To Publish or Not to Publish?

By Anthony S. Policastro

As writers who have completed books, many of us believe we have written the great American Novel or a nonfiction book that will change the world. And we may have, but the hardest part of being an author is convincing others of your feat. Not that you've written a book, but that your book is revolutionary.

And even after you successfully market your book to the best of your financial and intuitive abilities; it still may not be enough.

It doesn't mean you are failure or your work is inferior, it means that we live in a culture of niche markets. We no longer live in the homogenous society of the 1940s and 1950s where most people pretty much did the same things, bought the same products and lived their lives as they were expected to do – at least on the surface. However, many things are still homogenous like fast food restaurants and chains of hotels, gas stations, department and brand name stores and the big box bookstores. But not people. We blaze our own trails, often not caring what others think, throwing our fate to the wind in many cases. We are Americans and that spirit is truly American.

The hardest thing for authors to do is find their niche markets. Even the publishing professionals don't know until the book is out and they track who is buying and reading it. However, they have a better sense of the markets because they are close to them, and they are right most of the time, but in the past five years or so they have been dead wrong.

Their misjudgments or lack of resources to publish many good books has spawned the self-publishing industry. was the pioneer in 2002 and now is the largest online self-publishing book publishing company in the world. But Lulu is losing that honor to the more than twenty or more online self-publishing firms that have copied their business model to ride the wave including Amazon.

The self-published stigma has melted away

The stigma that only inferior work was self-published has melted away primarily due to the publishing industry's failure to see this emerging market, and because of the Kindle and electronic book publishing. The Kindle and its distribution on Amazon was one of the sparks that ignited the self-publishing firestorm. Now you can access and read a book anywhere at any time, and the reading public determines if a book is a bestseller, not the publishing industry. And there are more bestsellers and good books out there than ever before. There are also more books out there that shouldn't have seen the light of the digital book world. But as the old cliché imparts, "The cream rises to the top." There are many authors who first self-published their work and then had that work picked up by legacy publishers.

And this revolution is gaining momentum. R.R. Bowker, one of the major bellwethers of the book industry, reported that in 2008 print-on-demand books surpassed the number of books published by traditional publishers for the first time. In 2009, there were 288,355 traditionally published titles - a decrease of about 0.5% - while self-published titles reached 764,448. But most of the titles were public domain works brought back into print, according to Bowker. The total self-published books in 2009 by individual authors totaled 57,500. Still impressive.

So the question is: Are you going to wait, perhaps your whole life, for a traditional publisher to pick up your book or are you going to self-publish it and increase your chances of success?

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How to Sell Your Book Using Social Networking

By Anthony S. Policastro

Now that you have written and published your book, the hardest part is selling it. With more than 400,000 titles published in 2008, and now the explosion of ebooks, your marketing efforts have to be extraordinary even if you believe you have written a bestseller.

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...Whether you are self-published or published by a traditional house, you will have to market, promote and sell your book. With print book sales declining, and ebook sales exploding, traditional publishers are forced to rely on the authors to promote and sell their books. They no longer have the unlimited marketing budgets of the past.

I know many authors both self-published and traditionally published who are working equally hard to sell their books. It's a tough market, but here are some ways to improve the odds.

  • Get Connected with Social Media – Create a Facebook, MySpace, Linkedin page, open a Twitter account, join any NING social networks related to your interests and book. Sign up to networking sites like, or Register with social bookmarking sites like, or

  • Register as an author on the online book sharing sites like,, and Shelfari. Visitors see your book, may purchase it and post a review on these sites.
  • Use your book cover as your avatar or personal photo. The book cover consistently reminds others you are a published author. It may peak their curiosity enough to investigate your book and maybe purchase it.
  • Work the social network sites consistently. After you have chosen the sites best suited to your interests and your book subject, you must participate on the sites for social networking to work. It is like you are running on a treadmill and the treadmill is connected to a generator keeping the lights on in your house. As long as you are running, the lights stay on and you keep building that Internet buzz about your book. When you slow down, the lights dim and the buzz is not so intense. When you stop completely, the buzz disappears.
  • Put aside about a half hour of time each morning and each evening to participate on the social networking sites. Make comments, post announcements, send tweets, and respond to other's posts and blogs. You don't necessarily have to make your submissions related to your book. You can talk about anything as long as you're a doing something online where others see you and your book. Leave a link back to your book or web site on any post or comment and make sure you say something interesting to attract visitors to your website or blog.
  • Create a blog and leave comments on blogs similar in subject matter to your book. and are the two most used free blog hosting services. Blogger is best for the beginner blogger because it is very easy to use and doesn't contain a lot of bells and whistles used by programmers. Wordpress is the more advanced blog for users who know more about web page design and creation. Either site will work for the beginner or advanced user.
  • Search for blogs that are similar in subject matter of your book or interests. Technorati and Google Blog Search are good search engines for finding related blogs.
  • Join forums about your subject matter and participate. Use the various search engines to find forums related to your book. I find forums get a lot of traffic and when you post a discussion, you usually get instant results.
  • Create contests and giveaways on your blog or website. Goodreads manages a book giveaway contest. All you have to do is determine how many books you want to give away and which countries you want contestants. Goodreads randomly chooses the winners for you and all you have to do is send them a book.

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