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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Four Paths to Publishing


For the past 400 years, the publishing industry was dominated by agents and publishers. If you were an author and wanted to publish a book, you had only one option open to you. You had to get in touch with an agent and hope that he finds your book good enough to then present it to a publisher. Even here, you had to pray that the publisher took a fancy to your book, and marketed it well. Of course, you still needed people to come and buy your book.

Nowadays, however, the print media has undergone a radical change. People use computers not only to write the book, but also to publish it and there are innumerable tools which make this easier. In fact, publishing a book has never been as easy as it is now.

If you overlook the traditional route to publishing (which is still open to authors, by the way), there are three other routes that an author can take – the DIY route, General Contractor and Publishing Package.

Although each of these are still a form of self publishing, they differ quite a bit from each other. We will discuss each of these routes in greater detail in the following chapters.

DIY Publishing

Advantage:

  • Cheapest way to publish.

Disadvantage:

  • Limited formats
  • No professional service
  • The author will have to find services apart from the publishing one.


Nowadays there are software tools such as Booktango and Lulu which help you create books. This software is usually limited in scope and many offer only ebook formats but the advantage is that you can have your book out in at least one format through one retailer.

There is a common misconception that the DIY route means free publishing, but this is not so. Even if you are able to complete the book yourself, and even format it, you should still have it edited by a professional which will cost you money. And marketing your book calls for you spending more money.

General Contractor

Advantages:

  • Choosing specialists for each job

Disadvantage:

  • Can end up the most time and money consuming

The General Contractor route is more of an organizing job where you find different specialists to do different jobs for you. You can get an external editor, designer, publicist and any other person that you feel you will need. There are others called publishing consultants who will undertake to do this for you, although they themselves may not be an expert in anything other than finding good vendors.

The only problem with this route is that because you are using so many specialists, it can end up being quite an expensive proposition. Sometimes, this route may also take more time than any other publishing route.

Below we give you a list of the different tasks that are associated with publishing:

  • Write book
  • Create title
  • ISBN
  • Copyright
  • Edit
  • Cover design
  • Interior design
  • E book formatting
  • Illustrations
  • Cover copy
  • Print formats
  • Digital formats
  • Print books
  • Ship books
  • Sell books
  • Track royalties
  • Create website
  • Generate publicity
  • Social media marketing
  • Conduct video interviews
  • Attend events
  • Create video trailer

Publishing Package

Advantages:

  • One stop shop for all your needs.

Disadvantages:

  • You may end up paying for services that you do not need.


The easiest route is to go to an author-services company. Such companies typically have various packages with various budgets, offering different levels of service. You choose what you want and pay for it. Although this is similar to the General Contractor route, the difference is that you will have only one point of contact for all your services. You also do not need to do any organizing, the company will do it for you.

This route is more transparent than the General Contractor method because you upfront how much it will cost you. Unlike the General Contractor method, where you will know the cost only at the end.

Traditional Publishing:

Advantages:

  • Publishers' expertise will ensure a polished end result and you may also get an advance on future royalties.


Disadvantages:

  • It takes the longest time.
  • Publishers are looking to acquire titles to books rather than go the traditional route.

Traditional publishing takes the longest time of all publishing routes because publishers usually take a long time to evaluate and select a book before they publish it. This means that you need to be very patient if you are going this route.

A publisher also has a certain expertise that is not found with the other routes. This expertise can be anything from editing it to making it better, to having a sales force that will aggressively market the book. These advantages are also disadvantages because the publisher retains rights to your book. This means that the amount of control you have on your book is much lesser than all other methods.

Due to the recent changes in the publishing industry, publishers themselves are looking at acquiring rights to books published in other formats and then publishing it.

Below we give you a simple example to explain the differences between the four routes.

We compare the different routes to publishing to a person who wants to eat a meal and is looking for ways to do it.

The first option is to cook the meal at home. It is the cheapest option because you can Do It Yourself but you are limited by your ability and experience.

The second option is to go to a food bar at any grocery store. They have various different options for you to choose from and you can select what you need out of it. This is similar to the General Contractor route.

The third option is a full services restaurant, where you get to choose what you want to eat, get recommendations from experts, have people serve you your food and clean up after you. You may end up paying more for the same food than if you had cooked it at home, but here, you are not just paying for your food but also for the service and the convenience that the restaurant offers you. This is what a publishing package does for you.

The traditional route to publishing is an odd one. It is like you going to a full service restaurant and not paying for your meal. The flip side is that you have somebody else choose your meal, and have them control who eats at that restaurant too.

Publishing Path
Like
DIY
Making a meal at home
General Contractor
Grocery store food bar
Publishing Package
Full service restaurant
Traditional
Having a third party order and pay for you


Which is the best route for me?

By now you will have a fair idea of what the different options to publishing are. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, so you need to choose the option that is right for you.

Goal Setting:

Don’t set unrealistic goals. If you expect your book to make it to the top of the bestseller list, you have probably failed before you begin. There is no clear route to success and all you can hope for is that if you publish your best work, it gives you the success that you deserve. Make sure you clearly define your audience and are committed to your work because that is the only thing that is in your hands.

The right man for the job:

Although the book is yours, you may not have all the skills required to publish it. If that is the case, hire professionals to do what you cant. You have to ensure that you get your best work out there to have any shot at success.

Commitment:

You need to be committed to your book and commitment means spending time. You have to plan beforehand for the amount of time that you are willing to commit to your book. Many people use an author-service simply because they are unable to commit more of their time.

Have a budget:

Whenever you spend money, you need to have a budget in mind and this is true in publishing as well. Make sure that you have a budget and you stick to it.

The publishing industry is in flux right now and the best time for an author is probably yet to come. This is because with the number of self published authors exploding, it is only going to get easier to publish.

Of course, the more authors there are, the more difficult it is to succeed, but that does not mean that you cannot publish your book.

Monday, December 9, 2013

How I started writing

Becoming a writer is never an easy task. And it's not the hard work involved with sitting down and getting it done that I'm talking about here. Nor is it the financial implications of you taking time off from more “productive” work to satisfy what others will call nothing more than a “whim”.
It's your mindset.
Far to the contrary of what people may think, writers are not born. They may have some innate talent, and some people are more inclined to write than others, but they all have to start somewhere. And until you get your mind right, you aren't going to.
And whether you believe it or not, this is the most difficult task of everything. And nobody can help you but yourself. But once you've made up your mind, you must realize that there's more than one way to go about this and although I can't generalize for every writer on the planet, I can tell you about myself and hopefully this will help all those who are thinking of writing, but haven't made up their mind as yet.
When I started writing, I had two options before me. I could write a fantasy novel that would become an immediate hit (sort of like J.K.Rowling) or I could start writing more mundane, down to earth stuff that would put butter on the bread for my family.
I chose to go with the latter. You could say that I took the easy way out by not giving in to my passion, but when you have a family with kids, your passion kind of takes a back seat to bread on the table. Also, although you may put up a front that you're as good if not better than Rowling, there's always that tiny voice inside you which says “You can fool everyone else, but not me. Do you seriously think that a greenhorn, an amateur, a person who's never written before like you, can actually become like Rowling. Come back down to Earth.”
Don't get me wrong. I didn't think I'll fail. If you anticipate failure before you start, take my word for it, you are definitely going to. I was however unsure of how successful I would be. And I wouldn't know till I started, right? Sort of like how you can never learn to ride a bicycle without riding one. It's all part of the “mindset” I was talking about.
And so I started writing articles for a living.
To be frank, I wasn't making much money, but I stuck with it anyway. My logic was simple. Whenever you change your career line to take up something new, you have to give yourself time to get to know the job. Only after that can you expect to start making money. This is why people don't like to switch careers because they will have to take a cut in pay when they do so.
Leaving aside the earning, I think that this is very important for every writer. It is only in very rare cases that people who have never put pen to paper can get success with their first work. Most successful writers have begun with failures. Even Rowling wasn't a stranger to failure and she probably suffered more than most other writers before her books came out. Just read up on her life on Wikipedia and you'll understand.
Although you couldn't very well say that I was a failure at writing, my starting to write articles came in helpful in another way. During the 4 years that I wrote for other people (including books that have become moderately successful on Amazon) I understood many things.
One of the most important things that I gained, was my writing style. Initially everyone copies others who they think write well, but over time, you kind of settle down to a style that is very unique to you.
The second and not too far distant from the first thing was that I understood what people wanted. To a writer of novels, this comes as failure where publishers decline to publish their work. To me it came in the form of people saying what they wanted out of my articles and being happy with what I gave them.
Not that I didn't make any mistakes, but one of the biggest advantages of doing my kind of work is that people are willing to work with you, especially if they feel that you have future potential. And so many of my clients sent me informative articles and even trained me to write better and it was all this that helped me polish my writing to a great extent.
The third thing is that you find out what interests you. During my writing years, I took up all kinds of work, writing cookbooks, health and fitness articles, product reviews, technical, marketing and so on. And when you write across so many topics you find out what interests you and what doesn't. To me it was health.
Once these became set, all it needed was a push in the right direction, and this push came in the form of an online psychological assessment that I took at strengthsfinder.com. This test is great and I recommend that everyone should take it whether you want to become a writer or not. If you're honest with your answers, it gives you an amazing level of feedback on the kind of person you are and also encourages you to form an action plan on your future.
It was this test that finally pushed me into writing my book and since the time I took the test, I've already finished one chapter in my book on Diabetes.
I'm not done yet, and I'll keep posting on my progress. I'll also be available to anyone who wants any tips from me, and if I can help anyone to start writing, that's more than enough reward for me.