Writing and Publishing Tips

Tips for new authors (Q&A)

Recently a new writer sent me the following:

I am writing a book called “The Mirror of Deadly Reflections: Is that God or Me?” I started in October 2010, and I am about 70% done now. About 6 months ago I was told that I might want to think about getting a book presentation together in order to possibly gain support for editing expenses.

This brings me to my reason for writing. Someone told me that you might have some wisdom for me and give me intelligent direction on going about creating a book presentation. They said that you had written books in the past, and are highly successful in writing. I am nervous to even think of doing such a thing, and that is why they suggested that I talk to you.

I have no idea what a book presentation even consists of. Can you give me some ground rules for creating a presentation on a new book? Is there anything that I need to stay clear of saying or suggesting? The presentation will be used both on the internet and by mail, with the possibility of in person (Lord help me) if the need arose.

Thank you for your time and have a blessed day,

I answered with the following:

Writing your book tends to make you an expert on your subject. Publishing your book tends to help you be seen as such. Imagine that after you are published, someone wants to interview you on radio or TV. What would you want to take with you when you go? That is what you put into your book presentation. Or imagine that you are going to do a book signing at a bookstore, and you are to be given 10, 20, or 30 minutes to speak. What would you want to take with you when you go? That is what you put into your book presentation.

The world of publishing has changed dramatically, and it is still changing. Three technologies have changed the whole game.

  1. “Print On Demand” (aka POD) — There is now no need for anyone (neither a publishing company nor a self-publishing author) to front thousands of dollars for a long print run. A book on a hard drive can be turned into a paperback on demand with the printing cost per book being the same for 1, 10, 100, or 1000 copies.
  2. The Internet — has begun a sweeping change that is taking the power base from the big, traditional publishers and spreading it out over the masses. The amount of power held by any single publisher is lessened as it is diluted across many. Amazon is not a publisher; it is a market place. Barnes and Noble is trying to follow suit. (B&N seems to always be the runner up, always late in catching up to Amazon.)
  3. eBooks — have changed the degree of need for ink and paper, and that change is still shaking out. Kindle is Amazon’s dominant force here. B&N tries to catch up with Nook.

In the old days you, as a writer, would self-promote (aka self-publish) your book to a small audience of big, traditional publishers. They would close doors, and maybe, perhaps, you might get one to open a door. Often, that one would cause you to sign away some or much of your rights in exchange for editing, designing, printing, and (some) promoting. Too often they would then tell you, the author, that the success of your book depends on your own personal promotion of your book.

If their ability to promote is not sufficient, then is all they are otherwise offering worth signing away rights and a large part of what should be your royalties? They offer a sense of legitimacy, an air of professionalism, and skills of editing, designing, and printing.

The days of authors needing their sense of legitimacy are fading. Whether or not you are professional does not depend on them. The skills of editing and designing can be hired very affordably, without signing away rights or royalties. The up-front cost of printing has all but dissipated.

For all these reasons and more, I choose to self publish first, and then offer my finished product to a big, traditional publisher. Such has gotten my writing into their catalogs, on their websites, and even in some of their promotions. Self publishing through CreateSpace.com also automatically gets my writing up for sale on Amazon.com. (Amazon owns CreateSpace.)

I also sell to my friends, family, and acquaintances through a website called AuthorStock.com — a site I founded for myself and other Christian authors. I can take orders, get the full amount directly, and do my own shipping, while not having any middle-man take a cut. It also lets me sign my books before shipping them, if that is desired. Pre-signing a book for a distant friend is not feasible if they order through Amazon (because Amazon does the shipping). They would have to ship the book to you from Amazon, and then you would have to mail it to them — double shipping.

To see actual bookstores powered by AuthorStock.com, visit either of the following:

If you can provide an edited, laid-out book interior as a PDF, and a cover design (wrap-around) as a PDF (you can even use templates from the CreateSpace web site) then you can print a book with CreateSpace for NO upfront costs.

Hope this helps.