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Common Small Business Self-publishing Questions … and the Answers

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Common Small Business Self-publishing Questions … and the Answers

Many first-time self-publishers have the same queries, so here are some answers to some Small Business self-publishing questions I hear quite often.

Will I sell one million copies on Amazon, like I keep hearing about on the internet?

No, you won’t. Most Small Business self-publishing authors sell just a few copies per month on Amazon. This is not usually the main focus of publishing their book.

How long should my book be?

The minimum viable length for a book for your business is usually around 30 000 words, which is about 80 to 100 pages in Microsoft Word. Many variables affect how long your book will be when formatted and printed, but generally 30 000 words will turn into a book of about 160 to 170 pages.

The average length of books we work on is around 30 000 to 40 000 words, though a book of 50 000 words or more isn’t uncommon, which is fine as long as it’s 50 000 words of useful information. A longer book will increase most of the costs of self-publishing your book.

What are the main advantages of self-publishing?

With self-publishing, the responsibility for the book lies completely with the publisher (which is also the author, which is you). You have the final say on every decision, and many authors self-publish precisely to have this control (note that you have this control because you are paying the bills; traditional publishers have the control because they are paying the bills).

By working with a skilled self-publishing professional, you can still get the expert assistance you need and make all the decisions yourself. If you want a fluorescent hot-pink cover with green typography and gold embossing on your name, your publishing professional will probably tell you it’s a bad idea, but then you get to make the final choice. From a decision-making point of view this can be the best of both worlds; hire a good company to help you and you get expert advice but still get to make the decisions.

Are you sure I won’t sell a million copies on Amazon?

Very.

What are the main disadvantages of self-publishing?

With all the decision-making power comes all the financial risk of the project. Although this can be managed with good advice, as with any business project it’s never eliminated. Realising that as a self-publisher you’re taking on all of the business risk of the book is very important. This is the definition of what a publisher does. You may have an editor, or designer or self-publishing company to help you produce your book, and they will support and advise you as best they can. But, ultimately, the success or otherwise of the book rests entirely with you.

When in my entrepreneurial or business journey should I publish my book?

There’s no right answer to this question. I’ve seen it all: authors launching a new business and they want a book to go with it; authors who have been in their industry for 50 years and the book is their legacy; mid-career authors and Small Business owners who now think they are experienced enough to make a meaningful contribution to their industry.

The real issue is making sure you write and publish the right book for where you are. The key to success is to carefully plan, and where you are in your career or entrepreneurial journey is just another part of this equation.

How many books should I print?

Working out print quantities isn’t an exact science. If publishers could work out down to the last copy how many books we needed to print, we’d all be millionaires. But it is possible to make an informed decision based on how you’re going to use the book in your business.

To do so, answer the following questions:

  • If you’re selling your book, how many do you think you can sell?
  • How many will you use for publicity?
  • How many do you need for a launch (if you’re having one)?
  • How many will you give away to potential or existing clients?
  • How else might you use them?
  • How long do you want your stock to last?
  • Are you taking orders before you print?
  • Are you planning on bookshop distribution?

How much does a reprint cost and how long does it take?

A reprint will usually cost about 10 to 15% less than your initial print run, depending on the specifications of your book and how many copies you print. The standard turnaround time is about two weeks.

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