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If I had to put a number on it, I'd say less than 5 percent are decent and less than 1 percent are really good. A tiny fraction become monster success stories, but every every few months, you'll hear about someone hitting it big for those who don't know already the "Fifty Shades of Grey" trilogy was initially self-published. The average print self-published book sells about copies -- or two-thirds to three-quarters of your friends and family combined and don't count on all your Facebook acquaintances buying. I don't have a source for this statistic, but I've seen this stated on several blogs and as a Publishers Weekly article titled " Turning Bad Books into Big Bucks " noted, while traditional publishers aim to publish hundreds of thousands of copies of a few books, self-publishing companies make money by publishing copies of hundreds of thousands of books.

You wonder why "real" books take nine months to produce -- and usually significantly longer. Well, I now know why. It's hard to get everything just right if you're a novice at book formatting, Microsoft Word will become your worst enemy. And once you've finally received that final proof, you feel it could be slightly better. This will help dictate what service you go with. For instance, if your objective is to create a book for posterity's sake so your friends and family can read it for all eternity , you won't have to invest a lot of time or money to produce something that's quite acceptable.

Lulu is probably your best bet. However, if yours is a commercial venture with big aspirations, things get pretty tricky. If your book is really mediocre, don't expect it to take off. But even if it's a masterpiece, there's a good chance it won't fly off the shelves and by shelves, I mean virtual shelves, because most self-published books don't make it into brick-and-mortar stores. In other words, quality isn't a guarantee of success.

You'll be lucky to make your investment back, let alone have a "hit" that brings in some real income. Don't quit your day job yet. This seems to be the mantra of self-publishing. Nonfiction books with a well-defined topic and a nice hook to them can do well, especially if they have a target audience that you can focus on. Religious books are a perfect case in point.

Well, it's tough, but some genres do better than others. If it's any consolation, the majority of fiction books -- even ones from "real" publishers -- struggle in the marketplace. That's why traditional publishers stick with tried-and-true authors with loyal followings.

Make Your Dream A Reality

Even if you go with one of the subsidy presses for convenience's sake, there's no reason to have Lulu, CreateSpace, iUniverse , Xlibris , Author House , Outskirts , or whomever listed as your publisher. The complete list of sellers is here. Most self-publishing operations will provide you with a free ISBN for both your print book and e-book but whatever operation provides you with the ISBN will be listed as the publisher.

Your book should be easy to find in a search on Amazon and Google. It should come up in the first couple of search results. Unfortunately, many authors make the mistake of using a title that has too many other products associated it with it -- and it gets buried in search results. Basically, you want to get the maximum SEO search engine optimization for your title, so if and when somebody's actually looking to buy it they'll find the link for your book -- not an older one with an identical title.

On a more cynical note, some authors are creating titles that are very similar to popular bestsellers.

How to Publish a Book in Self-Publishing Tips From a Bestseller

Also, some authors use pseudonyms that are similar to famous authors' names so they'll show up in search results for that author. Check out this list of Fifty Shades of Grey knockoffs. You've written your book and God knows you'd like to just hand it off to someone, have a team of professionals whip it into shape, and get it out there. Well, there are a lot of companies that will offer to make just that happen -- and do it in a fraction of the time a traditional publisher could. These folks can potentially put together a really nice book for you.


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But I've also heard a lot nightmare stories where people come away disappointed with the process and feel ripped off. You can do a search in Google for the companies you're considering and find testimonials -- good and bad -- from authors who've used the services. Self-publishing outfits are in the game to make money. And since they're probably not going to sell a lot of your books, they make money by with nice margins. Some of the services are worth it -- or at least may be worth it.

It was good while it lasted and it helped me sell dozens, if not hundreds, of books. Personally, I'd never work with CreateSpace's in-house editors, copy editors, and in-house design people. That doesn't mean they're bad at what they do I've seen some covers that are well-done. But if you can, it's better to hire your own people and work directly with them.

Self-publishing a book: 25 things you need to know

Ideally, you should be able to meet with an editor, copy editor, and graphic designer in person -- and they all should have experience in book publishing. Down the road, I suspect you'll see more self-publishers offer high-end programs that pair you with a former editor from a major publishing house. It's also worth mentioning that Amazon has become a publisher itself, with several imprints that it's either bought or created.

Amazon is in the process of developing a new hybrid model for publishing that aims to take the place of traditional publishers, which it sometimes refers to as "legacy" publishers. You can see a list of Amazon's imprints here. With its flagship Encore imprint , it selects certain "exceptional" self-published titles from "emerging" authors and brings them under the Amazon umbrella so to speak. It's a good gig if you can get it. If you're serious about your book, hire a book doctor and get it copy edited. OK, so I've just told to avoid " packages " from publishers and yet I'm now saying you need editing and copy editing.

Essentials

So, where do you go? Well, before I sent my book out to agents, I hired a "book doctor" who was a former acquisition editor from a major New York publishing house like most editors he worked at a few different houses. He happened to be the father of a friend from college, so I got a little discount, but it still wasn't cheap. However, after I'd made the changes he suggested, he made some calls to agents he knew and some were willing to take a look.


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  • He was part of Independent Editors Group IEG , a group of former acquisition editors who take on freelance editing projects for authors. While I didn't use his copy editor I used a friend of a friend who currently works at a big publishing house , he and other editors in his group can suggest people. To be clear, this isn't going to be a better deal than what you'd get from a package deal with a self-publisher, but these people are experienced and are going to be upfront and honest with you.

    They're not just pushing your book out to move it along the line on the conveyor belt, though they are trying to make a living. By no means is IEG the only game in town. And there are plenty of others. CreateSpace and other self-publishing companies are always offering special deals on their various services. You can even split your book in two.

    Writing is after all a creative process, and one could say the same thing for reading, too. First of all, you can not stop digital piracy. You simply can not stop it. Therefore any time you spend fighting it is time wasted that you could have spent doing something else that you can personally achieve, like, say, writing, or building your audience. Forget about piracy, and no matter what, you should never get involved in any of the weird schemes out there to prevent it.

    It helps spread your work and discussion of it around the world, and perhaps into communities of people you would not otherwise have reached. Consider the story of the Leanpub author who discovered one day that someone had taken his book, translated it straightforwardly into Russian, and was selling the book on a Russian website.

    Instead of starting a fight, the author realized something: So, the author contacted the translator and asked that they join forces on his next book. What could have been a resource- and energy-draining series of attacks and defenses turned instead into a profitable partnership based on cooperation. Third, the subject of piracy offers a good opportunity to ask yourself who you are and what you are doing this for.

    Are you just starting out as a self-published author? If the answer is yes, then your number one job is to write well and your number two job is to convince people to read what you have written. There can be no sales lost to piracy if you are not selling any copies of your book anyway, and every new reader is a potential future paying customer.

    If you are more advanced in your publishing career, then you should be thinking about how to leverage those aspects of your career that make it advanced. How can you grow your Twitter following? How can you get yourself on that distinguished panel of authors at the next big conference?

    Piracy is least relevant if you are writing non-fiction books to advance your career in some way, perhaps to start doing independent consulting work, or to demonstrate your expertise in order to get a promotion or a new, better job. If the CEO of a company you want to work for or a potential consulting client reads your book, who cares how they came across it? Piracy is least relevant if you are publishing your book in order to spread an idea that is important to you, or if the book has a deep inherent value.

    In dramatic terms, if your goal is to convert people to your position in pursuit of some mission, that last thing you will worry about is piracy. Thanks for taking the time to read this post. Sign in Get started. This is a long post. What Makes Leanpub Different Much of our advice is based on what makes us different from other self-publishing platforms.

    Leanpub enables easy in-progress self-publishing. Use In-Progress Publishing To Maintain Attention On Your Book Promotion Channels One of the main differences between in-progress and conventional publishing is that you can build excitement in interesting ways, since in a sense the serial publication of your book is a story in itself. Give your book a subtitle and a tagline. You might be surprised at what you find. You can do this using social media, your email newsletter if you have one, and even paid advertisements if you have a budget for them. Publish early and often.

    But few of us can sell as many books as James Patterson or Danielle Steele. Does this mean you should give up your dream of being a successful author? Of course not, because you can make a living writing books--even if you don't sell a single copy. You'll make money as an author, not from the sales of your book , but from the relationships you create with your books. Even Grisham, King, and Rowling make more money from TV and film adaptations of their books than the actual sales of their books.

    The Other Way to Make Money with Books

    Producers pay them a lot of money for the opportunity to capitalize on the relationships they've forged with their readers, and to give their fans a deeper experience with the stories they've come to know and love. This holds the key to how "lesser" authors like you and me can make money with books, too: Use your book to create relationships with readers. Let your book be your ambassador so others get to know, like, and trust you.