Hobby or Business: What are your goals?

Books-in-cartsThe approach you take to self-publishing depends largely on your goals. Yes, your budget may also dictate your approach—cheap production using a self-publishing company, or, entering the publishing business and choosing your own service providers—but you must first determine your overarching goal: Is your book a hobby to be shared only with family and friends, or is your intent to sell your book?

If your book is a hobby, then by all means take the most economical route. You and your family will enjoy the book, even if its cover design and page layout do not meet industry standards, and they won’t mind the odd typo or two.

However, if you want to SELL books and enter the publishing business, you have to give buyers value. Every business must make the investment necessary to a) produce an excellent product, and then b) market it. There’s no point in hiring anyone (including 1106 Design) to produce a beautiful book if you don’t also invest in marketing. You have to do both.

Either goal is fine; the trouble starts when you take the wrong approach to reach the goal, for example, if you want to sell books but choose the most economical route. The most economical route is usually doing it yourself or choosing a self-publishing company, which should not be confused with a company that provides editing, design, printing, distribution or marketing services to authors who wish to self-publish. A self-publishing company—or vanity presses or pay-to-publish operations—provide all the services needed by an author, including the printing and distribution.

However, there are only two companies that do all the print-on-demand (POD) work and distribution, and these are Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and IngramSpark. Any self-publishing company that promises to print your book on demand is probably sending it to one of these two companies. In addition, a sekf-publishing company may require you to pay money to have your book “published” (they masquerade as a “traditional” publishing company).

But typically, the self-publishing companies are all about old-fashioned “bait and switch” advertising:

  • Step 1 is to help the author create a “cheap” book (poor design, inferior quality, dreadful cover, etc.). When the bad book doesn’t sell (as they know it won’t), they move on to…
  • Step 2: Offering you expensive marketing packages.

You’re discouraged and disappointed, but hope springs eternal that the world will love your book “if only” you accept their assistance in marketing your book because, you know, you hadn’t really thought much about marketing before now….

Unfortunately (as the company well knows) the marketing doesn’t work because your “cheap” book wasn’t produced properly. By now the self-publishing company has charged you as much as you would have spent to do the job right in the first place. We’ve talked to authors who were bamboozled into spending up to $10,000 to exhibit their book at “national conventions” at the self-publishing company’s table. Bet you can guess how effective that was. These companies feast on authors’ dreams and they’re laughing all the way to the bank.

How do you do the job right?

  • Treat your business as a business
  • Plan and budget carefully
  • Think about marketing (and your target audience) before you write your book
  • Maintain control over all aspects of the book publishing process
  • Hire the best service-providers you can afford for each step
  • Organize your own POD through KDP or IngramSpark so as to maximize your return. We recommend IngramSpark for better print quality and robust extended distribution.

The self-publishing companies may try to reel you in, but please don’t take the bait or you will waste every penny you spend to produce that “cheap” book.

If your goal is to sell books, contact Michele to talk about professional self-publishing services.

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