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Saturday, January 21, 2012

5 Questions Around Self-Publishing Your Non-fiction Book

Here are five provoking questions to help you begin the process of self-publishing your book!
These days everyone wants to write their book! Why not. It is easy to imagine the great feeling of seeing your book in print. It is such a tangible symbol and manifestation of success in the eyes of most people. It seems like anyone who touts themselves as an expert at anything, also has their book to validate it.
That first book has become a benchmark for many, many entrepreneurs.
However, the jump from deciding to write a book, and actually having that book completed and in print is huge. For some people it feels like an insurmountable task and it is so easy to get lost along the way, blocked by obstacles or just lose the inertia.
Here are five important questions to address, that will make the process much easier and more fruitful as well.

1. What is your purpose in writing your book?
Your business plan needs to reflect where your book will fit in to the overall picture. Why would this be important for your business? After people read your book, what do you want them to do? How will your book help your business grow?

2. Who are you writing it to?
Just like any product you are marketing, you need to know your target customer. You need to know who they are, what they need or want and the benefits they will receive. Once you can answer these questions it is easier to know what to write and how to write it.

3. What’s the style?
A non-fiction book often teaches something, as in, “How to” books. They can be motivational and inspirational as well. They can be essays on a subject. The style of your book needs to make sense to the person you want to communicate to and what you want to accomplish.

4. How to publish it?
If you want to become a household name then you might feel you need to get a conventional publisher. Many people think that getting a publisher will be cheaper. Not true if you look at the whole picture.
Unless you are already a famous person, you need to have an agent first. You have to write a book proposal, which can be more laborious than writing the book. I did this 15 years ago and it took me three months to do my proposal. I sent it to many agents and luckily someone took it. If she had managed to find a publisher, she would have taken her percentage of each book sold. The publisher will pay you possibly 6-15% of retail price.

At the end of the day you might end up with a couple dollars per book! It is also a mistake to assume they will market it for you. If you are unknown, they expect you to do your own marketing. However they will get your book in all the large bookstores via their distribution channels as long as the bookstores order it.
Self-publishing is the other option. Fifteen years ago I self-published two books. I had to print at least 1500 to make it worth it. It was a large outlay of money. These days print on demand gives you the ability to digitally print a small amount at a low price and have total control, sell them on your website, with no one taking their percentage out. And now there is also the e-book option. You still have the option to put them on other websites, in bookstores or anywhere and create your own wholesale price.
If you are going to do all the marketing yourself, why not earn more money? Now, years later, I have published my recent books and audiobooks this way.

5. Who is on your team?
It requires a skilled team to help you get your book out. Actually writing was the fun and creative part but help was needed with editing, layout, cover creation, mentoring, book naming and more. It is important to find the right people who can support you, understand the project and want to be a part of your process. Without a good team you will never make it to the finish line.

Follow these five steps, answer all the questions I have posed, and you will be much more equipped to move forward and begin your project. Just imagine your book in print and the smile on your face at the end!


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