To publish or self publish? Does size matter? Ebook or print? An author’s decisions can be so overwhelming that some excellent writers just hit return and say,
“Should I have wine or just straight vodka?”
Every pair of jeans has a back pocket, a place where things are held and sometimes almost lost. Writing my first book, Social PR Secrets, was no different and that’s why I started this series, Behind the Jeans, journaling my book writing experience. The manuscript took me less than three months to write, but the whole process took one year to get published. Hold-ups here, edits there, and what seemed like delays everywhere. You know, small (okay, huge) things like switching publishers and making a game-changing decision to self publish.
On September 10, 2013, I logged onto Amazon and voila!, Social PR Secrets by Lisa Buyer was live. I was officially a published author. And just in time because my book was published two days before an industry conference at which I was speaking.
How did I write the book in less than three months? The story behind the jeans comes in another post, but I will say that yoga helped! One of my goals to finish was tied into one of the larger search and social marketing conferences. I met my writing deadline, but after I hit the “submit manuscript to publisher button,” it was out of my control and into the hands of editors and publishers.
Tick tock, tick tock. Warrior one, warrior two, warrior three. My yoga poses were starting to get out of balance waiting for feedback. I was at a crossroads. Do I risk the chance of missing my deadline, or do I make a last minute move to self publish and take back control?
Taking Off with JETLAUNCH
Airplane pose and three weeks to my conference, I switched to JETLAUNCH, an expert publishing service. I came with a semi-final manuscript in hand and one of my favorite artists in my back pocket. On September 10, Social PR Secrets was published on Amazon, two days before ClickZLive (formerly SES).
1. What are some of the top mistakes you see authors make in the publishing process?
Chris: The biggest mistake I see authors make is neglecting a professional edit. No matter how skilled an author may be, he or she always, always needs a professional edit. Although we do not currently advertise this aspect of our services (because we always get plenty of editing work), we offer a variety of editing services from developmental editing to proofreading. Most business authors benefit from developmental editing because we ensure your book has an effective main argument or thesis that is supported by each chapter, with each chapter having its own sub-argument. The overall logical flow and progression is very important. You often do not notice this in a great business book because they are so easy to read and understand that you are able to focus on content and the message.
Another big mistake I see authors make is trying to do everything themselves. Business authors will see a much greater return on their investment if they use their time to focus on their business instead of trying to learn the whole new business of publishing.
2. What are the key ingredients in what a book cover design have?
Chris: While having a professional design that captures the reader’s attention and imagination is still most important, a book cover also needs to look great as a smaller, thumbnail-sized image. This is because most books are sold via Amazon or other online distributors and your potential reader’s first look at your book will be at that size.
Make sure the title and author are large enough to be easily read at that smaller size. Be sure imagery is also effective and impactful at a smaller size. Beyond that, the imagery should also give the potential reader a feel for what the book is about. Make the imagery coherent with the book’s topic.
Social PR Secret: Brand it with your Twitter handle or a hashtag to socially connect with readers.
3. Does size matter? Page length? Chapter length? Book dimensions?
Chris: Size is not so important, other than to determine price. Shorter books are becoming more popular, and they give you an opportunity to publish more books, each with a more narrow or niche focus. In the end, you will probably sell more books and make more royalties if you publish three shorter niche books, versus one large, all-encompassing book.
Chapter length can vary from 2,000 words to 10,000 words. What is important is to have a coherent argument for each chapter that also supports the main argument or thesis of your book. The dimensions for a print book should be either 5.5″ by 8.5″ or 6″ by 9″. Rarely would I suggest varying from those dimensions.
4. Do you have any stats that first-time authors should know when it comes to ebooks versus print?
Chris: I often hear the statistic that around 70% of all books sold are print books. But you have to keep in mind this includes all print books sold in brick-and-mortar stores. Most of those print books are from the big traditional publishers. Most authors receive as much as 90% of their sales from ebooks.
But I still encourage authors to publish in both ebook and print formats because print books are especially important to have when you want to promote yourself as an expert in your field or use your book to open doors when gaining new business.
Having a print book available alongside your ebook increases sales of your ebook. Also, with Amazon’s new MatchBook program, you can increase your sales and royalties by offering your ebook at a lower price when your customer buys the print book.
5. How do you price a book?
Chris: For most business authors, unless their book is shorter than average, I suggest pricing the ebook at $9.99 and the print book at $24.99. This is because of perceived value. If the price of your book matches other popular business books, your book will be perceived to have the same value. For shorter books, say 15,000 to 25,000 words, you can list your ebook in the $5.99 to $7.99 range and your print book $9.99 to $14.99 range.
6. What are the advantages of going with a publishing service versus a publisher?
Chris: There are too many reasons to count! Control is a very important reason. If you publish your own book using a publishing services company like JETLAUNCH, you receive 100% of your net royalties (after your distributor, e.g. Amazon, takes its percentage). You also get your book published much faster. We typically publish your book (ebook and print) in 6 weeks or less. Also, even if you were to be published by a traditional publisher, the responsibility of marketing your book still falls on you. So if you are going to go to all that work to make sure your book sells, why not collect everything instead of the 10% or so that you would receive through a traditional publisher?
How did I write the book in less than three months? Subscribe here and find out in my next post.