More and more people are turning to publishing to capture knowledge and expertise, using a book to build business credibility. But how can authors get their books to market without being ripped off by publishers who charge outrageous set up fees?
In the past ten years, the publishing industry has changed beyond recognition.
Book production used to be something that only the major publishing houses could afford. They took the commercial risk of printing tens of thousands of copies of a book and in return, they paid the author the most meagre of royalties. However, their marketing strength and control of the market meant that well promoted fiction books sell in the tens or hundreds of thousands and the author makes enough money for it all to be worthwhile.
However, this made the big publishers extremely risk averse. If you had a number one record, a sports career or a TV series, you were guaranteed a publishing deal while authors who weren't already in the public eye would spend years of rejection from one publisher after another.
“Sorry, it's not really what we're looking for at the moment”, meant, “Sorry, you're not famous enough and we'd have to actually work to promote your book”.
Some publishing houses, known as 'vanity publishers' would always take a book, and charge the author the full costs of setting up an expensive offset print run. If your goal was to see your book on your coffee table, this used to be the only option.
Today, Print On Demand has turned the industry upside down. Authors can publish their own books through 'self publishing' channels, or they can turn to a growing number of small publishers who offer them editing, cover design, ISBN registration and marketing services.
Some automated services offer the author no assistance at all, and so the author has to learn all about file formatting, cover design and print setup. The setup costs are reasonable, but the time and effort it takes to get your book to a high standard of production is beyond some author's capabilities or desires.
A number of publishers have entered the market to solve this problem. They will take an author's manuscript, format it, give the author a number of stock cover designs to choose from, set up an ISBN record and guide the author through the entire process.
So what's the catch?
The catch is that they charge up to $8,000 for this service.
At one British rip off publisher, the minimum, do everything yourself package costs £795. You get a stock cover design and up to ten images inside the book. But what if the author needs help in other areas? A cover design of their own? £99. A marketing kit? £219. A fast turnaround of only 2 to 3 months? £399. Press release? £559. Social media profile? £699.
An American publisher charges a simple upfront fee for the author, apparently giving you $20,000 worth of services for only $4,000. And it must be worth every cent because their logo is a coat of arms.
The cost of setting up a Print On Demand book with a printer is about £100. An ISBN number? £10. Cover design and editing? Is that really worth such extortionate fees?
How can they do this? Simply by letting their authors believe that this is the only option. In the past, these would be the 'vanity publishers'. They will take any book and pass on all the commercial risk – plus a very healthy profit – to the author. But without the heavyweight marketing of the major publishers, who own the shelf space in the High Street book stores, your book is unlikely to sell in high volumes, even if you have paid £120 for the publisher to list your book on their website.
Therefore you are very unlikely to recoup the cost of book production through book sales alone.
So what can an author do?
The way to profit from a book is to use it to capture intellectual property. You can sell this as a unit in itself, or you can use it to promote and build credibility in a service business.
Let's say that you have been a corporate manager for many years, and you want to start a service business coaching managers. By writing a book on the subject, you demonstrate far more authority and credibility than all of your brochures and testimonials put together. It's something that you can use to open doors to conferences, corporate opportunities and of course exposure in the business press.
At CGW Publishing, we are honest with our authors, transparent in our pricing and our focus is on helping authors build service businesses. We built a successful management consultancy and established an enviable reputation in a niche training area by writing and publishing five books, and we now help other authors to achieve the same results.
CGW Publishing have published a book which guides authors through the publishing process. Priced at just £7, Write For You, ISBN 978-0-9565358-3-2, is available from all good book stores.