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Anyone here that can provide guidance on publishing a book?

Thinking about publishing a nonfiction book. Looking for some tips on editing, pitching to publishers, and also marketing the book. Really appreciate your opinion.

8 Replies

Katarina Loksa Miechowka
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Founder at Sketching Tomorrow Consulting
Great question - am interested in hearing you perspective as well! thank you in advance!
William Morgenstein
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William Morgenstein Entrepreneur
20+Yrs Business/Finance Consultant | Funding Broker | Construction/SBA Loans | Author | Autobiography by New York Guy
Your question is broad so I will give some general answers. If you are a first time, non famous author I would recommend the self publishing route. I used Creatspace (Amazon) to publish mine but some people like Ingram. I would recommend that you read "The Fine Print of Self-Publishing" by Mark Levine. Note both the cover of your book and your editing will be vitally important to the success of your book. I used a friend for the first edit and then used a professional editor and luckily I did that. Start marketing your book before you finish it. After the book is published you will have a long tedious time marketing it. You will be up against millions of books and authors so you will have to dedicate much time and effort to get book sales. I am still fighting the battle. My goal was to sell 10,000 copies and I have just gone over the 1,000 mark (with 42 mostly 5 ***** reviews on Amazon). Experts tell that is an excellent achievement. (?) But I am far from satisfied and am now starting to make personal appearances.
William Guillory
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at Innovations International, Inc
First, decide how you want to publish: traditional publisher; self-publish; or help with self- publishing (online organizations) Traditional publisher, very formidable odds, they own your intellectual property, and you get less than 5 to 10% of every book sold retail. Self-publish, you own your stuff (if that is important) and get about 80% of the retail price of your book. Online publishing helpers, variable, and you own your intellectual property, in most cases.

Two, if you are not famous or have a great following, you will be primarily responsible for marketing your book. Online helpers will provide support and help to create awareness. Variable arrangements. Ultimately, no matter what route you go, "You will be responsible for making your book popular!" Social media is a great help. Keep in mind, e-books are becoming increasingly popular.

Three, editing is very, very, important. do not compromise this step in any way. First, of course, is grammar. Then someone who will tell you the "absolute truth" about your writing, because the public will. Or several someones.

Four, no matter how may setbacks you experience, your ultimate confidence in what you have written is the most important factor in creating widespread popularity; especially in first time situations.

If your first one is not great, write a second one, and then a third one, until you hit it. All the so-called famous writers have gone through the same process, usually with the help of an agent. (That's another route; but worth it if you can get one.) Everyone gets better the more he or she writes.

Final thought, instead of "how to write courses," my suggestion is "read and write," just like eating food everyday; and you will get better.

That should be enough to start with.
Jeffrey Gross
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Jeffrey Gross Entrepreneur
Managing Member of intellectual property firm, Entrepreneur, P/T Musician
You don't pitch to publishers: you pitch to agents and try to get one to take on your book. Agents do the pitching to publishers. If you simply send your book to a publisher, the odds are overwhelming it ends up in the "slush pile."

So the question is, what induces an agent to take on your book? Obviously you have to have something compelling. Meaning, you have something interesting to say and you say it well. An agent won't read your whole MS initially. Which is good: you don't have to finish the thing; you need a couple chapters and a book proposal. So two things you should do: Google around and see what makes for a good proposal. & go to agents' sites and see their submission guidelines (which differ for fiction vs non-fiction).

One important aspect of a book proposal: it's actually a mini-business plan for your book. You make a business case: "This book will sell b/c 1) it meets a market need and 2) the competition falls short." There's the usual Catch-22: If the competing books sold well, hasn't the need been satisfied? But if they didn't sell well, why do you assert there's a real market need? So you need to square that circle.

If you don't have an agent, one intervening layer: a freelance editor / "book doctor." Someone who helps you bang your book proposal into shape, edits your MS, discusses the market w/ you, and probably knows some agents. That's usually a good place to start: a good one will be candid w/ you about your baby's potential.

Of course there's the self-publishing route, but the percentage of self-published books that get any real traction is quite low.


Rochelle Kopp
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Rochelle Kopp Advisor
Japanese business culture expert and cross-cultural communications specialist
I highly recommend APE by Guy Kawasaki amzn.to/2dhmE3d which goes over the pros and cons of traditional vs. self-publishing, and the steps for succeeding in self-publishing. It was very helpful when I did my first self-published this year (Valley Speak: Deciphering the Jargon of Silicon Valley http://amzn.to/2cp1T8t)
Chicke Fitzgerald
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Chicke Fitzgerald Entrepreneur • Advisor
Game Changing Strategist, Advisor & Technologist | Board Candidate | Zigging where others Zag
All great suggestions. I have just elected to go the agent route and he found me a non-traditional publisher very quickly. I did have a full manuscript, plus a book proposal.

If you just want to be sold online, then you don't need the traditional publisher. Their primary value is distribution to bookstores and their sales force that calls on the bookstores. Self-publishing is a good route.

Timing is also a big factor in deciding which route you will pursue.

Traditional publishers, once they accept you will take nearly 1 year to get your book in stores. Slightly shorter online. Only the famous get a sizeable advance ora signing bonuson their book.

Non-traditional publishers can have your book in print in 6 months and begin to get you in stores. Online is much faster.

And self-publishing is near immediate.

One thing that no one is mentioning here is that there is a cost, both with the online facilitator or non-traditional publisher. You have to commit to buy a certain number of your own books to market. You can expect to have to write a check when you sign the contract. Said more plainly, you pay to get published and if you don't sell your commitment, then you have a lot of wallpaper..... many of us still have boxes of our last book in storage. :(

No matter which publishing option you choose, you are the one marketing the book (unless you count press releases sent out by a publisher).

The successful authors either already have a great following from previous books or they have a large network on social media or in real life. They tap that. Or they hire a publicist or marketing person to do it for them.

It is a BIG commitment and I wholeheartedly agree that you need a professional editor. My agent had one, so that is who I used.

The last thing I will say is that you need to know why you are wanting to write a book. If you just want it as a calling card or a reinforcement of your expertise, then I would self-publish. You can still get physical books, but you won't have to make the big investment in inventory. I wanted to have my books in stores, but didn't want to wait a year, so the non-traditional publisher was a better deal for me. But I was prepared to make the investment.

I am combining pre-sales of my book (The Game Changer - an Allegorical Novel about Transformational Business Design) with the formation of a new network called thegamechanger.network. I also have a radio show of the same name. I will do a kickstarter campaign for the network, "giving away" a copy of the book to anyone who invests in the campaign at the base level (retail price of one book), plus they will get a membership in the network, which has over 300 radio shows available on demand. So I'm using the book also to build the new brand.

I am happy to answer any other questions since I'm on the other side of the decision that you are about to make.
Sidney Sclar
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Sidney Sclar Entrepreneur
SID the SECURITY PRO at sidthesecuritypro.com
Connect with Deborah Bowman of Clasid Consultants Publishing directly. Use Sid as an intro.
Jeffrey Gross
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Jeffrey Gross Entrepreneur
Managing Member of intellectual property firm, Entrepreneur, P/T Musician
To clarify a misconception, a reputable house, like Wylie or Penguin, doesn't ask you to buy your inventory. Quite the contrary: they make an investment in your intellectual property, so they take the risk. They print the books, paying for the inventory (and storage/transport/marketing of it). Thus they stand to lose if the books don't sell. That risk and expense is why they get their cut. And also why they have a minimum threshold before they'll print a book. I have friends published by Harper Collins and Oxford, and they always got a few boxes of books to give away to family and friends - it's a courtesy to the author.

A "vanity" publisher is one YOU pay to publish your book. So called b/c you don't expect to make money, but are in fact spending money to publish out of vanity. They often have a bad rep. Some are unscrupulous, luring authors by misleading them into thinking they're guaranteed to recoup their investment. But the reputable ones serve a useful function: some authors aren't looking for commercial success, but have a personal reason to print up their book. It could be a family memoir, very specialized scholarly work, etc.

Even if you're lucky enough to get published by a major house, you'll still have to supplement their marketing w/ your own. Using a combination of a good website (w/ good SEO) to drive opt-in emails, plus Twitter and Facebook to drive traffic to the site, you can generate some interest. The opt-in emails become an important device for repeat contact. Two authors who use the web effectively and whose marketing is worth studying are Louise Penny and the fiction team of Preston and Child.

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