As I (Dara) sit here at the San Diego airport waiting for my flight, my head is spinning. I couldn’t wait to get this post to you because I have learned amazing things at a conference I just attended for entrepreneurs. I’m an even firmer believer in self-publishers seeing themselves as entrepreneurs!
I spent three days in the company of experts, small business owners, and coaches who all need a book, have a book, or are in the process of writing one. Most are going to self-publish, which was very cool to see.
Several asked me how they could get moving sooner rather than later. I got the feeling that many of them had their content ready (or were close), but found the process of self-publishing daunting. They wanted their book to be perfect. Sound familiar?
I know for me, it took years before I got the courage to even write the outline for my book. I knew it would be a lot of work. I also knew that I would need a lot of help.
I wished that I had just started writing.
Here’s what: sometimes you just have to build the plane as you fly it (a piece of advice picked up this past weekend). Your first draft is never going to be right, perfect, or even well-structured. Some content shouldn’t be released before ready, but for some of us, having something (knowing it will evolve over time) is good enough.
You can always update, add new content, and refine over time.
The host of our event this weekend at one point asked the room, who had a book in them. As I looked around, I estimated more than 80 percent of the room raised their arms with enthusiasm.
I was shocked.
I suspect that only 10 percent of the room ACTUALLY had a book done and available for sale. What a great place to have had a finished book — in a room where your peers are likely in need of your content and prepared to buy it. Yet, few had a book ready to sell. In most cases, if you’re an expert or even a novelist, there are simple and affordable ways you can move forward with self-publishing in lieu of waiting for perfection.
1. Start with a few chapters available as an ebook
This tip works well for both fiction and nonfiction authors. Using Smashwords, Bookbaby, or Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing service, upload the content you have and offer it as an ebook. Include a teaser or blurb about the full book’s details.
2. Use print-on-demand to test the market and print small runs
Instead of waiting for agents to pick you up or for your book to be “ready” for print, use CreateSpace or a company like Blurb to produce hard copies in a small and limited run. You can sell these until your actual book is ready. You can also only print as you need them. I did this for my book as a way to show it at events and also to make critical changes.
3. Pull material into an “early edition” available to limited audiences
Basically a piggy back of number two; proofread your work thoroughly, knowing there are changes you are likely to make, but publish it as an “early edition.” Check out how author Ryan Casey is doing that for his book What We Saw here. This strategy actually expands the life of your book, since as your first edition is released, you’ll draw fresh readers.
What do you think? Would you feel comfortable doing a pre-release of your early content?