Are you thinking of taking that project off the back burner, dusting it off, and finishing it? Once it is ready to go, are you thinking of self-publishing it for the world? It has been three years since I published my first book and a year since I published my second book. Here are some tips and facts for anyone wondering how to do this.
- Why do you want to publish a book? First, ask yourself why you want to publish that memoir, novel, or handbook. Is it to share your experience, passion for a hobby or sport, or creativity? I respond to new authors’ requests for my publisher when they ask for a referral from another author. I often get phone calls from them, and one of the questions I get is, “have you sold thousands of copies?” or “have you made a hefty profit on your investment?” The answer is no to each. Recently, I read that 1.7million books will be self-published this year. They most likely will appear for sale online – with mine. As for a return on your investment – we cannot compete with sold authors such as JK Rowling, Danielle Steele, or Patterson, who have new books on the supermarket shelf monthly, or the increasing number of books whose main subject is Donald Trump. Most self-published authors will sell about 500 copies in total.
- What are some of the issues that need to be addressed before publishing a book? Have that manuscript professionally edited before you submit it for publishing. Many self-published authors have family and friends read the manuscript and accept that as an edited copy. Not so; I had friends and family read my book, took their criticism seriously, made changes, and then had it professionally edited by someone who does that for a living. The result was that I submitted a copy-read book making the publishing process easier at the front end. I have heard horror stories of authors who obtain the final layout copy to be reviewed and discover typos, grammar errors, and general sloppy work once they look at a finished copy with new eyes. The delay in publishing may be several months as they return to the drawing board for editing.
- Apply for copyright. My first publisher did not advise me that I needed a copyright and entry into the Library of Congress, that I owned the rights to the book, and how Amazon selects reviews or changes the price of a book on a whim. They did not advise me on how royalties are paid and if I own the rights to my book. They also had front-end-only services meaning they publish the book and send you on your way to figure out how to market and promote it. ReadersMagnet approached me with an offer to engage in a collaborative effort to market and promote my book. They advised me on the issues the book publisher had not done. When I decided to publish my second book, they submitted paperwork for the copyright. The copyright is your ownership. It prohibits anyone from taking your book, changing the contents, and republishing it under their name.
- How do you select the right publisher? There are hundreds of different self-publishing entities. Who is willing to take your money, print your book and continue taking your money in the name of branding and marketing? Do your homework. First, not all self-publishing, or vanity press, entities are honest. Do they have a fulfillment department to ensure your orders will be processed and delivered? Do they have trained assigned consultants who will respond to your phone calls, emails, or voicemail questions in person? Do they provide the timelines for accomplishing such tasks as webpage design or book production? Most self-publishing entities offer the same types of services and packages. Costs will often vary. Be sure you will need a satchel of cash to play in this game, so pick and choose wisely unless you have unlimited funds. That is where a good publishing consultant or author relation representative can assist.
- What else? Beyond the money, little compares to the awe you feel holding a book with your name as the author. I have participated in book fairs where I hand out marketing materials for my two books and meet fairgoers. Generally, you will experience a spike in sales from these events. How do you know what services or programs will serve you best? The first rule of thumb is not so much selling your book as selling yourself. Exposure to the author will gain book sales. Do you have a webpage that is being viewed online? Do you want to give radio or podcast interviews? Do you have something that can be shared on social media, such as Instagram or TikTok? Have you done the heavy lifting of pounding the pavement to put your book in local bookstores or service entities where the information is valid? Are you ready to invest in digital marketing packages or book reviews? There are many decisions to be made once your book is published, some of which can be costly.
The bottom line is if you’re thinking of publishing a book, do your homework. It can be a wonderful experience with the right publisher or a financial drain with the wrong publisher. The wrong publisher can also make promises and assurances while never fulfilling them. The bottom line is that you should enjoy the experience. Chances are you will not get rich from the endeavor, but it can be richly rewarding. So do some critical thinking but go ahead and take that project off the back burner, dust it off, and finish it. Then look for the right company to handle your book the rest of the way. My decision was the right one, and I don’t regret collaborating with ReadersMagnet to promote and market my book. Look for an entity where management demands honesty from their staff. Look for that fulfillment department and dedicated consultants who respond to your issues and questions.