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The Self-Publishing Manual: How To Write, Print, and Sell Your Own Book
By Dan Poynter
The Self-Publishing Manual: How To Write, Print, and Sell Your Own Book (13th Edition, 2002) by Dan Poynter is one of the great, classic books about self-publishing. As a self-published author with hundreds of thousands of books sold and over twenty-years experience in the publishing industry, Poynter is one of the most highly-respected experts in the field of self-publishing.
The revised edition of The Self-Publishing Manual: How To Write, Print, and Sell Your Own Book expands upon earlier editions to discuss ebooks and Printing-on-Demand (POD) books, as well as conventional self-publishing.
Poynter tells us a self-publisher using conventional offset printing should budget about $15,000 to launch a new self-published book. Poynter also discusses digital printing technology (sometimes called POD books), which makes small press runs feasible, allowing self-published books to be launched for only a few hundred dollars in production costs.
With the offset-printing route, Poynter suggests printing 3,000 copies, because he says a good non-fiction book should sell at least 2,500 copies in its first year, and promotion might involve sending out as many as 500 review copies to book reviewers and industry leaders. Poynter tends to favor free publicity over paid advertising to market books.
The Self-Publishing Manual: How To Write, Print, and Sell Your Own Book has chapters about writing a book, book production, book promotion and marketing, starting a publishing business, and book fulfillment options. The Self-Publishing Manual also contains an extensive resource section for self-publishers.
Poynter is a big fan of seeking non-bookstore sales. Poynter writes: "Fifty percent of the customers in a bookstore are looking for a particular book. These particular-book seekers are more likely to be younger and female. About 47% are looking for a nonfiction title, 27% for a particular book of fiction and 28% want textbooks. Although 20% do not find the book they are looking for, 54% buy one or more books before they leave. Then there are those people who never visit a bookstore. Bookstores are a lousy place to sell books."
What about college bookstores? Poynter writes: "Don't put too much energy into college stores. Many of them primarily stock text books and reference materials. Students generally don't spend money on much more than assigned texts, CDs, and beer."
In marketing your self-published book, Poynter says you should start by evaluating the people most likely to purchase your book. Poynter writes: "Ask yourself what stores they frequent, what magazines they read, what associations they join, what conventions or events they attend, what channels they watch, ... and so on. Where can you find a high concentration of people interested in your book? Analyze carefully the type of person who is a prospective purchaser of your book. This is perhaps the single most important thing to consider."
The information, insight, and resources about book marketing alone make The Self-Publishing Manual: How To Write, Print, and Sell Your Own Book a necessary addition to the self-publisher's or author's bookshelf. (As Poynter points out, authors, even if published by major publishers, are largely responsible for promoting their own books.)
Although The Self-Publishing Manual: How To Write, Print, and Sell Your Own Book is as up-to-date as any other self-publishing book, the book publishing industry is constantly changing. For example, the Ingram Express program for small publishers has been radically redesigned, so the terms and conditions of the program are far different from those listed in The Self-Publishing Manual. (Ingram is the world's largest book distributor).
The Self-Publishing Manual doesn't mention any of the professional, online discussion lists, such as Publish-L (Publish-L.com), among its resources. These discussion lists can be valuable to new self-publishers and keep them up-to-date about industry changes. Other than this oversight of omitting publisher discussion lists as resources to keep current about the industry, The Self-Publishing Manual: How To Write, Print, and Sell Your Own Book is a nearly perfect introduction to self-publishing.