Posted by 2014-04-16 16:10:03
Title: I am looking for information on self publishing for non fiction as well as E Books. How to turn an E...
This is a subject near and dear to my heart as I have gone through this process extensively with my first book, "Fail Fast. Succeed Faster." that is self-published, and a second one on intuition on its way.
The very first consideration you need to think about is who your audience is for the topic of the book. If the audience is smaller in size because you have a niche subject (stories from World War II, for example), then this will dictate how many books you should print/convert to e-books and what budget you will set for all of the other factors. My book, "Fail Fast. Succeed Faster." appeals to entrepreneurs and business executives, and so I decided to print a larger run of books and had a larger budget to ensure the quality of the publication was apparent. Be realistic in your projections on sales!
The next consideration is budget as self-publishing could become a costly affair. I will make the assumption that you are writing the book yourself and that you have obtained an ISBN for each type of book you are publishing (free in Canada). The costs you need to think about are:
1. Editing costs - hiring a professional editor is a MUST because any mistakes in spelling or grammar will instantly kill your credibility, and nobody will recommend it. These costs can range from $15/hr to $100/hr depending upon the quality and expertise you require. The total amount also depends upon the size of the book.
2. Cover design - Surprisingly, this is not something considered as important by many self-published authors. Yet, you have only a very few seconds to catch someone's attention. You want people to walk by a number of books and have your cover catch their eye. So, a well laid out cover design is critical. And get people's feedback. This again could range in price from a small niche business specializing in book cover design to a marketing company that has a number of designers helping on the branding.
3. Book Layout - This is generally thought about as the last step in the process, but it should be one of the first steps in the process. The layout includes the size of the margins, the font, where the page numbers are, how the pictures look like and where are they situated and how the chapters “break.” A professional layout person will cost anywhere from $500 to $2,000 depending upon level of experience. But remember, you have to think about the reading experience of your target audience.
4. Printing - If looking to print hardcover or paperback, you can get print-on-demand services that cost you a significantly higher amount on a per-book basis, which eats into your profit margins, rather than printing in bulk. But you are not stuck with inventory. If printing in bulk, think about 1,000 at a time to manage cash flow and budget.
5. e-book conversion - You will have to convert the manuscript to both an e-PUB and ePDF format (and possibly a format for iBooks). This can range from $250 and up depending upon service provider. Don't make the mistake of going with a conversion company that makes promises of marketing the book to encourage sales, etc. They will try and upsell you on ancillary services with the possibility of little to no return on your money.
6. e-book distributor - Once the e-book has been converted, I would rely on paying for a distributor to get the e-books out to a base of “e-tailers.” I went with Bookmasters because they converted the manuscripts and they only distribute to "e-tailers" that support digital media rights, which means that they will not allow the ePDFs (specifically) to float around on the internet. Once that happens, then your book is now available to the world for free. I do not know of any e-book print on demand service you can tap into. Essentially, the e-book distributor will send the e-books onto Amazon.com, iBooks, barnesandnoble.com, etc. for the eventual customer to pay for and download. Of course, you will have to sacrifice up to 55% of the cost of the e-book for this to happen.
7. Hardcover/paperback distributor - if you are planning on having your books available on Amazon.com, etc., you will need to pay a service that does this distribution for you. You will have to pay an administration fee and also sacrifice up to 55% of the cover price. The only other option is that you load up books in the trunk of your car and distribute them yourself.
8. Marketing costs - This could be a runaway train if you are not careful. You can go door-to-door selling books or do things like a book launch, advertising, flyers, social media campaign, speaking engagements that require some marketing material, etc. Yes, spending some money on marketing tactics may possibly garner book sales faster, but this really affects your budget. Marketing HAS to be done. Many self-published authors think that they write a book and all of a sudden, sales will happen and in six months, they sell out. This is so far from the realities of self-publishing and could get depressing.
9. Website - You will need a good website that will tell people something about you, the book, and why they should buy the book. This also will show your branding with the cover design, and have the ability to order online. Take a look at some of the famous authors and see how they have done their websites. This cannot be a $500 website because you will be imparting a certain impression. If the website looks cheap, then this could speak to the perceived quality of your book, although this may not be the case. Although still falling under marketing, I kept this as a separate point as this is a high dollar item.
In terms of book sponsorship, unless there is something in it for the sponsor, nobody is going to sponsor your book and any associated costs. On top of that, they will want to see the final product, which must be of high quality, which means your budget for the book must be significant. You may have some strong connections with potential sponsors, and that will work in your favour. I would not look to sponsors to help as the sales cycle for this may be up to a year, and even then, the decision may be "no." Now, you have wasted one year that could have best been used to sell books to provide some return on your investment. My advice? Don't bother.
These are some of the major areas that you will need to think about. As you can see, there are a LOT of issues you need to think about and work through just in considering self-publishing a book. Make sure you are committed to the costs and the long process, which may take anywhere from 18 months to 2.5 years before your book gains traction, assuming you are pounding the pavement all the time.