Kickstarter Update #9: Business

You can also view this update on Kickstarter.

As you know if you’ve been following this project, I’m starting my own self-publishing business. What I think is most important about that is understanding that it is a business. I’ve done a lot of research lately into self-publishing, and I’ve come to understand that there are some important factors that make the difference between success and failure.

You see, self-publishing is technically really easy. Being successful at it, on the other hand, is really hard. Print-on-Demand services provides by companies like Amazon’s CreateSpace make it simple for anyone to self-publish a book. You upload a document, click a few settings, and BAM!, you’re a self-published author.

Except, y’know, not.

Here’s the difference: Self-publishing as I just described, where you simply throw something together and upload it, is the amateur way. It’s like YouTube. Everyone has a video camera on their cell phone these days, and anyone can record a video, upload it, and think of themselves as an actor, director, or movie producer. And most of those videos will never get more than a few hundred hits, just like a poor self-published book will never sell more than a few hundred copies.

There are some videos on YouTube that are professionally done. Even if they were made entirely by one person working out of their living room, they have good quality and they look like something professionally produced. Videographers need to know about things like lighting levels, editing, sound, and all kinds of other factors in order to make a good, successful video that gets millions of hits. And people who do this can make money that way, either through on-site advertisements or by “Buy this song on itunes” links and other merchandising techniques. The people who slap something together on their iphone won’t ever make money off of it.

Self-publishing is similar. The people who throw a book up on CreateSpace will sell some copies to friends and family, and that’s about it. In order to be successful, you need to invest more time and money into a project and do it right.

That’s why I’m running this Kickstarter drive. Sure, I could be an amateur and design my own book cover in MS Paint. And it would look like crap. Instead, I’m hiring a professional and looking at the cover as a business investment. I’m creating spreadsheets and tracking my expenses (and there have been other expenses I’ve already spent money on before this). I’m studying the market. I’m learning about advertising. I’m working to make sure I know everything I need to about this business. That’s what’s going to make a difference in making my career a success. I understand that no matter how good people say my writing is, I won’t have a great career if I just throw my writing up there and wait for the money to start rolling in. I need to market my book, I need to invest in important things like a professional artist and editor, and I need to understand that success takes time. I’m going into this venture understanding all of that. And I’m taking steps to make sure I have the best chance possible to succeed.

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