Self-publishing has such a romantic ring to it … that pioneer spirit or the “Don Quixote” approach to getting your title in print. Self-publishing may be the only option available to most writers these days as major publishers are facing the same hardships as the auto making industry who find themselves overextended to say the least.
We are just beginning to realize the full impact of the publishers who were buying out every independent bookstore in the country to become the biggest bookstore on the block. This meant feeding those giant stores with more and more books with nearly a third returned unsold, representing another boom and bust in this economy. When sold at 70% discount as ‘remainder stock’ this comes right out of those royalty checks paid to authors.
Like General Motors who made many dumb decisions and can only blame themselves for the fix they found themselves in, the publishing industry midwifes made just as many asinine decisions by flooding the market with thousands of titles per month that did not have a prayer of selling.
I am convinced it was a Madison Avenue “marketing guru” or maybe one of the current crop of Wall Street “experts,” who convinced bookstores to adopt a fully refundable return policy that now averages 26% or higher of all books sold each year in the United States. That means for every 100 books sold, 26 come back too damaged to resale. With a billion books in circulation each year the losses are staggering but this stupid kind of marketing persists for no apparent reason other than bookstores asking their customers to screw them over and over again. In the end this costs comes right out of the hide of the authors.
In this sick and financially troubled society for many years we looked the other way in the clothing business where women would buy a dress at Neiman Marcus, Macy’s or The Broadway to wear to a wedding on the weekend only to return it on Monday to get their money back. Everyone in the department stores knew the dress showed the tell-tell stains and body odor that traveled along with the garment, but the policy continued for years. There are those who buy computer products that they download on their computer hard drive then take it back to the merchant knowing full well they still have a working copy at home on their computer, the computer industry made that trick impossible once you opened the disk. We have come to accept this kind of theft in our society because it does not hurt us it only hurts those “rich” merchants and manufacturers. In the book business it is quite clear, too many consumers buy a book, read it, spill coffee on, dog ear the pages and then demand their money back… little wonder the publishing industry continues to dig its own grave.
I have been in the publishing business for 28 years and have only given refunds for defective or damaged books on rare occasions and I still manage to survive. If you are thinking about self-publishing you also need to think about how you are going to market your book. Keep in mind, people buy things on eBay or Craig’s list where sales are final, why should books be any different? We have a sickness in this society that intellectual property rights are ripe for the taking.
And guess who eats the cost of these returned books? Not just the publisher, the authors receive ‘reverse-charges’ for the returning freight and a subtraction for the retail sale that has one hell of an impact on that 10% royalty check. A little detail that is usually left out of contract negotiations with new authors. In most of those 10% royalty contracts it is not uncommon for an author to only realize about 4%. You need to sell tens of thousands of books to ever see a $50,000 royalty check and few are this lucky. Like Don Quixote the entire process is indeed like fighting windmills… the other side of the publishing industry rarely talked about in the media.
The flip side of this coin is Self-publishing, an option that transforms a writer into an instant publishing technician. This carries the risks of simple mistakes costing thousands of dollars. Or worse, the kind of errors that make a final book not look very professional web. If Self-publishing is your option then seek out those with the kind of experience that can enhance your chances for success.
Financial risk is the main reason most publishers will not produce new titles. Publishing, like other businesses is based on profit. Some authors are willing to take the risks of financing the production of their books and do the marketing and distribution themselves. This is called “Vanity Press.” I have designed, produced and published over 250 titles in both vanity and co-publishing arrangements and have self-published 9 books of my own.
Defeat Foreclosure ( www.defeatforeclosure.org ) is a book I wrote and published early in 2008, it was written to assist homeowners in this financial crisis.
My current book, The Nursing Home Crisis ( www.thenursinghomecrisis.com ) is based on the experiences of several relatives confined to a nursing home including my mother who died in one. If you are considering going into a nursing home or placing a loved one in an elder care facility don’t do it until you read this book. My newest books include, Sleep Seekers and Serbia: Faces & Places .
A good portion of the publishing risk can be eliminated by considering co-publishing as the best option for authors who are willing to make a financial commitment and do the extra leg work on their title and to join forces with publishing professionals who will hand-hold them through the entire publishing process. Co-publishing is a more harmonious relationship in which the author participates in all of the decision-making. In my company we provide an atmosphere in which an author earns up to 60% of the profit from their book.
In co-publishing the publisher has the experience and background which they are willing to share in exchange for a portion of the profits generated by your title. These professionals typically oversee supervision of copy editing, book and cover design, book packaging, printing supervision, binding expertise, internet marketing, publicity, mailing and distribution … all of the important aspects that make a book a success.
In addition to providing a clean double-spaced manuscript and a financial investment in the book the author needs to assist in defining their market. A list of names of experts in your field or subject who can be helpful in promoting your book is an asset. The author should determine interest groups or organizations where guest appearances can be made. A book in print opens doors that could not be opened any other way. A book can get you on talk radio and television. Researching these contacts is vital for the success of your book. As a result of a book in print, there are many situations where you can be called upon as an expert in your field. An English language version of your book can also lead to foreign translation rights.
I will devote more time and space in this blog to all of the advantages and options related to self-publishing. With 20 years of experience in the printing industry and 28 years in self-publishing this blog may be one of the viable options available to writers, especially in this current market. My next article will be about the publishing industry giants seeking a bailout.
For more information visit www.gmbooks.com
Over the past two decade I have produced and printed books for The Los Angeles Times, Simon & Schuster and Random House . I am therefore well aware of the horror stories on the street about what is being called “Black Wednesday” about two years ago three-dozen people on the editorial staff were handed their pink slips at Simon & Schuster after decades of loyal service. Like most avalanches the process continues to bury hundreds of employees as the head-rolling process of downsizing took its toll. This was the beginning of another major industry in this country headed for bankruptcy, hard times or a Washington bailout.
The week before Black Wednesday, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, a publishing house made up of two previously independent publishers, including the very successful Harcourt, Brace Jovanovich , decided to “freeze” acquisitions and told it editors to “stop buying books.” The staff at Houghton Mifflin was decimated as their publisher resigned … surely in protest, you think? I have been in the printing and publishing industries for over 40 years and I have never heard of such an edict. There were always those temporary “cut backs” but never a public policy of NO MORE BOOKS . Such events at major publishers should give the readers of this article great pause, especially if you are thinking your manuscript has a prayer today of being published by a major publishing house. Self-publishing may be your only alternative.
The days of the bloated and over extended conglomerate are over which can be said of hundreds of American companies in this economic melt-down. It is not merely a fact that books are not selling; bookstores across the country are returning books to the publishers at an alarming rate. Barns & Noble closed more than 400 bookstores nationwide. On the Affluent Westside of Los Angeles Border’s closed its flagship store in Westwood Village next to UCLA, then proceeded to close the bookstores in Century City, Beverly Hills and Brentwood in communities know for spending their money on books for their children. In my earlier blog I wrote about the return policy of every bookstores in the country and the lack of obligation to the publisher and their authors of returned copies without penalties. Last year 26.3% of the billion or more books sold in the U.S. were returned to bookstores, many badly damaged and could not be resold. The phrase “Let them eat cake” attributed to Marie Antoinette, seems fitting here, I hope the publishers choke on them as these returned books come right out of the royalties these publishers pay to their authors who have been promised a golden dream that quickly turned into a financial nightmare.
A few years back I produced and printed Witness to War: Images of the Persian Gulf War for the Los Angeles Times , a book which won a Pulitzer. I produced a number of books for the Times including ConArtist , the 30-year anniversary book for the late political cartoonist, Paul Conrad, Dining Out in Orange County by Max Jacobson, The Los Angeles Riots, The Los Angeles Earthquake, and 30 Years of Recipe Request by Rose Dosti. While active as a supplier for the Times in 2001, I began to suspect that all was not well in the newspaper business when the Times cut off nearly half of its staff and enticed another 10% to take early retirement with handsome bonuses—but that proved inadequate as its parent company filed for bankruptcy. Dorothy Chandler, who built the Times-Mirror Empire is surely rolling over in her grave.
But let us take a close look at how major publishers treat authors. If you are fortunate enough to get your manuscript accepted and even more fortunate to receive an advance on your royalties, the publisher most likely will demand that you use that advance to hire a publicist or public relations firm to promote your title before it hits the bookstores. It takes a major publisher 12 to 14 months to get a book to market and if they feel you have not gotten enough interest in your title they may decide at the 12th hour not to publish, placing you, the author, in a catch-22. If you have spent the advance and cannot return the money the publisher then maintains the rights to your manuscript preventing you from taking your book to another publisher.
Since the word “depression” creeps into many conversations these days I am reminded that books did very well during that economic crisis of the 1930s as did the ten cent movie and the sleazy dime novel; these were about the only escapism available at the time. Last week my wife and I decided to go to the movies. The tickets cost $12 each and popcorn and a Coke another $10, I wonder how many Americans will be able to afford the luxury of $44 for an evening at the movies?
So polish up that manuscript … there is still hope for that book you want to write and publish. Looks like reading may come back in style? For more on Self-Publishing: www.gmbooks.com/selfpublishabook
Think of your eBook as a potential ongoing series or course. Pull out certain sections as a special report available on your website, or into audio or visual tapes using these sections to promote current or future products. Create a squeeze page or landing page in which a potential buyer can download your report or purchase of your eBook. No other publishing method has this kind of flexibility for expansion.
Ebooks are easily distributed or downloaded online. One of the best features that have served publishing well is the fact that an eBook is easily updated. As an example, my 2008 eBook, Defeat Foreclosure has been updated four times in six months as the U.S. House and Senate keep changing the laws regarding foreclosure, mortgages, home ownership and taxes.
We duplicate 200 to 300 eBooks at a time so the book is as current as the last duplication of disks. Being able to download an eBook online and put the book on your hard drive saves a trip to the local bookstore or waiting for it to come in the mail. We have truly become impatient consumers.
Ebooks can be designed to be interactive. Our series of Nikon Digital Camera eBooks by best selling author Peter iNova like the D40, D300 and the new D90 utilizes a “rollover” technique in which moving the mouse over an image turns it to a before and after picture like magic, making learning a camera technique faster and easier to comprehend. Video and mp3 audio files can also be included in an eBook further enhancing the experience, drawing your reader into the virtual world of your eBook. The potential is virtually limitless.
As this new generation seems to be born with their umbilical cord attached to a computer, the new world is not opposed to reading on the Internet, including entire books on their computer, Kindle or iPads. The information explosion for sharing information, ideas, techniques, and expert knowledge is expanding faster then we can consume the data generic cialis from canada. It is obvious, therefore, why electronic self-publishing has become popular so quickly.
Ebooks have certain capabilities and qualities that other publishing alternatives do not offer. Ebooks are easy and inexpensive to produce. You don’t need an agent, a printing press, or a distributor. You just need a great concept, the ability to write or, the money to hire a writer, and the right software.
In conclusion, there are numerous ways to use eBooks to promote your business, drive traffic to your website and once posted on your site, you can turn them into online study courses, bringing your customer back to read the next chapter or use them as a free gift for making a purchase. We have placed our YouTube promotional DVD on a disk as an example of using a DVD as a business card or innovative brochure.
Using eBooks cuts the cost of producing separate promotional material. Ebooks give you the opportunity to learn your market and customer habits over a period of time, without risking a great deal of financial resources.
Research your own niche if you are planning to write an eBook. Check out Amazon and ClickBank to see what subject matter is selling. Use your research to discover what the goals and problems are in your specific subject. Then find your own unique way to solve these problems, and publish an eBook that might approach the niche from a different direction. If you plan to do an eBook on a current subject see what those authors have left out of their books. This will increase the value of your eBook and your reputation as an expert in your field.
The eBook is here to stay, so is the information explosion.