Enjoy this free preview of How to Self-Publish, The Author-preneur’s Guide to Publishing from Chapter 1.
Becoming an Author-preneur
Technology is moving so fast that, by the time this book is published, much of the information may be outdated. The good news is that those changes will complement the information you are about to read.
My intention is to offer you a road map with the understanding that “road” construction is constant, updating is imminent, and improvements should be expected. I will update this book whenever major changes take place that would make the information on this map obsolete.
You can expect more social media sites to pop up and some to disappear. Writing this book is like trying to tag graffiti on a moving train. But I’m working fast to tag what is available in April 2013 to help you successfully become an Author-preneur.
What is an Author-preneur?
Being an author in the self-publishing industry today is like opening a small business. Your books are your products. You must wear the hat of writer, editor (for early edits), publisher, publicist, social media manager and entrepreneur.
Being an author is a challenging career choice whether you go the traditional or self-publishing route. You expose your soul to the world and brace yourself for reviews.
If you decide to go the route of self-publishing, you give up the team behind the traditional publisher. You will need to do a lot of work yourself; hire people and ask for help. You will be your own cheerleader and give yourself a daily pep talk in the solitude necessary to write. It is the most rewarding gig ever, yet very tough.
Who Could and Should Self-Publish?
Over the past few years the entire publishing world has been turned upside down. Who can self-publish a book? Absolutely anyone!
When I was younger I dreamt of getting an agent and following the traditional route of publishing. Landing a writing contract with all its prestige was part of my dream. That was, until I had the opportunity in 2011 to listen to David Sanford speak about the publishing world at Multnomah University. It was then that the prospect of self-publishing wove its magic and the doors flung wide open for my new career path.
Throughout this book, I will break down what I learned that fruitful day and what I’ve learned through the process of self-publishing four books over the past two years.
Maybe the question isn’t, “Who can self-publish” but instead, “Who should write a book?” My belief is that God gave each of us unique gifts and perspectives. Everyone has a voice, and something important to teach. It is a matter of whether or not you have the confidence in yourself that what you know is worth sharing, and if you believe you are worth being paid for your gifts and talents.
“If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” Toni Morrison.
This commonly referenced quote is one of my favorites because it simply states the obvious. Write what you love, write from your heart and write what you are uniquely gifted to share.
I use the term author-preneur in this book because being both author and entrepreneur is critical to being a successful writer today. Self-publishing is the entrepreneurship route to publication. You are in control of deadlines, cover design, concept, price, as well as your potential success or failure. It’s all yours, baby! You will see other terms commonly used for today’s author including indie and artisan. I like all the terms because to me being an author-preneur, indie or artisan encompasses the innovative and risk-taking spirit it takes to succeed in today’s ever changing marketplace.
“Author-preneur: An author who creates a written product, participates in creating their own brand, and actively promotes that brand through a variety of outlets. An author-preneur makes use of outlets such as: websites, blogs and social media, promotional materials both in print and online, opportunities to speak, generating media coverage, teaching other authors in person or online, creating unique business models to facilitate their product, offering support through those business models to other authors.” Urban Dictionary
Whether you call this form of publishing indie, artisan or author-preneurship, the truth is that at the end of the day, readers don’t care how your book was published. What they do care about is content, what it can do to help or inspire them, in addition to how much your book will cost them.
Once upon a time, self-publishing was equated with failure for an author, but it wasn’t a true perception then and it most definitely isn’t true today. It is just as exciting to hold a self-published book in your hand as it is to hold a traditionally published one. Maybe more so, because you get to keep a bigger piece of the profit; and you successfully accomplished your goal. My youngest daughter Caiden used to say, “I do it my own self” as she asserted her independence to the world. You can do it “your own self” too.
You are probably not going to get rich unless you are among the few one-in-a-million runaway success stories but in the meantime, why not create a long term source of income that will outlive you? Your royalty checks will continue rolling in forever. The book publishing industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. It is a risk to reach for the moon, but it’s definitely more exciting than studying the lint in your belly button as you hold your dreams in.
Well-known and profitable authors are walking away from traditional publishing to self-publish using On Demand Publishing for paperback editions, Digital options for eReaders such as Kindle, Nook and other devices. I will explain all the self-publishing options in Chapter 2.
In the book, Be the Monkey, co-author Barry Eisler discusses how he turned down a half million dollar book deal with a traditional publisher to self-publish. Not too long ago he would have been considered crazy to walk away from such a deal, but he did the math. The decision to self-publish, just like any business decision, is a mathematical equation in which you commit to put your time, energy and resources into the most profitable route.
You don’t have to look too far to find articles by established authors and publishers who look down upon self-published authors, but the ability to keep your book in print forever, higher royalties, better eBook profits, setting your own price and increasing the speed at which a book can enter the market as a self-publisher, is swaying many over.
Joe Konrath, co-author of the book, Be the Monkey, puts it bluntly, “There are so many writers now defending the Big 6 (publishers) that I liken their behavior to Stockholm syndrome.” Later in the same book Eisler says in regards to legacy deals, “The final argument I’ve been hearing . . . is that, ‘Okay, some people are making money in self-publishing, but it’s always the same names.’ But the list of names keeps getting longer. The critics are going to be reduced to saying, ‘Okay, some people are making money in self-publishing, but it’s always the same five thousands names.’ The critics will be self-publishing themselves before then.”
There has never been a better time in history for you to write your book. The only things that stand between you and your published book are self-limiting fear, excuses, or not making your dreams of writing and publishing your book a priority.
Using What You Already Have
If you are a business owner, have a blog, are a speaker, teacher, comedian, doctor, instructor, singer, preacher, social media maven, artist, photographer or otherwise already engaged in communicating with the public, then you’ve probably already written dozens of books-worth of material. You simply have not organized your thoughts, committed them to paper, or utilized channels of self-publishing to turn them into a book to create a long term (and low, one time effort) profit yet.
I’m here to tell you that you have a gaping hole in your pocket. Day in and day out, you are ignoring cash lying on the table that you could easily pick up and put to good use. By simply organizing your past efforts you can create future profits. Writing a book is not a get rich quick scheme in any way, shape or form. It is a method of sharing your knowledge with a larger audience and by doing so, profiting. If you are seeking to get rich quick then you are on the wrong path. If your life story will inspire others and your knowledge is empowering then by all means start typing, organizing, publishing and getting paid for your efforts.
Don’t get tied up in knots wondering who would read your inspirations, jokes, or life story since you aren’t world famous yet. People won’t care whether or not you are famous as long as your story is well written and is interesting. People enjoy reading interesting stories. Don’t you?
You might think that people won’t buy your book because you have already given the information away on your blog, teachings, hand-outs or a PDF. My experience has taught me that people prefer having all the information they want at their fingertips, rather than having to search all over the Internet to find it for free.
My book, DIY Kitchen Chemistry, is a collection of information I had already given away for free on YouTube videos titled Kitchen Chemistry, as well as on my blogs and website. I put on the cover, “As Seen on YouTube” and people still prefer to buy the book rather than watch videos or download and save all of the information.
Start with Your Dream
Not everyone has a treasure trove of old notes, teaching material and blogs to pull from to write a book. Many of you simply have a dream to turn your idea into a book. A dream is the first big step. Take the second step by harnessing the power of action. You might stand in the way of your dream, but if you are mentally and emotionally tough enough and if you can toss your excuses and fears aside, you are half way there. Nothing can stand in the way of your writing that book except – you.
Sometimes you may get sidetracked and lose your focus on the goal to write a book. Don’t beat yourself up, just refocus and start again. If you fail along the way it is okay to take a moment to have a pity party, but then let go and get on with the business of starting again. I will share universal writing tips that you can use regardless of your starting point in Chapter 3.
Stand Out in the Crowd
Authors face a new challenge today that wasn’t present just a few years ago. The virtual bookstore is crowded! And I mean really crowded because self-publishing has removed the barriers to the publishing world and everyone can jump in. You need to stand out in the crowd. Your book should virtually pop and be full of good content that will send the reader back to buy more of your books.
Focus on your niche because that is what sells and brings people back for more. Out of my four books my best seller is, How to Make Melt & Pour Soap Base from Scratch. I was surprised because it is a very niche book. I expected it to drop off in sales, yet it continues to outsell my broader range books covering aromatherapy and DIY crafts. What makes it stand out in the crowd of soap books to virtual strangers is that it teaches a form of soap making that none of the other books on the market teach. Most soap making books teach how to make handmade soap or how to use a bulk base called melt & pour soap. My book shares the previously well-kept industry secret recipe and techniques for making melt & pour soap base from scratch instead of buying it in bulk.
Increasing Other Avenues of Sales
I wrote my first three books while we were in the process of selling our company, Essential Wholesale. I wanted to complete my handmade do-it-yourself craft, soap and aromatherapy books by the time the sale was completed.
These beauty industry books have provided a way for me to share what I learned and have continued income from the knowledge I accumulated while my husband and I owned Essential Wholesale. Because I self-published, I am able to keep my books in print long beyond my ownership in my brick and mortar business and even beyond my lifetime. With traditional methods, the publisher holds the power and decides when to print and when not to print.
Becoming an author gives you instant credibility and residual income. Having a book on the market increases your visibility to consumers way beyond your website and into popular online bookstores. Being an author opens additional doors for speaking. I received more speaking invitations after the publication of my books than any other time in the history of my business. Speaking is profitable, and it also allows you to interact with many more customers, without spending the money to fly to an event and pay for the event registration since as a speaker all your expenses are covered by the host.
I generally sell books to about 40-50% of the audience that I speak to at an event. Your sales numbers may vary depending on your audience, topic and book. When I spoke on the topic of my book, How to Make Melt & Pour Soap Base from Scratch, I sold out quickly.
Amazon Earning Avenues
Book sales are not the only potential way to earn income from booksellers like Amazon. You can become an Amazon Associate and earn an extra 4% of your own book sales and any other products that a customer buys on Amazon after coming over from your link. Bloggers can use your Amazon Associate account to link people to any other items Amazon sells when you write a blog post on any topic. For instance, if you write a recipe that has a funky ingredient, your reader will wonder where to buy it. Simply link them to Amazon from your blog post and profit. You may also choose to advertise for Amazon and earn even more extra income.
Amazon Associate Disclaimer: One of my editors took my advice after proofing this paragraph and discovered that Amazon would not approve her as an associate due to tax laws in her state. Before you start counting up your 4% earnings be sure to go to the Amazon Associates program to determine if your state is included in the program. Also, this program could change if and when legislatures approve a national tax on online commerce.
Copyright © 2013 by Kayla Fioravanti