I would like to share this interview with Henry Hutton, a good friend of mine who is helping revolutionize the publishing industry with his self publishing agency, Publish and Sell Enterprises. Known in publishing circles as The PublishingGuy, Henry has also created an online newspaper called PublishingGuy's News Update offering the latest news in the dynamic publishing industry.
1. What made you start Publish and Sell?
I’ve always had a passion for helping authors realize their dreams, and the revolution in publishing - especially with sites like Lulu.com and Createspace.com, along with POD - has enabled millions of authors the opportunity to see their book in print. We quickly learn, however, that publishing is not the hard part. Selling is.
Our goal at Lulu was to change the world of publishing and by turning it on its head. With our free publishing tools any author could publish their work into a printed book or ebook and make it available for sale to their buying audience. Although that in itself is a great achievement, it doesn’t get the author to the goal line, and authors quickly realized that publishing their book was the easier first half of the publishing process.
Generating sales is the biggest challenge to overcome.
Fortunately, while at Lulu I witnessed two sides of the independent publishing phenomenon:
1. Authors that published their book and waited for sales to happen, and
2. Authors that aggressively marketed their books using free social networking sites.
Needless to say, the authors in the former group faltered while the authors in the latter group, even through trial and error, achieved moderate - and often surprising - success.
My goal is to help authors better position themselves for success by not only making the best publishing choices, but by making smart marketing choices. In today’s Internet world, every author can identify, find, interact with, and sell to their audience much more efficiently and economically.
2. What makes Publish and Sell unique? Are there other companies like Publish and Sell?
I consider Publish and Sell Enterprises as a self-publishing agency. Although you can find many companies that offer author services similar to ours, those companies typically work with specific printing and distribution outlets.
I do things differently. I examine the needs of the author - the genre of their book, the audience that they’re trying to reach - and determine the best path to take in terms of publishing and marketing. Some authors might be best served by Lulu, while others might be served through Booksurge, and still others should go directly into the Kindle. I’ve learned over the years that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to author services, and forcing an author’s square book into a round publishing and marketing hole is asking for failure.
3. Do you think there is a large market for your services?
There’s no doubt about it. A large percentage of authors that attempt the free publishing sites - Createspace, Lulu, Wordclay, etc. - never finish the publishing process. Furthermore, an equally large percentage that do publish never sell more than a couple copies. With a little hand-holding I’m convinced that many authors can do better. They just need to be educated and pointed in the right direction.
4. How does Publish and Sell work?
When an author contacts us we walk through their situation - including the “completeness” of their book, the genre, the market - and assess the overall strategy for reaching a successful outcome. This is a completely interactive process with the author.
We then put a plan and timeline together that reflects the publishing and marketing activities that will be required to accomplish our goals.
5. What challenges do you see for Publish and Sell?
There are a few significant challenges we face. First of all, since every author is different it’s hard for me to accurately predict resource needs. Will I need another ghost writer in three months or another cover artist? So far, however, we’ve done a good job managing our resource needs.
Secondly, as you know, the publishing world is rapidly changing. A few weeks ago Lulu changed their retail distribution program, and just last week Createspace began offering author services. It’s imperative that we stay on top of these rapid developments so that we can properly advise our clients regarding their options.
Lastly, it’s critical that authors make the proper choices when it comes to social marketing. Although there’s an abundance of free networking and social media tools, some may not be suited for the book’s genre, its market, or even the author’s personality. Some sites go in and out of favor, so it’s our job to stay on top of these changes and try to anticipate the trends that will work to the author’s advantage.
6. Are authors successful using your services?
You’d have to ask those authors, but I think it’s fair to say that they’re more successful than they would have been without my services. Especially when it comes to marketing, I can only educate and show them the best way to present themselves online, build and interact with their audience, and influence that audience to buy their book. At the end of the day the book must deliver.
7. What advice would you give to authors considering self-publishing?
Do it, and don’t wait. You’re only harming yourself if you do. I’ve seen too many authors that have waited years to garner a publishing deal, without success. By self-publishing, authors - especially first-time authors - will better understand the process and challenges of publishing. They’ll learn what works and what doesn’t, and actually become better positioned - through the self-publishing success - to get picked up by a traditional publisher. Or, alternatively, they’ll find their niche and remain as a self-publisher to maintain control over their book and income. It can be a win-win, but you won’t know if you don’t try.
Thousands of people are self-publishing every day. Their book is being purchased, it’s being read, and the author is receiving feedback. Yes, sometimes the feedback is negative, and sometimes the book wasn’t as good as it should have been. If that’s the case, it’s better to have a small self-publishing failure (that you can quickly recover from) than a failure with a traditional publisher. That’s almost impossible to recover from. Take advantage of every learning opportunity that self-publishing provides.
8. Do you think self-publishing could be a path to commercial publishing?
Definitely! We saw this happen all the time at Lulu. Publishers would look at our top seller list and contact those authors. It made their job easy, because these authors knew the process of publishing, they knew their target audience, and they knew how to market to that audience successfully. That’s a publisher’s dream come true.
9. What do you think will be the future of publishing?
The most interesting and immediate dynamic the industry is facing is ebooks. Devices like the Kindle and Sony Reader have made it easy and convenient to purchase and read books. These ebook readers are still a little too expensive for the mainstream market, but I’m confident that in time they’ll achieve critical mass and revolutionize the reading and publishing landscape.
For example, I love printed books, but now that I have a Kindle I very rarely buy a printed book. For one thing, the ebooks are always cheaper. Furthermore, I feel that - in a very small way - I’m saving a few trees every time I opt for an ebook. I don’t need another book sitting on my bookshelf anyway - I’ve got too many already!
Lastly, ebooks provide many advantages to authors. Although it takes a little time and effort, an author can publish their book as a Kindle ebook for free. Just go to http://dtp.amazon.com and follow the instructions.
Talk about removing barriers to entry. Upload and publish today, and your book is being purchased and read by your audience in no time. Oh, and you’re receiving royalties in no time. In tomorrow’s world, ebooks will be an author’s best friend.
10. What do you enjoy the most about Publish and Sell?
I enjoy working with authors, and every author’s situation is different. No two poetry books are alike, nor are any two novels alike. That keeps things fresh, along with the fact that the publishing industry and its associated technologies are changing almost daily.
Also, as much as I dream of being a novelist, I can’t seem to write for the long haul. I am a musician, so I have a lot of songs that I’ve penned - along with some poems and short stories - but after a couple pages I’ve run out of things to say.
So I admire authors. I admire the varied processes by which they write, and I’m envious of the way that an author’s thoughts seem to flow uninhibited from their mind and into their manuscript. This capability - to tell a story, to invoke emotions, and sometimes even change the life of your reader is, frankly, astounding.
For more information on Publish and Sell Enterprises and how Henry can help you publish and market your work visit his site at http://www.publishandsell.com or call him directly at 919 247-1832.
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