efore we work together, it’s important to proceed with a clear understanding of the risks and rewards involved with writing and publishing your book.
Too many charlatans convince too many authors that if they write an excellent book, they’ll see excellent sales results. But as Bob Burg, author of The Go-Giver says, “It’s called the bestseller list, not the bestwriter list!” Just as making the Top-40 charts says little about musical virtuosity, making the bestseller list has little to do with literary skill.
If your goal is to become a bestselling author, I can help you create a polished book but finding a publisher can be a daunting task. Every once in a while a miracle happens. Fifty Shades of Gray was self-published before it became a blockbuster hit. Harry Potter was sent in as an unsolicited manuscript, and was taken off the slush pile and read. So yes, miracles do happen but…
If bookselling success is your goal, consider that the odds of winning the lottery with one ticket are 1-in-13,983,816. Before you invest $20,000 (and many hours) publishing a book, if you buy 20,000 lottery tickets, your odds of winning will be 1-in-700. You’ll never find odds that good in the publishing business!
Those who expect a return on investment from retail book sales will almost certainly not recover the costs of production.
So who should publish and why?
- If your goal is to leave your story behind as a legacy for your family or community, to correct the historical record, or to create literary art for reasons that aren’t necessarily practical, publish with those motives in mind. If you can’t afford book production or even an editor, set up a free blog and write. Get your story out. You and the world will be better for it. Whatever your circumstances, create the best book you can afford to—just for the sake of doing it right. Engage me if you want to create an excellent book and that won’t cause you to miss a mortgage payment.
- If you’re a speaker who presents to 30,000 audience members every year, you might end up selling 20,000 books or more annually from the back of the room. If your book is priced at $20, that’s $400,000 gross (mostly cash). The business case for your book is a no-brainer.
- If you’re an expert who offers consulting services, books you give away will win you lucrative contracts. Think of your book as an over-the-top business card that will pay for itself quickly as a loss-leader.
- If you’re a celebrity or an organization (like a sports team) with a fan base, consider the value of offering a signed-and-numbered, limited-edition commemorative book to collectors. Proceeds will quickly outpace costs.
I suppose that isn’t much of a sales pitch; I talk many authors out of working with me, but those who do realize success in ways that are meaningful and appropriate to their goals and circumstances. If this page and the rest of the publishing straight talk in this site haven’t deterred you, I look forward to helping you publish a book you’ll be proud of.