Saturday, October 10th, 2015

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Break Into the Publishing Biz: DIY Style

More and more people are self-publishing now. And why not? Becoming a published author has become easier and easier. It gives you the opportunity to be in control, and to carry your vision from start to finish.

Author Cara Bruce published her first book herself. “It was a great learning experience. It teaches you every part of the book business. After publishing two books, I decided to stop. I found I didn’t have enough time to write. But, publishing myself helped me to build my reputation. Without it, I wouldn’t have found someone else to publish my next books.”

Before you start any kind of publishing venture, make sure you do your research. This is very important so take your time and do it right.

1. What do you want? Do you want to sell a million copies or do you just want to publish a few books for your friends and family? Do you want hardcover, paperback, or an ebook?
2. Check out all of the books similar to yours. Try Bookscan.com to see how many copies have been sold.
3. Look into print-on-demand and vanity presses (these will publish your book for a fee). Some of the bigger ones are iUniverse.com and Xlibris.com. I’m sure a few minutes on Google will point you to many more. These can handle the layout, printing, and/or production for a fee.

If you would like to publish a “traditional book” you should look into starting your own publishing company. You first have to decide between sole proprietorship and limited liability corporation (LLC). Then you get a federal tax I.D. number. Figure out what you need to do for where you live, some places require you to publish a notice in a newspaper (a county clerk can give you a list of the cheapest papers to do this in), others require a certificate.

Tip: Make sure you choose the right name for your company. This name is going to stick with you for a long, long time—maybe for the rest of your life. You want to make sure you don’t choose a name based on one subject matter. Your name has to be able to expand with you.


Next, you need to find a printer. Call up different printing companies to get prices. If you find a book that you think looks great you can always call the publisher and ask who they use. Ask the printer to send you samples and make sure you request different paper stocks (the paper will greatly affect how your book looks and the price). Ask if there is a price break for a certain number of pages. Sometimes adding a few blank pages can save you a lot of money. This also applies to the size of the book. Look at books you really like and find out what size they are. Find out which sizes are the cheapest, and find out if smaller sizes can save you money in shipping.

Which brings me to my next point: Do not forget to factor in shipping costs. If you already have book distributors lined up you are going to want to get some of your books drop shipped. This means the printer sends them directly to the distributor. You still have to be prepared to have boxes and boxes of books show up at your house, office, or storage space. Make sure you have plenty or room and a safe, dry spot to keep them.

Tip: Hire a professional graphic designer who has experience laying out books. This will make a huge difference in how professional your book looks. Nothing screams amateur more than the wrong font.

This is important: you must get an International Standard Book Number (ISBN). This is what will identify your book. Every book should have one. Go to isbn.org or bowkerlink.com. You’ll also want to register with the Library of Congress http://loc.gov.

Even if you are planning on doing everything yourself, you may still want to get a distributor. Look into the bigger distributors. They may take a larger percentage of the cover price but you can save on shipping and it does make you look more professional. It’s easy to get your book on Amazon.com, they have a special section for self-publishers. Larger stores such as Barnes and Noble have their own book buying department and you’ll need to contact them directly.

Finally market, market, market! Market anyway that you can. This is key so get creative. Cara Bruce says that she had postcards with her book cover on the front and ordering information on the back. She sent these to large and small book stores. Book stores get catalogs from distributors. Even if you have a distributor, a postcard is just one more way to make your book stand out.

Mike Michalowicz, has just published his first book The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur. He recommends breaking tradition here. He says, “I didn’t go to a single book marketing site, since that is where everyone else is going, yet everyone else is not having their books bought in swarms. Instead, I went to sites representing the most impactful products and people of recent times and tried to learn from them. I researched Tivo, Apple’s iPhone, Bruce Springsteen and Anthony Robbins and figured out why they were so successful.  The answer was that they do extraordinary things to deliver value to the consumers.  Every experience with these people or products, and you get way more then you paid for.  With that I had ‘discovered’ their key marketing strategy.   It is totally in alignment with who I am, so I then did everything to execute our ‘marketing’ that way.”
Here are the costs you are looking at so far:
• Copy editing
• Graphic design
• Artwork (photos and/or illustrations)
• Printing
• Shipping
• Marketing

 Mike Michalowicz gives this final advice,” Go in with the end in mind.  Books can be used to impact the world, or to generate revenue, to add credibility to the author, or to simply be a marketing piece. Once you commit to your end goal, you then need to do everything required to make it happen. If you want to do what I have done with The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur, you better be ready for the commitment. I have spent years on creating it, and have put all my eggs in one basket.  To achieve my intentions, this book must go big or I am going home. Actually I take that back… if this book doesn’t go big, I won’t have a home. That’s how committed I am.  If you want to change the world, you need to do the same.”
 Emily Torres has written for Salon.com. She is a graduate of Life’s a Bitch Books.

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