It’s not mine, but I’ve spent a lot of time helping Angelica Mari produce her new book. It’s her book, but I’ve been helping with the mechanical process of getting it from the word processor to a book available in retailers.
Angelica was keen to use Lulu.com to publish her book and as I’ve published three books on there now, I was fairly well placed to advise on how to format the documents and cover.
This has, once again, got me thinking about the future of business books. So many people churn out books about their industry, declaring themselves a ‘guru’ on the cover. But most business books are out of date by the time they hit the shelf and can’t be regularly updated. So after a year of being on sale, you might be reading text that was written over two years earlier.
I have an offer from a big publisher to do a new business book and I’m stalling on it, unsure if it is really of any value today. I know of a very senior CIO who has a similar offer from a publisher, though his is part of a 2-book deal. The publisher wants something and he is not sure if he wants to commit thoughts to print because the format of the old-school publisher just doesn’t work anymore.
I know that Angelica was still editing and changing her book a week ago. From the final tweak to the book launch and physical copies being in the hands of punters will be under one month. And she has had it professionally edited and proof-read during that time.
So what value does an old-style publisher offer?
Not much. They do spend money on marketing and trying to place the book in retailers in a way that will sell more copies, but lets face it, for most business books the market is not a casual browser in Waterstones. Lulu makes books available on all major retailers, including Amazon. And the author takes 80% of profits after printing costs… compare that to the 15% of gross sale price you might expect from a traditional publisher.
I’m still thinking about whether I should do the more traditional book, but I know for sure that my next two books will be on Lulu. I have the ideas in my head already and the plans sketched out. I want to write them and see the books out there, not wait a year for a publisher to work on the text…