Friends and family always ask me. They want to know how I managed to publish two books. I am never sure if they just can’t believe I am smart enough to have pulled it off or if they want to know how they could do it. I suspect it is a little of both. After all, most of us think that we could do a better job running the restaurant where we are eating; know that, with a few lucky breaks, our garage band from high school could have made it; and just about all of us want to someday write a book. If you find yourself in the wanna-be-an-author category then this is for you… five simple steps for publishing your book.
1. Write what you know. All of us are experts in at least one or two subjects. Write about something you know and that you are passionate about. Did you coach your kid’s little league team? Do make amazing looking front-door wreaths? Do you know how to catch large-mouthed bass? There you go. Share what you know with passion and enthusiasm and someone, somewhere, will want to read what you have written.
2. Do not wait on perfection. David “Siteman” Garland has made a career offering on-line training courses and teaching others how to build their own web-based training solutions. One of his mantras is that you will never create the perfect product. Each time you re-read what you have written you will almost certainly want to edit and improve. That’s OK. But when you reach a satisfaction level of about 80% then launch. Your product will probably never be perfect. At 80%, it is good enough. By the way, when you final do publish, do not order 100 copies for friends and family. Regardless of how many editors you employ and how many times you re-read your material, you will find typos. Order ten. When your book has been out there for a couple of months and you are sure you have most of the errors corrected, then you can order more. Have your book converted to an audio book for about $500 more. Hearing someone else read it is great way to catch errors.
3. Find a publisher. The Internet has made self-publishing easy. You no longer submit your manuscript to a large, McGraw-Hill type house and anxiously await your acceptance or rejection letter. Check out Createspace.com or Kindle Direct Publishing. They are the guys who will get you to Amazon.com, where all self-publishers want to be. Either of these will publish your 24,000 word (that’s about 100 pages in a 5.5” x 8.5” book) creation for about $1,700.00, all in. That will include editing, formatting the interior, and helping you with your cover. I have used another, smaller, publishing company which cut my cost in almost half but there were quality issues. Which leads to…
4. Befriend your editor. Do not ask one of your high school friends who is really good in English to be your editor. By the way, the phrase “really good in English” is grammatically incorrect. See what I mean about hiring a novice? Pay for a professional. You can find them at any publisher or just search the web for free-lance service providers. Whichever route you take, insist on a person-to-person telephone conversation regarding you content, your target audience, the tone of your material, and your sales objectives. Most publishers will send you a questionnaire. Don’t be content with simply completing their survey. Talk to your editor. There is no worse feeling than getting that marked-up copy back from the first edit to find it covered in red ink. A healthy conversation, up front, will help your editor understand exactly what you were trying to achieve.
5. Get to Amazon.com. Regardless of who you hire as a publisher, make certain that their fee includes the handoff to Amazon and Kindle. Using Amazon/Kindle means that you do not have to maintain a garage full of books that you hand-address and mail each time you get an order. Just-in-time fulfillment (printing and mailing a book only when it is ordered) is Amazon’s sweet spot. No one does it better. You set the price/profit margin on Amazon and they do the rest, including some marketing. Their dashboard showing your monthly sales takes a little getting used to but it is worth the effort when you see the residual income in your monthly bank statement.
There you have it. Let me know if you have questions. I will be happy to help. And if you would rather read than write, I can suggest two great books!
Thank you for your time and have a great weekend!