Strictly Business

Monday, Nov 18 2013 04:00 PM

RUSS ALLRED: Getting ink the way it suits you

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    Russ Allred, business consultant and author at Sunbelt Business Brokers & Advisors.

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BY RUSS ALLRED Contributing columnist

Many entrepreneurs attempt to gain the public's attention through publicity. One way to get media attention is to be recognized as an expert. The fast lane to expert status is to publish your work in a journal or book. Being published implies that others have reviewed your thoughts and recognize you as knowledgeable in your field. With social media and blogs, it has never been easier to spread your thoughts to scores of people, but getting published by a major house is still very rare.

You have four choices when it comes to publishing a book or "getting ink." The first is to self-publish. That gives you complete control of the book's content and appearance, but means you have to self-edit, create your own cover art, choose the fonts, design the pages, organize the cover quotes and recommendations, acquire an ISBN and bar code, and promote your own sales. Almost every printer can produce an attractive book, but some are set up for that purpose so they are more cost effective.

When you self-publish, you also get to set the price. You can get an attractive mark-up and you don't have to share it with your publisher. I used Whitehall Press to print "Best Practices of High Performance Entrepreneurs" because it was cheaper than the other printers I surveyed. If you want to use channels of distribution, then the ISBN and bar code are mandatory. There are exchanges that sell them.

If you have enough money, you can send your text to a vanity press and they will charge you for all the services mentioned above, plus a fee for their "consulting service." They will require you to buy a minimum quantity of books and price them according to the number you buy. You will probably have to sign a contract specifying who owns what rights. Be careful not to assign any rights to the Vanity Press beyond the number of books you buy. In case the book takes off, they should not get any future royalties.

I submitted my novel "Dead Gold" and my latest book "Ten-Minute Retreats for Business Owners" to Publish America, an on-demand publisher. They did all the work including book design and didn't charge me a dime. In fact, they sent me a token check of $1 upon executing our contract. By contract, they pay me a royalty for every book they sell and I can buy individual books at big discounts to give or to sell. They are a legitimate publisher, but they don't offer the guaranteed distribution that we enjoyed with Penguin Putnam.

My first published book, "The Family Business," was with Berkley, a division of Penguin Putnam. My co-author-brother and I worked with Larson Pomada Literary Agents. They required us to follow the outline in their book, "How To Write a Book Proposal." After months of creating and editing, they asked us for 15 copies of the 160-page proposal. They used their connections with the major houses in New York and scheduled several interviews for us. We took the best offer of a $20,000 advance and they guaranteed placement of 8,000 copies in bookstores across the country.

All four methods of publishing rely on your abilities to promote your book, but as a business owner that should be your strength.

-- Russ Allred, MBA, is a business consultant and author with Sunbelt Business Brokers & Advisors. These are his opinions, not necessarily those of The Californian.

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