The business of publishing: four rules that will almost guarantee you success

Posted in Book Publishing on December 7th, 2011 by admin


Written by  Sue Collier

Most writers I speak to are quite passionate about the craft of writing. The business of publishing, however, is another story for many of them. But once you commit to self-publishing—if you do it right—you are no longer just an author. You are a publisher running a business.

Here are four rules to follow that will go far in ensuring you are a success:

1. Make it easy for people to do what you want them to do. This applies to individual consumers, trade customers, publicity people—everyone, everywhere. Remove the roadblocks, and you’ll have better results.

My long-time mentor and co-author of The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing, 5th Edition, Marilyn Ross, has had extraordinary success applying this rule. It got her a feature in Modern Maturity (now known as AARP The Magazine), which at the time had a colossal circulation of 22.5 million. Here’s how it happened: Marilyn, who was promoting her book Country Bound! Trade Your Business Suit Blues for Blue Jean Dreams, scrutinized the magazine carefully to find a column that gives readers useful information. Then she wrote a piece on the five dos and the five don’ts about moving to a smaller town. She made it effortless, following the format in the magazine, adhering to the word count and other guidelines. There was nothing left for the editor to do, which made him quite happy. Such customizing can land you valuable magazine space as well.

2. Follow up. The squeaky wheel does indeed get the grease. It is constantly proven to us that we get results we never would have achieved because we continue to ask for the sale, stay visible, and be politely persistent about PR. There is a rule of seven in business. What this means is that people must hear about you seven times before they are moved to act. Calling a reviewer or a producer a couple of times then giving up is like ordering a beautiful steak dinner and walking out before it is served.

3. Apply the 80/20 rule. This says you’ll get 80 percent of your results from 20 percent of your efforts or customers. In essence, it means determine what’s working and focus on that priority. Don’t waste time on marginal paybacks. Spend 80 percent of your time pursuing the most profitable 20 percent.

4. Ask for what you want. This is perhaps the simplest rule yet the most ignored. A person will usually accommodate your wishes, assuming they are reasonable, and you let the person know what it is you want. So often we neglect to communicate our desires. Want a pleased customer to write a customer review on Ask for it! Want to speak at the next annual convention of an association that parallels the topic of your book? Request to be on the program. You get the idea.

(Portions of this article have been excerpted from The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing, 5th Edition, by Marilyn Ross and Sue Collier. Writer’s Digest Books, 2010)

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