“What kind of book do you want to sell?” has to be the first question.
I’m interested here in nonfiction.
That’s because self-publishers don’t publish fiction. It’s almost impossible for them to sell, and I want to compare all three since we can now dip into all three ponds, two directly and the third by accepting or rejecting a big-house invitation.
My gut reaction is that the big houses win by a sizable margin because the writers invited to their dance have survived rigid screening by agents and editors, all of whom are thinking selling when evaluating and choosing. So the chances are far higher that they would pick a book that would attract buyers, keep it hatching until it reads like a winner, dress it up in a classier bonnet, and then slide it down their oiled nonfiction marketing chutes. (Alas, the losing side of that process, for the writer, is that the major houses pay dismally every four or six months, it takes them about a year or two to get the book out, and they are dismal in the niche publishing field.)
Then self-publishing. One, self-publishers have much more invested in the final book than ebookers so I think they’d expand that investment into better marketing planning. Two, often they start with a go-ahead market that wants their book and provides a fast and steady buyer. Three, they can use most of the same selling techniques that the big houses do, but quicker, with more immediate attention and more flexibility in modifying a second or follow-up edition. POD helps them keep the first (in fact, all) runs modest and in budget. They have good guides too, like Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual and John Kremer’s 1,001 Ways to Market Your Book.
The niche self-publishers, done right, have the highest nonfiction selling ratio (better than major houses), with almost no risk (if they pre-test), very fast turn-over, and few if any remainders. My book explains how that’s done: Niche Publishing: Publish Profitably Every Time.
Last in likely non-fiction sales are ebooks. From what I read and friends confirm, nonfiction ebook sales from Kindle, Nook, the Smashwords buyers, Scribd, and others are by far the lowest of the three. It’s easy to convert a Word document into mobi or epub but nearly impossible to include charts, graphs, tables, and most other images. And beyond the front cover, the books themselves are anything but fetching. That ebook selling ratio may change but the engine seems to be slowing down right now.
Now, thanks to the Speaker Net News, we have some solid, current facts about which of the formats is the best seller. Their just-released $4.95 “Book Marketing Report—What Really Works” confirms my suspicions.
A bit about the polling structure, from the SNN text:
“We asked (SNN subscribers) who’ve published a book (e-book, self-published, or printed with a publisher [I presume that means a major publisher]) within the last 5 years:
* What are the top three techniques that sell the most books in our profession [speaking]?
* Which approaches waste the most time and money?
* What are the three most powerful ways to use your book to catapult your overall business?
* What key resources (books, audios, presentations) increase book sales the most?
“We received over 280 qualified responses. This brief e-report shares proven tools instead of mere opinion…”
Rebecca Morgan, well known speaker and editor of Speaker Net News, told me that she believes this is the only such study of its type in the past five years.
Here, I’m focusing on the respective sales by each kind of publisher. The SNN results were broken into four categories (major publishing house, ebook publishing, and self-publishing). They responded whether they sold (1) less than 1,000 books, (2) 1,000-5,000, (3) 5,000-10,000, and (4) 10,000+. (Giveaway books were excluded from all totals.)
Because blog charts are unreliable, here are the respective totals in linear form.
Major publishing houses: (1) 17%, (2) 34%, (3) 23%, and (4) 26%
Ebook publishing: (1) 78%, (2) 15%, (3) 3%, and (4) 1.5%
Self-publishing: (1) 61%, (2) 25%, (3) 6.5%, and (4) 8.5%
Those whose books were published by the major publishing houses sold the most books.
Self-publishing was in the middle, and ebook publishing was the lowest in all four selling ratios. The only (mild) surprise was that the self-publishers sold 6.5% of 5,000-10,000 copies of their books, but a higher percentage (8.5%) of 10,000+ books.
If this interests you, the rest of this short, inexpensive report is well worth your attention.
Jim Burgett’s just-released book, The Art of School Boarding, is our newest release from Education Communication Unlimited, in both paperback (from us and CreateSpace) and in digital versions(in .pdf from us and in the respective reader versions from Kindle, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and Scribd).
Here are specific ordering details, plus much more about the book’s contents and Jim’s extensive, award-winning background in K-12 education.
Would you also like to read some key extracts from The Art of School Boarding?
Here is a summarized Table of Contents and 30 segments directly from the book.
Summary Table of Contents
1. Boarding Basics
2. Why Does Anyone Want to Board?
3. The Foundational Principles of School Governance
4. Board Roles and Superintendent Roles
5. Boarding Code of Conduct
6. Know the Chain of Command
7. Learn the Art of Receiving and Responding to Complaints
8. Never Forget Who Comes First
9. Money Matters
10. Programs and Growth
12. School Boarding at its Best
13. Expert Advice
14. Taking Care of You
15. The Ride
* This book should be mandatory reading by every new member of every school board in America. They should read it before they seek election or accept appointment.
* Being a member of a board of education is one of the most important jobs that a person can hold, and it should be reserved for people who have the courage, the fortitude, and the desire to make a difference.
* (Being on a school board) is not an easy job, but it’s a very important one. The lives of every kid in this country, our kids, are at stake. And so is the present and future fabric of our nation.
* Who else should read its pages? Current board members, both as a reminder of the pledge they have made and to provide a unifying language, shared process, and commonly held goal that they and their new followers can seek together.
* I’m writing this book because it needs to be written. It is intended to serve as a guide, a primer, a companion, a training manual, a motivational tool, and a down-to-earth conversation starter about a job that is always, for those involved, a life-changing event.
* “School Boarding” is a verb that captures movement and change. The “Art of School Boarding” is the process that propels and steers that change.
* I think school boards in general are doing a superb job, despite the fact that much of that is done “by the seat of their pants.” And much of that is because too many of the members just don’t know any better. And some don’t care.
* You see, some folks run for the school board without understanding both its importance and its complexity. Some, once elected, simply don’t get it. And some lose their vigor and vision. So maybe a straightforward, common sense, jargon-free book like this can help all of the board members become essential components of a crucial process for helping kids. Perhaps it can provide a shared starting point for boards of education working as cohesive teams, knowing their purpose, rolling up their collective sleeves, and never losing focus while making a true difference. Helping school boards “board” in a positive, effective, and meaningful manner, then, is the goal of this book, the very reason for its existence.
* This book contains the kind of information that board members, particularly beginners or others considering joining, should know, like being a member of a board of education is an act of noble and selfless public service.
* Being a member of a board of education takes time. If done right, it is a time-consuming task.
* There are no board of education members who don’t face difficult decisions, votes, or issues. Nor any who haven’t had to defend his or her decisions many times. This is a job that often includes some degree of conflict.
* (Being on a school board) can be fun and rewarding. It is always life changing. But it can also be taxing and frustrating. One thing for certain, it is not a job to be entered into lightly.
* This is not a textbook. It has no footnotes, nor many statistics. It comes from me (who sat through thousands of hours of school board meetings), mentors, and colleagues with a century-plus of school board experience… The format is casual, like a conversation.
* School boarding isn’t a science—I taught science. Yes, there are some rules, procedures, and recommended guidelines. What makes it an art (as in The Art of School Boarding) is that at the core what we most need to share is thoughtfulness, tact, and the process (really the art) of building relationships.
* School board members mold, direct, and outline the educational opportunities of children and adults. Would it be too theatrical to say that they hold the future of mankind in the palm of their hand? Well, if mankind is composed of one person at a time, one new opportunity, one creative philosophy permitting another, then maybe, just maybe, theatricality borders on reality. You have an opportunity to change the world.
* From the minute you are elected or appointed a school board member you hold a position of public authority. Your vote always counts. You become responsible for huge sums of money, the stewardship of property, and the employment and welfare of many human beings. Essentially, you hold the personal livelihood of people in the power of your vote. And not only the individual, but his/her family.
* Can it be rewarding to be a school board member? You bet. Consider the rewards—permanent ones, each growing with every kid from day one in kindergarten to graduation day from high school, and spin-offs all the days that follow.
* The Pros (of school boarding) are serving mankind, volunteering for the good of society, helping young people have a chance for success, making sure opportunities are fair and appropriate, and being accountable to those who elected you by being diligent in your duties and demonstrating professional and respectable behavior.
* The school board is the “corporate” entity charged by law with the task of governing a legally defined school district.
* School boards write and approve district policies that clearly define delegation. In fact, almost every aspect of a school board’s authority should be contained in a well-crafted set of policies. The board has the ultimate responsibility for every aspect of school governance, but those responsibilities need to be easily understood and well crafted.
* The board of education is the engine that runs the system. The engine transforms power into action; thus, the superintendent is like the transmission, taking the energy and converting it into productive motion.
* The superintendent is hired to do the following: understand, interpret, refine, and implement the vision, mission, goals and policy as set forth by the board of education. That’s one powerful and jam-packed expectation.
* The superintendent’s role is … to take the decisions made by the school board and to implement them, in accordance with both their request, existing policy, and in compliance with legal and ethical restrictions.
* Knowing where you stand in the flow also helps you direct yourself to the right place. Your place in every organizational chart (as a school board member) is at the top, at least within the district. Some charts may put state government or state leaders over you, but within the district you are generally considered the last stop, the head honcho, the buck stopper. And next to you, down the scale only one notch or position, is the person you hired and hold responsible, the superintendent.
* “Who comes first?” The answer is always “the kids.” Call them students, children, young adults, pre-adolescents, adolescents, infants, or whatever, all of these are, in my thinking, “the kids.” If you program your thinking in this direction, then everything, absolutely everything, you do will in some way affect the kids and their opportunity to learn.
* I recommend, without any hesitation, that school board members ask the tough questions.
* Everything in this chapter (about school finances) defines the word “art” in the title of this book. The reason is simple: managing and projecting school finances is not, and never will be, a science. Certainly the cash in, cash out accounting procedures are pure science and legally controlled, but no district will ever know for sure the future of the financial variables.
* I can’t tell you how many times I have told teachers over the years, “Never discipline kids, just behaviors.”
* I have often pictured a board of education as a jigsaw puzzle with eight pieces. Seven are the individual pieces that fit together, each piece representing one of the (board members). The eighth makes up the border of the puzzle. All the inside pieces fit inside the border. The border is the superintendent. He/she holds everything together and provides the boundaries, protection, and (the) shape of the puzzle. When the board is cohesive and working well, all the inside pieces fit nicely together with no binding (or) straining, clearly displaying a comprehensive “picture” of the district.
Jim Burgett is a frequent keynoter, workshop provider, academy presenter, and consultant throughout the United States. His audiences include school administrators, teachers, board members, businesses, and institutions. When his audiences evaluate his presentations, three words frequently appear: passionate, inspirational, and practical. Jim’s mission is simply “To make a difference.”
Jim is the author of Teachers Change Lives 24/7, the coauthor of Finding Middle Ground in K-12 Education (with Brian Schwartz, General Counsel and Associate Director of the Illinois Principals Association), and coauthor of two other best-selling books for administrators, What Every Superintendent and Principal Needs to Know and The Perfect School (both with Max McGee, President of the Illinois Math and Science Academy, and Jim Rosborg, Director of Graduate Education at McKendree University).
Burgett has taught and served as principal and superintendent at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. He was twice named administrator of the year by his peers, and has won many other awards. Burgett serves on several boards for many organizations. Following a full career as a working educator, he is now the lead member of The Burgett Group and focuses on providing exceptional professional development. For details, see www.burgettgroup.com.
Artwork is a general term that includes the whole range of illustrations, like photos, line drawing, images, graphs, charts, diagrams—those things you add to make the text more interesting, less dull, or more clearly understood. Or to add beauty or visual clarification to the pages.
There’s an issue with some forms of open publishing and most artwork: unless it’s preserved in PDF format, it’s usually impossible to sensibly include in the ebook versions. If it’s limited to one page, you can usually “lock” it into that page, but if you plan to use text around it, it will float like a balloon and reconfigure, collapse, fall out of line, or whatever. You simply can’t nail it down.
But let’s say that none of that is a problem. Then your first issue is finding and getting the artwork you want on your pages.
Since I don’t use much artwork in my books, my suggestions here may be too general. Still, I have published others’ books with artwork, so here are some starter thoughts.
* Unless artwork is imperative to creating the kind of book you want, keep it to a minimum because it takes up paper space, it is often hard to place precisely where it works best, it usually costs money to buy or create, and it may not work well at the digital level however it is saved. (In the paperback version, though, it will stay put by using .pdf. Just recheck carefully that the page breaks don’t mess up your layout designs.)
* Unless your book uses color throughout or in a specifically designated all-color section (usually the center insert 4-8 pages long), the artwork will be in black and white. That center insert section is complex to do, usually costs you a bundle, and may put the book’s price out of a comfortable buying range.
* Unless you create the artwork, you will usually need to purchase it and get a copyright release. If it is created for you, use a work-for-hire contract so the rights are always yours. If you buy it, make sure you have full rights to use it forever as you wish.
* Cover artwork–front cover only for ebooks and front, spine, and back for paperbacks–must also be bought specifically for cover use. We usually find what we want at fotolia.com, paying with enough credits to get the .jpg artwork in dimensions big enough to meet our publishers’ needs. The publishers will tell you those needs in their artwork and cover requirement stipulations. But once bought from fotolia, its ours forever for the cover, promo fliers, or any use we night have.
* Illustrators are often the least reliable of the book-creation contributors when it comes to sending samples to choose from and meeting specific deadlines. It’s best to request everything weeks early, then keep the pressure applied until it arrives. You must do your part too: pay them on time and give proper acknowledgement (or credit) in the text.
* How do you find the illustrator(s) you want? No mystery here. Mostly by asking friends or other publishers. You can check the search engines, too. If you see something particularly well done that could be adapted (even in concept) to your pages, ask the publisher who created it, then contact that person for a bid. You aren’t limited to using U.S. artists either. One of our best is from Pakistan.
* Can you use your mate, kid, or cousin to do your illustrations? If the end result is what your book needs, why not? But they still must meet the deadlines and sign a work-for-hire contract. If you do it yourself, you needn’t sign the contract but it’s hard to fire yourself if you dally or your artwork looks amateurish.
I hope that helps.
P.S. There’s a lot more book prep help in my How to Get Your Book Published in Minutes and Marketed Worldwide in Days.
For the past couple of years I’ve been trying to eliminate all the expenses one encounters when compiling and publishing an “open” book. Those are the books that CreateSpace, Nook, Kindle, Smashwords, and Scribd will accept from you, prepare, and market. Their part is free ($25 or so for CreateSpace).
As I’ve found free-arounds I have shared them with you on this blog. To find the earlier such posts, just put the key word(s) in the search box to the right and they should pop up.
What prompted this particular share is that lately I’ve been having a problem taking various sections of my CreateSpace texts, saving them in .pdf, and blending them into one .pdf file, which C/S requires to publish the book.
This for me this is a new problem. I used to use a Nuance file to do it, but my computer got blitzed, the file disappeared, and I was no longer able to get it replaced from Nuance. (Thanks, fellows.) The alternative was getting some gilded Adobe system. (No thanks, guys.)
My usual route is to go to Google and ask if there is a free program that does so-and-so. I did it again yesterday to convert a new book, so I picked Google’s mind. And there it was, my old friend Cutepdf.com (that I have been using for Adobe-like needs already). They have a new program that does just what I need.
Let me explain that need quickly, then send you to a landing page to see the book I’m describing.
Most books composed in Word are in three parts. The first five pages or so have no page numbers and are often slightly wider than the parts that follow. That’s Part One. The second part, Two, is the book’s text, from Introduction to the end of the Index. In The Art of School Boarding (like most of my K-12 niche series books), Part Three, I have several pages of book covers with some related text, numberless and mostly artwork. You can see in the table of contents on the landing page that these are ultimately one seamless unit. To do that for CreateSpace I must create one .pdf file by listing each part in order and saving it as a single file. If I just try to save the three together, the pagination flies apart (all pages get paginated or none) and the layout gets unhinged.
So that’s my latest contribution to help you create your own free (or almost free) books for “open” publication.
To remind you of the earlier free-arounds:
* Just follow the instructions at each publishing house’s website about how to submit the main body of text. That’s free. Or use my book How to Get Your Book Pubished in Minutes and Marketed Worldwide in Days to help writing, prepping, and submitting your book. That’s $10 as an ebook (immediately downloaded). $15 in paperback.
* You need a cover (a front only for an ebook, a front-spine-and-back for CreateSpace) for submission. If you want good artwork, check fotolia.com for all-use rights-free art you can get for $12-25. Then lay out the cover and you may be ready to go.
* The publishers have cover size submission dimensions that you must match. If you already have a file of another book that has been accepted by them, pluck out that artwork and insert your own artwork and new text. Or if you have an art program with your software, you can play with it until you get the cover the right dimensions.
* If you are creating a full cover—front, spine, and back—you probably don’t have space big enough to get it all into one file. I went to fivver.com and asked an artkid to put the three panels (front, back, spine) on one submissible file page, like a full book cover, for $5. It was done that day. You can ask him/her to save it in .jpg too, since you’ll need that for submission.
* There’s another way to get .doc or .pdf saved in .jpg. One, you can save Word in .pdf at Cutepdf.com. Then you can save the .pdf to jpg at pdf2jpg.net. All are free.
* Need a professional layout for your text? Find another book that looks just the way you want yours to look—and steal everything that works. The font, type size, margins, spacing, index, table of contents, and so on. Don’t worry, they probably did the same thing. (Some of the “open” publishers have lay-out templates at their website too.)
That’s it. Many of you already knew the work-arounds or have a much better and faster way to do what I’ve shared. Others are dumber (or never saw a computer until they were 110, like me), so these tips may help.
I also hear that others think my tips are so cheap they don’t merit doing. The fun for me is taking a gift system, like “open” publishing, and seeing how well, quickly, and inexpensively I can convert my books to use it fully while it’s still around. If this advice works for you, great.
That’s the question that a consulting client, now many months later, just asked. You might have the same question, and while my reply isn’t much of a surprise, here it is, after 46 published books. (Alas, my earliest books I almost tinkered to death!)
“That’s a tough question. There will always be new news that would change its content. But unless the entire paradigm collapses or you find whole sections that are suddenly untrue, you have to stop somewhere and put that book in print. You can always update, create a series, etc. later.
“I write the book, proof it, enter the changes, and read it quickly again. That’s it. If there are content changes, they are done before I read the book the second time. Then I send it to a proofreader. I look at the changes she has made digitally in the text. If I disagree with any of them, I correct or rephrase them. (About the only time that happens is when her alteration changes the facts or implies something I don’t wish to say.) In the meantime, I’ve set the book up for print. When the proofread copy is ready to go, I send it off to the printer.
“That’s a bit simplified, but that’s my system. I don’t want any factual or grammatical errors in the final version. When the printed proofs come from the printer, I skim it again, mostly making sure that the front copy, the table of contents, the pagination, and the covers are 100% accurate.
“What if I find an error after it’s in print? I keep a proof copy and anything that’s wrong or could be better said, I put a post-it by the circled item–so they are corrected in my second printing. I don’t tell anyone about it (95% will never see it). If someone tells me, I thank them for sharing that, and that I will correct it in the next printing. That’s it. I’m not superman (as my wife and daughters regularly remind me.) But I do pay a lot of attention at each phase of the proofing so the book is clean and correct.
“Hope that helps.”
P.S. The best (and simplest) guide to the process that I follow to write and then publish a book is in How to Get Your Book Published Free in Minutes and Marketed Worldwide in Days.
Sometimes, as an MC, you are called upon to introduce a lot of people, most of whom simply must be acknowledged or their name must be mentioned. They may be sitting on the stage behind you, scattered in the audience (best if they sit at or near the front), or both.
The dilemma is the time involved. (The order of introduction will usually have been decided and you may have been given a list with what the program jefe wants said. Just be sure they are seated in that order. Verify their name before the program begins as they sit down. Maybe shake their hand. Make it as inconspicuous as possible.)
Here’s a technique that I like best in that situation. Imagine you have a list with 10-15 names on it. You might say something like this:
“I hear that you folks are hungry and that if I talk too long a committee of brutes has already been named to toss me into the wings.
“But here’s my problem. You can see behind me (turn and spread your arm across the stage) a row of dignitaries every one of whom merits a hail-be-hardy introduction of at least 15 minutes–or longer. But even giving each person a long, deserved clap and shouts of acclamation are going to take too long.
“So let me introduce our honored dignitaries one by one and after their name give them one hearty clap–then at the end we will rise in salutation for all.
“Ladies and gentlemen, (turn and move toward the first person, audience left to right), Mr. ____ ________, (then a short sentence of why he/she is on the stage.” The audience gives one robust clap, and you introduce each of those on the stage and/or in the audience as they stand.
After the last person has been introduced, “Let’s give a giant applause for them all!” You might signal all of the dignitaries to stand again as the applause continues.
Let the audience settle. Say nothing until it is quiet. (That’s the fastest way to shoo the noise away. They are curious about what comes next. Then launch into an opener. A question might work well, or a short and very funny joke…
The only other thing that must be done right. You must pronounce every name correctly. Assume nothing. Have a person help you with each name. Then as you meet each of the people just ask, is your name pronounced ____________? And what title do you prefer: Mr., Mrs., Ms., Colonel, etc.
That’s it. Start the program right and the rest will fall into place. Or those brutes will be heading for you en masse!
Here are some questions you might ask about fine-tuning your book to strengthen its distinctiveness and increase its buying demand. (Better than writing a book with no perceived–or real–buyers!)
* In addition to the five or so books you already read about your topic, what else has already been in print about it in, say, the past decade? Are those books still applicable or have changes in the field (or society) made them obsolete? Were they widely sold? (Does it mention reprint, updates, later editions in the copy by the copyright, after the title?) How much did they cost? How long were they? Do they contain illustrations? How many? What kind? Do they have bibliographies?
* What is about to be published about your topic? (Check Forthcoming Books in the library.) Can you get a copy of this new book now? (Books are often available months before their “publication date.”) The cost and length of each?
* Since you now know about the other books that are or will be available to your potential readers, how could you slant or direct your book’s focus to make it truly different, better, and a more wanted book? Or is that necessary?
* How can you increase the perceived value of your book? Include a foreword by a well-known expert in the field? Write with a co-author with wider recognition? Create how-to guides, checklists, or a companion workbook? Should you get testimonials for the cover or sales flyer?
* Could you slant your book so it will create interest in your giving related seminars, workshops, speeches, or classes? Could it be restructured to be more sought by associations that the readers belong to?
* If illustrations are needed for your pages, are any of those that are used in the other books desirable and accessible? Their cost? Will the rights holder permit their use? Or can the illustrations be developed or purchased elsewhere or in another way? Where? How? Again, the cost?
* If yours is a niche book, read the related association or group publications in that niche. What books similar to yours do they feature or mention? Does the association have a book club or bookstore? Can you see its offerings; that is usually available on computer.
* Can you talk with somebody in that niche who knows about the need for the kind of book you propose? How would they slant the book to be more appealing to readers in the group? (I discuss this in Niche Publishing: Publish Profitably Every Time.)
* Might you write a primer copy of your book, say 100 pages, and publish it by open publishing (Kindle, CreateSpace, Nook, Smashwords, Scribd, etc.) where your investment is minimal to at least test the interest as an ebook? (The book must be as well written and professionally formatted as a full paperback book.) My book How to Get Your Book Published Free in Minutes and Marketed Worldwide in Days shows you how to do this, step by step.)
Just some thought about finding your market before writing to or for it.
Sometimes just redirecting the title of making its scope wider or narrower can push a no-sale book into a dependably profitable item.