April, 2010

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Vocabulary Friday

We’ve had several questions from friends, clients, and colleagues about what all this publishing “lingo” actually means.
So, in honor of a beautiful spring Friday morning, we thought we’d put together a list of terms that are frequently used and sometimes misunderstood.
Digital Printing – A form of printing technology that uses smaller machines and makes short runs more cost effective. Typically more expensive per unit, anyone can hire a short run printer.  Digital printing gives self-publishers more options. (This is a great option for small print runs and the quality is top-notch!)

Offset Printing
– Traditional way of printing using big presses for big print runs. Offset printing makes sense for non-traditional trim sizes or any printer run of over 1,000 units. The cost per unit is a lot cheaper but the upfront investment is much higher. (Inventory must be managedmake sure you have a warehouse!)

Print on Demand (POD) – POD uses digital  print technology to print just in time inventory (JIT). All publishers have some form of POD program. POD is only to manage inventory. (If small press or self-published author decides to POD, it should be an inventory decision not a financial decision!)

Vanity Presses – Vanity Presses are companies that specialize in self-publishing programs. In recent years they have co-opted the term POD term to give themselves more credibility. Most Vanity Presses will provide your ISBN and have the capability to take your book from manuscript to finished book.

Co-Publishers – Co-publishers design their programs so they are “sharing costs”. For most Co-publishers, the term “co-publishing” is actually just a fancy way of not calling themselves a vanity press. However, there are several quality co-publishers out there that can help a new author get their book packaged and ready for sale.

Distributor – Distributors are companies hired by publishers that will warehouse, fulfill and sell your book. They will take a percentage of your sales and a percentage against your returns. Most distributors have a sales team that actively sells your title (IPG, NBN, etc.)

Fulfillment House – A fulfillment house will pick, pack and ship your book. They will also ensure your book is available at the major wholesalers (Ingram, Baker & Taylor) and Amazon as well as the .com sites (bn.com, target.com, wal-mart.com, etc). They will also handle all of your billing and collections.

– A warehouse picks, packs, and ships your book only. Some warehouses handle billing but many do not. Major publishers tend to have their own warehouse services.

– A company used by retailers and libraries to supply books in a timely and efficient manner.  The number one place any self-published author needs to be! If you’re not listed at Ingram and Baker & Taylor, you cannot be ordered easily by bookstores and libraries.

Happy Friday everyone! 

The “New” Importance of the Book Cover


If you’ve been following our blog over the past year or so, you’ll remember our post Your Spine Is Your Cover.

Yes, that’s still true for those authors who aspire to brick and mortar stores and traditional retailers.

But in the eight months since we posted that blog, the publishing environment has continued to change.

Small publishers’ interest in testing the market by just making their books available online (their own websites, Amazon.com, etc.) or as eBooks has continued to increase. POD programs offered by a variety of different companies have drawn a large group of publishers who are willing to save money on big offset print runs, warehousing and fulfillment and who say let’s “throw it up online” and see what happens.

Publisher’s beware. “Throwing it up online” does not mean cutting corners on quality. If you just make your book available online, your number one marketing tool has changed. Your book cover just increased in importance over just about any other single piece of the publishing process.

For those of you who have been there, you understand. Search Insides, excerpts, and sample chapters for downloads are great. But, you’ve got to get the consumer to commit to taking that step.

How so?

A dynamic, professionally designed, top-notch book cover.

If your budget demands that you only make your book available online, take the time to do your research. Look carefully at other book covers in your category – both online and in stores. See what’s working.

Is there a particular font, photo treatment, author treatment, color, design that’s consistent across your category? If so, make sure your cover stacks up against the best of the best.

Budget might drive your decision to start online, but budget can’t drive your decision to put up a mediocre cover and hope for the best.

Trust us, it won’t work.


The Whys of Self-Publishing


This week New Shelves is thrilled to host Carl Johnson of Boyd Printing.  Carl has been experiencing and riding the changes in the publishing industry for over 30 years.  With R.R Bowker’s announcement that self-published titles have surged to over 700,000 titles a year while traditionally published titles have declined, we are going to spend this week looking at the world of self-publishing.

The Whys Of Self-Publishing by Carl Johnson

In the past decade or so the publishing world has witnessed numerous changes. In the past, an author had to make the necessary rounds of publishing houses and often, a lot of time would pass before the manuscript was approved by the publisher.

Today, the way a book gets published and the way in which a writer gets compensated has completely changed.

One of the major changes in the publishing industry is consolidation, due to the shrinking marketplace. Over past decade, this change of the large number of smaller or independent publishers being consumed by larger publishing houses has caused many publishing houses to avoid taking any kinds of risks in terms of financial gains.

Today, publishers are much more hesitant to publish something that does not guarantee a good ROI. Any publishing house worth its name will only entertain writers who have an established name or who can, in some other way, guarantee successful sales of the book.

This brings in the phenomena of self publishing; no longer does the writer have to spend days and months trying to get their manuscript approved, only to get a percentage of sales as a royalty. With self-publishing, they publish, promote, and sell their book all by themselves with the benefit of retaining all the profits in the process.

I want to give you a brief description of why you should consider self-publishing along with the benefits, advantages, and disadvantages of self-publishing.

The Advantages of Being Published

Let’s begin by considering the reasons why people like being published, which can be many besides the fact that everybody likes to have their share of fame, however short-lived it might be.

As an independent business person or practitioner in a field, the main motive behind getting published is that it establishes you as an author and expert in your field. There are, of course, many personal reasons for getting published as well. As an author, you take a step ahead of the crowd and your credibility is increased immeasurably.

Being published gives you tremendous marketing leverage; you can literally become a desired quantity in the marketplace. Those who publish and write on subjects relevant to your work will now wish to engage you for interviews, articles, and other opportunities that give you visibility you would not otherwise receive.

Business people who haven’t yet been published frequently underestimate the power and value of having a book and all it brings. The rewards are far greater than the commitment necessary to get published.

The Benefits of Self-Publishing

Self-publishing is the short-cut to attain all of the above.

With the consolidation of the book publishing industry, publishers are far more reluctant to award book contracts to an unknown who can’t show that their book will sell.

In fact, it is often virtually impossible to get a major publisher to take you on if you are not established as a writer or can show that you’ll generate book sales. You should be established as a writer and must have a following of readers for the publisher to be ready to take on your manuscript.

The internet has also adversely impacted the profit margin of the publishers, as more and more is being published on the internet. Also, people prefer reading news and all other information online, as this usually does not cost them.

When it comes to getting published there are mainly two kind of motives on which people function- personal and professional. Let’s consider the personal reasons first.

As a Hobby

People who have financial stability may want to make a name for themselves, as most writers are venerated and so, they may like to be known as a knowledgeable person. One advantage of this is that the writer is not really interested in generating sales as a source of income.

Writing a book as a hobby or about something that is your hobby may actually prove to be lucrative and may be a smart way of making money from a hobby. You may eventually find that something that was merely a hobby has turned into a career.

For Family
People also write about their family history or their personal story. Occasionally they want to share their life story or their success story with others. I knew a very well to do woman who wrote her story and spent a few thousand dollars to have her story printed as a hard bound book which she later distributed at a family reunion.

As an artist or a photographer you may like to showcase a collection of your works and, hence, publish them.

Let us now consider what drives people to publish at a professional level:

Money, of course, is a big motivation. Most people who self publish do so with an aim to make what they expended and hopefully some profit.

Also, you are likely to establish a reader base and make profits in the future when you write and publish more books.

An indirect and effective way of making money from a book is to use the book to promote your company, organization, or professional practice. A senior partner in a large local law firm wrote a book on estates and trusts. He then gave the book away at seminars. The book, plus the aura of being a published expert, lent creditability to the seminar he conducted. All of this drove many clients to the firm and they prospered and grew significantly.

You can use your e-book version to establish yourself as a marketable author as well. If you sell a thousand copies of one book you establish a readership base for your next work. With a couple of published works under your belt and proven sales, you are more likely to be signed by a major publisher where you have an ability to develop greater sales.

 Having a book published is a tremendous marketing asset.

 Visitors to a website are greatly attracted by e-books.

 Books offer you immense marketing options.

 Free chapter giveaway is a teaser to gain readers.

 Joint sales venture options with other experts or products where your book becomes part of a package deal are also possible.

Passive Income

Most of the alternatives suggested earlier are, actually, ways of earning a passive income.

You can further enhance your source of income by enhancing certain features of the book. You could enable audio readings of the book and other resources for the reader. You could even create some kind of a course for the reader.

I made a statement earlier which calls for reiteration, that a published and successful author gains respect and is considered as an expert. He is invited to preside over functions and acts as judge in TV shows – generally his name and fame grow.

A published author has the opportunity to secure academic credentials, as most academic institutions desire some published works.
Career Advancement

A person who has a published work to his credit will more easily move up the ladder of success, will likely get better job offers and will enjoy more opportunities to succeed in general.

Simply put, being published gives you an “expert” status above the crowd. Though, it really is not that difficult to get self published, most people have a very high perception of someone that is.

For those seeking a career in the field of academics, a published work is a pre-requisite.

On Monday, we will discuss the DO’s of Self-Publishing.


Things I wish aspiring published authors said every day


“Well, I like it, but I’d better find some independent opinions.”

“I am reading some wonderful authors right now”

“Better go, my writing group/class starts soon!”

“Yes, Ms./Mr. Editor, I do trust you…. let’s work on your suggestions.”

“Not everyone is going to want to buy my book.”

“Now, where is that list of agents I have been researching to find out exactly how I should submit my book?”

“ 4 agent rejections? Let me see what they said….”

“Huh, 14 agent rejections…. I’d better send out more queries.”

“Darn it, I haven’t talked to anyone about my book since yesterday.”

“I can’t wait to give/send copies of my book to a bunch more people today.”

“I know I was just at my local bookstore a few days ago, but I think I’ll shop there again today”

“I have no idea how my local library chooses books, I think I’ll stop down there tomorrow and ask the librarian.”

“I’d better get moving; I have to participate in several online discussions today.”

“I find so many other author’s and publisher’s blogs so very interesting. I should comment on them.”

“I’m going to find out if I can participate in a least one or two local book clubs this year.”

“I think my manuscript is completely done. I’m going to send it to a copyeditor.”

“I should make sure I have subscribed to as many book industry websites, blogs and trade publications as possible.”