Money blinds. It’s as simple as that. Aspiring authors ask about the money issue all the time, in varying forms, (How much does it cost to publish? How much will I get paid in royalties?, etc.) but they can’t see beyond that issue to think about the thing that will truly decide the money question. And here it is:
What Do You Want From Your Book?
That is the real question! Once you are clear about what you want out of the publishing process, you can decide what route would be the most satisfying–and profitable–for you. When it comes right down it it, you can spend as much or as little as you want on your book. But how much are you willing to spend to get what you want?
When you aren’t clear, you can make poor decisions that won’t line up with your goals. For instance, many authors have a goal of making a lot of money, but they won’t consider self publishing. The fact is that unless you can immediately sell on the level of an Oprah’s Book Club selection or a James Patterson or a Dan Brown, it’s going to take a very long time before your royalties add up to much. When you self publish you take on risk, but you stand to gain much more because you get to keep all the profits (unless your agreement with the publishing company you use is a royalties-based one).
Another strong reason to self publish: you can use your first book to build your platform for a bigger deal with a traditional publishing house in the future. Again, you can choose the self publishing deal that’s right for you. A print on demand company such as Xlibris charges just $500 for a basic package where you can get your book produced and copies made as they are ordered–so no inventory. Of course, when you pay more, you get more: better design, distribution services, maybe even some marketing help.
The Traditional Road
If your dreams of authorship include larger audiences and the literary status that comes of being published by one of the many arms of Random House, Warner or Simon & Schuster, that’s fine–just know that this route isn’t exactly free either. No, you don’t have to pay a traditional publishing house and yes, they do everything for you (design, distribution, some advertising and marketing), but these days a writer is expected to spend a little too on promoting the book. Many writers are even putting the amount they’ve set aside in their book proposals. If you’re serious about marketing your book, you’ll need to set aside at least $10,000. That amount can go as high as $30,000 depending on the amount of travel and other advertising you intend to use.
Smart Money, Dumb Money
Once you understand what you want out of your book, you’ll not only know how much you’re willing to spend, you’ll also know better how to spend it. You can spend it smart or you can spend it dumb. Many writers spend it dumbly because they don’t know what they want. If you’re spending money on educating yourself about publishing, improving your writing skills, hiring a good editor or book consultant, and marketing that will help you reach your specific, targeted reader, that’s all smart money. You will get more out of those dollars than if you had never spent it at all. You are investing in your writing career.
But if you spend money because someone told you this is “the only way you’ll ever get this book published” (and you haven’t researched any other ways), or buy advertising simply because it’s where other books are advertised, or go to writer’s conferences with no clear plan of what you want out of them, or pay agents “reader fees”, or pay editors whose work you don’t know or whose references you haven’t checked, that’s dumb money. You’ll put those dollars out there and see little or no return.
So I guess the bad news is publishing isn’t free. The good news is you have a choice as to how much you spend and where you spend it. Be an educated consumer as well as an educated–and talented–writer. You’ll find that to have a book published in the way you want it published is still in the end–priceless.
It’s the dream of 81% of the population to write a book. No matter how many times people tell you how difficult it is to do, nearly everyone wants to do it. There hangs a certain romance around writers. I think it’s a kind of nostalgia or grieving for some forgotten part of ourselves. We long to return to a place where magic and imagination are revered.
Others may just want the quick glory or fast buck they associate with being an author. But whatever you want, getting a 6-figure book advance is possible if you have the skill, drive and know-how. Here are five tips to get you started on achieving the dream of becoming a well-paid, respected author.
1. Know the Industry
Educate yourself on how the publishing industry works. Unlike the old days when publishers were looking to cultivate long-term relationships with authors who would be in their stable, today their top priority is just to sell books.
When I was traveling in Mexico this year I met a woman whose husband has been a best-selling author for twenty years in England. He has had the same agent and publisher for those same twenty years. Every time he came out with a new book his publishers expected it to be “number one” on the English equivalent of the New York Times bestseller list. They worked with him to make it so. In America the bottom line is king. You must be able to substantiate your claim that your book will fly off the shelves, without any help from the publisher.
2. Prove There is a Market for Your Book
In today’s world you need to show that your book will sell to one large audience, or many smaller niche audiences. Quantify each audience with statistics that show that they buy books on that subject. It’s not enough to say that this audience would be interested in your topic. You must be able to prove beyond a doubt with your well-researched facts that your readers are a *book buying* audience.
3. Develop a Platform
This is the most important aspect of your proposal after you’ve proven that there is a pressing need for your book and that book buying audiences will scoop it up. A platform is simply YOUR ability to sell books to the audience that you have said will buy-from you.
It’s all about the numbers. How many people are on your e-zine list? How many people do you speak to every month? How many people buy your products and services now? Do you have big name corporations or organizations that will buy your books in bulk? Do you have a regular column, or write for publications? Are you frequently seen in the media? If you don’t have an impressive platform you don’t get a 6-figure advance.
4. Map out a Marketing Plan to Promote Your Book.
Your plan should include everything from speaking engagements, online marketing, licensing, and media placements. It must be realistic and do-able. In other words you can’t say that you’ll speak to organizations of 1000 people or more if you’ve never done it.
What do publishers hate most?
When you say that you’re right for Oprah. Unless you’ve already been a guest and taped the show please NEVER say this if you don’t want your reputation instantly sullied.
Instead show how you will build on your past publicity. If hosts or producers say that they want you back for another segment because you did such a good job the first time, say it. But if you haven’t done much media to date, don’t fret.
You can begin today and get a substantial number of profiles, features, and comments in the media in a few months by joining PRLeads,a service which delivers reporters queries (the stories they need experts for) daily to your email box.
5. Get Endorsements
Big names sell products in a big way. Getting known names of celebrities, best-selling authors, actors, athletes, well- known experts in your field, media personalities, any famous name that has glitter gives you the kind of credibility that can’t be bought.
Would you like to create a magnetic home page, one that magnetizes your visitors? Webster’s Dictionary defines magnetic as ‘powerfully attractive.’ Best selling author and owner of the largest advertising agency in the 20s, Bruce Barton said, “The theme (any advertisement) ought to be based on two principles-first that a man is interested in himself, second, that he is interested in other people.”
What will make your home page interesting? Good design plays an important part in your site’s overall effectiveness. But it’s not the flash that will interest your audience. It’s not the jingles that will connect with your visitor. It’s the benefits – the ‘what’s in it for me’ list that create interest and even desire. Create a home page filled with benefits and it will pull your visitors in. What you say your product/service can do is much more attractive than a beautiful web page with weak copy.
Promote with benefits instead of your bio, your credentials and even the features of your product/service. Put them in their proper place on your site. But your audience will most want to know the value of your product to them.
You must answer questions like, “Will it solve my particular problem?” “What will I gain?” “What will I lose if I don’t use your service?” Some universal benefits answer the how tos: getting more passion, more energy, less fatigue, more money, good relationships, more time, less trouble, less stress, less drama and trauma. Here’s a quick tutorial on magnetizing your home page:
1. Develop a list of 10-20 benefits of each product and service. For example, a client of mine realized her audience didn’t just want to know how to get articles written, they wanted to know why should they write them?
So on the home page selling her article writing ebook, she started with a list of good reasons to write short articles to promote: For the serious marketer this ebook explains step by step how to promote your business, build a gigantic Opt-In List, increase your traffic, get qualified links, increase your page rank, grow your affiliate base, become a recognized expert, and collar more sales.
2. Be specific. List specific benefits. Describe how your customer will feel after buying your product. For example, after you buy my service of teeth whitening, you’ll look and feel 10 years younger without plastic surgery. Then post a picture of what your client looks like before and after the teeth whitening service. Let them see how happier and more confident they look with whiter teeth. Make your page magnetic with specific benefits.
3. Let the passion for your topic show in your marketing copy. Which arouses your interest more? “A 9-Step Power Plan to decimate and dominate the Consultant’s Marketplace” or “The 9-Step Plan to Become a Better Consultant.” “How to Convert More Buyers Into Customers” or “How to use the ‘FTP’ factor to pull amazing clickthrough rates that most marketers will only dream about!” Magnetize your web page with passion that creates desire and sales with your audience.
4. Develop the skill of writing headlines. Provocative titles will stir interest. Provocative statements capture our attention like a fish on a hook. They throw out the baited hook and reel a captive audience in every time. The shocking statement ‘Wives Who Don’t Want Sex’ even if they don’t have this problem will get the attention of the curious.
Use the Command statement for an immediate effect, ‘Become an Internet Millionaire!” Even if it’s a well worn claim, it still captures a large share of attention. Don’t forget the power of the simple ‘How To” information title. It alerts your audience that the information that follows will be simple and easy to digest. Capture the attention of your audience with a home page filled with magnetic headlines.
5. Give your links the power of benefits. We have added magnetic pulling power to our bulleted list, headlines, and titles. It’s all good. But there’s one more area that will give your home page even more pulling power. I got this tip from Allen Says’ “The War Report.” Many unseasoned site owners create links that say things like, “Get your FREE ebook here!” or “Sign-up for our FREE ezine!”
Today, more than every before authors are presented with publishing opportunities that have never existed before. This is not to understate the hard work that authors have to go through to get recognition, write great books, and make a full time living from their passion of expression. However, it is to say that today, due to advances in communications technology, authors can now get their books distributed much easier than they could a decade ago. One very popular way that authors are distributing their work is digitally through ebooks. Digital books are gaining so much popularity that even some of the most popular authors in the world have used it to distribute their books. Stephen King for example published “Riding the Bullet” exclusively in ebook format. When this ebook began distribution over Barns and Nobel and Amazon.com there was so much demand for the download that the servers of these two book giants slowed down almost to a halt. People that wanted to download the ebook were put in a large queue with the hundreds of thousands of other who downloaded the ebook as well.
It’s not only big name authors that are finding success in ebooks. We at Ebook Architect have been helping authors create, market and sell their ebooks online for years now with great success. Many of these people are first time authors and are often amazed with the success of their ebook sales. Below are some of their ebook writing tips.
Don’t underestimate the power of the Ebook
Ebooks are still looked upon as unpopular by many authors who have not yet taken the time to learn about the success within this industry. For example, while the traditional publishing industry growing at the sluggish rate of 5% a year the digital publishing industry is growing at rates between 30% -50%. This means that the opportunities within the publishing industry are growing at a fraction of the rate that opportunities within the digital publishing industry are growing.
To set up an ebook you don’t need to be a tech wizard
Setting up your ebook from the idea conceptualization stage to the selling stage can’t be completed overnight but it is definitely something that can be done by anyone regardless of your technological background. If you can use a word processor then you can create and sell an ebook online. While it is recommended you set up your own website, it is not necessary. There are outlets such as amazon.com, EBay and Lulu.com to name only a few sites that allow you to post your ebook on their servers.
Setting up an Ebook site is virtually costless and you keep 100% of the profits
With traditional publishers you’ll be lucky to see 10% of the profits from your book. With ebooks however, you keep 100% of the profits minus the fees required to set up the site which are minimal. Here is the fee breakdown for ebooks vs traditional books
Ebook vs Book cost
Ebook = Free to create an unlimited number of copies
Book = Approximately $1500 for 200 copies of a 200 page soft cover book
Rights and profit
Ebook = You keep 100% of the profits and rights to your ebooks
Book = You get 10-40% royalty (usually about $2-$5/ book)
With the above examples it is easy to see that for first time authors ebooks make a lot of sense. The risk associated with publishing an ebook is much lower than it is with distributing a soft or hard cover book. Likewise, as an ebook author you’ll keep virtually all of your own profits.
If nothing else, it is something worth consideration. Ebooks may not replace traditional paperback books, but they certainly are gaining popularity at a rate that should make all authors stop to think about how they could use ebooks to their advantage.