The transition from author to publisher is not as difficult as you might expect. If you’ve successfully self-published your first book on Amazon, you’re familiar with the tasks expected of you. You know about file formats, formatting and the various steps involved in transitioning your ideas from word processing to Kindle or paper.
You’re also familiar with the importance of book marketing and a successful book launching.
The advantages of positioning yourself as a publisher are many. It offers new possibilities and opportunities for meeting other authors who may run into unexpected obstacles whether they’re trade-published or self-published. It’s an additional source of income—consulting with other authors and helping them upload files to Amazon—that might tide you over as you take a break from writing your own books,
Best of all, as you work with your future books as well as projects for other authors, your comfort with familiarity with self-publishing will make it easier to turn your own book into a series of books.
The first step is to transition your first book into a series. The following suggestions and tips may help you get started on your journey. Remember the ultimate goal: to replace dependence on a single title with a stream of profits from multiple activities.
- Expand the focus of your first book
If you’re like most nonfiction authors, your first book was a general introduction to the topic and the tasks required for success. It may have been a “brain dump” of everything you know about the topic.
Your future books—and the future books of the authors you’re working with—might benefit from focusing your topic on specific occupations or reader categories. Categories might be regional editions, professions, students, successful entrepreneurs, or those who have run into difficulties. The nice thing about a series is that future titles don’t necessarily have to undermine the sales of your first book.
- Choose an easy to remember metaphor
As collage of Stan Phelps’s (www.stanphelps.com) books show, you don’t particularly need to include the word “publish” or “publisher” in your business name or website. That might weaken your position as an author/publisher.
Instead, choose a memorable word, one that reflects your business philosophy or attitude. His “colored goldfish” series of books make his book series memorable. Typical titles include Blue Goldfish: Using Technology, Data, and Analytics to Drive Both Profits and Prophets and Purple Goldfish 2.0: 10Ways to Attract Raving Customers.
- Identify the 5-7 major topics in your first book
As you move beyond the success of our first book, knowing that you’re going to be publishing a series of books, you might want to review the contents of the first book. If you’ve written a general introduction to a topic, for example, you might want to review the contents and see if there are topics in it that you might want to discuss in future volumes.
- Update with new examples and research
Chances are, immediately after publishing your first book, you might have come up with new information or examples that you wish you had included. You can include new examples go into future editions, especially editions that focus on specific categories of business or different stages of a reader’s career. You could target recent college graduates, for example. Or a reader’s marital status. Finally, taking a cue from successful cookbooks, you could target different regions of the country.
- Solicit contributions from others in your field
As you transition from author to publisher, remember that it’s not necessary to write every word in the book yourself. As publisher, you can produce books that other authors in your field have contributed to. When you visit Stan’s page on Amazon, note that other Stan Phelps titles were co-authored by experts in the field. As a publisher, you can prepare a detailed table of contents for your book and assign chapters—or sections of a chapter—to a coauthor.
This is a technique that Jay Conrad Levinson used in producing over 100 Guerrilla Marketing books. The books were “his,” but other experts permitted Jay to produce more books during his career.
- Write about winners and losers
Often, nonfiction books are difficult to read because there is no “plot,” or story of the challenges that successful businesses or entrepreneurs have experienced. Every story doesn’t have to be a success story. Highlight specific experiences adds an element of personalization to even the boring topics.
Don’t omit your own story. Chances are, you overcame some obstacles turning a passion into a profitable business. During the process, you probably learned lessons that could save your readers a lot of lost income or created a lot of stress.
- Turn Your first cover into a template
Templates can save you a lot of time and money producing future titles. Templates eliminate most of the decisions you (or your graphic designers) would normally have to address in future books. With templates, typeface, type size, line spacing, alignment, and placement are the same from title to title. As you examine Stan Phelps’ book covers, notice that each one uses a dramatically different color, but the placement of the other front cover elements remains the same.
If you buy one title, you’re likely to buy others. Stan’s pricing strategy encourages multi-title purchases.
- Think like an entrepreneur
Practice restraint as you transition from author to publisher. Focus on the whole process of publishing success, i.e. don’t neglect marketing as you explore new frontiers. Give yourself time to make the transition. Whenever possible, look for tasks in the publishing process that can be delegated to others. The more time you have for mentoring others and marketing your own, and your client’s books, the more benefits, rewards, and success you’ll enjoy.
Roger C. Parker’s first book was Looking Good in Print: A Guide to Basic Design for Desktop Publishing sold throughout the world. Looking Good was the first of Roger’s 30+ books. It played an important role in the rapid growth of desktop publishing software. Today, Roger offers tools and advice for new authors and a free interactive planning guide, 99 Questions You Should Ask Before Writing and Publishing a Nonfiction Book. Drop Roger an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and he’ll send you a copy for free!
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