Welcome to the conclusion of my interview with Peter Bowerman. If you missed them, Part 1 overviewed two of Peter’s books, while Part 2 began our
Q & A about self-publishing. Peter is an award-wining author, veteran commercial freelancer and business coach. His books are informative and a joy to read. We pick up here on the topic of self-publishing…
You mention the cover design of your first book as being crucial to its success – in fact the old adage that people judge books by their covers seems to hold true. Can you pass on any do’s and don’ts about cover design?
Very simple. Invest time and money coming up with a good cover. Conservatively, 250,000 new books are published every year. Those in a position to distribute, stock, or review those books are always looking for reasons to “cull the herd,” and the most common way to do so is covers. Don’t make their job any easier. Hire a professional, NOT your cousin who’s “artistic.” As an author, don’t trust yourself to know what good design looks like. Trust in others who know.
Even though self-publishing seems to have thrown off – to a degree at least – the negative aspects of vanity publishing, do you think that self-publishing is still viewed with suspicion and prejudice by the book market. Why do you think this is in a world dominated by social media and the citizen journalist?
While there’s still a stigma attached to self-publishing – well-deserved in most cases – self-publishing is definitely rising in respect and prestige. At the annual Ben Franklin Awards, produced by IBPA (The Independent Book Publishers Association, the largest organization catering to independent publishers), there are always “talent scouts” from the big publishing houses in attendance, or at the very least, monitoring, and in many cases, contacting the award winners and in effect, “cherry-picking.” They know the winners have written solid books. So, the perception is changing.
In addition, I’d like to think that bar is rising, in part, thanks to books like mine, both The Well-Fed Writer, by example, and more logistically, through my book, The Well-Fed Self-Publisher: How to Turn One Book into a Full-Time Living. One of my key goals of writing that book was to raise the bar on the quality of self-published work, and judging by the feedback and results it’s spawned, so far, it’s succeeded.
If other freelance writers are considering self-publishing as a part of their writer platform, what do think their biggest challenge will be with the process?
Well, whether you’re self-publishing or conventionally publishing, everyone starts in the same place: coming up with a topic that’s marketable. Using my books as an example, I knew there was a market for a book (The Well-Fed Writer) offering a complete blueprint for starting your own lucrative writing business (as opposed to another simply straight “freelance writing” book – most of which discuss avenues of dubious financial potential).
Ditto with The Well-Fed Self-Publisher, a book offering a complete blueprint for profitably self-publishing your book. Not just telling you how to self-publish, but (as my subtitle – accurate, mind you – promises), how to indeed turn one book into a full-time living. And that’s the key – you have to make sure you separate yourself from the pack somehow.
And of course, for many writers, the biggest challenge will be “MARKETING.” The very word is enough to terrorize writers, but having come from that background, I have been able, in my books, to demystify those often-scary concepts so they’ll work for you not against you.
Do you have any favorite self-publishing resources that other writers may want to consider?
Well, the book that inspired me (and thousands of others), of course, is Dan Poynter’s, The Self-Publishing Manual. This guy is the godfather of self-publishing, started doing it back in 1977 (hard to imagine…), and has updated the book a zillion times since.
John Kremer’s, 1001 Ways to Market Your Book, is another classic. A ton of great ideas. But know that John will be the first to tell you that you can only do 4-5 really well!
Brian Jud – Beyond the Bookstore, for those books that have “special sale” potential (i.e., can be sold in large quantities to different entities).
Shel Horowitz’s Grassroots Marketing for Authors and Publishers.
These are the ones that come to mind.
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Thank you, Peter, for taking the time to talk (or in this case type) with Daddy Brain. If you’d like to learn more about either of Peter’s books just click the appropriate title:
And remember, you are not alone…