Sunday, November 2, 2014

Are You Publishing or Just Printing?

Publishing is a business. and you need to think of it that way. Begin with a business plan, not just a marketing plan.  You'll need to consider a lot of things when entering the publishing business, not the least of which is "Why am I Publishing".  If you are taking your Word doc over to your neighborhood copy shop and having them print a few, that's just "Printing," it is not "Publishing." Publishing is the entire process of developing a product that can be marketed to an audience -- from writing something someone will want or need, to manufacturing, distributing, marketing, supporting.  Printing is just a part of it -- but if that is all you need, that is all you need! (i.e. Your family's genealogy or your church's cookbook.) So, what do you need?

Over the next month, we'll help you answer these questions,

Forget for a moment that your own writing is involved -- I know it's your baby that you have slaved over for 10 years or 10 months or 10 weeks or whatever -- and think of it like you have invented a new flashlight. You would have to consider:
  • How you are going to develop it into a marketable AND manufacture-ready product? (Hint: editing, design, production --- printing is just a small part of this section)
  • How much it will cost to manufacture it and how does that affect my retail price? Is it feasible in my market to allow my costs to dictate the retail price at all?
  • Where and when in your consumers' "need cycles" are they most likely to seek information that might be offered in your book and where and how might they find you in the process? i.e., Do they need something to entertain themselves at the beach or are they trying to cook healthy or are they thinking about going to back to school? Each consumer goes through a decision-making process prior to deciding HOW they will inform themselves (or entertain or educate) before they go through the decision-making process of WHAT to buy to fulfill their needs.
  • How much will it cost to develop a distribution channel for it and how do I do that?
  • How will I handle the daily operations of my business? How will I actually take the orders, process the credit cards, invoice retailers, pack the orders, ship the orders, process returns, store inventory? Do I need envelopes/boxes/tape/labels?  Will I maintain inventory? Do I need a fulfillment partner?
  • What kind of taxes do I have to collect and pay? What if I have an event in another state -- do I need to have a temporary tax license there?
  • How will I promote my product? Marketing, Advertising, Publicity and Visibility... Writing a business plan with a marketing budget is critical... and that's a blog in itself.
If you answer the questions above, you'll gain valuable information about the industry, because to publish a book requires that you:
  1. Understand your options and what publishing entails
  2. Are familiar with the terminology, and you understand what you are getting into
  3. Develop a realistic budget -- budget your money and your time -- make sure you have both
  4. Make a decision to either be a publisher, find a publisher, or just find a printer -- they aren't apples and apples or even apples and oranges. More like apples and flashlights.
You have a story to share -- be smart about it so it reaches its potential.  Keep the ink flowing.

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