Category Archives: Publishing

Should You Form a Book Publishing Co-op to Produce Your Next Book?

Book Publishing Co-op

Last week we acknowledged no one has all the skills required to self-publish a book. The only solution is to pay a team of people to handle the critical tasks of book publishing. This includes cover design, editing, interior layout, photography, and so on.

Or is there another way?

Although it would take great effort, you might be able to put together a consortium of book writers. They can pool their collective talents to work as a team to produce each other’s books, with each author tapping his or her skillset for everyone else’s books. You could put together your own self-publishing co-op. If you have a book publishing skill to offer, maybe a book-publishing co-op is an option worth considering if you want to self-publish but have no money to do so. Click To Tweet

What a Book Publishing Co-op Might Look Like

Let’s say you’re an editing ace, but are lousy with a camera and don’t have a clue about graphic design or interior layout. Find an author who is also a professional photographer and another who does interior book layouts for a living. Then locate a fourth writer who does book covers for their day job. You edit their books and they contribute their individual expertise to yours. Of course a fifth author is helpful. This is someone who stays current with publishing options. They can serve as the logistical guru to keep abreast of production and distribution options. Then bring others into the group to handle other details, such as promotion, marketing, publicity, legal, and so forth.

Finding these people would be a challenge. But the Internet and social media makes it feasible, providing you have the time and patience to find the right people.

Though I’m not aware of anyone who’s formed a book publishing co-op, I’m sure there are already people doing this in concept. If you have a book publishing skill to offer, maybe a book publishing co-op is an option worth considering if you want to self-publish but have no money to do so.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Can You Self-Publish Your Book For Free?

self publishing costsIf we publish our book with a traditional publisher, there are no out-of-pocket expenses. The publisher even pays us an advance. Although it might not be much, at least we receive some money at the beginning of the publishing process. Not so with self publishing. Self publishing costs money,

Self Publishing Costs Money

This is not the case when we self-publish. When we act as our own publisher, there is no advance and there are expenses, which can add up quickly. We don’t earn any money until we can sell copies of our book. And that can take a while.

Is there a middle ground, a way to self-publish without incurring a bunch of upfront costs? The short answer is, “Yes!” However, the wise response is, “No!”

Self-publishing without spending any money would require a huge investment of time, and the results would not be good. Regardless of how talented we are and how diverse our skillset, one person cannot cover everything required to produce a quality book. The finished product would look like an amateur did it. And it’s hard to sell a book that fails to meet the expectations of today’s buyers.Self-publishing without spending any money would require a huge investment of time, and the results would not be good. Click To Tweet

Here are a few of the self publishing costs we’ll encounter when we self-publish:

Cover Costs

People do judge a book by its cover. A professional impression is critical because there is only a split second to catch someone’s attention. Don’t try this yourself.

Editing Costs

Few writers can edit their own work and do it well. And your friend who majored in English is seldom the answer—nor is your mom, high school writing teacher, or second cousin who reads a lot.

Interior Layout Costs

Have you ever opened a book and sensed something was wrong? You’re not sure what it is, but you know the book is different—and in an odd way. This is because of a poor interior design, and those books are hard to read.

Photography Costs

Taking a quality self-portrait is improbable, and selfies are out of the question for a book cover or publicity shot. Just because you own a fancy, high-resolution camera doesn’t make you a photographer.

ISDN Costs

For any book to sell, it requires an ISBN. If you plan to only peddle books from the trunk of your car, you can skip this expense. Otherwise you need to purchase an ISBN.

There are additional self publishing costs, but these are the more critical ones. Though you might be the exception who has the experience and ability to do one of these tasks with excellence, no one can master them all—especially if you want your book to sell.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Remove Self From Self-Publishing: Assemble a Team

Put together a self-publishing team to make your books shine.Self-publishing is a misnomer or at least successful self-publishing is. A better label might be team publishing. That is, when we self-publish, we must not do it all ourselves (though we can, we shouldn’t) but instead assemble a team, a self-publishing team.

Here are the players for our self-publishing team:

Author, the Self-Publishing Team Captain

The author (us) needs to write the best possible book: not a good one, not good enough, but the best. Then look for ways to make it better. We are the captain of our self-publishing team.

Beta Readers

Once the book is as good as it can be, tap others to preview it, but only ask those who will give honest feedback. People who won’t say what’s wrong, weak, or not working aren’t helpful and give a false sense of excellence.

Editor

Many people recommend three levels of editing or even four. I look for two and to avoid confusing industry labels, I use generic ones. First is macro-editing, which looks at the big picture: What should you add, delete, or move? Does the piece flow? How can it be improved? What writing idiosyncrasies do you need to correct? Then, after addressing all the comments from the macro-editor, a different person needs to do the micro-editing, which addresses the details of the writing: proofreading, typos, word selection, grammar, and punctuation. Select experienced professionals for both these editors positions. Don’t go cheap by asking a friend who majored in English or someone who likes to read.

Cover Designer

Hire a cover designer to make an eye-catching, powerful cover. Potential buyers judge books by their cover, often in less than a second. We have one chance to catch their attention, so don’t skimp on making the most of this opportunity..

Interior Designer

The layout of the book must follow standard expectations. No one notices when a book is laid out according to industry conventions, but everyone can tell something’s wrong when it’s not. Pay someone to do this right. Taking a team approach to self-publishing greatly increases the chances for success. Click To Tweet

Add these key players to build a successful self-publishing team. In addition we need help with marketing, promotion, and distribution. It’s also important to engage fans as part of the book launch.

Taking a team approach to self-publishing greatly increases the chances for success.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Don’t Believe Everything You Hear about Book Publishing

Book PublishingSeveral years ago, I received a telemarketing call from a well-known self-publishing operation, a division of a well-known traditional publisher.  She wanted to talk about book publishing.

Although unwelcomed, the interruption didn’t surprise me, because a few years ago I had contacted them. Their business model intrigued me, but I dismissed them when I stumbled on a poorly produced book with their imprint inside.

At the time I was pursuing a traditional publishing deal and told the rep so. Not deterred, she keyed in on my excuse, telling me why my book publishing strategy was wrong. She spewed forth a well-honed tutorial of why I needed to self-publish my books first. I won’t claim she lied to me, but mixed in with the truth were some half-truths and over-simplifications.As we consider new information, we must exercise discernment, because we can’t believe everything we hear. Click To Tweet

Here’s what she said:

  • It’s harder than ever to land a traditional publishing contract. (True)
  • Traditional publishers won’t even look at your book, but they will instead rely on a one-page query. (Over-simplification: If your query grabs their attention, they’ll ask for a proposal, which could lead to them looking at your book. But most likely they’ll only consider your query letter.)
  • Traditional publishers want you to self-publish first. (Half-truth: If your self-pub book is a breakaway hit, then you’re in a great position to sign a book deal. If you have a well-written, carefully edited, and appropriately laid out self-pub book, they’ll have less work to do should they decide to publish it—but they may also wonder if you’ve already made all the sales you’re going to make.)
  • She guaranteed their parent company would look at my book if I self-pub with them. (Over-simplification: What they will likely look at is sales numbers of my book, not the book itself. Once a certain threshold is reached then someone may actually look at my writing, but not until then. Of course, I’m speculating on this, but it’s not practical for them to give every self-pub book full consideration.)

The book publishing industry changes continually and fast. What was true last month may not hold true next month. We must be in a continual learning mode, but as we consider new information, we must exercise discernment, because we can’t believe everything we hear.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

What It Takes To Land a Book Deal

You have likely heard stories of publishers turning down books that later went on to become bestsellers. There are also tales of agents who missed seeing a book’s potential, only to be proven wrong when someone else made it a success. These accounts prove that having a book published with a traditional publisher is far from an exact science.What's it take to land a book deal?

There are four variables to land a book deal. To find a traditional publisher, you need to have:

  • the right book,
  • pitched by the right agent,
  • to the right publisher,
  • at the right time.

That means you must have a well-written, interesting book, an agent who loves it, a publisher who will get behind it, and for all this to happen at the ideal time.

Furthermore, for any book to achieve success, whether traditionally published or self-published, the right set of circumstances must occur. These include a myriad of things, such as current events, the economy, the mood of buyers, competing titles, the weather, and so forth.To find a traditional publisher, you need to have the right book, pitched by the right agent, to the right publisher, at the right time. Click To Tweet

Most of these things are completely outside the control of writers. The one thing we can affect is the content of the book. As a writer, we determine whether a book is merely good or great, boring or interesting, similar to everything else or unique. Our job as writers is simply to produce the best book we possibly can.

That’s what our focus should be; the other things are mostly outside of our control.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Six Flavors of Book Publishing

In a previous post, I talked about traditional publishing and vanity publishing (once the only two options), with hybrid publishing now filling the space between. Hybrid publishing is a combination of the two, with varying options for a book author.Publishing options for a book author

Hybrid Publishing

A common term for this ever-evolving assortment of book publishing options is hybrid publishing. It’s also a descriptive name, with some book publishers opting for other labels.

Entrepreneurial Publishing

One reader mentioned entrepreneurial publishing. I like that. It reminds us that publishing a book is a business. The book author needs to take part in the process in order to be successful.

Indie Publishing

Indie publishing (short for independent publishing) or indie press can take on a wide array of meanings, from a traditional publisher that is small and therefore independent, to a niche publisher, to self-publishing.

Custom Publishing

Custom publishing is a broader term that in addition to books can alternately cover magazines, newsletters, brochures, or whatever else can be imagined.

However, regardless of the label, the main thing is to analyze what they do and don’t do, determine how money flows between publisher and book author (and in which direction), and realize this is a business, for both publisher and author. Then, after finding the best fit, carefully read the contract. Then hire an attorney who is familiar with publishing agreements.

Happy publishing!

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Hybrid Publishing: Providing a Continuum of Publishing Options

Once upon a time, authors had two primary options to publish their books: a traditional publisher or a vanity publisher. However, a new option has emerged: hybrid publishing.Hybrid Publishing

Traditional Publishing

In today’s challenging economic environment, traditional publishers are risk adverse. This makes it harder for a new author to sign with them. A traditional publisher simply doesn’t want to take a chance on an unknown, unproven, untested author. This isn’t to say it never happens, just that it doesn’t happen as often as it once did.

Vanity Publishing

The other possibility, vanity publishing, however, isn’t much of an alternative. Selecting this option is often an effort in futility. It costs much and provides little, except for a garage full of books that can’t be given away because of their poor production quality. This doesn’t always happen, but it happens too often.

Hybrid Publishing

However, as these two options fade, an array of hybrid publishers fills the void. These offer a plethora of opportunities to fill the space between these two extremes.

The hybrid model of publishing combines elements of traditional and vanity publishing. It takes elements of both to produce something more accessible and possibly superior. Hybrid publishing exists on a continuum, with an assortment of manifestations to pick from. Regardless of what publishing options an author seeks, there is likely a hybrid publisher, somewhere out there, who will meet the need.

If traditional publishing is out of reach and vanity publishing is, well, too vain, than hybrid publishing is the way to go. But don’t jump at the first one you find. Carefully consider several hybrid publishing providers. Continue looking until you find the one that’s the right match for you, your goals, and your writing.Carefully consider publishing options until you find the one that’s the right match for you, your goals, and your writing. Click To Tweet

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

What Movies Teach Us About Book Publishing

I read a lot of book reviews and even more movie reviews. Setting aside the critiques that are not really reviews—attacks on persons or perspective—the resulting (real) reviews are insightful for the book or movie in question but also in better understanding their respective industries.The difference between movie reviews and book reviews

I’ve noticed a difference between movie reviews and book reviews. In movie reviews it’s common for reviewers to address issues such as quality and budget. Phrases like “big budget” and “b-movie” or “hastily produced” and “carefully crafted” come to mind. Even saying “star-studded,” “foreign film,” or “cult classic” carry implications about quality and budget.

Sometimes, the marketing of the movie makes its way into a review. Some movies have flopped, not because the movie was bad but because of its marketing. Movie reviewers note these things.

Book Reviews

I don’t often see these concepts repeated in book reviews. Yet with the ease and growth of self-publishing and the streamlining (think cost-cutting measures) of traditional publishing, issues of quality and budget loom as greater considerations for reviewers and consumers alike.

These considerations will inevitably make their way into book reviews, with reviewers commenting on more than the words, but also the editing, the layout, the printing, the marketing, and a host of other ancillary issues.

When I review a movie that has production issues, I feel an obligation to point that out, lest readers be disappointed and feel I led them astray. I’m now realizing I have this same obligation with book reviews. No longer can I only focus on the words, but I must also consider the total package.

The changing book publishing industry has put us in this situation. We can choose to lament it or acknowledge it. Regardless, we must be aware of it.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

The Potential of Artisanal Publishing

In Guy Kawasaki’s new book, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book, he advances the term “artisanal publishing” as a new way of looking at self-publishing. The vanity publishing of yesteryear can be smartly rejuvenated with a fresh perspective of artistry, hence the concept of artisanal book publishing.The Potential of Artisanal Publishing

As the distinction between traditional publishing versus self-publishing fade, the evolving consideration morphs into mass-produced book publishing versus artisanal publishing. After all, who are writers, if not artists? So why not extend artistry to the production and dissemination of their work?

The concept of artisanal publishing opens new doors and opportunities for innovative writers who seek to share their writing with others.  Authors should begin to think like an artist and publish books like an artist.

People like the output from artisanal bakers, might the output of artisanal publishing be just as tasty?

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Three Reasons Why Everyone Likes Anthologies

An anthology is a collection of selected writings by various authors. It seems anthologies are popular. Why is that?Three Reasons Why Everyone Likes Anthologies

Readers Enjoy Bite-Sized Passages in Anthologies

Anthologies focus on a theme, but within that subject, each author’s work is usually independent of the other contributors. Each chapter or section contains an autonomous thought. There’s no storyline to remember and no lesson builds throughout the book. Readers can read an anthology as their schedule allows without concern over continuity, can skip chapters without consequence, and can read sections in a random order. Reading an anthology fits the lifestyle and preference of many of today’s readers.

Anthology Writers Share the Workload

Each writer’s contribution to an anthology is minimal; it’s quick to write and easy to manage. While a book may take a single author months or even years to complete, anthologies come together quickly, with the content assembled in a few weeks. Writing for an anthology benefits writers, with less work required, a quicker result, and a published work to add to their resume.

Anthologies Minimize Publisher Risk

Publishers like anthologies because each of the contributors will promote the book, sell the book, and buy the book. For example, assume an anthology has twenty contributors and each author facilitates the sale of 200 books through their personal network of contacts. That means 4,000 in total sales. With the majority of published books selling only a few hundred copies, several thousand is a good outcome. It doesn’t make the publisher rich, but they won’t lose money on the deal, either.

With anthologies offering benefits to readers, writers, and publishers, we can expect to see more of these compilations in the future.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!