Writing a book for your business makes good business sense for a lot of reasons; it gives you instant credibility, helps drive new leads and referrals to your business, and can open up a lot of new opportunities for you.
And writing the book itself doesn’t have to be that daunting of a task. (I’ve put together a free Create Your Book Outline Checklist for you — just click here to grab it and get started!) If you can write an email or a blog post, you can write a book.
But once you’ve written it, what do you do next?
It used to be that the term “self-published” was practically a joke in the book industry. People thought that any book worth its salt had to be published by a big name publisher. But with the advent of the Internet, ebooks, and print-on-demand services, that simply isn’t true any more. Self-published books have proven over and over again that they can hold their own against traditionally published books. And people no longer assume that a self-published book will be poor quality.
In fact, there are a lot of options when it comes to self-publishing now, so we thought we’d cover a few of them to help you figure out what to do next.
How much help do you need?
Once you’ve finished your manuscript, the first decision you must make is how much help you want in getting it polished and published. You have a few options:
- Do-It-Yourself: You do almost all the work yourself from editing and proofreading to uploading and marketing. You might hire a designer to create the cover, or an editor to do a final pass, but you do most of the jobs yourself.
- Assisted: You do some of the work yourself, but hire help in the areas where you are least confident. This might include an editor, a proofreader or copy editor (which are different from a content editor), a designer to create the cover and lay out the book, an assistant to format and upload everything, a marketing or PR person to help you get the word out, etc.
- Done-For-You: There are publishing companies you can hire to do everything for you, soup-to-nuts — you just provide the completed manuscript. You pay a fee for their services, but retain all the rights and royalties to your book.
The route you choose will depend on your budget, your confidence in your skills (or ability to read good instructions!) and your goals for your book. For example, if you want a book to list on your website be able to say that you’re an author, the DIY route might be perfect for you. If, on the other hand, you want to see your book in national media, on bestseller lists, and getting you invited to do television interviews, a done-for-you publisher might be a better choice.
The important thing to remember is that you can produce a high-quality, impressive book that will support your business no matter which route you take.
Digital, print, or both?
The next question you must answer is whether you want to sell your book as a digital ebook, as a physical printed book, or both. There are, of course, some pros and cons to each:
Ebooks are cheap and easy to produce. You need to convert your manuscript into a file format that ebook readers can access, which include:
- EPUB — This is the global standard format for ebooks and works seamlessly on most devices and distributors.
- MOBI — This is the format the Amazon Kindle is designed to use, although Kindle can also read EPUBs. Some other e-readers cannot read MOBI files.
- PDF — While some e-readers can access PDFs, they won’t have many of the functions (like animated page turns, responsive text sizing, etc.). If you truly want to produce a book people can read on an e-reader, this format is not recommended.
There are software programs and services that will help you lay out your book and convert it to the appropriate file format, including:
- Vellum (Mac only)
- PressBooks (online)
Some are free, and some are paid, but the cost tends to be less than $100 for a book.
Once you have your digital files, you can choose your distributor. Of course, Amazon KDP is the biggest digital ebook distributor, but there are others, including Draft2Digital and Smashwords, both of which can help you distribute to multiple outlets, Apple iBooks, Nook, and Kobo.
Ebooks are generally great for business books, but if your book has a lot of illustrations, is in full color, or is geared for children, you may struggle with an ebook-only approach.
When it comes to self-publishing a print book, you have two options: purchasing a print run of a set number of books (say, 5,000), or print-on-demand.
With a print run, you buy a set number of books upfront, and the printer creates and delivers them. You then have to have somewhere to store them, and you are in charge of marketing and distribution. There’s a high upfront cost to print the books, but the per-unit cost is lower than print-on-demand. And while you have to do your own selling and shipping online, you can try to get them into small and local bookstores (which is nearly impossible with print-on-demand).
With print-on-demand, you can list your book online with retailers like Amazon, and when someone purchases your book, Amazon prints a single copy and ships it to them. All printing, stock, storage, and shipping is done by the distributor. There’s little to no upfront costs, but the per-unit cost is much higher. And while it’s easy to sell them online, it’s very difficult to put them in traditional bookstores.
Again, the choice you make will depend on your goals for your book.
Print and Digital
It’s worth noting that services like Amazon KDP and Ingram Spark offer options for authors to sell both print-on-demand and digital copies of their books easily. In theory, you could invest in a print run and sell a digital ebook online, but that seems like a lot of extra work unless you have a very good reason!
Once you’ve weighed your options and your goals, you can get on to the work of actually creating your book — whether it will be in digital or print format — and getting it out into the world!
But of course, you have to write it first. So if you’d like to get a head start, click here to download our free Create Your Book Outline worksheet — and don’t forget that we have an entire Destination Guide inside Business Class with step-by-step instructions on how to write and sell a book to support your business.