January 09, 2017
/ by Jim Dougherty
There’s a certain stigma attached when discussing self-publishing in mixed company. After all, there is a certain prestige to being published by an established publishing house, and many people perceive self-publishing as lower echelon of the measure of quality, publicity, and distribution of as lower quality. But this post isn’t about helping you write your book. It’s about exploring the different options available to self-publishers to produce a quality, low-cost tangible product. Many people have written books of aggregated blog posts (most notably Steve Levitt and Steven Dubner of the Freakonomics blog), many communications and marketing professionals simply have some higher concept ideas that work better in long form and that people would read better as a book. Publishing a book can also add credibility and authority to your company as well as your personal brand.
In this post, we will look at some of the services that are available to produce a self-published book of content relatively cheaply. One resource that I would strongly recommend (even if you’re not publishing a book for profit) is Guy Kawasaki’s APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur. Kawasaki has worked both with publishing houses and self-published, and his understanding of each helps to give perspective to the different aspects of writing and editing a long-form piece of content (book). The only downside to Kawasaki’s insight is that he is going to motivate you to buy a copy of the Chicago Manual of Style, which I did and have spent many evenings falling asleep to.
Lulu is one of the more established self-publishing platforms, allowing a lot of autonomy and robust with both support and upsell options. It belongs to a group of self-publishing services that enable you to do most of the work yourself, which substantially lessens the price to print.
Perhaps one of the most compelling benefits of using Lulu is straightforward pricing. You can publish a 100-page softcover book for under $2.50 per unit. If you want to do something in a higher quality, you can also publish a hardcover book or photo book for an additional cost.
Even though the quoted price in the image is for a minimum of 48 books, Lulu performs print on demand (POD), where you could order less than 48 copies of a book for a slightly higher price.
Lulu also has very well-elaborated support. Kawasaki talks a lot about formatting and print issues with self-publishing, and Lulu has a lot of support documentation about how to prepare your document submission to avoid printing problems.
The bottom line with Lulu is that it may be close to ideal for communications and marketing professionals who have high attention to detail and a small budget.
The Book Patch
Perhaps CreateSpace would be appropriately grouped with the Lulu-like companies, was it not for its parent company: Amazon. CreateSpace is quite similar to Lulu in the book services that it offers. You can print-on-demand one book at a time with no set-up fee if you do all of the work yourself, or you can opt for any of their editing, design, and promotion options. It is a little more expensive than Lulu and the Lulu-like publishers, but it is special in its inclusion in the Amazon ecosystem.
For example, you can quickly publish digital copies of your CreateSpace-published book through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. You can also sell your physical book on Amazon. Perhaps for promotional publishing an Amazon affiliation is more firepower than you need, but for some businesses the prestige of selling on Amazon may be worthwhile.
The Espresso Book Machine is a pretty amazing machine. It is a free-standing print-on-demand machine that will publish your book immediately upon order.
There is a nominal set-up fee (about $100), and then you can print your book on-demand by online order or at the physical location of a machine. The only caveat to this is that there aren’t a lot of these machines out in the world. We have one in my hometown at the Cincinnati Public Library, but the benefit of this technology for most people is going to be publishing small batches on demand similar to the Lulu product. If they were everywhere, they would likely be the most convenient way to publish your book, though.
Don’t overlook local printing options when considering publishing long-form content. Many printers have the capability to bind books and may give you similar rates to the print-on-demand services, and perhaps, more importantly, provide face-to-face customer service that may help to improve the quality of your final product.
There is also a subset of publishers whose entry-level products include some combination of editing, design, and promotion. Depending on the number of books you intend to print, this naturally increases the cost, but likely gives you a better product. Of course, the promotional aspect may not be as useful for businesses distributing a book to clients as it would be to a self-publishing author.
Some of the prominent “inclusive” publishers are:
Mill City Press
What I wanted to point out in this post is how inexpensive it can be to publish long-form content. For marketers and communications professionals, using a tactic like publishing may make some of your content more accessible for people with preferences towards reading books or for discovery in particular contexts. You may have a series of vetted blog posts, instructions, emails, or repurpose other sources of material for printing.
Remember also that cheapest isn’t necessarily the best. I recommend reading Guy Kawasaki’s Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur to understand how important all of the different aspects (copywriting versus editing, design) are to producing an excellent published product.
(Photo Credit: Pixabay)
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