Tag Archives: lulu

Another book on the way…

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 But most business books are out of date by the time they hit the shelf and can’t be regularly updated.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…

My books

How to get your book published

Friends and business associates often ask me how they can get their book idea into print. The assumption is always that because I have published a few books, I can offer some magical nuggets of advice on how to get into print. And I guess I do have insights from experience, but I have tended to stay on the non-fiction side of publishing. I haven’t published a novel or tried to get in a Booker shortlist.

But if you are thinking of writing a book then here are a few things to think about.

  1. You are unlikely to make a lot of money, despite what you see JK Rowling making. Business, management, and other non-fiction titles don’t sell in huge numbers so you need to consider publishing non-fiction for the joy of contributing to the pool of knowledge in that subject, plus it may become a valuable calling card that gives you work in other areas – such as consulting or speaking.
  2. You need to think commercially. Publishers are not in this for the love of it. They want a commercial product they can turn into real returns… so they are unlikely to be interested in uncle Tom’s memoirs of fishing on the river Thames – unless there is some way you can prove that the book-buying public really needs to see this title.
  3. You need to take advice from people who have published in the area you plan to publish. As mentioned, most of my work has been in non-fiction management titles, but I am straying outside this zone gradually. If you are thinking of fiction then I would recommend reading how horror author Stephen King started out in writing and also the views of literary agent Carole Blake. This kind of advice gives you a much better idea of how to balance the idea of what you are producing as art against what will actually sell. The Blacks guide is also essential reading.
  4. You need to think about marketing. Sure, the publisher has to do a lot of this, but the author can really help with networks, media contacts, social media… The author can make all the difference.
  5. You don’t always need to get an agent first. In fact without any track record it can be almost impossible to get an agent. If you can show samples of what you can write and you can show a good synopsis for an entire book then publishers will listen to you.
  6. If you can’t make progress quickly on much of the above then you may want to consider self-publishing and then using your published book to secure a deal at a major publisher. Sometimes it can help just to have it out there and available on sites such as Amazon. Lulu.com is a great site for this because they will publish your book with no upfront fees – just shared royalties on sales. It’s proper publishing, just the distribution is harder because it’s going to only be at online book stores.

My books

Talking Outsourcing book launch – the video

Video footage from the launch of my new book ‘Talking Outsourcing’ is now online. Thank you to the National Outsourcing Association for promoting this book launch event, and Steria for supporting the event and making it possible:

Follow these links to view the films:

Angelica Mari Introduction & Hilary Robertson 1/2
Hilary Robertson 2/2

Philippe Legrain 1/2
Philippe Legrain 2/2

Mark Kobayashi-Hillary 1/3
Mark Kobayashi-Hillary 2/3
Mark Kobayashi-Hillary 3/3

Panel Discussion 1/3
Panel Discussion 2/3
Panel Discussion 3/3

For more information on the book, please go and visit the website here.

Talking Outsourcing Book Launch – thanks!

I could write a long note of thanks to everyone who helped, but why bother when I recorded a short video to say it instead? Do go and take a look here…