There has never been a better time to self-publish a coaching book. PR Coach and author Alison Theaker explains more.

Self-publishing

Many coaches want to write and publish a book. If you’d like to write a coaching book and submit it to a publisher then read this article. If however you’re happy to publish the book yourself then read on. Self publishing falls into two sub-divisions. You can manage the entire process yourself – writing, finding a printer and cover designer and marketing. Or you can go down the route of ‘on demand publishing’.

Self-publishing a coaching book from scratch

If you want to self-publish a coaching book then the first way is to manage the process yourself.

In this case you will have to pay up front for a number of copies and also store them whilst you are hawking them around the countryside in the boot of your car trying to persuade bookshops to stock them. Having said that, one of the successes of the self help genre, the Celestine Prophecy, was self published in this way and happened to catch the eye of a publisher’s rep who visited the shop where it was being sold. It was then taken up by a mainstream publisher and sold worldwide.

Other success stories of self-publishing

On a smaller scale, I once met the author of a self-published novel set in Cornwall. This enterprising man had persuaded all the service stations up and down the A30 to stock his book and he also went round the country selling at fairs. The cover price was £10, but it only cost him £1 per copy to produce. When I met him some years ago he had already sold 25,000 copies. That’s a hefty £225,000 profit.

On-demand publishing

Many people go the route of on-demand publishing. Here you send your text to a company who undertakes to place your book on amazon. Then every time someone orders one, they print it off. You can normally buy a variety of packages.

Self-publishing: my personal experience

When I self-published my novel I paid for a critique of the text and also got a friend to design the cover rather than use one of the templates available. I was responsible for proofing and was able to have 50 further amendments on the final proof.

Even though I had read the copy several times and had others proof it too it was amazing how many errors had slipped through. One character even had a different name at different stages in the book!

Selling a self-published book

I was also responsible for marketing it and directing people to the website. Despite using all my PR and marketing skills, no one was willing to review a self-published book as it is regarded as “vanity” publishing.

I managed to sell around 450 copies by emailing all my friends and relations, doing readings at various events and selling at school fetes. However, by the time I had sold 100 copies I had covered my cost, and the deal I had gave me good royalties on the ones that were sold through the publisher’s website.

I could also buy them at a 40% discount and make that back if I sold them at cover price. The latter wasn’t always practical – print on demand books are quite expensive to produce and often carry a high cover price because they do not benefit from large scale print runs.

My book was supposed to sell at £14 which does not stack up against the likes of Tesco and other supermarkets where you can buy cheaper paperbacks by well known authors. I found that I could sell to people I knew, whether present or not, but that if I wanted to sell to people I didn’t know, then I had to actually be there to do a reading or talk about the book.

How easy is it to sell a book?

Non-fiction books tend to be easier to sell because they can be marketed to a niche audience – this is good news for coaches. You have to be prepared to put the work in though. It is immensely satisfying to hold the first copy of your book in your hand and see your name emblazoned on the cover.

Realistically though, few authors make their living through their writing – only 1% of the US Society of Authors lives off their book sales – so your royalties are more likely to take you to Bognor than Barbados.

Summary

For a coach, a book can be a very useful tool to boost your business as it enables you to demonstrate that you are serious. You can sell it to your clients and via your website, and have it available for signing at workshops. The best feeling is seeing just how much you do know when you see your own words in print.


 

about the author

Alison Theaker www.thesparkuk.com has 25 years experience in public relations and management as a practitioner and academic. Her textbook, ‘The Public Relations Handbook’ is a core text on professional and undergraduate courses and has been translated into three languages. She is experienced in writing clear copy and editing publications. Alison is also a PR coach to small businesses in Devon and across the UK.