The following is excerpted from the opening statement John made at one of his online chat sessions. In it, he provides some
good basic advice for potential book authors. Enjoy.
1. Should you sell your book to a major publisher, sell it to a smaller publisher, or self-publish?
In general, when someone asks me this question, about 80% of the time I recommend that they try to sell their book to a major
publisher. Why? Because the major publisher will almost always sell more books than a self-publisher. It's not uncommon for them to sell
10,000 or more copies of a book. But, in my experience, perhaps 10% of self-publishers sell that many copies of their books. Yes, there
are exceptions to this (1 out of 10 in my experience).
Here are my basic rules: Go with a major publisher if your book MUST be sold through bookstores. Or, if you have no inclination or
desire to market your book. Or, if you have no money to invest in printing the book yourself. Note that when you sell your book to a
larger publisher, you will get an advance! You get paid to write the book -- before you've written it!
Self-publish if you have a target market that you KNOW how to reach. Better yet, have three target markets you KNOW how to reach.
Be prepared to run a business. Self-publishing is a business that requires lots of time and attention. If you're not willing to spend
at least 1/2 hour every day for at least a year marketing your book, don't self-publish.
2. When should you go with a smaller publisher?
Here are a few reasons you might want to go with a smaller publisher:
You will get a lot more personalized attention.
You will have a publisher who is committed to your book (if they are).
If they specialize in publishing books like the one you want to write.
If they have bookstore or other distribution to that target market.
Here are a few reasons you might not want to go with a smaller publisher:
They pay much smaller advances.
They might not have the same distribution or media clout that a larger publisher has.
They might not be financially sound. What would happen to your royalties if they can't pay?
3. Here are my three rules for professional writers. Violate these only if you don't
intend on making a living as a writer.
1. Never write anything until you've sold it. How do you do that? You write
book proposals. You write query letters. You get the editor to say yes before you write your book. No professional
writer would ever write a book before they'd sold it. When a publisher gets an unsolicited manuscript in, they
know it's an amateur. Professionals would send a query letter or book proposal.
2. Sell everything you write more than once. Sell the article. Then sell a book based on the
article. Sell the book, then sell the chapters as articles before the book is published. Sell the article to more than one publication
(with different audiences). You can do this only if you are careful to limit the rights you sell. Always sell the most limited rights you
can. Sell the book. Then become a speaker on that subject. A consultant. A columnist. There are lots of ways to sell the same
information or expression more than once. Be sure to exploit your rights and what you know.
3. Write every day. Make it a habit to write every day no matter what. Write a query letter. Do
some research. Write part of the book. Write an article. Write in a journal. Get as much experience as you can in writing. That's how you
develop your voice. And it is your voice that will set you apart from others. Did yo know that if you write just one page a day, you'll
have a book in six months? What are you waiting for?