I’ve written an article for the www.writershelper.com site entitled “Book Marketing and the Proposal Doctor.”
Juicy Excerpt: “She strongly urged me to write a more conventional money management book, one that would focus on tips for reducing spending. (My book is more of a “why to” than a “how to” as it argues that the motivation behind the saving effort determines its success or failure and rejects the goal of saving for an old-age retirement as generally ineffective)…. It was her comments that made me decide not to even submit my book to publishers but instead to publish it myself.”
Most first-time authors very much want a contract from a big publisher. It gives them credibility in the eyes of potential readers. I had dreams about the day that I would receive a letter making me an offer to publish Passion Saving. From that day forward, I would have a good answer to the question “What do you do?” The response “Random House is coming out with my book in January” sounds a whole bunch better than the response “I’m trying to sell books from my website.” For obvious reasons.
It sounds better. But I’m not at all sure that it is better.
The reality is that a first-time author usually obtains an advance of perhaps $20,000 or $30,000. If you spent years generating the ideas that drive your book (as I did and as many other authors do), that’s a very small payment on a per-hour basis.
The instant credibility you get from going with a big publisher is worth a lot. That’s for sure. That’s the best argument for going the big publisher route.
The problem is that credibility alone does not sell books. Most books sell few copies. Publishers don’t expect most books they publish to make money. Publishing a book to them is something akin to buying a lottery ticket. They’re looking for the one big one that makes them a million. They know that they need to publish hundreds of others to discover the one that clicks. So they do.
If you end up being one of the hundreds of others, you end up on the remainder table. What does that do for your credibility?
And the credibility you get from going with a big publisher does not come cheap. You give up control over the book. They decide on the cover. They decide on the title. They decide how to promote the book. The author is a hired-hand, and a poorly paid hired-hand at that.
After talking things over with the proposal doctor, I came to have doubts about the idea of trying to entice a big publisher to buy my book. The book argues that saving is the path to freedom, to getting to a point in life at which you begin to call the shots about your future. But here I was, the guy putting forward this argument, begging for crumbs from “the big boys.” Something didn’t fit.
I was thinking like an employee.
By seeking a publisher’s approval of my book, I was giving them power over what would be said in the book in exchange for money. There’s nothing wrong with doing that in the right circumstances. But it should not be the automatic choice.
I decided that the circumstances were not right in the case of Passion Saving. If the book is as good as I think it is, the big publishers will someday come to me. If they come to me, I’ll get a whole bunch more money. And I’ll be able to retain some control over how the book is sold.
You’re not selling books. But you are doing some sort of work in exchange for money. How many of the shots do you call?
As you gain experience and build contacts in your field, you should be becoming more independent, you should be gaining more control over how the work you do is completed. If that’s not happening, you need to be thinking about what you need to do to make it happen.
The point of the Passion Saving approach is that we don’t save money to have our expenses covered when we get old. We save to be free.
It makes sense for us to give up our freedom when we are young because it’s by working for others that we learn what we need to know to do important and profitable work. It’s a mistake to let those years of working for others cause us to think that we always need a sign-off from some higher-up to know which way is the best way to proceed with the work we do.
Sometimes we enslave ourselves. There’s a time for thinking like an employee and there’s a time for going beyond thinking like an employee.