The writer/publisher – part 6

The pressure is on. I have to get this book printed.

There are close to 5000 people reading downloaded copies of Danger Quicksand – Have A Nice Day and some of them have asked, "Is it is available on Amazon yet?"

Gretchen’s friend in the self-publishing business was incredulous when she found out I was giving away free downloads. Her voice practically squeaked when she said, "You’re not billing them for the downloads?"

There are few role models to follow in this  rapidly changing self-publishing landscape, so I have to make it up as I go along. Since I am blogging as I go, you are getting a first-hand view of what it is like to break new ground as a self-publisher.

I am trying to apply good business practices to a situation that has never existed before, so I may make mistakes, but you should be the first to hear about them.

Meanwhile, you can read this with your morning coffee and be thankful that I’m doing this first. When you publish your book, you’ll know exactly what to avoid.

First of all, let’s deal with the matter of allowing free downloads.

I think this was the best investment I could have made.

How much would I have to spend as an unknown author to get my very first book read and discussed by 5000 people before it was printed? Care to pick a number?

If I had only one book to write and this was my only chance to
publish, I might be concerned that some might read the free e-book and
wouldn’t buy the paperback edition. I don’t think a free e-book is a
problem, I consider it the best solution for introducing a first book.

There are thousands of people in the corporate trenches who need the
data this book provides and they needed the information yesterday, so a
free e-book is an attractive introductory offer.

However, they will need a paperback version of the book as a
reference next year and the year after that, because they will run into
career challenging situations again and again.

I am taking a chance that some fraction of the people reading the
downloads will want a smart-looking paperback they can refer to or give
to friends who are having a hard time at work.

The feedback I am getting from readers seems to indicate that I will
have some orders to fill when the paperback is available. We will just
have to see how many…and you will be able to observe my results and
determine whether you should risk following a similar path.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the printer selection is almost over.
I am down to three contenders and could go with any one of them without
regrets. All three have sent me sample books that match the look I want
to achieve with this first book: A perfect bound, glossy 12pt laminated
cover over 60# white text stock.

The last hurdle is to call the references they have given me and see
which printer will give me the service and support I need. If all goes
well, I should have a printer selected within 24 hours.

Then I prepare the final files for the text and covers and send them
off. Since I’ve not done that before, I expect that I will have a few
challenges to overcome before the book is on the press and running. My
choice of printer will be heavily influenced by the amount of support
they provide to first-time publishers.

Stay tuned for further developments…

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0 Responses to The writer/publisher – part 6

  1. Avi Solomon says:

    Seth Godin successfully pursued this strategy with ‘Ideavirus’ – it benefited from a Fast Company Cover though:)
    http://www.sethgodin.com/sg/blog/2002_03_01_archive.html#10859696
    http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/37/ideavirus.html

  2. Rob Evans says:

    FYI: I downloaded the PDF and *will* buy the book when/if it is published.

  3. I’ve been reading through your posts, David, and you are providing an invaluable service to budding authors.

    I just have a couple of comments– for all; as an Author Services company using POD, I bridge the gap between a typical POD company which, as you say, may be a good choice, but may get gnarly–asking for certain rights, or being unable to accommodate custom design for a book, and the traditional publisher which, in a perfect world, pays you an advance, handles your editing and proofreading, does the page layout and design and then prints and markets your book. My company, wmebooks.com is located in the heart of the POD industry–Rochester, NY, where the fantastic machines which perform the amazing POD task were invented, by Kodak and Xerox.

    I have PERSONAL relationships with printers able to do POD, as well as digital and offset. WMEBooks.com takes the worry out of ‘how do I do this’…’how do I do that’…as you will find when you are doing page layout then need to convert it to a PDF a printer can use.

    David, you are an exceptional case–in that you are doing the majority of the work on your own. I admire that– it’s not an easy task. But, admit it, it’s been fun. Your free download, contrary to Gretchen’s friend in self-publishing, is a phenomenal marketing tool. With a great book such as yours, an initial free download will generally INCREASE actual sales. We know this because folks still covet that printed copy.

    Anyway, an author services company — if they’re a good one — does NOT take rights from the author; they SERVE the author by supplying much needed copywriting, editing, proofing, page layout, design, and interfacing with the printer– then, they work very hard to help market the book because after the initial upfront investment– their profit comes from a percentage of sales of the book. At a good Author Services company the author gets the higher royalty rate…upwards of 20-40%.

    At our company, the author rules– we expect to supply whatever hands-on help the author wants–and we sell the book through our bookstore and through our blogs (by the way, Amazon takes 55% off the top, folks!if you really want to be included in their database, okay…but you better plan on doing a LOT of marketing to sell your book; they also reserve the right to drop the price whenever they please).

    As for Lulu– they are a printer– they have a large database of books, of which most have not even sold one copy. That’s up to the author, again. And, Lulu prints pretty much what you send them. They offer a smidgen of help…but, they don’t go out of their way to be helpful. If you’re David Lawrence, that might work…if you’re unsure of how to prepare your book for print, and then…how to successfully market it, Lulu is not for you.

    As the printing world evolves, POD will overtake traditional printing (with digital printing moving right alongside) and we will see a shift in how books go to market.

    People like you, David, are innovators and first movers and set the stage for the success this industry is sure to see in the next 5 years. The notes on your publishing effort can even be put together into a short e-book for folks to download. For free. With a discount coupon to purchase the print version of Quicksand. Just a thought.

    Thanks for the great content…we have your link up at our A-ha! blog– you are an inspiration.

  4. David says:

    Hi David,

    Just for your info in Canada, 5,000 copies in book sales, even if you’re giving it away, would be considered a Best Seller.

    Keep up the great work. I am enjoy your book immensely, thank you for sharing it.

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