Why and How I Self-Published a Book
- Posted by James Altucher
I just self-published a book. “How to Be the Luckiest Person Alive”. I published it in paperback form, kindle, and free PDF (see directions below to get free PDF). The entire process took me three weeks. Using an established publisher would’ve taken over a year. [Important note:Since this post was written I have also self-published a new book, "I Was Blind But Now I See". I describe what's different about that book and also offer a special promotion for it here.] The below book is also free on Amazon Kindle for Amazon Prime members (and $1.99 otherwise).
I’ve written a prior post on my sales and advances on first five books which were all published with major publishers. (Also, including a part about how my wife finally fell for me). But I’m never going to publish in the morgue of the publishing industry again. This post today is about why I did it and how you can do it.
The book publishing industry is dead and they don’t know it. Its like how the typewriter industry died. And how companies like Blockbuster and Borders can’t survive. And the entire music industry is dying. And broadcast television might be on the way. And the tablet industry is the first sign that companies like DELL might be in major trouble. And companies like Sirius mean the radio industry is dead.
Why did I self-publish?
Advances are quickly going to zero. Margins are going to zero for publishers. There’s no financial benefit for going with a publisher if advances are going to zero and royalties are a few percentage points. The publishing industry does minimal editing. The time between book acceptance and release is too long (often a year or more). That’s insane and makes zero sense in a print-on-demand world when kindle versions are outselling print versions.
Most importantly, the book industry sells “books”. What they need to do is sell their “authors”. Authors now are brands, they are businesses, they are mini-empires. Publishers do nothing to help 95% of their authors build their platforms and their own brands. This would increase author loyalty and make the lack of a meaningful advance almost worth it.
I’ll give you a quick example. I’ve published five books with major publishers. The majority of books now are sold through Amazon. Not a single publisher told me I can log into Amazon Author Central, create an author’s page, link my author’s page to my blog, upload a video, have my twitter feed in there, have an FAQ in there, and all the other basic tools Amazon uses to market your book. Why? This is the world’s biggest bookseller. Why wasn’t I told about a basic marketing platform I could use? I just learned about it last week after writing books for eight years. Now I have it all hooked up and I have a feeling I’ve only begun to explore the Author Central area and what Amazon can do for me.
I don’t want to trash the publishers. Again, I’ve written all about my publishing experience, complete with sales numbers. Here’s also another article about my reviews on one of the books I’ve published recently with a major publisher. I completely open every kimono (and its pretty hideous inside that kimono). They are all hard working people and have done good jobs but it’s just not worth it to me to go that route anymore.
Despite my five books I am sure zero publishers would’ve published “How to Be the Luckiest Person Alive!” . It’s not in my finance core. Publishers, just like in any business, put you in your little corner and you have to stay there. They want to pigeon-hole you. If you try to get up and go to a different corner they SLAP you down. So publishers would ignore the topic of my book, despite the popularity of my blog which I would be able to demonstrate to them with the statistics. The statistics show that the less I spoke about finance, the more popular my blog got. People want more happiness, not more ways they can lose their money reading bullshit.
I recently looked at the Bookscan numbers for a bunch of very well known finance authors. They were all close to zero. Plus, in the link above I reveal all my numbers on my books. Again, almost nothing. Know why? Because people know that reading these books won’t do anything for them. Very few people make money on stocks. The stock market is largely a scam. Nobody makes money owning real estate anymore. Personal finance is a joke with zero percent interest rates. And, to be honest, most self-help books are written by people with no experience and are just filled with meaningless platitudes.
Thinking about finance is the opposite of the true goal, which is being happy. In this book, I talk about my many failures. Going dead broke after making millions. Rising from the gutter. Getting fired from jobs, kicked out of school, losing a marriage, being at a crossroads in life and figuring out which way to go, and all the times where I could’ve used a book like this to figure out how to grow from the core inward to find happiness, success, and the other tools I needed to come out of the hole and find the motivation to achieve some good for both myself and the world. This book describes that and the specific techniques I used. I’m brutally honest, to the point of risking people hating me. I’ve lost friends (at least temporarily) over the material in this book.
But so what? It works. It worked for me. It’s worked for others in huge, almost unbelievable ways.
And I’m willing to bet not a single publisher would’ve touched it. Nor would they have been able to get it out as fast as I could and as cheaply as I could. I don’t care about making money on this book. I don’t need to feed an entire corporate establishment. I want the ideas out there so I can help people. I want the ideas out there so, honestly, my name gets out there some more. Because this won’t be my last book. I have 10 more on the way!
And so do you!
Here’s what I did to self-publish.
- I created an account on createspace.com. They are owned by Amazon. Great customer service. You have any question at all you hit a button that says “Call Me” and within 30 seconds they have a customer representative calling your phone.
- I downloaded a Microsoft Word template they provided. This template took into account whether a page was a left page or a right page, it helped build the table of contents, kept the page numbers accurate, etc. In other words, the template used by any publisher in the world when they format your book.
- I made a cover. Createspace had over a million options when you combined their templates with images, fonts, etc. I used one of their photos. Claudia used a photo I took, uploaded it and made her book, “21 Things to Know Before Starting an Ashtanga Yoga Practice”. 160 pages or so. My book is 166 pages.
- I saved it as a PDF and uploaded it. I let them pick the ISBN number.
- I picked a price of $7.95 for the book. This was the minimum price I could go if I wanted them to distribute it to bookstores, libraries, etc along with Amazon. I get about a $2 royalty per book at that price. But if you chose a price of $20 then you would get about a $14 royalty. Much higher than any publisher will ever give you. I chose a low price because I’m trying to get as many copies out as possible. I have many books to go and want the audience to be happier and happier with each product. Personally, I would prefer if you get the free book – directions below to get it.
- They sent a proof. I liked it. Once I approved of the proof it was officially published at createspace.com. About two days later it was on Amazon.com.
- I hit a button to format it as a Kindle book. Up until now everything was free but formatting for the kindle requires some work. That cost me $69. Three weeks later they sent me the documents formatted for kindle and I had to use Amazon Author Central to upload the kindle version. Again, I priced it as low as they would let me. $0.99. Within 48 hours it was on Amazon.
- I also created my Amazon page, linked the RSS feed of my blog to it, created a video and uploaded it, linked my twitter feed to it, etc.
If you have any questions or concerns about this entire process, email me through my blog.
I obvious have no self-interest by creating competitors. The more people who publish in a graveyard, the better it is for me. But I honestly want you to publish your ideas and words.
We’ll all do this together.
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