Digital publishing is democratizing book publishing much the way digital video recording has done with video storytelling. Anyone who is driven to write a book can self-publish without a big investment. A digital book can be put on Amazon, Apple or Smashword for the cost of having your book professionally edited, proofread and formatted for this medium, which is nothing like the cost of printing 5,000 books, the minimum number of books required to print economically just a decade ago.
CreateSpace will convert your book into a Print on Demand (POD) book for Amazon. Buyers can order a physical book that is perfect bound and attractive. Again the investment is minimal compared to printing a large order of books that invariably live in storage for months, years, or even decades. Digital output offset presses are also making it reasonable to print small runs of just hundreds of a book at a reasonable price instead of thousands. Gone are the color separations and extreme printing setup costs, a result of digital files and amazing photo and color editing processes by computer software.
But if Amazon is putting up 3,000 new books a day, most of which will not find much of an audience, isn’t it still impossible to sell your book? Most people who self-publish a book use the “message in a bottle” marketing approach. They put it on Amazon as a Kindle file or on Apple and hope that it sells. It usually will sell a very few to friends and relatives this way. Granted, some books do not deserve much of an audience, but a well-written and well-edited book should find a readership, provided you work hard to promote the product and it has enough of an audience interested in the subject matter.
The resources to teach you are everywhere and inexpensive. The online community of writers, book promoters and publishing experts is vast and they will talk to you through regional publishing networks, online forums, blogs and their digital books for sale at Apple.com or Amazon.com or Smashwords.com. Dan Poynter’s self-publishing books are some of the best resources for budding self-published authors.
So what are the opportunities for communities to take advantage of the shift in the publishing industry? It was once very expensive to encourage niche books about your community, local heroes, and very specific resources or scenery in your area. Now the barriers to publishing micro-niche books are gone.
Here are five things any community can do that might help the community and local talent.
1. Encourage local authors and photographers through workshops and symposia, editorial assistance and grants to put local stories and resources in print (novels, cookbooks, natural and cultural history books, biographies, etc.).
2. Find the existing local authors in your community and promote their work. They will appreciate it and likely will write more about your community. Link books about your community to your website as additional resources to tantalize visitors and help local people learn more about the community easily.
3. Conduct local or regional contests for books on specific themes and reward the author or photographer by paying their editing and upload costs. They make the profit, but the community or organization gets the recognition and other benefits.
4. Give annual awards to authors or photographers who publish books or videos that showcase your community or organization in a thoughtful manner.
5. Help children publish books they write or illustrate to encourage and promote better writing in local schools.
A community can hope and wait for their local stories to develop and get into print or be a partner with local writers to encourage these efforts. There can be a mutualistic relationship between a community and talented people who choose to live there. Tapping into that talent is good for everyone involved.
P.S. From Sept. 7-9, our award winning non-fiction book, Put the HEART Back In Your Community is FREE for those who read on a Kindle, iPad or other ereader.