I’ve never published a book, but over the past few months, I’ve had the pleasure of talking to a few people that have. I used to think publishing a book had some hard things about it (like ordering a bunch of copies of your book, or writing it, or other completely reasonable beliefs).
Here are 6 ways I was totally wrong.
Myth #1: To self-publish, you have to pay for printing
I used to think self-publishing meant ordering hundreds of copies from a printer, then selling them yourself out of your garage.
It turns out, you can get your book listed on Amazon and other online retailers (not just a Kindle version…a physical copy), completely for free.
There are companies that do “Print on Demand” like CreateSpace or Ingram Spark. You simply upload your book as a PDF, send JPGs for cover images, select paper quality, and you’re all set. Your book is automatically listed online (on places like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo), and when someone orders it CreateSpace prints exactly 1 copy and your customer gets 1 physical copy of your book shipped to them. No different than ordering any other book from a famous author. At the end of every month, you get a royalty payment.
You’ll make less per book than if you were to mass-order books from a printer and manage the shipping/order fulfillment yourself, but it means you get your book listed on Amazon, which is a huge win. It turns out, royalty payments from Print on Demand are about on par with what you’d get as a royalty if you published through a major publisher through a book deal.
Myth #2: You have to write it
Mary Dooley works part-time as a barista at Starbucks. She started asking her customers what their favorite piece of live advice was. She created a book by compiling the customer’s name and coffee order, and favorite piece of advice. She didn’t write the book, in a way the customers did. In the same way, your book could be a compilation.
Myth #3: You haven’t already written it
Kim taught me that one form of creativity is taking something you’ve already done and spreading it in a new form. For example, taking Facebook posts and compiling them into a book. You could also take a photograph and make it into a poster or t-shirt. You can use The Printful to create and sell one-off posters, t-shirts, iPhone cases etc.
Myth #4: After you publish it, you start to sell it
Mary Dooley pre-sold books to her limited list of Facebook friends, using wisdom he gained from reading Your First 1000 Copies. She had completely funded her first print run before she paid anything for printing.
Myth #5: Your book should be good
Jen Butler had wanted to be an author since she was 8 years old. She had started multiple book projects and always stopped. She didn’t just want to write a book. She wanted to be a New York Times bestselling author! One day, she realized she was stalling, and instead decided to write an imperfect book.
Vikie Shanks published a book, and she told me she doesn’t consider herself a good writer.
Kim Nicol told me she gave herself permission to let her book be the first of many. There was no pressure to get everything right…her book was simply about learning how to publish a book. Improvement could come with the next book.
Myth #6: Your book is only a book
Kevin Chung created a book of quotes, with stories of people who’s lives embody the quotes. Each quote is beautifully illustrated, and Kevin has made each quote available as a poster you can buy online. If Kim went from many to one, Kevin went from one to many.