10 Steps to Self Publishing a PHYSICAL Book Everyone Who Sells Info Products Should Know
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This is an overview of the steps necessary to get a physical book self-published. If you need more help, go to FredGleeck.com/ebooks. You can pick up my book “Publishing For Maximum Profit” for free. It will give you a LOT more information to help you. There are some minor/less important steps that have been left out to make this a document manageable. BUT, you have everything you NEED to make things happen!
1. Set up a Publishing Company
If you’re “serious” about self publishing you’ll want to set up a self-publishing company. I’m not a lawyer or accountant, so you’ll want to contact those folks to determine whether or not it should be set up as a corporation or some other legal entity. Whatever you do, it will be important to create a separate legal entity of SOME kind to do your publishing.
The name you give your publishing company is critical. You’ll want to make your company look bigger than it is. To do that, make sure and choose a name that is not connected to your own. In my case, I use the name: FAST FORWARD PRESS.
Also, make sure that you don’t box yourself in with your name. For example, if your book is about the banking industry, you may be tempted to call your publishing company: Bank Related Press. That’s fine if ALL you EVER want to publish are books about banking. If you THINK there might be other topics you’ll write about, then keep it more generic.
That being said, IF you are ONLY going to publish within a given niche, then you may want to think about it differently. It MAY be sensible to use the name of the industry/niche in your publishing company name.
2. ISBN Numbers
Without an ISBN number, your book is an illegal alien. There is no negotiating the price of ISBN numbers. They are what they are. That’s the case because there is only one place to buy them. Bowker.com. Do NOT buy ISBN numbers from a RESELLER. ONLY buy them from Bowker.
You have choices as to how many ISBN numbers to buy. The minimum order from Bowker is 10. Unless you are planning to do a LOT of publishing REALLY fast, don’t get any more than that.
IF you foresee cranking out a lot of books and other products (CDs and DVDs – which will also need ISBN numbers) you may want to buy 100. For most people 10 is sufficient to get started.
Depending on how quickly you need them, you’ll end up paying AROUND $250 total. To get them, go to: http://www.bowker.com/index.php/identifier-services/book-title-identifiers-isbn
You may also need to get your ISBN number put into a form that can be used on the outside cover of your book. There is a company called Fotel (http://www.Fotel.com ) that produces bar codes. Contact them and they’ll give you (or your designer) what you need.
3. Set Up Distribution: CreateSpace and Amazon
There are a number of places where you can make your book available for sale. You can divide these two groups into DIRECT and INDIRECT channels.
Direct channels are those where you sell the books yourself. Selling direct you’ll be able to sell the book for whatever price you choose. Usually FULL RETAIL. But, the choice is yours. Direct sales can be further divided into ONLINE and OFFLINE.
The vast majority of direct online sales will happen at your own website. A good website is essential to maximize sales. For most authors, the majority of direct offline sales will come from selling the books at the “back of the room” when you give a speech.
Indirect channels are those that sell your book to THEIR customers. All you do is provide them with the books for THEM to sell. The biggest player in this market is Amazon. There are a number of different ways to sell your books on Amazon.
When you go to Amazon to sign up as a publisher, you’ll see the different options. Depending on how you’re doing things, one or another program will be better for you. You can either send them copies of the book that you print the book yourself or have them print them for you.
My suggestion is to work with CreateSpace to do your printing and supplying Amazon. It’s simple and easy. You won’t get the LOWEST prices on printing IF you start to sell a LOT of books. But for MOST, it’s the RIGHT place to START.
CreateSpace is owned by Amazon. They do Print-On-Demand, also known as POD. Once you have your book set up on CreateSpace, you never even TOUCH your book. CreateSpace prints it and send it along to Amazon. Also, if you want copies for yourself, CreateSpace will print them and send them to you directly. Again, this is the place to START.
If you end up selling LARGE QUANTITIES of books, you’ll want to consider other options where you can reduce your unit cost per book.
Please remember, CreateSpace is sometimes IMPOSSIBLE to deal with. Their customer service can be abysmal. Don’t get frustrated. The biggest hassle is getting started. Once your book is up and running with them, you’re fine. Anticipate a lot of problems and hassles when you first get started. If this doesn’t happen, you’ll be the exception and not the rule.
BUT, since they are the “little brother” of Amazon, they are who you want to use. Trust me, I’ve tried it other ways; don’t do it. If you get to the point that you’re moving over 100 or 200 books a month, get in touch with me. You’ll want to look into printing larger quantitates in BULK. I can advise you at that point.
When you get there, I’ll introduce you to my friend, Ron Pramshufer at SelfPublishing.com.
In order to write the BEST book, you’ll have to do your homework. You research your book by investigating a few different sources. First, you’ll want to get a hold of any and all books on your topic. if you can get them at the library, you’ll save yourself some money.
Next, you’ll want to find any and all magazine articles related to your topic. Most of the magazines will have an online version you can access.
When researching, Google will be your BEST friend. Take your topic or your keywords, plug them into Google and get going! You’ll find a ton of different resources.
Another key way to research your book is with interviews with other experts in your field. When you find an author or any expert in your field, try and get them on the phone to do an interview. Some will be willing and others won’t. Don’ be discouraged, do the best you can. After all, this is YOUR book. If they agree to the interview, THEY will benefit from being quoted. If they don’t understand that, it’s THEIR loss.
Cost: YOUR TIME
For many people, the writing is the most difficult part of the self-publishing process. You have two choices. Write it yourself OR get someone to write it for you. If you decide to write it yourself, here is the system that I use that you should consider. It’s worked for a lot of people I’ve coached in this area.
Start out by getting 500 index cards. I like to use the “standard” 3X5 size. Some of my clients/customers have found the larger ones better for them. Your choice.
Now sit down in a quiet place and brainstorrm EVERY SINGLE IDEA you can think of about your topic. Write each idea down on a separate index card. Do it fast. Don’t worry about duplicating cards. It always happens and you can discard the duplicates LATER. For now, get ALL your ideas out there.
After you’re done, take all the cards and put them into piles. These piles will turn into your chapters for your book. Every card in the same pile should be about a SIMILAR topic or concept. Don’t worry about trying to make the piles even or making sure that you have a certain number of piles/chapters. Just do the exercise. There is no right or wrong here.
When that’s done, you’ll want to put the cards in order. This will be the order the chapters will appear in your book. Make sure to create two more piles. One for your introduction and one for your conclusion.
ONLY after you’ve finished this exercise should you start writing. Not before. In my opinion. If you’ve already started your book before reading this, don’t worry.
You now have your book outline in a very manageable form. Start by picking up cards and writing about the topic. Write until you’ve exhausted all of your ideas. There is no pre-determined number of words for each card. Just write until you have no more to say about that topic. Make sure that you include stories, quotes, or statistics (if you can) for each card. It will make the book more readable.
Do NOT feel compelled to write your book in any particular order. BUT, do have a goal to complete at least 2-4 index cards each day. YES, you can skip Sunday if you HAVE to! You’ll be using your index cards and writing the book on your computer.
When you’re finished with all the cards. The book is done. You’re now ready to turn it over to your editor to clean things up.
Your other option for writing is to get a ghostwriter. This is where someone writes the book for you. Most ghostwriters will interview you to get the ideas out of your head and into their notes. After that they will create the book based on what you gave them.
How long will this take? It depends on the ghostwriter and the topic you’re doing.
How much will it cost? It depends on which ghost writer you choose. Their prices will range from a low of around $5,000 to a high of over $250,000. With that HUGE variation of prices comes a HUGE variation of quality. MOST of the time you get what you pay for.
Cost: $0 – $250,000
If you write the book yourself and even if you use a ghostwriter to do a book, you’ll want to hire a separate editor. The editor will take YOUR or your ghostwriter’s work and “clean it up.” It’s impossible for you to edit your own work so don’t’ even try.
How do you find one? You can certainly Google the term and add your city. For example, if you lived in Boise, ID, you’d put in: “Book Editor in Boise, ID”. Remember that there is NO need for your editor to be located in YOUR city. Not in the Internet age. Some people prefer to meet with people face to face, but it’s NOT necessary.
You can often find great editors by going to the Journalism or English departments at the local college in your market. Often times you’ll find some GREAT talent at budget prices. Look for grad students who will often work for a HOT MEAL(not quite)!
What can you expect to pay an editor? Anywhere from a low of $15 to a high of $150 an hour.
Cost: $0 – $5,000
7. Back Cover Copy
The goal of your back cover is to get people to BUY your book. That is the sole purpose of the “copy” on the back cover. Your first question you’ll have to ask here is: Should I do this myself or have someone else write it for me?
How good are you at writing copy?
If your book is sold in bookstores or other places where people can SEE the back cover before buying, the back cover is CRITICAL. Good copy will help you to sell more books.
Think of yourself. When you go into a bookstore, what do YOU do? If you’re like me, you look at the books on the shelf. When a title jumps out at you, you pull the book off the shelf. You’ll look at the front cover briefly, then you’ll turn the book over and read the back cover. IF it intrigues you, you’ll probably then turn to the table of contents and/or thumb through the book.
If you’re “MOVED” in some way, you’ll buy the book!
What are the components for your back copy?
First, you’ll want to decide on the category where your book should be shelved. Pick up any book and the vast majority will have one or two words up at the top left corner of the back cover. These let the retailer know where to shelve the book. Make this choice carefully.
One of the best ways to do this is to find other books LIKE yours. See what words THEY are using. You’ll also want to chat with the folks at your local Barnes and Noble or Borders. Tell them the title of your book and what it’s about. Ask them where they would shelve it.
The next most important item is your HEADLINE. The back cover should have a headline at the top that GRABS someone’s attention.
Next is your opening paragraph. Right underneath the Headline you’ll want to have a paragraph in which you summarize what the book is about and who it’s for. This should be no more than 4 or 5 sentences and take up no more than a maximum of 20% of the back cover space.
After the Opening Paragraph you’ll want to have a section I call the “What You Will Learn” area. This section general starts with the Sub-Headline: “in This Book You’ll Learn” or “In This Book You’ll Find”. Underneath that sub-head you’ll want to put 4 or 5 of your BEST bullet points that you cover in the book.
After this section, you’ll want to put your BEST testimonials from the most influential people you can round up.
Below the testimonials, you’ll want to have a few more items. Your picture should be there and a summary of you and your credentials. I then put a short blurb that encourages people to buy the book NOW.
The only things left are the name of your publishing company, the website address for this particular book and the bar code.
Take a look at any/all of my books to get an idea of how to do your back cover.
Cost: $0 – $500
8. Cover Design
People DO judge a book by its cover. Even if you’re trying to save money, this is the one place you’ll want to spend a little cash unless you’re a talented graphic designer yourself. Book design is a VERY specific art form. Those who do it well/right understand the market and what buyers are looking for.
You have two choices here. You can either do the cover design yourself OR have someone else do it for you. If you have someone else do it for you, you’ll find a HUGE ranges of prices. Just make sure that you see plenty of samples before you give anyone ANY money.
I HIGHLY recommend that you get someone else to do it for you. The cover is critically important to getting press coverage and getting your book to sell. Leave this task to those who know what they are doing!
The best way to find a book cover designer is to find books that you love the covers and contact the authors and ask them who they used. If it’s a book that’s been published traditionally, don’t waste your time calling. It was done by an in-house graphic designer or jobbed out to someone else. Either way, the publisher probably won’t give you the time of day and chances are the author won’t know!
If you can’t get a referral that way, then you have to go out and find someone on your own. You can google the term “book cover designer”. You’ll get a slew of sites and individuals you can screen. Again, you’ll find prices all over the place. The BEST ones will be charging NORTH of $3,000.
If you’re looking for a lower priced option you can try http://www.Elance.com , http://www.Fiverr.com or http://www.Guru.com . I’ve also had some luck with http://www.99Designs.com . With ALL of these sites remember: BUYER BEWARE. Never give a designer the full amount of money in advance. Although it is customary for them to be given a deposit up front. That’s standard procedure in the industry.
Cost: $0 – $3500
9. Interior Design
This is the term used for making the words look “pretty” on the page. Again, your first question is: Do it yourself or have someone do it for you? If you have good computer and design skills you MAY be able to do it yourself. For most people, this is a BAD idea. Interior design is important.
As you consider what typestyle to use and other elements of laying the pages out, you’ll want to make sure that it MESHES well with your cover design. With books that don’t do this, there is a visual/mental disconnect when people pick up the book.
Frequently, the folks who do your cover design will also do your interior design. This is an important element of the LOOK of your book. The best way to get what you want is to find books where you really like the interior and show them to your Interior Designer and Cover Designer before they start their work.
Make sure that the design you choose fits the market you are targeting. A book on sports should not have a VICTORIAN look. It just wouldn’t be consistent with the topic.
Cost: $0 – $ 2500 ($5 – $10/Page)
Once you get to the point where you’re selling 100 books a month or more, you’ll want to look for printers OTHER than CreateSpace. When you start printing over 1500 copies at a time, the price difference will make it worthwhile to print it on your own. After you print you can then send the books to any of your outlets (Amazon, BN.com) to be sold.
A book that CreateSpace is charging you $3.75 a piece for when printed 5,000 units at a time, may go down to under $2 a piece. When you get to 10,000 units at a time you MAY get close to $1. It will depend on how many copies you print and how many pages are in the book. The more you print and the fewer the pages, the lower the cost.
Different book printers specialize in different kinds of books. You’ll want to send a good number of book printers an RFQ – Request for Quotation. This way when you get the quotes back you’re comparing apples to apples. Your decision on who to use to print your book will be based on price, service and reputation.
Here is a link to a list of book printers: http://www.aeonix.com/bookprnt.htm
Cost for CreateSpace to do a book that is around 200 pages with a 4-color cover is around $3.50. This should be ABOUT right, but check to see.
Tools to Sell Your Book Online
Remember, your book is the BEGINNING and not the END of the process! One of the biggest financial mistakes that most authors make is thinking that they can make a LOT of money with a book alone. For all but a SELECT few, this is NOT the case. The big money, in many cases, comes from what you sell people AFTER they buy your book.
Additionally, just writing and printing a book will not make it sell. You’ll need to be marketing your book to make that happen. But that’s a whole different report. If you want to get a jumpstart, get a hold of John Kremer’s book: 1001 Ways to Market Your Book. Contact me for reduced price copies.
If you do decide to self-publish, don’t freak out. It will seem like a lot of “stuff” to do. It is. But, for most people it’s a NEW language. Once you learn the language and the sequence of events, it will get easier and easier each time you do it. AND, once you figure out how to do it once, chances are you’ll publish more than one book!
As far as your TOTAL costs, here is a breakdown of the RANGE of fees you’ll pay:
ISBN Numbers: $225 Total – About $25/product (if you have ten books or CDs)
Cover Design $0 – $3500
Back Cover Copywriter: $0 – $500
Writing: $0 – $250,000
Editing – $0 – $5,000
Interior Design: $0 – $2500
Printing: $0 – ????
TOTAL COST: $25 – $???? (Depending on how much you do yourself and how much you “farm out”)
Any questions make sure to contact me!
(ALERT: Do not spend more than $100 with ANYONE until you run it by me. I ask that you do this because there are MANY folks who prey on unsuspecting, new self publishers. I’m hoping that I can save you some CASH and AGGRAVATION, so contact me first BEFORE you spend your cash.
David Hamilton: EVERYTHING Web Related: http://www.WebmarketingMagician.com
Back Office Shopping Cart: http://www.WebMarketingMagic.com
Cover/Interior Designer: NIck Zellinger: http://www.FredSaysNick.com
Reference Book: Publishing for Maximum Profit: download it at: http://www.FredGleeck.com/ebooks
Printer: SelfPublishing.com: Speak with Ron Pramschufer, tell him I sent you!
Cover Designer: NIck Zellinger
Interior Designer: Nick Zellinger
Bill recommends: Cindy Barrilleaux, former managing editor of the Psychotherapy Networker; has edited for me several times. firstname.lastname@example.org
Marge Hulburt, email@example.com ; has edited and ghostwritten things for students of mine.
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