Self-aware authors know they're taking on a challenge when they choose to self-publish a book, a rewarding and exciting challenge, but a challenge nonetheless. With advancements in technology and opportunity and a lessening of the bias against self-publishing, every author now has a chance to succeed in the publishing space doing it on their own.
We have some special opportunities to help you get the most out of BookExpo and/or BookCon 2018 at the Javits Center in New York, NY, May 31 – June 3! How does your own personal consultation sound? Or perhaps reading from your work on stage?!
I once spoke with a gentleman who had written and published a book on terrorism’s threat to our water supply. As we discussed avenues for marketing his book, this gentleman remarked that mostly academicians had purchased the book, which he found scary. Here was an individual who had the knowledge and the foresight to write a book on an important subject of concern to our country, and yet he did not recognize the position this placed him in. The first thing this gentleman needs to do in marketing his book is to accept the fact that, since he wrote the book, he is now the expert on the subject of how terrorism could affect our water supply.
Have you heard of Abraham Maslow’s Need Hierarchy? It describes a pyramid of needs through which people move as they are motivated to fulfill unmet needs. The foundation is made up of the very basic needs (security, food, etc.) and people advance ultimately to self-actualization. Believe it or not, the same concept applies to book buying from business-to-business (B2B).
You can write the absolute best book in the world, have top-of-the-line book distribution and quality, but another essential part to being a successful publisher is taking the time to invest in expanding your publishing knowledge and expertise, because, at the end of the day, your book’s success needs your input.
Goals are the foundation of a solid book publishing plan. They provide a target at which to aim and the standard against which you can gauge your progress. Author goals divide your vision statement into manageable steps and provide a path to its realization. And written goals provide a means for looking back to see how far you've come.
One thing many indie authors come to terms with is that they’re not just publishing a book, they’re starting an author business. Here's what you need to get it going: a publishing imprint comprised of an appropriate name and logo, a budget that takes into account the book marketing you'll need to do to make that money back, and—more likely than not—a little hired help.
To every writer who tells me, “It’s not about the money,” I first say, “Good.” (Something like 1 percent of writers are able to support themselves through writing.) Next, I say, “Think like a publisher.” Some authors aren’t keen to view their books as commodities, but books are products, and it’s best to make financial decisions with a publisher’s mindset.
Are your book sales at the point where you expected them to be when you published your book? Are you doing the same things you always did to try to sell them? Have you heard the maxim, “If you do what you always did, you’ll get what you always got”? If your sales are below forecast, maybe it's time to try something different.
Recently, the publishing world has been in a tizzy about the “fixing of the lists” by a now notorious first-time author, Lani Sarem. There is a wonderful summary of all that transpired by Vox writer Constance Grady if you’d like to read the storied background of how this scandal erupted (and you should). This self-published author temporarily tricked The New York Times into bestowing the much-coveted best-seller appellation upon her book (but they later removed Handbook for Mortals from the rankings).