So you want to publish a book: audiobooks and ebooks

This series was originally posted in 2008

As I’ve stated in previous posts, the most inexpensive way to sell a book is electronically. There are no shipping costs to consider and no ongoing production costs to factor in once the audio or ebook version is ready to go.

The ebook version is the easiest to sell online. As part of our arrangement with Heidy Lawrence, when the book was ready for the printer we received a PDF of the ebook, ready for our online store. That was included on in the initial estimate.

There are also online distributors that deal exclusively with both audiobooks and e-books – such as audible.com and Overdrive.com.

In the future, I’ll talk in more detail about the benefits of ebooks and distribution methods to help you expand your market across the world.

The audiobook is a bit of a challenge. It usually involves hiring a professional voice actor and booking some studio time. It may be tempting to save money and do it yourself at home – but don’t waste your time. Your audiobook is likely to turn out like one those reno shows, where the amateur decides to do all the work themselves, blowing timelines, budgets and ending up with a substandard job.

Invest a little here and you’ll have it over and done with in a week. For Moose we used Clare Burt Studio in Toronto and hired Barrie Bailey to do the reading. Here is a short clip from the studio of Barrie reading from Chapter one.

So you want to publish a book: distribution and website

This series was originally posted in 2008

It’s never too early to think about how you’re going to reach your audience. Don’t think for a second: “If I write it, they will read.”

Getting your book into stores isn’t easy. The big guys in the publishing industry have whole teams working the big chains constantly to get their product placed prominently in stores. As a self-publisher you’ll have to do a lot of leg work to get your book on the shelf. And even then you’ll probably find that your book will be lost in the tide of a an literary ocean as the big box stores have millions of other titles.

Additionally, you may find yourself faced with huge orders only to have those same books returned to you three months later, dog-eared and unsuitable for resale.

As luck would have it, in addition to being a fantastic editor, Don Bastian also runs a small imprint and we were able to negotiate a fair deal for distribution in Canada. Where he takes on the leg work of retail promotion and distribution.

But if you don’t have a distributor for your book, you can still send out copies to reviewers, library magazines and direct folks to a web site.

Website
The model for distributing books has been the same for hundreds of years. Authors write a book, sell that book to a publisher, who then gets that book into bookstores.

This really made a lot of publishers and bookstores very rich. But for a small author trying to break into the racket, you may find that you’re just not worth the effort for these guys. But the internet has chnaged things. It’s easy to get your book into the online booksellers. But the real way for a small author to achieve the maximum return on investment is to build a web site with an ecommerce component and sell the book online.

With Moose, I hired a fellow from Pakistan to do the work. The result is mooseonthetable.com.

If you visit the site, you’ll notice we’re selling the book through our site as e-book and audiobook. Both these methods are great opportunities to reach an audience online and save money on production at the save time.

The website is a great way to provide information about your book and you can make it as interactive as you want. Websites are also great because you’re not just releasing your book to a domestic audience. You have the potential to sell to anywhere in the world. Think about it. A person in Toronto can download an ebook or audiobook as easily as someone in New York, London or Dublin! How’s that for a distribution channel?

So you want to publish a book: professional editing and illustrations

This series was originally posted in 2008


The editor is the most important member of the team you pull together. Don’t cheap out. There is nothing more cringeworthy than a poorly edited book. Don Bastian has decades of experience as an editor and was the Managing Editor at Stoddart books at one time.

Beyond looking simply for grammatical and spelling issues, the editor looks at the project from a readers perspective. Because of Don’s experience he was able to provide insights that made the narrative structure of the book better. And even then – we were still catching little things in the hours before the book went to the printer!

The illustrations are something that may sound easy. In Moose, illustrations are found at the beginning of each chapter and the cover. Great illustrations can help propel a story and set the tone for the book. Before we went with Bill Kimber, we looked at five other illustrators. Of those five, Bill came the closest to the “whimsy” we were looking for.

But even though he was close – it took some back and fourth before we got to where we were comfortable with what we had. Another thing to consider about the illustrator and the illustrations is how you plan to use them. In moose, the cover illustration is in colour and the chapter illustrations are in black and white. However, we had Bill create colour versions of everything, so we could also use these illustrations on the web site and on the materials Jim uses for his keynotes and workshops.

So you want to publish a book: self publishing & project management

This series was originally posted in 2008

To self-publish or go with a one of the big guys
One of the first questions I was asked (after how long does a book have to be?) by more than one person was how do you get a book deal? Well, if I’ve learned anything from the last five months, it’s that you don’t need a book deal to get a book published. And frankly, there’s not much hope for an unknown writer sending in an unsolicited manuscript to a large publisher anyway, so it’s really up to you.

For the purposes of this blog series, I’m going to assume that you’re going to self-publish your opus. The risks are great, but the potential reward is greater. Why? You front the money- risk. You keep all the profit – reward.

And for the second question, Moose on the Table was about 52000 words or 120 single spaced pages on MS WORD that came out to a 176 page softcover.

Project management
So you know you’re going to go forward and get the book out there. How do you arrange typesetting, printing, find editors, illustrators, and distribution? A good project manager should be able to help you with all of this and pull together a budget based on what you need. You may be surprised to learn that typesetting and printing costs – while substantial are actually a very small percentage of your overall budget.

With Moose on the Table – we went with Heidy Lawrence and Associates. You can find out more about her operation at www.wemakebooks.ca.

Heidy sourced out 6 different printers to get the best unit cost. She also took care of the typsetting, cover design, and look and feel of the book, from a font and layout perspective. Most importantly, she was able to provide us with a short ist of highly experienced editors and illustrators.

In the end, we went with Donald Bastian as the editor and William Kimber as our illustrator.

So you want to publish a book: part one

This series was originally posted in 2008.

As a lot of you may or may not know, I spent the better part of the last twenty years as a scribbler for newspapers and magazines. But since the early part of this decade my career – and I still can’t believe I actually have one – has taken me in directions I never imagined.

The most striking departure is that I’m no longer singing for my supper as a freelancer. Increasingly, I’ve moved from the editorial to the marketing side of things. And I have to admit, I don’t feel half as dirty as I thought I would.

Before striking out on my own, I was with Jim Clemmer at the CLEMMER Group, where I toiled from the confines of my home office as the Marketing Director. It’s a postion with as many challenges as opportunities. During my time with Jim, I was fortunate to work on two book launches. This series with deal with my experience with his fifth book, Moose on the Table: A Novel Approach to Communications @ Work from rough manuscript to reader-ready masterpiece.

As this was the first time I’d ever done something like this I was very happy with the way things turned out. I should point out that The CLEMMER Group is a consulting agency specializing in leadership and management issues. Because of this Jim’s books have been, to this point, instructional bibles for bosses looking to transform teams and organizations.

With Moose on the Table, he decided to go in a completely different direction to provide insights using a business-fable approach. So unlike the other books, the meat of the moose is a fictional story about a middle age manager struggling to overcome poor communications in his work and personal life.

That’s all you need to know about the book. But if you are interested in finding out more, you can visit www.mooseonthetable.com

When word started getting out about my involvement in this project, a few friends wanted to know what it took to get a book published. As the book is now at the presses, the web site is up and running and a distribution confirmed, I think I can pass along some wisdom to everybody out there who’d like to finally take that MS Word document and get it out to the world.

As I write this on the plane from Calgary to Toronto, I realize that as one blog posting, it would be a very dense read. So I’m going to split it into short blurbs over the next seven days.

Here’s what I’ll cover:

  • To self-publish or go with a one of the big guys
  • Project management (printers, typesetting and contacts)
  • Professional editing and illustrations
  • Distribution
  • Web site
  • Audiobook and ebook
  • Publicity and marketing

Where I have a website or contact, I’ll provide it. And if you use it, please drop my name. Hopefully you’ll find this series a helpful start to getting your book to your audience. And if you have any more questions, please ask them and I’ll do my best to answer.