Self-Publishing Case Study Part 3 – Publishing
Self-Publishing Case Study: For the purpose of this case study I consider publishing to be the simple act of having your book available for purchase.
In this article, I’ll be lifting the lid on how the Intertype Publish and Print team goes about self-publishing a book using my current book project as a real life example.
Over 3,000 book projects has allowed the Intertype team to create a process that smashes the complexity and confusion suffered by most authors. In this training I’ll be “lifting the lid” on our process which will give you an insight as to what your manuscript goes through before it hits the shelves.
In the last article I looked at the key tasks required to take an edited manuscript and prepare it for publication as a finished book. In this episode we look at the actual publishing process as it pertains to the unique issues faced by Australian self-published authors.
The term publishing is a loose term that can mean different things to different people. For the purpose of this Self-Publishing Case Study I consider publishing to be the simple act of having your book available for purchase.
Beware of Pirates
You may find this hard to believe but there is an industry built on pirating books. You hear about it with music and film but it’s just as prevalent with books. Highly popular books such as Harry Potter are constantly pirated and sold via unscrupulous websites, retail stores and markets. Due to the value of the monetary theft, there are plenty of criminal and civil mechanisms to fight the pirates. On the other hand business book pirating is a more common and soul destroying theft with poor policing and expensive civil remedies, it’s also the hardest to tackle.
The biggest beneficiaries from business book pirating tend to be coaches and consultants that steal others intellectual property and present it as theirs. I regularly see examples where the entire book has been stolen with only the author name changed, while some may try to thinly disguise the theft by changing the title, cover and ISBN. Coaches and consultants can be severely impacted when this happens as it creates confusion in the minds of potential clients and can lead to you being wrongly perceived as unethical.
Royalty theft is another big issue today’s authors have to deal with. There is a lack of transparency throughout the whole publishing and bookselling industries, made even worse by the 40,000 plus online bookstores around the World.
There are a few things you can do to minimise the risk of your work and royalties being stolen:
- Be careful of who you send your working or Word files to. Passing them around to all your family and friends for input may seem like a good idea but all it takes is one unsecured computer or email account and your work will be easily stolen,
- Never offer all or part of your book as a downloadable PDF. Don’t think PDF security measures will lock your file as they are easily hacked,
- Be careful of the platforms you use for hosting electronic versions of your book as many are regularly hacked,
- Finally, be wary of book distributors that service the nearly 40,000 online bookstores. They typically require an ePub file which is even less secure than a PDF and they send the file to so many platforms that some are bound to be fronts for pirates and while others may lack proper security. You can also forget about transparency which means royalty theft is a given.
Decide on Book Formats
The self-published author needs to decide on which of the four main book formats they want to have their book created in:
- Electronic or eBooks. This format has a strong following especially in the US but less so in Australia. Interestingly the global statistics are showing that the percentage of book sales that are electronic seems to have reached it’s peak but are still strong enough to be worth pursuing. In fact, some authors only ever publish in electronic format however I believe they are missing a revenue opportunity. It’s very easy to publish most books in an electronic format provided it’s catered for during the Preparation Framework.
- Printed Books. The printed book market is still the largest by far with global statistics showing a steady 2-3% annual volume growth rate. The technology for printing books has evolved over the past 10 years and is now well suited for self-published authors.
- Printing On Demand. No longer does the self-published author need to buy 1,000’s of books and manage the shipping process from their kitchen table. Print on Demand or POD, removes the financial risk of buying large quantities of books that may not sell. Properly operated, a POD system will have books in the mail within 24hours of purchase and will eliminate the need for the author to worry about the fulfilment process altogether.
- Hardcover Vs Softcover. The vast majority of self-published books are in a softcover or paperback format primarily due to the costs involved. Generally hardcover books aren’t suited to the short run print on demand process however this is changing but the book cost comes at a premium which may make it uneconomic.
- Audio Books. Currently this format only represents a very small percentage of the book market however it is growing rapidly and should be considered for most text based books. I personally prefer audio books but I also purchase a printed copy of selected titles.
- Video Books. This is the smallest book segment however it lends itself very well for children’s picture books , recipe books and instruction manuals. The delivery technology is still evolving with membership websites dominating while smartphone apps are becoming more established.
For the vast majority of self-published books I recommend that the author start with electronic and printed books. These will account for the majority of sales and will establish the book viability for adding audio and video at a later date. This is the approach I’m taking for this case study book for which I expect the audio book will be published within 3 months and a membership based product will be built within 6 months, provided book sales indicate the worthiness of the investment.
Decide on Platform(s)
This Self-Publishing Case Study accounts for the specific requirements of the Australian self-publishing landscape. Australia’s geographical location has some severe implications for your readers experience. Most online bookstores, including Amazon, are setup to service the huge population centres in the northern hemisphere. A printed book purchased from these online stores will result in a 3-5 week delivery timeframe and to rub salt into the wounds, a $20 book will end up costing over $50 when you factor in taxes, delivery charges and exchange rates.
For this case study, we’ll be deploying the printed and eBook formats of the book using the following platform:
- com. The US based (not Australian) Amazon platform will be used to cater for electronic books (Kindle) and for all printed book sales outside of Australia. Some key points to note are:
- When set up correctly, the Amazon platform can cater for up to 90% of online book sales,
- The entire platform is secure and is very transparent which minimises the risk of piracy and royalty theft,
- After Google and YouTube, the Amazon platform is the third largest search engine in the World,
- It enables consistent author and book branding across all formats, and
- It has very good service standards for book sales across the major population centres in the Northern Hemisphere.
- Bookseller Page. This is a dedicated webpage with ecommerce capability and resides in Intertype’s Aussie Author bookstore. The purpose of the page is to facilitate print on demand sales of the book into Australia while facilitating buyers who prefer an electronic version or for those living outside of Australia. Some key points to note are:
- The latest search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques are used to facilitate the book being found on Google,
- The page is integrated with the Amazon platform making it easy for the buyer,
- The page is integrated with an Author Platform to enable building deeper relationships with readers,
- If a book is bought before 9:30am, it’s in the mail same day which delivers excellent customer service to book buyers and it’s “hands free” for the author,
- Consistent author and book branding is maintained,
- 50 printed copies are produced to enable the author to hand out to family, friends and key customers. Additional batches are easily produced for special events such as book signings and speaking engagements.
In the next episode of Saturday Secrets I’ll be applying Intertype’s unique “Promotion” framework to show how we go about promoting my new book in printed as well as eBook form.
I’ll also multipurpose this episode and future episodes into a mini training series, articles etc.
Key Takeaways from part 3 of this case study are:
- Australian self-published authors need to cater for the unique publishing requirements due to our geographical location,
- Piracy and royalty theft are real but you can easily minimise the risks,
- Keeping it simple saves time and money,
I know, self-publishing can seem daunting but it doesn’t have to be. In coming episodes, I’ll be exploring the simple, no BS and fast approach to completing a successful publishing project.
Finally, I want to leave you with one piece of advice:
One of the many things you need to be a successful self-published author is to make your book available to as many people as possible without going overboard. For Australian authors the approach outlined in this case study achieves that while keeping the entire process as simple and as transparent as possible.