Today’s Topic: I’m Writing A Book, But Not Sure I Want to Take It to Print… What Other Options Do I Have?
I know it might sound a little bit strange that someone would take the time to compile a manuscript for any other reason than printing it as a book, but there are many reasons my clients come to me unsure whether or not printing their manuscript makes sense. I think the first concern is cost. The cost to print a book has not just doubled, but tripled during covid.
One of my recent clients couldn’t afford to print hard cover books, but he was able to afford what is called an 8-page gate-fold cover. This is a softcover book, but it has a thicker paper and flaps that fold in kind of like a hard cover book. You just can’t remove the jacket. He had a 356 page book and his printing cost for 250 6 x 9 books was $2,500, not including shipping. He’s selling his books for $29.95. This is a cost of $10/book.
Another recent client produced a 6 x 9 hard cover book with 400 pages and her cost for 5,000 books was $4,500. She’s selling her books for $34.95. This is a cost of $9/book.
And, Another client doing a small print of just 100 books for $1,600. She is selling her hard cover book for $29.95. Her cost is a bit more per book because of the small print run at $16/book.
If you were to only look at these costs, a printed book might appear to be profitable, but what isn’t taken into account are the start-up costs of coaching, editing, and design. If these were $2K each then you have to add an additional $6K to your overall costs. Now you also have to consider how you are selling the books - the build out of a website and that cost, the marketing and distribution fees for every location you plan to sell it, and shipping and packaging costs. You start to see that costs add up fast. So, the profit margin shrinks very quickly on the book alone. This is why any good coach will encourage you not to write a book unless it’s highlighting something else you are doing for a good income. The book is generally a bottomless pit of expenses at first. But, as you run in life for awhile with your book in hand you begin to loose sight of the overall expenses and the cost to produce it. But, you can very quickly pay back the expense with business gained from the credibility a book earns you. One coaching client, one speaking event, one consulting fee… that wipes out the expenses real quick!
But, there are also a few other reasons authors don’t wish to print a book. In some cases there are legal issues, in others they don’t want to manage the inventory and stacks of books, and in other cases they feel an audio or eBook would be a better solution for their audience. Let me tell you about a unique client I have coming back for her second book and why printing may not be the route that she goes this time around.
My client wrote her first book…printed and sold it but, learned a bunch about the publishing industry in the process. She learned she didn’t like working with Amazon. She learned she wanted her own publishing imprint. And she also learned that protecting her work in the future is of the utmost importance. She is writing sensitive information that is legally reviewed and she wants to see to it that it is legally protected. The word count of her first manuscript was 160K words and the manuscript for this next book will be 1/2 million words - some 500K words! This is just a huge book! And, every last detail of her book relates to an individual doing time in jail. It’s incredibly sensitive. The case this individual was convicted of is directly related to an event that severely affected her life back in the 80’s. She has kept a log in her head all these years of all accounts, witnesses, stories, evidence, etc. and as she approaches retirement I’m sure it’s very important for her to have everything documented, in case something should happen to her. The individual in jail comes up for parole every now and again, and I’m sure leaving this detail behind would be very soothing to her soul to have produced. There has been a great following of her story for all these years. And, there are others always trying to stretch truths or interject their own theories of what happened. But, what is most important to my client is protecting her content. She had considered not printing because she saw the mis-use of the content in her last book. But, she wanted to do her best to set the record straight about the character of her family member and documenting new information that has come to the surface over the years. She also has another spiritual journey that occurs along side of the other content she presents along the way.
Here is the reality about protecting content of a public work… the only way it’s truly protected is ownership… who said what. There is nothing keeping individuals from sharing what is now public. There is no way to know the original source of the content but laying out all the details in a book… and copyrighting it… that’s one way to say I presented the content, I own the content, or this is from my perspective. But, in all reality, people will re-use the content you present and it won’t always be cited… or properly cited. I mean, how many times have you seen the same quote used with different sources? In my little book publishing world… I see it daily.
Since most information is shared in a quick mention these days people don’t always do the due-diligence of researching the accuracy. I think, in most cases, a majority don’t even care to have proper references when they re-use content. But, as an author, if you want to protect your material, you really just have to copyright it. But, I’ve heard from many over the years that their copyrighted content has been used online, mostly on social media. Anything on social can have a watermark applied to it but if not placed appropriately it can be cut off and never seen.
In the case of this particular client, I’m sure that there is a concern that her content would be used against her in unforeseen ways. Because it will all likely be copyrighted and lawyer-reviewed, I would imagine she would be fairy safe. But, sharing half a million words is a lot of content. Certainly there might be some concern that something would be missed, but I honestly think the best avenue in a case like this is not creating digitally, but printing. With the advent of AI… and the ability to digitize just about any material, alteration of her material would be slightly easier if it was accessible digitally… but it also depends on the format. There is a certain level of protection with an eBook on certain platforms or in different formats, but once something becomes digital its a bit easier for AI to access it… and alter it in some way. It has been known that AI is sort of the “garbage in garbage out” mentality… unless there is some kind of policing of digital content, it will always be a risk to humanity. Agendas are far easier to manipulate. Most people don’t think about the content and it’s accuracy and only think of how AI can automate or make their online business more efficient or profitable. But, there is another side to AI other than chat bots many aren’t thinking about. Who enters the content the AI is retrieving and who checks it for accuracy? The answer is that it’s a messy soup of content and no one is a watchdog. If you’ve done any amount research in your days you’ll know that any subject can be skewed in the direction the author wishes. And, for many, because it’s written its the gospel no matter the source. In some ways this makes you as an author an authority. But, what you choose to represent and how you stand in truth or authenticity is also up to you. Being an authority on good content is going to be essential to humanity’s future. Whether you print your book or make it digital, how you step up and stand up is the weight you hold as an author. Its going to be harder to be misrepresented by readers if you stand in your truth no matter the format of your material. If you are worried about plagiarism then start with a copyright. But, if your information is worthy, credible, well-presented, and researched… you will be the authority that gets cited in any reference.
Back to printing… another thing many authors don’t know is that there can also be a few additional costs if your original printer went out of business and new printer templates have to be created for a re-print. It’s quite common these days that printers are not surviving all things covid. I was using a primary printer for almost 10 years. They were owned by a large conglomerate and I would have never dreamed they would have disappeared but book printing hasn’t been very profitable for many printers and it can be a bit challenging working with finicky self-published authors that pull back last minute, change details, or try to blame printers for errors they missed themselves. It’s far easier and more profitable for printers to print corrugated boxes for companies like Amazon or get large batch jobs than working with the small budget author. But, there are still a few printers hanging around to service the self-published author. This is really what makes working with a professional designer more desirable. Generally, it’s the established relationships they form one book after another that helps guide the book over the finish line. But, as a designer myself, I see many authors trying to save a buck and work their way through the publishing process and fumble the whole way. Yes, it’s all very figure-out-able, but how much time do you want to allot to something a professional can easily guide you on? Sure you can find ways to cut costs but oftentimes that means stepping away from your livelihood, your business, your family, or anything else that commands your time daily. Even with help, the publishing process isn’t overly easy to navigate.
There’s a big difference between a creative novel writer and a business writer and many systems for online printing cater to the novel writer. They are designed to help creative writers produce a book, but not one of high quality generally. But, they are a great way for authors to birth a book or two. However, they are not designed for a professional author or business leader. If you simply want to birth a book they are fine, but if you wish to stand out and compete as a professional author or business leader you’re going to have to skip over the online printing and eBook launch. Doing an eBook or audio book is kind of expected for a professional but launching only an eBook because you don’t have the finances to produce a high-quality hard cover printed book is a sure sign that you are a novice. Honestly, you don’t have to print thousands of hard cover books, but if you can afford it, this is always going to be the most professional option.
I was listening to a podcast the other day about German bookstores and book shows…this gal was talking about how she’s always been a creative writer and how she was fed up with the traditional publishing model and has run into many other writers that were as well. She talked about the self publishing model she had been through and how helpful it was to finally give her the freedom to publish her books exactly as she wanted. She was a novelist and had been to a German book show where she had met many others like her. They wanted to launch with eBooks or soft cover and not spend a fortune on the printing process. This is pretty typical for a one to two book novelist. In most cases, they are looking to get their story out there with minimal financial outlay. They don’t want to invest a ton into hiring a designer, yet they want custom work. They don’t want to pay for a top printing job but they want the best end result. I totally get it. The novelist has no idea if they will sell any books but they feel driven to produce their novel. It’s a risk. And, many don’t want to turn any of this into a business but simply want to step into an inner calling to express their creativity and just kinda see what happens. A business author is a bit more focused. They generally have a plan for their book and how it fits into their business. If they are also just putting it out there to see what happens, they won’t have much luck. The whole process really needs to be very purposeful.
If you are trying to decide if you should print your book, what format it should be printed in (hard or soft copy), if you should launch with an audiobook, or an eBook, then you should real everything back in before you step out with your book and make sure you are clear why you are doing it. The format you are launching in should be planned before you finish writing. It should be part of your marketing plan. And, when you are writing, you should have all the formats your book is available in listed on your copyright page. A professional would launch in all formats, as an fyi.
Let’s take another look at my client I was talking about earlier… she is worried about printing her book because over the years her content has been used to discredit her and the subject she stands up for. She is aging and, I’m sure before she leaves this planet, she wants to write all the details of her tremendous story because there are legal implications that keep an individual in prison. Should something happen to her this is her bible for all accounts in her case. She’s been living her story her entire adult life. I know there has to be a certain level of peace to release all the content into a manuscript. There have been so many things locked in her head and I can only imagine the freedom it will give her to finally let it all go and be held safely on the pages she’s written. I haven’t yet asked her why she feels compelled to write this next book but of all my authors, she’s got big reasons to do so. Nailing down her why is going to help determine the best format to produce her book in. There is a certain protection a printed book has for sensitive information.
When many original ancient or sacred texts are kept under lock and key you know the power of taking something to print. Sacred texts or topics can range from anything on the bible, earth mysteries, world religion, freemasonry, or legendary creatures. The Dead Sea Scrolls for example, the scrolls cover a wide range of topics and genres. The biblical scrolls are said to include texts from every book of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). Other scrolls are Jewish sectarian writings, administrative documents, deeds of sale, and even divorce and marriage records. The manifestation of thought into the physical can historically preserve information. How strongly do you feel about the preservation of your manuscript? There is a certain level of preservation a printed or bound book allows verses the digital form.
But, here is even another, maybe more far out, thought for you to consider. Have you heard of the Akashic Records? The Akashic Records are believed to be the repository of every thought, word, and deed of every living being, good, bad, and awful, in all times; past, present, future. But those familiar with the records report that there is no judgment or implied penalty in the records — they are said to simply be a record of each soul’s journey through the infinite.
Explorations of the Akashic field were also a major focus of the writings and work of Edgar Cayce. Cayce’s Akashic studies suggested that there is a storehouse of information in a non-physical plane of existence, which maintains a record of every soul’s past, present, and future. Cayce’s readings are some of the best known. So perhaps when we bring something to the physical we are pulling segments out of our Akashic Records (or life experiences) to share with others? There’s something rather fascinating about this concept, no?
Regardless of your experience or beliefs, (because, yes, I do like to periodically stretch those) you are the ultimate decision maker at the end of the day. The format you choose to share your material in is just going to take a bit of consideration. If you want the most professional appearance you always go for a hard cover book with a jacket. But, you also offer every other format. If appearance doesn’t matter to you then its up to you. You might only print the printer minimum in hard cover books and do the remainder in soft cover. So, you have a selection of both to offer. Your audience might prefer you launch an audiobook. But, the size of your manuscript might persuade this. A 500K word manuscript spoken is not for the faint of heart! If you have an endless budget you launch with hard cover, quickly produce soft cover, and while everything is at the printer you move into an eBook and audiobook so that when it’s off the printers assembly line and in your hands you have all formats available. If budget is a concern, you launch a limited edition hard cover and the remainder soft cover. If you just don’t have $2K to print 100 books then your only other option is to go digital. So, who you are talking to and their preference is important; how professional you want your appearance; and budget and timing are all meaningful factors in choosing your format.
Since the cost of printing has quadrupled during covid, you just have to be prepared to have some discussions about printing right up front in the publishing process. There are certain aspects of the publishing process where you will just know if you are over your head or not, whether you need guidance or not, and when its time to hire a coach or not. If you plan on writing multiple books, hiring a coach is kinda a no-brainer — you’re going to get your money back right after the first book because now you know the system for every book that comes after. If you want the best book possible and you’ve never published before, you’re also going to want to hire a coach. Once you learn the basics you can run with every manuscript your produce for life thereafter.
My dogs and I have had a very quiet Fourth of July extended holiday weekend. They are sitting here at my feet as I complete this podcast. They are happy to be country dogs as we don’t get too many fireworks in horse country. I’ve done a bit of gardening and a lot of thinking over the last few days. There have just been so many things on my mind that come and go so fast these days. The world is changing so quickly and the spikes in the Schumann resonance (the earths vibration) have been off the charts lately. If you’re having a hard time compiling words, staying grounded, or just want to sleep - now you know why. There is so much to adjust to these days. Many have said we are working our way through an ascension process and moving to a higher vibration. I believe there is a personal responsibility and our role in the evolution of humanity is one that first starts with recognizing self. Are you doing the work to be a better human?
Those things that are said to be holding us back from ascension are oftentimes the regrets we live with, the choices we’ve made or continue to make, and how we create presence or walk our life path. If writing a book is something you feel a longing to complete in this lifetime - don’t let it be a regret! Life is short. Tomorrows aren’t guaranteed. Please give me a call and I’d be happy to get you started on the path to becoming an author. I’m at (808)280-5559. I’m here to help you get started and will hold your hand through every phase of the project til you are no longer holding my hand, but rather holding your book!
For now, I’m back to gardening. I’m excited to see the enormous number of large tomatoes ready to burst at the seams, and the beautiful green lettuce and snap peas coming out of my garden right now. When you’re ready, I’m here.
And, if you haven’t heard about it, or seen it, The Sound of Freedom movie just opened in theaters on July 4th. I know the theater isn’t a place for me to see it as I’d have to have a box of tissues and I’d rather do all the crying at home when it’s available. Make sure you are always celebrating your loved ones and now that you know… keep an eye out for others!
Wishing you peace, love, and light.
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