Can You Publish a Profitable Book in Days?

No, really. Nancy Fulton asked “Do you know how to publish a profitable book (and get it on Amazon) in days?” on LinkedIn. She was hoping for additions to a list of POD she had in a blog post on HubSpot that’s no longer available (I’ve made the publish date of this post the date that I answered the original question, but it’s really September 2009 as I type this).

There was a point I made in my response that I think it’s worth making again here:

The process of getting a book printed is very simple these days. Profiting, on the other hand, is more challenging, because of the increase in the number of books printed: there’s a lot of competition for readers. And even though producing a book through, say, Lulu, costs very little, there are still enough costs associated with making the book publishable (your time in writing it, hiring an editor, hiring a designer) that you’ll need to sell quite a few copies in order to realize a profit from book sales.

On the other hand, if having that book gets you $50,000 of new business in the next year, it could be very profitable even if you give copies away.

In any case, profit doesn’t depend on how you publish, but on the quality of the book and—much more—your own marketing skills.

It’s also worth mentioning the Best Answer for this question, provided by Inna Red. Authors who use a POD house like Lulu or Amazon’s own BookSurge automatically get their books on Amazon, but if you print your books yourself, you need to sign up with Advantage or Advantage Professional, depending on the type of books you produce.

The Best Way to Get a Book Published

Reed Smith asked the following question on LinkedIn:

What is the best way to get a book published?

What is the best way to go about getting a book published. Any advice for a first time author?

This was my answer:

I’m assuming you mean a non-fiction book; things work a bit differently for fiction. One of the best things you can do, whether you choose traditional publishing, self-publishing, or Print on Demand, is write a book proposal. (There are plenty of books about how to do this, some with examples, and also professionals to help you.) A proposal forces you to analyze your target market, your book’s strengths and weaknesses, your goals for the book, and your own ability to sell it.

No matter what form of publishing you choose, promoting the book is your job. Publishers care less about how well you can write (you or they can always hire a ghostwriter like yours truly to ensure the writing is up to their standards) than about whether anyone will want to read it and how you’re going to reach them.

That means you need a “platform”—a way to reach potential readers. If you do a lot of public speaking, have a large (in the tens of thousands) e-mail list, have a popular blog, know celebrities in your field who can endorse the book, etc. and so on, it will help you immensely.

Once the proposal is finished, writing the book is easy. And it’s the proposal that will sell the book for you. If it doesn’t, you don’t have to write the book, unless it’s so important for personal reasons that you don’t mind investing the time and effort without expectation of financial returns.

It’s funny how I can never write a blog post that’s as short as my Answers on LinkedIn. Incidentally, my response wasn’t chosen as the best answer. The best answer was “,” and I would agree that Lulu is one of the best POD houses. I would definitely recommend them to anyone who’d already chosen to go that route. I wonder how Reed’s book is coming along?