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How to Be a Successful Publisher

I publish four monthly library newsletters and two monthly book review magazines on the basis of them and my dealings with 1200+ members of the publishing community worldwide, I have learned that the following is be critically important to success, mine and theirs alike:

  1. Successful publishing requires a form of life-long learning. Set aside 15 to 30 minutes a day to read in the constantly growing body of "how to" literature on publishing, and marketing. Always have a pen and pad next to you when doing your daily stint of "independent education/in-service training" to jot down a new idea or a fresh take on an old idea. This habit of "life-long learning" will stand you in good stead by keeping you current on what other folks have found useful, refresh your memory on sound tactics that you'd forgotten or overlooked in the ordinary routine of doing business, and keep your mind flexible and open to new suggestions or variations on the theme of selling what you publish.

  2. The creation of a business plan for marketing a book is a key factor in the selection process of what manuscripts/authors to publish. Don't wait until your books are back from the printer to craft your marketing plan. Don't even wait until your manuscript is ready to be sent to the printer! The planning for promoting, distributing, and just plain selling your books should begin at the very starting point of the publishing process (manuscript selection) and continue until the last book in the last edition is turned into cash. A well-crafted marketing plan is an essential key to success in the highly competitive environment of book selling and the manuscript selection process should begin with this in mind.

  3. Keep records of everything. That means author communications via e-mail and snail mail -- and when by telephone or personal conference, a discussion summary is written out and sent to both parties for confirmation of what was said, promised, indicated, agreed upon, etc. Keep all receipts, all invoices, all contracts on file and handy for future reference, taxes, dispute resolutions. Keep written lists of all important resources, vendors, marketing outlets, and reviewers (separating this last lot out in three categories: the good, the bad, and the mediocre).

Oh yes, when these records are kept on computer, keep a copy of all information on separate computer disks and stored off-premise (like in a bank safety deposit box or at home if you have an office elsewhere). This protects your valuable data from computer meltdown, fire, flood, burglary, locusts, plagues...

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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