The subject of this session is something near and dear to my heart. Some of you already know that I am already a published author. My book was published in 2007 and I haven’t’ done anything else since…except write lots and lots of stories. I’ve been on the fence on which publishing route to take for my works waiting in the wings. I was excited to attend “Book Smarts – Everything You Wanted to Know About Publishing and Marketing a Book.” to get some additional insight.
The discussion was lead by these great blogging authors:
- Thien-Kim Lam, creator of the virtual book club, From Left to Write.
- Tracy Beckerman, humor blogger and author of “Lost In Suburbia.”
- Robin O’Bryant, humor blogger and best selling author of “Ketchup is a Vegetable and Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves”
The discussion centered around the fundamental differences between self-publishing and traditional publishing. How you decide which one is best for you and your book depends on what your goals are. Figuring out your goals begins with the answer to this one question… “Who Do You Want This Book To Reach?” Once you know that, you can determine the best course of action to publish your work.
Some shy away from the self-publishing idea because of the former negative stigma behind it… that your book isn’t “real” if you self-publish. Over time, and with the advances in technology and social media, that stigma has changed and self-published work has been embraced.
To truly know how to go about getting published, you need to know the difference between the two methods.
The traditional publishing method starts with getting a literary agent. Choose the right agent based upon the kind of book you plan to write. One of the best ways to find one is to look at the authors who write books similar to yours. Check the acknowledgements in one of their books to find a mention of their agent and research that person. Agents act as your advocate and pitch your work to the publishers for you. They do your book deal negotiations and manage your royalties. Beware of agents who ask for a fee up front. Agents don’t make money until your book sells.
If you are writing fiction, you will have to have a completed manuscript to submit to an agent. If your work is non-fiction, you do not have to have a completed manuscript but you will have to submit a book proposal. A proposal is an overview of what your book will be about. It is usually 30 to 60 pages long and contains the table of contents, sample chapters, and the proposed marketing plan for your book. Your agent will shop your manuscript or proposal to appropriate publishers.
Once a publisher accepts your book, they will assign you a publicist to manage the marketing of your book. They will generally be the one responsible for the direction of your marketing plan. One thing to understand is that they are mostly concerned with the “bottom line” and not your personal success.
Making money from your traditionally published book can be interesting. Sometimes your agent can negotiate a signing bonus for your project from the publishers. The amount depends on how marketable the publisher thinks your book is. Authors generally can expect to make about 10-15% of the sales from their books.
Traditional publishing can be a very long process. It can take anywhere from 18 months to 2 years… or more and that’s not counting the time it takes to find an agent.
Self-publishing pretty much is what its name implies. The author does all of the work. And it is a lot of work. Getting copyrights, ISBN numbers, researching and finding the best print option, marketing the book, selling the book, etc., etc. Along with the work involved, there are a lot of upfront costs associated with all of the steps to getting your book published. You can expect to spend anywhere between $600 and $3,000 to publish and market your book.
One of the reasons why self-publishing had such a negative stigma is because authors did too much of the above mentioned work themselves or they skip the necessary steps that a traditionally published author would take. Your book should be professionally edited and your cover professionally designed. Your book can be self-published but it doesn’t have to “look” self-published… if you catch my drift.
With self-publishing, you control all of the marketing and selling of your book. You can determine everything… the book price, how and when you launch, etc. Your entire marketing strategy is driven by you, your goals, your ideas, and your schedule.
The money from self-publishing can be quite rewarding provided you sell and market your book well. You can expect to make 45-100% of your book sales. Less the upfront costs, it’s quite profitable provided you market and sell your book well.
“Hybrid” publishing is the best of both world. There are some small publishing houses that will do all the up-front work for you in terms of “creating” your book and then you will be responsible for all of the marketing efforts. Do your research and find the best fit for you and your work.
Based on this information, it may seem like traditional publishing is not very user-friendly. But don’t count it out just yet. Look at what you’ve got going for yourself. The size of your audience, online community, and your level of influence in your niche and subject matter can speak volumes to how marketable your book will be to a traditional publisher.
In either case, but especially self-publishing, you are strongly encouraged to think outside the box for the marketing of your book. As bloggers and social media influencers, we have the advantage of a built-in ready to go consumer base of people who will buy our books and also tell their networks to check it out as well. Whatever route you choose to take, tap into your networks because they will be your biggest source of advertisement and revenue.
Some suggested ways of using your networks to promote and sell your book are:
- Being featured on book blogs
- Hosting virtual book tours via blogs and social media
- Hosting in-person signings at homes of friends, coffee shops, boutiques, and other venues.
- Connect with subject/genre appropriate brands you work with to tie in promotions with the launch of your book.
- Get authors, book bloggers, and other relevant peers to review your book so you have testimonials before the launch.
- Set up author profiles on Good Reads and Amazon
- Make good use of local resources and local media outlets. Partner with local establishments for cross-promotion.
For more information and resources on getting your book published, please see this list of resources on Robin’s blog: http://www.robinschicks.com/2009/05/frequently-asked-questions.html