I only wish I had known all these things when I made the bold move into this 5 years ago with the publication of Happy at Work.
James has street cred – he’s published 11 books — five with traditional publishers and six that are self-published.
“The distinction now is no longer between “traditional publishing” versus “self-publishing.” The distinction now is between professional versus unprofessional publishing,” James says. “My first 10 books were done unprofessionally. Even the ones with the big publishing houses.”
James hopes that everyone self-publishes. “The benefits are enormous,” he says, speaking from experience. Here are some of them:
More money. Unless you are a John Grisham or E L James you will make much more money by professionally self-publishing. It’s not just money on sales but also foreign rights and special packages that you can offer if you control all the rights to your work. Packages that the traditional publishers almost never go for.
Control over design. Traditional publishers usually keep that control.
Speed. You will probably speed up your publication date by over a year or more if you self-publish.
Content control. My bet is close to 100 percent of the people reading this post have content in them strong enough for a book. But 22-year-old interns at publishing companies won’t recognize that content. Even the editors, the publishers, the marketing guys — most of them — will not recognize the message you have to offer. Which leads me to…
Avoiding bad things in life. I hate getting that feeling of, “I hope he or she chooses me for X.” Where “X” could be an investment, an acquisition, publishing a book, buying my product, whatever. I try to limit this feeling in my life whenever possible. When you have to deal with more and more layers of people who have to choose you, you don’t get the opportunity to choose yourself (!), which is infinitely more valuable.
Enter Publishing 3.0: How To Professionally Self-Publish Your Next Book
Here’s what I did step-by-step with my latest book for the first month since publication.
1) Build your platform
A traditional publisher is not even going to look at you unless you have your own platform, which means a Twitter following, Facebook following and/or a significant blog following. But if you already can hand-deliver the customers, what do you need the traditional publisher for?
Wasn’t that supposed to be what the publishers would get for you? Don’t they get you in bookstores? The answer is “no.”
Bookstores take very few of the books published by publishers. And whenever you see a book facing forward, or on the front table, or a “staff pick” that means the publisher usually paid to have that special placement. Most books don’t get this. And if you don’t get that, chances are your books won’t sell.
2) How do you build your platform?
Have an honest voice. Don’t be afraid to say things about either yourself or your industry. Provide unique perspective. If it doesn’t bleed it doesn’t lead. Make sure every post or video you do bleeds from the heart, entertains, and educates. In that order.
How do you get traffic? Blog on bigger sites that aggregate bloggers or podcasts or whatever. It takes time to build up. But sincere voices will always rise to the top.
This is not a post about writing or how to write a good book. The assumption is that you will write a good book. BUT, two tips: write 500-2000 words every day to keep exercising the writing muscle. And read good writers every day. Then you will write an even better book.
A typical book is anywhere from 40,000-80,000 words. So if you can average 1,000 words a day, seven days a week, you can write four to eight books a year. Or one very very good, edited, revised, professional one. Or 10! Knock yourself out!
I also wanted a high-quality foreword for the book. I was really grateful that Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter, agreed to do mine. I realize why he used to be an improv comedian when I read what he wrote.
4) Know What You Want
If you are self-publishing then you can publish your book right now without any other effort. Go to CreateSpace (owned by Amazon), check the box that you want to be both paperback and Kindle (it costs an extra $69 to be on kindle), pick a cover, upload your manuscript, and in a few days you will be published on Amazon and people can start buying your book.
If your goal is to have a published book and use it to get customers, consulting gigs, speaking gigs, etc., or a beginning set of readers for your next book, then by all means publish this way. It’s the fastest way to do it. I highly recommend it.
But if your goal is to put out the best possible product, maximize the money you make, and get the most readers, then follow the next steps, what I call “Publishing 3.0.”
- 1.0 was publishing with a traditional publisher.
- 2.0 was when the stigma of self-publishing went away and an entire new artistic outlet was open to millions of people (15 million books published last year versus 300,000 10 years ago). It’s cheap, quick, and easy to get your book published.
- 3.0 is starting right now — where you can self-publish better, more successfully, better edited, better designed, better marketed, and make more money than if you go any other route. The reason this is possible only now is because for the first time, the best editors, designers, marketers are no longer working at the big publishing houses. Instead, they are striking out on their own and independently charging for their services. The demand is there. This route is more expensive than “publishing 2.0″ but is much more lucrative.