publicity that you have done to generate the buzz and demand for your book (see above).

 So when I say “seldom stock” I mean that the only way a POD book will be stocked is via the first method above. To have a trade distributor, you must have stock in the distributor’s warehouse (usually hundreds, if not thousands of books or it isn’t worth the distributor’s time) and that model does not fit a POD model. If you are going to print thousands of books for a distributor to sell, then you must have an off-set run to make it viable financially – and then you have to be confident in YOUR ability to “pull through” the consumers to buy the books, or you will end up with those books back in the distributor’s warehouse and eventually back to you because the didn’t sell through.  Something no one wants to see happen. You have to plot your marketing strategy very carefully to know what will work for your book.

 That is why my first question to a prospective client is always “what are your goals for your book and how will you reach those goals?” A goal of a few hundred books in a local or nationwide market has a much different marketing and distribution plan than a client who wants to sell 50,000 this holiday season. I’ve had both clients this year.

 So to answer your question, it depends upon what your sales goals are for your book and do you have the time, money, know how and other resources to make it happen.

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The Decade of Mobile Publishing

This is a guest post from a fellow Linked-In member - very insightful about the coming decade.

 

Whether it will be the Apple Kindle killer or someone else’s tablet computer, mobile publishing will have a huge impact in the next decade with serious consequences for the print industry. Printers who choose to disregard this phenomenon will do so at their own peril. Print production will rapidly become a subset of multimedia production. Folks with knowledge of print production will retain their value only if they also augment their skill set with a thorough knowledge of video, flash, html authoring and other multimedia skills.

Many have argued that formats like the Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook and other electronic content delivery systems will never have the look, feel and flexibility of the printed page. In some cases they are probably right, but in the vast majority of cases, that point of view is simply wishful thinking.

Here’s why. The next decade will see tablet PCs that are much more than electronic books. They will have gorgeous full-color touch screens that will come very close to simulating paper, but will have even more flexibility. You will be able to write on them, create art on them, shoot and retouch and edit photos and video on them, and of course connect with the Internet through WiFi and 4G networks. Phone, fax, notebook, notepad, still and video camera, voice recorder, calendar, LinkedIn, Facebook and a whole lot more all in one 6×9 package weighing a pound our less.

Would you honestly spend two or three times as much money for every book you buy when you can carry around a few dozen books everywhere you go and use the same device to replace your laptop, desktop, fax machine and more?

A few other things will almost certainly happen in the next decade. Solid state memory will probably replace existing hard drives because they are better suited for mobile computing. The ability to read SD cards is already a de facto standard in the PC market. CDs will fade in popularity because the devices for reading them are simply too bulky for tablet applications, and they will be replaced by SD cards. It’s a bit surprising that this trend hasn’t already started, though I suppose CDs are still cheaper than SD cards and the superior capacity of the cards is not a plus when you are selling music. Still, movies are not yet moving to SD cards either. I predict they will in the coming decade. The bulk and cost of adding CD/DVD read/write mechanisms to tablet PCs will make the manufacturers of those devices opt for smaller memory devices that don’t require any moving parts.

When a very good full color tablet PC hits the market, which may happen as early as next month if Apple rumors are correct, they will sell by the millions. Netbooks are already selling well, but they just don’t hit that sweet-spot of portability and capability that a Kindle-sized tablet PC will offer. The book sellers are ready to pounce on the market since they make most of their money on books and related offerings, not on the end-delivery product. Amazon and Barnes and Noble may try to keep pace with new offerings, but it seems likely a more full-featured machine will quickly eclipse the models currently available.

If you’re looking for a growth market, I’d suggest European-style men’s carry bags which will be perfect for the new tablet PCs. They’re too big for your pocket, but a heck of a lot easier to carry around than a laptop.

Authored by Stephen Beals  http://www.printoolz.com

 

 

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When do you Start Marketing Your Book?

Get your book really ready by following these steps:

1) You need a distribution strategy (whether POD or off-set - just the logistics are different) - how sad is it to create great buzz - and you don’t have your book anyplace where the trade and consumers can get it for your anxious buyers. Big lost sales and a waste of $$ on the publicist.

2) To engage a trade distributor (assuming you are doing print runs) you must have a written marketing plan for them.

3) You have to make sure that your product is top notch - or a publicist won’t take it - their reputation is on the line with every book they recommend to their media contacts. that is what you are really paying for - who they know.

4) You have to make sure that your price is competitive with other books in your genre or no amount of publicity will create the sales that you expect.

5) You need a good media kit for the publicist to use as a basis for the publicity she/he will create for you - or you can pay the publicist to do that work for you.

When I can "have it my way" - which isn’t often (<: - I prefer to work on the book at least 6 months ahead of the pub date - you really need that much time to get the marketing/distribution/pricing plans together, apply to distributors, get their paperwork done, get their sales team representing your book to the chains, the chains place their advance orders, you know how many to print and ship to them, they have to get them in stores - all prior to your pub date.

A website is another activity that should be done as early as possible - you can use it to begin creating advance buzz for your book, have a media room where the media can learn about your book (cover art, pictures from the book, pub date, etc.) and a place to post your media coverage as it comes in. You can post your Table of contents, a sample chapter, do a blog, and so on - lots you can do to start building that platform waaayyy ahead of the book.

You also need your publicist in place with your media kit to do pre-pub reviewers 3-4 months minimum before pub date (required time), get early copies out to large magazines with long lead times, and then when the time gets closer, do newspapers, blogs, websites, and short cycle magazines.

WHEW!!! See why it takes 6 months? Oh - and YOU have to follow-up on all this to maximize the impact.

My motto: No follow-up = no results

Of course all of this is predicated on your goals for your project, the amount of resources (time & money) you can devote to your book and any constraints that your life situation imposes on you (don’t want to do live appearances or maybe radio terrifies you, etc.).

So give your book a chance – start early and plan your marketing just as carefully as you planned your words on the page.

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Traditional Publishing or Self-Publishing?

Much has been written as to how to get a traditional publisher, or why you would want to self publish.  Here are the reasons as I see them.

TRADITIONAL:
* No money up front
* Less time and learning commitment
* Small royalties and none until advance is recovered by publisher
* Loss of control over final product - they bought your book and can make it into anything they want it to be
* Little say in the design of the cover or interior
* Ego of getting traditionally published
* Your book will come and go within 6 months unless it hits it big and you can’t do anything about it
* Other versions (audio, e-book, foreign rights, first serial rights, etc.) may or may not be worked by the publisher (although they will be contracted for)
* author is often contractually obligated to certain marketing activities

SELF PUBLISHING:
* Steeper learning curve - but you can pay for activities you don’t know how to do (editing, design, typesetting, marketing, print quotes)
* Author/publisher responsible for total costs - you are now in business for yourself
* You get to make all editorial and design decisions - as well as all business decisions - YOU control the process
* Your book will be in print much sooner - typical traditional time frame is 18-24 months from beginning of negotiations
* You get to decide how the book will be marketed and to whom, when and for how long
* The book can continue to be promoted and marketed for years increasing revenues as it gets "legs" and requires less hand-holding and marketing
* You get to keep all revenues - no royalties to deal with
* You see all sales reports - no guessing if you are being paid correctly
* If you like the business and want to write more books, the process becomes easier and easier - and your business framework is already set-up allowing a more streamlined operation with less cost and more profit

As to which is a better decision. There is a place for both, but with over 500,000 new books being published each year - and less than half of them through traditional publishing houses, you can see which way the pendulum is swinging. The traditional houses are taking less and less risk with unknown authors - if you don’t already have a strong "platform" - a celebrity, sports figure, entertainer, well known Dr. etc. - you have little chance of being traditionally published - there are exceptions, but they are becoming rarer.

The ironic part is, IF you have that strong platform, you really need the traditional publisher less than the unknown person! More and more speakers and celebrities are self-publishing because you can hire everything done on the front end, and keep all the revenues on the back end.

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Have I been Subsidy Published?

The "accepted" key to deciding on the publishing "model" is: who owns the ISBN?

If you own it and pay for some help in doing your own publishing, then the company or people who help you are thought of as coaches - then you get all the profits and pay all the bills.

If someone else owns the ISBN’s - it is their publisher prefix - AND you pay them to do some package of services, then they are defined as a subsidy house. They are listed as the publisher of record and control your book AND pay you royalties of some sort. 

Some are better than others, but realize if it isn’t your own ISBN block, then someone else has published your work and if you participate in the cost of doing that (production, marketing, etc.), then you have been subsidy published. If someone else owns the ISBN and you haven’t participated in the cost of being published, then you are "traditionally" published.

It really is that simple. No matter how many flowery words you put around it, there are only three ways to be published:

  • Traditional (they own the ISBN and you don’t pay them and you get royalties),
  • Self (you own the ISBN, pay all the bills and keep all the profits) and
  • Subsidy (they own the ISBN, you pay some participation in the costs and they pay you royalties).

Everyone falls into one of those categories. From there, the actual operational implementation of all three varies widely. You need to very carefully analyze what you are getting from your invested dollars.

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