While it’s many an author’s dream to have their book published, it’s unfortunately, also a rarity. Not only is the process of querying agents and publishing companies a lengthy and daunting one, it’s also one that ends in rejection 95% of the time—even for some whose writing is on the level of best-selling authors.
To avoid rejection and delays in getting their book to their audience, some authors choose self-publishing. You can contract with a company who specializes in self publishing books such as LuLu.com or Amazon.com’s CreateSpace, but in doing so, you’re still giving up some of your profit and handing over the success of your manuscript to someone else. But, did you know that it can be faster and more profitable to publish your book on your own? That’s why some authors are placing their manuscripts in their own hands and starting their own publishing companies.
If you’re a first-time author or the author of several books, the benefits of owning your own publishing company can be well worth the effort involved. There are certain skills which will be necessary, but many authors have successfully mastered the publishing industry. To determine whether you would benefit from owning your own publishing company, let’s look at the skills and steps involved.
1. Are you a good writer, one who is skilled at editing and proofreading? Can you learn the technicalities of formatting a book for print? Getting your manuscript print-ready is an important part of book publishing. If you don’t know how, you’ll have to learn or hire someone to help you.
2. Do you have the marketing skills necessary to give your books the publicity they’ll need to reach your audience? You’ll need a media kit and plenty of time to contact the media, bookstores, newspapers, and radio and television stations. The Internet has also defined itself as a marketing phenomenon and you’ll need to strive for massive exposure there, as well.
3. Do you have the time and desire to make public appearances? To be a successful author, you’ll need to book plenty of signings and interviews to receive maximum exposure and sales.
4. Are you a good businessperson? A publishing company is a business and it will require a financial investment, bookkeeping, inventory, and marketing skills. In return, though, you get to reap the rewards, keep the profit and enjoy the tax deductions it can bring.
5. Do you have an image? Your book cover is a big part of your image and the initial appeal which attracts your readers. Your name is also part of your image and brand, as is the name of your publishing company. Note: Naming your publishing company after yourself isn’t always a good idea. It’s a red flag that your book is self-published. Make your company’s name memorable, but professional, if you don’t want people to know that your book is self published.
6. Your publishing company will need to be licensed with government agencies, so you’ll need to fill out the appropriate forms and request a taxpayer identification number for it. This step will go a long way in establishing your publishing company as a professional entity. While you’re at it, don’t forget to open a business bank account, something that you’re surely going to need for tax purposes and expenditures.
Once you’ve set up your publishing company, you’re ready to get started. Here’s how:
1. Even great books won’t sell if they don’t attract customers. Design a book cover or hire a graphic designer who is experienced in book cover specifications and design to create an eye-catching cover for your book.
2. Purchase an ISBN, which is the publishing industry’s unique identification for your book. It’s also required if you intend to sell books at retail establishments, or independent or major bookstores. To get yours, visit www.isbn.org.
3. Decide how much you will charge for your book. A good rule of thumb is to compare your book to similar books on the market and price it competitively. Pricing it too high will turn off buyers, and pricing it too low might give the impression that your book is inferior. Also take into consideration your costs and how much profit you need to make from each book sold.
3. Hire a printer—look for quality print and good references. You can choose traditional printers or print-on-demand printers, such as LightningSource.com, depending on how many books you initially want printed and the financial investment you’re willing and able to take.
4. After your book is printed, review the galley print, which is a draft of the interior of your book. This is an important step in making sure your manuscript is polished and print ready and the last chance to make any corrections or revisions.
5. Develop a marketing plan and hit it hard. That plan can include interviews, book signings, press releases, virtual and physical book tours, affiliate marketing campaigns, and advertisements. It takes a lot of work to receive the exposure you need to sell a lot of books, but it can be done. You should also know that while you may not sell as many books as an author published with a high-profile traditional book publisher, you also won’t be sharing your profits with them.
6. Last, but not least, your publishing company must have a professional website which promotes its authors. Purchase a domain name and spread the word, driving traffic to your website with updated information, blogs, events, and links to social media like Facebook and Twitter.
As you can see, publishing and promoting a book takes a large investment. The biggest investment you’ll make will be required when publishing your first book. There is a learning process which you’ll have to master, but when it comes time to publish your next book, you’ll be experienced and more efficient.
Running your own publishing company isn’t for everyone. But for those who are dedicated and willing to learn, it’s an investment that can produce rewards down the road. You’ll enjoy full ownership and say-so in your book and how it’s marketed. You’ll also get to stake claim to all of your book and company profits. And, if you’re lucky, you’ll enjoy every author’s dream and have a successful publishing company which will guarantee that you’ll never have to read another rejection letter again.