I am about to violate one of the most basic rules of marketing and give you an insider’s look at the world of self-publishing in the digital age. I probably shouldn’t write this post. My morning coffee hasn’t kicked in and I can tell you that this post will eventually pulled from the site before I even finish the first paragraph. I am writing it out of a desire to be honest with all of you and to explain a dilemma I have been struggling with since I first wrote my book.
I am a server. I have never considered myself much of a writer. After writing almost 400 posts for The Hospitality Formula Network, my writing has improved considerably. If you would have told me five years ago that I would be a published author, I would have laughed at you. This partially explains why I did most everything wrong when I wrote my book.
Here is the traditional route to getting a book published. First you come up with an idea. You write a proposal for this idea and send query letters to publishers. Most never read beyond the third sentence of the letter. The rest look at the name at the bottom and if you haven’t been on a reality show, they discard the letter. If you are lucky, one or two might decide they want you to send them the first few chapters. You get excited and send them these chapters and in return they send you a rejection form letter. I never got that far.
This is not how I did it. As a matter of fact, I did it in a way similar to how you probably would have done it. I came up with the idea for the book. I came up with over 100 potential chapter topics. The 52 best chapter topics went into the book. The rest eventually became some of the original posts on this blog. I spent time before shifts, after shifts, and on my days off writing at my computer. It took about six months for the first draft. Then I edited it. Then I got copies printed and shared it with a few grammarian friends. They returned it covered in red ink. I made adjustments from the three edited copies. I let it sit for a few months and edited it again. Then I sent query letters to agents and got a handful of rejections. One of them was nice enough to tell me why, “you don’t have a platform to reach an audience.”
I felt defeated and put the book away. A few months later, I started reading more about the publishing process. I found out that through a major publishing house an author could only expect to make a percentage on each sale that would be considered a lousy tip for a server. On top of that, they own all of the copyrights to the material forever. This is when I was introduced to self-publishing. I started my first blog and was determined to build a platform from which I could reach an audience. That original blog became The Hospitality Formula Network about eight months later. During that time I met a professional editor who offered to take a look at my book. Three rounds of edits later, I released the first edition of my book.
I am happy to say that the first edition has sold out. If you order my book right now you will receive the shiny new second edition (promise to act surprised when I make the big announcement). It has gone through two more rounds of professional editing. It has been reformatted and even includes some new features. All of the first edition sold out without having to sell my literary soul to the literary devil. You probably know him as Amazon.
What Groupon is to the restaurant business, Amazon is to a self-publisher. There is no doubt that Amazon provides exposure to a massive audience. They are successful because of this. Reaching this audience comes with a price. Amazon takes more than half of the list price of every book sold. The publisher pays for printing, ships the books to them, guarantees that no one will get a better price than they do, and then lists your book. I have often spoken of the evils of Groupon for restaurant owners, but I am faced with the same dilemma. I will probably have to sell out to Amazon to reach the audience I want to reach.
Once I do that, I can no longer offer a discounted price on my book. That is why I am going to take some before going on Amazon to make a deal to my readers. If you order now, I am knocking 25% off the price of the book. I look at it as splitting Amazon’s cut with you. I am also going to sweeten the deal a bit. When the book does come out on Amazon, I am going to offer some bonus material for ordering directly from me. If you buy the book now, not only will you get a lower price, but you will receive all of the future bonuses for free.
This is not my attempt to make a hard sell on you. This is my last ditch attempt to give you a deal while I still can. If you have been debating buying this book, now is the time. In a month or so I am going to be restricted by terms of service that will prevent me from offering this deal. I will only be able to sell my book at full price. If you want to pay less than $19.95, this is the time. I’ve never offered a coupon on this site that would make the price any lower. In just a few weeks, I won’t even be able to honor those. This isn’t a sales tactic, but a warning and a thank you for being with a reader that I didn’t need Amazon to reach.
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