PUBLISHED MAY/JUNE 2018
by Manny Luftglass, Author/Publisher —
Three misconceptions authors have, six tips for starting the process, and why it’s OK if you don’t make any money.
Congratulations—if you’re reading this, you’ve probably successfully published your own book. Now that you have the experience, is it time to offer your services to others?
Fortunately, many of the same techniques you used to publish your own book(s) can be leveraged into the skills needed to publish for others. There are challenges in finding customers and mistakes to be made, but it will be your job to make sure your fledgling author understands the realities of the self-publishing marketplace, as they often hold a few misconceptions about the process:
Misconception #1: I’m going to make a lot of money with my book.
Oftentimes, authors expect to be paid for their book by the publisher. They read about the kind of advances that political figures and movie stars get for their books, and they expect a large publishing house will be eager to have another book. However, large money advances rarely occur, so gently help your prospective author realize this. Big publishers put out thousands of books each year but will hardly even look at a new author’s book. Typically, they don’t even write back to the author, and getting a rejection notice is often the most response you can count on.
Misconception #2: I’m going to be famous.
More than you could possibly imagine, people expect fame to occur weeks after publication date. Some are thinking about how to dress for their TV interviews. I’ve also been told several times by new authors that their lives would be turned into spectacular films by Hollywood.
Misconception #3: I won’t have to incur any costs.
In almost all cases, the author pays the costs and doesn’t get any money from the publisher. In fact, authors pay for everything, such as a fee to the publisher, the costs for typesetting, transcribing, printing, and, of course, the shipping costs from the printer to themselves. The task is to convince your prospective client that you can and will produce a book for them that they will be proud of. It could be a book that may indeed bring fame, a few dollars and even the know-how to publish books on their own. I’ve published two books for an author who learned enough about the process to self-publish two more books without my help. I co-wrote a book with a friend and, after we collectively sold more than 8,000 copies, he wrote and published a few more on his own and then formed a publishing company and has published books for other authors.
Ways to Start the Process
- Obtain a reputation as a self-publisher.
Folks who have a book in them have all kinds of thoughts regarding how to get their book into print. Once a person finds out how easy it is to publish a book, you are on your way to success. Write your own book about self-publishing and, if and when it sells, you will become known as someone who knows the field.
- Speak at libraries.
Talk about what you do wherever you can find an audience. Some libraries even pay you to talk. It is not retirement income, but it can pay for a dinner or two and, as a bonus, you can often sell your books to listeners. They will come to hear you, and if you autograph a book for them or a friend or relative, this can really add a few dollars to what already was an enjoyable experience for you.
- Speak at bookstores.
Try to reach every bookstore owner you can find. If you can’t get in with the owner, managers are often the ones to seek out. While you normally cannot expect a store to pay you to speak, you generally can count on them buying some of your books to offer for sale to their customers.
- Teach a night school class.
Try to get employment from adult education schools. Most pay a salary, but even without payment, you will still have students who are interested in publishing their own book—a ready client list.
- Attend book fairs/shows.
The more such events you go to, the better off you’ll be. You will reach exactly the people you want to speak with and make good contacts for the future. And if the event coordinators can be convinced to give you time to publicly address their audience, this is a home run for you.
- Go to flea markets.
Flea markets, farmers markets, garage sales, street fairs, and other related events attract a variety of people, many of them aspiring authors waiting to be convinced that they are indeed authors. Sure, most come to such events looking for bargains on cheap clothing, jewelry, and other items, but there are some in attendance who may be interested in buying a book from you. And if you can get their ear and let them know that you are a self-publisher, it might pique their interest.
So, Why Publish for Others?
If the odds are that a book will not make any money for the author, why do it at all?
There are several good reasons to publish a book that may not produce significant money. For example, I published a book that was written by a 16-year-old, and his proud grandmother was glad to pay me $2,500 to publish it for them. They paid for the typesetting, printing, and shipping costs, and the book didn’t make much money at all. However, grandma has a grandson who has written a book, the teenager received a substantial credential for his college application, and her daughter and son-in law are very proud of their young man.
I published a book for a very famous man, and the sales for it were terrible. But he didn’t really expect to sell many copies; he simply wanted the book to be printed so that he could use it for sales for his business, and he loved the experience. To this day, he still takes photos for publicity, posing with his book in front of him on his desk.
Manny Luftglass has had more than 2,500 columns, features, and articles published over the years. He also has finished 26 books and is publishing two others for different authors. A retired business insurance agent, he was the twice-elected Mayor of Somerville, New Jersey, and continues to write for a variety of newspapers and magazines. Manny provides a streamlined process of editing, promoting, typesetting, publishing, and marketing. Contact him at 561-965-2813 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more insight into the publishing industry, check out this IBPA Independent article: A Few Lessons in Publishing and Copyright from 2017.