By Jeanne Ellen Russell - firstname.lastname@example.org
Not too long ago I taught a seminar class called "Boost Your Business with a Book." The premise was the idea that professional could increase their business by publishing a book in their field. The class taught students how to self-publish with Amazon's print-on-demand publishing service, Create Space.
I still think writing a book is a great way for professionals to set themselves apart, but I found that the people who took my class were not there to boost their businesses. They were there because they had something they wanted to say.
There was the woman writing a novel based on the life of a local historical figure; the veterinarian who had an idea for a book of pet stories; and the artist who wanted to publish a picture book for her grandchildren. These people had a dream that many of us share. They wanted to be published authors, but they didn't know how to go about it.
It has always been difficult to get a manuscript accepted by a publisher. And until recently that was the only option available for most writers. Self-publishing was just too costly, not to mention the fact that self-published books were considered inferior. Let's face it, when you look at the shoddy writing of some books that do get published, it's not difficult to imagine that the ones that aren't accepted must be horrible. But in reality, there are many reasons for a publisher to turn down a manuscript that have nothing to do with quality.
Publishers are looking for books with a large market appeal or books by an author who is a celebrity or politician with an existing herd of fans. So, while you may be fascinated with the mating habits of the north American groundhog, a publisher might have second thoughts about finding a large enough audience to buy your book, regardless of how well written it is. Unless you are writing the "30-Day Groundhog Diet Book" -- which might get a publisher; but probably not.
So where does that leave you? Do you have to give up your dream because there aren't enough groundhog enthusiasts in the world? Of course not. You can publish your wonderful book, market it to your specific niche market (however weird or small) and maybe even make a profit.
How is this possible? It's possible because of the print-on-demand technology which allows for the high speed printing of books -- as they are ordered. That means self-publishers no longer have to pay to print and store thousands of books at a time. This makes self-publishing cheaper, easier and potentially more profitable than ever before.
You can publish through Create Space for the cost of a proof copy of your book. That's less then $10! Yes, you will probably end up spending much more than that but you don't have to. As long as you have access to a computer and basic computer skills, all the information resources you need to self-publish are available online for free.
It really isn't that difficult. I wrote, laid out, and uploaded my first book, "Affirmations for Abundance," over a long weekend. Granted it is a short book and I have a graphics background, but still the process isn't too onerous, or I couldn't have done it.
I am not recommending that you rush your book. I did it because I had a client who had written a book and I wanted check out Create Space's publishing process for them. It had been several years since I had worked in publishing and things change quickly. I also wanted to combat what I saw as a pervasive scarcity mentality with my topic of abundance.
Another advantage of print-on-demand publishing is timeliness. When writing about a hot topic, you can get your book out quickly, which is a big advantage over traditional publishers - they usually take about 18 months to publish a book.
Finally, I want to address the perception that self-published books are inferior. The quality of your book is up to you. Get a good editor. Solicit criticism from people you respect. And remember, Mark Twain, Upton Sinclair, Stephen King and John Grisham all self-published at some point in their careers.
So, whether you are writing the great American novel or just want to share your expertise on making angel ornaments out of macaroni; get moving. There is no reason that you can't publish, too.
Jeanne Russell is a guest columnist and a creative services professional who lives in Edinburg. Email her at email@example.com