I’ve been around books and publishing my whole life, so I’ve seen people do some…
How to Have a Disastrous Small Business Self-Publishing Experience (Part 2)
If you haven’t read the first instalment of Bob’s careening self-publishing journey, click here. If you have, read on.
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So Bob is now ready to promote his substandard book. He’s not super-happy with how it turned out, but he sees little choice but to persevere.
Just as he did with self-publishing companies, Bob looks into distribution and publicity and decides it’s all too costly. He can do himself! (Bit of a slow learner is our Bob.)
Bob begins by spending a few hours online compiling a list of bookstores he could send his book to. He then writes an email and contacts these stores. Bob doesn’t know that many stores don’t deal with self-publishers who don’t have professional distribution. He also doesn’t know that some of the chain stores have a central ordering process that goes through their head office – the individual stores don’t place orders. He also sends to a store that is now a dry cleaner, to another store that only sells romance novels, and another one that closed down three years ago. And he has no idea what the standard trading terms are, so when a few interested stores do reply and ask about his terms he has no idea what to say.
Bob also tries his hand at publicity. Again he spends a few hours researching media outlets that he thinks might be interested in his book. He writes up a 5-page media release – because the more info the better, right? His wife edits it for him, and he starts posting out books.
A week later he tries to follow up on the books he sent out. He doesn’t know exactly who to contact, because he didn’t personalise the mail out – he just addressed the packages to “The editor” or “The producer”. Most of the people he talks to have no idea what he’s talking about. When he does finally get hold of a few people who saw his book, one of them says, “Oh, you’re the guy who sent us a 5-page media release full of mistakes. We threw it in the bin.” Another person says, “Your book looked terrible, we threw it in the bin.” And another one says, “I have no idea why you sent us this. We never do books. Didn’t you watch our show first?”
Not happy with just messing up his publicity, Bob decides it’s time to work on the bookstores again. He calls around all the stores he emailed to try to persuade them to take his book. A few of them do, just to get off the phone. They all return it immediately when they see how poorly produced it is.
Bob now understands why it’s good to have professional help, but it’s too late for him. His book is shoddy, he’s annoyed the media and the bookstores won’t waste their time with him. His book – How to be an Awesome Project Manager – disappears into the publishing black hole of poorly produced books, never to be seen again.
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I may have exaggerated a few things in these two articles just for a bit of fun, but all of these are very real mistakes that very real authors make. Believe me – I’ve seen it. So, if you’re going to self-publish a book for your small business, make sure you enlist some experienced, professional help. Anything less is just a complete waste of time.
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