by Poynter, Dan
The Self-Publishing Manual is the oldest (ten revised editions since 1979), newest (recently updated), largest (464 pages), best reference (60 pages of resources), best-selling (122,000 copies in print) book on publishing. It is highly recommended by everyone in the industry.
Book Publishing Demystified-Publish Yourself
Ask any struggling writer for an assessment of the book publishing industry and the response will range from overpowering to impossible-certainly not easy to sell. And, that is partially true. With the larger publishers concentrating on potential best sellers by well-known authors, it is virtually impossible for the new writer to catch the attention of a publisher-or even an agent. But the situation is not hopeless; on the contrary, there is an easy solution. The answers are in The Self-Publishing Manual, How to Write, Print & Sell Your Own Book by Dan Poynter. His crash-course in publishing demystifies the whole process of book production and marketing. He shows authors how to take charge of their work and publish themselves.
When you publish your own book, you not only get to market sooner, you make three to four times more than standard royalties. Even if you already have a publisher, The Self-Publishing Manual will show what you can do to increase sales. In fact, this book will be your constant reference on writing, printing, publishing, marketing and distributing books.
With cookbook-like instructions, Poynter recommends and shows how to cut out the middlemen by doing it yourself. You will learn how to select a salable subject, gather material and break down the book into easy-to-attack pieces. You will discover how to find the right printer, promote your book inexpensively, market your book cleverly and distribute your book efficiently.
(Chapter One) Your Publishing Options You Can be a Published Author
Everyone wants to write a book. Most people have the ability, some have the drive, but few have the organization. Therefore, the greatest need is for a simple system, a road map. The basic organizational plan in this book will not only provide you with direction, it will promote drive and expose ability no one thought existed.
Magazines devoted to businesspeople, sales reps and opportunity seekers are littered with full page advertisements featuring people with fabulous offers. Usually these people discovered a successful system of business in sales, real estate or mail order, and, for a price, they are willing to let the reader in on their secret. To distribute this information, they have written a book. Upon close inspection, one often finds that the author is making more money from the book than from the revealed original enterprise. The irony is that purchasers get the wrong information; what the reader needs is a book on how to write a book.
Writing a book is easy! If you can voice an opinion and think logically, you can write a book. If you can say it, you can write it. Most people have to work for a living and, therefore, can spend only a few minutes of each day on their book. Consequently, they can't keep the whole manuscript in their head. When overwhelmed and confused, it is easy to quit the project. The solution is to break up the manuscript into many small easy-to-attack chunks (and never start at page one where the hill looks steepest). Then concentrate on one section at a time and do a thorough job on each one.
People want to know how-to and where-to, and they will pay well to find it. The information industry, the production and distribution of ideas and information as opposed to goods and services, now amounts to over one-half of the gross national product. There is money in information. To see how this market is being tapped by books, check the best seller lists in the back of Publishers Weekly, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times.
Your best sources for this salable information are from your own experience, plus research. Write what you know. Whether you already have a completed manuscript, have a great idea for one, or need help in locating a suitable subject, this book will point the way.
Since poetry and fiction are very difficult to sell and, even when sold, have a short sales life, we will concern ourselves with nonfiction. Writing nonfiction doesn't require any great literary style; it is simply a matter of producing well-researched, reorganized, up-dated and, most important, repackaged information. Some of the recommendations here may be applied to fiction, just as the chapters on publishing, promotion and the mail order business may be taken separately and used elsewhere. However, all the recommendations are written toward, and for, the reader who wishes to become an author or an author/publisher of useful information.
The prestige enjoyed by the published author is unparalleled in our society. A book can bring recognition, wealth and an acceleration in one's career. People have always held books in high regard, possibly because in past centuries they were very expensive and were, therefore, purchased only by the rich. Even 150 years ago, many people could not read or write. To be an author then was to be an educated person.
Many enterprising people are using books to establish themselves in the ultimate business. Usually starting with a series of non-paying magazine articles, they develop a name and make themselves visible. Then they expand the series of articles into a book. Now with their credibility established, they operate seminars in their field of expertise, command high speaking fees and issue a high-priced business advice newsletter. From there, they teach a course in the local college and become a consultant, advising large corporations and commenting on legal briefs for lawyers. They find they are in great demand. People want their information or simply want them around. Clubs and corporations fly them in to consult, because it is cheaper than sending all their people to the expert.
This dream product is the packaging and marketing of information. Starting with a field you know, then researching it further and putting it on paper will establish you as an expert. Then your expert standing can be pyramided with interviews, articles, TV appearances, talks at local clubs, etc. Of course most of this activity will promote your book sales.
In turn, all this publicity not only sells books, but opens more doors and produces more invitations leading to more opportunities to prove your expert status and make even more money for yourself. People seek experts whose opinions, advice and ideas are quoted in the media. Becoming an expert does not require a great education or a college degree. You can become an expert in one small particular area if you are willing to go to the library, read up on it and write down the important elements.
A book is like a new product design, similar to an invention but usually much, much better. A patent on a device or process runs only 17 years whereas a copyright runs for the author's life plus 50 years. Patents cost thousands, of dollars to secure and normally require a lot of legal help. By contrast, a copyright may be filed by the author with a simple two-page form and $20; there is no waiting period. Once you write a book, it is yours. You have a monopoly and there is no direct competition.
Many people work hard at a job for 40 years and have nothing to show for it but memories and pay stubs. Some take their knowledge and write a book, the result is a tangible product for all to see. A book lasts forever like a painting or a sculpture, but there are many copies of the book, not just one. Whereas a sculpture can only be admired by a limited number of persons at any one time in the place where it is displayed, books come in multiple copies for all the world to use and admire simultaneously.
The next secret is to cut out the middlemen by by-passing the commercial publishers to produce and sell the book yourself. You can take the author's royalty and the publisher's profit. You get all the rewards because you are both of them. Now, in addition to achieving the wealth and prestige of a published author, you have propelled yourself into your own lucrative business: a publishing house. This shortcut not only makes more money (why share it?), it saves you the frustration, trouble and time required to sell your manuscript to a publisher. You know the subject and market better than some distant corporation anyway.
Publishing doesn't mean purchasing a printing press to actually put the ink on the paper yourself. Nearly all publishers leave the production to an experienced book printer.
In addition to the writing and publishing of your book, you will want to investigate its distribution. Today, more books are sold through the mail than through book stores. In fact, books are the leading mail order product. One-third of all these books are in the how-to category. Mail order is considered one of the best ways for the beginner with no previous business experience to start a venture of his or her own. Selling books by mail is a good, solid day-to-day business opportunity. Your book will be sold in bookstores but you will sell even more books through the mail.
Mail order is not only the simplest way to distribute books, it is an ideal way to build a second income or a new life. You don't have to give up your job, there is little overhead, there are tax breaks, you work for yourself and the business can be operated anywhere: you need only be near a Post Office. No one knows about your age, education, race or sex; your opportunities are indeed equal.
Direct mail marketing is like fishing. You throw out a line by promoting your products and you find out almost immediately if you have made a sale. Everyday is like Christmas; opening envelopes and finding checks is great fun.
Initially, you will warehouse your books in a closet or your garage, and will slip them into padded bags for mailing. It is quite easy and starting out is not expensive or time-consuming.
Your writing/publishing/mail order company is actually combining three profitable fields and concentrating on only the best parts of each. A business of your own is the great American dream and it is still an attainable possibility. In your own business, you make the decisions to meet only those challenges you find interesting. This is not goofing off, it is making more effective use of your time; working smarter, not harder. After all, there are only 24 hours in a day and only one day at a time for each of us. You have to concentrate on the good areas if you are to prosper.
Running your own enterprise will provide you with many satisfying advantages. You should earn more money because you are working for yourself rather than splitting your efforts with someone else. You have job security and never have to worry about a surprise pink slip. If you keep your regular job and moonlight your own enterprise as recreation, it will always be there as a fall-back position should you need it. You start at the top, not the bottom, in your own company and you work at your own pace and schedule. You will meet interesting people because, as an author and publishing executive, you will be sought out by them.
In your own small business, you may work when and where you wish; you do not have to go to where the job is. You can work 'til dawn, sleep 'til noon, rush off to Hawaii without asking permission: This is flexibility not available to the clock punchers.
Before you charge into literary battle to attack your keyboard, you may wish to review Chapter Twelve. It describes how your life will change once you become a published author. You may like to know what you are getting into.
Being an author-publisher sounds like a good life, and it can be. Working for yourself requires organization and discipline, but work doesn't seem so hard when you are counting your own money.
You cannot avoid making decisions. Every time you fail to act on a question, you have, in effect, made a decision to do nothing.
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