In my last entry I wrote how I was interested in writing a book about marketing and sales for small businesses (all small businesses, not just software based small businesses). It was received with good enthusiasm based only on the summary. Several people commented that they would buy it. I also received a number of personal emails saying the same. Therefore I’ve decided to go ahead and write the book.
And like everything I do before I fully commit, I researched my options. I spent the last week analyzing what options there are to authors like myself, and its amazing to see how much the publishing market has changed. In the past you pretty much had to go with a major publication company to get your book out, and even doing that was a challenge. The odds of being selected for publication were really low, never mind actual success. You could also look for a small presses, which is almost the same as large publication company but without all the benefits. In any case, you needed a publishing company to get your book out in the world.
There was also another option, you could self publish. This however was, and still is, a very costly endeavor. You need to have a lot of seed money to truly self publish, you have to cover all the expenses. Let’s say you decide to print 100, 1000, or even 5000 books (for an initial print run), you personally have to cover that cost. That’s above the costs of writing the book, creating the artwork, getting the ISBN, hiring a copy editor, marketing etc. It can be a very profitable venue, its just that you need a substantial bankroll and expertise to go this route.
Today the market has changed for the better, there’s more options. Although most people still prefer going with a publication company there’s a couple of new ways to publish that are easier, quicker, and more affordable. The main ones are POD (Print on Demand) and ebooks.
Print on Demand is where you partner up with a company like iUniverse to print your book on demand, be it one at a time, 20, 100, and so on. You don’t need to make runs, your book can be printed one at a time if need be. However to take advantage of this with Print on Demand you do have to spend a bit of money to get your book ready and into the “system”. The fees aren’t astronomical but they aren’t cheap either. For example iUniverse has packages ranging from $299 to $1,199 (not counting editorial services, etc.). This is great when you consider you can be self published without have to do a full print run of your books.
How do you make money using this service? Like most publishing companies, it’s mainly through royalties. iUniverse gives you a 10-20% royalty depending on what options you want to use. Another benefit is that they’ll sell you copies (again even one at a time) of your book to you at a heavy discount.
The option I investigated with POD and traditional publishing is ebooks. Ebooks are basically books sold in digital format (generally PDF) that you can purchase and download online. I’ve purchased at least a couple dozen myself and I’ve even sold one in the past. Ebooks can be great because the costs are only your time to write and market the ebook. Each sale goes almost directly to your bottom line. The downside is that it’s generally less credible, harder to sell and market. People prefer traditional books over ebooks.
After looking at all the options, I’m strongly leaning towards Print on Demand (POD). You don’t get some of the benefits of a publishing company (big distribution, some marketing, etc.), but you make up for it in other respects. With POD, you’re guaranteed to have your book published, you’re publishing it! With POD you can also get your book to market much quicker. With traditional publication companies getting through the approval process can take months, never mind going through all the steps and negotiations. The difference is 2-3 months versus a year or so. Personally I just don’t have the patience for that anymore, I’d rather just go ahead and get it done. That’s what being an entrepreneur for so long does to you.
As a disadvantage you don’t get your book professional edited for you with POD. You need to do this or hire a professional editor. That’s ok with me because I don’t mind hiring someone for this. Also, you don’t get the full distribution of a publishing company. Your book will not appear in bookstores across the nation, at least not unless you’re a proven bestseller. That’s ok I can accept that. Another disadvantage is that you need to provide all the marketing for your book (books don’t sell themselves). That’s ok too, the topic of the book is about marketing and sales after all. If I can’t do that I shouldn’t be writting this book. Something to also remember is that publishing companies will only continue to market your book as long as it has a return on investment otherwise they’ll leave it entirely to you. Either way you’ll still need to do a lot of the marketing yourself.
Having looked at all the options, the benefits and disadavantages, I believe I’ll proceed on the Print On Demand route. I like the timelines. I like the control. I don’t mind doing all of the marketing, that’s something I know (its definitely a serious consideration for most people). I also don’t mind the loss distribution, my plan was to focus mainly on sales through Amazon anyways. I plan to emulate the success the authors of the book Call To Action had using their own techniques (great book by the way, I commented on it back in July 2005). I can’t find it anymore, but I remember reading somewhere that they didn’t want to sell the book directly on their own website, even if it was for a much higher margin! They wanted every sale to go through Amazon.com so that they could increase their Amazon ranking, giving it some serious momentum (there’s more to it than that, but that’s for another day).
Another factor that really helped make my decision was a book I recently picked up at my local bookstore called Get Published. It’s written by the CEO and editorial director of iUniverse so its very skewed towards iUniverse, it’s almost a sales pitch. But even with that it was a great read. I read most of it in one sitting. Again, there’s no doubt its a book to sell their service, they have testimonials of iUniverse sprinkled throughout, but it still clearly explains a lot about the publishing world. The fact that even with their sales pitch I’m still recommending the book should say something. They really do explain how things work in the publishing industry. They really do tell you the good and bad of the different types of publishing methods available to you (traditional, POD, etc.). They don’t try to oversell you on iUniverse, they tell you what they can’t and won’t do for you. They tell you exactly what the differences are and what you’ll need to do to be successful in both. For example, they tell you that you will need to do 100% of the marketing for your book with iUniverse, they won’t provide this for you. Again I strongly recommend Get Published if you’re looking for information on how to get a book published.
When will the actual book be available? My personal goal, which I’m publicly sharing right here and now, is to have it written before the end of summer. It’s an aggressive goal but I think I can do it. Add another 2-3 months to get printed by iUniverse (ISBN assigned, printing, edited, cover design, etc.) and I’m hoping to have it available for purchase on Amazon.com by late fall to early winter. Let’s see what happens!