Technology has changed a lot of things in the publishing industry, not to mention just about every other industry you can imagine. Not only is it easier for an entrepreneur to start a book publishing company but the costs of printing a small number of books has come down dramatically, allowing authors to avoid the prohibitive minimums that used to characterize the book printing business.
With these recent developments in mind, we need to re-introduce would-be authors to the new book-publishing landscape so they can re-evaluate the possibility of finally making their dream a reality. This article will review the three primary ways of getting a book published in the modern world. Future articles will cover the opportunities and challenges of each strategy.
The first way of getting a book published is the path that has existed for years and years. There are a number of huge publishing houses including Penguin, Random House and McGraw Hill that can do the job. But these industry elephants only work with proven authors and generally require you have a literary agent before they'll even review the proposal. Of course, the upside is that these publishing giants are well respected, leaving you with better credibility and preferential shelf space within the major retailers.
The second strategy is to use a smaller independent publisher. There are more and more of these popping up everyday and they tend to specialize in one genre or another. Of course, there's a wide variety of publishers within this category - some very small and others quite well established - but they all generally have full distribution channels in place, allowing your book to reach the same shelves as the big boys. Proposals are sent directly to the Acquisitions Editor for consideration and literary agents are optional.
The last strategy is by far the most common: self-publishing. Because printing minimum order quantities have come down so much in recent years, authors can quickly and easily print a few copies of their new book and risk less money than ever before. Obviously, this virtually eliminates one of the major barriers to entry and an estimated 90% of all books being published today are self-published.
The clear upside is that nobody can reject your proposal. If you want to write it and print it, go right ahead. And in many cases, the printing houses you would use to get the book put on paper have respectable distribution channels in place as well, meaning your book could theoretically reach the same shelves as those published by larger publishing companies. The downside is a lower degree of credibility but for many, that's a small price to pay for their dream to get realized.
The important thing to remember is that regardless of the publishing method you choose, the majority of the marketing effort is left to the author. Even with the industry majors, it's the author's job to promote and sell his or her book. So if you have ambitions to publish your own book, sit down and think about how you're going to sell it. If you have an answer to that question, you have a much better chance of getting accepted by the big boys.
Tactical Execution with Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a strategic company focused on growth marketing and program implementation across business markets. Visit the website for actionable guidance for revenue generation.
There are many ways to get a website, from custom designed solutions to do-it-yourself sites. The most effective time- and money-saving solution for authors is a complete managed website. With a managed website you choose a professional design from a selection of templates, then have it customized for you. You get a domain name, your website hosting, and professional site updates all in one package. No software to learn, no time spent building it, and no huge custom design fees. These strong, professional sites are that easy - the only time you'll need to spend is in organizing what information you want on the site, and these three tips will help you prepare.
As an author, it is recommended that you register up to three domain names for your site. If you used a P.O.D. provider for your book, you may have chosen a publishing name (Backyard Books, or Patio Press, etc.), and you should register that as a domain. Register your own name (or pen name) as well, because people often search for a site by author name. Then, of course, you'll want to register the title of the book. The domains can be set to go to specific pages within your site, so I recommend using the publishing name (if you have one) as your main site, with the other names going to pages in your site that are specifically about the book or about you. If you don't have a publishing name, use your author name as the main site. The book's domain name will go directly to the page on the site about the book. If you write more books, you can then add them to your site under your publishing name or author name, each book with it's own page within the site. Your site can then promote your new books as well as your back catalog, and will continue to grow with you.
Your home page will immediately present your new book, as well as having links to the rest of the site. Promotional excerpts, quotes and pictures of the book should greet visitors to your site. Other pages you will want to add include the above-mentioned author page (your bio, picture, etc.) and a page dedicated to this specific book. Including a sample chapter is often a very effective means of drawing readers in to purchase your book, and of course images of the cover art will need to be included.
If you are selling your book yourself, you will need an order page set up so people can purchase the book right from your site. If your P.O.D. or other booksellers are selling the book, your order page should include links directly to the page at their site where your book can be purchased.
You may want to include a page for press releases and book reviews, as well as endorsements. If you don't have many of these yet, you can always wait to include this page until you have a few to add. It can give the wrong impression if you have a full page dedicated to a single accolade - better to wait until your book has garnered several notable quotes before giving them their own page. In the mean time, you can always position quotes and review snippets throughout the other pages of your site.
Include any other pages you think are relevant, but remember to write. You're a writer, after all - provide your website builder with real content for your pages. Be clear, be concise, and remember to mention the title of the book and the topics involved in your text. If you wrote a story set in the world of motorcycle racing, for example, be sure to speak about the sport in your site's content. Search engines, like Google, will be reading every word on your pages, so you want to feed them the words that people will actually use to try to find your book.
Finally, you will want to include a site map, which is simply a page that lists links to every other page of your site. Even if your site is small to begin with, site maps do help search engines find their way around and through your site, and that is what you want them to do.
Promoting the Site
Yes, that's right, you need to promote the website that is a promotional tool for your book if you want it to be effective! Luckily, if you've had the site built well, this doesn't have to occupy all your time. There are several things you can do besides providing good site content to help your site be found. One of the big ones is to get some links coming in to your site, which often involves making some links out from your site. Approach other website owners for an exchange of links, but only relevant, decent quality sites. Some sites to consider:
Your publisher or P.O.D. If these companies provide a simple book page or mini-site for you, be sure you add a link to your own site from that page. Did a graphic artist design your cover? Exchange links with them, as well as with any photographers you may have used for pictures on the cover or back cover. Do you belong to any writers' groups or other professional associations? Trade links. If someone has reviewed your book, see if you can exchange links with their publication - or at least ask that they include your web address in their review of the book. Is there a group associated with your book topic? In the motorcycle example above, send a sample chapter to the webmaster of the motocross group and see if they'll trade a link.
If your book is non-fiction, consider writing some short articles (like this one) about your topic and submitting them to article directories or related websites. All articles should have a link in the resource box back to your site. Make use of any print materials you have - business cards, flyers, ads, etc. to list your website address. You should also have a marketing page at the end of the book itself, which should include your web address.
As time goes on, make sure to email updates in to your site provider. They can update the site with dates and places of readings or book signings, posting the transcript to any online Q&As you may have done, adding to your list of reviews as they come in, and listing any other information as you get it. Make use of this service to keep your site fresh and keep people coming back.
Marketing your book with a website does not have to be difficult and time consuming. Prepare the site's content correctly, and find a good company to build and maintain it for you. Then you'll have a world-wide billboard, 24 hour store, and information kiosk about you and your book all working for you!