Self-Publish Your Book. Maximise Your Profits.
“Focus more on your desire than on your doubt, and the dream will take care of itself.” Mark Twain
It can be said that there is no greater truth than our own. A challenge I so often hear from clients is “how do I convey my expertise succinctly, and to the right audience?” They are looking to communicate their truth, believing strongly in what they do and the knowledge that people should hear it.
From conviction, there is clarity.
In a recent webinar I hosted Self Publish Your Book. Maximise Your Profits, I had the opportunity to delve into the world of self-publishing. Michael Hanrahan is the founder and Managing Director of Publish Central. He specialises in producing high-quality books and created Publish Central using the same people and publishing systems as the major publishers.
He has many years’ experience across all aspects of book production, and with a self-publishing approach honed over 15 years, Michael has helped hundreds of authors self-publish their books.
Michael is known as Australia’s leading expert in self-publishing for small business, and his publishing advice is highly sought after.
Everything we do must sell.
Writing your book takes blood, sweat and tears. In creating this work, you have poured your entire heart into the process; so understandably, the final step of publishing and launching your book can create several questions surrounding the strategy.
I asked Michael the most pertinent questions I hear from clients to ensure that not only is your influence boosted through publishing, but your profit is also.
Question One: What are the differences between self-publishing and traditional?
This is a key consideration for authors when they’ve completed their book and wondering what the next best step is. Most people are familiar with traditional publishing – these are the bigger names we hear and those that come to mind when we think about publishing.
One of the critical differences is that the traditional publishing houses cover the costs of publishing. They analyse your book and decide whether they will make a profit, and what they will invest in order to achieve this. They also make all the decisions on your book, including cover design, editing, printing, price point and launch etc and the publishing will need to fit into their schedule, at times taking 18 months. For a business book, this chews up critical time – for you, timing is everything.
Self-publishing means that the author is the publisher, and will cover the associated costs. To self-publish a book to the same standard as a major publishing house will cost approximately $15,000 and take around 3-4 months. This allows complete control of the process – and authors also set the schedule for the entirety of the publishing strategy.
Self-publishing also provides the freedom for authors to use and re-purpose their book as they see fit. The control continues beyond the publishing process. Fully leverage your content for ongoing positioning.
Question Two: How does Publish Central help authors looking to self-publish determine their options, and choose the best one for them?
There is a two-step process around beginning self-publishing. At Publish Central, Michael conducts a 30-minute meeting with authors to not only discuss the book, but also how they are planning on utilising it after it’s published. During the initial call, Michael can determine their cover design, their ideas around the editing process and their aims for the project.
He then asks authors to send their manuscript so he can see the book in order to help the author make the best decisions on aspects such as how many copies they should print, the size of the book and the editing required.
Question Three: What are the key steps of the book production process?
The main steps are: planning, editing, design, proofreading, printing, promotion and distribution.
Self-publishing is an involved process with a lot to consider, however the aim of self-publishing houses is to simplify this process as much as possible, whilst providing the author with the autonomy to determine the strategy that best suits them.
This doesn’t mean that the self-publishing process is more difficult. It simply means that enlisting the right help is critical.
Clarity creates confidence.
Question Four: What are the main hurdles authors face when self-publishing?
The biggest hurdle in Michael’s experience is a lack of self-confidence. Authors are concerned with getting their book out there; questioning the final steps once the initial decisions have been made and the process is well underway.
At Publishing Central, they hear of this concern so often that they refer to it as “The Last-Minute Author Conniption” (something I can relate to!) and Michael tells me that this is a perfectly understandable stage of the publishing process.
As the book is getting closer to print, authors are nervous about their cover, or a sentence in chapter seven that they’d like to review… It stems from the fact that authors have spent the last 6-18 months working on their book, and it is the last-minute doubt, as it is about to be released into the world.
Question Five: Can these hurdles be overcome? If so, how does Publish Central help with this?
The brilliant news is that the hurdles can be conquered!
The logistical issues are the easiest to fix. The key: finding a reputable self-publishing company willing to guide authors through their individual concerns.
The self-confidence issue is a more complex hurdle, however Michael has experience and advice for authors who have reached this point. He states, “you can’t be shy and publish a book”. Michael believes that it will be obvious if an author writes a book half-heartedly or with reservation. It is a matter of accepting the challenge and being confident in what you’re doing.
Question Six: What should authors expect from a reputable, reliable self-publishing company?
There are six key things that authors should look for:
• They should not want to lock you in to any contract that makes it difficult for you to leave them.
• They should not make any extra profit from strong book sales if they did not contribute to the sales and marketing of the book.
• They should be willing to spend time with you to make sure you understand the process and they understand your goals. A quote on word count is a good indication that they are not focused on the process.
• They should not provide you with a quote without seeing your manuscript.
• They should be happy to send you sample books they have worked on.
• They should agree to a plan and schedule for your book – and stick to it.
Question Seven: Why should authors enter their books into the Australian Business Book Awards?
The Australian Business Book Awards have been running for four years now. The awards recognise entrepreneurs, business people and business owners who have written and published a book demonstrating their skill, knowledge and experience in their industry. Michael is one of the founders of the awards and has witnessed them grown three-fold.
The major benefit: the authors that win an award, or a category award are able to refer to themselves as an award-winning author.
Positioning is profitable.
There is also a benefit from a marketing perspective. It is a chance to restart publicity: it allows promotion of the book, and the fact that it is now award-winning. There is an exposure benefit also; the books that don’t go on to win an award still gain advertising on the awards and Publish Central website and social media.
The process to enter the Australian Business Book Awards is simple and requires very little time. It is as easy as completing the form on the website, https://www.businessbookawards.com.au/, and forwarding the books to be judged.
The Australian Business Book Awards are not-for-profit; commonly, it costs around $200 to enter, a sizeable part of which is also donated to the Literacy Foundation.
Question Eight: What are the best ways to raise the profile of the book and raise sales?
Michael’s biggest piece of advice: “Be active with your book.”
In his experience, there is no single strategy for promotion of books. He believes that moving outside of the traditional publicity methods is critical and to engage in social media and speak at events. In being active in promotion, it allows authors to find the style of PR that works for them and their book.
Question Nine: What sort of Return on Investment should authors expect?
The minimum standard that authors can expect is to double their investment. Michael states that “Self-publishing is an absolutely safe investment – if you do it well.”
It is crucial to have a clear strategy in place, and for authors to know their direction. Self-publishing will only work if authors have a clear plan, clarity on their goals and the time and effort to dedicate to realising their dream of publishing their book.
Question Ten: What are the top five key steps for self-publishing?
- Know your goals
It is easy to say, “I should publish a book.” The key is to understand what is driving you to publish and have specific goals to make it work.
- Have a plan
Knowing your goals is one thing but you must have a plan to achieving them.
- Work on sales and marketing strategy before the book is released
It is too late to consider publicity when the boxes of books have arrived in your office.
- Don’t be shy
You’re an author now! Put yourself out there – if you’re going to write a book, be brave and go for it.
- Don’t worry about book sales
This is difficult to understand until your book is in your hand and it’s out in the world. In Michael’s experience, your book will sell itself once your audience knows about it. You make the most money selling the services people want to buy from you once they read your IP.
Without a plan and the knowledge to maximise sales, so much is left on the table.
Authors that have taken the time to share their knowledge through their authorship, can further leverage not only their book but also their expertise through a clear sales strategy.
Become an authority in your field and do it well. Visit Million Dollar Messages to gain further insight into how important your message is, and how to deliver it succinctly to the right people.
Messaging maximises your profit.