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Make Money Self-Publishing: Learn How from Fourteen Successful Small Publishers

"I think what stops most people from pursuing self-publishing is the illusion that it's unattainable. ... but even if you don't know squat about what you're doing, you can move forward. You must be willing to look like an idiot. And you must make plans with your business and realize that before the ink is dry your plans will change. You have to be flexible enough to have plans A, B, and C." Bonnie Marlewski-Probart of K & B Products, featured publisher in Make Money Self-Publishing: Learn How from Fourteen Successful Small Publishers by Suzanne P. Thomas.

Make Money Self-Publishing

Learn How from Fourteen Successful Small Publishers

By Suzanne P. Thomas

If you're looking to self-publish a book or start a small publishing company, I highly recommend you buy a copy of Make Money Self-Publishing: Learn How From Fourteen Successful Small Publishers by Suzanne P. Thomas.

While many other self-publishing books will claim, "Write A Book And Sell A Million Copies And Become Immediately Rich," Make Money Self-Publishing takes a realistic look at self-publishing and provides solid, yet inspirational, advice.

Thomas profiles fourteen, successful, small publishers in detail. Each publisher generates incomes ranging from $20,000 to over $100,000 annually, though many were completely new to publishing when they started. Reading Make Money Self-Publishing will help you avoid their mistakes and learn from their experience. Each publisher featured willingly shares his or her best advice to new self-publishers.

Make Money Self-Publishing starts with a quick course in "Self-Publishing 101." Thomas introduces us to the basic concepts of the publishing business, such as the importance of cover design, the costs of book distribution, issues of book storage and fulfillment, and choosing the size of a press run.

The authors and self-publishers featured vary tremendously in genre from mystery to cookbooks to gambling books to computer books to genres that defy classification. The publishers featured also vary in motivation and personal goals.

For example, Thomas tells us that Virginia and Robert Hoffman of the Hoffman Press, one of the publishers featured, wanted a hobby during their retirement years, so they decided to self-publish a book about cooking with wine.

Thomas relates the Hoffman story: "They decided on an initial press run of 5,000 because that gave them the best price break. 'One day a big truck pulled up to our driveway and unloaded three large pallets of books. "What have I done?" I thought as I looked at all of them.'"

Thomas continues: "Close to seventy years old at the time, Robert personally carried all the books into the garage because the truck driver couldn't help him. 'Three weeks later the books were sold and Virginia and I were launched into publishing.'"

The Hoffman Press's success, Thomas explains, was partially due to the Hoffman's intelligent partnering with wineries through which the Hoffmans sold their book. The wineries mentioned in the book wanted copies to sell in their gift shops.

In his interview with Thomas, Robert Hoffman goes on to emphasize the importance of hiring help. And, today, The Hoffman Press uses an order fulfillment company to pack and ship their books. That's probably a good thing as they sell over 100,000 cookbooks a year.

On the other hand, Peter Kent of Top Floor Publishing, another publisher featured in Make Money Self-Publishing, was a popular author of computer books who was dissatisfied with the quality control in the editing of his computer books by mainstream publishers.

Thomas discusses Top Floor's creation of the popular "Poor Richard's" brand of computer books, including, for example, Poor Richard's Web Site. Not surprisingly, we learn that marketing through the Internet has been of key importance to Top Floor.

When Top Floor branched out into publishing books by other authors, Thomas tells us that Kent looked for authors who already had an online following to speed the marketability of the books. I especially liked how Make Money Self-Publishing interweaves excellent marketing advice throughout each publisher's story.

While some self-publishers enjoy the business aspect of publishing, other authors become self-publishers to enhance the salability of their titles to larger publishers. Thomas features one initially self-published author who sold his title to Doubleday for an advance of $250,000. In the process he also secured a contract for his second book. This chapter is a great case study in the power of bootstrap marketing. Thomas explains how the self-publisher leveraged each media mention to generate more publicity in a snowball fashion.

Make Money Self-Publishing is also filled with some amusing anecdotes that anyone associated with publishing will enjoy.

For example, Thomas writes: "Cheri [Thurston of Cottonwood Press, a featured publisher] accidentally stumbled upon a way to partially even out her cash flow. 'I was talking with a friend and it came up that I play accordion. She said she didn't know this about me, so I said I'd have to come out of the closet. It stuck a chord and I came up with the idea of forming an organization, Closet Accordion Players of America. I wrote a funny press release and sent it out to 40-50 newspapers around the country.'"

Thomas continues: "The media loved the idea. Cheri's organization has been featured in almost every major newspaper in the country including USA Today. 'It's gotten to the point that I don't even send out press releases in June anymore, which is National Accordion Awareness Month, because I'm so tired of doing the radio interviews. I can't keep up with them. It's hysterical. Talk about free publicity, not for my company, but for this $12.95 membership.'"

Today, many people, who don't want to risk several thousand dollars to publish a book conventionally, are considering publishing an online e-Book. Those individuals will find Thomas's feature of Angela Adair-Hoy of particularly valuable as it discusses e-Books in depth.

Make Money Self-Publishing concludes with a valuable Afterword where Thomas summarizes "Ten Tips to Make Money Self Publishing" distilled from the experience of the small publishers.

Thomas's first tip is to "Publish at least three titles." Thomas explains that multiple titles not only help amortize overhead costs, but each title can serve as a marketing means for the other titles. Plus, you never know which title will be your big hit or when sales of a particular title will sag. Trying to make a living as a one-title self-publisher is difficult.

Thomas's second tip is to "Develop a series or specialize in one category of books." Thomas points out that related titles are easier to market to the same audience, because related books can establish a connection to your other titles.

New publishers will benefit by following Thomas's ten tips and the advice and experience of the publishers featured.

Make Money Self-Publishing is also filled with resources (publisher and writer's associations, web sites of interest, service providers and companies of interest to publishers, recommended reading, etc.) to learn more about self-publishing and to introduce you to the resources you need to self-publish your book.

Incidentally, we should note that Suzanne Thomas, herself, is a successful self-publisher and the author of the highly-regarded book, Rental Houses for the Successful Small Investor, which is a top-selling book on

If you are seriously considering risking your time and money to self-publish a book, do yourself a favor and buy a copy of Make Money Self-Publishing: Learn How from Fourteen Successful Small Publishers. If you are involved with the small press industry or are a small publisher, you will find Make Money Self-Publishing to be a great read.

Make Money Self-Publishing: Learn How from Fourteen Successful Small Publishers
Make Money Self-Publishing:
Learn How from Fourteen Successful Small Publishers

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