So, You Have Decided To Publish Your Expert Book Independently. Now What?
Once you have decided to self-publish your “expert” book – a decision that was made for you by the traditional publishing industry, anyway – you can do as many or as few of the tasks related to publishing your book as you wish.
In fact, that is one of the best things about independent publishing!
Companies such as Amazon’s Create Space allow you to design and format your book yourself, including creating a cover – for free! – or you can hire them to do it for you.
For my first book – since I had not been through the process before – I engaged the services of a print-on-demand publishing company to design the cover, lay out the book and print it. I did not purchase any of the editorial services that they offered as I proofread and edited the book myself. Nor was I interested in buying any of the book marketing services that they had to offer.
By the time that my second book was completed, the POD publisher that I had used for my first book had closed down, and, by default, I became my own publisher, through a company called Lightning Source. Lightning Source is a printing company which is owned by Ingram, one of the largest book distributors in the publishing industry.
Lightning Source will not even set up an account for you unless you are a publisher – which, ironically enough, you can become by setting up an account with them as a publisher. Once you start thinking of yourself as a publisher and not as an author, you start doing the things that publishers do – i.e. hiring a designer to create a cover for your book and to lay out the interior. It’s an empowering feeling.
You may – and probably should – hire a professional to proofread and edit your book, although I didn’t because I wanted my two memoirs to reflect the imperfections of the life they chronicled – but you may wish to take a somewhat different approach towards your “expert” book. It’s up to you.
Don’t Worry About Marketing Your “Expert” Book – Let It Market You
Okay – let’s say that you have either written your “expert” book yourself, or you have hired a professional to write it for you. And, you have embraced the notion of independent publishing and all of the advantages it has over the traditional publishing model, not the least of which is viability.
If you are operating on a tight budget, the most cost-effective way to get your “expert” book out into the world is to set up an account with Create Space and to use their free tools and templates to design a cover and format your book for printing.
Then – bing! – you’re done.
Order a few dozen books at a cost of about $3 per copy for a book of 150 pages or so, and you are ready to put your “expert” book to work marketing you and your business.
Don’t even think about marketing your “expert” book for now.
Let it market you.
Imagine that you are in the Financial Services industry, and you have a meeting with a prospective client.
Instead of handing your prospect a business card as you normally do – give her an autographed copy of your book entitled, 50 Tips to Ensure a Worry-Free Retirement.
If you were shopping for a financial planner, wouldn’t you be inclined to go with someone who had written a book on the subject?
I know I would.
Put a QR Code on the Back Cover of Your Book
If you are unfamiliar with the term “QR code”, it stands for Quick Response code.
A QR code looks like the bar codes that you see on items in the grocery store, which allow the checkout clerk to scan the item into the computer as a way of tracking sales and inventory.
A QR code is, in fact, a form of bar code, and you can include it on the back cover of your book. When the QR code is scanned by a smart phone or a QR scanner, it will take the user to any URL on the internet – to your website, for example.
What this means is that if your prospective customer or client just happens to be reading your book at home, in a coffee shop, or in a park – the book that you gave her at your initial meeting – and uses a smart phone to scan the QR code on the back of your book, she will be taken directly to your website, where you could have a free download or a special offer – which she can access in return for providing an email address.
Let’s say you own a restaurant and you create a recipe book which you give to your patrons as they are leaving. Not only have you given them a valuable free gift which will enable them to whip up some really tasty dishes at home on the nights that they decide to “eat in”, but they can scan the QR code on the back cover of your recipe book and see what specials you are offering at your restaurant that night.
If there is something appetizing – and why wouldn’t there be? – they may decide to abandon the idea of “eating in” entirely and head out to dine at your establishment instead.
There are many ways that you can use your “expert” book to market your business and to generate additional revenue – even if you never sell a single copy of it – which is why I recommend focusing on that rather than on ways to actually sell your book. There will be lots of time to think about that later.
However, once you have your “expert” book written, designed, published and ready to go, you can list it for sale on Amazon for $19.95 – or any price point you want – and then create a PDF version of the book to give away on your website – in return for email information, of course. And you can tell visitors to your website that the book that they will be downloading once they opt into your list has a “real-world” value of $19.95 – which it has, by virtue of being listed on Amazon at that price point.
Your first priority once your “expert” book has been written, designed and set up with a print-on-demand company, is to come up with all of the ways you can think of to get physical copies of your book into the hands of prospective customers and clients. Think of your book as your business card and use it to bring in new customers and clients.
And, while you are focusing on that, if your book is listed on Amazon – and, if you have chosen your categories and keywords properly – Amazon will be marketing your book for you to its millions of daily visitors – without you having to lift a finger!
At the same time that you are having the print version of your “expert” book created for you – or, you are doing it yourself, if you are so inclined – I would recommend creating a digital version of your book as well and publishing it on the Kindle platform (www.kdp.amazon.com) .
Again, if you choose your categories and keyword properly – if you don’t know how to do that, you can hire someone like me to do it for you – Amazon’s powerful search engine will be out there marketing your book for you even while you sleep.
You can sell the digital version of your book on Kindle, of course, at a lower price point than the print version, usually, but you can also give your book away on Kindle. This is an even more attractive way to let your “expert” book market you and your business than giving away the print version because there is no cost whatsoever for delivering the digital version of your book to a prospective customer or client via Kindle.
Does that sound like a good way to market your business or what?