Don’t Bother Writing Books—It’s Not Worth It, Unless You’re Already a Celebrity: Part 5

donald pogi_19Hi again, folks. Looks like I’ve got more to tell you about book-writing. Originally, I thought it would take 4 columns. Last month’s column was “Part 4 of 4.” But, sure enough, here comes part 5—it’s about why I said last time, “if you’re unlucky enough to be published by a traditional publisher, such as Random House, Wiley, etc.” (And, by the way, there’s going to be a Part 6.) Here’s what I mean by unlucky:

If you sign a contract with a “traditional” publisher, here’s what you’re in for:

  1. You’ll have to do all your own marketing and promotion. But if you’re like most writers, you just want to write. Nothing else. Generally, writers are uncomfortable with and don’t know much about promoting their books.
  1. Promotion 101: Book-signings. If you want to do a book-signing event, you will have to buy copies of your own book from your publisher. Most publishers will give you only 20 or 40 free copies. The rest will cost you. How much? Most publishers charge you the wholesale price (which is usually 60 percent of the retail cost). So if your book retails for $20, you’ll pay $12 for each book—plus shipping costs. If you sell them at $20 at your book-signing, you’ll make $8 profit per book. However, the average number of books sold at a book signing is only 3—unless you’re a celebrity like Hillary Clinton. How much will it cost you to do a book-signing? Probably a lot more than $24!
  1. You’ll have to pay for all your own marketing and general expenses while you’re doing book signings—gas, air fares, etc. Your publisher won’t help you out here. And, by the way, only 10 publishers have in-house speakers bureaus which set up book-signing events for you. Contact me, and I’ll tell you who they are, give you their e-mail addresses, etc.
  1. I’ve dealt with honest publishers, and I’ve dealt with dishonest ones. Both kinds set up lots of restrictions about when and where you can examine their accounting records. Here’s what happened to me before I got smart and started keeping the foreign rights to my books: One of my publishers, Pelican, located in New Orleans, refused to give me the name of the foreign publisher who bought the rights to publish my book, 365 Powerful Ways to Influence, in India. They refused, even though they knew I was going to India to give seminars and training programs. I didn’t find out the name of the publisher until after I had returned to the US from my Indian trip. I lost money. Pelican didn’t give a damn! And so I check the internet often to find if that book has been published in other foreign nations.
  1. It’s too much trouble—and unprofitable—to sue a dishonest publisher. If they tell you that your book sold 500 copies and it really sold 5,000 copies, you’re entitled to $1.20 in royalties for each of the 4,500 extra books. That’s only 5,400. Your attorney’s fees will be more than that. And usually your contract will say that you can only sue in their state, not in your state. I didn’t want to go to Louisiana to sue Pelican. Too much trouble for too little money!
  1. Here’s the worst part—you’ll become very frustrated because you’ll make almost no money with your book. (Unless, of course, you’re a big celebrity.) Why do I say this? Two reasons: Most books sell less than 1,000 copies. And most publishers will give you a 10 percent royalty on the wholesale price of your book. Once again, if your book’s retail selling price is $20, the wholesale price is $12. You’ll get $1.20 in royalties for each book the publisher says it sold. If your book sells 1,000 copies, your royalties will be $1,200. And what if your publisher dishonestly hides book sales from you?
  1. Worst of all, you won’t get rich—unless you sell a million copies or more! Very, very few million-sellers these days! So be prepared to make almost no money with your book. And if you’re dealing with a dishonest publisher, you won’t know for sure how many books were actually sold. (You couldsubscribe to Nielsen Book Index. It tells you how many of your books were sold. But Nielsen charges you an arm and a leg.) If you want to know how many copies your book has sold on Amazon.com, Amazon will tell you the rank of your book in terms of sales. I’ll give you 15 rules-of-thumb in myNovember 3 column. Plus 5 more reasons why traditional publishers are unlucky for you.

Dr. Donald Wayne Hendon is a consultant, speaker, trainer, and author of 14 books, including his latest—Fractured Fairy Tales: Political Monkey Business. It has 35 political satires, each around the length of this column. Similar to Saturday Night Live sketches—but a lot funnier! It’s available now on Amazon and at booksellers such as Barnes & Noble. Other books: The Way of the Warrior in Business, Guerrilla Deal-Making (with Jay Conrad Levinson) and 365 Powerful Ways to Influence. Jay Levinson recently passed away. He specifically chose Don to be his final co-author—the person most qualified to carry the torch of guerrilla marketing into the 21st century. Deal-Making contains the 100 most powerful tactics from 365 Powerful Ways—along with 400 winning countermeasures. There are 121 aggressive tactics, 92 defensive ones, 24 cooperative ones, and 16 submissive ones to get what you want from other people. Plus 81 dirty tricks to watch out for and 31 tactics to prepare you for your interaction with them. Download Chapter 1, free of charge, at www.DonaldHendon.com. Play Don’s free online Negotiation Poker game by going to GuerrillaDon.com. Apps will soon be available.

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