Book Publishing A to Z Part 4 (Re-Air)
Writing and publishing — not to mention selling your book after it’s published! — is hard work. But are there ways to make it easier on yourself without breaking the bank? What upfront costs can you save on, and what should you invest in now that will pay off later?
In Part 4 of the Book Publishing A to Z series, Coach Tam lays out four key publishing terms that all begin with the letter “P” — and why they matter. When you invest wisely in these things, they can save you big time down the road by helping you avoid costly mistakes.
In this episode, you’ll also hear:
- How creating a reader persona will help you sell more books – and also develop your market for other sales in the future
- The unexpected costs of purchasing minimum orders of your book
- How to avoid ending up with boxes of books that you can’t sell
- Your only two options when it comes to getting the word out for your book
- A special invitation for those who want to learn more about marketing and promoting their book
It’s easy to be really passionate about the writing process and about wanting to share your story with the world and, at the same time, also be really lost to how the industry actually works. But if you don’t understand how the industry works before you publish, it can actually hurt your book’s success and impact.
If you missed the previous episodes in this series, you can check them out here!
Here are the next set of publishing terms you need to know.
In marketing, there are several terms that relate to the idea of a persona. For example, you may be familiar with terms like demographics — age, gender, location, etc. You might even be familiar with the concept of psychographics, which seeks to understand how a person thinks, the things they value, and their interests, mindsets, and belief systems.
These things are important to know, but there’s another step that you’ll want to take as an authorpreneur. Remember: we’re writing books, but we’re also building a business at the same time. And one of the realities of business is that if you do not have customers (or clients or readers), then you don’t really have a business.
The good news is that getting in tune with your audience’s persona positions you to attract clients — readers — to you.
What Is a Persona?
The first thing to understand is that a persona doesn’t actually represent one person. Instead, it’s a fictional depiction of your model customer. Sort of like if you were to combine the characteristics of several people into one person.
Think back to when you were dating. If you’re like a lot of people, you probably had an idea of your “dream guy” or “dream girl” you were hoping to find. Now apply that to the business of books: your ideal reader (your persona!) is that dream guy or girl who you believe will be positively impacted by your book.
But remember, the persona doesn’t only represent one person; it actually represents a segment or group of readers who are within your target audience. So if you can get good at identifying the characteristics of a persona that is really interested in your book, not only will you have a much easier time selling your book, but you’ll also have an easier time adding products and services down the road. You will have already developed a market for those things, because you’ve done such a good job on the front end.
Understanding your persona also helps you identify where to find your target audience.
- What social media do they use?
- What types of groups are they in?
- What types of podcasts, blogs, magazines, etc. do they follow?
If you can zero in on these items, you’ll be able to focus your marketing efforts in the right place.
How to Identify Your Ideal Reader Persona
The last thing you want to do is waste time, energy, and effort. So before you publish that book, really get clear on your persona.
Take out a piece of paper and jot down some of those demographic and psychographic characteristics. Go out and find a picture of someone that you think represents those things, so you can have a visual in your mind as you’re writing. Think about the type of car they drive, the side of town they live on, anything you can think of to describe your ideal reader. The more fun you have with it — and the more time and energy you invest on the front end in this process — the better off you will be.
Additionally, try to get into the mind of that person:
- What is keeping them up at night?
- What are they worried about?
- Is there something they’re hiding or protecting that they don’t want anyone else to know?
- What do they want more than anything else?
- How can you, through your book, help them get there?
- What are they struggling to figure out on their own that you already know?
If you know exactly what your ideal reader is looking for or what they need, you’re much more likely to be able to give them the keys to success. And they will be so thankful if you can position your book that way.
Print on Demand (P.O.D.)
Print on demand (P.O.D.) may be easiest to understand using a practical example. So imagine you as a business owner are ordering T-shirts for a special event. But here’s the challenge: when you order those shirts, you have to meet a minimum order of 10 shirts.
That doesn’t sound like a big deal, does it? After all, it can’t be that difficult to sell just 10 shirts. But here’s where it gets challenging. It’s not always easy to guess what shirt sizes you’ll need, or how many to get of each. Every time you need one more of a certain size, you’ll have to buy 10 more shirts — and that adds up quickly.
The same kind of concept can apply to selling books. If you’re ordering books to stock and sell yourself, and there’s a minimum order limit of 100 copies, even if those books only cost you $4 each, that’s $400 you must pay upfront.
With print on demand, everything changes. Your book is stored in the system at Amazon, for example, and any customer can place an order for just one book. They pay the list price, the cost of the book is deducted, and you get the royalty that has been established for that particular platform. Best of all, you’re no longer in the warehousing business!
Just think about how much that actually saves you. If you don’t use print on demand, you need to:
- Store stacks of books
- Fill book orders yourself
- Package books, pay for postage, and mail them to buyers
- Drive to the post office
All those things add up to not only financial costs, but time and energy costs. Print on demand makes our life easier. So while there are some costs associated with it, too, they are much lower than the alternative.
A proof is a copy of your book that is produced so it can be checked. A traditional publisher may order this just to make sure everything presents well before the book is released to the masses. And if you are a self-publishing author, you’ll also want to get a proof of your book before it is released to the public.
Here’s why proofs are important. Let’s say you place a bulk order for 200 copies of your book. The boxes arrive, and only then do you realize there are several typos or formatting errors throughout the book. Now you have 200 books in your house that cannot be sold, and you’ve lost all the money you spent to order them.
Don’t make that mistake! Do not order large shipments of your book — or release your book to the masses — without getting a proof first. Yes, getting a proof does extend the time of the project, because it means that once you get everything uploaded and set up, you have to wait until a physical copy of that book is mailed. But this is one of those business decisions that pays off, because it saves you a lot of money and embarrassment.
Then, once you get that physical proof of your book, make sure you inspect it thoroughly. For best results, have some other people inspect it with you as well, and then compare your notes so you can be sure to make any necessary adjustments before your book becomes available to the general public.
One of the biggest challenges that many authors face is getting the word out about their book — letting people know what they have written about and why it’s important, getting exposure, and getting opportunities to talk about and share their message. And a publicist is the person who actually helps make this happen.
A publicist’s job is to manage media and public attention for a book. This can come in the form of putting out press releases, arranging events, and setting up book signings, author interviews, and book reviews.
So a publicist has a very important job! And here’s the decision you have to make: Will you hire someone to do this for you, or will you learn how to be your own publicist?
Frankly, those are the only two choices. If you don’t either hire someone to do the work for you or learn the skills to do it yourself, you will not have enough exposure and visibility for your book. Which means you will not sell as many copies as you would like to sell or have the impact your message needs to have. People who desperately need to hear what you have to say will never hear it.
So make sure to invest in either getting a professional publicist or in learning the skills to become one yourself.
Get Writing & Publishing Resources
It’s time to make a decision. No more talking about how people just don’t know about your book or how you just don’t understand marketing or promotions. Your success — not just the success of your book, but the success of you getting your message out — depends on what you decide to do today.
If you’ve decided that you want to learn the skills to really make sure your book has the biggest impact possible, then join us in the Christian Authors Network Facebook group! There, you’ll find lots of value-packed resources to help you level up in the areas of marketing and promotion so your book can have maximum impact and make a difference in the world.
My name is Tamara “Coach Tam” Jackson and I am a published author, Facebook© Certified Digital Marketer, host of the Top 100 Publishing Secrets podcast, and founder of The Christian Authors Network (C.A.N.) Facebook© community. I specialize in helping mission-driven authors, coaches, and entrepreneurs increase their exposure, impact, and income through strategic self-publishing and digital media appearances. Just say yes and we will work together to attract a tribe of loyal followers that 1) “get you”, 2) love what you do, and 3) are happy to invest in your book, business, cause, or movement. Plus, we will accomplish all of this without fake, salesy, sleazy, or manipulative tactics. Yes you CAN write, publish, and profit in a way that honors God; join the community today at https://christianauthors.net/fbgroup.
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