Why Business people Need to Publish a Book

professionals benefit from having a published book
Most professionals benefit by having a published book

Certain professions need to be published. This list of professions can go on forever: entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers, journalists, consultants, self-help experts, freelancers, and so on.

Even if you’re not on this list, read on to evaluate whether publishing a book is suitable for your profession. After all, publishing a book can contribute a lot to your career.

For the typical professional, it’s easier than ever to publish a book. Self-publishing and eBook publishing are both viable. You can release your book without waiting years for publication, keep control of your vision for your book, publish in both physical and digital formats, and retain a larger share of the loyalties.

In any profession, a book can serve as your best form of marketing, working better than any business card. A card can be easily thrown away, but a book can remain on your reader’s bookshelf forever.

Any reader who picks up your book becomes a prospective client, attracting attention and increasing your reach and visibility. Your book’s content can also testify to your authority, credibility, and professional expertise. On top of that, it extends your brand by giving you another avenue through which you express and practice your profession.

Finally, a reader-turned-client is more informed about your goods and services, improving the experience for all parties. Of course, any good professional can explain what she does, but having a book do the explaining is neat too.

For another example, take public speaking. If you speak for a living, you must have a book.

You can publish a book as the companion guide to everything you address on stage. It allows you to expand on topics you cannot discuss at length during your speech, and audience members who buy your book on the way out have another way of expanding on what they learned from your speech.

It’s also wise from the standpoint of marketing. Your speeches will promote your book, and your book, in turn, will open up more speaking gigs: a positive feedback loop.

A book can serve as the linchpin for your online content strategy. If you put in the work, you can increase the opportunity of your book snagging that blue-chip client, sparking word of mouth, or even garnering media attention, reaping a stream of new customers for you.

So, how do you sell your book after you publish it? First, consider giving your book a strong presence on LinkedIn. If you’re a professional, you’re likely already using LinkedIn, so why not get more mileage from a platform you’re already leveraging?

Your book gives you another reason to post regularly on LinkedIn, especially if you’re prone to leaving LinkedIn alone for months. To fuel your posting, you can repurpose content from your book as LinkedIn content. Alongside the standard post, LinkedIn has features to publish an article or create a newsletter. In addition, you can include a call to action to check out your book or begin a conversation with you in these various forms.

This also applies to other social media platforms. For example, you could tweet quotes and excerpts on Twitter. You can create short videos for Instagram or microposts for Facebook. You can even launch a blog or newsletter. The same platform may vary (as any of the previously mentioned platforms may not exist in a few years), but as a medium, the book will remain.

You can also bundle the book as part of your product, increasing its value for your customer. This is especially effective for digital products, where you can toss in an eBook at no extra cost. So while you may give up a potential sale, it’s a worthwhile trade if your primary product sells for significantly more than your book’s sale price.

Marketing aside, a book is another nifty format for your work, depending on your profession. If you’re a lawyer, you can teach the basics of law without having to sit a prospective client down. If you’re a consultant, a book can be a solid alternative for any client who’s unable to book an appointment with you. The possibilities are endless.

And above all, there’s always the chance that you will start writing a book and find publishing to be your calling. As beneficial as the promotional aspect of a book is, a book is also an opportunity to express your thoughts, work, and love of your craft.

Many professional authors start in different professions before making writing their full-time vocation. So now, don’t rush to quit your day job, but do know the act of writing can lead you down a rabbit hole of authoring.

No matter how you’d leverage a book, know there’s an exciting business world full of books. So will you write the next one?

Over to you: What are some of your favorite examples of professionals who’ve published books? How has your book served your career if you’re a professional who’s published a book?

What is the Maryland Library Ebook Law, and What It Means for Self-Publishing

In February, a federal court issued a preliminary injunction on a first-of-its-kind library eBook law, the Maryland Act, marking a momentary win for the plaintiffs, the Association of American Publishers (AAP).

The injunction follows a hearing where the AAP argued that the Maryland Act would’ve infringed upon publishers’ federal copyright protections, especially the exclusive rights publishers and authors hold under copyright law.

As reported by Publishers Weekly, the Maryland Act had required “that publishers offering eBooks to consumers in the state must also offer to license the works to public libraries on ‘reasonable terms.’”

In other words, if a publisher sold an eBook on Amazon or a similar store, then that publisher would’ve had to offer public libraries the opportunity to lend out electronic copies of their books, or else the publishers would’ve faced penalties, both civil and criminal. Currently, publishers have the discretion to not allow libraries to license their books electronically.

Despite the injunction, Maryland’s attorney general’s office plans to defend the Act in court. The Act was initially passed unanimously by the Maryland General Assembly in 2021 and went into effect on January 1, 2022.

The state argues that the Maryland Act is in the public’s interest, as it aims to support public libraries by addressing “the unfair and discriminatory trade practices of publishers at the expense of public libraries.”

The preliminary injunction signifies that the library eBook law may not stand. When determining if a preliminary injunction should be granted, a judge must evaluate four factors: “a likelihood of success on the merits; irreparable harm; winning the balance of equities; and that the injunction was in the public interest.”

As the court issued the injunction on behalf of the AAP, this suggests that the court likely deems that the law would’ve been harmful to publishers and that the AAP will likely succeed in getting the law struck down. Furthermore, the judge’s formal opinion states that the Maryland Act is probably a violation of federal copyright law.

The ramifications of this case will likely go beyond Maryland. As of late February, eight states have proposed bills similar to the Maryland Act, the latest being Connecticut. New York would’ve been the second state to put its own library eBook law into place if it weren’t for its governor’s veto. At the time, New York Governor Kathy Hochul expressed the AAP’s concern that the law would’ve violated federal copyright law.

So, what does this news mean for self-publishing authors? It depends on whether the law will survive court. As for now, the safest choice is to assume that the status quo will continue. Even if the Maryland Act doesn’t make it to the Supreme Court, a defeat in a lower court may deter other states from proposing and passing similar legislation.

It’s worth it for self-published authors to note that these laws are being proposed because large publishers have been stringent with making their books available electronically to libraries. For instance, Macmillan used to have an embargo on distributing eBooks to public libraries, a decision the publisher has since lifted.

Publishers also often demand high prices for licensing—which libraries find untenable—and they often refuse to negotiate licensing prices while imposing strict restrictions on lending.

Since big publishers license fewer eBooks and electronic copies to public libraries, self-publishers can benefit by seizing this gap. Self-published authors can license their books to public libraries through book distributors, the same services that allow authors to publish their books on multiple storefronts. Even with eBook formats, authors can still earn money when libraries obtain licenses.

On top of making their books available through lending services, self-published authors can also boost their discoverability by including bestselling books that are similar to their own in their book descriptions. This can work out to a small author’s benefit if the bestselling book isn’t available at the library, as the smaller book can still turn up in the library’s search results.

Separate from the legal merits of eBook library laws, large publishers seek to retain control of what eBooks they lend to libraries and how many. In this aspect, self-publishers can fill the gap left by these restrictions.

Amazon to Close Bookstores: What It Means for Indie Books

amazon paperback

Amazon started as an online bookseller. However, despite these roots, the e-commerce giant has decided for now to fold on their physical retail bookstore chain, Amazon Books.

As first reported by Reuters and later covered by Publishers Weekly, Amazon announced that it would close all 24 of its physical bookstores. The internet giant opened the first of these 24 bookstores in 2015, its premier location making its debut in Seattle. Over the next few years, Amazon opened Amazon Books shops in 12 states, Washington, D.C., and the United Kingdom.

Bookstores aren’t the only locations that Amazon is closing. The company is shuttering a total of 68 locations, which include the aforementioned bookstores, supermarkets, cashierless convenience stores, pop-ups, and locations within its Amazon 4-Star department store program.

Despite these closures, Amazon plans to shift laid-off workers and other resources to soon-to-open locations at its grocery store subsidiary, Amazon Fresh, as well as Amazon supermarket acquisition, Whole Foods.

The withdrawal from book retail is a telling admission of defeat for Amazon, as the company’s success had contributed to the destruction of many book retail stores, most notably Borders. Moreover, it’s yet another sign that success in the online space doesn’t automatically translate to physical retail, even for one of the world’s largest companies.

Who wins from Amazon Books’ loss?

Even as Amazon momentarily forfeits its efforts in the physical retail spaces, other parties will walk away as winners: independent bookstores and self-published authors.

Independent bookstores will benefit from Amazon’s retreat for several reasons. The most straightforward one is competition: while Amazon will continue competing with the indies with cutthroat low margins, broader selections, and fast Prime delivery, at least the e-commerce website won’t be butting heads with indies within the brick-and-mortar sphere.

This windfall is significant for independent bookstores at this point of the pandemic. With the omicron wave plummeting, even the most restrictive places in the US are seeking to lift the last of their COVID-19 precautions as consumers flock back to physical retail spaces. So while Amazon Books won’t close overnight, news of the program’s impending end will give its indie competitors an edge during an anticipated surge of in-person shopping.

Amazon Books’ failure also reflects well upon the strengths of independent bookstores. Amazon attempted to break into retail by leveraging Big Data, a wide selection, and even showcasing Amazon reviews.

However, none of Amazon’s online strength seems to replace the personal, local touch of independent bookstores. What independent bookstores lack in scope, they make up with depth, being more equipped to cater to their neighboring communities than an international chain like Amazon Books.

It may sound less intuitive why self-publishing authors may benefit from Amazon Books’ demise. After all, Amazon’s Kindle Direct Program has been integral to the careers of many self-published authors.

However, self-publishing authors share an advantage with independent bookstores in that indie authors have better access to independent bookstores than big retailers.

Amazon may help self-published authors better in the electronic space, where shelf space is limitless, and the cost of “stocking” an e-book is microscopic. However, this is a different story in brick-and-mortar stores, where major book chains only have so much room for books and usually only stock traditionally published titles.

Furthermore, self-published authors have more barriers to getting big retailers to give them the time of day. You can’t walk into a Barnes & Noble or an Amazon Books store and ask the owner if they can buy some of your copies to sell.

Independent bookstores are a whole other matter. As indie stores survive and thrive based on personal relationships, most are willing to talk with local authors. This opens up opportunities for both parties: you get the chance to have your self-published book sold on an actual bookstore shelf, and they get to show off their commitment to regional authors.

At an independent bookstore, a self-published author has the chance of being featured on a window display or front-door table, and indie bookstores are always looking for local authors to host book signings and other author events. None of this can be done with a big player like Amazon Books.

It’s unknown whether Amazon will reattempt physical bookselling in the future. But for now, the smaller players in the book industry have one less giant to worry about.

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As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry. This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog each month to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

How COVID has made self-publishing even more popular than before

How COVID has made self-publishing even more popular than before. Outskirts Press

Yes, the book industry, in general, is profiting from an explosion of sales. The sudden rise of homebound readers has led to them substituting outdoor activities with books. As a result, while other entertainment industries plummeted, the book industry has rebounded from the initial lockdown dip to levels higher than before!

Self-publishing authors, in particular, have thrived the last two years. The first round of pandemic lockdowns upheaved the job situation of many potential self-publishing writers. The circumstances of these writers varied. Some workers were laid off. Others left their jobs for health or family reasons. Many quit as part of “The Great Resignation.” Countless others remained at their jobs but shifted to a work-at-home environment and filled newfound time by taking up another pursuit, such as book writing.

No matter the reason, a number of aspiring authors faced change during COVID-19 and turned toward self-publishing as an even more desirable career path.

The self-publishing model endured when the pandemic forced most workers out of the office. The self-published author can write, edit, and publish a book—and never have to leave home!

For the self-publishing business, work-at-home is an ideal office. Thanks to modern communication, a self-publishing writer not only can make business calls from home but also engage in Zoom meetings. In the previous century, a manuscript sent by snail mail would’ve taken days, if not weeks. Now, you can also upload a manuscript to a book distribution service within seconds with email and file uploading. Readers can click the “buy” button on your book within minutes. You can even log on to the website of a print-on-demand (POD) distributor and list physical copies without having to negotiate a printing quote.

Work-from-home benefits even extend to the other professionals involved in self-publishing, like editors, proofreaders, and cover design artists. For example, one self-publishing author could assemble an entire team of collaborators that span worldwide without any member ever meeting in person!

The story looks different for the major, traditional publishers. When the pandemic lockdowns began, traditional publishers had to pivot hard to work-at-home. Some publishing houses have yet to return to the office almost two years later. A number of them still feel the pains of switching workplace settings after a decades-long tradition of office work. Other publishing houses had to bend corporate procedures to get work done.

The pandemic also hit the areas where big publishers had an advantage over indie publishers and self-publishers. Even with book sales rising, bookstore sales in 2020 were down compared to the year before because much of the sales surge was from online book sales. Tragically, many indie bookstores closed, like many small businesses that were shuttered by the pandemic.

And as we covered earlier in the blog, the supply chain’s congestion has slowed print book deliveries and frightened large publishers to delay new releases. The supply chain situation has grown only direr since then, with companies unable to ship customers their orders before Christmas. Of course, it doesn’t help that the unpredictability of COVID-19’s variants keeps brick-and-mortar stores on edge.

However, self-publishing authors have been able to fill in the gap left by undelivered physical books through the ebook format. Most self-published books are already digital. For many self-publishers, it was a matter of taking advantage of the rise in ebook sales, with digital sales spiking in 2020, and in 2021 remaining higher than the prepandemic.

Furthermore, the self-publishing author is more adept at adapting to work at home than an organization. As a business of one, a self-publisher can leap over the red tape, starting and finishing projects in months when the same title would take years for a traditional publisher to release.

A self-publishing writer also has some perks over traditionally published authors, such as higher royalty rates and instantaneous publication. Most appealingly, should you decide to go into self-publishing, YOU get to choose what story you create and put out in the world. You don’t have to wait to secure the validation of agents and editors when you can get on a computer and let the readers decide for themselves.

This appeal aligns with the main thrust of The Great Resignation: in the face of catastrophe, many workers have looked at their earlier jobs and decided that their dreams can no longer wait. No wonder lots of workers have decided to pursue their aspirational novel, autobiography, or self-help book by going into self-publishing.

It’s important to remember that for all the benefits self-publishing authors receive, we must still remember the losses from COVID-19. Beyond the closed bookstores and the two years spent indoors, the pandemic has taken a horrendous toll on lives and affected many more people’s health and livelihood.

But if you DO decide to take the plunge and self-publish your book, recognize that you are joining a movement that’s making the best of dire circumstances, sharing stories that will comfort readers during the pandemic, and will hopefully continue to do so post virus.

The Supply Chain – A Problem and Opportunity

The Supply Chain - A Problem and Opportunity

You might’ve heard how this holiday season, it might be more difficult for readers to get the books they want. Blame the international supply chain.

A supply chain is a system that a product goes through to go from raw materials and labor to a product delivered to the end customer. With a book, a manuscript is turned into physical books and ebooks for readers. With the COVID-19 pandemic, this process has been complicated.

The exact causes vary, with CNN and Vox having comprehensive articles. In summary, there’s a book shortage because of the following reasons:

  • increased demand for at-home delivery due to more shoppers staying inside and ordering online
  • increased demand during the holiday season, an already busy time of year amplified by delivery being at all-time high levels
  • increased demand for books because of consumers staying indoors and returning to literature
  • shortage of paper because of environmental concerns and increased need for cardboard in multiple industries
  • shortage of workers because of the pandemic, especially in transportation
  • lack of printing plants in the United States, especially after years of factories closing
  • commercial ship congestion at seaports. And yes, that includes the one ship that went viral after getting stuck in the Suez Canal.

The result? The supply chain has a traffic jam. Demand is high, and supply is low.

Book publishers wait in line for their titles to be printed and shipped at a time where readers want books more than ever. Booksellers and book stores can’t stock enough copies, publishers are postponing releases, and readers contend with delayed deliveries and more expensive shipping and handling.

Ask publishing professionals, and they’ll say it’s hard to overstate how much this is A Big Problem.

But even with these issues, you as a self-publishing author can find opportunities to adapt.

For instance, self-publishing authors can still get their books out there in ebook format. While electronic books still require work to convert a manuscript into a readable format, they don’t require paper, they can be read on devices that most people already own, and readers can buy and download them in seconds.

With these benefits, you can essentially skip the supply chain line and get your book to readers months before traditional publishers. This is an opportunity for new authors, because there’s an influx of new readers looking for stories to fall in love with.

What if you still want your book in print? While the publishing industry thought that ebooks would supplant physical books, printed books continue to outsell their electronic counterparts, even as ebooks are here to stay. With the two formats coexisting, a successful author shouldn’t rule out either.

Self-publishing authors can still get paper copies through print-on-demand (POD) books.

Traditionally, books were manufactured in large print runs, requiring a lot of money up front and a lot of sales to justify the endeavor. This gave traditional publishers an edge over self-publishing authors who couldn’t secure both, with the latter only entering the industry with the rise of computers.

More recently, print on demand has emerged as a profitable printing method. With POD, single copies are printed and shipped as individual customers order them. Furthermore, self-publishers can outsource distribution and fulfillment to an outside vendor and focus more on writing and marketing. POD titles can be restocked on a moment’s notice, and self-publishing authors don’t have to risk wasting money on unsold copies.

Because self-publishing authors retain a larger share of their titles’ revenue, they can take advantage of their leaner profit margins to get paper copies to their readers at reasonable prices. Pair POD with a primary ebook model, and self-publishing can thrive even in the middle of the book shortage.

Now, don’t forget about pre-orders.

Traditional publishers, authors, and booksellers are pushing readers to order in advance to more accurately gauge how many books to print and order and better plan around delays.

Self-publishing authors can also find much in making their books available for pre-order. The other benefits of pre-ordering stand, such as giving you time to do book promotion, allowing you to lock in sales before release day, and getting reviewers sooner.

On top of that, pre-orders can help readers receive an e-book automatically on release day or to shorten delivery times for physical books since you can produce and ship a physical copy beforehand.

Finally, the book shortage is one more opportunity for self-publishing authors to connect with readers. Some readers may not understand the book shortage’s severity, so you can use your social media platforms to practice transparency with why you may encourage them to be flexible with pre-ordering or buying ebooks.

If you’re honest about your situation, your readers will gain a higher appreciation of the publishing process, and your readers will be more invested in your career.

It’s easy to panic about the messed-up supply chain, but don’t let it scare you from self-publishing. The book shortage will remain in the short term, even as experts predict that supply chain congestion will decrease in 2022. The publishing industry has proven itself durable over decades of downturns, and it will survive the pandemic.

In the meantime, see the shortage as a challenge that will push you to grow as an author and a self-publisher. With a growth mindset, you can frame the supply chain problem as another interesting time in which to write and publish.