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With the Right Plan—Successfully Publishing Your Book Is Possible

Updated on May 11, 2017

I lead a company called Sea Hill Press, and I’ve been in this industry for over thirty years. I started as a printer, moved into publishing, and have worked in book management, promotion and sales. In short, I’ve been in all areas of the industry. Publishing is a creative endeavor, and each book is unique. A successful book project is greater than the sum of its parts, which are editing, layout, design, printing, and sales. I spend a lot of my time helping people make these decisions.

Here are a few questions that I ask authors that may help you better define your mission if you are considering publishing a book:

  1. What is a successful outcome for me? For many authors, the writing has been a hobby. The completion of the hobby comes when they see the manuscript in its completed form as a printed book. Many authors today want enough copies for their friends and family members. And that’s OK. Print-on-demand publishing is a solution that gets your there. If you can only envision selling fifty copies, then start there. With print on demand, you can always order more. you may find that the process of writing was rewarding and producing only a few books is a happy ending. If so, you don’t need to move onto the next question. However, if you want to share your writing with a larger audience, then it’s time think a little bigger.
  2. What are my goals for selling my book? Be specific in writing out your intentions and goals. Consider such things as who your audience is, where they live, where they work, and what their purchasing habits look like. How are you going to tell these people about your book, and how are you going to promote your work? Write your ideas down. This is the start of your marketing plan. It’s better you know this before you go too far down the path.
  3. Do I understand what it means to have a good editor? There’s more to editing a book than being good at grammar. People often ask me the difference between working with one of our editors, or using a friend with good written skills and my answer never changes. Book publishing has its own set of language rules and presentation guidelines. Not only are specialized book editors experts in the writing and style guidelines exclusive to the book industry but also they are experts at understanding the layout and design formatting of a book design. A good book editor knows the pitfalls of publishing and can steer you clear of the holes that bring criticism and bad reviews. An Editor is a specialists, and a good one is worth it. If funds are tight, Its better to wait, save the money and then speed it wisely, on a good editor.
  4. Have I developed a good distribution plan? If you intend to sell your work, then launching it successfully is no different than any other new business venture. Plan it, develop it, and make it happen. Just because your book has an ISBN and is listed online doesn’t mean it will sell. Getting it online is only an initial step in the distribution plan. Look for specialists to assist you in shoring up your weaknesses in marketing, promotion, and sales.
  5. Am I interested in going into book sales as a business? You probably enjoyed working on your manuscript and developing its layout and cover, but not all authors enjoy the aspects of selling their books. Book selling is a business; along with it comes making sales and handling accounting and taxes. Your business is going to take time away from your writing and other activities you enjoy. It’s OK to work with a company to help you get your proof of concept and get your book finished. Ask yourself how much time you’re willing to commit to the business side of selling your book. I’ve meet with many authors in my life. They tend to fall into one of two groups: either they want to see their writing in print or they want to make a good income off selling books as a business. There’s not a right group and a wrong group, however do be honest with yourself on this point.

We all spend money and resources in our lives for experiences and hobbies we enjoy. If writing your book was the experience, and sharing it with friends and family is the reward, then printing a limited number of copies will likely be satisfying for you. The fun was in the writing.


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