With my Editor, Ken Segall, and the Book of the Year Finalist at BookExpo in NY
Last week the Wall Street Journal published an article entitled: ‘Vanity’ Press Goes Digital, and I thought it represented such a landmark for self-publishing that it was worth deviating off of my favorite topic of discovering the career you were born for—at least for a few days!
I can assure you that an article like this simply did not exist when I first published Professional Destiny last summer. If it had, I would have bookmarked it and highlighted the whole thing! The book self-publishing industry is growing and changing so fast that the options are expanding every day. As I wrote in an early blog post, Five Reasons Why I Chose to Self-Publish My Book, I was inspired by rapid changes in the self-publishing industry then—and that was even before iPad…
So now that I’m a self-published “veteran,” I can share with you the top three things I’ve learned:
- You need a great editor and cover designer.
Michael Rylander's 'other' work
Coming from the advertising industry, I was blessed with the best: Ken Segall (aka legendary creative director/copywriter for the Apple Think Different campaign) and Michael Rylander (aka award-winning designer extraordinaire). The WSJ article points out that a common downfall for self-published books according to big publishers is, that “most disappear, in part because they may be poorly edited [and designed] and are almost never reviewed.” Yet, many online self-publishing companies like CreateSpace are now offering full publishing services, or you can hire a great freelance editor and designer for yourself.
- It’s all about building communities and getting the word out. Once you have a great book, you can build a dialog with your readers through blogging and social media (FaceBook, Linkedin, Twitter, YouTube). It’s such an amazing and rewarding change from just a few years ago. Traditional media (radio talk shows, television and print) and public appearances/talks are still key as well and the more you get out there, the better. If you’re not comfortable with marketing, you can hire your own publicist and online marketing specialist—and in my opinion, this is one of the most important places to invest.
- The distribution channel challenge is rapidly changing. Getting your book stocked in bookstores across the country can be an enormous and discouraging feat if you’re representing yourself. But Amazon, other online bookstores and the rapidly-growing e-book options are quickly leveling the distribution channel playing field—I wouldn’t be surprised to see more changes here in the very near future.
Overall, the book publishing ground is shifting as we speak and it’s an exciting time to be an author. If you have a great idea and story to tell (that is… if it’s your Professional Destiny!) now more than ever, you are incredibly empowered to share it with others.
June 8, 2010
Many people have asked me why I chose to self-publish Professional Destiny as opposed to going the traditional book publishing route. Since I had done a bit of research before making this decision, I thought it was worthy of a blog post, even though I admit I’m veering off my favorite subject of career satisfaction.
I began writing Professional Destiny in November of 2005 after I returned from India and left my role in the advertising world. It had been my dream to write a book for at least half my life and I finally decided to take the leap and do it! From the beginning, I didn’t choose the traditional route—I didn’t write the proposal first and didn’t try to get a publisher up front. Why? I couldn’t stomach the thought of anyone telling me what to write and how to write it. (Okay, maybe I’m headstrong). So, I wrote the book first and the proposal later (btw… while I don’t recommend this method to everyone, it certainly makes it easier to write the chapter summaries!). I completed the manuscript in July of 2007 and right when I normally would have gotten serious about landing a publisher, I disappeared back into the advertising world for another year and a half. At this time, my manuscript disappeared from my consciousness while I distracted myself with the challenge of hiring 200 people.
As some of you know, I became quite serious about publishing again when two friends (Bob Gutermuth, the ringleader and Ken Segall, the accomplice) got a hold of my manuscript and surprised me by designing and printing 20 copies of an early version of my book as a Christmas present. I was shocked and a bit mortified since it had yet to be professionally edited! But, it got definitely got me moving and turned out to be a tremendous gift.
Ultimately, I chose self-publishing because:
- I didn’t have the patience to wait another two years to go the traditional publishing route. I had heard it can easily take 18 months from acceptance of a manuscript to book launch with a major publisher. And being a first-time author can extend the process of FINDING a publisher through an agent, or directly, by another year (if you’re lucky). Initially, I set out on this path but found myself frustrated by the waiting time inherent in this process – it seemed going the traditional route would just take way too long. And the subject of my book – discovering the career you were born for – was too timely in the current economy to wait until sometime in 2011.
- Early in the year, I read an article in the NY Times about how self-publishing had lost its stigma and was increasingly becoming the publishing method of choice for many authors. While it mentions that self-publishing is cluttered with many authors that wouldn’t be published otherwise, for those who do a professional job, it’s becoming the preferred solution. Plus, times are changing and many traditional publishing houses wait to see if a book can become successful and then they snatch it up. The article gives the example of a first-time author who was turned down or ignored by 100 literary agents, then chose to self-publish using iUniverse (I used CreateSpace, an Amazon company) and also sell copies through independent bookstores. A fellow author discovered the book and introduced her to an agent, and she eventually sold her book for a mid-six-figure advance to Pocket Books (Simon & Schuster). It had its debut on the New York Times trade paperback fiction bestseller list on Sunday, at No. 5. That was all I needed to read, and decided it was the method of choice for me!
- If you have the resources available to you, or you choose a print-on-demand company, such as BookSurge, that offers cover design, layout and editing services – you can meet the criteria for “professional quality.” Being in the advertising industry and having several professional book contacts, I was lucky enough to have great help.
- The technology for print-on-demand book publishing has made dramatic improvements over the years. It is more efficient, economical and eliminates waste from huge printing runs of unsold books. In short, it’s greener. As the NY Times article said “Vanity presses have existed for decades, but technology has made it much easier for aspiring authors to publish without hefty upfront costs. Gone are the days when self-publishing meant paying a printer to produce hundreds of copies that then languished in a garage.”
- While it still may be a bit on the leading edge, in my opinion, self-publishing through the latest print-on-demand technology will soon replace traditional publishing. Remember when we all took pictures using film? (Think digital cameras.) Or remember records, cassette tapes and CD’s? (Think iTunes.) Soon we will remember printing thousands of books using offset printing… and think print-on-demand instead.
If you’re interested in this post, be sure to visit again and check out an upcoming sequel: 10 Lessons I Learned About Self Publishing!
To visit the NYTimes article, click here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/28/books/28selfpub.html
July 28, 2009