Monday, December 11, 2006

Your "Work" Is Not Your "Book."

Marketing Tip: If you come to us with a book project, part of our spiel will be that "your work is not your book." Once you "get" this, you will have an easier time thinking about your marketing task ahead. Here's why. To be successful, you must first have a clear idea about what your "work" is. Your "work" is a term that combines your purpose, your message, and your goals into one word. Let's say your "work" is to save the endangered bumpkin. Your coffee-table book, The Bumpkins of Burma: The Last of a Breed, supports your "work" (saving bumpkins), as does your bumpkin blog, your bumpkin website, your articles about bumpkins, your public-relations efforts, your workshops on bumpkin-saving, and the bumpkin-watching tours that you lead twice a year. You realize that your "marketing" is aimed at promoting your message--save the bumpkin--and you never miss an opportunity to use these various channels to promote your message. When you do this, you notice that there is a certain synergy in your efforts. For example, you find that Bumpkins of Burma not only gives you the chance to promote your blog, your website, your workshops, and your tours but seems to be generating more interest in you as a presenter and in your projects. Moreover, you find that you have something to sell every time you appear somewhere, even when you appear for free, and suddenly you start to like this idea of synergy. Surprisingly, this principle works for fiction authors, too. In other words, the "work" of a poet or novelist is the poem or novel, which can be delivered in person (through readings), on tape, in multi-media, online, and in a hundred other ways--as well as in a book. But the book intensifies the synergy. The Publishing Pro, LLC

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Priority Mail: The Best Thing Since the Three-Cent Stamp

Shipping Tip #1: Okay, sending a small package by Priority Mail will cost you $4.05, which seems like a long way from the three-cent stamp. But here's why it's a good deal for book shippers: You get to use their free envelope! If you go out and buy a decent envelope for your book and then try to save money by shipping the book media rate, it will have cost you about as much as Priority Mail and your package won't arrive as quickly. So what's the point? Within the States, we almost always ship book orders by Priority Mail. If we're concerned about delivery, we add on their delivery confirmation service.

Shipping Tip #2: Don't forgret to add a shipping charge to your mail orders. For a single book, you'll want to make it $5.00 or more (to cover Priority Mail). I'm not a big fan of this, but you can set your shipping charges higher so that you can set your book price(s) a bit lower. Just don't forget to have a shipping-charge schedule. Otherwise, any profits on selling your book will disappear. The Publishing Pro, LLC.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Don't Sweat the Royalties.

Other Things Are More Important: Book royalties are a nifty idea, just because they are a way for a publisher to share a book's success with the author. Which is as it should be. However, while nice, royalties aren't that nice. Here's why:
  • You won't get that cash "advance": Okay, you might, but probably not if a) the publisher doesn't give advances and b) if you are a first-time (published) author. If you do get an advance, keep in mind that you are getting an "advance" against royalties owed to you down the road. This will delay any further payments made to you.
  • You won't see any money for a long time: Maybe three years, maybe never. Your contract will tell you how and when your royalties should be paid. This varies with the publisher. However, royalties are paid on books sold, and this will be calculated according to periods of time, a quarter to a full calendar year, and then made payable on some schedule. In other words, your royalties for sales in calendar year 2007 might not become payable until July of the following year. In addition, your contract might even absolve the publisher from paying cash royalties at all under some conditions--for example, if your project does not make a profit. In this case, you won't see any cash royalties (see below for other options).
  • Your royalty percentage doesn't matter: Okay, of course it matters. Just not as much as you think it does. The reality is that a smart publisher can only afford to give you so much of the pie. Think about it. If your publisher goofs and gives you a royalty share that is so high she loses money on the sale of every book, she quickly will stop selling your book (or go out of business, in debt to you). On the other hand, if he gives you a stingy royalty, so much so that he makes a terrific profit on the sale of each book, he will be more likely to work hard selling your book. Which is best for you? The stingier publisher.
In practice, this means that you shouldn't worry too much about the royalty terms your publisher gives you--assuming the publisher is a good fit for other reasons. Here are four things that are more important:
  • Get a good deal on books you purchase: You should get something comparable to a bookstore discount, 40% on orders of small quantities with an increasing discount for larger orders. Try to get a discount for large orders of at least 50%. If you're buying copies right off of the first press run, you might be able to negotiate an even even deeper discount.
  • Get an advance in copies of your book: While most publishers will not give you an advance against royalties in cash, they will usually be happy to give you advance against the estimated royalties for a year in the form of copies of your book. Usually, the value of these books will be calculated according to the discount schedule you negotiated above. This is a win-win deal. Your publisher makes out because she is eliminating some of her long-term liability (your royalties) with books that she might have printed at $2.00 a book and given to you as a royalty at a value of $10.00 a book. You make out because you are getting a book worth $10.00 to you--but without paying any cash at all--that you can turn around and sell at a retial price of, say, $20.00. If you can sell your books, you've just doubled your royalty. Like I said, it's win-win.
  • Get the right to buy books against royalties: Related to the above, make sure you can always buy books against royalties owed, even if not otherwise payable in cash. It's a good deal.
  • Make sure you get your rights back: Publishers do not keep in print books that do not sell at a certain level. To protect yourself from a book going out of print, make sure you can get your rights back if a book is taken out of print. In many cases, you might not be able to get all rights to revert to you. However, you should be able to guarantee that you can continue to print an edition of your own in the event the publisher discontinues the book.
The Publishing Pro, LLC.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Ultra Short-Run Book Printing Now Available

At the Business of Art Center: We now have the capability to print ultra short-runs (e.g., 25-150 copies) of books and have done so several times. For maximum efficiency, the books should be either 8 1/2" x 11" or 5 1/2" x 8 1/2" format, but they have color covers, either black and white or color interiors, stapled or "perfect" binding. They look and feel like "trade" (bookstore) books. The unit cost is more than the unit cost of a "regular" short run (200-1000 copies), perhaps double, but this is an alternative if you only need a few books, if you want to "beta test" your book before doing a larger press run, or if you want a more lucrative alternative to "on-demand" printing. For more information, call 719-685-1861. Ext. 31. The Publishing Pro, LLC

Thursday, August 17, 2006

What Discounts Should You Give to Bookstores?

Rules of Thumb: Note the question. What discounts should you give ...? You're supposed to set the terms for various classes of customers, and then you let the customers (the stores) determine whether they want to play ball with you. However, your terms need to be in the ballpark. Use the following as a rough but reasonable guide:
  • 20% discount--to resellers who buy a single copy of your book at a time, payment made if possible with their order. Large bookstores (e.g., Barnes and Noble) will order books for their customers (special-order) from you on this basis. They pay the shipping. (Generally, resellers don't make money on this discount. They are doing a service for their customers.)
  • 30% discount--to resellers (though not distributors) who agree to sell your books on consignment. Payment is made after the sale by the reseller, practically speaking on their timetable. You pay the shipping. With this deal, resellers accept a lower-than-normal discount in return for not having to tie up their money on inventory.
  • 40% discount--to resellers who order multiple copies at a time. This is the standard in the bookselling business. Normally, you would set up an account for these booksellers and invoice them for whatever they order. Usually, they pay the shipping. However, they expect to be able to return books that they don't sell--and they will.
  • 50% discount--to resellers who order multiple copies at a time, pay for shipping, pay upfront, and agree to no-returns. This not standard, but it is a deal I would accept as a publisher in a second--because of the upfront payment and the no-return agreement. And if I were a bookseller--and confident of my sales--I would love it as well.
The discounts may seem high, but retailing is a tough business. Retailers need that 40% discount (at least) in order to keep their shelves stocked. And you're almost always better off selling your books direct to your readers. The Publishing Pro.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Do You Need an ISBN?

Maybe: If you think you might sell your book through resellers like or regular bookstores, you should get an ISBN. You only need one ISBN per book, but you'll need to order a minimum of ten numbers for about $275.00. Sorry about that; it's the way it works. You can order your set online at An ISBN is a unique number that helps booksellers make sure their customers get the book they wanted instead of a different book with the same or similar title or the wrong edition of the book the right book. At The Publishing Pro, LLC, we do not provide our customers with an ISBN and strongly recommend that they get their own. The extra cost is worth it. We've heard too many horror stories from newbie publishers who thought it convenient or money-saving to use an ISBN owned by a quasi-publisher, a printer, or a well-meaning friend trying to save them money. The Publishing Pro, LLC.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Try Google Book Search.

Marketing Tip: Google is testing a new program called "Google Book Search," which uses Google's powerful search engine to help people find the books they are looking for and where they can be purchased. While you should not confuse Google Book Search with marketing, it is a useful marketing tool that you would be well advised to use if you can. There are restrictions. For example, you need to be the rights holder to the book in question, which should not be a problem for self-publishers; have an ISBN number and a bar code; and a way that people can order your books. The Publishing Pro, LLC

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Extremely Small Print Runs Can Be Useful.

Micro-Publishing Is Fast! We've often told people to not let the necessity of doing very small runs stop them from publishing. In fact, we find that our customers can arrange to recover their out-of-pocket costs after selling only 200 copies of an initial press run of 500. However, some customers have good reasons for printing even less--but they still want their book to look like a trade book (that's a book that would look respectable in a bookstore). No matter. Here at the Business of Art Center in Manitou Springs, Colorado, where we call home, we just helped a business executive complete a book--from light edit to finished copies--in a little more than a week. He only needed enough copies to circulate to a corporate board of directors, but he wanted it in a hurry and he wanted it to look like it belonged in Barnes and Noble. We did the prep at warp speed, printed the project on our juiced-up copier, and hustled it over to a local binder for professional (perfect) bookbinding. It looked great. This is not normally the way to go, but it is a useful when you need to impress an important but small group of readers, as he did, to print review copies some weeks in advance of your final press run, or to hedge your bets by testing the waters with a very small press run. The Publishing Pro, LLC.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Try an Email Newsletter.

Don't re-invent the wheel: Thanks to spam and the required tools to prevent it, we've lost our infatuation with email. Still, email newsletters are cheap and useful ways to communicate with some folks, specifically those who want you to communicate with them. For this purpose, we use and like the online newsletter tool from With relatively little technical expertise, you can set up professional looking newsletters and other publications in no time. However, what we really like is the way it manages our email lists, including taking care of opt-ins and opt-outs. We also like the way it tracks response to our publications. It's relatively inexpensive, even free if you have less than 50 addresses. And they have a free trial period. The Publishing Pro, LLC.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Is Print-On-Demand a Good Way to Go?

Not If You Plan to Be Successful: "Print on Demand" (POD) is a new technology provided by vendors who store your book digitally and print off copies as they are ordered, one at a time if necessary. It's a nice technology that can reduce your risk, but it also reduces your chance of making money or recouping your investment. If you're a first-time novelist determined to get into print and haven't the slightest inclination to sell your book, even to your friends, it might be the way to go. On the other hand, if you've got a business reason for publishing your book, it's a dud. We especially dislike the illusion that you're getting some kind of marketing effort when you work with a POD. Rather than running my mouth about, I'll just send you over to Ron Pramschufer's Publishing Basics blog for more than you every wanted to know about the subject. The Publishing Pro, LLC.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Your Cheapest Way to An Internet Presence ...

Start a Blog: Everybody who is thinking about publishing a book or who has already published one should have an internet presence. No, it doesn't have to be difficult or pricey. In fact, it can be easy and free. The easiest way is to set yourself up with a "blog." All you do is go to a site like (the one we use) and set up your site. You don't need to buy a domain name. You don't need to pay a fee. You pick your site name, something like You select and customize a template. And you have at it. True, you need some comfort with the internet but not much technical know-how. If you can write, you can blog. (To be honest, not being able to write doesn't seem to prevent people from blogging--just the rest of us from reading.) A blog, short for "weblog," is a versatile tool. With a blog, you make dated entries into what amounts to a journal. Use it to explore ideas for your book. Use it to expand on ideas in an already published book. A blog is an internet site, so the world will be able to browse your site and interact with you if you let them. This can be a terrific way to collaborate with contributors, readers, and potential readers. A blog is probably best used in relationship to your website, but if you don't have a website and want to generate an internet presence, start yourself a blog. The Publishing Pro, LLC.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Hone Your Speaking Skills!

Join Toastmasters International: We always advise would-be authors and publishers--at least the ones who want to be successful--to get away from their computers and to give speeches, workshops, seminars, or other presentations. If you're going to do this, we strongly suggest that you join a Toastmasters International club as a way of spreading your wings, honing your speaking skills, and developing relationships with interesting people. Every club has a different feeling about it, but all have more or less the same structure. They all welcome guests, which is how you'll find one that is comfortable for you. Don't expect a quick fix for promoting your book. Do expect to grow professionally and personally--that's actually TI's mission--and to have fun. And if you're in Colorado Springs, you might try "Downtown Toastmasters" where The Publishing Pro hangs out. The Publishing Pro, LLC.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Just Do It!

Circulating One Book Is Publishing: Many, maybe even most, would-be children's book authors get discouraged when they find out how difficult it is to get published. And then, because they have a misperception that self-publishing is expensive, they simply give up their dream. What we tell would-be children's authors is to "just do it! At whatever level you can." Self-publishing can be expensive. But it doesn't have to be. In fact, if you are doing your own illustrating and writing, you can create your book on Microsoft Word and get one copy printed and bound. With a bit of expertise, you can produce a "one-off" that looks quite credible. If you circulate only that one book and that one book is enjoyed by one child, you've accomplished something. In fact, we think this is a good way to start. Instead of printing only one book, maybe you print 10 books that you circulate to parents, teachers, and children that you know. You are publishing! Moreover, if you follow up, you can get valuable feedback that you can use to adjust your "next edition." Keep doing this, with your first book or the next. And another thing: you can use your copyprinted books, especially after adjustments based on customer feedback, to send to potential publishers. The main thing is not to give up but to publish in whatever way you can. And then to keep going. The same principle works for other types of books. The Publishing Pro, LLC.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

You Are an Author, Not Just a Writer.

"Authors" Connect With Their Audience: As a "writer," you need to be an introvert, comfortable sitting at your computer and communing with the creative power in your own head. As an "author," you need to be an extrovert, meeting and greeting and cultivating your audience. People who "have a book in them" often relish the introverted work (the writing) and stall out at the extroverted work (the authoring). To help would-be self-publishers get over this, we like to suggest that they not confuse their mission, their message, or their work with the "book." The book is just a tool, like the telephone, for communicating with your audience. Other ways of communicating with your audience include: presentations and workshops, radio interviews, casual encounters, telephone conversations, websites, articles in magazines, and newspapers, email correspondence, snail-mail letters, postcards, artwork, and so on. We don't say this to minimize the book project--we would never do this--only to put it in perspective. Your book is one way to get your message across, a way that is synergistic with all the other ways of getting your message across, but only one way. Once you understand this, you will spend more time and energy on the other ways of getting your message out there, which will have the beneficial effect of making your book more successful. The Publishing Pro, LLC.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Do You Need an ISBN?

Yes, Maybe: ISBN stands for "International Standard Book Number." It's a ten-digit number, soon to be thirteen-digit, that is a unique identifier for your book. It's important because your book may have the same or similiar title to other books in the system. Without the ISBN, customers may wind up with the wrong books. Therefore, you need one if you are planning to sell your book to resellers (bookstores, distributors, wholesalers, Amazon, etc.). You don't need one if you know you are only going to sell your book directly--to family, to workshop participants, online from your own website, etc.

Generally, it's a good idea to get an ISBN. If you're book is published by a traditional publisher, the ISBN will be provided by the publisher. As a "self-publisher," you will either do without, get your own set of ten ISBNs, or use an ISBN from a vendor who provides some publishing services but is not a true publisher (an on-demand printer, for example). The Publishing Pro, LLC, does not like the practice of providing an ISBN when a company is not truly publishing a book. This practice creates confusion, adding to the impression of the author that she has been published by an outside publisher when she has actually been sold a set of editorial, graphic, or printing services. While we have nothing against providing such services--that's what we do, after all--we do not like our clients to leave us with the impression that we are their publisher when we aren't. The impression won't help them be successful. Therefore, we send clients direct to the ISBN Agency where they can use their credit cards to order a set of ten ISBNs (standard delivery is about $250, including the registration fee). Not all countries make you order ten ISBNs at a time, but the U.S. agency does, probably because they would lose money selling you one number at a time. On the other hand, we like our clients to be thinking about doing their second and third books, in which case they won't have to re-order their numbers. The ISBN is used to create the bar-code on the back of the book, something you can order through the ISBN agency. However, we provide bar codes and our clients can bypass this service. The Publishing Pro, LLC.

Don't Discount Amazon Advantage!

Reselling That Works: The Publishing Pro, LLC, does not encourage most micro-publishers to play the bookstore game. (We'll explain why in a separate post.) However, one "bookstore" that can work for the micro-publisher is Amazon through its "Advantage" program. While Amazon takes a steep 55 percent discount and makes you pay the shipping in its Advantage program, they treat you well otherwise. Your first advantage is just being there. Thanks to the wonders of search engines--the Internet's in general and Amazon's in particular--this is one place where customers can find your book and order it with a credit card. Your second advantage is that Amazon is conservative about ordering books to put into its inventory. (In the beginning, when they order in onesies and twosies, this will feel irritating and expensive. But trust the process--it's a good business practice all around.) Third, they pay you immediately, depositing your share right into your bank account if you want. That's really nice, a huge advantage over other distribution systems. Don't rely on Amazon Advantage to make your project works--Amazon may not even accept your book--but it's worth applying for as a nice supplement to whatever else you're doing. You will need an ISBN #, a bar code, and a suggested retail price that takes into account the discount. The Publishing Pro, LLC

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Your Key Contact List ...

... Is Your Best Marketing Tool: As you begin to work on your book, you should be building your "key contact list." Divide your list into four categories, as follows:

  1. Contacts Who Will Receive a Complimentary Book Automatically: Keep this list short, reserved for contributors and the occasional person who you know will do your book some good in some way.
  2. Contacts Who Will Receive a Press Release and a Review Copy Request Form: Include logical book reviewers, experts in your field who might might give quality referrals to your book, potential bulk purchasers, textbook adopters, media contacts who might interview you or request an article from you or ask you to do a presentation, etc. After your book is printed, you will send them a press release accompanied by a review copy request form. If they request a book, you have identified someone genuinely interested in your book. Send them one. Then follow up to make sure they received it and ask them when they will be looking at it and when then might review it (or whatever). This list can be as long as your contacts are good. However, keep the emphasis on quality--contacts who have a logical interest in your book and the capacity to help you in some way.
  3. Contacts Who Will Receive a Press Release Only: This list is for contacts who should know about your book but who, for whatever reason, are both unlikely to buy a copy or do something useful with a review copy. (This is somewhat of a catch-all category for contacts who don't fit into categories #2 or #4.)
  4. Contacts Who Will Be Sent a Flyer, Postcard, or other Ordering Device: This list is for anyone you know who might actually order a copy of your book.

Creating this list is worth whatever effort you can put into it. Begin to create it as soon as you start thinking about your book. The Publishing Pro, LLC.

Write a Book Proposal ...

... Even If You're Self-publishing: If you're looking for a traditional publisher, you don't want to send out your manuscript. With rare exceptions, publishers won't read it or even look at. Some publishers want to receive one to three chapters--so they can sample your writing. What virtually all of them want is a simple proposal that gives them a clear but brief summary of what your book is about and who will want to read it. The proposal is so useful that you should do one for yourself--even if you are planning to self-publish your book and before you get down to serious writing. The proposal will help you clarify your thoughts and help you avoid serious mistakes. Here are the elements of a good proposal:

  1. A Working Title: A good working title is "descriptive" rather than "clever" or "poetic." E.g., How to Make a Million Selling Widgets rather than Widget Goes to Home.
  2. A Working Subtitle: This should also be descriptive. If you've gone for a clever rather than descriptive title, your subtitle definitely needs to be descriptive.
  3. Summary: If your subtitle and subtitle are communicating what your book is about and implying who it is for, you'll only need a paragraph. If you need more than a paragraph to communicate the gist of your book, your idea may be too complicated to sell. Your book will be strongest if it can claim, with some justification, to change your reader's life in some way.
  4. Reader/Buyer: If your intended reader and intended buyer are different, you'll need to make separate paragraphs about them. In any case, these are the people whose lives will be changed in some way by your book. It will help your writing if you can visualize your reader (and buyer) as an individual, real person from a real place with real values, concerns, and needs.
  5. Table of Contents: Again, you need to be descriptive rather than clever. You want your editor or your reader to know exactly where they will be going in the course of this book.

That's really it, but, in a way, it's everything. The Publishing Pro, LLC

Monday, January 16, 2006

Relax and Just Write

Our favorite quote about editing: Molly Wingate of Wingate Consulting with whom we're collaborating on writing seminars, encourages would-be writers to not worry about grammar and style as they are doing their rough drafts. "Why edit the snot out of a paragraph you are eventually going to delete?" she said at our last seminar. The Publishing Pro, LLC