Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A book designer steps into her author's shoes

I reviewed Michelle DeFilippo's Publish Like the Pros earlier this week--a fascinating and informative book that delves into all those "other" issues about getting your book in front of an audience who hopefully won't just ignore it. (Click on the link for my review.)

Today I'm delighted to welcome the author to my blog. Find out how someone who knows what's going on experienced the process of publishing a book, and learn some tips to help you on the way.

Over to you Michelle...


Stepping Into My Clients’ Shoes

You’ve heard about the cobbler’s children who go without shoes? I own 1106 Design, which helps authors move their books from dream to reality through self-publishing. Over the years, through my experience as a graphic designer and typesetter and now business owner, I have personally assisted close to a thousand authors in bringing their publications to life. But I didn’t have a book to call my own.

Like many people, I felt that I had a book in me but it took a redesign of our 1106 Design website before I grabbed the chance. We decided the website should include an eBook for visitors to download for free. Originally we planned something much shorter to whet a visitor’s appetite for more information. We started off with a quickie “Hints for Successful Self-publishing” guide, but I realized that I was missing an opportunity to impart some valuable information to authors about self-publishing, answering once and for all the questions that I am constantly asked by beginner self-publishers and debunking some myths that frustrate me as a professional in the publishing industry.

Thus, what started off as a 10-page guide soon grew into an 88-page book: Publish Like the Pros: A Brief Guide to Quality Self-Publishing (and an Insider's Look at a Misunderstood Industry). Throughout the process of writing and self-publishing the book, I found it interesting to step into my clients’ shoes as a self-publisher, and while I found myself getting a number of things “right,” I also found myself narrowly avoiding some of the pitfalls that I warn clients about all the time.

Prospective authors often ask about getting started on the road to self-publishing. I tell them that before embarking upon this journey, one should examine the goals for the book, and based on these goals, choose an approach. Is it a hobby book or is this a book that will be sold as a product? If the latter is true, then the author must take a “CEO approach” and treat publishing as a business with their book as a product. And as a CEO, one must research the need for the book, plan demand, create a budget and assemble a team.

Well… I did, more or less. Because of the way the book came about—as a giveaway on our new website—initially I didn’t think about creating a book to sell. I didn’t plan demand. I hadn’t set any goals for it beyond “attract people to our new website.” However, I instinctively knew that a book on the ins and outs of self-publishing was very much needed. I also realized that a book could accomplish much more than a short freebie guide: thoroughly educate authors about self-publishing, share an “insider’s” perspective with authors about hiring professional services from companies such as 1106 Design, and help shape 1106 Design’s corporate identity. So when I planned my budget (I did create a budget!), I took into account these “soft” benefits that may eventually show up in my bottom line, even if expenses initially exceed revenue.

I also assembled a team to help me. OK, so perhaps I have an advantage in this area, but even with my years of experience, I quickly came to realize the benefits of having a cover designer, a book interior page layout designer, an editor, a proofreader, a book title consultant, a marketing consultant and more. I couldn’t have done it without them. They took my words and turned them into a magical book of which I am very proud.

I know I got one other thing right. Originally I had planned an eBook only. However, I finally listened to my own advice (!) and decided to do a print version as well. eBooks are very popular but there are plenty of people who prefer to handle an actual book, and there is no sense in alienating these readers by only producing an eBook. Now the book is available as a paperback and as a Kindle book.

All-in-all, I have a new understanding of an author’s experience: creating the concept, getting the courage to type the first sentence, coming up with a title (and finally asking for some professional help with it), approving the book cover and page layout, and figuring out marketing and distribution. So many decisions! I’m happy to know that the advice I have been giving authors for years is sound, but I’ll do a better job in listening to myself in the future!

Michele DeFilippo owns 1106 Design, a Phoenix-based company that works with authors, publishers, business pros, coaches, consultants, speakers . . . anyone who wants a beautiful book, meticulously prepared to industry standards. 1106 Design offers top-quality cover design, beautifully designed and typeset interiors, manuscript editing, indexing, title consulting, and expert self-publishing advice. Publish Like the Pros: A Brief Guide to Quality Self-Publishing (and an Insider's Look at a Misunderstood Industry,  is Michele’s first book.

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