This month we're all about the numbers and the research. This is the fourth blog in my series about steps to write your book.
If you are interested in self-publishing, first I want to say Kudos to you!. I love when people take the gumption and decided that they're going to publish their own work. With self-publishing the way it is now with print on demand, it means you can order as few or as many books as you want. You have lots of control when it comes to publishing self-publishing platforms and making your important message to the world more available than it used to be when we only had traditional publishing as an option. I think self-publishing is totally the way to go.
I do want you to know before you jump in that it will cost you time and money. So let’s take a little look at that by the numbers this month.
Self-publishing will cost time. Well first of all, of course you have to write your book, that sort of self-explanatory, but we are looking at the time it takes to do the editing, formatting, designing, and publishing after you have written your book.
I want to make sure that you consider if you're self-publishing for the first time, be sure to include the amount of time it will take to do editing in your scheduling plans. You want to make sure that your book is well-edited, and free from typos, punctuation issues, and anything that will make someone think less of your book. Remember, you took the time to share your message with the world. It's worth you taking the time to make sure that your message comes in a polished, attractive package that people will want to read.
Once you have your editing done, you also want to plan for time devoted to designing or creation. What do I mean? Well, there's a bit that goes into creating a book. The first and most obvious thing is your book cover. You want to have an attractive book cover that lets the reader know what your book is about or gives them a flavor of it before they even read. Yes, I know we've all heard the adage, you can't judge a book by its cover and I think it applies to everything else except for books. I think with books you do judge by the cover.
You want your book cover to look attractive and professional. If you are talented with drawing or graphic design, feel free to create your own cover. In other cases, I would recommend hiring someone who can help you put together a good-looking cover.
If you have written a book that has lots of photographs or graphics, you will also need to ensure your book is well-designed. Layouts of photos are crucial for an attractive photography book, for example. Children’s books which are often filled with graphics need extra attention too. If you have a talent for this type of layout, that’s great. If not, consider working with a graphic designer.
Another aspect of time is formatting. You need to format your book in such a way that it will be laid out for publishing. What do I mean by this? Well, you want to make sure to identify what size your book is. For example, six inches by nine inches is a standard measurement. Then you want to format your text to fit within that parameter. Also, you want to make sure that you add things that your book needs, such as mirror margins. If you aren’t familiar with this term, mirror margins ensure that your book, when laid out in print, has the seam in the middle, has the text on the left and right hand side mirror one another, and looks symmetrical.
Make sure you take time to do that. If you don't have the time or the know-how, make sure that you hire someone who can and allow time for them to do that.
Another tasks that takes some time with self-publishing is some of the setup. What do I mean by this? What I mean is you will set up a self-publishing account. I often use Ingram Spark or BookBaby, but you can use one of many. You would want to carve out some time to set up your account with your banking information, your credit card, and your contact information. The banking information and credit card enable you to receive royalties, also known as publishing compensation, and also to order books using your credit card.
You also need to take time to set up your book and other ways. For instance, in your self-publishing account, when you set up your specific book, you'll need to enter in information such as your International Book Standard Number, or ISBN ; your key words; and your Book Industry Standards and Communication, or BISAC, codes.
ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number, and it is a number that is required for you to publish your book. It's similar to a Stock-Keeping Unit or SKU number on products that are sold at a retail store. ISBN numbers are unique to each book and are even unique each format of that book. For example, if you have the book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets Stone, you could have the book in hardback (978-0439064866), paperback (978-1338299151), and audio CD (978-0807281949). As you can see, each has its own separate ISBN number.
ISBN numbers cost $125 each through Bowker (www.bowker.com), or I might recommend if you plan to write several books, buy them in a group of 10 for $295. This will save you money by buying in bulk, kind of like shopping at Costco.
Key words are words that help someone find your book. For example, if I have written a book about a childhood alcoholism, I would use “childhood” and “alcoholism” as key words.
You also want to have a short and long description of your book that you can use if you decide to publish your book online.
Also, you want to identify the Industry Standards and Communication, or BISAC, codes. According to https://bisg.org/page/BISACFaQ, “The BISAC Subject Heading list was developed to standardize the electronic transfer of subject information. The headings can be used for transmitting information between trading partners, as search terms in bibliographic databases, as access points for database searching and as shelving guides. Many businesses require that publishers use BISAC Subject Headings when submitting data for all formats (physical and digital).” I suggest doing some research ahead of time to determine the best BISAC codes for you to use for your book.
In addition, you need to identify the genre, your ideal audience, the type of book, and also how much you plan to charge for your book. You can see this takes a little bit of time, so I always recommend setting up as much as you can ahead of time so that you can be prepared.
In addition to time, self-publishing takes some money. Some of the things I mentioned above related to time are also related to money. For example, if you hire an editor, a graphic designer and illustrator, a format or a book coach, or if you go through a publisher, even some self-publishing companies, it will cost you some money. The amount of money it will cost totally depends on what services you use.
I would say if you don't already have an editor or a graphic designer, start by asking people you know, start by people asking people in your network who will be able to steer you to someone they know and they trust. Also ask them about how much they would pay for this service. This is a good way to make sure that you get not only a good and qualified person, but also someone who is honest and will do what they are supposed to do, hopefully also related to money is your book cover.
If you plan to use illustrations or photographs, you may need to factor in money to pay for that cost. For example, for a children’s book which has lots of illustrations, you will want to factor in the amount of money that person will charge. Illustrations are key to children’s book, so choose someone you know is talented and will make your book shine.
You also want to make sure everything is laid out well, so you may want to invest in a format. You know that the term is “self-publishing”, but that does not mean that you have to do it yourself. You can do self-publishing with a team of people. In fact, as a writing coach and publishing consultant; of course, that's what I do for people for a living!
Another thing to consider is the cost of setting up your book for publishing with the public self-publishing company and also the cost of your books, so I'll use Ingram Spark is an example. It costs $49 setup fees to set up each book under Ingram Spark as both a print and e-book. Also make sure you factor that cost in another cost is ordering the books themselves. Initially you will want to pay for a printed proof.
Then once you are done, there are two different costs to think about when it comes to books. The first one is the cost to you as the author to purchase copies of your own book wholesale. When I say wholesale, I mean when you publish your book through a self-publishing company, you have the option to purchase the book at a lower cost than people who would purchase your book online.
When you put your book online to be sold on a retailer such as Amazon or Barnes and Noble, there is a royalty cost that is taken out to pay the retailer. Why? In this case, Amazon or Barnes and Noble covers their cost for listing your book on their website, taking orders and distributing or in other words, shipping your book to the people who purchase it online. When you sell your books online, you do receive a certain percentage for yourself. However, it's usually a pretty small percentage because the retailers take a pretty good bite out of the amount, so you want to factor in that cost. When you are looking at how much you want to invest in your book. If you want your book to self-sustain, meaning, if you don't want to spend any more on your book and instead have it pay for itself when you sell it, then you will want to think about how you can recoup from selling it.
You will definitely want to take a very close look at how much money you spend in order to produce your book versus how much you think you will make. I recommend looking at the Ingram Spark website as they have a wonderful publishing calculator on their help page. The publishing calculator allows you to plug in the parameters of your book (for example, the size of your book, whether it's in color or black and white, how many pages it has, and how many copies you want to order), and you can see both how much it would cost for you to order this book wholesale and you can also see how much money in royalties you would receive from each book.
I hope this talk on time and cost has been helpful. I really encourage you to look into it, especially since you likely care not just about your message, but also about monetizing your book. If you have any questions, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org at at www.kwepub.com.
Thanks and I'll see you next month!