Monthly Archives: March 2013

Is Self-Publishing for You?

Self Published AuthorWhen considering whether or not to self-publish your book, keep in mind that traditional publishers publish much less than 1% of all unsolicited manuscripts they receive each year. Many industry insiders estimate the amount to be 0.1%. If you fall into the 99.9% that they reject, you will probably be very frustrated with that process, but you won’t be alone.

With self-publishing, you take control of your own destiny. Make your book a success yourself!

Ten years ago, if you could not interest a traditional publisher in your book, you could spend tens of thousands of dollars preparing your book and thousands of dollars more with a custom printer to fill your garage with boxes of books. Thanks to digital printing technology, however, it is now possible to obtain a professional quality copy of your book for under $1,500. With Bookstand Publishing, you normally receive 48 copies of your book in the initial printing. The initial printing is included in the publishing package price. Visit our web site at www.bookstandpublishing.com for a list of all the benefits of publishing with Bookstand Publishing.

Here are a few questions you may want to ask yourself:

1. What is your motivation and purpose for publishing your book?

Writing a book is a lot of work. Publishing one is even more work. Is your purpose clear and sufficiently well conceived to sustain you through the experience? If profit is a motive, then the venture must be treated as a business. Typically, from start to finish, a writer will spend 10% of his or her time writing the book, 15% publishing it, and 75% marketing and promoting the finished book. Keep your purpose clear!

2. Is your book written for a specific market niche or group of people?

It is more expensive to promote a book to a wide general audience. Marketing costs are less when the target audience is specific, definable, and accessible.

3. Do you have a way to sell books direct?

Selling books direct (at retail price to your target audience) is the most profitable way to recover your initial self-publishing investment. The standard heavy discounts to wholesalers and bookstores can be costly for slow-moving books. In fact, without a solid marketing plan, selling books to bookstores can be the least profitable way to distribute your book. Think of alternative ways to distribute your book: Organizations, associations, corporations, conventions, fundraisers, and back-of-the-room sales after lectures or workshops, to name but a few. These are known as special sales markets. 

4. Are you willing to go out and promote your book?

A general rule for authors: A book stops selling when the author does. No matter who publishes your book, you are responsible for creating the demand for it. A book will not sell well sitting on a bookstore’s shelf, unless interest is generated for your book. Don’t forget: Writing a book is about 10% of the effort, publishing it is about 15%, and marketing it is 75%!

5. How many copies do you think you will sell?

Beyond your friends and family, who will be interested in your book? Knowing your market and how to reach those people are important questions to answer before you invest in self-publishing. The fact is that 95% of all books published sell fewer than 7,500 copies. With Bookstand Publishing’s print-on-demand services, though, you will not incur the added expense of printing thousands of copies of your book, only to stockpile them in your garage.

6.  What is Print-on-Demand (POD)?

At its simplest, print-on-demand (POD) publishing means that whenever a book is demanded (ordered, bought, requested), a copy of the book is printed to fill that specific demand.

This article is excerpted from The Self-Publishing Checklist by Andy Baldwin.  You can request a FREE copy of this book be sent to you here: http://www.bookstandpublishing.com/pod4/

How To Get Your Self Published Book On Bookstore Shelves

Barnesandnoble_bookshelf

Here are the items you need to have in order to get your self published book inside brick and mortar bookstores:

 1.     The Basics 

No bookstore will put your book on their shelf, unless you have the essential items below.

  • ISBN number
  • Bowkers Books in Print Registration
  • Distribution through the wholesaler Ingram and/or Baker & Taylor
  • Print on Demand order fulfillment
  • Hardcover or Paperback binding

Most self publishing companies will provide these items to you as a part of their basic services.

2.       Return Program

With a few exceptions, brick and mortar bookstores will not carry your book unless it is “returnable.”  “Returnable” means that bookstores can return any unsold books for a full refund with no penalty or restocking fee.

Most (but not all) self publishing companies provide a Return Program for an additional fee.  Shop for this service carefully, as the fee for this service can vary widely.  (Xlibris, for example, charges $1,299 for this service whereas Bookstand Publishing charges only $299).

3.      Acceptable Bookseller Discount

Bookstores normally want at least 40% + of the retail price of your book to carry the book in their stores.    That is, if your book sells for $10, and someone buys the book in their store, they want at least $4 for themselves and to give the wholesaler (Ingram or Baker and Taylor) the remaining $6.  From the remaining $6, the wholesaler will take a percentage and from the rest your publisher will need to pay for the cost of the book that was printed and sold and pay you a royalty.

If you don’t ask, most self publishing companies will give your book a 35% percent discount through the wholesaler, which is enough to get your book carried by online retailers (like Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com) but not enough to get your book carried on bookstore shelves.  You should work with your self publishing company to establish a discount that will make your book attractive to bookstores.  This may involve being sure the price of your book is high enough so that an acceptable discount may be given to the wholesaler and bookstore.

4.       Bookstore Marketing Plan

Keep in mind that just because your book has the basics, is returnable, and has an acceptable discount, does not mean that bookstores will automatically stock your book on their shelves.  It only means that you now offer terms to the bookstores that are similar to what traditional publishing companies offer them.  You still have to sell them on carrying your book.

Here are several ways to do this:

a.  Approach your local bookstore and tell them you are a local author
Ask your local bookstore to carry a small quantity of your book that they can promote as written by a local author.  Let them know that your book is carried by Ingram (or Baker and Taylor) and that it is returnable.

 
b.  Schedule books signings and readings.  
You should approach bookstores and let them know that you would like to do a book signing and what you plan to do to promote the book signing (e.g. advertising, postcard mailing, etc…)

 
Keep in mind that no matter what the store manager says, he or she does have the authority to order copies of books into the store and to set up book signings.  If he or she is telling you they can’t do it, it is because you haven’t sold them on the idea that your store event will help their store.

 
 c.  Advertise your book directly to the bookstores.
There are a variety of magazines and e-zines that go to bookstores promoting new books.   Both Ingram and Baker and Taylor have advertising programs that may be appropriate for your book.  Your self publishing company should be able to review these options with you and see which may be appropriate for your book.

 
d.  Direct sales
Pitching your book directly to the bookstores via in person meetings, phone calls and personal email correspondence can be effective in getting your book carried by bookstores.    (E-mail lists and phone numbers organized by city and state including phone numbers and e-mails for most major bookstores are available through Elaine Wilke’s How to Get Your Store in Bookstores Master Course, available through Bookstand Publishing here.)

 

How To Self Publish a Book

Self Publish

Here are the basics of how to self publish a book:

1.  Write your manuscript

You need to write your novel, how-to-book, short stories, memoir, or poetry in a single electronic manuscript, preferably in Microsoft Word.  Gone are the days when writers wrote on typewriters or wrote out their stories in longhand.  If you have your manuscript on a typewriter or written out in longhand you will need to find someone who can input the manuscript into a MS Word document or other electronic format.

Here are some tips that will help ensure that your manuscript looks professional and is ready for any good Full Service Self Publishing Company:

  • If you have pictures for the book, insert them into the manuscript where you want them to go.  Most self-publishing companies will not charge you anything additional for pictures if they are already inserted into your manuscript.
  • Be sure all pictures are at least 300 dpi (i.e. a high resolution image)
  • Always use the tab or alignment tools to indent and align text.  DO NOT use the space key
  • NEVER use the Enter Key at a line’s end to force a return.  Let the software do the work for you.  The only exception to the rule is poetry, where it is fine to use the Enter Key at the end of a line or stanza.
  • Always use the Page Break to start a new chapter or when you want to the text to move to the next page. DO NOT use the Enter Key or Space Bar to create a new page.
  • DO NOT worry about page numbering.  Your Full Service Self Publishing Company should do this for you at no additional charge.

2.  Edit and re-edit your manuscript.

Your manuscript needs to be edited before you submit it for publication.  While the author can make the first several edits, the final edit should be done by someone other than the author.  The author is too close to the story and his or her mind will see things as correct when they are not.   Here is a good article by my friend (and Bookstand Publishing co-worker) Rick Helley on why editing is so important: https://selfpublishingmadeeasy.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/editing-your-self-published-book/

Minimally, you need to edit for grammar, punctuation, tense, and consistency. A book with lots of grammatical and spelling errors, or one that is hard to read will not be taken seriously by reviewers or readers and it will not sell well.  It will also reflect poorly on you.  A professional edit is great. If you can’t afford a professional edit, have a family member or friend, with editing experience, edit you book.  (I have found that a lot of English teachers will be happy to edit your book on the side)

3.  Submit your manuscript to a Full Service Self Publishing Company

For the first-time author, I strongly recommend you use a Full Service Self Publishing Company.  Full Service Self Publishing Companies will help you lay out your manuscript, help you with your cover, give you advice, provide you with electronic proofs of your book before it goes to press and much more.

In particular, you want to be sure that your Self Publishing Company provides you with:

  • ISBN number
  • Bowkers Books in Print Registration
  • Distribution on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com
  • Distribution through the wholesaler Ingram and/or Baker & Taylor
  • Print on Demand order fulfillment

Please see my article on Finding a Good Self Publishing Company: https://selfpublishingmadeeasy.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/finding-a-good-self-publishing-company/

4.  Decide Upon a Cover

With most Self Publishing Companies you will have the following cover options:

  1. You can choose from any of the cover templates the company provides
  2. Supply your own cover artwork.  The supplied cover artwork must meet specifications of the Self Publishing Company.
  3. Have your Self Publishing Company create a custom cover for you for an additional fee.
  4. Provide a single image and have your Self Publishing Company create a unique cover for you from the single image. The fee for this is usually very nominal (At Bookstand Publishing it is only $25). You can use a photo you have taken or you can purchase an image from any stock photo company usually for less than $50.  I prefer to use www.istock.com but there are many stock photo companies to choose from.

5. Work with you Self Publishing Company to develop a marketing plan appropriate for your book.

Books don’t sell themselves. You need to promote them.  Work with your Self Publishing Company to develop a marketing strategy for your book.

Some books, like memoirs, will not require much marketing since the target market may be just family and friends; however, if your market is bigger you may want to consider a variety of different marketing services such as:

  • A Press Release
  • Publicity Campaign
  • Website Design
  • Professional Reviews
  • Bookmarks and Postcards
  • A Book Return Program for bookstores
  • Bookstore Advertising

Additional Resources

Bookstand Publishing has lots of resources to help you prepare your book for publication and promotion, and you can receive them with no obligation by registering on the home page at www.bookstandpublishing.com.  By registering you will receive:

  • A FREE eBook, The Self-Publishing Checklist
  • Access to our Self-Publishing Made Easy Video Course
  • Access to our pre-formatted MS Word Templates for all different book sizes

 

What is an Author Platform?

What is an Author Platform?Your author platform is where you communicate your expertise or interest on a regular basis.  Having a successful platform means you are known for something.  Being known for something means your book about your area of expertise or interest has the potential to sell well.

Building an author platform takes time.  Ideally, you should build your platform 2 to 3 years before you publish your book.  In reality, however, many self-published authors decide to publish a book as a way to begin to build their platform. That’s OK; just know that if you have published a book and now are starting to build a platform, sales will be slow until your platform grows.

The most common building blocks of a good author platform are:

The particulars of the author platform will differ from author to author but your goal in building a platform is to create a large fan base of dedicated readers and develop a reputation in an area of expertise or genre.