Bowker – the official ISBN agency for the United States – announced that 235,000 books will be self-published in 2012. Adding another 100,000 books produced by traditional publishers, that means that 0.1% of all Americans realize their dream of publishing a book each year.
Moreover, according to a 2002 survey of 1,006 people by the Jenkins Group, 81% of Americans have a goal to write a book (source). I suspect that an even higher percentage of public speakers want to be authors.
For anyone looking to see their name in print, “APE: How To Publish A Book” by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch is an absolute must read. In case you were wondering, the “A” is for Author, the “P” is for Publisher, and the “E” is for Entrepreneur. This is a book I wish I had read before publishing my latest book “How To Deliver A TED Talk.” Here are the takeaways from the book that resonate with my self-publishing experience.
- Write for the right reasons including to enrich lives through knowledge and understanding, to further a cause, or to achieve therapeutic catharsis. “Even if no one reads your book, you can write it for the sake of writing it.”
- Most books sell only a few hundred copies, period. My first book sells less than 5 copies a month. My second book sells more than 3,000 per month. I love the two books equally and independently of their relative worldly success.
- Self-publishing takes 6 to 12 months from start to finish at an average cost of $4,000 and royalties of 35% to 70%. Traditional publishing takes 12 to 18 months – assuming that you manage to get an agent who manages to get you a publishing deal with a typical $5,000 to $10,000 advance plus 10% to 15% royalties.
- “The magic price points for self-published eBooks are $0.99, $2.99, and $9.99.”
- Guy Kawasaki’s experience is that 20% of his audience buys books after a speaking performance.
- Start with the “story” of your book including who your audience is and what problem you are trying to solve for them. Then create a complete outline. Then “vomit” your book. Then edit, edit, edit. Then edit, edit, edit some more.
- Hire professionals who have been there and done that (BTDT) for copy-editing, cover design, and interior layout. Do not skimp on this! For my two books, I used Amazon’s CreateSpace and recommended them 1000% percent. Lulu is a great second choice from what I have heard but was more expensive when I last checked.
- Choose a cover that is “simple, big, and bright” so that is stands out in a sea of thumbnails. “People will judge a book by its cover.”
- Sell your ebook on Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble Nook, Google Books, and Kobo. If you follow my recommendation to use CreateSpace for author-services, print-on-demand books, and Kindle distribution, then you will need another partner such as BookBaby, Lulu, or SmashWords to cover the remaining channels.
- Avoid cute titles. Instead, craft a title that includes the major keywords that your audience would otherwise search for on Google when finding information about your subject.
- The book contains extensive information about file formatting, eBook conversion, and upload. Unless you are extremely proficient in these tools, I recommend that you pay one of the services listed above.
- “We don’t recommend that you add DRM to your book.”
- I used Audible’s Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) to hire voice talent and create the audio version of my book. Note, I only did this after I had a sufficient volume of sales to justify the expense. Kevin Pierce was my partner and I strongly recommend him.
- From personal experience, foreign publishers will find you if your book is a hit. I use the Eric Yang Agency but they found me rather than vice-versa.
- Concentrate on zer0-cost guerrilla marketing via email and social media.
- Proactively reach out to Amazon reviewers by examining “the reviews of books in your genre to find reviewers with Hall of Fame, Top 50 Reviewer, or Voice Voice badges.”
- Blog at least once a week
- Offer free advance review copies by sending highly personalized messages to the most prominent bloggers for your genre on Alltop.com. Though you cannot guarantee a good review, this is the best success strategy I have found.
- Offer free advance review copies to everyone in your personal network.
- “NetGalley can help you market and deliver your book to a database of 85,000 professional reviewers, bloggers, journalists, librarians, and bookseller.”
- Set up an author page on GoodReads
Try It Out!
Again, this book is indispensable for every aspiring author. Though I have covered the highlights of the book and some of my personal experiences, this summary is no substitute for the real book.
(Disclosure: I received a free review copy of “APE: How to Publish a Book” due to the presence of my blog – SpeakingSherpa.com – on Guy Kawasaki’s alltop.com.)