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Let’s be honest: when you write a book, the “dream” is that you’ll get picked up by a big publishing house, given a huge advance, and sent on an all-expenses-paid book tour.

But the truth is, the money doesn’t come from the sales of your book – it comes from the clients you get as a result. So self-publishing is really the name of the game… but how do you get started?

Stephanie Mojica is here to show us the behind-the-scenes of self-publishing… INCLUDING what to focus on to make the entire process more successful.

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Episode 63 – How to Make Money From Your Book Before You've Even Written It with Karen Williams

Our transcript hasn't been proofed, so there will probably be some errors. Sorry about that!

Alyson Lex 0:00
On today's episode, we're answering the question, How can I successfully self published my book? thriving in business does not mean you have to lose yourself, it does not mean following cookie cutter advice.

Jennie Wright 0:13
What it means is finding what works for you, for your audience and for your business. And working the process until you get to the level of success that you're looking for.

Alyson Lex 0:22
This podcast is designed to give you the tools and inspiration to build your business on your terms.

Jennie Wright 0:27
I'm Jennie Wright. I'm Alyson Lex, and welcome to the System to THRIVE.

Alyson Lex 0:34
We've heard a lot about how to write a book, we've heard about how a book can be really great for your business, and how it can generate leads and clients and all that good stuff. But one thing that a lot of people get really confused about is the actual self publishing process, and what it looks like to self publish, why we should Self Publish? And what are some of the ramifications. And so that's why we have Stephanie mohaka here today, because she's done this for a ton of clients. So she can really give us the inside scoop about self publishing, writing to self publish, and all of that good stuff. Stephanie, thanks for being with us today.

Stephanie Mojica 1:13
Thank you, thank you for having me, Alyson and Jenny, I really appreciate it.

Alyson Lex 1:17
Awesome. So I want to just get started with why we should consider self publishing, rather than trying to go through a publishing house or working with a publisher. So there's

Stephanie Mojica 1:28
tons of ton of reasons to do this. So the first reason is, it can take a very long time, if ever, I don't want to be discouraging, but that's the truth. To get a traditional publisher to accept your book, usually you have to go through the process of getting an agent, which can take a couple of years of successful I used to work for literary agency about 19 years ago, and a stacks and it was a small or boutique agency, the stacks of letters and emails that were coming in was really crazy. We were instructed to give him the letters. And unless they mentioned a major award, or some sort of connection to somebody that we knew, we basically sent them a form rejection letter. So that's just the insider's view on how hard can be the agent wants to get that agent, then that agent has to shop your book to the publishers. And that can take some time. Also, it's important to find what simultaneous submissions are and how this goes into the process. So simultaneous submission means you're saying, usually you're sending a letter and a sample of your writing your credentials to the agent. Some people of course want to send it to 50 or more agents at a time. However, some agents strictly say no simultaneous submissions. So that means you have to send it to one agent at a time. And when it comes to publishers, that's even more strict. So you could be waiting years to get responses if you get them at all. So let's say you got the agent, you excelled? Well, then the agent has to use his her their contacts to try to garner you a deal, I think it usually could, it usually will take months, and the agency I worked in for somebody to get a book deal, then once you get the book deal, you have to go through a lot of people at the publisher, they're going to want to read your full book, they're going to have a team of editors who are not just going to go through it for grammar, but really they're going to see is this book The way we want it to be with an agent or publisher, you pretty much lose control of what the final result of the book is going to be. So for some people, that's a deal breaker because they could change elements of your story. We hear it all the time about movies, how a movie ending wasn't the way that the writer wanted it. And that could happen with the book. Obviously, business people might not be as concerned as somebody who's writing their great American novel, or memoir, but it's still a factor. And then another thing is you just don't get the marketing anymore that you used to get. Some people still want to go with a traditional publisher because they imagined this robust marketing department doing all these things for them, like sending books to newspaper reporters, I was a newspaper report is so we used to get stacks of books, sending up all these book signings and stuff like that. And nowadays, especially with social media, a lot of publishers are not even accepting folks that don't already have a big social media following. So that's a some of the disadvantages of going with a traditional publisher instead of self publishing the time the loss of creative control, and obviously you have to give a percentage, it's usually 10 to 20% of any royalties to your agent.

Alyson Lex 4:55
I just really curious. So you mentioned the simultaneous submission thing. I've never heard that Before, how do they know, if you do if you send it to more than one person,

Stephanie Mojica 5:05
they don't really know, they should abide by it, they don't really know. But you're gonna find yourself in hot water. And the industry is pretty small, say you sent, I'd say Jenny's agent and say Allison's agent. So you send your submission to Jenny and Alison. And once you get an agent, you're supposed to like withdraw your submission if you went and broke the rule. So now Jenny's your agent, and you have to tell Alison, I need to withdraw this from consideration because Jenny's my agent, I guarantee you that is really gonna tick the state agent Allison, not you off. And people talk about things like that. It's not really fair process act against a writer. But that's just how they do business, they want to think that they are. And also people don't like it, when they just get submissions, where they can tell that nobody really researched a person. It's like anything else. If you're sending off mass submissions, you're not really researching the agent, the publisher, etc, you're just kind of doing spam mail. And that doesn't make people feel very good. It's just kind of an etiquette thing. There's, it's, it can't really be enforced, especially with the digital age. But it's just generally that again,

Jennie Wright 6:22
I kind of get what you're talking about simply because Allison, I have been working with a few authors, as of recently to help them build out their online platforms, you know, in terms of building a list. And we've spoken to a couple people at different publishing and not publishing houses, sorry, agents, we spoken to different agents. And the agents have told us, like, our authors need more robust communities, and I totally get it. It's sad that the, you know, that whole 1950s just sold my 1960s just sold my book. And now I'm going on a book tour. And when I used to work in a big box retailer, we used to have these book tours came come through, and they'd be sourced by agents. And it was just different now, like you're saying, which I understand. So if I'm going to self publish, or if my you know, if our listeners are going to self publish, what options are available to us? Is it just Kindle? Or are there different options that we can look at?

Stephanie Mojica 7:12
So that's a great question. There's not just Kindle on the you have iBooks, you have all sorts of digital platforms I can't even name you can do print on demand through Amazon or other companies, I think like create space, and grooms, etc. So most people I've worked with want to have a digital book. And there's a site called draft two, that's the number two digital where you can upload it and pick all the sites that you want to go on like Koto, labor's every day, they're adding more and more. So there's, and that's free to upload. When I upload one of my romance novels, which is under a pseudonym, I'll never name I was able to pick which ones I wanted to do, I usually just select it all. So you can do the digital thing, you could do the print thing. And a common misconception is people think they need to physically print a bunch of books, which is very expensive. That's not true. Amazon, as well as other sites allow you to do what's called print on demand. So they only print books, when someone makes an order, you can make order for your own book as a creator, author, I'll give us an example of a client. So a client, I had still wanted to do some of the traditional stuff. And this was before COVID, he wanted to have the book launch party in person with a bunch of people in the room, hugging him and sign him sign his book and taking selfies, etc. And he ordered about I think about 300 books that cost him about $3 each, but his sales price was $15 on Amazon. So in the room, I think he sold those books for 15 bucks each. So he made about $12 on each book. So he made like 20 $500 at his book launch party. So he just kept doing stuff like that when he would go out to volunteer or go to networking events, he would always have physical copies of his book. Obviously, different people have different budgets, you don't have to do that. But as the Author Creator, you always do have the right to order some books, the client right now he's trying to work with some local bookstores. And they're trying to figure out a way to do that where they can split a profit. So you have a lot of options that don't require you to go literally pay a printer 1000s of dollars to print a bunch of books in advance.

Alyson Lex 9:26
Well, and that's really interesting, because one of the questions I have was, what if I wanted to have just a stash of my books, you say that I can just go into this print on demand and just buy them?

Stephanie Mojica 9:37
Yes, as long as you log into the same well to say amazon for the sake of it because that's what most people use. You log into the same Amazon account. I think it's Kindle Direct Publishing. It's called Kindle Direct Publishing, but it's not just for Kindle. And you literally can order the books at cost. And if you have amazon prime, it's free. Two day ish kinkos sometimes slow shipping Tell me about it. I

Jennie Wright 10:00
have a, I have an order from Amazon right now. And it was due Saturday night at 10 o'clock. And we're recording this on a Tuesday and it's still not here. So love that sometime. My next question is, what are some of the things that we need to be aware of, as we get our book ready for publishing? What are some of the cautionary tales are what are the things that we need to know?

Stephanie Mojica 10:21
So I will say that one of the things that puts people off about self publishing is there are some investments that need to be made. Some experts say that cost about $10,000 self published book that's not true. But there are a few things I would not skimp on. The first thing is the book cover. Get somebody to design a good book, cover it specially if you're going for print. Because if your book cover looks like crap, people aren't going to buy it. I don't care if it's online, or if it's in a brick and mortar store, people aren't going to buy it, and somebody to do it for really cheap. I don't know most of my clients pay anywhere from 300 to 900. To do it, there are cheaper options, but you kind of sometimes get what you pay for. So just be aware, always ask to see samples. Another thing is the formatting of the inside the book. So Kindle changed, I think, because so many people were submitting books that kind of looked like crap. It used to be pretty easy to do this in Microsoft Word, you can format it for kindle, you know, make it look pretty decent KDP, Kindle Direct Publishing rejects a lot of books now because they weren't formatted properly. So usually, it's important to get a graphic designer, which can be the same or different person from your book cover artists, depending on their skills. So you need to pay somebody to format that book. If you're having a print book, you absolutely have to pay somebody to format. So let me clarify, if you're doing digital only, you need to get a format or you can probably find this on Fiverr for really cheap. I mean, that's fine. If you want to do a print book, too, you need to get a second type of formatting. Most people I've worked with. So I have some graphic designers I've worked with, they offer my clients a package when they can have the cover, the electronic digital design, and the paperback hardcover design. So those three things are important, especially the book cover and kind of how the paperback looks. Another thing is editing proofreading. So I'm also an editor and proofreader and most of the clients I coach through writing a book want me to edit or proofread it. Some folks come in when they're done with the book and want to edit or proofread. That's important, especially nowadays, I noticed reviews on Amazon Goodreads Barnes noble all the time, where people are saying this person obviously didn't have their book, emphasize that self published doesn't have to mean badly published. So you can and be careful when choosing the editor. I'm not saying it's because I'm necessarily saying hire me right now, the waveless recording this, but just be careful. There are people online who say they're editing your book, and they're running it through Grammarly and charging things like 100 $150. And then I've had folks come back to me after they said I was too expensive, and said help. I don't care what it costs. Everybody's like telling me that my book is crap. There was the editor who actually did this, her friend of my mom's, if didn't notice that the graphic designer had misspelled the author's name. So the author's name was spelled wrong, a couple different places. So just be careful. You can find like, if budgets issue you can find a qualified editor who's just starting out, but just make sure that you get references, etc, and that they're going to actually read every word of your book, ideally, at least twice, instead of running it through Grammarly and other software.

Alyson Lex 13:49
So I want to go back to covers because I am the kind of person one I want to read a book. If it's a business book, you know, I go by topic, but I also go by cover. And if it's a fun leisure book, I completely judge a book by its cover. I'm just gonna put that one out there. I totally do it. And I dare anybody else to say they don't do the same thing. What should we be doing with our cover design? I mean, I know my own personal style might be wrong. For a cover design, do you have any best practices?

Stephanie Mojica 14:20
So that's a great question. And it's not once easy to answer because every book and every author have a different purpose. So obviously, if you're a coach, consultant, business owner and have branding, your fonts, your colors, etc. You need to have them stick to that if it's going to be an integral part of your business. It was really important for him to have a picture of his family on the cover. So he had a professional photographer and take a picture of him and his family. They were actually facing the ocean. And it was turned out really really nicely. And that was eye catching cover. And I have clients you don't necessarily have to have a fancy picture on the cover. It just needs to look interesting. I don't really know how to explain it, it's just and this is more to graphic designers forte amount. So I'm having difficulty explaining the colors, the way the fonts Look, just any stock images they use, they just need to pop out, they really need to pop out.

Jennie Wright 15:15
A client of mine was working at the time with the recording this just finalizing our cover. The first cover design that we saw was a get what you pay for kind of thing, it was a lower end thing and the font that was used and the colors that were used, were when I saw it interesting. So the font was very vampiric. And the image that was used was of the newspapers piled on top of each other, or books piled on top of each other. And on closer inspection, that those books were written in Russian. Okay, wow. And if you zoomed out, if you did the 30,000 view, look of the book with the vampiric font in red. And the thing in the background, my vision of it was, this looks like a book burning. It appeared visually, the way the books were stacked, they were about to be burned. And you know, with a very aggressive sort of like cold war feel to it, it freaked me out. So I tried, the client didn't even see it. So I mentioned it to the client. They're like, Oh, yeah, I see it now. And I can't unsee it now. So they had the whole book cover redesigned, it looks amazing. Now I'm super excited for her. And it really intrinsically matters. And it's the kind of cover that would interest me, you know, as a reader, and it's a business book, and I'm on the same camp with Allison that I do judge my pleasure reading books totally by the cover. And Allison, I share a similar interest in our, you know, the pleasure reading books that we have. And we're both like, Oh, I hated the cover for that one. I didn't even touch it. Right. So there's something to be said there. 100%. And I think the message that you're getting across in that we're getting from you is definitely you know, you kind of get what you pay for in terms of that. So don't skimp out on that one thing and go for a designer that's going to spell your name correctly, I think that's probably a really good way to put it.

Stephanie Mojica 17:03
Right. And if they're, you know, a lot of designers do you stock photos, and that's fine. But it's usually worth at the pay for a stock photo, even if it's like just a few dollars instead of having to go get a free stock photos, because I can't tell you how many books I see on Kindle, that are using the same stock photos. So I mean, this is something that's usually anywhere from one to $10, depending on what it is. So yeah, again, it's just that such a minute thing. Yeah, other people are gonna use it, but they're probably using it for different things. It's not gonna be 1000s, or millions upon millions of people using the same stock photo. So you don't want to go the route the professional photographer like my bond client did, but there's this things you can do to make it as unique as possible, because at the end of the day, there's so much out there now specialist self publishing, that it's harder to get people's attention.

Alyson Lex 17:52
I think, too, you know, when we talk about the investment of self publishing, we also have to take into account the potential return. Yeah, if you set yourself up for success, you can use your book to create leads and clients and all of that stuff that we want to use our books for in our business. And so is it really worth it to skimp on a couple 100 bucks here and there or a $10 photo? If it's going to cost you what could be a two 310 $20,000 client doesn't make sense,

Stephanie Mojica 18:24
right? Exactly. I'm like my clients, people come into them for coaching. I had one client he was delivering Uber Eats Floyd took time off to write his memoir, used his memoir to launch like a speaking coaching business and now also co founded a drug rehab facility when buying a house in another state, etc. Like I said, he really really, really hustled but these things happen, people get interviewed on national TV as a result of a well written book, it's happened for a few of my clients. So Time magazine recently interviewed one of my clients about her book that's coming out. I'm not saying I can wave a wand and make these things happen. But I can definitely set you know, you know, set you up for success by just following some simple steps doesn't have to even be the $10,000 I talked about.

Alyson Lex 19:11
Right? Well thank you so much for sharing all of this behind the scenes information about the publishing industry and what it's really like to self publish. And you know, we love numbers. So I love hearing what things might actually cost because Jenny and I might be doing this soon, ish if she gets her way, because she's pushing me pretty hard. Okay, so really quick before we wrap up, I would just love to know where we can find out more about you.

Stephanie Mojica 19:37
So you can download my free eBook three things you must know before writing your book at get their attention now.com forward slash book that's get their attention now.com forward slash book. I also have a mini course called Get your book out of your head and to reality at get that book written calm. Let's get that book written comm on all kinds of social media. You can look me at Stephanie mo HCA. And I'm always happy to help.

Alyson Lex 20:08
Awesome, thank you so much. And of course, we will go ahead and put all of those links on the show notes page at System to THRIVE comm so you can find Stephanie's episode, and click and getting in contact with her. I have checked out that ebook. And it's really good. So you definitely want to head there and get that to get their attention now comm slash book, and thanks again for being here with us. I really appreciate it.

Stephanie Mojica 20:31
Thank you, Alison and Jennie, I appreciate it.

Jennie Wright 20:34
It's been our pleasure, it's always good to find out a little bit more about book publishing, and understanding when it comes from somebody like yourself, who has been doing this a little bit more focused a little bit longer than some people that we know, just people in general. So it's really good. We appreciate you taking the time to share all this with us. And we appreciate people listening to this podcast. If you've enjoyed it, please consider following us where you are getting your podcast. We love hearing from you. We also love that if you're following us and grabbing these episodes, and being able to consume this content. Let us know if there's anything that Allison and I can do to provide more usable content. Send a message send us a message from System to thrive.com and let us know what kind of topics you'd like to hear. Thanks so much, everybody. We'll be back again soon answering another big question. Thanks again for watching or listening to this podcast.

Alyson Lex 21:21
We hope we've answered some of your big questions today. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast anywhere you're listening and leave us a review. We publish multiple episodes per week, all designed to help you grow your business. Look for us online on Facebook and Instagram at System to THRIVE or our home on the web at System to thrive.com

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