One way to monetize a book is to develop different products that might be targeted to different publishing avenues, including traditional publishing, a distribution deal with a major publisher, and self-publishing and distribution. Additionally, some books lend themselves to licensed products and branding.A traditional publisher is great for retail book channels. But otherwise, you can market the book directly without having to split the royalties with the publisher or give them a cut of distribution. You can work with a fulfillment house to handle the details of orders. Also, you can base your print run on actual orders and go back for an additional print run, rather than planning for an initial print run of a large number of copies unless you make your sales target.Marketing a Niche Version of Your BookIf you develop a niche version of the book, such as a how to guide or collection of chapters featuring profiles of different people in an industry, that can be most effectively marketed through direct selling and self-publishing, rather than through a deal with a traditional publisher. You will earn more and have more control, especially if you are already selling directly to this market. You don’t need to create an expensive PR campaign to reach this market, since such a campaign is much broader in scope than is necessary to reach a targeted audience.You can reach this targeted market through obtaining lists of people in your field and doing direct sales through e-mails; participating in workshops and seminars for this market (and possibly getting paid for such participation); and doing an e-mail blast to the media interested in this subject, such as provided by PR Wire, Business Wire, and PR and Networking Connection, which can reach 20,000+ media contacts. Another approach might be working with a small PR firm, in one of the major cities or in your metro area. Retainers average about $2000-5000 a month.You might also create a bulk sales plan, where you target particular companies or organizations in your field and get them to commit to a certain number of purchases for their employees or members. This approach is best for a self-published book, where you get the money for the sales and don’t have to share that with the publisher. If you have pre-sales, be sure to obtain formal commitments from those who have agreed to purchase the book and at what price.Finding a Publisher for a More Popular Version of Your BookBesides creating a more specialized niche book, you might create a version of your book with broad appeal, such as a popular business or self-help book, for the traditional publishing market. This way, rather than only having a specialized book for those in the field, this popular version would be targeted to a much broader market. In such a case, the publisher normally handles the publicity, and you coordinate your own PR efforts with the publisher. Commonly, publishers want and even expect you to do this extra PR.
If you are going to approach traditional publishers, use a common book proposal format, in which you have a 10-12 page introductory section and a couple of sample chapters. Commonly, this introductory section will include these major sections:
• a 3-4 page overview of book,
• a market research section featuring other books in your field and your comments on how your book is different or better,
• a promotional section on your past PR and what you will do in the future,
• an “About the Author” section,
• a plan of the book in which you indicate the length of the book and when and how you will do it,
• and a chapter by chapter outline.The competitive and comparative titles are typically combined together in a market research section of the proposal. If you have sales figures or Amazon rankings for these books that would be helpful. Typically, it is best to focus on the most recent books organized in reverse chronological order, though include any books that are still selling well.If you have any PR clips, you can include this. If you have testimonials from top people in your field, include them in your proposal, too, and in the promotional materials for the book. If you have published previous books, highlight their sales if they have done well, since traditional publishers are concerned with prior sales figures – and they will use that to help them estimate sales projections for your book. Then, include one to two sample chapters.Commonly, the advances for most books are around $10,000-20,000, which includes the popular self-help and business genres. The royalties are around 10-15% on the retail for a hard cover, 8-10% of the net for a paperback, though you might receive more with a strong proposal. If the book does very well, you will get much more in the long run.Generally, though the manuscript is first considered by an acquisitions editor, senior editor, or other type of acquiring editor, the most important review now is now by marketing. Essentially, the editors recommend what books they would like to edit. But the decision on what to publish rests with an editorial committee and marketing.Even if you have outlined your anticipated sales based on your own marketing and PR effort in the proposal, the editors and marketing people will make their own analysis of how well the book will do. So, for example, even if you think the book will sell 1 to 2 million with all of your PR and direct sales efforts, the editors and marketing people will generally be much more conservative in their evaluation, and base their review on what other books in this genre more normally sell – more commonly about 5000-20,000 copies, or on what the author has previously sold. However, if the author doesn’t already have a very strong track record – say 50,000 or more in sales, that won’t count for much, and could even be a negative. Publishers may also want to test the waters with a limited marketing campaign and first run to see if this is going to be one of those break-out books, but the advance will be based on average sales of books in this category.If you are buying books from your publisher yourself, the publisher will generally sell the books at a retail or wholesale discount of 40-55% if you have a retail seller’s license — or at an author’s discount of around 40% with no advance. By contrast, if you are self-publishing the book, you will make about 70-80% on each book, which typically costs about 20% of the retail price. This is why if you expect to sell a lot more through your sales from direct selling, you might do better to publish that version of the book yourself.Generally, publishers look for books that are around 250-350 pages. Thus, if your book is a very long and comprehensive, it is usually better to organize it into two or three books or into a series of shorter books. In some cases, you can use the extra material, such as interviews with prominent people featured in your book, as an extra download for buyers or as a promotional incentive for prospective buyers to learn about and then buy your book.Doing Publicity for Your BookIf you can do any advance publicity for the book, so much the better. And if you have gotten presales for a specialized version of the book, point this up, too, since this can help you get a larger advance on a general interest version. Or if you already have significant pre-sales, consider going the self-publishing or distribution route, rather than seeking a traditional royalty deal with a publisher, since you will make more.For your PR campaign, it is best to keep your costs down, before you invest a very large sum in PR, such as $100,000 to 200,000 with one of the biggest PR firms. A reason for being cautious is that while you can target major publications, there are no guarantees with PR that you will get the media to pick up your story or if they do that this will translate into book sales. Thus, if you have a limited budget, it can be better to do a pilot campaign in one or two key markets to see if you get traction, and which PR efforts have the most results (such as radio, magazines, or newspapers), before investing a huge sum. You can also keep your expenses down by doing a press release blast through a company like the PR Wire or the PR and Network Connection that goes out to thousands of editors, to supplement the more individualized efforts of a PR person making calls to a small number of targeted contacts.While you are testing the initial response of the media and whether media appearances convert into sales, you can use radio and TV hookups, as well as phone interviews with the print media, rather than expensive tours, which have high costs for travel and daily expenses, in addition to what the PR firm is charging to set up appearances. Then, too, if the people featured in your book live in targeted media areas, you can invite them to be available, rather than traveling personally to every city.
If you are already selling direct to your target market, you don’t need an expensive PR campaign to reach that market.Finally, any PR campaign today should include the social media, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, where you create a targeted campaign through these networks. This has become an important strategy now. Though many traditional media firms don’t include the social media in their usual promotional outreach, many specialty firms do, and the costs of such a campaign, done right, can be substantially less than a campaign to the traditional media, though ideally do both.Using Additional Material for Other ProductsAn alternative to including extra material with your book or as an incentive to buy it, is using this extra material as part of a series of products that are monetized, such as creating a CD with advice or a short PDF that can be sold through an ad campaign or an e-book sold through various platforms. What you can do will depend on what rights you retain if you sell a popular version of the book to a traditional publisher. The rights you retain on the interests of the publisher and what you negotiate.For example, some traditional publishers might want to market your book as a stand-alone item and not be interested in the online bonuses. Or they might like to use these extras as introductory incentives to get PR for the book. Or if you have the rights to these materials, you can market them yourself.
If your book is appropriate, think about the film and TV potential, too, since you might be able to pitch this material separately, as a feature, documentary, or TV series. If so, try to keep the rights for audio and visual rights to your book, so you can monetize this yourself, rather than sharing with a publisher – typically a 50-50 split.If possible, beyond a written proposal, create a professionally done pilot, trailer, or sizzle reel to show what this feature, documentary, or TV series will be like. This will help you in selling the program to a network, film producer, or DVD distributor. They typically want to see an example, not just a proposal. You can easily find videographers to create the video – either in your city or through various online and printed directories of video services.Finally, you might package the extra material on a CD or DVD, such as a collection of interviews, how-to materials, and short videos. You might include this material as a bonus for book purchases or sell this as a stand-alone product. Then, this can be an ideal product to upsell to those who already have the book and want to know more, or you can sell it to others who have not yet bought the book. Or perhaps offer a package price for the book and CD or DVD together.