Thursday, October 06, 2005

The New World of "Micro-Publishing"

Small is bountiful: At The Publishing Pro, LLC, we're beginning to favor the term "micro-publishing" over "self-publishing." Actually, both terms have meaning. "Self-publishing" refers to the practice of an author publishing his or her own book. "Micro-publishing," as we use it, refers to the practice of planning projects that are viable with very small press runs. In the "olden days" (maybe ten years ago), publishers generally thought they had to sell thousands of books before a book project went into the black. With the advent of short-run printing technologies, including but not limited to "on-demand" technologies, that has changed. At The Publishing Pro, LLC, we often work with projects that become viable at runs of between 200 and 1000. Some projects work at much smaller projects. The planning is exactly the same as it is in traditional publishing. In other words, it's basically a four-step process. First, you develop the concept. Second, you estimate how many books you can sell--and where you might sell them. Third, you calculate the cost of a logical press run based on your sales estimate. Fourth, you use a formula to determine a price that will generate a profit on your press run. If the numbers don't work, you repeat the cycle until it works or you ditch the project. And whether you are a "self-publisher" or a publisher of other author's material doesn't matter. The Publishing Pro, LLC.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

What's Your Break-Even Point?

3,000 or 300? Scott Flora, executive director of the Small Publishers Association of North America, was quoted in the Colorado Springs Gazette (July 28, 2005) to the effect that a writer has to sell 3,000 books to break even. Whoa! we said. If you're assuming that you're going to a high-end full service book preparer and that "break even" means recovering the costs of your time as well the direct costs of getting your book into print, this may be true. We think this is unfairly discouraging to people who should be getting their books into print and the market. At The Publishing Pro, LLC, we typically try to help authors develop projects that will "break even" after you sell 200-300 books. And by "break even," we mean that you will recover your cash out of pocket costs for editing, book design, typesetting, and printing. Moreover, we rarely see the necessity to print 3,000 books at a crack. With digital printing available and economical, we usually recommend in the area of 500-1000. The Publishing Pro.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Upside of Traditional Publishing

And the Downside: At the Publishing Pro, LLC, we are not down on traditional publishing. We especially like "niche publishers" (publishers, usually small, with a well defined market) and much prefer them to the glamorous New York trade houses. You get someone to pick up all, or at least some, of the publishing expenses, someone who can reach a specific market (in the case of niche publishers), and the benefit of their editing, design, and marketing expertise. However, you need to be aware of the downside of traditional publishing. First, it takes a long time to find someone interested. Months, maybe years. Second, you lose control of your project--its shape, its design, its schedule, its shelf-life. While publishing is something of a partnership between publisher and author, it is an uneven one. The publisher is the senior partner; you are the junior partner. This isn't bad; if it weren't this way, publishers would be weak and there would be no point in working with them. However, it does limit your control. The Publishing Pro.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Don't Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

Assume Your First Book Won't Be Your Last:: A common mistake of the first-time book writer (of both fiction and non-fiction) is trying to make the book do too much. As a result, the project will begin to feel cumbersome, too long and too complicated. The mistake comes from the assumption, however subconsciously, that the first book will also be the last. In the case of people at the end the their lives, either because of age or illness, the assumption is understandable. Even so, acting "as if" you will write another book will produce a better book--shorter, more focused, more readable--and make it more likely that you'll finish the project. And maybe another. And another. The Publishing Pro.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Looking for a Shopping Cart?

Increase Your Orders: If you're publishing your own book, especially if you have more than one, you might invest in a shopping cart along with a credit-card merchant account. For years, we've used and been satisfied with the shopping cart provided by You'll pay a around $300 a year, depending on how your billing arrangements, but it's relatively simple to set up, has a merchant gateway (so you can add automatic credit- card processing if you want), has great flexibility, and has been trouble free. Some ISPs, like, are now providing shopping carts as part of their webhosting service. We haven't tried it, but because it works at no added cost, it's worth a look. As an alternative, if you get your book produced by The Publishing Pro, LLC, you can have a free web page with a shopping cart link and we'll ship the book for you for a regular trade discount (20%). You can get more extensive--and pricier--services from various On-Demand Publisher/Printers.

Monday, February 21, 2005

How Many Can You Sell?

First Things First: Usually, the first thing would-be self-publishers want to know is how much it will cost to produce their book. This is not a bad question to ask; you'll have to figure this out sooner or later. Before you get to that question, though, you should answer a more important question; namely, how many books can you sell (or otherwise distribute)? The answer to this question, however tentative, will determine how many books you should print and, therefore, help you determine what your project will cost. The good news for self-publishers is that you do not need to sell a thousands of books to make your project work. In our average well planned project, authors can "break-even" (recoup their out-of-pocket investment) when they sell around 200 books. And they are doing so. If you need to break even or make a profit and you can't imagine yourself selling at least 200 books, you might want to rethink your project. The Publishing Pro, LLC

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Too Big for Your Britches

Too Many Pages: We like would-be self-publishers to touch base with us before they get too far into creating their books. If they don't, they are likely to make some costly mistakes. One of the most common is creating a book that is too big to be financially viable. Some projects can be large. We worked with a business consultant who wrote a manual for his client base that evolved into a 600-page hardcover book in a large format. The cost was daunting, but the project worked because the consultant wanted to and was able to sell his book for $175.00 each. On the other hand, you'll have a tough time making a project work, at least financially, if your manuscript is several hundred pages long and you can't see yourself selling the evntual book for more than $20.00. Talk to us first. The Publishing Pro, LLC