Since I segued into writing books (my first, Ready, Aim, Specialize was published in 2003), I’ve been a traditional girl. Meaning, I’ve only worked with traditional publishers (think Random House) which pay an advance against royalties to acquire the rights to publish a book. To my mind, no money up front=no deal.
Of course I’d heard of POD, or print-on-demand, publishing but knew little about it. It sounded like the “lesser-than” option to me. I'd seen a lot of POD (often called self-published) books that frankly looked terrible. I didn't like the idea of being wholly responsible for selling a book (even though that's the case for pretty much any midlist author today). And I couldn't justify devoting my limited, precious work time to a book that I would have to pay to get in print (as opposed to being paid by a publisher to get it in print). Not for me, I thought.
Well, I was wrong. This year, I published my first POD book, Goodbye Byline, Hello Big Bucks: The Writer's Guide to Making Money Ghostwriting and Coauthoring Books. But this wasn't a random act. Rather, it was a calculated decision which included weeks of research and thought to ensure that POD was the right choice. I had five compelling reasons to make the leap:
1. There was no competition for my book. When I looked for books on ghostwriting, there were only a couple—and they weren’t particularly helpful. The authors claimed to be making good money ghostwriting, but didn’t say how much. I hate that. I want specifics! I want details! The authors told you to make sure you had a written contract, but didn't give any examples. They didn't discuss how to negotiate fees, how to successfully market yourself to different kinds of clients, or how to address common problems that arise. I knew my book would include all that, and be the only one that gave readers everything they needed to know to break into this lucrative field.
2. The book fit into my platform. While I cover health, fitness, nutrition and wellness, I also have developed a "successful-freelancing-expert" platform over the past 14 years. I’m a contributing editor at The Writer magazine. I’ve written more than 80 features and columns about writing for markets ranging from Writer's Digest to Writing for Dollars and published two books on successful freelancing. Six-Figure Freelancing continues to sell well, even on a crowded bookshelf. (Seems like every writer wants to author a book about writing and I’m competing against names like Stephen King and Anne Lamott, so this is significant.)
3. I had much of the book already written. Here's the back story. I found a traditional publisher that decided to purchase the book. The advance was fair, and I immediately started researching, conducted a dozen interviews, and started writing to make a tight deadline. When higher-ups decided the book didn’t have enough of an audience, my editor had to pull the plug. Yet I already had a third of the book in the can--and I hated to abandon the time and work I'd already put it.
4. I knew I could sell it. And this is a big reason. Remember my "successful-freelancing-expert" platform? Well, that means my name is fairly well-known among freelancers. I do a lot of public speaking. I appear at writer’s conferences. I teach classes and workshops. I author this blog. I write lots of articles about freelancing. I’m responsive when readers contact me with questions. All of that helps me sell my writing-related books, including this one.
5. The book will attract new clients. Sure, I've got a platform already, but more than 50 percent of my work and income these days comes from ghostwriting/coauthoring--and that percentage continues to climb. I'm continuing to establish myself as a successful ghostwriter, and to do that, I need clients, especially those that pay well. Many of my ghosting clients author books to establish themselves as experts. I wanted to do the same.
And you know what? I wanted to write this book. A lot. I didn't realize how much until the publisher walked. This isn't a solid business reason to go POD. But remember that I'm ghostwriting most of the books I write. That means I’m always writing in someone else’s voice (I’m not complaining—that’s what I get paid to do!) Here, I had an opportunity to just "be me" for an entire whole book, which sounded really fun. (And it was, actually.)
I'll talk more about POD in future posts, including reasons *not* to go POD. And if you have specific questions about POD, comment here and I'll answer those as well.
I'll be interviewed by the smart and charming Ed Robertson about ghostwriting tonight, Monday, November 15, at 8:25pm central time (9:25 Eastern time, 6:25 Pacific time) on ShokusRadio.com. (Can't listen? It will also be broadcast at various times throughout the week on Shokus; check the site for details. After Sunday, November 21, the show will be archived on Ed's website, http://www.tvconfidential.net/.