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Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Everything is connected.

The tools are out there to have all your social media update like a fine tuned machine.

With very little effort you can set yourself up so that each time you update your blog or post a new video to YouTube, it automatically goes to Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook or any of the other half dozen social media hubs we’re all encouraged to join each week.

But just because you can, doesn’t mean you have to.

That’s right. You don’t have to connect everything.

A few years back when all this was very new, I had a guy I barely remember from high school “friend” me on Facebook.

Within minutes I was getting information about his catering business. Needless to say, he didn’t last very long on my feed.

At the time it got me thinking about why I’m on Facebook and what the expectation of my friends are.

While I’m sure at the time they were bored silly of pictures of my newborn baby, even that was probably less irritating than the business-related tweets and Linkedin updates that were also going to my Facebook account.

So a decision was made. I severed my Facebook account from Twitter and Linkedin. I then tweaked the security settings so that only real friends were welcome in my digitally walled garden.

This allows me to separate the personal from professional.

Now when I get a Facebook friend request from a potential business contact, I politely refer them to my Linkedin and Twitter accounts.

That doesn’t mean you can’t use Facebook for business. You just have to be smart about it and create a Facebook business page, so that folks who are interested in you as a professional, continue to get what they need, while your friends and family aren’t turned off by your latest blog posting on “Leadership.”

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.

So you want to publish a book: publicity and marketing

This series was originally posted in 2008

Publicity and marketing is harder to speak about at this stage. We spent the better part of September looking at different firms to see what each had to offer.

As Jim has said to me many times, a lot of these places like to have release parties that do more for the author’s ego than for actual book sales – because attendees are more likely to be friends and family rather than actual media contacts. So in that respect, for an author on a small budget, it’s better to direct your funds toward activities that are most likely to land you in the press and generate some sales.

For Moose we decided to go with Meisner Publicity in Toronto. Headed by Susan Meisner, they seem to have no end of connections and come to the table with plenty of good ideas to get press.

This is the one area where I think if you absolutely have to cut expenses you can. But don’t delude yourself. You’ll need to be a shameless advocate of your book 24/7 if you want to succeed. You’ll have to buy some books on writing great news releases and be fearless and creative when it comes to targeting media. If you have any hesitation about going it alone – get a publicist.

For my own part, I built a little site that’s still in beta called A Writer’s Market. I like to think of it as a farmer’s market for authors. Have a quick look and see how it’s coming along. If you know an author, then send a link. I really need some folks to help test it.

I hope you found this little series useful. If you have any questions, send them along and I’ll be happy to answer them as best I can.

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.