One of the most powerful marketing tools is publishing a book about a subject upon which you may be an expert. Publishing a book may seem like a simple thing on the surface, but simple things are not always easy to do. There are multiple ways for you to publish your works. Some are relatively inexpensive but most are very costly. Let’s explore the basic steps and help you decide if this is something you want to pursue. Remember also that facts tell, and stories sell. If you’re a good story teller you’ll be far ahead of the game. Editors LOVE good story tellers.
Before you even consider publishing options, you must have a completed manuscript, or a complete outline plus 50 or more pages of manuscript. If you’re the type of person who likes to verbalize your thoughts rather than sit down and write them, you can record your voice using a computer, smart phone or other recording device that creates MP3 or WAV files. Then you can use an application like Dragon Naturally Speaking to transcribe your recordings – or you can pay a transcription service to do it for you.
Once you have the raw manuscript you need to organize it in a way that keeps the reader interested and make sure it fits into an over-arching theme throughout the book. This takes editing skills. You may be good at telling your story in person, but getting the “voice” and spirit of what you are saying in written form is not as easy as you may imagine. Assuming your original transcript is 50,000 – 70,000 words or 250 pages, you can expect to pay between $20,000-$40,000 for a good editor to put the work into a format and connect the theme to make it interesting for your target audience. Typesetting can also be part of editing.
The next step is printing. You get to decide if you want hard or soft cover, or simply want to publish it as a downloadable book through Amazon, Kindle, Apple or other book downloading service. For a small run of 100 books you can expect to pay a printer/bindery $50 per book for hard cover, and $38 for soft cover. The more books you can print in a run the lower the cost per book will be because there is a setup charge for each run.
The last step is marketing and selling the book. If you’re using it as a sales tool for your business, you can make it part of your service. You can also use it as a way to get people interested in what you sell and give them a low-risk way of learning more about you and how you can help them. If it is fiction you need to find out if readers will want to buy it before you start this process. If you are self publishing you will pay for marketing and sales. If you can find a main stream publisher who wants to publish it for you they will pay for the marketing & sales and you will simply make a “royalty” or “residual income” for every book sold.
If you want to pursue a mainstream or trade/business publisher like McGraw Hill, Bloomberg or John Wiley & Sons, you will need an agent. The agent will want up-front money and will take a percentage of your book sales. It will take longer to publish than self-publishing, but the up front costs will be lower and you’ll get a small percentage of sales. This option is great if you have only an outline and 50+ pages of manuscript that the publisher can see to determine if they think it will be a good seller and will make their money back. There are times when the publisher may even pay you an advance payment to help you finish the work.
Typically, an author can expect to receive the following royalties:
- Hardback edition: 10% of the retail price on the first 5,000 copies; 12.5% for the next 5,000 copies sold, then 15% for all further copies sold.
- Paperback: 8% of retail price on the first 150,000 copies sold, then 10% thereafter.
- Exceptions to the above include sales to warehouse clubs (like Costco or Sam’s Club), book clubs, and special orders; the royalty percentages for these can be half the figures listed above.
- eBook royalties through traditional New York publishers are 25%. They should be higher because the publisher does not have the typical costs of printing, binding, warehousing, shipping, etc. that they have with a bound book. Some digital publishers offer royalties at or near 50%.
In summary, your book could cost as little as $10,000 for an agent for mainstream publishing – or as much as $265,000 for self-publishing the first 5,000 books.