How to Publish and Sell Your Writing
Aim for the top
Do you have a book in progress? Or perhaps you've already written it? Is it fiction or nonfiction? A word of advice: nonfiction sells! Solve a problem for others and your books will sell. Not only that, they will become a reference for the reader.
For many the thought of writing a book is exciting. However, once they see the steps involved with hiring agents, editors and cover designers the dream is quickly put into perspective. Plus, there is no guarantee a traditional publisher will even accept the idea or manuscript. It doesn't have to be this way.
This Hub will not go into great detail, as there are several books available on the subject. It is only meant to be a guideline and will point you in the right direction.
With the increasing popularity of self-publishing it is much easier and quicker to get your ideas into print. However, self-publishing should not be a reason to produce substandard literature. The same care must be taken with cover design, formatting and the actual contents of your book whether you are self-publishing or with a traditional publishing house.
Before I list a few of the online publishers available, let me stress something. You must make your book as professional as possible. This means an attractive cover (yes, even eBooks need a cover design), Copyright page, Table of Contents (page numbers will only apply to print editions), Acknowledgement, etc. For a full list of pages and book layout, I suggest the Para Publishing Book Writing Template. This particular template has helped me write my books; I highly recommend you download a copy and follow the instructions. It is free to download, print and use, but if you prefer a hard copy of the kit it may be ordered through the Para Publishing website. (Update March 19/18: This item is no longer available on the website, nor are the other products. I removed the link, but I do believe the books by Dan Poynter are still available through online bookstores.)
There are a few POD (Print on Demand) and ebook sites I have had some experience with. They are all free to use if your book files are complete; if you require editing or additional services there will be additional costs. I personally have not used any of the additional services available but do recommend them if you feel you would benefit from an editor or cover designer.
1. CreateSpace - (POD) offers the option of ordering a proof copy of your book or you may download and proof your book without ordering a physical copy. The cost per book is lower than other sites, which yields higher profits for you. The site walks you through the steps necessary and requires you to upload a copy of your book files and cover files. The cover may be designed using their free templates or you may upload one of your own. Books are listed on the CreateSpace and Amazon sites for free; if you wish for a broader range of distribution there is a small fee. For details on distribution channels and fees please visit the site.
2. Kindle Direct Publishing - this tool makes your book available for Kindle ereaders, as well as additional ereaders and tablets. (Apps are available via the Android market for Kobo, Nook, etc.) Files are uploaded to the site in Word and converted to be compatible with eReaders. I personally have found it simple and straightforward to use.
3. Lulu - offers both print and ebook formats. Hard copies are more costly than CreateSpace, and distribution is free via the Lulu bookstore. For additional distribution channels there is a fee involved. For editing services and distribution packages it is best to visit the site. I have also personally used Lulu for my work and have not had any problems. I have uploaded my own files and designed my own cover; there is also a cover designer template available which I recommend.
4. Booktango - is a universal publisher of ebooks, meaning your ebook is available on all ereaders and tablets. I have personally not yet published via Booktango, but do have an account set up for future ebooks. The bonus feature with this site is you may edit your book from anywhere as the files are kept online if you choose. Another bonus is you receive 100% royalties for copies sold via Booktango and 90% for copies sold via other channels. For anyone depending on their royalties to pay the bills, I believe this is a very good deal.
Selling Your Work
Your book is written and you have decided to order some copies to have on hand...now what?
Do not leave your marketing until you have the physical copy in hand. It is very advisable to start marketing as soon as you come up with your book idea. Letting others know about it in the beginning stages will prompt you to get it completed within a certain amount of time.
Marketing does not have to be costly; joining social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc will help you make connections and have prospective buyers long before your book is complete. Also joining forums and groups pertaining to writing, book reviews and books in general can be beneficial to building your platform. It is crucial to have either a blog or website dedicated to your author role. This will show others you are an expert in your field and does not limit you to one book. Take a look at the Para Publishing website once again; you will see in the left hand column there is a list of subjects Dan Poynter has written about which have nothing to do with publishing.
When posting in forums or the comment section on blogs, there is a spot to list your blog or website. Take advantage of this feature and leave insightful comments for others; they will most likely want to know more about you so will visit your site. This could easily lead to future book sales or speaking engagements (if you so desire).
No matter the publishing route you choose, it is still mainly up to you, the author, to do most of the marketing. Many authors presume if they publish via a traditional publishing house the legwork will be done for them; this is not the case. There may be some publicity when the book is first released, but anything before and after that is up to the author.
Do not limit your book sales to bookstores. If your book is about crafts, ask your local craft shop to display a few copies. If it is about pets, visit your local pet store and ask for their help. In return, you may pay them a commission or enclose an insert featuring their business. There are several arrangements which may be made with local businesses; find one that works for both. If you have written about business practices and do speaking engagements, offer your book for sale after the seminar is over. These "back of the room" sales may yield higher returns in both book sales and future seminars.
Are you a writer?
Have you finished your manuscript?
There are many options available for the independent author. For those of you wanting to earn a modest living from your books, it is up to you to produce a quality product. It is also important to not limit yourself to only one book. If you are an "expert" in more than one area then branch out and write books about each one.
Ebooks are less costly to produce, are delivered instantly and can be purchased by anyone who has a computer, smartphone or ereader. It is important to keep the prices of ebooks reasonable as well; I have seen many priced higher than their print counterparts which makes no sense whatsoever. Isn't it better to sell more at a lower price?
Test the waters with eBooks, and if the demand is there have print copies available. As an independent author you retain all of the rights pertaining to your book, which means you can revise and change platforms as you see fit. There is no middleman telling you what you can and cannot do in regards to your book and its contents.
For those of you wanting to write a book, what are you waiting for? For those who have a completed manuscript with a pile of rejection letters, I ask the same question. Self-publishing has opened many doors; take that first step through and don't look back. Produce quality work and you will be rewarded. If you have any questions do not hesitate to ask them below. I will do my best to answer or refer you onward if necessary.
Good luck with your book(s)!
© 2012 Diane Ziomek