How to get published – a lesson for small business owners

By January 16, 2013 All members

Phil HawthornYou know the phrase “Get a little bit famous” – I’m sure you have heard Nigel Temple say it occasionally – well yes; it’s not a bad idea.  It can be good for business – let alone a fillip for your ego!  Getting yourself published is one of the more powerful ways to do it.  (I have heard Nigel say that getting on TV is one of the best ways.  And when I appeared on ITV’s “Britain’s Best Dish” – Orange Infused Chicken Liver Pate, if you need to know – then yes, my usual traffic to the web-site went seriously bananas.  30 to 50 hits became 1500…)

Where to publish what, and why?  Press releases about your activities can help, as can advertorials, blogs, e mail newsletters and the like.  This can show you are a bit of an expert in your chosen field, which makes you a little bit famous, and maybe the turn-to person for a new or even a current client. (I am sure more advice on these specifics is available via The Marketing Compass?)

I’m talking here though about that book which all of us have inside us.  It’s time to let it out!

It is now so easy to do.  The hard thing is writing the darn thing in the first place.  Let me take you through the gestation of mine, and how I got myself published.  With the advent of e readers and e-books, and the simplicity of the process via Amazon, if you have something nearly written then you can go ahead and get it out there.

I had written an outline for a cookery book for men some years back, and was constantly sending the outline and a few chapters to publishers and agents.  I religiously bought The Writers and Artists year book every Christmas, then splurged loads of letters, then despaired.  After 69 rejections, I phoned one or two that were holding onto my submission (Outline, 3 chapters, market research, positioning etc.).  “We are just not taking anyone new on at the moment – a bit risky in the current climate…and lots of other publishers are similar to us…”

OK – I know, it could be just that the book was badly written or just awful.  My ego told me this wasn’t the case.  But now I had to write it!  (I had been told not to fully write the book – unlike a novel, which needs completeness, a reference / factual book may have style and content dictated more by publishers or agents – at least, that’s what I had been advised).

The recession had caused a turndown in my main management and team training business – so I had the space and time.  I also had a mind-map outline for each chapter.  And I wrote the thing in 3 weeks, to first edit stage.  60 000 words, 50 photos.

You need help to edit.  I had 3 critical readers. One vegetarian friend who hates cooking, but used to be in publishing (local newspapers).  One PhD (in English) from Oxford.  She runs writing courses, so thought that would help.  And a bloke who learnt how to cook when his wife was ill…my target audience, sort of…

Upshot? Changed 15 000 words.  Much tighter, we all thought.

Now, the fun began.

Kindle Direct Publishing is the key to the next stage.  (I am sure other e-publishing is available, in the spirit of open markets).

https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/signin/

You will see you need an amazon account if you want to go any further.  When you do, click on Help and a whole array greats you.  They guide you through preparing the book, publishing it and merchandising it.  There is a lot to read – and the advice keeps changing, sometimes conflicting in different parts of the site.  Your needs will be different if you are a Mac aficionado, for example.

The guides are plenty good enough – you don’t need to buy a self help book to do this, if my experience is anything to go by.

It pays to follow the rules.  I got so het up on them, that I did print a lot of the advice out and kept it with my printed copies (from my critical readers).  When I published, here’s some of the rules I stuck to – remember they may have updated since…

  • Times New Roman 12 point seems safest (Readers can choose their type face – it comes out Arial on my Kindle…)
  • Photos need to be centred
  • New paragraph – just use the return key – it seems to indent when it formats itself
  • New chapter – need to insert as a proper page break using the drop down – any shortcuts you are used to don’t format correctly
  • It preferred .doc – i.e. Word 2003 for some reason
  • It doesn’t like tables
  • Bullet points do work – even though some of the FAQs say they don’t…

There are some scary bits, such that you will end up with loads of copies of your book.  I remember one of the last stages involves converting it (I think to HTML) – which also magically reduces the file size.  Pressing that button needed two cups of tea to build up the courage!

Amazon’s help is slightly frustrating, being e mail based.  You tend to get into very slow tennis, because their answer creates another question from you.  You do get there, but may lose faith waiting.

You may just have a helpful short e book for your clients or other customers.  You may have a full novel.  Or a cook book (can men cook?) – Just a thought!  (You can “look inside” at Amazon).

Do you make money?  A little, but more indirectly.  Directly – if you sell for less than £6.99, you receive 70% royalty.  I have sold tens, not hundreds.  But because I have written this, I have done 7 paid gigs around cooking demos and the analogies between cooking and organisations.

Next?  Book 2 came from a suggestion from Nigel – and there is a blog already www.softskillsforhardtimes.com

And I am currently going through the process of making “Can Men Cook?” a physical book, through another Amazon company, CreateSpace.

Watch this space!

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2 Comments

  • Nigel Temple says:

    Most interesting, Phil! I agree that we all have a ‘book inside us’. A published book can be a fantastic promotional device. My last book generated a mention in The Guardian, front page coverage in my local paper, radio interviews and dozens of other media mentions.

    Once you decide to write a book, something inside of you changes. You walk a little taller and you think differently. I wish you all the best with the books and keep us posted!

  • Jacqui-Hogan says:

    Absolutely right Nigel & Phil. I’ve just published a small ebook, really to test the water for the big one I’m writing. I’ve quite astonished by the response so far. And hugely proud of my ‘baby’!

    I published through Amazon straight to Kindle, who make it very straightforward to do. Don’t underestimate the amount of editing required though, and check ALL formats.

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