In the world of self-publishing, I’m always watching for stories I can share to help emphasize not only how much $$ we SAVE our clients . . . but also how much $$ we can help them MAKE.
You just never know when the Universe is listening and decides to provide you the answer (or, in this case, the story) you’ve been waiting for.
It all started last Friday when I took a leap of faith and found myself on an airplane to Atlanta for the Spirit of Women Conference. My mentor, Monica Shah, was speaking and several of her “mentees”, showed up, shared rooms and offered support by just being there. I was prepared to strengthen bonds, meet new people, attract new clients . . . and expand my sphere of influence.
Able to use my plethora of Southwest Airline “points”, I boarded the flight early and headed for the first available window seat I see. I’m joined by a woman, in my age range, who sits in the aisle seat, and we joked about the “luck” of the person who gets to sit between two “women of a certain age”. Shortly thereafter, we are joined by another woman (same age group) and our row is complete.
I’m not one of those airline “talkers”, and typically prefer to watch the clouds, and occasionally pull out my i-Phone and select an e-book to read. I offer an initial smile, say “hi”, and get back to my reading.
As the pilot announces we are preparing to land, I ask the woman next to me if she is from STL, and where she is headed. We talked about what she did for a living, and she, in turn, begins to ask me the same questions. LO AND BEHOLD. She and I had a phone conversation about 18 months ago regarding publishing her book, and she chose to go with an independent “textbook” publisher out of England. She proceeded to tell me what she has earned (or NOT earned) in royalties from the sale of over 1,000 books.
So, I get to my hotel, looked up her publisher online, and I did the math.
And I had one of my associates check MY math (she’s a CPA) . . .
FOR THE EXACT SAME BOOK, I’ve outlined two very different profit structures, below . . . The one on the left is the Independent Publisher she chose. The bullets on the right show her profit margin if she had let us mentor her through the self-publishing process. (ALSO, please note, I would never have advised her to price a 166-page black-and-white paperback book at $34.95 retail.)
In researching the textbook publisher, I did not have the details of her contract, so I used the publisher’s minimum fee for the example above. Not only did this author possibly PAY more-than-twice upfront than if she had let us help her, but she PROFITS less $$ with each sale of her books (ultimately taking her longer to recoup her investment).
MY LESSON LEARNED? I trusted my instinct, took a leap of faith, and got on that plane not knowing WHY I needed to go to Atlanta. In the three days since i’ve been back home, I’ve already had two sales conversations with people I met in Atlanta.
AND I heard a fantastic “buyer beware” story I can share with authors who may be considering working with an independent publisher, advising them to:
- Check references.
- Don’t sign a contract until you talk with a professional publishing consultant (like me – I’ve read many publishing contracts and can point out questions you need to be asking). I’m happy to read your contract and offer an opinion.
- Trust your instinct and follow your gut. If it sounds confusing, it probably is worth walking away.
Do what you must, but always feel free to give me a call to talk through your options. I’m happy to help you make an educated decision, even if you end up working with someone else (although I’d rather you work with us!).
You may remember the storm of May 11, 2016 . . . you know the one . . . when our neighbor’s tree totally demolished our detached garage. Over a year later, we’re still feeling the effects of that day.
Take the saga of the bathroom door. We had stored our first-floor bathroom door (adjacent to the office) in the garage as a “Later Gater” project. You know the kind . . . the projects which turn into “out of sight, out of mind” and mysteriously vanish from the to-do list. Yes, we had a temporary door on the bathroom so it could still be used, but ultimately we wanted the original door back in place after a good sanding and new paint. Unfortunately the door met it’s demise that stormy day, and we’ve been on the hunt for a 1940’s period-specific replacement door off-and-on ever since.
Frustrated with not finding a suitable door at any of the local rehab/resale shops, we took to social media, asking our neighbors for ONE random, unneeded door which may be lurking in their basement or garage. BINGO! Although not an exact match, we found a close “second” (FREE!) and proceeded to retrofit the door to fit our much smaller opening.
It’s quite a nice door. Probably the nicest door in the entire house. Solid oak. I’m quite proud of our new (old) door. As you know, most older homes never have anything which is plumb or level or square . . . let alone door openings which are perpendicular or horizontal. Jack took extra time and effort to retro-fit the door (but swears he’ll never do THAT again).
Yep, here comes the metaphor: Like everything else which vanished when the old garage was torn down and hauled off, our door reminds me of all of the other “Later Gaters” which may have vanished from our to-do list . . . both at home AND in the office. How many other “Happy Endings” might there be if I turned my attention to some of the other “Later Gaters”? How many other doors could I easily open if I simply asked for help?
While writing this blog today, I received an email from one of our author-clients in Arkansas. We’ve helped them publish a couple of books, and they are building their business around speaking and offering workshops around the country . . .
“I can’t remember a time that the words in my mind weren’t looking for a creative outlet. I dreamed of writing a book, but I assumed wealth or fame were prerequisites. I was vaguely aware of self-publishing, but I didn’t know where to begin, and the idea of learning it all was too overwhelming. Then a friend wrote a book and told me about Davis Creative. After talking to Jack and Cathy, I realized that I could really do this. My husband and I sent our manuscript, cover ideas, and a modest down-payment to Davis Creative, and within weeks we had a book. Now we have two books, with three more in the works, and we just completed our first training event using our books. We sell a few hundred a month by devoting 15 hours a week to calling and meeting with members of our target market. The Davises helped make my dream come true.” ~ Kelly Condra
Kelly and Preston Condra took a leap of faith and asked us for help with self-publishing their books. They looked their “Later Gator” right in the eye and and trusted us to help walk them through what seemed like an impossible dream.
Now . . . to go find another “Later Gator” I can check off my list!
The first question I typically ask a new client is, “What are you REALLY selling?”
A few look at me as if I’m crazy — but soon learn I have method in my madness. We’re not selling windmills, whistling lessons or wonder-bras — we’re selling the RELIEF or FEELING our customer receives from making the purchase. We want them to feel good about doing business with us.
Quite often, as with APPLE or TIFFANY or DISNEY, we are simply selling our brand essence — our brand experience — how great it makes a consumer feel to be associated with our product or service. How can you develop your Brand Essence? . . .
- BE-Lieve. Believe in your product/service and others will too. Love what you do and don’t be afraid to let it show.
- BE Giving. Be of service by offering more than your customers and staff expect.
- BE Integrated. Create brand standards and use them. Identify colors, fonts and messaging unique to your business. Again, USE them.
- BE Seen. Have a great logo? Use it. Need a new one or an update? Hire a professional to fix that for you.
- BE Heard. Know your key messaging and share with your employees and around your community. Let people know WHY you love what you do.
- BE Bold. Boldly share your visual, verbal and virtual message every chance you get. Find your niche, fill a void.
- BE Valuable. Bring value to the table. Value propositions have no value if they fall short of expectations.
- BE Committed. Follow through on your commitments to your clients, your community, and to yourself.
- BE Trusted. Establish relationships based upon trust, honesty and integrity. Trust your gut, follow your instincts.
- BE Consistent. Deliver on your brand promise. Play your strengths. Reframe your weaknesses. Respond proactively.
Together Everyone Achieves More
Building a perfect team to support your self-publishing project is imperative to the success of your book.
As Professional Author Consultants and book designers, our Author Support TEAMs include a variety of experts, from book shepherds, author assistants, ghostwriters, speakers’ agents, editors, indexers, proofreaders and illustrators — to web designers, PR, audio/video experts, and more. Our virtual TEAM can include anywhere from three individuals, up to six or more by the time the book is available in print and/or e-book format.
Our TEAM is “virtual” and scattered throughout the US — most with home-based offices. Conference calls and emails become the daily norm, keeping us focused on our one common goal — the ultimate success of the ONE book we are working on at the moment.
We function much like a flock of geese . . . Geese use the TEAM concept to succeed in getting the flock to its destination.
Geese Plan to Succeed.
FACT: Geese fly in a “V” formation, increasing their flight range by 71% (versus flying solo).
AUTHOR TEAM: Our TEAM leader keeps us moving in a common direction, allowing us to reach our destination more quickly and easily.
FACT: Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it feels the drag and resistance of going it alone, and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the flock.
AUTHOR TEAM: As a part of the TEAM, it’s easier to stay in alignment with those who are headed in the same positive direction that we are.
FACT: When the front goose gets tired, he rotates back in the wing and another goose steps up to fly as the leader.
AUTHOR TEAM: We rotate the TEAM Leader role, taking turns spear-heading our portion of the project, and trusting others to step in when needed.
FACT: Geese honk as they fly, encouraging those up front to keep up their speed.
AUTHOR TEAM: Our TEAM accepts that we each occasionally need a nudge or help from one another.
“Self-publishing” no longer means “going it alone”. By assembling a TEAM of talented professionals to help, you automatically increase your chances for success.
Top 10 Mistakes Authors Make When Designing their Own Book Covers
YES. You really can tell a book by it’s cover. Never let bad book design define the story you want to tell.
- Bad font choices (too big, too small, hard to read)
- Squeezing in too much info
- Uncomplimentary color choices
- The use of clip-art or stock photos
- Emulating or copying a “best-seller” cover
- The use of lo-res personal photography
- Blurring the emphasis between title and subtitle
- Not targeting your reader’s emotional commitment
- Letting your neighbor’s high-schooler design your cover
- The $99 online book cover design
Here’s How You Should Look at the Taleist Self-Pub Survey
May 24th, 2012 | Nate Hoffelder
“Authors who get help (paid or unpaid) with story editing, copy editing, proofreading, and cover design make 34% more than the average.”
Taleist released the results of a survey of self-pub authors today. If you haven’t seen it yet, then you probably haven’t heard the statistics. Good. That gives me a chance to explain my viewpoint. I read the results this morning, but it took me until this evening before I placed them into context.
“41% paid for a cover designer”
The thing is, no matter how little those authors made while self-publishing their ebooks, on average they are almost certainly better off than if they did not have the option of self-publishing. [Read more]
“29% paid for copy editing”
Design Matters — especially if your business matters to you.
As we welcome 2012, and look back over 2011, we notice a trend in the types of projects that consistently come our way. With that in mind, we have renamed our e-news, “Design Matters,” where we will continue to share monthly “tips, trends and tales,” as they pertain to our three primary lines of business:
- DESIGN FOR BUSINESS. More than great graphic design, we help our clients create a great identity with strategic design concepts — from custom logos, to business marketing materials, to web-based graphics. With over 25 years experience (each) in working for for Fortune 100 and Fortune Top-10 corporations, we bring a global perspective with a micro-level insight to help their clients “Define, Design & Deliver” their message to their consumer.
- DESIGN FOR PUBLISHING. Great book design is more than ink on paper. We work with authors and publicists across the country to help design books that sell. As a certified Professional Author Consultant, Cathy serves as Publishing Project Manager, helping authors navigate the self-publishing process — from creating connections with ghost-writers and editors, through cover and interior design, through printing, marketing and promotion.
- DESIGN FOR LIFE. Planting Seeds of Positive Perspective at UPSIdaisy.com, this “one-time-hobby” website grew by leaps and bounds in 2011, and our custom designs were printed on a variety of products and shipped all around the world. Our messages of hope, inspiration and humor touched households in the US, Great Britain, Australia, Canada, the Solomon Islands, Italy, Portugal, Ireland and more!