Authors on the Net is launching a series of posts to help authors/self-publishers better understand how to utilize the tools and resources available on Amazon.com. I am really looking forward to reading and learning everything I can from this series since I know that Amazon is one of the most-trafficked go-to sites for book sales.
Morris Rosenthal has an excellent post on his Self Publishing blog about the Publication Process and Agreements. I have learned throughout this process the exact same things that Mr. Rosenthal addresses in his post. In particular, the importance of clearly outlining expectations and agreements, and how much of the self-publishing process is interdependent. I’ve outsourced a number of aspects of my book project, including:
1. Editing – several family members and friends have volunteered their time to edit and I currently have one freelance editor that I hired to go through my book. Primarily I was interested in getting an outside perspective from someone who doesn’t know me as well as my family and friends and will be able to determine if there are gaps, etc.
2. Cover Design – I tried to design my own cover, but it was pathetic. Book cover design is an art in itself and I am SO glad to have my professional graphic designer friend doing this part of the book for me!
3. Interior Design – You may remember me mentioning that I was planning to purchase the InDesign software and learn it to do my own interior design. Shortly thereafter, a friend of mine offered her services to me at a reduced rate to take over this aspect of the book for me. I am extremely grateful and relieved to not have this huge task hanging over my head!
4. Marketing – Another of my dear friends has been supporting and encouraging me in this project from the start and I recently hired her to help me with a lot of the huge responsibilities associated with marketing. Another incredible blessing!
5. Printing – Of course I knew off the bat that I couldn’t do my own printing, but it took a lot of research and connecting to determine what type of printer to use. It’s an amazing story how I developed the connection with the printer that I’m planning to use, but I’ll save that for another post!
Anyway…I definitely encourage self-publishers to read and learn from Mr. Rosenthal’s experience and expertise.
The Business Opportunities Blog lists five basic points to consider when designing your website to be customer-friendly. Very helpful information for self-publishers who are designing their own websites. I’ve done quite a bit of web design over the years and can attest to the importance of these five points. I can’t tell you how often I have been turned away from purchasing something off a website because of poor design or navigation.
On that note, I’m hoping that my website will be ready to launch by the end of next week. Hooray!
Genesis 41:55-42:3 “And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread: and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do. And the famine was over all the face of the earth: and Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians; and the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt. And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands. Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another? And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die. And Joseph’s ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt.”
Insights for Meditation:
When the people expressed their need to Pharaoh, he directed them to Joseph. Pharaoh was not personally in the corn-selling business, but he carried a lot of influence among the people. Joseph had gained his confidence and was providing a valuable service on his behalf.
Joseph had a plan in place for meeting the needs of the people and could handle large volumes of business because of the advance preparation he did.
Even though the need was desperate, Joseph didn’t give away the food – he sold it and profited from the sales (see Proverbs 11:26).
Word quickly spread that Egypt had corn to sell and people from all countries traveled there to purchase it. Joseph’s “product” had cross-cultural appeal and people were willing to go to great lengths to purchase it.
Principles for Application:
Become the go-to person in my field. Develop contacts and working relationships with those in positions of leadership so that when someone expresses a particular need to them, they immediately direct them to me.
Devise an appropriate distribution plan so that all customers receive prompt, efficient service. Maintain sufficient inventory and shipping supplies so that all orders are filled quickly.
Refrain from giving away books to people just because they seem desperate or because I really want them to have it. It’s okay to make a profit.
Word-of-mouth advertising/publicity is very effective.
Don’t overlook the potential for my book to be of interest in other languages and countries.
Questions for Consideration:
How can I develop a broad-based network of people who will refer others to me as the go-to person in my field?
With what influential people in other fields (government, business, education, etc.) might I be able to develop a working relationship?
What further skills and understanding do I need to develop to be considered a go-to person in my field?
What essential elements need to be in place so that I can proves all orders promptly and efficiently?
What should my profit margin be? What special deals can I offer and still make a profit? Which people do deserve to receive a free book?
Does my book have cross-cultural appeal? Should I have it translated into other languages? Should I wait until I am approached by people of other languages to pursue this possibility?
Steps for Implementation:
□ Make a list of leaders in other fields whom I should contact about my book.
□ Establish an ordering and invoicing system. Make forms for on-line, mail, and phone ordering.
□ Establish a distribution plan. Make a list of specific supplies, costs and sources.
□ Determine a bulk pricing plan.
□ Write a return policy.
James 4:13-17 “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”
Insights for Meditation:
People have a tendency to presume upon the future for their business and financial success.
It is implied that both buying and selling are necessary in order to realize gain. The key, then, is in making purchases that will add value to what I am selling so that the result is a net gain.
We do not know what will happen tomorrow.
Life is fleeting.
The basic elements of the two plans James contrasts were the same. It was the attitude behind them that made the difference.
It is sinful to put off until a future date those good things which I can do today. Ultimately, this demonstrates a spirit of pride because I am presuming upon my future existence and availability when God has given me the time and ability to do them now.
Principles for Application:
Always look to God as the One who provides financial security, not to my business or marketing ventures.
Make calculated risks for the purpose of producing a quality product and providing greater value to my customers. Consider whether the expenditure will result in net gain or loss when the product is sold.
Write out a specific marketing plan and maintain a spirit of flexibility when God brings about unexpected changes.
Don’t put off until tomorrow the good things that I can do today. Don’t get caught up in making plans, but never taking action (see Proverbs 14:23). Plans should be specific and measurable so that I know how to flesh them out in real life.
Questions for Consideration:
How can I demonstrate that my plans are founded in awareness of God’s Sovereignty and not in presumption and dependence upon my future success?
What should be included in my marketing plan? How specific should it be?
What marketing approaches are an example of the wrong attitude that James warns against?
What marketing approaches are an example of the right attitude that James exhorts us to demonstrate?
How can I make the most of my time right now?
What criteria should I use to determine if a particular expenditure will add value to what I am selling?
Steps for Implementation:
□ Write out a marketing plan and timetable. Pray over it, acknowledging God’s Sovereignty over the plan.
□ Make a specific to-do list and do at least one thing each day, starting today.
□ Make a list of what elements of my finished book will make it most valuable. Project expenses that I will need to make in order to produce a quality product.
I’ve already got a printer lined up for my final print run, but I’m at the point now where I need to figure out which printer to use for the small initial print run that I will use for Advance Review Copies (ARC). It is cost-prohibitive to use an offset printer for a small print run, so I am forced to use two different printers – one for the official print run and a digital print-on-demand (POD) service for the small run. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Lightning Source, so I think I will check into them first. I need to figure out what kind of cost I’m looking at and determine how many books I should print for this initial run. Right now I’m anticipating printing about 50, but I definitely don’t want to overlook anything and end up not having enough! If anyone has recommendations for other printers, I’m all ears!
An Interested Reader graciously pointed out that I have not revealed any additional information about my book for a while. I truly am sorry for the delay, but I am waiting for two things:
1. The final cover design image from my designer. We’ve basically finalized everything, now I’m just waiting for her to implement the final decisions so that I can present an image of the book cover when I announce the title.
2. Finish the website for the book. I’ve been working on a website and have the basic layout done. I just need to tweak the shopping cart system and add the rest of the content on the pages of the site.
I’m definitely getting closer to the end, but now that I’m back into my fall schedule, it’s been harder to devote as much time to all these details related to my book project! And I know that the speed certainly won’t be slowing down at all anytime soon!
Thanks for your patience. And rest assured…I promise that I will announce the title before the book is published! 🙂
Earlier this week I finished a read-through of my book and now it is in the hands of my family members for their critique and editing assistance before I send it out to others for critique and editing.
The front cover design is finished and I’m having a photo shoot in the morning so that I will have a current bio picture for the back cover. Then will follow the task of writing a bio and the back cover copy.
I met with a good friend of mine last week to discuss the interior page design and layout. After reading my previous post on page layout, she offered her services to me and I am SO relieved to not have to learn how to use a new software program on top of everything else right now!
I also met with another friend who has agreed to be my Marketing Manager. She is starting to compile contact lists and work on some other marketing-related research. I am so grateful for her input and help!
One thing that I am definitely learning is the importance of collaborating with others. My tendency is to try to do everything myself, but it has been invaluable to have the assistance of friends with various aspects of this self-publishing business! I know I will have a much better product in the end because of the expertise of those who are contributing to each aspect of the project.
So, my advice to all self-publishers…get help! There’s a reason there is a whole industry devoted to publishing books. 🙂