If you have been on the internet for any amount of time you have probably seen calls to action that ask for your email in exchange for a free download of a niche eBook. So what do you do? You type in your email and moments later an email comes through with a link to your very own digital copy. Will you ever take the time to read it? Maybe. Maybe not but who am I to judge, I’ve done it too.
Whenever you do this you are helping expand the person’s credentials, email list, and ultimately reach. It costs you absolutely nothing but it’s helping them grow their own business. They set up a few automations once and it’s now working for them. That same system could have been sending out copies of their book for years for all you know.
I want to take a second to talk about the flip side of this scenario. I’m speaking to the person who wrote an eBook and uses it as a lead magnet. You spend a few hours, a few days, or even a few months working on this small but mighty compilation of information. It may cover your particular niche, be a series of thoughts, or even a novella. Knowing that the overhead is low, you figure you’ll give it out for free or for a few dollars and now you’re the person who is growing in credentials, collecting emails, and expanding reach.
Let me ask you this, have you ever considered publishing it as a physical book?
In 2021 I self-published my first book Personal Branding: A Manifesto on Fame and Influence and will be briefly discussing some of the perks that came with it throughout this article. Albeit, it didn’t start as an eBook, I later created a digital version which led to increased distribution but I’ll save that for another day.
Misconceptions About Publishing A Book
Let’s get all of the reasons you may have about not publishing a book out of the way.
Requiring A Publisher
Publishing a book in 2023 is not the same as publishing a book in the 1900s. In times past, the only way you could become a published author was through a publishing house that would make you sign a massive contract in exchange for your figurative soul (i.e royalties). The majority of people wouldn’t have even made it to that stage because their work wasn’t of a high enough quality, they were scared, or they weren’t thinking big enough to even pitch an editor.
Publishing a book also required technology that wasn’t as efficient or available as it is today. Who had access to the technology and connections back then? The publishers.
Financial and Time Barriers
Many people also believe that publishing a book requires thousands of dollars and immense amounts of time. I’m not here to say that it doesn’t cost money or any additional time, but it isn’t nearly as much as you may think. I go more in depth on the requirements later on.
It Needs To Be Hundreds of Pages Long
When I was early on in my writing process of Personal Branding: A Manifesto on Fame and Influence I was concerned that it would not be long enough. I knew that I didn’t want it to be anything all-too-intensive, but would it be too short? A reasonable question. It clocks in at 55 pages long and has helped multitudes of people understand personal branding better. Publishing a book doesn’t require it to be a massive feat, second only to Don Quixote. What the text contains is more important than the amount of text.
You Have To Handle the Distribution
Distribution is handled by the company that you choose to have your book printed by. You will upload all of the files, they will print and bind your book, then handle fulfillment (shipping) according to where the book is purchased. Unless you want to order what are known as author copies and sell signed books yourself, you don’t have to touch a stamp or package. This can be compared to the dropshipping model in e-commerce.
Benefits of Being A Published Author
The Credibility and Title
Published author. Imagine being able to call yourself that. Vanity metrics aside, it does carry weight. Whenever you are introducing yourself, or someone is introducing you they can throw that little tidbit of information on top of whatever accolades and titles you have. It can get you into new rooms and circles. It’s something new and leverageable.
A New Income Stream
I have to be very clear, you will not make money from your book unless you scale and promote, promote, promote. I am also not speaking to the person who wants to solely be an author. This article is on taking your eBook and publishing it after all. You will likely spend more money initially and not break even until several months down the road. This is okay and is to be expected. Once you are in the green, however, you can expect residual income coming in every month as long as sales are being made. If you pair your book with your current and future offers and integrate it into your marketing there is no reason why you can’t rake in a few sales every now and then. Plus, as your personal brand grows, more people will be interested in grabbing your work.
A Personal Brand’s Best Friend
This goes hand and hand with the last two subtitles, but being an author instantly helps boost your personal brand. For the rest of your life, you can be regarded as the author of “XYZ Book”. There are so many ways you can leverage being a published author and you can now hand copies out to quality people in your network, host book signings, and create content specific to your work. Although your book might not directly make you a ton of money, indirectly it can give you the credibility to charge more and trigger a person to say “yes” when you ask for a close.
I have integrated my book Personal Branding: A Manifesto on Fame and Influence directly into my work at my public relations firm, Mashman Ventures, and require our clients to read it before our work resumes. I also sell it through our training platform and include it with our other programs.
If your book is distributed properly and to enough channels, it will enable you to increase your visibility tenfold. Distribution is something eBooks typically don’t have nearly to the same extent. Down below is a screenshot of what pops up when you Google my book. On the right is my book’s Knowledge Panel. This is what I consider to be Google’s verification of sorts and is highly sought after.
A little personal branding insider tip here, publishing a book almost always results in a Knowledge Panel being created for the author. This means you can now take more control over your personal brand and what shows up online. This is also probably the biggest reason why you would want to take your eBook and turn it into an actual paperback/hardback.
How You Can Self-Publish Your eBook
If you want to take the next steps to self-publish your eBook as a physical book, here are some of the technical pieces of information that come along with it. Please note, this isn’t an intensive breakdown but it is a solid starting point. If you need more help self-publishing your eBook or any book for that matter, reach out to me privately and I’d love to help.
Evaluating The State of Your eBook
Before you move on to the following steps, do some research on the name of your eBook and its current marketing material. A lot of times when someone puts out an eBook they don’t concern themselves with the uniqueness of its title and choose something cliche. Run a search and see if there are any other books with the same name. If there are, consider renaming it to something different and unused.
Find A Distributor
When I say distributor, I am talking about the company that will be printing your book and fulfilling orders as I hinted at earlier. This is a vital step as who you choose will determine the stores and websites your book will be available on. It will affect the steps you take to upload your manuscript and get to market, how you get paid, the percentage you get paid, and its availability at scale. For my book, I used Amazon KDP but there are other options one such being Ingram Spark.
Determine Your Formatting and Sizing
Based on your distributor, you will have a series of requirements and limitations such as specific page sizes, page minimums, page and ink qualities, hardback options, etc. Amazon for example has a minimum of 24 pages to get published for a paperback, and 75 for a hardback, and has preset dimensions you can choose from. This means you will have to format your eBook and adjust the table of contents, design, and so on and so forth. I published my book at a 5.25”x8” size and determined that was what I wanted by examining other books around my house. Which ones were easiest to hold, and which ones felt the best? Pay attention to how your pages fall. Will the page be on the left side or the right? You may want to throw in some blank pages so your book doesn’t jump immediately from the table of contents to the first chapter or heading.
Getting An ISBN Number and Barcode
Up to this point, all of the steps were free. This step is not. All books require an ISBN aka an International Standard Book Number. It’s kind of like the social security number for books and makes it easy to find the millions of texts available. EBooks do not typically require an ISBN number, but each printed version does. This means if you have a paperback and a hardback version, you will need subsequent ISBN numbers. A few years down the road if you update the text, you’ll need a new one for your “second edition”.
It is important to purchase a barcode which you will include on the back cover of your book’s binding to make it easy for stores to identify and sell. You can purchase both of these from Bowker for several hundred dollars or less. This is also a good time to decide what you will sell your book for. Factor in percentage cuts and markets. Every additional page will affect your take-home profit. If you have been previously charging for your eBook, make sure the physical version costs more.
I’d recommend doing this step yourself to give you more control otherwise your distributor will assign you a number and barcode which may save you money, but looks tackey from what I’ve seen.
Designing Your Front and Back Covers
This shouldn’t be too difficult as most eBooks already have some kind of cover design, but factor in your sizing and how it will look when it’s printed. Will your book be thick enough for text on the spine? Will it look best with a matte finish or a glossy finish? This can be tiresome because you have to get the margins correct and the file formatting is a hassle. The book cover sells more than the text itself a lot of times so make it good. Don’t be afraid to outsource this step to someone who specializes in design.
This is a product. A physical product that the reader will be holding in their hands and digesting. Make sure you take the time to produce a quality book. This isn’t something you can skip steps on.
Publication and Promotion
Even if you have had the eBook version out and available for a year, you want to treat this like a pretty big deal! In the days and weeks prior start to hint at your book being available in print. Get some pre-orders lined up, and send out some emails. The first 48 hours are the most important as this is when your book is considered a new release and can rise up on the charts. Now it’s unlikely for you to become a New York Times Best-Seller this way, but you could very well become the #1 New Release in your category like my book did on Amazon in Public Relations. It also became a top 10 Best-Seller in PR on Amazon, both of which are titles I’m able to ethically quote!
In Conclusion – The Brutal Truth
We’ve discussed some of the benefits that come with being a published author, the misconceptions and barriers, and the extra steps required, but let me be as frank as possible as it pertains to eBooks. Not all eBooks Should Be Published! Sometimes an eBook should stay in the digital realm and never be printed. Some examples would be, it is “ultra-niche”, the information will become obsolete within a short period of time, or it is frankly too short. Putting out a piece of work that isn’t well-thought-out, half-put-together or too vague can in fact do more harm than good.
If you think you have a solid foundation with your current eBook or lead magnet but it isn’t quite there yet, consider taking some extra time to expand on it and get it to the point it can be confidently published. Maybe have a few close friends or confidants review it for accuracy, grammar, and spelling. I had several of the closest people around me read my manuscript and painstakingly reviewed it word by word before I made it available to the world.
This article isn’t about making more work for yourself, but rather about taking and getting the most out of the work you have already done. The time you will spend in this process will be small in comparison to the time you’d spend writing a book from scratch.
Will you be publishing your eBook as a physical book after reading this article?
Let me know and reach out to me on all socials at @isaacmashman and consider purchasing a copy of my book, Personal Branding: A Manifesto on Fame and Influence.
Originally published on isaacmashman.com