Saturday, November 1, 2008
Harvard graduate Danny O. Snow has been widely quoted about new publishing technologies by major broadcast and print media coast-to-coast, including AP, NPR, UPI, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal and others. He serves as a Senior Fellow of the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR.org), a global think tank based in Palo Alto, dedicated to the advanced study of new and emerging media. He has also served as a contributing editor to BookTech: The Magazine for Publishers, and as a panelist and moderator at national publishing events such as the North American Publishing Company's "PrintMedia" expos and PMA's "Publishing University."
Carol Denbow: Welcome Danny. Wow, you have an expansive and impressive resume. I can’t wait to chat with you about your experiences. But since my blog viewers have patiently waited so long for this day, would you mind beginning by telling us a little about the real Danny O. Snow?
Danny O. Snow: Thanks for the flattering introduction, but my story’s actually pretty simple: I’m a guy who has always loved books. As a youngster, I dreamed of becoming an author like Mark Twain. As a Lit major in college, I searched high and low for obscure, out-of-print books that were great, but not “commercial” enough for the big NY houses to keep in print. Then I worked for a traditional publishing company, and learned many reasons why the conventional book business simply doesn’t make sense. In the ‘nineties, the rise of the Internet and “Print-on-Demand” technology solved the two biggest problems: POD eliminated overprinting, while the Web gave writers a way to reach readers directly, bypassing “gatekeepers” such as publishers, wholesalers and bookstores. Finally, in 1999, I read Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual, which helped put the pieces of the puzzle together. I didn’t invent any of these things; I just saw an opportunity to use them in a new way.
Carol Denbow: So I understand you have recently released a book with co-author Dan Poynter. Can you tell us a little about the book?
Danny O. Snow: U-Publish.com is a quick read to help those getting started in the exciting world of self-publishing get off on the right foot. My co-author, Dan Poynter, is the “godfather” of the self-publishing movement, which is now booming. In U-Publish we simply cover the basics we’ve learned over the years to help newcomers avoid bush league mistakes and be more successful as independent publishers.
Carol Denbow: Many of my blog readers are opting to self-publish their books; and I encourage them to do so. But most end up using a POD publisher and pay a premium price just to see their book in print. It’s true that they can purchase their own books for about 50% of the cover price (correct me if I’m wrong), but is a 50% discount enough to sell your own books and still see a profit?
Danny O. Snow: Yes, I’ve read your Blog and recommend it in my newsletter. And yes, those who earn 50% of cover price can certainly make a profit. The difference is where the books are sold: Poynter and I emphasize outlets other than bookstores, which are ten times more numerous, easier to target, often pay more and pay faster than conventional booksellers. It’s all covered in our little book.
Carol Denbow: You are a publishing “expert”—you wrote the book, as they say. In your opinion, what is the best way to publish a book?
Danny O. Snow: The single most important tip I can offer is: use POD to prove the market for your book BEFORE you invest in bulk printing. Today, many writers with decent computer skills can start with “Do it Yourself” methods at CafePress, CreateSpace, Lulu, Wordclay, etc. at a fraction of the cost of vanity publishing. Then, when the book’s public appeal is objectively proven, they can feel more confident about investing in professional services and bulk printing for a lower per-unit cost.
Carol Denbow: I’m big on trying to persuade authors to market their books aggressively. What do you think is the biggest mistake authors make in marketing?
Danny O. Snow: Poor Targeting: many inexperienced authors seem obsessed with Amazon and chain stores. But we recommend more tightly targeted markets. Imagine a book about a relatively narrow topic like snorkeling … how many general bookstore customers are interested? Probably very few. But now imagine a boating supply shop, or a travel agency where people book trips to the Caribbean, or even a seaside motel… nearly ALL of their customers are potential readers! Self-publishers can tap specialty markets like these instead of general bookstore browsers for better results.
Carol Denbow: A Book Inside offers its viewers free e-mail notices each time a new informative article is posted. I saw on your Website that you offer a free newsletter. What is included in this newsletter and how would an interested viewer today go about signing up to receive it?
Danny O. Snow: Free preview: http://www.u-publish.com/monthly.htm
Free subscription: http://www.u-publish.com/enroll.htm
Carol Denbow: Do you have a Website and where might one of our viewers find your new book?
Danny O. Snow: Use the links above for the general edition, or you can get a special edition at Borders that’s customized specifically for their new “Borders Personal Publishing” program.
Carol Denbow: Well Danny, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to share this valuable information with us.
Danny O. Snow: Thank you too. In closing, I’d like to remind your audience that publishing a book is a process, not a one-time event. You’ve worked hard writing your book; please give it the chance for success it deserves by working equally hard AFTER publication. Literally thousands of authors have proven that it’s possible. Using the strategy summarized here, you can join us!
Carol Denbow: Visitors are more than welcome and encouraged to post comments and questions for Danny O. Snow and/or regarding this interview by using the comment link below (it’s small, so look hard!)
Please don’t forget, we now have a forum visitors can join free for writers to communicate with each other and discuss their writing, publishing experiences, and book marketing at http://abookinsideforum.ning.com