Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Before you self-publish - have a business plan!

I am very fortunate that my wife is a good businesswoman. Once I had made the decision to self-publish my book Game Strategy and Tactics for Basketball I was like the proverbial bull in a china closet.  I was raring to go and money was no object. Fortunately for our family budget my wife's response was a firm no.  She gave the go ahead to self-publish but only after I had done my homework and really thought about what it was I planned to do and how it would make money, in time, for the family.

So with the same enthusiasm I set about learning as much as possible as quickly as possible about self-publishing.  I made some mistakes in planning that cost us some money, but so far so good.  I am still learning as I go and trying to share what I learn to help other authors who have decided to self-publish learn from my mistakes and to shorten the learning curve for them.

My formal education is in history, education and sport psychology, not business.  I had a lot to learn and would not be surprised if I was not different from many first time authors, particularly self-publishing authors.

The first point I would like to make is that if you decide to self-publish, you are no longer just an author.  You are the publisher, the publicist, the marketing department, the accounting department, etc. In other words, you just became a business.

There are five books that I strongly suggest you purchase. Four of them are in print and the fifth will be in print soon. You can visit the product page of the four in print from the Amazon widget on the right hand side of this blog.

The first essential book is Morris Rosenthal of Foner Books book on the business of self-publishing, Print-on-Demand Self-Publishing.  This excellent book gives a great overview of the self-publishing industry and will help you start developing your business plan.

The second essential book is Aaron Shepard's Aiming at Amazon. This book describes in detail a business model utilizing POD publishing and targeting all sales at Amazon.com. Aaron has his own blog and web site that is worth visiting regularly.

The third book is yet to make its way into print but will be available shortly. This is Aaron Shepard's new book on self-publishing, POD for Profit. This book describes in detail the process of self-publishing through Lightning Source, the POD printer owned by Ingram. I was fortunate to obtain an advanced proof and will be purchasing a hard copy as soon as it is available on Amazon.

The fourth book is Deana Riddle's Writer Watchdog 2009 Edition.  This book is a collection of information that will help any author desiring to self-publish.  In addition to the information in the book, the names and web addresses of numerous freelance editors, book designers, etc. are available in the book.

If you are considering using Amazon's own CreateSpace instead of using Lightning Source, my own book Self-Publishing with Amazon's CreateSpace: A Resource Guide for the Author Considering Self-Publishing is a good step-by-step guide through the process of using CreateSpace and contains information that will be quite useful to the reader.

In a future post I will talk about other aspects of developing a plan when considering the move to self-publishing.