Within this article I have decided to list a number of insider tips and advice that will help you to achieve success when both writing and publishing books. These tips have helped me to continually achieve success in my publishing business, and I would like to share them with you. Although some of them may appear to be common-sense, please take the time to read them and implement them during your writing and publishing strategy. Here are my essential tips for writing and publishing a book:
TIP 1 – DO NOT GET A BOOK PUBLISHING DEAL UNLESS YOU ARE THE NEXT JK ROWLING
Perhaps the main reason you are reading this book is because you are serious about publishing your own book yourself. This is great news! I can safely say that I am qualified to advise you here, simply because I have actually had a book publishing deal myself before I started self-publishing. In fact, I had a six book publishing deal. One of the main reasons why I got myself the publishing deals was to learn the entire book publishing process myself.
Of course, I did not disclose this to the publisher at the time, but it was my intention to learn the whole book publishing process so that I could do it myself and keep all of the profits in the process.
I can remember sitting in the plush London offices of the publishing company that I was trying to get a publishing contract with. They were very professional and explained the entire process to me in detail. After reading my manuscripts they informed me that they would need to get approval from their company Director before the six draft publishing contracts would be sent over to me for consideration. At this point it was also explained to me the royalty rate I would receive from each book sold. After some tough negotiations I managed to get myself 15% of net profits per book that was sold.
To put it in simple terms, this effectively meant I would get approximately 30-50 pence for every book that was sold. Now, call me ungrateful, but this did not sound fair at all. I was expected to write the content (60,000 words per book), and in exchange I would receive a royalty of just 15% of net profits for printed book sales.
On the train home I considered the offer carefully and managed to persuade myself that the contracts were worth more to me than the royalty rate simply because I would get to learn the entire publishing process, which would eventually mean that I could do it myself. And that’s exactly what I did.
Here are the pros and cons of getting a standard book publishing deal:
- You do not have to put up any money in order to get your book published
- The publisher might invest some money to promote your book
- Your book might get stocked in Waterstones stores and WHSmith, although there are no guarantees
- You will usually receive an advance of royalties
- You will generally get a very low royalty rate (approx. 10% of net profits)
- You may lose the rights to the work
- You will be tied in to a contract for a very long time, effectively meaning you cannot sell your book anywhere else
- You will lose control of the book cover design, title and the branding
- As and when required you will have to provide updates of your book to the publisher
- The advance that you receive is exactly that, an advance. It will need to be earned against any royalties your book generates, meaning you may never see a royalty cheque
- The publishing contract can take a long time to get agreed, and negotiations can often be very frustrating. It took me a year to get approval for my book publishing contracts
Hopefully you can now see the reasons why I encourage you to not get a book publishing deal, unless you are the next JK Rowling of course.
TIP 2 – DON’T BE IN IT FOR THE FINANCIAL REWARD
Of course, most people write and publish a book to make money; I fully appreciate that. However, whilst the financial reward can be amazing I advise that you put any ideas of financial reward to the back of your mind for the time being. The reason for this can be summed up in the following paragraph:
“When you write your first book, concentrate on writing chapters which your readers will find useful, enjoyable and impossible to put down. If you do this, the financial reward will come regardless.”
Most people ask me how long it will take them to see a 5-figure monthly return from their writing efforts. My answer to this question is simple – if you focus solely on the financial return then you probably won’t see any profits at all. I then encourage them to focus on writing great content that will be of benefit to the reader, as this will have the following effect:
- The reader will love the book, and they will then be more likely to leave a positive review on Amazon. If they do this the book will sell more copies.
- The more genuine ‘verified’ reviews your books receives, the better chance it will have of selling. If you write poor quality content your book will almost definitely get criticised online.
- Your readers will want to buy more of your books if the first one is great. This will also have the added benefit of giving your motivational levels a boost, something which is crucial to us as authors.
- If you write great content then the chance of up-selling in your book will greatly increase. For example, within my ‘How2become a firefighter’ book I promote 1-day training courses on how to get into the Fire Service. I can easily get 20 people to attend each course, all of which have decided to purchase and attend my course after reading my book.
TIP 3 – HOW MANY PAGES SHOULD I WRITE?
Another common question I get asked is how many pages should my book be? This is a very difficult question to answer, as the answer will be very much dependent on the genre/subject of the book and also the type of reader and their needs. It will also depend on the pricing structure of the book, something which I will explain in greater detail during the next tip. To give you an idea of how I would decide on how many pages my book should be, take a look at the following case study:
Sample book writing case study – Michael Watson
Michael Watson is an author who I coached to write his first book through my coaching programme. After spending time with Michael it became apparent that he was working as a social worker, providing expert advice to parents who were going through the family court process. He wanted to find an alternative way to generate extra income for himself, so I encouraged him to write a book entitled ‘How to represent yourself in Family Court’. I believed this was a good book subject title for Michael to write because of the following reasons:
- Michael was an expert in this field, therefore the book would be easier to sell because he had instant authority.
- At the time of writing austerity measures had taken a hold on society, and there was not much Legal Aid to help parents go through the Family Court process. As a result there was more demand for his expertise.
- The divorce rate at the time of writing was still on the increase. This fact led me to believe there would be demand for his book for many years to come.
- After carrying out effective research I was positive that this book would sell.
One of the first things Michael asked me was how long his book should be. I explained to him that the type of person likely to read the book would not have the time or desire to sit down and spend hours reading technical or over-complicated content. I also explained that they would probably be emotionally upset and would not have the energy to read a ‘thick’ book. I also went onto explain that there was an opportunity within his book to upsell by way of offering his readers one-to-one coaching, via Skype or in person, or even the opportunity to attend a 1-day training course with Michael. I then concluded that the book should be no longer than 100 pages in length, and it should also be a size that could easily fit in someone’s back pocket or handbag.
TIP 4 – HOW MUCH SHOULD I SELL MY BOOK FOR?
This is a very good question, which I will answer during this Tips for Writing and Publishing a Book. The bottom line is this; if you price your book too cheaply you won’t make much money. On the other hand, if you price it too steep you could put off potential customers. There are obviously higher production costs associated with physical books, whereas eBooks and Kindle books will give you financial reward far quicker.
Before you decide how much to price your book, consider the following points:
- Amazon will take up to 60% of the recommended retail price (RRP) of your printed book, depending on which programme you decide to sell your book through (more on this later during the relevant Amazon chapters). Understandably, most people are immediately put off by this, however please read my Amazon chapters before dismissing Amazon as a marketplace to sell your work.
- When you sell your book through the Amazon Kindle programme you will be able to choose either a 70% or 35% royalty rate, depending on what price you decide to sell your book at. The level of royalty you choose will be mostly profit, as you will have no delivery or ongoing production costs.
- With printed books you will have to get them printed yourself, unless you decide to opt for the Amazon Createspace programme. I choose to get my books printed through a 3rd party printer and this method works very well for me, simply because I want to sell via multiple-channels and not just on Amazon. If I did want to sell solely on Amazon then I would probably choose the Createspace programme to reduce my costs.
- The unit price per printed book will very much depend on the printer you use. There are lots of printing companies out there vying for your business – the more you spend with them, the less it will cost you per book to get printed. Personally, I pay between £1 and £1.50 per 100 pages, but I do spend in excess of £100,000 per year with my chosen printer.
The vast majority of books I sell will be launched with a RRP of between £13 and £15. I very rarely sell my books for less than this, simply because I aim to make at least £5 clear profit per book that I sell. For the books that I sell on my own website I do not have to give Amazon, or anyone else for that matter, the 60% margin, and therefore I will make a lot more profit per book sold via this marketplace. Because of this it is within my interests to sell as many copies as I can via my own website. At the time of writing I take between 80 and 100 transactions per day via my website.
The selling price will also be very much dependent on the genre of the book. For example, within my careers niche I can realistically ask £13 – £15 per book because the reader, if successful in landing a job after using my book, will probably receive a salary of up to £30,000 per year, therefore a £13 – £15 investment is a reasonable exchange. However, if you are selling a novel or fiction printed book then you may need to lower your price to the £10 mark or slightly lower. If it is a Kindle version, your price point will be lower still.
Before you decide how much to price your book at, ask yourself the following questions:
- How much will it cost me to get my physical book printed?
- How much profit will I be left with per printed book after costs?
- What price point are other people within my genre selling their books at? (This is a great strategy to use when considering the price of your book)
- What price would I personally be willing to pay for a book of the same standard?
Having answered all of the above questions and taken into consideration all of the additional advice within this tip, you should be able to come up with a suitable recommended retail price for you book. Whatever happens, once you list your book at the RRP you can always reduce it later on if you find it is not selling. Alternatively, you can always increase your prices if you feel it is too cheap.
TIP 5 – SERIOUSLY CONSIDER PUBLISHING A PRINTED BOOK
Most authors I speak to believe the sale of printed books is on the decline – this is simply not true. Although the sale of Kindle books is now outstripping that of printed books on Amazon, the sale of printed books is still on the increase.
Whether this trend continues in to the future remains to be seen; however, within certain niches I believe there will always be a strong demand for printed books. Whether or not you decide to opt for a printed book will very much depend on the genre of your book, and also the budget you have at your disposal.
If you are writing and self-publishing a fiction novel or mystery, crime and thriller book then I would advise you start off with a Kindle version. These genres of book tend to sell well in this format simply because people like to read them whilst travelling on the train, plane or whilst on holiday.
If you intend publishing a book in either careers, business, finance, law, self-help, motivational, property, or business start-up then you should seriously consider printed books, as they tend to sell better in this format. To give you an example, many of my printed books sell 5 times as many copies as they do on Kindle! This is not surprising, as most of my books are manuals which require a need to try out sample test questions; something which cannot be done with a Kindle.
Graph demonstrating Kindle sales vs. Physical (printed) book sales on Amazon
There are lots of benefits to publishing books on Kindle. Here they are:
– Relatively cheap to get published
– Quick to publish on the Amazon Digital Text Platform (DTP)
– High royalty rate (70% or 35%, depending on the pricing of your book)
– Huge demand for Kindle books in certain genres
There are also a few downsides to publishing books on Kindle, too. Here they are:
– Easier for customers to ask for a refund. The refund rate for Kindle books is higher than that of printed books
– The perceived value of a Kindle book is lower than a printed book
– A Kindle book will not reach places that a printed book can reach, and therefore the chance to upsell might be limited to just one reader
And here are the benefits to publishing books in Printed format:
– There are still many people who like the ‘touch, feel and smell’ of a printed book
– A printed book is more likely to get passed around other readers, therefore increasing the opportunity for you to upsell to a wider audience. For example, I do know that most of my printed books are being used in schools and universities up and down the UK. This is great FREE promotion for my brand.
– For people running a business a printed book is now seen as the ‘new business card’. Read the chapter entitled ‘Books for Business Owners’ to find out exactly what I mean.
– As a published author there is far more prestige attached to having your work published in physical/printed format.
– Printed books are a fantastic promotional tool when trying to upsell or promote additional products or services.
So, the choice of whether or not to publish your book in printed format is entirely down to you, your needs, and your budget.