Thank you to author and 1106 Design client Bob Gleeson for sharing his rules for self-publishing success. In the coming months, 1106 Design will feature indie publishers who will share with you their stories, their secrets to success, and how they overcame self-publishing challenges and obstacles.
Four years ago, I co-authored a nonfiction book that sold 17,500 copies in the US and 5,000 in India. We are now back working with 1106Design on the second edition. This time, our sales targets are more than double that.
These are pretty good numbers, so how did we do it?
Rule 1: Know your audience.
The book is a primer in lipidology (think cholesterol management to lower heart disease). The science is moving quickly but is often written in scientific articles or dense textbooks. We felt there was a need to translate this science for the average primary care provider, because they see the largest number of patients. So we targeted the book at them. And I mean target.
Our primary audience knew a little about the topic, but had holes in their knowledge, so we wrote to fill the holes. They wanted a readable text, so we wrote at the 11th grade level. They wanted quick answers, so we filled the book with illustrations, tables, and checklists. They were chronically short of time, so we wrote it in 140 pages without references.
Rule 2: Know your buyers.
And know what they want or need the book to say. We wanted to sell the book, so we priced it retail 39.95, but discounted down to a low of $9.90 for orders over 1,000. As a self-publisher, you control the pricing. We knew the National Lipid Association wanted it as a teaching reference for their course work and exams, so we sold it to them at a discount. We knew that preventive cardiology clinics in teaching hospitals would want a copy for their rotating residents, so we made sure they knew about the book.
Rule 3: Write well.
The prose should be clear, the grammar correct, and the writing interesting. You are writing for one reader at a time; you want him or her interested in you as a writer and what you have to say.
Rule 4. Edit, re-edit, copy edit, proofread, and copy edit.
Rule 5. Make your book look professional.
Obviously that means a professional needs to whip the book into shape. The leading, the kerning, paragraph alignment, where and how chapters end and restart: all of that requires a professional. And you know that means 1106Design. They made our book look like a textbook, and the indexing was complete, and the editing and copy editing perfect. 1106Design provided the finishing touches to ensure we could meet our sales goals.
I wish you good luck.
Bob Gleeson, author, Lipidology, A Primer