Do you really need publishing services when you are publishing on the web?

It’s a question I’ve thought about an awful lot over the last couple of years, if you’re going to be publishing on the web, do you really need the publishing services offered by the big publishers?

In 2007 when I began working with author and speaker Jim Clemmer, I was lucky enough to learn, first-hand, from someone who had sold hundreds of thousands of books using the traditional publisher route and several hundred thousand copies as a self published author the difference between working with traditional publishing services and going it alone.

The biggest difference was that when you sell books through a publisher you need to sell many more books to make the same amount of money you’d make selling less books as a self-publisher.

One of the first projects I worked on with Jim was his business-fable Moose on the Table: A Novel Approach to Communications @ Work.

Taking the book from manuscript to print was not a huge issue. But we hit a wall when it came to distribution and marketing.

At that point we were focused on getting the book into stores and getting the word out to the public to do this:

  • We scheduled webinars
  • Went on a cross country seminar tour
  • Created a website – www.mooseonthetable.com
  • Sent thousands of postcards to our mailing lists
  • Promoted the books in Jim’s monthly newsletter
  • Sent out targeted email blasts to the database based on what products and services contacts had purchased in the past.
  • Built a YouTube Channel and loaded it with chapter summaries and other videos
  • Created an iPhone Application
  • Hit just about every Breakfast Television show in the country

We were able to do all this ourselves.

In the end the book didn’t sell nearly as well as we’d hoped. And as best I can figure, it was because it was so completely different from Jim’s previous books, that it didn’t resonate with his core audience and it didn’t catch fire with the general public.

We did cover all our bases from a marketing perspective.

But distribution was a big hole. The book wasn’t available everywhere and we were trying to sell as many copies as we could through Jim’s main site – jimclemmer.com. The problem with this is that even with 500 unique visitors dropping by each day, most of them weren’t going to buy a book.

Jim’s next book was more in keeping with what he’d done in the past. Growing at the Speed of Change is, as Jim likes to describe it “inspir-actional.”

While we did many of the same things we did with Moose, this time we were able to remove one of the great barriers to self-published authors – distribution.

With GSC, opted for Print on Demand using LightningSource.com which immediately made the book available in Canada, US, UK and EU at local pricing and shipping through Amazon and other e-tailers. Better still – the books were almost always listed as “in-stock” and “usually ships in 24 hrs.”

While were were setting this up we added all of Jim’s previous books to the POD system – including a two books that had been out of print for over 20 years.

And guess what? They sold some copies as well!

Another avenue we explored was ebooks. Using Smashwords.com, we were able to create e-book versions of Moose on the Table, Growing at the Speed of Change and The Leader’s Digest, which are now available for the Kindle, iPad and other devices.

Distribution was always one of the major advantages of going with one of the major publishing houses. But with LightningSource this advantage disappears. Self published authors can now, for the first time, go it alone and keep most of the profits in their own pockets.

Aidan Crawford

Aidan Crawford is president of Short Circuit Media. His main job is helping consultants, trainers and professional speakers get their marketing in order by creating and implementing strategies to help them reach their target audiences.

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