But it’s not a frivolous question.
It’s a powerful question, for the answer helps shape the book, determine whether “standard” or self-publishing is the better route, and spur the author to begin planning the “after writing” phase of the book before the first word has been set down.
There are many reasons for writing a book
You may wish to:
- Make money
- Raise your media status
- Become a recognized authority
- Help support or launch a business
- Support a cause
- Make a contribution to science, history, literature, etc.
- Share your thoughts or adventures
- Leave a testament for future generations
- Work through certain issues
- Right a wrong
- Have fun
Suppose your goal is to make money: Does that mean standard publishing is best? Not necessarily. A typical royalty on a book published by a New York publisher is 10 percent of the cover price, which would be $1 for a $10 book. Selling a million copies would bring you a tidy sum, but very few books sell that many copies. Many books sell between 10,000 and 30,000 copies, which means you would earn $10,000 – $30,000. That’s a nice sum, but certainly not the fortune most people imagine they’ll earn from a book put out by a major New York publisher.
A self-published book, on the other hand, can earn the author $2, $5, or even $10 per copy—quite a difference! Of course, the author has to front the money to take care of the costs of creating the book, including the writing, design, printing, and promotional expenses.
If your primary reason for writing a book is to make money and you have enough money to finance the book’s creation and promotion, you’re probably better off self-publishing. This way, your book will:
- Be your number one concern, and not get lost among many others
- Receive 100 percent of your promotional efforts
- Remain in print as long as you like
- Be updated as often as you like, ensuring that it stays current and topical
Then there’s another option: publishing through or with the assistance of an organization that wants your message to be heard. If, for example, you’re writing about retirement, you can approach AARP about either publishing your book or supporting it once it’s published by someone else. That support can come in the form of promoting the book on their website, giving it away free to prospective clients, mentioning it in their mailings, etc. In this case, your profits may be large, but may not come from book sales at all.
No matter which publishing route you take, you should begin by asking yourself the all-important question: Why are you writing this book?
I’m Barry Fox, a New York Times #1 bestselling ghostwriter. I help executives, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and top professionals create top-notch memoirs and business books. I can also guide you through the self-publishing process. Call me at 818-917-5362.