Author question #8: How much control over your book do you want?

Posted July 16th @ 6:21 am by Roger C. ParkerPrint

Before starting to write a book, ask yourself, How much control over your book’s content, design, and distribution are you looking for?

This the 8th in a series of 99 Questions, ideas, and tips intended to help you make the right decisions when writing and publishing a book to build your personal brand.

Addressing the question of control as early as possible can help you avoid disappointment and frustration down the road.

Areas of concern

Having written over 40 books, both trade and self-published, I’ve had first-hand experience with both alternatives.

As shown in the mind map above, created with Mindjet’s MindManager, there are 4 major areas of potential concern that should influence your choice between trade and self-publishing:

  • Title. One of the most important areas of concern is the book’s title and subtitle–the words that build on and amplify the title. When an author signs a publishing contract with a trade publisher, references to the title are usually accompanied by the words, tentatively titled. That’s the “placeholder” title the publisher’s acquisitions editor agreed to. Often, however, the book is is reassigned to a developmental editor or an editorial committee, who may have a totally different idea about what the title should be. This leads to problems if the author has already obtained a website URL and started to blog about the book.
  • Cover. Book covers play a “sink or swim” role in a book’s success.¬† The wrong cover can bring tears to an author’s eyes–and indifferent sales. Often, authors don’t have the right to suggest title designs or the ability to veto an unsuitable cover. In many cases, they are kept out of the design loop and only shown their book’s cover after it’s too late for their opinion to count.
  • Approach. In many cases, as a trade book goes through the editing process, a book’s “big picture”–or premise–and its table of contents will change. In many cases, the new perspective provided by fresh eyes and input from the publisher’s sales team will greatly improve a book. However, the danger is always there that the editorial committee might have a totally different vision for the book than the author. Trouble lies ahead if these differing visions show up after the contract has been signed.
  • Distribution. The Internet has complicated the many issues involving trade publishing and book distribution. Trade publishers have typically tightly controlled book distribution, discouraging author sales and limiting free distribution of sample content. Now, however, its commonplace to blog a book, as described in Nina Amir’s detailed “how-to” book. David Meerman Scott’s successful launch of Marketing¬† Lessons from the Grateful Dead is just one example of the success that awaits authors who build a loyal following by using free content to build demand for their new books.

Balancing the pros and cons of trade versus self-publishing

Choosing between trade publishing and self-publishing is a matter of acknowledging the the pros and cons of each alternative. There’s no “perfect” solution. However, by acknowledging the issue and addressing it as soon as possible, authors can boost their odds of making the right choice.

That’s where 99 Questions to Ask Before You Write and Self-Publish a Brand-Building Book can help. It’s a do-it-yourself guide to making the right decisions when writing & publishing a book to build your personal brand.

99 Questions brings up issues, like control, early in your journey to writing and publishing success. This means there’s time to consider your options and make the right decisions.

Click the book cover to begin your journey to writing and publishing success by downloading your copy of my (currently) free workbook. Use it to create a personalized writing, marketing, and profit plan for your book, based on the amount of control you want over your book. Acknowledge your publishing goals as soon as possible avoids problems later. If you have had experience with “control” issues, share them as comments below,or send your writing questions to me using my online form.

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