Questions & John's Answers:
Designing and Pricing Your Books

The following are a few of the questions John Kremer has answered during the past four years of writing the free Book Marketing Tip of the Week ezine.

Question: Second Editions: Covers?

I have a question that may be of use to your audience. I'm writing a second edition to my first book, Stepping Up to the Plate: Inspiring Interviews with Major Leaguers. The second edition title being, Stepping Up to the Plate: 2nd Inning. My question is, I'm thinking of keeping the cover of the second edition book essentially the same as the original except add a banner across the front stating Second Edition. Should I have the second edition cover be similar cover to the original or should I have a completely different cover with a different look?

John's Answer: It can go either way. I've used the same cover with a tag-line change for the edition, and I've done new covers. I think it depends on how effective your current cover is in selling the book, how well known it is (does it have a brand look?), whether or not your cover looks dated, and whether or not you want to pay a cover designer to design a new cover.

Question: Getting More from 1001 Ways

Can you please let me know the best method of getting the best out of your book. I am a beginner and a newbie.

John's Answer: Read Chapters 8, 9, and 12. For a beginner, those are the most important for someone starting out. Chapter 8 is on how authors can do more to promote their books. Chapter 9 is all about publicity. And chapter 12 describes how you can use the Internet to sell tons of books.

Read the other chapters as you work to set up a publishing company, organize distribution, begin to work with bookstores, and want to explore other options (libraries, schools, other retailers, direct marketing, right sales, corporate sales, catalog sales, etc.).

Order 1001 Ways to Market Your Books:

Question: Publishing Margins

I am self-published and I am selling my book for $14.95, I buy my book from a printer for $4.50 so the mark up is not 10 times. I will raise my price in 2007 to $19.95. but that is not in the equation now. The margins are tough. It's very hard to get this margin when you are on your own!

John's Answer: That 8-10 times markup is on a run of 5,000 copies. If your run is smaller, you can't begin to have an 8-10 times markup. But you should figure your price based on an 8-10 times markup on 5,000 copies.

Consider any print run under 5,000 as a test run where you don't worry about making money. You are just testing the market and hoping to break even. Your goal in publishing any book is ultimately to sell at least 20,000 copies and hopefully many thousands more.

You can get the margin when you are ready to print 5,000 copies. Until then, keep plugging away.

Question: I guess when you address people over your web site, you have to talk to the masses. Is it wrong to self-publish and be happy with selling a couple of thousand? I didn't consider my first 1,000 to be a test run; I considered it an initial order. I guess what I'm saying is that I don't need every tool to make my book successful. Part of my pleasure is making it happen on my own. I get a good feeling from that. I do like to take helpful tips and adapt them to my situation, but I never want to go from rags to riches when I can enjoy this journey of exploring. I also consider my contacts as making new friends.

Sometimes as a self publisher there are many road blocks, I have a 9-5 job and I do this in my spare time, still hoping to make it big, like paying too much for a small run, but when I read that it should be 8-10 x for the cost, I would have to sell my book for $40 and that would be crazy. Then I start thinking that I'm doing something wrong and I start to doubt myself. That would not be a real world happening, but if I were to start selling 5,000 books I would hope to be with a publishing house to handle the volume.

John's Answer: It's not wrong to sell a couple thousand. You either choose not to make any money. Or you sell most of the books direct to your customers. It's really tough to make money selling only several thousand high-cost books via bookstores. That was the issue I was addressing in your first question.

Obviously, I champion anyone who publishes their books in whatever quantity and finds an audience for their books. That's fantastic. It's just that in small quantities of a high-priced book, you can't make any money selling through a distributor. That's not all bad. There are many other options for selling your book, from direct to consumers, via the Internet, by bookstore direct, catalogs, premiums, etc.

And you are right: Making relationships is one of the great pleasures of marketing.

You are certainly not wrong in doing what you are doing and doing it the way you are doing. There are no rules, really, other than the ones you make. How you publish your book is totally up to you.

If you want to make money or build a business, more rules come into play, but for every rule, I know someone who has broken the rule successfully, very successfully.

Question: Chicken Soup for the Soul series...

“As a loyal subscriber to your newsletter I'd like some brutal honesty from you. I've self-published two books and am about to release my third. I want to start a self-published book series in the tradition of Chicken Soup for the Soul only more hands on and of course self-published.

“I signed up and paid a lot of money to a guy to include a story of mine in the next book in his book series because he promises to turn anybody who signs up into a best-selling author. What I found out is he'll help you be a best-selling author so long as what you've written is in one of his books. This clearly makes him more of a best-seller than me.

“When I approached him to help me with one of my projects, I received the cold shoulder. Are there any honest people left in publishing, John? I want to write for a living by helping others find their inner wisdom and put it into print. But I don't want to have to figure it out all by myself. Do you have any advice on where I can begin to find out how to make my project work?” — Brian R. King, author. Email:

John's Answer

There are good people in publishing, and not so good people — as anywhere. The good people will talk to you. The only way you can save yourself from such situations is to ask lots of questions in the beginning. Ask more questions than you would consider polite. You must border on rude, especially if they are asking a lot of money from you.

With any of my reports, services, and books, you are always welcome to ask questions, even rude questions. I don't want anyone to be dissatisfied with what I have to offer. I like satisfied customers and I try to work hard to maintain that level of service. Sometimes I fail. Sometimes I try to take on too much. But I always try to make good when I do fail. That's only fair.

As for making your project work, you may have some trouble for the simple reason that Chicken Soup for the Soul type books are on their way out. For a time, such series were overdone. Too many didn't work. My guess is that you will have trouble getting bookstores to carry your book or any new series in this vein. I might be wrong, but I would certainly test the concept before putting a lot of time, attention, money, work, and/or love into the project. The Chicken Soup books, themselves, are still working, but not as well as they used to. That's one reason they are doing more special interest books that have alternative markets and premium possibilities. If you wanted to do such a series, you must have alternative markets besides bookstores.

Copyright © 2010 by book publishing expert John Kremer

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