Publishing your book  

Part IV - What is required 


[I don't mind your thinking slowly; I mind your publishing faster than you think.                               - Wolfgang Pauli]


Here is a further extract from the offer made by the vanity publisher referred to in Part II. 


"The copyright will remain your own property1, and we will lodge copies of the book with the British Library2, the Four University Libraries, and the National Library of Wales.3


"Details of the book will be sent to J. Whitaker and Sons Limited4 for inclusion in British Books in Print, The Bookseller, and Whitaker's Cumulative Book List.  They are also currently supplying with information and therefore details of your book will hopefully appear on their Internet bookshop site.  Similar details will appear in the British National Bibliography


"The title of the book will be included in our catalogue6, and we will submit copies of the book to the review editors of local publications7 issued in the centre or centres where you are well known.  We will also invite orders from booksellers8 in such centres, and we will welcome your suggestions for this publicity when the book is ready.  A copy of any review we may receive will be sent to you9.  Furthermore your book will be added to our own on-line internet catalogue10 . . ."


Okay, let's analyse this offer, see what is substance and what is hollow, and determine what you will need to do yourself and/or with the aid of a legitimate self-publishing service in order to satisfy effective marketing requirements.


1.  Copyright is always the writer's property, unless specifically disposed of, so no benefit is here being conferred.


2.  This is a legal requirement.  They are doing no more than they are obliged to do by law.


3.  This is not a legal requirement.  The publisher may be asked to provide books to these national libraries,  but is under no obligation to do so unless asked.


4.  This is something all publishers are recommended to do.  If you self-publish then either you or your self-publishing service will complete one of Whitaker's forms and your book will receive publicity in various places, including Amazon who will possibly then contact you.  What is surprising about this offer from the vanity printer is that there is no mention of the ISBN classification (see below) which is another service provided by Whitaker and, while not obligatory, is certainly essential to successful marketing.


5.  Amazon is undoubtedly the largest of the internet booksellers.  There are others.  In the UK W.H. Smith is another internet bookselling resource that needs consideration.  No mention of them (or others) appears in the offer.  What is also not mentioned is the fact that Amazon will expect about 70 per cent trade discount on the cover price.  (Oh dear, what happened to that 300 per cent profit we were anticipating?)


6.  Inclusion in the vanity printer's catalogue is a dubious benefit.  Most of these so-called publishers are well-known to booksellers and to literary reviewers and their catalogues rarely rate even a glance.


7.  Most writers who self-publish will need to locate for themselves the most appropriate and effective publications to approach for a write-up of the author or a review of the book.  Here a publisher could be of real service, but you will note that the vanity publisher expects you, in effect, to do this for yourself.


8.  See the comment at 6 above.


9.  Big deal!


10. But who will be looking at it?


So, to summarise what you will have to do (and where a legitimate self-publishing service will help) to have your book edited, printed, marketed, distributed and sold, in addition to the tips given above, you will need to consider the following.  You may also find it useful, in considering these requirements, to revert to the questionnaire and remind yourself of your answers.


1.  Who is the book aimed at?  To whom is it likely to appeal?  How can you identify the market?  How can you reach the market?  Are there trade journals or trade organisations through which you can advertise the book.  Has the book relevance to a specific area?  If this is a geographical area, how can you reach potential readers therein, i.e. by local bookshops, local press, local advertising media, local radio.


2.  How will you produce the manuscript.  The most cost-effective way to provide it to the printers is on a disk, preferably in what is known as pdf format.  This means outputting it using desktop publishing (dtp) software on your computer.  If you are computer-literate and, ipso facto, know how to use a word processor such as Word Perfect or Word for Windows, learning the basic dtp skills is fairly simple.  If not, you will have to face the necessity to pay someone to do this for you.  Learning to do it yourself on a computer will not only save money, but could be treated as an exciting adventure which will ultimately save time as well.


3.  What about costs?  When calculating the cost of producing and publishing the book there are several factors to consider.  In addition to the printing - and here you will have various options: digital or litho; initial large volume with its attendant cost savings, or smaller volume with run-on options; page dimensions (using a printer's standard size could save money) and quality of paper (using a printer's stock paper might also save money); type and quality of cover; size of font (reducing font size will reduce the number of pages and the cost; reducing it too greatly will affect the appearance and saleability of the book).


4.  Do not forget the on-costs.  For a true assessment of the total cost of marketing the book you will need to consider packaging costs, delivery costs, advertising costs, stationery costs and travelling costs. 


5.  Before the book is printed be sure to have prepared a press release, advertising flyers, delivery notes and invoices.

    (a) The press release should be interesting.  It should grab attention from the first glance.  It should, if possible, tie the publication in to something of special interest.  You must send copies to newspapers, radio stations and TV.

    (b) Much of this is also relevant with advertising flyers.  Remember the tried and tested AIDA mnemonic.  Grab their Attention.  Keep their Interest.  Arouse their Desire. Give them something that calls for Action, e.g. a return slip.

    (c) The flyer should include such information as title of book, name of author, size and number of pages, ISBN number, name and address of publisher, price (including cost of postage and packing as relevant), description of the book's contents, quotes from reviews.

    (d) A flyer should be sent out with every mailing.  A supply should be carried around with you for personal distribution.  Wherever possible copies should be left for people to read, e.g. notice boards at your local library.


6.  The book will have to be sold through as many outlets as possible.  Bookshops should be visited.  Particularly local bookshops.  Other bookshops may be canvassed by telephone.  Major bookselling chains should be contacted.  Other retail outlets as appropriate, such as supermarkets.  Libraries.  Wholesalers.  Do not forget friends and associates.  And there is also the Internet - Amazon and W.H. Smith are just two.  Which brings us to pricing.


7.  Having calculated all your costs, you will need to decide on a selling price - a cover price. This will not be the price at which you will sell the book (except perhaps to friends and associates), but will be the price the bookseller will be charging the public.  If you succeed in persuading a bookseller (or a book club) to stock your book, you may expect to give anything from 25 per cent discount for single copies up to 70 per cent discount for quantity sales or to book clubs (or internet purveyors).  If you have not done your sums correctly, you could end up losing money on each book sold.  And you will not recover those losses with quantity!


Part V of this pamphlet includes some useful names and addresses.



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