Publishing a Book isn't a Race - Printing a Book isn't the Finish Line

Most of the self publishers who e-mail me can't wait to get their book in print. The process has turned into a race for them, and printing the book is the finish line. Part of the hurry is driven by pre-release publicity. The standard publishing model depends on pre-release orders to determine the size of the print run, and once the publicity is in place, the book better follow close on its heels. Well, it turns out that very few self publishers are capable of creating that sort of buzz, and it only applies to the offset press model. If you're printing your book on demand, there's no need to worry about the size of the print run, the only issue is getting the title to show as available for ordering distributor databases and online catalogs.

I no longer do any special pre-release publicity for books, though I may accept pre-release orders on my website if I'm getting regular queries "When is the book coming out?" Part of the reason is I'm not targeting bookstore stocking for my titles (short discount) so it's not required, but taking the pressure off is an equal consideration. If you're successful in getting pre-publication publicity, it imposes an artificial deadline on the publication process because you've told all these people when the book will be available. In other words, it turns publishing a book into a race, and racing is all about burning up your resources at the maximum rate in order to finish in the shortest possible time.

It's clear then that I'm not a stress junky, maybe you are, but there's another reason that squandering money and losing sleep to get a book out quickly isn't worth it. Printing a book isn't the finish line, in fact, it's barely past the starting line. The end of the publication process comes (hopefully) years and years later, when you declare the book out-of-print. In the interim, between printing and out-of-printing, your job is to market and sell books. The first milestone of note in the process is breaking even, when the book earns enough money to cover the investment needed to publish it.

By not getting caught up in a race to publish the book, you'll probably reach break even faster, because you won't have thrown away all your money on pre-publication publicity, costly rush work and the inevitable mistakes that come through hurrying. I had to throw out 1,000 dust jackets once at a cost of $900, and that was just one of the mistakes on that book. If you have a mechanism in place for marketing and selling your books, there's plenty of time to put it in motion once the book is available. If you don't know, and I mean really know, where your sales are going to come from, you may want to spend even more time preparing the ground before printing the book.

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