Sunday, August 12, 2007

What you don't know about publishing a book can take you from dream to nightmare overnight!

Almost every day I receive an inquiry from someone who has spent a small fortune getting their book published by a company that basically promises them the moon when it comes to the success of their book.

In the majority of cases, regardless of how you get your book to market; self publishing in the truest sense of the word; vanity publishers, or traditional publishers, the author will have to proactively market the book in order to sell copies.

My most recent inquiry came from a man who had a 56 page document published as a book by what appears to be a vanity publisher. The publishing company has a retail price of $19.95 on the book.

Needless to say, the author has had a difficult time selling the book to people who see it and those who buy it sight unseen are disappointed with the minimal number of pages.

Lots of people have the dream of becoming a published author yet, lack enough information to make the best choice for their particular publishing needs. Although there are numerous reputable publishing companies, there are many companies taking advantage of an aspiring author's dream and lack of knowledge.

The best thing a wanna be author can do is to learn as much as possible about your publishing options before you “sign on the dotted line”.

For the purpose of clarification here are some simple definitions (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia):

Self PublishingSelf-publishing is the publishing of books and other media by the author(s) of those work, rather than by established, third party publishers.

Vanity Press A vanity press or vanity publisher is a book printer which, while claiming to be a publisher charges writers a fee in return for publishing their books or otherwise makes most of its money from the author rather than from the public.

POD – Print on Demand
Print on demand or publish on demand (POD) is a printing technology in which a copy is not created until after an order is received.

The reality is, regardless of what avenue of publishing an author chooses, they will still have to be very proactive in the marketing of their book. Rarely is this not the case.

Many people are under the impression, or led to believe, the publisher will do the marketing for them. If a publisher provides such a service it is usually minimal at best. Perhaps a press release or two, listing on Amazon, a posting on a website, a simple website, etc. If a company does provide an effective marketing and promotions campaign, usually there is a hefty fee that is attached to it.

Many vanity presses make a big deal out of getting the author a listing on and offering a website as part of the publishing deal. The fact is in and of themselves, listings on and having a website, will do little if any good. The author must still market and will be well-served to drive traffic to those locations.

It’s like anything, no matter how good something is, if people don’t know about it, they can’t buy it. No matter how good a book is, how great the title, how big the market, without a very proactive approach to marketing, books do not sell. The marketing and promotions is an ongoing process and absolutely essential to the success of a book.

Personally, I am an advocate of self-publishing in the truest sense of the word. It means I oversee everything. This doesn’t mean I do all the actual work myself, rather, I hire it out.

Areas that you would hire out would be:

Cover design
Copy editing
Book layout
Some marketing
You can even hire out some or all of the writing.

I personally do all my own writing, but the other areas such as design, layout, and editing I contract to others.

The world of book selling has become incredibly competitive. In my experience, the best way to sell a book is have a very proactive online approach as well as selling through speaking engagements.

You can find some marketing ideas in my free recordings at

You can learn some extremely effective online marketing strategies with my eBook, The Truth About Making Money on the Internet at

You can also get many of your questions answered by joining two excellent Yahoo Groups for self-published authors.

You post a question to the group and if people have an answer they will usually respond in a timely fashion.

I would highly recommend you get books on publishing, marketing books and self-publishing by the following authors.

Dan Poynter
John Kremer
Tom and Marilyn Ross

There is nothing to compare to see your book published. Yet, without the correct information your dream can quickly become a nightmare. Before making any decisions do your research. You will be glad you did.


Kim Hillman said...

This is so true. Marketing is everything, and it's best if the author knows their market before they ever write a word.

I would like to present to you another publishing option which would have worked for the man with the 56 page document. Instead of publishing a book, he should have published a booklet. Booklets are a more affordable publishing option and they are very marketable as long as they contain valuable information. They are an easy way for the first time author to break into print without breaking the bank. It's too bad the author didn't know about this option before spending his money on a book that won't sell.

My company, Up & At 'Em Publications, is a full service publishing company devoted to publishing, marketing and fundraising with booklets. We not only help authors get into print, we give them many ideas as to how to reach their particular market. Successful authors will return to us to publish again, so it is in our best interest, as well as theirs, to give them some tips.

Kim Hillman
CEO of Up & At 'Em Publications

Kathleen Gage said...

Hi Kim,

Thanks for a great post. I agree, the "book" really is more of a "booklet". Had the original publishing company been upfront with the author, he probably would have chosen a different route.

Unfortunately, I see people being frequently misled. It is nice to see your post and that you are concerned with the best interest of the author.


Kathleen Gage
The Street Smarts Marketer

Diane Eble said...

Thank you, Kathleen and Kim both, for your posts and comments.

As a book publishing coach, I too am dismayed by how many companies prey off of the desire to publish a book. I have saved several clients from wasting thousands of dollars to publish books that they could not possibly market at the price they themselves were paying.

I wish there were a good way to get a book published. Unfortunately, given the history and state of book publishing, it's very difficult to make a living from books alone. However, with the advent of the internet and technology, I think it's actually finally possible to both publish and make a living from providing information--IF you're willing to "think outside the book."

I'm with you, Kathleen, regarding true self-publishing. However,it's a big project. Can be expensive. Best financed by creating other information products with higher profit margins--which is a big part of what I teach.

Diane Eble

Kathleen Gage said...

I'm with you Diane. Many an aspiring author believes that one book will be the answer. The fact is, finding other revenue streams from the initial book, or as a connection to the book, is the way to go.

I coach people on developing presentations, information products, teleseminars and mentoring courses based on a theme, topic or title. And of course, a market.

Thanks for your comments. Very useful to the readers of my blog.

Kathleen Gage
The Street Smarts Marketer

Linda Austin said...

Good article, Kathleen. Currently I am helping a 74-year-old woman get away from a popular vanity publisher who gave her trouble at every turn before finally producing her less than beautiful children's book at an exhorbitant price. Live and learn.

Linda Austin
Moonbridge Publications

Kathleen Gage said...

Whenever I hear about people being taken advantage of it deepens my desire to educate people in order that they can make the best decision for their needs.

Kathleen Gage
The Street Smarts Marketer