Too many authors spend all their time writing and then skimp on book design and book marketing. They hope their publisher will take care of all the details of book design and book marketing so they can just sit back and rake in millions year after year.
If those same authors then decide to self-publish, they will quickly become bogged down in the quagmire of print-on-demand publishers and the time and money sink of self-publishing. In fact, most authors would rather die than think about book marketing or spend money on book design.
Face your book marketing competition
About 172,000 books with an ISBN number were published in 2005, according to Bowker, which compiles publishing statistics. An ISBN number connects you to Books in Print and allows your book to be distributed to bookstores and online sites such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble. According to some sources, almost a quarter of these books were printed by print-on-demand (POD) companies.
I would estimate that number to be much higher since many small publishers print their books from Lightning Source, which also offers printing for many of the larger POD companies.
Additionally, Lulu Press, which publishes over 1500 books a week, states that only about 5% of their books are given an ISBN number. That’s another 80,000 or so books circulating in the market each year, although most of Lulu’s books are only sold through Lulu Press on their website.
The definition of bestseller has changed
It only takes 300 book sales to make Lulu’s top 100 bestseller list of all time. 300 books! For some people, this can be accomplished simply by selling books to their extended family. While AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Xlibris, and other big players in the POD market may be printing more books with ISBN numbers, their sales records aren’t much better.
Some sources estimate that the average book sells no more than 150 copies, and other sources put this figure at fewer than fifty copies. In many cases, authors lose money on their books, which is why Lulu Press is so popular. At Lulu, you can upload your book interior and cover (they do all the design work) and have a book at your doorstep within days – all for the “cost of printing” (which, by the way, is grossly inflated).
The services and prices of POD companies vary greatly, which is why we are in the final stages of creating a comprehensive guide to self-publishing. It can be a confusing morass of information and data with many unsubstantiated claims. The truth should come out.
Will you be one of the winners or part of the majority?
Will your book be dead before it hits the streets? If you intend to sell more than 50 books, you will need to invest time – and money – in the production and marketing of your book. Here are the basic steps you need to consider:
1. Write a great book that has an audience.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is assuming that people will read their book just because it’s “good.” People will read a book if it’s either applicable to their life (nonfiction) or if it’s really a damn good book (fiction). Even then, you need to market your book. “How to sell a book” or “How to market a book” are two of the most common questions we receive, and search engine analysis shows these are common search terms. If you didn’t write your book with an audience in mind, then you’re only standing on three legs on your four-legged marketing stool.
2. Spend some money on book cover design and book editing.
The second pillar of book marketing is the interior and exterior design of the book. People judge a book by its cover. So if you don’t spend money on a great cover, you’re losing sales. Then people open the book and read the intro or the first few pages. Is it well written? Easy to read? Is the interior design of the book clean, consistent, and well executed? I’ve seen many POD books where the margins are too small, the fonts are poorly chosen, and the images are blurry. Who buys a book like this?
There are many great book cover designers out there. Then contact Charity at Mighty Pen Editing for your editing needs. Don’t skimp on editing because you WILL make mistakes (trust me on this one – there are probably a few in this article).
3. Choose a quality publisher.
Lulu Press is great if you just want to print a few books for your friends or want to create an inexpensive pamphlet to send to editors, agents, or distributors. You will often be asked to send a “copy” of your book, which is simply a printed, blank-cover copy of your book. Lulu Press is great for creating galleys at minimal cost.
As we will show you in our upcoming comprehensive guide to self-publishing, which POD company you choose depends on your intentions and desires. If you want your book professionally edited and the cover designed professionally by your publisher (instead of hiring someone unknown), companies like Cold Tree Press might be a good choice. Other companies offer a variety of marketing packages. I personally would rather not have my book marketed by these publishers and go to a good book marketer or media specialist instead.
But there are a few small publishers (like Cold Tree Press or Arbor Books) that have excellent book marketing packages ranging from several hundred to several thousand dollars (you get what you pay for!).
4. Be uncompromising when it comes to book marketing.
If your book is your life or is an important part of your business marketing plan, then spend some money on advertising and book marketing. Too many people, especially business people, write a book, publish a page on their website (and on Amazon), and hope they get a few sales. Your book is like a 250-page business card and should be used as such.
If your book is your life story or a novel, you still have to spend some money on marketing, although your approach will be different. Be sure to consult a media relations specialist (Marika Flatt at http://www.prbythebook.com) or a book marketer (Penny Sansevieri).
5. Use the internet to market your book.
The old ways of selling books, like book tours, are dead and gone. Of course you can still do that, but if you really want to sell books, you have to go online – and not quietly.
Use techniques such as blogging (blogging), podcasting, and videocasting (something like online infomercials). Be sure to check out the advanced book marketing teleseminar series at http://www.writeandpublishyourbook.com. They should also learn how to conduct a virtual book tour (a class Penny Sansevieri will be teaching as part of Write and Publish Your Book).
So write a great book, find a good book cover designer and book editor, work with a quality publisher, market the best of your book, and use the internet to support your book with podcasts, blogging (an author’s blog), and videocasts to market , and virtual book tours.
Much luck. Well written. good sale.
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