When you think about profits from publishing, don’t just think about book sales if you’re a business owner or entrepreneur. The profits from the book sales are often just one aspect of a book’s value. In fact, some businesses and entrepreneurs can profit from publishing even if they give away their books. Books are, for example, a good way to increase speaker engagements and that means more opportunities to build your brand and promote your products and services.
Here are a few benefits of publishing:
- You gain credibility as a published author
- It is easier to get speaking engagements if you have published
- Printed books have a physical presence that reminds people of your business
- Books can be shared, spreading your message
- Books are a form of visual branding
- Books can reinforce your sales pitch
- Books can reduce consultation time
- Books are a longer lasting form of advertising
Reasons Independent Publishing is so Profitable for Businesses
Independent publishing is especially profitable for businesses and entrepreneurs because they are often in a unique position to sell direct and not have to rely on retailers who take 40–50%.
If you are, for example, a restaurant selling a cookbook to clients, a gift shop selling a photo coffee-table book to tourists, a local museum, etc., you have your own point-of-purchase with lots of high-value prospects—more than enough to sell your inventory of books. Likewise, a speaker selling books at events often has no need for an ad campaign. Businesses and entrepreneurs may already have a special website or blog. These factors reduce setup costs and increase income. For authors in these situations, the math shown in my post (The Math Publishers Don’t Want Authors to Know!) will fit your situation well.
Sell Your Advertising!
If you go all out and publish a full-color and very beautifully designed business book, the costs might be $16,000–$20,000 (which is mostly print costs). This cost divided by 4 years, is an advertising budget of $4,000–5,000 per year, assuming the unlikely event that you make nothing back from selling the book. This is a low advertising budget, but remember, you are selling the books. If this investment gave you 3000 books sold directly at $19.95, the gross income from the books would be around $60,000–65,000.
If you had a nicely designed black and white book (color cover, but no color inside), the print costs would be much lower, but if it is a valuable guidebook or how-to book (finance, investing, diet, health, etc.), you could produce the book for less and still have a similar price point.
You could avoid the largest cost—the upfront color print costs—by using print on demand (POD), but POD results in a higher unit cost with many print limitations, meaning the book may be harder to sell and harder to turn a profit. POD works best for B&W paperback books. It is important to evaluate the type of book and your retail price when considering print options. (I’ll discuss that more in a future post.)
Because the book is advertising for your business and you are selling it, your advertising actually makes you money rather than costing money.
Publishing is one of the best low-cost forms of advertising. The value is particularly clear when you add the profit from selling the book with how the book is generating additional revenue by increasing the cachet and visibility of your business services and/or products. This makes independent publishing a very powerful and effective promotion strategy.
Give It Away Free and Still Make Money!
In many cases, it is worthwhile for businesses to publish books, even if they decide to just give away the books for free. The free book strategy is not just a good idea when publishing PDF eBooks that go viral on the web—books that have no print costs. Free books can be a beneficial strategy even when publishing very nicely printed books. It really depends on your business, the type of book you are publishing, and your clientele. Auto showrooms, for example, have long understood this. They give away small, but nicely printed, booklets that show off their cars and products. People take these and show them around to friends. Books have physical presence, can be shared, and exist as reminders of the product. This booklet is a low-cost way to influence a high-cost purchase decision. The same is true for free tour guides that feature local businesses and historic sites.
Some books can also be used as a type of upsell, such as when a customer buys a subscription, product, or service, and gets the book for “free.” This too helps influence the purchase decision.
If you’re a business, be sure to read my post The Most Important Thing to Do When Publishing.
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