Is Publishing a Book Right For Me? Increasingly more authors and professionals are taking the dive into publishing books. I have been witness to countless authors who have persevered to create titles that were both personally and economically rewarding. Whether it’s the devoted writer who’s been crafting her narrative for years, or the personal trainer wanting to publish a fitness guide for his own gym, the satisfaction of seeing one’s hard work in print is a lifetime accomplishment. Not to mention, a careful and effective distribution plan to sell a new book can net its author over $20,000 in the first year.Let’s define ‘Publisher’. For the purposes of this article, a publisher is a person who has written or brainstormed content for a book, and has directly hired all the resources and book editors needed to edit, design, print, market and sell the book. The full job of a “publisher”, in fact, doesn’t stop after book printing, but continues through actively selling and marketing the book as well.What makes a publishing endeavor successful?The best way to understand publishing is to view it as a journey-a multi-faceted process of frequent book edits, layout design, art direction, copy editing and selling/marketing to customers. When taking the first step in publishing a book, educating yourself on the reality of the publishing business and realistically assessing your own personal strengths and weaknesses is vital. The most successful publishers who take this journey come prepared with knowledge of the industry, and help from the right type of book publishing companies along the way.Get Help – Enlist Experts to Guide YouImagine you are about to embark on a journey into a territory you’ve never navigated before, where there is no clear path, where competition with others is fierce, and copyright laws are murky. You’d want a guide to go with you, wouldn’t you?In a field where there are about as many roads to publishing books as there are reasons to publish, I recommend working with a book publishing company, or book packager. Book packagers do exactly as the name implies: package a book from start to finish, from its first manuscript to its final sales and marketing. Unlike Subsidy Press, a book packager is personally invested in the success of the books they publish. When a book packager begins work on a project, the quality, comprehensiveness, and consumer success of the finished project directly reflect the aptitude of both author and book packager.”Know Thyself”-Realistically Addressing Your Publishing ConcernsOnce authors get their feet wet in the publishing industry, the process may still seem mystifying and risky, and they can feel a very real sense of trepidation. It is also common for those new to the industry to become guarded when communicating with publishing professionals and book publishing companies. Worries while publishing a book and doubting your book’s outcome and success are completely normal!A call and conversation with a book publishing company is a helpful first step in determining what it takes to produce a book. A book project requires much time and planning, and speaking with someone within a book publishing company can realistically help you identity goals and limitations will be crucial to a smart business plan. As a publisher in the business for 30 years, I’ve found people to be suspicious and nervous to commit at many stages, simply because they are wary of what they don’t understand. I have multiple conversations with potential publishers as we consider a business plan together, and typically each phone call gets less and less guarded as some of the mystery to publishing a book is taken away.Bring it Home-Selling & Marketing Your BookFrequently, I will meet an author who is extremely skilled at writing and wishes to publish, yet lacks the technical experience to produce that successful book design. Other publishers manage well enough to package a good book, yet fall short in the selling & marketing aspects of publishing (a separate yet entirely vital aspect on its own). That is why an honest assessment of your own strengths and weaknesses will put you heads above other publishers when it comes time to sell. If you know you are someone who does not enjoy marketing and self-promoting, simply recognizing this will identify which areas will need extra planning.Realistically, the best chance of marketing a book after it’s been published is with authors who already have a network of followers in their field. A network is a group of people or potential customers that have some level of relationship with the author. Some of the most successful authors Sea Hill Press has worked with in the past include coaches, chefs, lecturers and teachers, each of whom had a pool of students and fans to directly market their work. Relationships with potential readers can be built and maintained through simple name recognition, and using low-cost strategies, such as e-mailing lists. In a business where large Book Wholesalers and Distributors charge outsized fees to distribute at virtually no risk to themselves, a great move is to follow alternative models of distributing your work.
I’ve heard many people in the publishing industry say, “Every author must have a blog,” but is blogging really effective? Every author must decide for him or herself, but first, it’s important to understand what a blog is and how to use it effectively.A blog is a shortened version of the term “web log.” It’s basically a journal or diary that is online for the public to read. Businesses use blogs to share information about their products, new items in their markets, and other information relevant to their industry. Blogging is similar for authors who want to connect with readers, books being the product and readers being the customers who want the product-at least they should after reading your blog.Blogging is an excellent marketing strategy for authors because it’s a way for them to tell their stories, to talk about their books, to share information, items of common interest to readers, and ultimately, to get people to buy their books. Whether writing fiction or non-fiction, most authors are telling a story, and a blog is just another way to tell a story-the story about you the author-in a more personal way that will get readers to like you and want to hear more of what you have to say.Having a blog does not mean just posting whatever and whenever. As an author, you want to have a strategy for your blog posts. Ultimately, your goal is to sell your books to your potential readers. Make sure your posts reflect that strategy. If you’re writing romance novels, it doesn’t make sense to post about your gardening interests-unless you can tie those into your book-for example, if your heroine’s name is Cecilia and she is a gardener in your book, then you could be creative and present Cecilia’s gardening tips.Following are some key tips to make your blog effective so it will engage your readers:Have an attention grabbing headline.
Keep the content relatively short-just a few paragraphs-a chapter a day from your book may be too long, so spread it out over a few posts-remember people online have short attention spans.
Post selections from your books.
Write about why you wrote your book-tell the background story.
Give sneak peeks of future books or ideas you’re working on.
Review products of interest to your readers-if you write historical fiction, review other historical novels or historical films. If you write about nature, the outdoors, activities like rock-climbing, then write reviews of nature hiking trails, the best kayaking places, or the newest in climbing equipment.
Share information about your industry or genre-a lot of readers want to be writers, so talk about writing, publishing, and book marketing-be helpful to everyone who asks for help (within reason).
Offer viewpoints that may be a little controversial.
Ask your readers for their opinions on what you post. Solicit comments from them. Asking for feedback tells your readers that you want to know what they have to say, and that you’re interested in understanding your customers. Respond to the comments people write. Remember, many people view authors as celebrities. They will be pleased that you took the time to write them back. The more comments you get, the more people will want to leave comments. Don’t worry about negative comments-you can control what comments appear on your site, but a little controversy can also help.
Ask your readers what topics they would like you to post about. Ask them for ideas for future books, or put up a piece of writing and ask for feedback.
Link to other sites and exchange links. Find authors who write on similar topics or in similar genres. Interview them, or review each other’s books. Links will help your search engine optimization and you’ll have more links back to your site to attract readers.
Advertise your blog. Just putting up a blog on your website won’t get people to your blog. Advertise it through your email lists. Be involved in social media sites like Facebook and Twitter where you can promote your blog.
Avoid trying to sell directly. No one likes a pushy salesperson. Share information and make people curious about your thoughts, opinions, and writing. People like to do business with people they know and like. As they get to know and like you, they’ll become more curious to buy your book.
Go beyond the written word. Include photographs in your blog to attract people who are more visual. You can also include audio and video to your blog. Take turns playing with or switching up different types of blog posts.
Automate your blog so everything you post goes to your social networking sites. Ping.fm is one good site that allows you to cross-post.
Be listed on blog directories so people looking for information or the topics you’re writing about can find you.
Follow other authors and people in the publishing industry’s blogs and post comments on those blogs-your website will be included so people will follow you back to your website.
Post on average three or more blogs a week so you always have new content and readers stay interested.Blogging can be a fun and fulfilling way to promote your books, to have conversations with readers, to try out ideas for future books, and to learn a great deal about how to market your books to attract readers. Ultimately, you won’t know if blogging is effective for you unless you try it.