Self-publishing benefits and the value of excerpts as a book marketing tool
There are all sorts of reasons for writers to self-publish, and one to add to your list is the ability for authors (and illustrators) to actively give permission to other outlets to excerpt material from your book.
An excerpt is a section of your book’s content carved out so it can appear in other mediums. You still hold the copyright, but you give someone else permission to share it with their audience. Excerpts are a great book marketing tool for authorpreneurs.
For example, a chapter of a self-published memoir or a political biography may be excerpted by magazines or newspapers. A scene from an audiobook could be excerpted for broadcast via a radio show or podcast. A case study from your book could be shared with a relevant association or organisation to be excerpted in their newsletter to members. You can even excerpt from your book yourself, using your book’s content in your blog, newsletters and wherever it makes sense (such as LinkedIn)….perhaps even selling it for a good per-word fee to a media outlet.
Some of the benefits of an excerpt of your book appearing in other mediums can include:
- reaching a new audience
- building demand and interest for your book
- being paid a fee for excerpting your content (or forgoing the fee for access to the exposure)
- increasing the visibility of your book and raising awareness of you as a writer and expert
- providing extra content for social media
- if the excerpt appears online, it can improve the back links to your website (which means your website may rank higher in future search results)
- mutually beneficial collaboration and relationship-building with the organisation or business who is publishing your excerpt.
For example, I gave permission to freelance journalist and copywriter jobs site Rachel’s List to excerpt part of a chapter from Look – It’s Your Book!. The collaboration made sense for both our objectives in that the content suits their audience of freelance writers and journalists…and the audience are also ideal readers for my non-fiction self-publishing book as they may also be interested in writing their own book (or ghostwriting a book for a client) now or at some time in the future. It also builds on our collaboration together as we had worked on a Self Publishing Mini Masterclass last year…which was the spark I used to get the book written!
The key to choosing content from your book to share as an excerpt is that it must be entertaining and/or provide valuable information for readers…while leaving them wanting more.
You don’t want to give everything away, or people will feel they don’t need to invest in your book.
I’ve heard it explained that an excerpt should be the ‘why’ but not the ‘how’. That’s why for the chapter for the Rachel’s List blog, we settled on an excerpt from Chapter 11, about the benefits of self-publishing. It’s not the whole chapter (which also includes the negatives of self-publishing which all intending indie authors need to be across) but it does give readers new to the topic an introduction to the concept of indie publishing, as well as a good feel for my writing and the book’s style.
Feel free to read it on the Rachel’s List site (they have it looking rather pretty!), and I’ve also popped the content below if you’re keen to dive in now.
(c) Excerpt from Look -It’s Your Book! by Anna Featherstone
Chapter 11 – CHOOSING SELF-PUBLISHING
This chapter is all about the type of publishing where you get to be the boss. You choose to do the work you like, are good at—or want to learn to be good at—and you also get to choose to delegate the rest, and to who.
SELF-PUBLISHING: THE POSITIVES
You can be a nobody
Hurrah! You don’t need to be famous or have hundreds of thousands of fanatical followers on your socials. You don’t need to have married a Hollywood film star or been her personal trainer, won gold at the Olympics, or invented the cure for cancer. All of those would be great, of course, but even if you had done all of them, it still doesn’t guarantee you a palatable book deal with a traditional publisher.
Introverts can self-publish. Extroverts can self-publish. We don’t need to prostrate ourselves on the front doormat of literary agents, sidle shyly up to publishers at festivals or spend dog years perfecting the ultimate email pitch or dredging ourselves out of the slush pile.
We can avoid the whole rigmarole and just give ourselves permission to publish.
You want permission? Permission granted!
Retain all rights
The self-publishing approach means keeping all rights to your work and enjoying the freedom of being able to repackage and repurpose the content, in any shape or form, for any outlet or medium you choose … forever!
You can pull books from publication if you decide to take a different path, or you can launch offshoots or more books in the series.
You can sign deals with foreign agents for translations or bring out an audio version. You can slice and dice your content into podcast format, merchandise, or turn the concept of your book into a thriving consulting business. You can do whatever you like because you, and only you, own the IP.
Keep all profits
Though you’ve had to back the venture financially from the start, you’ll also benefit financially by retaining 100% of the profits till the end. That’s right, you get full royalties, instead of just 5%.
Sell fewer books but make more money
Yes, this heading sounds all wrong but, because you don’t need to split your book income with a publisher, it means your profit per book is way higher, so you don’t need to sell as many! That’s right, you might make $10–$20 profit on a $30 book sale instead of just $1–$3. For example, at the time of writing, Small Farm Success Australia has sold more than 2,000 paperback copies (and is still going strong) at $29.95 ex-GST (RRP is $33 including GST). With a traditional publisher, at an 8% royalty, this would equal a gross income of around $5,000, but by self-publishing the book I was able to increase that gross income close to tenfold, plus earn 70% commission on hundreds of more ebook sales, and parlay it into consulting opportunities too. I’ve also received 100% of the income from lending rights and copyright schemes (more on those opportunities and how to apply for them in Chapter 50).
Speed and relevance
I’m not much for sitting around waiting for people to make decisions about my future. How about you?
If you have an urgent or timely message or idea you want to get out, and you’re not prepared to wait for the 1 to 3-year publishing cycle of a traditional publisher (which is on top of your writing time!), you can turn things around quickly and just get your book out to market ASAP.
It means your book will be timely and, thanks to the flexibility of ebooks and POD (see Chapter 24), you’ll be able to update it, as well as bring out new editions.
Brand and product extension
Publishing your book your own way allows you to create spin-offs, including workbooks and podcasts, stationery and seminars, limited editions, even lyrics and lectures. Create, control, and expand your brand and empire on your own terms.
Test the market
Self-publishing is a great way to test the market with your ideas and writing style. It may also help you get runs on the board to build your fan base for your next book.
You can do it from anywhere and over any length of time
Indie publishing is incredibly flexible. You can run your operation from anywhere in the world, calling the shots from your backyard, a sun-kissed beach, the local coffee shop, or a cheery co-working space. You can even do it on your commute to your regular job. You also get to set your own deadlines, whether that’s leisurely or lightning fast.
Choose the experts you want to work with
Many of the same people who design and edit for the big publishers (or have) are also available to freelance for you. This means you can outsource all the things you’re not good at or dread doing, whilst tapping into the same expertise used by the big guns of the publishing world.
Working with these freelancers can bring efficiency, expertise and great energy to your project.
It might be your only option
Indie publishing might also be the only way to get your book into print.
For example, there’s no way a traditional publisher would have signed me to publish this book on self-publishing! Many topics are also too niche or controversial, especially given that publishers assess the value of your book through their own lens, and that lens often has a heavy commercial filter. Sometimes it’s only after you’ve achieved success on your own that they go and get their eyes checked.
However, being master of your own destiny can have its drawbacks, and there are negatives to self-publishing too. Let’s look at them now…
Look – It’s Your Book! is available for order through your favourite local and online bookstore, your local Australian library, as well as direct from the publisher with a workbook combo special.