Part 3: Making a Return on Your Investment
This is the final part in this series that offers information authors and self publishers need to consider when they hire an illustrator.
Other articles in this series:
Part 1: Know What You Need and talking Budget
Part 2: Rights, Royalties and the scary Contract Agreement
Here we’ll cover how you can make a return on your illustrated book and recoup the investment you’ve made in producing your book product. There are many writers aspiring to publish an illustrated book, such as a children’s picture book, but they baulk when considering what it costs to hire a book illustrator and put their book together.
There’s a couple of reasons why this is. One, because they like the idea of publishing, but don’t actually consider what it really takes to sell books. They don’t plan in advance, they don’t create a production and marketing budget or take the time to build up a reasonable budget ready for the project.
There are many ways to finance a project like this, which would be another article, but here we’re talking about making a return and profit from your book.
Publishing the right way to profit
The first big factor for profiting on each book you sell, is of course keeping your print costs down. This is why you want to self publish the right way with your own ISBN’s and a POD printer, such as Createspace or Lightning Source. Book print costs can be as low two dollars, which allows you to have a nice margin, selling for twelve to fifteen dollars.
If you unfortunately published with a vanity publisher such as Authorhouse or BookPal among others the print costs are high sometimes costing as much as twelve to sixteen dollars to print the book, Woah! This doesn’t leave you a nice margin at all and this is a huge, costly mistake that will handicap you, sending ripples into your publishing future.
Launch: It’s all in the advanced planning
Single biggest reason why authors and self publishers don’t make their money back? Is because they leave the marketing and promotion planning until the very last minute when the book is hitting the shelves. Just because you publish it, doesn’t mean they’ll come.
You can make three quarters of your investment back, even profit, in a single morning or evening with a well planned, well executed, live book launch. Children’s books are still primarily flourishing in the print market. Don’t be disillusioned by all the ebook buzz currently in the marketplace. EBooks are great for novelists, but children’s picture books, non-fiction, young adult and graphic novels still live in the print market for the most part.
A well executed live launch consists of a substantial invite list of at least a hundred people. Have entertainment and beverage options planned. Keep costs down by finding a sponsor for your launch event. Position your book with great packaging. You want to over deliver for those who buy your book, so they’ll benefit from an added bonus incentive.
The more books you have the more you increase your reach, sales and doors for people to find you.
Invite the local media and partner with libraries or retailers to capitalise on their audience and newsletter lists. Find an arrangement that benefits both of you.
Selling after launch
Lining up Book Stores, Schools and Libraries effectively
Following up from your launch you begin your post-launch campaign. This is where you contact, build relationships with independent book stores, schools and libraries. For schools you’ll want to organise your visits. Again, plan in advance. Start locally and work your way out. Schools all talk to each other, the word of mouth thoughout schools for a children’s author client of mine extended her reach in a short period of time. She was already talking to schools and scheduling visits before the book was even sent to the printer! How’s that for hustle!
Have your independent book store list prepared with the names of book stores across your state or country and start systematically contacting each one offering a generous wholesale discount. If you have a distributor, then be sure to let stores know they can order with ease directly from your distributor. Some authors have done all this without leaving the home office.
If you’ve self published the right way, you’re the publisher and can choose the discount incentive you give to stores to make it worthwhile ordering your books. Get each of the stores to sell three books each and you’ve made a handsome profit. This takes time, weeks even months. This is a marathon not a sprint.
Online marketing fuelled by a virtual book tour
While you’re working offline, have an online virtual book tour running concurrently. You’ll need to plan and contact book bloggers, reviewers and any potential ‘tour hosts’ at least three months in advance. This is how you reach an international audience focusing your sales on Amazon, the largest online retailer.
As you can see, there’s a lot of planning involved. This is only for those authors and self publishers interested in actually selling books, making their investment back and making a profit.
If you plan you’ll see the numbers adding up. If you execute well, you’ll see the returns.
If this all seems to much, then you need to reconsider how much you want to be an author, write for a living, or how much you want the title of best selling author.
You just need to put in the hustle that the majority of authors and self publishers don’t do. You need to ask questions that others don’t. If you do prepare and set yourself up properly, you can hire an illustrator to help create a quality illustrated book knowing you’ll sell it and make a return on investment.
Now it’s time for you to pull out that manuscript and hustle!