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Advice on publishing our book on Creativity

I'm after some advice on the best tactics to use in publishing and marketing a book I'm writing with Toby Moores and David Tebbutt. We are writing a business book iabout capturing creativity. I've provided a fuller description below, but in brief the book is about applying a methodology and techniques so that creativity becomes a regular part of your day to day processes rather than something that happens at some off-site brainstorming session on an irregular basis. Our "secret sauce" is the title of the book, and offers a way to think and adapt ideas so that you can turn them in to something valuable. We also advocate using particular web 2.0 technology as part of the approach to facilitate the capture and collaboration. Like Edward de Bono coined the term lateral thinking, we want to create the term "Xxxxxxxx Xxxxxxx Thinking" the Xs being the (currently secret) title of the book.

We have first draft material written for all proposed chapters and sections of the book. We are trying to decide whether we should:

a. Work on the intro and the first few chapters and use those to sell the concept to a publisher
b. Publish the material in a series of article on a blog, rather like Chris Anderson and The Long Tail, and through that mechanism find a publisher and launch the book.
c. Self publish
d. Use some other approach

Your advice, suggestions, ideas would be really helpful.

A bit more about the book:

We think there is a "perfect storm" of issues that create the current competitive climate, including globalisation, global warming and the way current web tools are changing the way we communicate. Our education system (in the UK and the US and much of the West) Is broken. It was designed for training a workforce for the 19th century industrial age, not the 21st century information age. The whole system is geared towards conformity. Our children start creativity, and then we train it out of them as they progress through the system. The same conformity then flows in to the management style of our corporations. We teach study skills, but we don't teach thinking skills. In any case, if all we can do is train good quality graduates, India and China can do the same or better producing workers at 20% of our cost. Since we can't compete on cost, we have to find another way.

So we believe that today, more than ever, companies and organisations need to be creative and innovative in order to compete in the 21st century. Our book provides an approach for looking at the creative process, with techniques to capture and develop the ideas that we have every day. We incorporate the existing methods and techniques from the likes of de Bono and Buzan, but with our own methodology, and with the thinking framework that is the title of the book. As well as the techniques, we recommend the deployment of web 2.0 tools like blogs, wikis, social networking and other communication and capture tools.

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My experience has been that publishers take all your money, all rights to your intellectual property, and then may or may not publish your work. Have you considered self-publishing?
Hi Shannon,
Oh dear - bad experiences. Yes, self publishing was option c above. I guess we need to investigate that some more. Thanks!
David,

Any time is a good time to market your book. I made the mistake of not doing more marketing before my book was published. I am not making the same mistake on my next books. I am writing articles on subjects that will gain me exposure and recognition on the subject of integrity. My book on integrity is self-published. I feel that this offers me more control than a traditional publisher and will get it out more quickly than the traditional publisher. Today authors are responsible for marketing. With all the books published today your book needs to be promoted on how it is different. If you are up to it to start writing articles and submitting them to American ChronicleMy site www.myqualitywriting offers links to marketing site that exhibit opportunities to market your book. I also have a free download on information about my publishing journey which also has ideas on marketing opportunities.

Your book sounds like one that would be great to read. I agree with you about the education system in the United States. I also feel that we are not using all the resources we have available. The traditional methods of teaching need to change as well as incorporating new resources for qualified teachers. There are a number of people who may not have a degree but have something to offer in the classroom. They can tie the classroom to the real world yet they are not recognized simply for the fact they have no degree. Having a degree does not make you a teacher. You must have the knowledge and the capability to teach the subjects for which you have experience. There are many knowledgeable people on various subjects but they do not have the capability to communicate that knowledge in the classroom.
Thanks for this Dennis... so another vote for self-publishing. I get your point about the marketing. I've already started blogging about creativity as a "set up" to the book, and I'll be leveraging my network of blogging friends (who all write about enterprise software and use of social media in business). One of the key decisions we need to make is whether we blog about the ideas in advance of publishing, to test and refine the book (like Chris Anderson and The Long Tail) or go for a splash launch of the concept.
You certainly have an interesting topic, David. I've read Don Tapscott's book, "Wikinonics," on this subject and enjoyed it very much. He discusses many of the ideas you have about using blogs, wikis, social networking, etc. to capture the value of the worldwide network of expertise available today.

With another book on your subject on the market, you may have an opportunity to sell your book to a publisher. It helps that you can compare your title to Tapscott's. That gives a potential publisher a frame of reference about your book. The odds of finding a publisher are still highly stacked against you, however. If you do find a publisher, the lead time between when they buy your book (today) and when the book is available in bookstores is averaging 18 months. I have one colleague who published a business book with Workman Press (a good publisher). It took 36 months to come to print. That means, on average your book will come out no sooner than Christmas selling season 2008 if you go the traditional publishing route.

The idea of creating a blog or social community around your topic is appealing. It keeps the costs low and allows you to tap into the "Wisdom of Crowds" to enhance your topic - similar to what Chris Anderson did. The difference is that Chris Anderson is the editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine. He had a platform. He was well-known. When he put up a blog, therefore, he had many people who knew his writing who were attracted to his site. Furthermore, he could direct them to his site from the magazine article he wrote in Wired in 2003. Do you have such a platform? Are you well-known (either in general or in your field)? How will you drive potential contributors to your site? Unless you have and easy, inexpensive way to drive contributors to your site, you will spend a great deal of time, energy and money promoting the site. That will take away from the time, energy and money you have available to develop your book.

I'm a proponent of self-publishing. For speed to market, nothing beats self-publishing. From a control standpoint, nothing beats self-publishing. (Aside: you're guarding your book's title carefully. If you sell the book to a publisher, there is no guarantee that you'll be able to keep your title. The editors who work your book may have a different title in mind based on what they know book buyers will like in the distribution channels they use.)

On the other hand, I wouldn't want you to read this and think I'm ignorant of the challenges of self-publishing. If you self-publish, you're accepting the duties and responsibilities of the publisher: editing, layout & design, printing, distribution and marketing. There are costs to each of these steps. In some cases, the costs are significant. If you're successful, however, the rewards all accrue to you, too. One colleague reckons it costs $25,000 to produce a fiction title to compete in the bookstore trade channel with works from the major publishing houses. The costs are slightly lower for a non-fiction book such as yours.

I'd urge you to answer two fundamental questions before selecting any of the publishing options you are considering. First, who is your reader going to be? Be specific. Is the reader male or female? Is the reader a business person, a teacher, or someone looking for a summer read? What type of job does the reader have? What sort of disposable income and available time does the reader have to spend on books such as yours?

Fortunately, the answers to this question are relatively easy to define. Chances are you wrote the book for readers such as yourself. It's easy, therefore, to think about what you like to read, where you buy your books, what types of books you read, etc. It's also easy to project your demographics onto your potential reader.

The second, and more difficult question, is how do you want to distribute your book? What's the best way to reach th
The second, and more difficult question, is how do you want to distribute your book? What is the best way to reach the reader you identified? Most people think of bookstores as the way to reach your audience. While bookstores are one distribution channel, they are by no means the only one available to you. To sell your book in bookstores takes a financial commitment on your part. Bookstores do not buy from independent publishers for the most part. You'll need a distributor to act as an intermediary. The distributor will take 70% of the list price of the book (30% for the distributor and 40% for the retailer). That means on a $20, the distributor makes $14 and the publisher (you) make $6. Subtract the cost of printing and marketing from the $6, and you can see there is little money left over for profit.

Amazon is a better alternative for many publishers. Amazon takes only 55% of the retail value. For the $20 book, Amazon will take $11 which leaves $9 for the publisher. Amazon is more than just a distribution channel. They also help you market and promote your book. There are over 17 different ways to promote your book through Amazon.

Regardless of the manner in which you publish your book, I recommend you gain some background information before beginning. Check my ListMania on Amazon for a list of the best books on publishing, http://www.amazon.com/Best-Books-on-Book-Publishing/lm/R2UM0DC9JU1W...
Bill,
Many, many thanks for these two responses. I'll have a think and respond.
Boy, oh, boy, it sure looks as if you're going to choose a serious row to hoe.

You're on the right track from all I've dealt with in working for publishers—especially small- and self-publishers. Once there's a completed manuscript—you've done as much work on it as makes you feel it's as good as you're going to make it, including any outside editing—the very next issue is, indeed, to decide on your audience and how best to reach it. That's been spoken of here.

But then you need to get your manuscript made into a book. You may feel you can do it yourself, but unless you really know design and how to use your chosen page layout software, it becomes especially important to engage a professional book designer/layout artist. See, self-publishers have a hurdle to get over when it comes to reaching real reviewers and getting into bookstores. So it's especially important to produce a professional-looking book, one that has a cover that invites potential readers to pick up the book and an interior that just naturally draws the reader onto the page. After that, of course, you still have to have written something that keeps the reader reading.

Feel free to contact me to discuss this in more depth.

Stephen Tiano, Book Designer, Page Compositor & Layout Artist
tel. & fax: 631/284/3842
cell: 631/764/2487
email: steve@tianodesign.com
iChat screen name: stephentiano@mac.com
website: http://www.tianodesign.com
blog: http://www.tianodesign.com/blog
I have to disagree -- not all publishers are the same. The big publishers do take the lion's share of the profits initially but only to recoup their costs in publishing you. It's an expensive business with teeny profit margins. That said, our publishing company includes marketing in the price of the book... www.nelsonpublishingandmarketing.com. Check us out and contact Marian for more info.
The topic sounds conducive to radio interviews. Have you tried your local stations yet?

If you want a publisher, I think you would have to find just the right publisher. Someone who already does a large number of business books would know how and where to place it. If executed properly, it seems as if you'd be able to get some speaking engagements with this material. This sounds like a topic that high-school/college-age people would be intersted in as well as other groups.

Self-publishing does give you total control, but you don't want to burn yourself out before you get started. Depending on when you want the book to be released, it may be worth exploring your options. Just because you send it to a publisher, doesn't mean you have to sign a contract. Find out what they can do for you, and then decide if you can do it better or cheaper.
If you're set on finding a "traditional publisher" for your book, David, you might send a query letter to Barrett-Kohler in San Francisco. They are a well-respected business book publisher that has shown an interest in your type of book in the past. Compare what they will offer to do for you. Don't be surprised to find, however, that most of the marketing and publicity responsibilities will be your responsibility.
Since there are three of you, have you considered doing podcasts? They can be recorded at your convenience then uploaded on a regular basis. That way you get out there, get known, can begin getting some stir on your book while writing a blog, articles, etc. Also, a MySpace profile is not just for kids. I've got 4 of them at this time. Well, actually, I've got one, my two books each have one and one of my podcasts have one.

For more info on the podcasts you might wish to check out: http://mypodcastexpert.com/.

I self-published both my books. They may never have gotten done if I wasn't really familiar with someone who does layout, graphic design, etc.

Best to you,

Revvell
www.Revvellations.com

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