Good News About Getting Published
So you want to get a book published and add "author" to your resume. A decade ago, there weren't too many options for professionals and consultants to get into print. If a traditional publisher wasn't interested in your tome, your only other option was to spend tens of thousands of dollars with a subsidy press or custom printer. And then, without ready distribution, good luck trying to sell the books.
But all that has changed. Thanks to new technologies, today it is not only possible to produce a professional-looking copy of your book for under $1,000, you can also market the book through reputable sales channels.
Alternative publishers are able to print both paperback and hardcover books as they're needed due to the bold new digital publishing technology known as "print-on-demand." Simply put, print-on-demand turns the traditional economics of the $27.5 billion publishing industry upside down. Going digital allows books to be produced in small quantities -- even one at a time -- almost instantaneously. No longer does publishing require behemoth offset presses, hangar-size warehouses and fleets of trucks.
There are challenges, of course. Because print-on-demand books are not typically stocked on bookstore shelves, authors need to do a good job of marketing through publicity, direct mail and the Internet. But if you are a nonfiction author willing to be a self-promoter and whose book targets an identifiable market, then alternative publishing may be right for you.
With print-on-demand, your book is stored digitally until a customer orders it. At that point, a printing and binding machine creates a slick, high-quality paperback or hardcover book, all ready for shipping.
Print-on-demand has enormous implications for writers, readers, publishers and retailers. Because titles are produced "on demand," there are never wasted copies ("remaindered" as they used to be dubbed in the old days). Paperbacks and hardcover books are priced competitively, with authors receiving royalties of 30 percent or more. Compare those with traditional publishing industry standards of 5 percent to 15 percent, and the appeal becomes a bit clearer still.
One of the leading publishers of print-on-demand books for professionals and consultants is 1stBooks. Established in 1997, 1stBooks is the world's leading provider of publishing and marketing services for authors of all genres, with over 18,000 titles in its catalog, and over 500-plus new books added each month. All of its authors are considered self-published and retain all rights to their books.
"Alternative publishing levels the playing field and democratizes the publishing process," said Robert McCormack, president of 1stBooks, in a recent interview with Writer's Digest. "Authors who might have not fit or did not want to use the traditional publishing model can see their works in print."
Print-on-demand is not, however, for every would-be author, says McCormack. There is no economy of scale, and the unit cost of printing one copy is exactly the same as printing 10,000. So, if there is a guaranteed market for at least 500 to 1,000 of your books, the economics of a traditional print run from a custom printer are better than print-on-demand in many cases.
As a result of the depth and breadth of the 1stBooks growing catalog, the company made an arrangement with the Ingram Book Group to distribute paperback and hardcover editions of its titles at thousands of bookstores worldwide. The deal uses the latest Print-on-Demand technology offered by Ingram's subsidiary, Lightning Source. Because these books are generated one at a time, they neatly sidestep the high costs traditionally associated with bringing new books to the marketplace.
Self-publishing doesn't mean you're going it alone, either. 1stBooks authors have access to a comprehensive range of publishing and promotional services, including a full-time promotions staff, personal project coordinators and nationwide distribution through over 25,000 bookstores and book retailers, via the Internet at Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com, Borders.com and the 1stBooks Web site.
The current 1stBooks basic publishing package entails a $399 fee to create an e-book from scratch. Of that total, $300 is a deposit and is subsequently refunded through 100 percent commission on the author's first sales until the amount is completely paid. An extra $199 is required for paperback publication, with royalty rates paid at the author's choice of 50 percent, 30 percent, 20 percent or 10 percent.
Similar packages are available through other alternative publishers like iUniverse, xLibris and Infintiy Publishing.
Alternative publishers have made a conscious decision to offer their services to everyone, rather than give control to an elite clique of editors and agents, as is often true in traditional publishing. While incoming manuscripts are checked for formatting before a new title goes online, alternative publishers do not edit for style and content. These companies do not make value judgments about the literary merit of books. The author decides what the public reads, and the public decides if it makes good reading or not. It is a purely market-driven approach, and allows almost anyone to make a new book available to millions of readers, at a small fraction of the cost of traditional publishing methods.
Henry DeVries is a marketing coach and writer specializing in lead generation for professional service firms. An adjunct marketing professor at UCSD since 1984, he is the author of "Self Marketing Secrets" and the recently published "Client Seduction." Visit http://www.newclientmarketing.com or e-mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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