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