Malik Sharrieff

Building Your Publishing Plan

Okay, let’s assume that you have either already completed a manuscript or at least made the decision to write one. It’s critically important that you work out your publishing plan as soon as possible.

Over my years as a publisher and literary consultant for indie authors, I have yet to encounter one that was ready with a publishing plan. So, I would be insanely surprised if you have even heard of the concept if this is your first project.

A publishing plan is for an author what a production plan is for a manufacturer.

After all, once you decided to be a professional writer or indie author, you decided to manufacture literary product for mass consumption. To that end, it’s important that you plan out how you intend to get that product from a single manuscript to the readers waiting in rapt anticipation.

I’ll try to give you a quick and dirty version of what you’ll need to get your plan together.

Step 1:

Don’t wait until after you’ve written your book to start learning what publishing is!

Many reading this will have just finished your manuscript and are looking for publishing options. It isn’t too late to create a plan, but the reality is that you should have created one before you came up with a title.

So, manuscript in hand or not, you need to wrap your head around what the publishing process is all about. Here’s a definition from a publisher:

Publishing = all of the processes necessary in order to take a raw manuscript and convert it into a finished literary product ready for distribution to a target consumer group.

So depending on your publishing strategy, this may include:

  • Pre-press activities like copy editing, manuscript review, formatting, generating cover art, test marketing, etc.
  • Press activities like converting the press ready manuscript to digital file formats ready for distribution as ebooks or for production as trade paperbacks, hardcover or treated for audiobook production.
  • Post-press activities like test marketing, establishing distribution and sales channels, marketing activities, public relations and advertising, and etc.
Step 2:

Now that you know most of the tasks involved in the publishing process, you’ll need to get a handle on who you are as an author.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do I want control over the publishing process?
  2. Am I willing to learn the necessary skills to manage these processes?
  3. Do I have a budget necessary to outsource these tasks to a qualified vendor?

The answers to these questions will let you know where you are on the indie-author continuum. On one end is the complete indie-author and on the other end is the traditional publishing path.

If you need to control the process, your publishing plan will lean more toward independent publishing. If you want someone else to take your work and handle everything but the writing, you’ll want to lean more toward traditional publishing.

The closer you get to the traditional end of the scale the less it will cost you in money up front but the more you will have to sacrifice in control and royalties. At the other end of the spectrum, you spend more money, time and effort but all of the rewards are yours alone.

Knowing yourself is the only way to choose the right publishing path for you. Also, know that as you grow through your career as an author, you publishing plan will likely change as well. In fact it might change from project to project!

Step 3:

Once you’ve got a handle on the process and your own disposition, it’s time to strategize how you will attack these tasks in a way that fits who you are as an author and as an individual.

It is absolutely possible for you to do everything yourself. It is also absolutely possible for you to get a publishing deal with a major publisher. However, most of us will realize quickly that we fall somewhere in the middle of the indie-author range.

This means that for every publishing task you encounter, you will need to look at two or three (or more) strategies and decide which one fits you, your situation and your budget best. Keep lots of notes on what you are doing, what worked and what didn’t. You’ll really appreciate the intel for your second project.

Final Thoughts:

As I said earlier, it is absolutely possible for you to get a book deal with a Big 5 Publisher. However, possible is not the same as probable. If this is your publishing plan, understand that there will be trade-offs and sacrifices that you will need to accept. Understand that this plan is not a bad one (it’s been around the longest), but it will require you to do a lot of additional tasks to get the attention of a major publisher.

Don’t be surprised if your particular plan takes time. At one end of the spectrum the time could be measured in hours; at the other it could take months or more than a year. The point you need to take with you is that this is not a trivial part of your profession. Take the time you need. Get the help and support necessary. Learn everything you can to support your level of professionalism.

Remember that being a professional writer, contracted or independent author is a vocation not a vacation, take the journey seriously and respect the process.

Feel free to comment or ask questions below, or discuss your past publishing plan(s).

Until next time, keep writing!

~Malik

P.S.:

If you have any questions, shoot us a note at the contact us page.

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The Affects of Covid-19 on Traditional Publishing

I want to talk for a minute about why publishing is in so much trouble right now.

Its way more complicated than most people seem to think. First, you need to know that the vast majority of our business remains in hardcover and paperback books. Hard copies mean physical objects. The second strongest sector has been audio books. Ebooks are a distant third. Selling books is a very long and complicated supply chain. Ignore editorial — writers and editors can work at a distance and electronically. It really starts with the paper.

Storing paper for the big presses takes an enormous amount of warehouse space, which costs money. Printers don’t store a lot — they rely on a “just in time,” supply chain so that when a book is scheduled to go to press, the paper is delivered to the printer. Most of that paper is manufactured in China. Guess what isn’t coming from China; nothing, for the last three months.

Some of the paper comes from Canada. Guess what the Trump administration put a big tariff on at the beginning of the year? Yup, paper. So, we don’t have adequate paper supplies. Then consider that big printing plants are not “essential businesses.” There are only a couple printers in the US that can handle the book manufacturing business. One of them shut down last week. Covid-19.

We started rescheduling books like mad to deal with that. But supposing we had paper, and a printer and bindery, the books have to be shipped to the warehouse. Again, that’s non-essential movement. The freight drivers moving books? Staying home, as they should. Not all of them. I hope they remain healthy, because dying to get the latest bestseller to the warehouse doesn’t seem quite right to me.

Now consider the warehouse situation. Traditional publishers maintain huge warehouses. Lots of people are working there, bless them, but it’s putting them at risk. There they are, filling orders, packing boxes, running invoices. Giving those boxes to the freight drivers who take the books to the bookstores and distributors. Again, truck drivers risking their lives to bring books to the bookstores.

But think again. The bookstores are closed. The distributors are closed . No place open to deliver the books to. Some bookstores are doing mail order business, bless them, but they aren’t ordering very many books from the warehouses. Amazon isn’t ordering very many, either — because they have (correctly) stopped shipping books and are using their reduced staff to ship medical supplies and food.

So the books that distributors and sellers ordered months ago are not being printed or shipped or sold. And because of that, they aren’t making any money. And because of THAT, they are not ordering any books for months from now. Plus they aren’t paying for the books they got from publishers in February and March. Cash flow has ground to a halt.

Now, audio books….turns out that people mostly, almost 100%, listen to audio books while they commute to work. Sales of audio books collapsed about the Middle of March. Fortunately, there isn’t a physical supply chain there, so theoretically that business can restart immediately upon resumption of commuting. So given all the above, it’s not a good time in the publishing industry. The damage is going to last for a long time. The effects will be felt for at least a year to come, even if we do go back to business as usual in May. Or June. Or July…..

Oh let’s be real. We won’t go back to business as usual until there is a real vaccine for this corona virus.

Free Resource Malik Sharrieff

Using Write On Press – A Tutorial

Using Write On Press – A Tutorial

By Malik Sharrieff

Good day to all Independent Authors out there!

Today I want to have a brief discussion on how you can get the most value out of Write On Press and the services offered on the website.   So, what I’ll do is give you guys a quick fifty cent tour of what the site offers and quickly break down how you can put those services to use in your journey from starving, unfulfilled writer to successful Independent Author.

Okay, let’s get to work.

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