Business At A Glance
Startup Costs: $2,000 – $10,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Online Operation? No
Not too long ago, self-publishing was looked down upon as the venueonly of people whose work was truly awful. Now, however,self-publishing is not only respectable but ‘in.’ Major publishers areconcentrating their efforts on mega-blockbusters, leaving the midlistor smaller writers out in the cold, which has led to the advent of theself- and small-press publisher as a solid professional group.
Andthere’s definitely a market out there for well-written books. As aself-publisher, you’ll not only write your book, but also see itthrough all the details the publishing house attends to–editing,choosing cover art, working with the graphic artist, getting it printedand, perhaps most important, getting it marketed so that it finds areadership. The main advantage to this business, of course, is inseeing your book in print. But that’s not the only one. As aself-publisher, you’ve got far greater control over every aspect of thefinal product, from paper to artwork to the blurb on the back jacket,than you would at the hands of a traditional publishing house.
You cango on to publish other works of your own, or publish other writers’materials. You get far more of the revenues–up to 50 percent–than ata traditional publishing house, which pays royalties of 7 percent to 10percent of sales. As a final advantage, if your book does well, you cansegue into related products like audiobooks, videotapes and a widevariety of licensed products. And it’s not unheard of for a majorpublisher to snap up your book once they see that it’s a success.Before anything else, you’ll need the talent to pen a really good book,whether it be fiction, nonfiction or a children’s picture book. Youshould have plenty of marketing smarts, a working knowledge ofpublishing contracts, terms and conditions from distribution rights towhat constitutes intellectual property, and the ability to pulltogether the varied elements of a pre-production manuscript into aprofessional final product.
Your customers will be the readers who buy your books, but inpublishing it’s not quite that simple. Unless you sell through mailorder, you’ll have to go through intermediaries like bookstores, whichmakes them your first line of attack in the sales and marketingprocess.
Large chain bookstores rely on a complex distribution systemfor their stock, which means that even if the manager loves your book,he can’t sell it. Bottom line–you’ll have to capture the distributors’interests or sell to smaller, independent book stores. You should alsoaim for alternative sales sources–for instance, if your book dealswith gardening, try selling it to garden centers and nurseries whosecustomers already have an interest in your subject.
You’ll need a computer, a laser printer and a fax machine, the usualoffice software, and desktop-publishing software. In addition, you’llwant the usual tools of the writer’s trade: plenty of reference books,such as a dictionary, an encyclopedia, a thesaurus and style guides.