self publishing

The 3 most common questions authors asked me at the GLAWS event.

Photos by Elaine Mura and Tony N Todaro

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to speak at an event sponsored by  GLAWS (Greater Los Angeles Writers Society).  It was held on the campus of Los Angeles Valley College and we had a packed house. It was a great day despite the 100+ degree weather in Southern California.  My presentation was titled, The Four Paths to Publishing and with it, I outlined the four different opportunities authors have today to get their books into the hands of readers.  In just a few weeks, I am going to publish a white paper with the same title, but essentially what I said was an author can choose from one of four options to get published today.

  1. DIY–This involves using an upload or online formating tool to get the book in distribution.
  2. General Contractor– Here the author hires a number of independent contractors to complete the book and market it.
  3. Publishing Package– With this option, an author chooses an assisted self-publishing company who packages all the services into a convenient one-stop shopping opportunity.
  4. Traditional Publishing–This is as it has always been.

    One of the four paths to publishing

The white paper will provide much more detail about each of these paths and discuss the advantages and drawbacks to each option, but the feedback from the seminar was this framework was very helpful to people as they try to navigate the new landscape of publishing.  After the presentation, we opened up the floor for questions, which I always enjoy. There were more than an hours worth, but as I reflected on them later, I realized there were some common themes. Here are the three most common questions I was asked and a brief sentence or two on how I answered them.

  • Which path is the best one for me? By far, this what most people were trying to figure out. Unfortunately, there is not one right answer, but there is a way to determine which path is best.  Make sure you clearly articulate your goal for the book, the skills and experience you have, what time commitment you can make, and how much of a budget you have. With those items clearly identified, you will be able to choose the best path.
  • I have a children’s book. How do I find an illustrator. Just like with the first question, there is not one answer that applies to every author.  Depending on your goals and budget, there are a number of ways you can find an illustrator. First, if you pursue the publishing path option, most companies offer illustrations as part of their services. If you don’t want to utilize that option, you can find freelancers on sites like www.elance.com or www.odesk.com. Finally, if you live near a college or university, you might find some talent on those campuses looking for projects. However, you always want to be careful about setting expectations, deadlines, deliverables and payment terms.
  • I have published three books with traditional publishers in the past, but all the editors I worked with are retired or dead. What do I do now? Ok, that was not a common question, but I thought it captured the anxiety and confusion many previsouly published authors are feeling right now. The publishing world has changed and while that can be frustrating, it also means there is more opportunity than ever before. So I told the gentlemen who asked the question that he should pursue self-publishing and agents and publishers would discover him anew.
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Author Solutions, authors, book marketing, book selling, Indie book publishing, iuniverse, Publishing, self publishing, writing

Books are the new business card says Fast Company magazine. Funny, we said that back in 2009.

Recently Fast Company magazine ran an article titled, Why Books Are The Ultimate New Business Card. It was a helpful piece that summarized why books are so key for those in the business or consulting world. Here are four important statements from the article that I thought you would find interesting.

  • Books are no longer simply books, they are branding devices and credibility signals–not to mention the reason their authors command large speaking or consulting fees.
  • Authors have diversified their income streams, and many make substantially more money through new business generated by a book, rather than from it.
  • Today, authors are in the idea-making business, not the book business. In short, this means that publishing a book is less about sales and much more about creating a brand
  • For an author looking to break into this market, it wouldn’t be about courting critics or seeking award nominations. Rather, their book needs to prove that they are an interesting or attractive storyteller with relevant ideas.

This piece was quite good, but the premise is something I have been saying  since 2009. In fact, Smart Money magazine ran an article in July of that year which made similar statements as the Fast Company article based on a press release we did at ASI. That doesn’t make the recent article less relevant or important.  I just wanted to point out that authors have seen this opportunity for some time and if you are not taking advantage of how self publishing can help you, it is time to get that book done.

Here are some examples of books that are being used as calling cards by authors and helping them build a brand.  They are targeted at very different audiences, but are all intended to support a business practice and give the authors greater credibility as they work to build their reputation.

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Author Solutions, authors, book selling, Ebooks, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing

Full-service (Traditional) publishers are rethinking what they can offer so says industry expert Mike Shatzkin

The past few years have brought about more upheaval in the publishing industry than in the previous 400 years combined. From the time Gutenberg invented the printing press, till the introduction of the paperback, there weren’t many ground-breaking moves. However, since the late 90’s, the publishing world has gone through an indie revolution similar to what we have seen in the film and music industries and the changes have been dramatic.

Industry expert Mike Shatzkin offers thoughtful insights on what the changes in publishing mean for tradtional publishers.

Blogs and social media are filled with commentary about what all this means for authors and publishers. My survey finds lots of critics and fear mongers, but few who are offering clear and helpful insight as to what the implications of this revolution are for the industry and consumer. The one exception to that statement is Mike Shatzkin. 

According to his bio, Mike is  the Founder & CEO of The Idea Logical Company and  has been involved in the publishing business for nearly 50 years. He has written or co-authored six books that have been published by established companies and just issued his first self-published ebook, a collection of two years of his blog posts called “The Shatzkin Files, Volume 1.”For the past two decades, he has been a thought leader and among the most prominent observers of the industry’s transition to the digital era.  His long history in publishing and willingness to embrace and even predict where the changes might take us enables him to offer a unique and refreshing perspective.

Recently he offered a blog post titled, “Full-service (Traditional) publishers are rethinking what they can offer”. The post is too lengthy to repost here, but I highly recommend you read it if you would like to better understand how traditional publishers are thinking about how they need to remake their business going forward. Just simply click here or on the Shatzkin Files image

In the post and subsequent comments, Mike addresses where publishers have historically added value, how that is changing and what they may do going forward. If you are interested in understanding how traditional publishers might adapt to the revolution taking place, it is a post worth reading.

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Author Solutions, authors, book selling, Ebooks, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing, writing

Is Traditional Publishing the New Vanity Publishing? Huffington Post says yes!

Last week, Bernard Starr, a writer for the Huffington Post, penned a somewhat controversial article that suggested that Traditional Publishing now deserved to be labeled with the term “vanity press”. The basis for his argument is the advantages of self publishing, such as creative control, speed-to-market and earnings potential far outweigh the advantages that traditional publishers now bring. He describes those as editing and bricks and mortar distribution. Editing services can certainly be outsourced to many competent people such as someone like Alan Rinzler.  That leaves print distribution, which Starr argues is not that critical in today’s digital reader world.

Here’s some of the text from his article which provides more depth to his argument.

Commentators on the current upheaval in publishing have observed that many authors desperately seek a traditional publisher when self-publishing would serve them far better. Traditional publishing has thus become, in many instances, the vanity choice. Does it make sense?

The new world of self-publishing has little in common with the old vanity publishing, but for many writers it still bears the taint of vanity. Self-publishing has not only democratized publishing, it has opened up the opportunity for authors to publish at low or no cost, own all the rights, control the pricing and timetable for publishing, and get their books listed for sale and distribution on major outlets and platforms — e.g. Amazon, kindle, nook, other e-readers, Google and more. Royalties for self-published books can range from thirty to eighty percent (depending on ancillary services that are selected) compared to the 71/2 to 15 percent in traditional publishing. And if you are adept at Internet marketing, you can reach large targeted audiences for your books.

Fact is that authors no longer need a publisher. And more and more writers are awakening to the realization that if you are not a high-profile author who can command large sales, a traditional publisher will do little for you beyond editing and printing your book. While it’s true that they will also distribute it to the waning number of brick-and-mortar bookstores — self-published books are not usually available in bookstores — the number that actually land on the shelves is surprisingly small. And the argument that self-published books are not widely reviewed in mainstream publications loses steam when you realize that only a tiny percent of traditionally published books are reviewed at all. Add to that the growing number of prestigious venues that now review self-published books.

If you want to read the full article, you can simply click on the Huff Books logo in this post.

Now whether you agree or disagree with his argument, and there are people on both sides, I think his point of view helps illustrate how much the world of publishing has changed and why authors need to make sure they stay informed of their options.  That said I do believe it is unrealistic to think that authors, no matter how they chose to publish are going to be devoid of ego so to label one method as somehow more altruistic than another is naive. The reality is if you take the time to write a manuscript and publish it you must think there is something about you and what you have to share that is important to others.  And that is OK.  That’s why I think we should just let the term vanity press be put to rest. That will be the subject of a future blog post, but in the meantime, what do you think of Starr’s post? Use the comment section to let me know.

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