Author: Peter Bowerman
Peter Bowerman, whose first two books, The Well-Fed Writer and the Well-Fed Writer: Back for Seconds have been the recipient of several awards. Bowerman has now put together another excellent book, The Well-Fed Self-Publisher: How to Turn One Book into a Full Time Living. What is quite noteworthy about all of these books is that they have been self-published, thus providing concrete evidence, as Bowerman states in his introduction that he is living proof that there is a new definition of self-publishing that defies its negative perception and one that is becoming profitable and gaining the respect of industry.
Divided into fifteen chapters, Bowerman begins his comprehensive analysis of self-publishing and how to succeed with a detailed comparison of the advantages and disadvantages between the conventional publisher and the self-publisher. Bowerman admits that his perspective may be skewed and perhaps even one-sided, as he has always self-published, nonetheless, even if you should find a conventional publisher, you still will be required to play an integral role in the marketing of your book. And if such is the case, why not take a good look at self-publishing, where you will end up keeping most of the profits.
The bottom line is if you wish to sell your books you have to think more like a businessperson and less like a writer. It is essential, as pointed out, to develop the requisite "marketing mindset," and this involves the understanding of how to build awareness in less personal ways among your target audience-about your subject, your book as it relates to the subject, and why anyone would want to read and purchase your book. What differentiates Bowerman's approach from others who have ventured into the same territory is that he places a great deal of emphasis on perspective, approach, content and style.
If we look at the third chapter, we notice how Bowerman deals with the element of perspective that is an essential ingredient of the "marketing mindset."
It is here where the reader learns to build a book from designing covers, money-saving strategies, titles, back covers, bar codes, copyrighting, acknowledgements, editing, typesetting, indexing, binding and pricing to print runs. This information is supplemented with additional tidbits of advice that are listed within highlighted boxes that appear as separate pages or at the top or bottom of a page.
Once we have a presentable and professional looking book, our next step is to target our buyers and build demand. In this section Bowerman delves into such topics as to who is your audience, importance of book reviewers and how to get reviews, library sales, giveaway promotions, niche marketing, and other timely topics.
Not to be omitted is a descent web site and here you want to devote ample time as it is mandatory or as Bowerman states, "don't even think about not having one." An entire chapter is devoted to the indispensable fundamentals of an effective site.
A question that often comes up in authors' discussion groups is how do you get your book into bookstores and it is in chapter six that we learn about distribution and how it works. This is followed with a romp through the Amazon.com jungle where we learn all about Amazon as well as others.
Remaining chapters probe into important themes as maximizing mainstream media momentum, free publicity, book signings, and other important factors in effectively marketing your book.
Bowerman is not a very big fan of print-on-demand (POD), which he takes great pains to differentiate from self-publishing. His contention is that if you are looking to be profitable with your publishing, don't count on POD with many of its restrictions and limitations. He contends that the real value of POD is in the technology and it is not a program or a "groundbreaking marketing strategy." It allows for a relatively inexpensive typesetting, design and printing of a small number of copies of your book. However, when you want to upgrade, watch out, or as Bowerman states, hold onto your wallet. He even goes onto assert that POD "aren't take seriously by the trade for the same reason "vanity press" books aren't." To a certain extent I tend to agree with Bowerman, however, after having read Mark Levine's The Fine Print of Self-Publishing: The Contracts & Service of 48 Major Self-Publishing Companies-Analyzed, Ranked & Exposed, it would appear that Bowerman is over- generalizing and putting all PODs into the same basket.
The Well-Fed Self-Publisher: How to Turn One Book into a Full Time Living concludes with some timely advice pertaining to "spin-offs" from your book as well as miscellaneous tips of dos and don'ts. Additional information is contained in the appendixes that will point you in the right direction towards self-publishing resources, foreign rights, book- marketing proposal, time line of activities, global marketing and your home shipping center.
Bowerman writes with a great deal of knowledge and what is noteworthy is that he has no qualms in sharing many of his personal secrets that have made him a success in the world of self-publishing.
The above review was contributed by Norm Goldman, Editor of Bookpleasures.com