Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Advice for the First-Time Author: A Self-Publishing Q&A

Recently, I was invited to do an interview for the author newsletter of CrossBooks, the assisted self-publishing imprint of B&H. Here's an outtake from that interview.

If you have a manuscript or even just a book idea that you've been carrying for a while I strongly urge you to follow this link to request a free publishing guide from CrossBooks. There's no obligation and it could be the one step that finally propels you to get your book published.

In a changing industry, Paul Mikos tells you how to stay ahead

As Director of Digital Publishing for B&H Publishing Group, the trade publishing division of LifeWay Christian Resources, Paul Mikos knows what it takes to make it in the Christian publishing world.

In this Q&A with CrossBooks, he explains how the industry has changed, what this means for authors, and the No. 1 piece of advice that writers must know.

Q:  Why did LifeWay decide to get into the self-publishing side of publishing?

A:  We recognize that self publishing is becoming an increasingly significant part of the publishing industry. As a solution provider, we want to serve all our customers well. Providing self-publishing solutions is another way we can fulfill our mission. 

Q:  What type of author benefits the most from the self-publishing model?

A:  The self-publishing model makes sense for a lot of people, depending on their publishing goals. A pastor who wants to publish for his congregation, and make the book available for others as well, makes perfect sense. A grandmother who wants to record the family story for generations to come makes perfect sense too. An aspiring novelist who cannot get looked at by a traditional publisher or agent, but still believes in his work and wants to prove there’s a market for it, is a great candidate for self publishing. 

Q:  What types of authors or titles does LifeWay’s traditional publishing arm, B&H Publishing Group, look at to publish?

A:  Hard workers. We are looking for books for which the author has proven there is a market by selling thousands of copies on her own. Getting picked up by B&H or any other traditional publisher does not mean the work is over. In many ways, it means the work is growing. We are looking for messages that we can help reach a bigger audience.

Q:  How important is an author’s established platform to a traditional publisher?

A:  It is very important. While we are very mission minded with a call to take the gospel to the world, we are a ministry that is a business. We look at every book through the lens of business viability. How much will it cost to acquire, develop, sell and distribute, and what kind of return can we expect? The greater platform an author has, the more sales we can anticipate and relieve some risk from the equation. That all sounds very mechanical, and it is, but there’s also a place for instincts. 

Q:  Do I need an agent to go from self-published author to traditionally published author?

A:  No. I think that is one of the great advantages of self publishing. If you want to get picked up by a traditional publisher, sell 5,000 copies of your book and then let every publishing house know about it. 

Q:  Given all the changes in book retailing (e.g., Borders closing, e-books on the rise), what do you think is the role of the bookstore today?

A:  Bookstores are community centers. They’re a place for people to connect over ideas. I believe we will see the superstore concept continue to shrink, and I pray for the rise of local independent booksellers who exist to provide access to specialty books and a place for community. I also expect public libraries to grow as “discovery centers” for books among book lovers, and expect libraries to increase in their role as community centers.

Q:  Do you think it is important for authors to have their e-books on every platform or just the big ones – Amazon Kindle®, Barnes & Noble NOOK® and Apple iBooks®?

A:  Our experience is that these three e-book players make up more than 95% of the e-book market, outside of our own channels, MyStudyBible.com and WORDsearch.

Q:  What’s the best piece of advice you can give to a first-time author looking to get published?

A:  Don’t stop. Do at least one thing every day to move you closer to your goal. 

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