I’m sure you know how many millions of dollars are spent on media ads. Why not consider your book an advertisement for you and your business?
This is the best way to view any publishing venture. I’m quick to point out to anyone who comes to me for co-publishing with my company, Dandelion Books www.dandelion-books.com that 1) they, the author, are in charge of marketing and promotion—I can put them in touch with excellent offline and online marketing and promotion people, but Dandelion is only the publisher; 2) it is extremely important not to ask how many books one needs to sell in order to break even on one’s investment. To release that thought process which often becomes an obsession and ultimately turns into a failure model, I suggest that the book be categorized as a marketing and promotion tool rather than a stand-alone product. Whatever profits are generated from sales can be re-invested in advertising and promotion.
Note how this strategy changes the whole perspective of exactly what this book is and how it is to be used. The truth is: authors who write quality books will only begin to understand the value of their product after they’ve published it and start to get feedback from their readers. It’s simply a matter of being in the flow of abundance and understanding how the marketplace works.
We're living in a digital, electronic multi-media age
If you choose to work with a co-publishing company, i.e., a company that you contract to do all the production and print setup, you will want to work with one that understands and uses “on demand” printing and distribution.
If you’re considering placing your book with a publisher that does not have a website, use the Internet or any other digital technologies—beware! This is a sign that they would have a difficult time completing pre-press and post-press book production processes efficiently and economically.
Today’s online book marketing and promotion capabilities far surpass any type of exposure and publicity that currently exists through other venues, especially for new or unknown authors. It’s another red flag if a publisher is unfamiliar with Web 2.0 marketing technologies and if viral marketing and social networking are not part of their promotion package.
More about Print on Demand (POD)
In the book industry, on-demand usually refers to “print on demand” and is abbreviated as “POD.” It is now becoming SOP (standard operating procedure) to print books at the time of purchase, after the customer has paid for them.
At the turn of the century, POD took the book industry by storm and by 2004 it had gained such a stronghold, the handwriting was “virtually on the wall”: Gutenberg & Co.—most forms of offset printing using metal plates and rollers—were on their way to the graveyard. Today a small table-top printer (The Espresso Book Making Machine®) can produce “15-20 library quality paperback books per hour” –a process that only a few years ago used to take days.
If Gutenberg led to literacy, POD has led to poderacy. Taken to the ultimate, POD dispensed with the need to:
- Warehouse books and pay all the warehousing fees, insurance, taxes, etc., etc. As soon as a book is purchased, it is printed from files archived in the digital printing equipment. Within 48 business hours, it’s on its way to the customer.
- Pay huge sums of money to an offset printer for large print runs.
- Use wholesalers and distributors for trucking cartons from wholesaler to distributor to bookstore warehouses, and finally to the bookstore, where the customer purchases an often war-torn looking product.
- Force the publisher to take the loss of returned and often damaged books.
- Invest huge sums of money to print a second edition if the author wishes to correct errors or make other editorial changes… and suffer the loss of an out-dated first edition.
Today, most publishers use digital printing unless a book requires a large print run. Recently, Lightning Source International introduced speedy offset printing for larger print orders. Printing companies can now use digitally implemented “hybrid” models that are more efficient and economical for any size print run.
Obviously, anything manufactured in volume will be more cost effective than one-off or on demand production. Also, if a book requires special high resolution reproductive work that a digital printer may be incapable of performing, it will be offset printed. As digital printers continue to become more sophisticated, however, this will no longer be a challenge.
Welcome to the 21st century where you, the author, are in charge of your publishing options and the finished product.
More about the Espresso Book Making Machine® and the Backlist
Book printing has taken a giant leap forward not only off the page and virtually “into space,” but also reincarnating in digital format through an amazing device known as the Espresso Book Making Machine.®
Jason Epstein, former editorial director of Random House and founder and CEO of On Demand Books, the company that markets the Espresso, is one of the pioneers of the new book printing and storage revolution.
The backlist—backbone of the book industry
In 1951 when Epstein went to work for Doubleday, it didn’t take long for him to learn that the key to book industry survival is “backlist.”
As Epstein expounded in his 2008 Hong Kong Book Fair address, publishing cannot exist without backlist:
“Backlist is a publisher’s most important asset: titles that have covered their initial costs, earned out the authors’ advances, require no further investment except the cost of making and shipping the book itself and which sell steadily year after year without advertising or significant sales expense.”
“Without a substantial list of such titles a publisher cannot survive,” stated Epstein. “The same can be said of a civilization, for the books that survive the test of time, books that are treasured and read year after year, are humanity’s backlist, our collective brain.
“I do not refer simply to the classics of our various traditions but also to the more recent books,” continued Epstein, “hundreds of which are published every year and join the backlist if not permanently at least long enough to move the process forward, providing depth and complexity to our understanding for those who seek it.
“Backlist deepens our knowledge of human experience past and present. Without these books we would not know who we are or where we came from or where we may be going.”