The world of writing has changed since I first wrote Daily Things of Christian Living. Even ten years ago, a self-published author purchased several thousand books in order to get a decent price. Of course, in the somewhat small market of a particular organization – a book selling several hundred copies has done quite well. The exceptions to that number of sales would be the excellent books authored by David K. Bernard, Joy Haney, the late Nona Freeman and other select authors or titles.
It is not my intent to be negative, but at that point few authors actually made money from writing. Too many books had to be printed for the author to get a decent price, there was a small circle of purchasers and most authors did not circulate as evangelists or speaking in events or numerous local churches. At that point in time for most writers their writing was a ministry, without financial remuneration.
Print Requirements and Low Sales Volume = An Inventory Crunch
The challenge with buying several thousand books for a lower price point, is that those books equal cash stacked in a warehouse. Not only did inventory over-stock happen to self-published authors, it happened to large publishers. For large publishers, the books were usually sold as “remainder” stock for pennies on the dollar. A self-published author did not have the option of selling the “remainder” and had to hold, give away or eventually destroy the inventory. Any of the three options is equal to holding, giving away or destroying cash! Burning money is not a palatable option.
What I’ve just described was then – let’s talk about now. Take heart! Have hope! Write! These days, things are different with both financial and ministry benefits for a self-published writer.
Print on Demand – My latest book Revival in a Plain Brown Wrapper had virtually the same print cost whether I printed one book or 10,000. No inventory! No cash sitting on a shelf. There are other benefits:
- A friend of my wife and I wrote an excellent book on Judah – as praise. When Brenda Bryant goes to speak at an event she has books shipped to that event direct from her printer. She does not need to haul the books in luggage or pack the books to ship ahead of her.
- With my “print on demand” books, I’ll often have orders printed and mailed directly from the printer to the purchaser. The books never come into my hands.
- Technological innovation has reduced the cost of printing down in a really shocking way.
I’m sure there are many print on demand companies to consider. My personal experience, and the only one I can speak to, has been with an Amazon owned subsidiary known as CreateSpace. Visit CreateSpace.com to get an overview of their services. It can be a concierge service where their staff will design and lay out your book for you, to the other extreme – a guided, easy to follow “do it yourself” approach. I’ve had no difficulty in operating the “do it yourself” approach. You won’t either. CreateSpace.com has been a cost effective way for me to self-publish.
Need some perspective:
On a per copy basis, printing Revival in a Plain Brown Wrapper
using CreateSpace.com is less than my earlier cost for printing 4,000 copies of
Daily Things of Christian Living in 1996.
Actually – almost 50% less.
Also, CreateSpace.com being part of Amazon links you with that company’s expertise, marketing and world-wide impact. I encourage you to use the CreateSpace tutorial. (At this point, CreateSpace.com is not paying me for promoting them but they should start.)
A caveat – after your book is initially printed and you have approved a proof, the printer will have it near the top of a print que. As time passes, your book will not be near the top of that same que. When this happens, it can take as many as two or three weeks for CreateSpace.com to print and ship your book. The friend mentioned earlier cannot wait until the week before a seminar to order books from CreateSpace.com.
In short, with CreateSpace.com you will eventually not have the option of ordering your book today, the book being printed and shipped to you tomorrow. Based on conversations I’ve had with representatives of a larger publisher, there are print on demand companies who consistently provide a quicker turn around from the date you order. If keeping no inventory on hand, and having a book printed and shipped almost immediately is important, look beyond CreateSpace. Our approach at carltoncoonsr.com is to keep a small stock of each CreateSpace printed book in inventory.
Perhaps you have had experience with some other print on demand company and want to offer suggestions, a recommendation or even a warning. Please share with this reading audience in the comment section below. We learn from each other.
E-books – The second change in publishing is the increase in the people who use an e-reader. Over half my books are available digitally from Amazon, the Pentecostal Publishing House or from carltoncoonsr.com. The purchaser reads my book as a PDF or on their e-reader.
E-books are a huge benefit to the author. Four benefits revolve around the word, “No.”
After purchase the book is emailed to the purchaser, or a link is sent. As you self-publish make your book available for the Kindle Reader and Kindle app. If you use CreateSpace.com, with your approval, they will turn your book into a Kindle Edition. You set the price for your e-book and receive the agreed upon profits either monthly or quarterly. These funds are direct-deposited into your checking account. There are e-book readers other than Kindle. To date, I’ve not taken advantage of those markets.
With e-books there are benefits beyond the four “no” words. An author can insert links into the book that take the reader to a Youtube video, TED Talk or to audio, video or documents of supplemental material.
Another caveat: a challenge with linking to Youtube or TED Talk type information is the potential for the link changing or being deleted.
E-books can be offered as a benefit in a pre-sale of your printed book. The purchaser who pre-orders a hard-copy of your book gets an immediate down-load of the e-book version at no additional cost. There is no cost, other than a few seconds of time for the self-published author but the motivation to purchase is the offer of “two for one.”
Audio Books – I listen to audio books while mowing, driving or on on the tractor. Marketing my material as audio books is a market area that I’ll explore and you should consider as well. At the outset, I’d use my own voice, but in time would want to have a professional reader. A book can be turned into a downloadable mp3 file. In the large world of publishing, several publishers now offer to sell you an ebook and audio book of the same title. The software keeps up with how far you have read or listened and allows you to seamlessly go from listening to the book while driving to the airport and then pick up reading the book at that exact same location when you are on your plane.
If you have done something with producing audio books please offer we novices some direction.
Now help me in another way! I’m drowning in Daily Things of Christian Living and need you good people to buy them all. Actually, I’m not drowning – 20 plus years after publishing that first book, 3,900 of them are sold. Fewer than 100 remain in inventory. They are on sale just now for $10, normally these are $16.
Also an omnibus of almost all my writing (one or two books are either out of print or not under my control) is available for a limited time at 50% off cover prices. Visit CarltonCoonsr.com for this offer and for other great options. If you have not signed up to receive our current offer or blog posts please do so using the popup.
Books make great Christmas gifts! Actually, books make great any-time gifts.