CanadaOne Twitter CanadaOne Linkedin CanadaOne Facebook CanadaONe RSS


Self-Publishing a Business Book...For Fun & Long-Term Profit (Part 2 of 2)

By Reg Pirie |

If you missed part one, please scroll to the end of this page or Click Here and you can access the first article.

Many people who ask me about self-publishing a business book want to know if such an undertaking is all that difficult. To be quite candid, it is not an onerous challenge if you take the time to thoroughly research the multitude of steps involved in the process.

In these two articles I have attempted to hit the highlights and to offer a glimpse of the main components which must be addressed if your self-publishing venture is to be a success. I hope you enjoy the conclusion.

Cover design

Titles cost you nothing unless you place a high premium on your own day-dreaming time. Covers are another matter. Obviously if you are so inclined and have some talent, you can develop your own cover at a fraction of the cost charged by a professional designer.

If you design your own, research what is currently on the market. Take a look at the covers being used by big name writers. This will offer a sense of what is in vogue and you should be able to draw some ideas from the writers who have had the luxury of hiring highly paid cover designers.

When it comes to the back cover, think about the information you like to find when you are personally pondering over the selection of a book. Chances are you want very concise language which will tell you who should buy the book, what is in the book and why you should buy it.

Generally speaking an author should include a photograph of himself or herself on the back cover. People like to see who wrote what they are buying. The photograph becomes even more important if your book is linked to your other business ventures which might include guest speaking or lecturing. Use a professional photographer and have the promo shot taken specifically for the book. One last point about book cover photos - dress to identify with your potential readership.

If you opt to have a professional do your cover, you will have no problem locating a host of designers. Select a few covers from self-published books you really like and phone or write the authors to get the inside scoop on their designer. Be blunt, ask if they would use the designer again and pose direct questions about the costs.

Distribution is a major key to success

Don't even think for a moment that you can sell and distribute your own book. Find a distributor who can effectively cover the geographic area where you want to concentrate your efforts. The primary responsibility of a distributor is to get your book in front of companies and organizations which will choose your book for inclusion on their selected inventory lists. Secondly, distributors handle shipping and bookkeeping.

While you may think all the other steps in the self-publishing process are critical, the truth of the matter is the choice of your distributor is your most crucial decision. You can have a well written book, with a fabulous title and a gorgeous cover but if your distributor is ineffective you are dead in the water!

With this in mind, consider the following abbreviated list of some questions you will want to pose to prospective distributors:

  • How long have you been in business?
  • How many titles / authors do you handle?
  • What geographic area do you cover?
  • Do you do business in the United States and abroad?
  • Are your reps employees or free-lancers?
  • Can I have a copy of your latest catalogue?
  • May I have a list of your references i.e. other authors?
  • What are the main categories of books you handle?
  • Can I have a blank copy of your standard contract?
  • Exactly what do you do when you introduce a new book?
  • Explain precisely what you charge.
  • When and how do I get paid?
  • What do you see as the author's responsibility in this "partnership"?

Publicists can help your book launch

Having the first copy of your book roll off the press may seem like the culminating event after months or years of hard work. Enjoy the euphoric moment because the real work is about to begin. Come to think of it, the true joy in writing and self-publishing a book starts when the marketing kicks in.

Properly launching a book requires co-ordination. Step one is to make certain the books are printed on schedule so they can arrive on time at your distributors. There is nothing worse than a printing glitch which immediately causes your books to be on backorder. That's not the way to impress bookstores. A delay in printing can turn your entire launch into chaos.

Well in advance of the launch, authors have some decisions to make regarding marketing and promoting the book. This might well include discussions with a publicist. Do yourself a favour and investigate what a publicist can do for you. The scope of such services varies widely, as do the fees.

Identifying the best contacts across the country for radio and TV coverage can be a more daunting task if you are not familiar with those two venues. This is where a good publicist can become invaluable to hype the launch of your book. Like every other step in the self-publishing process, gather a few names from reliable sources and then interview the most likely three or four publicists.

Even if you are extremely well connected with the media, you still might want to weigh the pro's and con's of hiring a publicist.

Ongoing marketing - fun or frustration

The official launch date has come and gone. You actually found two copies of your book at the airport bookstore. A couple of good reviews have appeared in newspapers. You have even done a TV and radio interview. Guess it is time to sit back and wait for those cheques to start rolling in from your distributor - right?

If your name is Berton or Atwood, that approach might work but even the most noted of authors will tell you that selling books is a function of being ever present in the minds and eyes of the buying public. Books don't sell themselves. Bookstores don't sell books, they display books for sale. At best, certain publications will have better shelf exposure than others but bookstore employees are not part of your sales force. Authors sell books!

Here are few suggestions to ponder as you develop your ongoing marketing strategies:

  • Aggressively organize book signings at any bookstore that will have you
  • Forge a good working relationship with bookstore marketing people and/or owners
  • Submit related articles to magazines and journals
  • Communicate with columnists who write about topics relating to your book
  • Offer to be a guest speaker at functions
  • Send out "pre-release" announcements to your entire data base
  • Follow-up with newspapers and periodicals if they have not done a book review
  • Mention the title of your book in all your correspondence
  • Develop a website to highlight what the book is all about

Activating many of the foregoing ideas may appear to be nothing more than good common sense. That's true, but like all good marketing campaigns, it is essential to constantly maintain and heighten consumer awareness about you and your book.

Self-publishing is not for everyone. This article has merely scratched the surface in terms of what you need to do if you are serious about undertaking such a venture. For those who decide to move forward, you will find that self-publishing can be fun and rewarding. Good luck and if you have further questions please submit questions to CanadaOne's "Ask the Expert" section!

Click here to read Part 1 of Self-Publishing a Business Book... For Fun & Long-Term Profit

Canadian, Eh!

For over 15 years CanadaOne has helped Canadian businesses start-up and grow. All of the content on our site is created to help busineses get Canadian answers!

Featured Member

MemberZone. Get in the zone! Join Today!

CanadaOne Recommends

Bullies in the Boardroom: Covering the Legal Bases

Should I Start My Own Company?

Conversations with Entrepreneurs: Billy Blanks

Avoiding Legal Perils: Critical Insights into Canadian Franchise Law

Starting a Business: Choosing a Year-End


Article Tags