Gordon Burgett’s Newsletter
for writers, speakers, publishers, and product developers
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Publish Your Book Profitably 9 Ways in Less Than 30 Days
Let me give you an overview of how you can quickly and very inexpensively put your book into nine different selling formats—once you have a core book structurally ready to print in bound form.
I will also link the e-mail addresses so you can check out each format for yourself, plus the preliminary results of my doing exactly what I’m telling you to do during the past 30 days.
First, some critical table-setting is in order.
Your standard ink-on-paper bound book is almost impossible to sell to a “major publisher” now. Even if they accepted it, it’s usually a very poor investment of your time and energy. The big houses are collapsing, and the distribution and storefront selling venues they sell through aren’t doing much better.
Still, the bound book is where most of the money hides. The most profitable and least risky publishing process in “printed,” p-books is in niche self-publishing, where you can pre-test before writing or printing. My book—Niche Publishing: Publishing Profitably Every Time!—fully explains that process. Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual does an excellent job telling how to prepare, produce, and promote broader-based, bound self-published books. And his newest book, simply Volume 2 of his Self-Publishing Manual, explores the latest technologies and newest techniques.
E-books (digital books, faithful reproductions of bound books in digital form or modified versions for that format) are going to play a huge role in the future, but now they account for only about 3% of the total sales (some say it is 1% though Amazon says that where a book is available in both bound and digital format, the latter sells at a 10% ratio).
So what I’m discussing in this newsletter is how, once you write your book and it is a publish-ready draft, you can sell that book within a month four ways as a bound book and five as an e-book—seven of these nine by other publisher/distributors. In half of those formats you can have your book out for sale literally within hours, certainly days.
Let me quickly walk you through the process, as I myself am testing it.
First, though, you must decide what your book is about, who you want to buy it, where and how they will most likely make the purchase, what you want back from your labors (probably meaning how much money)—in short, exactly why you are doing it. That will dictate which of these processes you will follow.
(1) I created a concise (110-page) how-to book called Administrators and Teachers: Getting Profitably in Print 75% of the Time. I did it specifically to test these nine formats, though I also intend to make a profit from its sale. I began 31 days ago with the book completely written, proofed, and in ready-to-use layout form. My goal, perhaps like yours, was to sell its wisdom by all nine means in less than 30 days (I made it, though two formats are not as polished as I want.) You can too. But you must be determined, plow past inept instructions at websites, and just keep going. There’s no magic in what I’m proposing.)
(2) That means I created a core manuscript in Word on a PC, in 6” x 9” layout—see www.gordonburgett.com/75edbook.htm for the specific book details, layout numbers, and cover sizes, if interested. All writing, rewriting, editing, proofing, and text and layout changes were kept in that file until they were in final draft form—ready to print. (Can you use a Mac instead of a PC? Of course.)
(3) Because I will sell the book commercially, I bought an ISBN number. (If you are using only some of the procedures, the bound books usually require an ISBN, the digital books don’t. The sellers will tell you.)
(4) My cover guy—a gifted nephew—created a very simple but professional, multi-colored cover from a rather plain design I gave him. It had the ISBN in the barcode on the back. He sent the cover in six files—the front cover only, back cover only, and total cover, each in jpg and .pdf format. (You can make your own cover a whole lot fancier, and Lulu and CreateSpace will let you create a cover with their software—but both are complex and limited. This could all be done within the same 30 days, but I think it’s prudent to get started on a cover that another will create 60-90 days in advance.) Do it my way and all the versions of your book will have the same cover. It may cost $200-500, maybe less with help from www.elance.com or www.guru.com. But don’t skimp. You will be judged by your book cover.
(5) While you’re prepping, also write the book description that most of these publishing venues will request. This has to be good sales copy, full of benefits, reader/buyer-directed. Do two basic descriptions: one about 200 characters long, another somewhere between 750-1000 words. Then you can expand and prune where the space limits demand.
(6) Since I only wanted 50 copies at the outset to test commercial sales, I sent the manuscript and cover to Lightning Source (LSI) to get that quantity in POD (print-on-demand) format. I sent the manuscript digitally in .pdf, paginated for book printing. The cover was submitted in .jpg. They sent me a proof in four days, for $30. It was perfect. I said yes. Ten days later I had the printed books in my warehouse. I initially paid LSI a set-up fee of $37.50 each for the text and cover files, plus $30 for the book proof—$105 total. Then it cost, for 50 books, $2.45 a book ($122.50, total), plus shipping (another $22.36). Later, assuming I will need much larger quantities for my own commercial sales (mostly sold by direct mail to the niche, at my website, and to back-of-the-room buyers at presentations), I will move from P.O.D. at LSI to a 1,500+ run on a web or rotary press, probably by McNaughton and Gunn.
Let me expand a bit here. These 50 copies are printed, bound (trade paperback) copies of my book that I will sell both commercially and through my website. They will be marketed to bookstores, libraries, associations, and other niche outlets both directly and through distributors, plus I will sell them in bound form through Amazon Advantage and Barnes and Noble. Through the website I will sell them to my e-list as well as by blog, the social networks, through associates, and by using other digital means, including AdWords. But none of those are included in the nine venues described here except for the purchase of the starter books from LSI, which is included because it’s much faster, easier, and more economical for a publisher who is eager to get quickly in print and doesn’t have a firm grasp on the number of books needed (as they would in niche publishing).
(7) While I’m at LSI, I’m also going to have them sell my P.O.D. print book through the major distribution houses, including Ingram, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Baker & Taylor. It costs me $12 a year per book to be sold through LSI this way. When a distributor orders a book from LSI, they simply print it from the master that I just used to get my own P.O.D. copies. For each sale they pay me the retail price minus the discount I will offer minus the printing cost. In this case, $15.95-55%-$2.35 a book to print: thus, I receive $4.82 each, reported monthly but paid after 90 days. That’s a pinch over 30%. (The trap is whether you allow returns. I don’t. That costs me sales.) To get this service from Lightning Source, I simply check the right boxes in the P.O.D. section—itself a task since LSI’s website is a mystery. In a few weeks (more likely they will get it fully posted in a couple of months), my book will be sold this way without it going through me at all. (I asked if they pass judgment on the books they list and sell. The reply, “I don’t think so. I’ve not seen a rejection in the five years I’ve been here.” Whew. (Incidentally, I’m not alone: they serve 9,000 publishers and average a printing of 1.4 million books a month.)
(8) Now I have my bound books; the same book will also be sold, bound but printed P.O.D., by LSI. I use the same basic book file (in .pdf) to have bound books created and sold by both Lulu and CreateSpace. Each walks you through the steps at their website. That puts the book quickly for sale in the popular Lulu world and to direct Amazon distribution through CreateSpace. These are called minimum-service subsidy publishers, and the cost to me is less than zero: they pay me! But not much, though I needn’t do anything more to sell it, as much as some would like me to. How much you earn is labyrinthine, but figure on a $!5.95 book like mine (you set the price) at Lulu I’d earn from 22-47% of the bound book’s sale price—and 80% for the e-book (more in a moment), while at Create Space it would be from 32-52% of the bound book’s price.
set-up fees. You can do the entire process yourself at both sites (I
did) but each also provides services that will do the file editing, transfer,
design, and cover tasks for you—for a fee. (I liked one service in particular:
Lulu will carefully photo delicate, vintage manuscripts and get them ready for
print.) I had lots of initial questions for each website. The onsite
documentation ranged from confusing (Lulu) to good at CS. In both, I punched in
the book master and I only had to modify my basic Word file at the
(9) Next, from the bound book file I created a digital file book. Most publisher/distributors want e-book files in .pdf format, which I also prefer because I can include tables and charts that will remain intact. For digital books you usually have to change or remove page numbers (in the table of contents and index as well). Another problem usually comes with the page breaks. Save the changes in your digital book master file, save that in .pdf, read the book on your computer screen, note things that must be modified, make the changes in the Word file, save it in .pdf again, read it again, and so on—until it’s exactly as you want it. That file in final form then becomes your master for all of the digital versions that you will also sell commercially! Bingo, you now have your core book ready to sell in both print and as a download.
(10) The first place you will sell it is through the e–book division of LSI. You fill in the forms at the e-book section, send the front cover in one file, your master .pdf version in another, and it is quickly integrated, approved, and sold to their extensive distribution system. Don’t party yet. That will probably yield a very small bank deposit each month.
(11) Next, go back to Lulu. This time it’s easier because you already survived the maze of getting your bound book accepted. (It says when you go to “Publishing” that you can just add the digital to your bound book information. I couldn’t, so I went through the e-book process all over, this time inserting the digital .pdf file for the download. At the cover page, I went directly to text (no background) and inserted the front cover only file in the .jpg version. That worked fine. The rest was easy. I discovered that I should have put in a preview with the bound book. Mine is the introduction, so I set it at “create your own” and typed out the eight-page opening by entering 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8, to which they added, first, the cover. I did this for the digital download version, and while I was there I did it again for the book!
(12) You’ve heard of Amazon’s Kindle books because of their reader. They are eager to include your book too—free. Yet they have their own reader language so .pdf won’t work. They will take your Word file (use your final book .doc file and make the same small conversions you made to the e-book digital file) and convert it into their tongue. Sometimes it works. About half of our Kindle books converted without problems. But too often (this book was no exception) goofy things happened: text is squished or twice as big (and bold!) or pages break mysteriously. And all tables and almost all images must be expunged: left in, the result is a disaster. (Mention the missing items in the Kindle version where they originally appeared, then send the readers to a website page of your own where they can see or download the actual graphs, charts, or artwork that appear in the initial book.) At Kindle you either tinker and play and resend and try again until it’s more or less right or you just get as close as you can and leave it to the patience of the Kindle readers. (Kindle’s directions to prevent the oddities are pretty awful. I like April Hamilton’s free “IndieAuthor Guide to Using Amazon’s DTP with MS Word” at her website.) Kindle pays 35% royalty, monthly. Another very modest bank deposit each month.
(13) The most enigmatic e-book format pays the most, 85% of net (book price minus PayPal fee times .85). Smashwords is still so new that it’s unclear whether such high royalties result in much income at all. Yet, it’s all so strange and easy to do, why not? They want a Word or .rtp file (use, then modify the one you send to Kindle) which they will then translate into nine DRM-free e-book formats, which I presume the respective readers and iPhone or iPod Touch users will seek so they can see your words on their favorite portals. But when you look at these converted files (a few you can’t read at all on your computer), many seem disordered, even tortured. Still, their .pdf version looked fine—but without the charts and graphs. I like the free “Smashwords Style Guide” by the CEO, Mark Coker, available at the site—plus his vision of somehow using your books on You Tube, a coupon code system, and an affiliate program. Put your book up here in the best form you can since Smashwords distributes on Stanza, used by 1.3 million through the most popular e-reading app on the iPhone and iPod Touch.
Finally, let me share the most likely order by which you might produce (or have produced) the versions of your book once you have the final manuscript ready to publish. The number at the end indicates roughly the order in which those products would likely appear for public sale:
* Own in-house bound version / POD copies from LSI—for commercial and in-house sale (7)
* LSI P.O.D. bound book sales / major commercial distributors (6)
* Lulu bound book / Lulu distribution (8)
* CreateSpace bound book / Amazon distribution (9)
* Own in-house digital version / commercial and in-house sales (1)
* LSI digital version / major commercial distributors (2)
* Lulu digital version / Lulu distribution (3)
* Kindle digital version / Amazon distribution (5)
* Smashwords digital version / Stanza distribution (4)
This is an extraordinary time in publishing. For 65% of my life the prospect of having any book in print, and that in hand in less than 18 months, was for most almost unimaginable. Then the time barriers disappeared when self-publishing became truly feasible and doable by us. Now, almost all of the other barriers are gone. Yet with structural collapse, the marketing process is equally unsettled. Still, the most shocking thing is that you can literally sell your own book, fast and almost free, in nine (or 11) distinct marketing formats in less than 30 days from the book’s editorial completion.
In a month or two I will have
a full CD program available about this topic, with a detailed workbook and a
lot more specifics, that will walk you step-by-step
through this process. It comes from a new four-hour seminar I offered yesterday
Will you share your experiences with these minimum-service subsidy publishers?
I’m expanding the concept above into a series of related seminars, and I will finish a book about this topic in 2009, so I’m eagerly gathering others’ responses, success stories, tales of woe, actual income and cost figures, and sage advice to include in the presentations and on the book’s pages. (A free copy if your info is used! Trust me.) Send your thoughts to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and put in the subject title “ancillary publishers book” so I don’t bop it as spam. I will also dip into this wisdom and share it at the blog (www.gburgett.wordpress.com), with your permission—so look there too if this topic interests you.
As always, I’m grateful for your help, and glad we can share the process news with each other.
Next month, I will talk about five publishing book extensions through which you can additionally share and profitably sell your core book or speaking knowledge. Essential empire-building stuff!
Where are my other products hiding?
Two readers actually asked exactly that. So the grand unveiling! Check www.gordonburgett.com/order3.htm. For more information about each, click the link by the title. Or just order away...
The archives of the past newsletter issues is at www.gordonburgett.com/NLarchives.htm.
Gordon’s bio is at www.gordonburgett.com/gbbio3.htm.
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