Monday, July 22, 2013

Publishing 3.0 - How to self-publish a Bestseller


Author-Tips - Writing-Tips
Seen on TechCrunch by James Altucher:

My most recent book, “Choose Yourself!” sold 44,294 copies in its first month out, hit the Wall Street Journal Bestseller list, was No. 1 on Amazon for all non-fiction books for a few days and is still flirting with No. 1 in its various categories. This post is about what I did differently, why I did it differently, and how I think anyone can do this to self-publish a bestseller. I describe all the numbers, who I hired and why, and how I made the various choices I did.


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Every entrepreneur should self-publish a book, because self-publishing is the new business card. If you want to stand out in a world of content, you need to underline your expertise. Publishing a book is not just putting your thoughts on a blog post. It’s an event. It shows your best curated thoughts and it shows customers, clients, investors, friends and lovers what the most important things on your mind are right now.

Unfortunately, most people suck at it. I’ve largely sucked at it. I’ve published 11 books — five with traditional publishers and six that are self-published.

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Enter Publishing 3.0: How To Professionally Self-Publish Your Next Book

Here’s what I did step-by-step with my latest book for the first month since publication.

1) Build your platform

A traditional publisher is not even going to look at you unless you have your own platform, which means a Twitter following, Facebook following and/or a significant blog following. But if you already can hand-deliver the customers, what do you need the traditional publisher for?

Wasn’t that supposed to be what the publishers would get for you? Don’t they get you in bookstores? The answer is “no.”
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2) How do you build your platform?



Have an honest voice. Don’t be afraid to say things about either yourself or your industry. Provide unique perspective. If it doesn’t bleed it doesn’t lead. Make sure every post or video you do bleeds from the heart, entertains, and educates. In that order.

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3) Write

This is not a post about writing or how to write a good book. The assumption is that you will write a good book. BUT, two tips: write 500-2000 words every day to keep exercising the writing muscle. And read good writers every day. Then you will write an even better book.

A typical book is anywhere from 40,000-80,000 words. So if you can average 1,000 words a day, seven days a week, you can write four to eight books a year. Or one very very good, edited, revised, professional one. Or 10! Knock yourself out!
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4) Know What You Want

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But if your goal is to put out the best possible product, maximize the money you make, and get the most readers, then follow the next steps, what I call “Publishing 3.0.”

1.0 was publishing with a traditional publisher.
2.0 was when the stigma of self-publishing went away and an entire new artistic outlet was open to millions of people (15 million books published last year versus 300,000 10 years ago). It’s cheap, quick, and easy to get your book published.
3.0 is starting right now — where you can self-publish better, more successfully, better edited, better designed, better marketed, and make more money than if you go any other route. The reason this is possible only now is because for the first time, the best editors, designers, marketers are no longer working at the big publishing houses. Instead, they are striking out on their own and independently charging for their services. The demand is there. This route is more expensive than “publishing 2.0″ but is much more lucrative.

5) Editing

Previously my editing was just a spell check. And that was more than some of my mainstream publishers did. My wife asked me if I was kidding on this. But I told her to read my second book and she stopped questioning it. In other words, it was awful.

With my latest book, I went all out. I hired two copy editors to go through the basics on spelling and grammar. Then I hired Command Z Editing, run by Nils Parker, to help me structurally edit, i.e. do the job that editors used to do (example: Maxwell Perkins in the 1930s) but have been sorely lacking in the past 20 years from traditional publishers. Nils has previously edited bestsellers from Tucker Max, Kamal Ravikant, Ryan Holiday, and a dozen writers, as well as written screenplays, books, etc.
Nils and I went back and forth on more than 15 different rewrites for my book. The difference between the original version and the final version is like the difference between chicken shit and chicken salad.
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6) Design

I never liked any of the designs on my traditionally published books, but I had no control over them. I don’t mean this to sound so anti-publisher. But they were busier with bigger authors, and I don’t think they were always able to devote resources to me.
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7) Audiobook

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8) Title

This deserves its own category. I had total control over the title.

Choose Yourself (James Altucher)
Click to Read an Excerpt


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9) Marketing

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10) Foreign Rights

I found with my prior books that the traditional publishers would more or less wait for foreign publishers to call and then they would sell the rights and my split would be minimal. Typically the split was 50-50, but out of my 50 would come my agent’s split. I was competing with too many of the other authors in the publisher’s stable to get any attention from foreign publishers.

Now I own all the rights to my book.

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11) Other Merchandise

Since I own the rights I can do whatever I want. Below in the “Numbers” section I describe a bundle I put together combining a hardcover version of the book with three earlier books plus some original writing that was sent out by an e-newsletter company that did all of the fulfillment and split the proceeds with me.


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12) The Numbers

First off, what were my prior numbers? Here are my advances on my first mainstream-published, five books in order: $5,000, $7,500, $30,000, $100,000 and $30,000. Advances are coming down quickly!

My first book made back my advance and with about a 10 percent royalty I probably made another few thousand dollars on it. None of my other books came close to making back their advances.

I don’t have all the numbers on my first five self-published books, but I gave an enormous number of books away for free in order to build up my readership. Almost all of those books I produced for free but my revenues were minimal even though I had many readers for them.

In the first week “Choose Yourself!” was out I made the WSJ Bestsellers List with about 10,000 copies sold. To hit the New York Times bestseller list I can tell you anecdotally (and it depends on the week) that you need about 2,500-3,000 copies sold in your first week. I couldn’t get on the NYT Bestsellers List because they do not look at books that do not appear in bookstores. I’m not in any bookstores at the moment, although I’m working on ways that can change. Suffice to say I would have hit that list as well as the WSJ list.

In the first month I sold 44,294 copies between my paperback, audio, e-book, and even hardcover versions.
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Read the full article at TechCrunch.com


James Altucher is an investor, programmer, author, and several-times entrepreneur. His latest book, “Choose Yourself!” (foreword by Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter) came out on June 3.

5 comments:

Vanessa Coleman said...

All my life I have been an entrepreneur. I have to thank James Altucher's article for inspiring me to keep going and self publish!

Kathy Steinemann said...

I believe the most important advice in this article is "Write". It's amazing how much you learn in a short time just by producing a few words every day.

Richard Rimmer said...

Sounds so exciting! I can't wait to self-publish my own novel!

Roger H Panton said...

Will have to read this again and again. Some really good advice within.

Karrie Ross said...

Yes, write something every day for your original manuscript or website posts, social media, marketing and promotion ... the more you write along the way the more the action will bring you the audience when the book is ready for publishing... you'll already be talking about it ... and... as you go, the content you create will help in adding more to your book.
AND
most of all, have fun!

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