As a recent visitor to my blog pointed out, the traditional self-publishing model of “write a book, print a bunch of copies, and sell them” is becoming more outdated and short-sighted every day. The fact is, recent developments in technology and content delivery have presented a whole host of fun, profitable and low-cost ways to deliver your book idea to the masses—ways that won’t result in dozen of prewritten rejection letters. If you are a budding author who is willing to forgo traditional publishing channels and do something a little different, take a few moments to review these six ideas.
Idea #1: Start a Blog
Since 2001 I have been working on a Nonfiction-Business book about growing small companies. After almost 350 completed pages, I thought I was ready to publish. Just to be safe I started a blog, with the intent of test-marketing snippets of the book to a broader audience. After nearly a year, I came to two startling conclusions: my idea sucked, and so did my writing style. The bad news is, I spent seven years of my life writing about things most small company managers don’t even care about. But on the bright side, I figured it out before I completely humiliated myself. And, the blog I started (the one you’re reading right now) is really starting to take off as of late, with 1,300 followers on Twitter, 2,100 readers of my RSS feed, and over 20,000 page views in the last two months.
Idea #2: Turn it Into an e-Book
Although it will likely be decades before e-Books completely replace their paper-based equivalents, millions of people already prefer the electronic format over its printed counterpart. Why not reach these early adopters by turning your book into an e-Book? They’re easy to create, easy to buy, easy to download and easy to read. The simplest e-Book format to master is PDF, which can be created with any number of free applications, including my personal favorite PrimoPDF. Or, if you’re hoping to see friends and family reading your book on their slick new Amazon readers, you can visit eHow.com for a quick tutorial on converting your book to Kindle format.
Idea #3: Develop an Online Course
If your book could be used by people to learn more about a concept, topic, activity, or special period in history, you might want to consider turning your book into an online course. Monster-sized companies like Microsoft, Adobe and Apple all offer rapid e-Learning development tools—but so do hundreds of smaller firms like Lectora, Unison/RapidIntake and MindFlash. Depending upon the tool you choose, your book could eventually turn into a comprehensive online resource that includes not only content, but also elements like interactive exercises, quizzes, games, assessments, animations, demos and other multimedia. And here’s the best part: online learning courses can sell anywhere from $99 for a short course (2 to 4 hours in length) up to several thousand dollars for a course in excess of 20 hours long.
Idea #4: Make an Audio Book
Much like converting your book into e-Book format, creating an audio version of your best-seller isn’t nearly as difficult as you might think. If you or one of your friends has a relatively pleasing voice, acquiring an audio recording of your book can be done in several ways. You can record it directly onto your hard drive in a quiet room with a nice headset (less than $100), or you can spring for a half-day of off peak time at the local recording studio for about 500 bucks. Either way, once you have your master file you can convert it to downloadable MP3 or iTunes format with any number of free tools. Add a website and a simple shopping cart to the mix, and people with hour-long daily commutes will be downloading your book to their portable audio devices in no time.
Idea #5: Break it Into a Series
If I have learned one thing during my 5+ years in the publishing industry, it is this: given the choice between an 80-page book for $10 and an 800-page book for $20, the vast majority of consumers will purchase the shorter book. Sure, the longer book is a much better overall value—2.5 cents per page versus 12.5 cents per page for the shorter book—but the longer book comes with something the shorter book does not: a commitment. People love the sense of accomplishment a quick read can give them. If your book pushes the boundaries of reasonable length, you might want to consider breaking it into a shorter continuing series that includes individual blog postings, smaller e-Books or 15-minute Podcasts.
Idea #6: Write a Screenplay
Can you visualize your book as a movie, musical, play, sitcom or soap opera? If so, why not convert it to screenplay format? True story . . . a very good friend of mine had a book idea in his head for years. One day, he and a film student acquaintance decided to convert the idea into a screenplay. After nine months of part-time work it was ready, and the film student used a few connections to pitch the idea. Less than a year after completing it, the two had sold the screenplay to director Clint Eastwood for well into the six figure range. Shortly thereafter the two were attending the Hollywood movie premier, hanging out with people like Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Clint Eastwood himself. Did they make enough money on their screenplay to quit their full-time jobs and retire? No. But now they both carry Screenwriter’s Guild cards . . . and have one heck of a story to tell their grand kids some day. For a bunch of free tips and information on how to convert a book into screenplay format, check out Screenwriting.info for a great primer.
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