Self Publishing Marketing
Understanding self publishing marketing is essential when authoring and creating a bound book online. The incredible feeling of accomplishment that an author can receive by holding his/her work in hand can be overshadowed by the puzzlement that arises with not knowing how to get the book into the hands of the general public. There is a light at the end of the tunnel however, because there are a number of self publishing services that are eager to help budding authors with marketing their literary creation online, in bookstores, and other locations germane to book commerce. All these services offer varying degrees of service, depending on how much expense and exposure one is willing to invest.
Take the case of the first time author Professor XY, who has just finished a research book that he called, "Boom! What's That Banana Doing in My Lemon Lime Soda?" The book dealt with the molecular chemical reaction of the mixture of soda and crushed bananas. The work consisted of seventy-six pages of scintillating reading on what occurs chemically when these two entities collide with one another. The learned professor believes that his research and conclusions will rock the soda and banana industry worldwide, and while no royalty publisher is interested in his book project, the decision has been made by the professor to use a self publishing service to print and market the new love of the teacher's life. As Professor XY begins to do research about on line publishers, the discovery is made that there are several different types of web publishers. One type of publisher makes the professor stop and think about the motive for the book just written.
Vanity self publishing services, which can be online or an actual publishing establishment, often give no counsel to the author on the questionable marketability or the lack of professional editing or even the quality of the work, including spelling and grammatical errors if not requested by the author. Vanity printers are just that: they appeal to the pride and vanity of an author just wanting to get a printed book in hand, even if it only includes a stock cover in the price of printing. In most cases, these types of businesses do not offer self publishing marketing help. By and large, they are not necessarily unreputable, but rather the advertising quite clearly that their appeal is built on an author's inability to obtain printing and publishing help anywhere else. Professor XY wondered if the strong personal desire for a printed and bound book had anything to do with those rather base elements of his personality. The professor's honest assessment was that the motive to publish was just to see knowledge abound on the earth.
The professor knew that less than a quarter of one percent of all unsolicited manuscripts are ever accepted by royalty publishers, so the search continued for those printing services that featured self publishing marketing as part of their service. The college teacher then discovered subsidy self publishing services. These publishers ask the author to pay most costs, and in many cases, own the rights to the work, which may have to be purchased back from the printer by the author at some point. The professor found out that the problem with subsidy publishers is that the finished product usually will not be reviewed by mainstream reviewers, and are not placed in mainstream bookstores with their marketing plan. They often end up only on the publisher's website along with other books unmarketable in the general public domain. A subsidy publisher must be thoroughly vetted and references must be obtained. Checks with Better Business Bureaus must also be obtained for the most complete piece of mind.
Professor XY was uneasy about the fact that a subsidy publisher might own the rights to his work, so the search continued. The college teacher's real interest lay in what extent self publishing marketing could be done for the book. The professor found that the cost of promoting this project through self-publishing services could cost almost as much as the first run of printing. There was a plethora of businesses on the web ready to promise large sales of his book. But the more thought that was put into a marketing plan, the more Professor XY came to the conclusion that marketing could be done alone. When thinking about what could be the means of getting into the public eye, the professor knew that twice a year science conventions offered an excellent platform on which to display and sell the literary project. Professor XY made goals as to how many books could be expected to sell in that arena.
The ideas started flowing. Self publishing marketing would take him on a long pilgrimage the next summer. The professor made a number of inquiries and signed agreements with several large gas station chains to place the book on display at company retail stores. Professor XY worked out a display agreement that would be paid for each book sold, and agreed to stock the shelves personally on next summer's road trip. Since bananas were big in South America, he also gave foreign publishing to a small Honduran printer to sell the book only in Latin America. The small contract paid for one third of the cost of the first run. In the end, Professor XY decided to go with a true self publishing services provider. The professor designed the cover, did the editing, and carried out the boxes to the old bus just purchased for the road trip.
Self Publishing CompaniesConsidering, researching and using self publishing companies, and more directly, Christian self publishing establishments may be the answer for every every discouraged author. This may especially be true if the return mail from publishing houses is awash in rejection verbiage. Every writer ever dreaming of holding in hand a beautiful, bound, professional book of the author's own words knows the pain of rejection. The questions are often more numerous than answers. "Why wasn't this manuscript accepted? Accolades have been numerous for public oral offerings of these thoughts. Why can't any of those publishers see the genius in these words?" Since as many as 98% of all unsolicited books are rejected by publishing houses, the questions abound in many authors' heads.
Today, the internet, blogs and other sources make publishing accessible to almost anyone for any project, as long as the author has the money to pay for the expense. In some ways, taking charge of the whole project from beginning to end can be more satisfying than allowing another ambivalent party to makes arbitrary changes to text and design of one's personal dream. And since online services include Christian self publishers, there may be more incentive than ever to see one's thoughts put into a public forum either viewed online or as an actual bound piece. Especially true for the Christian writer is the opportunity to share biblical or life experiences that may not be interesting to a large publisher, but may be the catalyst in changing a person's life forever when read. "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4:13)
Self publishing companies usually specialize in one specialized type of business over another. For example, there are subsidy publishers which decide whether or not to print the work and subsequently authors pay to have the work created. However, the subsidy publisher owns the book, usually warehouses the piece, distributes and promotes the book and pays the author a royalty on all product sold. There are also vanity publishers who care nothing about whether or not the composition is any good at all, and who will print it under any circumstance as long as the writer pays its price. This kind of option appeals to the person that just wants to see a creation happen in order that the claim can be made that the writer is a published author. Finally, there are also publishers on demand who merely transfer a computer document into a bound book, regardless of editing problems, with the writer getting little choice about cover design or other details.
Christian self publishing houses offer many of the same types of printing services in the fore mentioned paragraph. Of course, if the self advertised "Christian" banner is near the name or in the mission statement, one can only hope that the vanity aspect of the printing business would be flavored with some honest counsel and evaluation with a writer who may need some mentoring before paying the required fees for publication. There are Christian companies that take scriptural responsibilities to heart and give counsel and guidance along the way. One has even adopted a policy where employees of the publisher do not talk to others about poorer quality pieces that are being printed under its brand name. It is possible, though not entirely likely, that this kind of biblical commitment to the customer and to guiding principles might come exclusively with a Christian self publishing company.
Self publishing companies once had the reputation that only vanity writers used their services. One could almost perceive a sniffing of the nose when a self published author walked through the door of a book store, seeking to place the product on shelves only reserved for royalty writers. Times have changed, however, because these services today offer real marketing campaigns, warehousing, beautiful cover designs and low costs for writers who just need a publicity boost for an entry level writing career. These companies are usually subsidy companies that will own some or all of the rights to the product and only share a percentage of the profits with the author. Yet the writer must pay the subsidy publisher upfront costs to print the book.
There are only two major Christian publishing houses in America today. These companies almost never use unsolicited manuscripts. Instead, they are looking for star athletes, politicians, media stars or others with instant name recognition. This ensures a large audience ready to hear what these voices have to say from a Christian perspective. But there is a huge caveat with all of this. Behind the scenes of these major publishers is a huge temptation to use material that is marketable, but not necessarily theologically sound. Pressure from secular ownership has brought about a perceived slide within the industry away from ministry and towards a broader and larger audience appeal.
Self publishing companies offer complete freedom of expression, professional assistance with ideas, editing and cover design if needed and wanted, and total control of the product as one of many options. These businesses give hope to the discouraged writer and with the wise use of Internet marketing campaigns, the possibility that one's very personal message might be heard by a fairly wide audience. Christian self publishing is the fastest growing trend in the business today. It appears that many writers are turning more and more to directing their own career paths rather than waiting on a bolt of lightning to strike them with some sort of miracle success.