There are two ways to react to a broken business model. One: Sulk, Lament Change. Two: Find Success Stories, Replicate.
Before we give you a rah-rah speech on Two (because we aren’t in the business of sulking), let’s briefly discuss the publishing business model and how it’s broken. Story time!
So I was one-half of a business called “12 Minute Marketing.” It was fun, a great experience, I learned a lot, and we made a little bit of noise. In fact, that noise led to a random email from an “Acquisitions Editor” at a publishing company that (I’ll bet) you have heard of. This editor (we’ll keep the company name out of this discussion) wanted to talk to us about turning 12 Minute Marketing into a book.
It was like he was a mind reader! We knew that a book was a logical extension of the business, so this is great!
Not so fast. We did have chats with the editor, and found this person to be very likable. In fact, we’d venture to say that this company gave us the perception that the book publishing industry is doing well – since we were also left with the impression that the company wasn’t exactly champing at the bit to work with us.
Mind reading aside, we had done our research, so we knew that the odds were stacked against us. And here’s why:
1% of the authors make 99% of the money.
In fact, in the interest of sharing what I’ve learned so that you don’t have to make mistakes that can cripple your plan of finding an extra $10,000 through the right kinds of efforts…
FACE TO FRYING PAN ITEM 1: IF you are a first-time author, regardless of genre, expect an advance that is in the $3,000 to $5,000 range.
FACE TO FRYING PAN ITEM 2: Major publishers (like the one we talked to, referenced above) are delighted to share in the revenues from your book…to the tune, if you’re lucky, of PENNIES per book sold. Not dollars. I’ve seen estimates as low as $0.13 per book.
FACE TO FRYING PAN ITEM 3: You are the person who will do the bulk of the heavy lifting when it comes to marketing (SELLING) your book.
Okay, we’re done here. Let’s move on to the whole “Find Success Stories, Replicate” thing.
Guy, Amazon, And You
Guy Kawasaki has something he calls “APE.” Here’s a link to the site (which is, uh, loud, no?): APE. Upshot: you are your own Author, Publisher and Entrepreneur. Cut out any middlemen and pass the savings on to yourself.
It’s not THAT easy, though. There’s work involved – like…
- Finding a topic to write about
- Researching that topic
- Writing about that topic
- Re-writing, editing
- Actually publishing the book
- Marketing the book (a process that we could devote hours to)
Which brings us to Amazon, and this screenshot:
No, I’m not going to retire off of what you see here (figures from a month’s worth of Amazon earnings). But, like any emerging…anything…there’s promise. And promise is good. Consider the following:
- This is from a book written in 2009 and updated in 2010 and 2011;
- These figures represent the results of ZERO MARKETING.
- I’m not kidding – I didn’t do anything to market this book. Nothing – after I put it on the Kindle Direct Publishing platform, I left it alone and went about my business.
If you’re thinking what I’m thinking…what would happen if I did some actual WORK around this?
Let’s return to the premise here: you can – and should – find those weaknesses in the business model and exploit them. And you can do this in the most ethical fashion possible. Here are a few suggestions:
Find an area that is yet to be discovered
Back in 2009, I was locked in my basement helping to revolutionize the intersection between real estate and social media. That’s now been done and overdone, so I’m off to take the concept behind the book and work other angles with it. (Stay tuned for that – I told you this site would be transparent, but not to the point of telling you what our next move is.)
This is possibly an over-used concept – “value” – but it’s very important. Information that helps people do their jobs better, and is presented in a format that’s easy to follow and accessible, and can save people time and/or money…that’s value. Bring it to the table and don’t be ashamed to charge for it.
Price it appropriately
It should be noted that the books I sell on Amazon are priced at $2.99 each.
If I were doing this in a niche industry where this information is not readily available, I could probably charge much more.
If I were doing this in a quick-hit magazine format, I’d call it a Kindle Single and sell it for $1.99.
In the days to come, we’re going to walk you through some of the things we’ve done in our book-selling journey – good and bad – so you can figure out what works.
Til then, I’ve got a $6.06 check to cash!