This one’s going to be hardcore and straight to the point, so be sure to read it over a few times to get the gist of it. It’s really simple and I am not asking for forgiveness if my tone is direct and to the point. The business of self-publishing your own book, IF you want to be a success, takes a strong head, a resilient personality and a lot of dedicated work – on your own, with you as the Director and Producer of the whole “project,” not to mention the guy or girl who wrote the book, the very words, that you are working on getting out into bookstores and e-readers worldwide.
I’m 41 years old and have been writing since I was in Junior High School in Scottsdale, AZ, where I mainly grew up back in the 1980’s.
My writing career all started with penning little stories about my numerous girl “friends” and I and the things we did when we all hung out way back in the 1980’s. Movies, video games, tennis, roller skating, going to the beach…I can’t even remember all that we did, but I do recall it all as being fun and enjoyable, as life should be. And since I found it so inspiring, I picked up a pen and put myself to sleep each night by writing the happenings of my days with those girl friends. That was 7th grade and while I didn’t know then what was inspiring me to write about the happenings of my life, I just went with it and rolled with the punches, often getting only a couple of hours sleep each night, as there was so much to put down on paper. Yes, it’s true, what I was writing may not have been publishing material, that is, of interest to others, but it was, I learned many years later, the basis, the very skeleton for what became my most adept trade – writing.
In high school, despite having a massive case of then-undiagnosed ADHD, I became an avid writer, so much so that to the point where my English class was the only class that offered me any kind of satisfaction or enjoyment whatsoever. It was in my Senior year, however, when my last English teacher died, that I lost my impetus for writing, as that teacher was the first one who ever gave me props for my literary skills, and when I found out he died and a substitute was going to take over for the remainder of the year, I just stopped coming to school altogether, with no thought of the consequences…a high-school dropout 3 weeks before graduation. I’m sure someone has written a story or ten about that subject before. But don’t worry, I took a correspondence course a few years later, in late 1991, got my HS diploma, and went on to attempt to be a university student.
Again, after a few months at UNLV, in the city of lights and sin – that’s Las Vegas for those of you who haven’t yet caught on – I dropped out of college to self publish my first book of poetry for the masses, “All Together Now.”
“All Together Now,” entitled under inspiration from a John Lennon song, was a very small book of poetry for children, put together to teach kids to use their heads and hearts versus guns and knives to solve their problems. And this was all pre-Columbine. And as self-publishing, in the minds of the masses, was still a rather “unknown” manner in which to publish a book at that time, I stuck out in the crowd, so to speak, and I was able to get interviews in the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper and to be featured on numerous TV and radio stations for “All Together Now” and to share my story of why I felt my little 5×8, 15 page book was of the utmost importance to the average American kid. The coverage I received was my first inspiration which proved to me that I had made a wise decision to self-publish my book and get it out virtually overnight, rather than wait on a bunch of suits in NYC to critique my book of poetry and decide, based solely upon their own opinions and/or egos, whether or not my book was qualified to be published and sold on the open market.
During the next few years, I wrote a few other books, while one in particular sticks out, especially since it was the reason, the final reason, that I will NEVER have a “publisher,” no matter how supposedly reputable or financially sound, publish any book I write.
Let me summarize – I was hired to write the fictionalized life story of a woman who was married to a famous pilot during the 1950’s and 1960’s. It was a total chick-book (nothing pejorative intended by that phrase, ladies, as we all know what genre I am referring to) and I used not only my writing skills to write this amazing book, but also my PR and marketing skills to get it placed for sale in every major airport bookstore in the USA and the UK.
The publisher who put the book out, that being the same lady who hired me to write the book, loved the money earned by the book so much that she kept it all for herself. Nearly $250,000 in gross sales, of which I was supposed to get 50%, and it all stayed in her bank account. It wasn’t until 3 years later, a major lawsuit, 5 days in jail for using the “F Word” in court due to the stress of a 3-year-long lawsuit, and me being nearly homeless, having lost everything I owned through selling it and pawning it to stay alive during the litigation just to keep shelter over my head, that she “settled” and I was paid a measly $10,000 and the case was done. I heard the remaining books all got thrown away and she died a few years later.
They say in life it’s often better to learn a lesson through someone else’s experience. On that note, I ask you to learn your lesson from my nightmarish mistakes which I have just shared with you. Trust is one thing. Contracts are another. However, ultimately, unless you hold ALL control over your writing project, YOUR BOOK, you hold no control whatsoever.
In summary, here are 5 reasons why you should self publish your own book, no matter what genre it is in -
1. Editing Control – You will and must have final control of the end work, the edited copy of the book wording itself. Too often, as it is known in author circles, a writer will write a book, but by the time it gets to the bookstore, it’s been passed along through so many editors, with their fancy degrees and self-righteous opinions, that the original manuscript written, with all the heart and soul of the author, is nothing like the final product. So, I ask, why on Earth would you want to write the “greatest American novel” just to have it torn apart by some six-figure editor who probably has never had her or his own book published themselves???!!! Of course you wouldn’t let that happen to yourself, silly, now would you???!!!
2. The Cover – Once the book is written, who better than YOU knows what the essence of the book is and who better than you can say how the meaning, or summary, of the book should be designed on the front cover? I say, no one but YOU can make this very important decision. Do some research on books that have sold millions of copies and see what strikes your eye for inspiration and NOT FOR COPYING, hire a graphic designer, such as one at the self-publishing book printer I exclusively use, Instant Publisher, who charge a nominal fee for this service, to make you, under your direct supervision, the greatest, most appealing cover you can imagine for your Magnum Opus!!!
3. Setting The Price – Who else but you can put monetary value on something you have written? It doesn’t matter whether the book is an autobiography, a family history, a piece of fiction, etc. It only matters what other books in the same genre, of similar quality and page count are selling for that should determine your book’s retail price. My best-selling book, “Kick It With Gusto! A Practical Guide To Living Through, Anxiety, Depression and Bipolar Disorder,” which sold about 10,000 copies, including printed, trade paperbacks and PDF downloads, was priced at $11.00 for the printed version and between $6.00 and $8.00 for the downloadable PDF version that people could read on their computers or print and read themselves while holding a stack of paper in their hands. I set this price after extensive research in the self-help/psychology book genre in which my book fell and found my pricing to be perfectly in line with what people were used to paying for a similar book. Please don’t think that I am forgetting about the Nook and other E-Readers…these days, you simply MUST do your research and find out what the e-reader publishing parameters are and make sure you have a version of your book that is e-friendly, both in terms of price and formatting.
4. Promotion – Even if you sign with a big, NYC publisher, and unless you are among the one-tenth of one-percent of publishers who are promoted at the cost of such a publisher, all those publishers are going to do for you is take your manuscript, cut it up to their standards, print it (all to their liking, not yours) and send them to distribution houses for minimal distribution – all this, and you may not even get an advance in actual dollars. If you want, as all of us authors do, the word to get out, for you to be able to do book signings, locally and/or nationally, for you to be on TV, radio and the Internet with stories of your book and why people should buy it, you need to do, at the very least, the following -
A. Make sure your cover stands out. Get yourself a great, affordable graphic designer, such as one at my book printer, Instant Publisher, or find one at a local graphic arts school and work BESIDE THEM to make your cover portray exactly what you want it to say.
B. Make sure your book is professionally edited. For that, you can go to a local community college and pay a new Masters in English or a stellar English student less than $250 to edit your whole manuscript. Most of them are dying for the chance to edit someone’s manuscript, anyone’s for that matter, so don’t rule yourself out there.
C. Purchase, for a nominal fee, lists of all the independent bookstores nationwide, available through companies online when you do the right keyword search or return to this website for this 12-week series on self-publishing tips and tales, and send out a custom-designed postcard offering your book to the bookstores directly. It’ll usually be a 60/40 split, you/them, but isn’t it better to get $6.60 on an $11.00 retail price rather than a buck or two IF your big, NYC publisher happens to put out the effort to get your book into bookstores? I say a big, fat YES!!! And if your book is in a particular genre, say, for instance, mental health, contact every mental health organization nationwide and start getting the word out on your book. Yes, do Amazon, you can’t actually lose money there, but there is so much more to do and so many great resources out there to help you get the word out on your book, from self-publishing guides put out by printing companies such as Instant Publisher to books you can find in your local bookstore, with me favoring the previous as it is always up-to-date and available at a moment’s notice by download at their website, not to mention, truly custom designed for writers like you and me, those who are new to the industry, as I was, and those who truly want to sell 50,000 copies of their book and not 50.
5. Working With Your Printer – The one thing that you simply have to get right when it comes to printing your book is your printer, in the world of self-publishing often referred to as “on-demand printers” or “short run printers.” I researched the Internet for weeks and weeks before I FINALLY found a printer that not only was able to print the small number of books I wanted to start with (500) at a very, very affordable price, but they also had the technical savvy and production equipment so that no sacrifice would be made on quality.
Having been in business for over 10 years now, my printer, Instant Publisher can not only print your book at a moment’s notice, but will guide you through all the steps necessary to turn your Microsoft Word Document, i.e. your manuscript, into a ready-to-sell trade paperback or hardcover book. Most “vanity” publishers, i.e. those whom you pay a fee to because they say they will print and promote your book and make you a bestseller, are just full of it. Instant Publisher is NOT a vanity publisher – they are a great, family-owned book printing and book marketing & promotion business who will do everything from print your book, design your cover, design and print your business cards, postcards, posters and bookmarks, and show you, hand-in-hand, how to market YOUR BOOK and actually sell copies to make a profit. They are, in fact, the owners of Photo Galley, THE PLACE to have your books of photographs published, to name just one of their amazing family-owned businesses in the Fundcraft Family of Companies, who will show you how to turn your dream, that being your book being sold online and offline, into a reality with you at the reigns the entire time.
These days, whether you are with a small publishing house or a big, NYC publisher, unless you are JK Rowling or Stephen King (who, coincidentally self-published his first book decades ago), it is YOU who is going to have to do 99.9% of all the promotion, marketing, book signing set-ups, etc. So, I ask, why let a publisher take your $11.00 potential bestseller, pay you a miniscule advance, if anything at all these days, cut your book into unrecognizable pieces and then have you end up having to do all the work for 10% of net sales? It makes no sense. With a printer like Instant Publisher, all you have to do is have the book typed, edited to your standards and put in PDF form and then upload it to their site, along with your cover art which, as noted above, they will assist you with, and Voila!, you have a book – You’re a PUBLISHED AUTHOR!!!
You can print as few as 25 copies at a time with Instant Publisher, perhaps those that you will give out to friends, family and industry specialists in your field for endorsements as you prepare for a larger printing run, or as many as 10,000 at a time, once your book really gets rolling. So, I ask, when it comes to the validity of your book, the importance of it to you, the time, sweat, blood and tears you put into putting it together, doesn’t it make more sense to control the whole ship?
I say yes, yes to self-publishing and a big, fat YES to Instant Publisher, the finest on-demand, short-run book printer and simultaneously, most adept combination book printer/book promoter in our beautiful country. Their quality is the best. Their customer service can’t be beat. Their prices are super low, although they never skimp on quality. And when it comes to deadlines, the date people are expecting your book in their hands, Instant Publisher will deliver as promised. I have used them for over 8 years now and with three more books coming out next year, they are the only company I will ever involve in the printing and promotion process of the books I write.
Please follow my series on this website and other, similar websites, over the next 12 weeks, as you will see a “general” article like this one, transform into more articles which will be specific tips and advice, based on decades of experience as a self-published author, on how you, too, can make the book in your head a reality on paper in bookstores worldwide and on E-Readers worldwide…and, yes, you will make money at it, too, so that you can make, and then continue to make, authoring books the financial support for you and your family for the rest of your life.
As a side note, I offer consulting, for authors and businesses of all types, through my company, New Business Image, and can be contacted at the contact info below. You can learn more about the diverse consulting and marketing services my company offers New Business Image. We have worked with every size and type of business from a local Karate school to the largest bank in the U.S.A. And please remember, for your book needs, whether it be printing and/or help with promotion and marketing, even something as important as getting you your ISBN Number, http://www.InstantPublisher.com is THE WAY to go!!!
Here’s To Your Becoming A Bestselling Author!!!
Sincerely, Dave Sutz (My previous books and articles are written under Neal David Sutz)
480-330-8045 USA Smartphone
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The Bible Of Self Publishing
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