Tania Elfersy established her own solopreneur publishing firm, Flower Cap Press, in order to publish her book Purple Leaves, Red Cherries: A Gift for Mothers with Short Stories, Journal & Toolkit. The book recently won four international book awards.
I'm an enterprising mom and a publishing upstart. I imagine that people like me make the traditional "gatekeepers" of publishing lose some sleep at night.
In 2009, I had an idea for a book. Within eighteen months, I brought a full-color, richly designed book to market. It's my first book, it has won two international book awards and I self-published it!
I became a self-publisher because I could. Recent changes in the publishing industry (the introduction of eBooks, Print on Demand and online book stores) have meant that writers can now control, with greater ease and less investment, the complete publishing process of their books, from A to Z.
I never approached a publishing firm or agent. Instead I held on tight to my vision of my book, maximized my background in marketing, learned new skills, hired professionals where needed and got down to some hard work.
Here is what I did:
While home alone with my third child I had an idea for an inspiring gift book for new mothers. I wanted to create a book that would offer an honest examination of the impact of motherhood on women's lives and allow mothers to feel less alone. I wanted the book to focus on the changes women undergo when they become mothers and to guide readers through the complexities of motherhood, without telling women what they should or shouldn't do. I began talking about the idea to my mom-friends.
I bought a number of books on self-publishing and subscribed to forums and newsletters aimed at the self-publishing community. I continue to learn from these resources.
In addition, I researched books targeted at new moms, gifts for new moms and general literature on motherhood. I noted what was out there and how my book would offer added value. Where possible, I gathered sales figures for books that new moms would be likely to buy or receive as gifts. I also gathered population statistics that allowed me to determine how many women in my target socioeconomic group became new mothers each year. With these figures I determined my sales targets.
I put together a budget, with all the costs required to bring my book to market. I worked out how many books I would need to sell to start making a profit, and I understood the risks involved.
The Marketing Plan
I started this early to keep me focused. It remains a work in progress. As does my SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats).
My marketing- plan covered the following:
WHY am I writing this book and why will people buy it?
WHO are my readers and customers?
WHAT are my goals and objectives?
HOW will I achieve them?
Getting a big self-publishing project off the ground can be nerve-racking and requires discipline. Co-authoring the book with my longtime friend, Andrea Katzman, was a wonderful experience. Our creativity was multiplied as was our productivity, and throughout, our responsibilities were clear. We shared equally the task of completing the manuscript, but all the self-publishing tasks (including ensuring that we had a written copyright agreement between us) were mine.
My Professional Team
I recruited a team of professionals to help me bring my book to market. These included the book's talented illustrator, Nomi Melul Ohad; editors and proofreaders; a design team from Titan BrandWise, who created the book's visual concept and online branding; website programmers; an animator for the book trailer and a social media advisor. Wherever possible, I worked with moms who felt connected to the project. It meant that there were lots of people working with passion and delivering excellent results. In addition, it also meant that right from my book's launch, I was connected to a group of people who acted as ambassadors for the book.
Due to the complex design of my book, I partnered with an industry leader to develop my eBooks. However, these days anyone with a book written in Word can convert his or her own book into an eBook for free on Smashwords and/or Amazon, and start selling it soon after!
Self-publishing offers writers a wonderful opportunity to bring their books to market while controlling the publishing process. However, self-publishing for profit is not for the fainthearted or for writers who don't have an appetite for marketing and sales, and an absolute dedication to their project.
I've started a long journey, and even now, having won four international book awards, I feel I am still at the beginning. Self-publishing is exciting and often exhausting, and only time will tell just how enterprising. In the meantime, I'm enjoying it immensely.
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