Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Dollars and Sense of Publishing

There's an old saw in the publishing world and it goes like this:
"How do you make a small fortune in publishing?
You start with a large fortune."

Be smart. Be realistic. It's no joke...Publishing is a business. and you need to think of it that way. It is product development, manufacturing, operations, marketing and PR, and finance. I tell people to separate their brain and let the two sides fight it out. The business side is the "publisher" and the one that should make business decisions (they care about the money). The publisher side needs to take into account financial considerations such as sales potential, returns, discounts, distribution, ROI. The creative side is the "writer". To put it more simply, you have two distinct business entities sitting in your brain. The publisher is concerned with the buyer, and the writer is concerned with the reader. The people who buy your book, and the people who read your book are often not the same person, and should never be marketed to in the same way.

If you view the publishing process as though everyone will line up outside your door because you wrote a book, it will seem like a high cost to get published. In so many other ways, it is one of the least expensive small businesses you can enter into -- but you have to plan your attack. You have to consider why you are publishing. In other words, "Who Cares?" about the book you are publishing. No, it's not "everybody". Not everyone will buy your book -- you have to be realistic. You don't buy "everybody's" book -- why would it be the reverse?

Are you publishing a legacy piece for your family and friends? Then go small. Are you publishing a book that you want to support financially to get it out to the national marketplace? Then you have to spend money to develop it and set up your business just like you would any small business. Forget for a moment that your own writing is involved -- it's your baby that you have slaved over for 10 years or 10 months -- and think of it like you developed a new flashlight. You would have to consider where YOUR consumer might get information about the product, how much it will cost to manufacture it, how much it will cost to develop a distribution channel for it, etc. Overall, you must
  • Understand your options
  • Familiarize yourself with the terminology, and make sure you understand what you are getting into
  • Develop a realistic budget -- budget your money and your time -- make sure you have both
  • Make a decision to either be a publisher, find a publisher, or just find a printer -- they aren't apples and oranges. More like apples and wrenches.
You have a story to share -- be smart about it so it reaches its potential.  Keep the ink flowing.