||BPL: How and why did you decide to start this type of biz?
NM: First I did a lot of research on publishing. Then I narrowed it down to self-publishing. Eventually, after reading the process of other self-publishing companies, I decided all the things that they were offering I could do myself.
I really started my business so that I could self-publish my
novel Lusting For Love. But it has proven to be a great thing, and I look forward to expanding in the future. I'm working on another book and am currently not sure if I will self-publish. I don't have a lot of money to self-publish. But, I do plan to keep my company, and in the future publish other people.
BPL: What were the first steps you took to get started?
NM: I did a lot of research on publishing by reading books, joining major organizations in my field and becoming a member of various online writing groups. By being part of those groups, I spoke to many people in different writing and publishing fields, participated in workshops, etc.
I went to the library to research publishing. I knew some people who were members of a book club. They were self-published and gave me a few hints and info on what to do and how to do it. Even with the online groups there were people who had self-published first and now have a contract with a publisher. Talking to people online I could find answers to a wide-range of questions related to the biz of publishing and not just related to writing.
I did take a creative writing workshop which was somewhat useful, but it didn't include info on self-publishing.
BPL: What Brooklyn organizations and resources would you recommend to others looking for help and assistance in starting a new biz?
NM: I found the Brooklyn Public Business Library to be very helpful for me because they had a variety of books that I needed, which would have been too expensive for me to buy. Also, they have people from the SCORE program come in to the library to offer advice on starting a business. This can be very helpful especially since they have people who specialize in different fields of business.
I went to the local SBA, filed an application and formed a sole proprietorship and registered a DBA. For the LLC (Limited Liability Corporation), I had to go to the Chamber of Commerce. I filed the application with them and had to close the sole proprietorship. I changed to LLC just in case. For publishing, if you really want to get into the publishing biz, and not just self-publishing, then LLC is the way to go.
Amazon has a partnership with other businesses. Once the book was out and available, I signed up with them so they could sell it. Amazon ends up being one of the distributors.
Distribution was not too difficult because I have three distributors. It wasn't difficult to get Baker & Taylor(B&T) as the wholesalers. I am a member of Publishers Marketing Association and they have a deal with B&T, so it was easy to get them as the wholesaler.
When it came to designing the cover I picked up a book in the library that I liked the cover of. I contacted the artist, who is in Atlanta. We spoke over the phone and emailed. He designed the cover after hearing what I was looking for. I did the inside layout of the book. It wasn't easy, but I didn't have the money to go out and have it done so I bought software to help me do it. I had to teach myself how to do the design. First, I created the file in Word, and then I converted it to Adobe Acrobat to make sure no one could make changes to the manuscript.
BPL: What methods have you used to get the word out about your biz? How did you select these methods? Which do you think is most successful and why?
NM: I have done book signings and had bookmarks, postcards and flyers printed. You have to get out there. It's not always easy because you are doing it yourself. I have a volunteer publicist, but I can't really schedule a book tour because I have a full-time job. I read articles on marketing and took tips from others, but I'm pretty much going with the flow.
BPL: What is the best thing about being in biz for yourself?
NM: I like being involved first-hand because I get to be a part of everything that's going on, and I also learn a lot of new things. I am energized to give it my all because I want my business to succeed, and no one will give it as much or more than I will. I get to see what's working and what's not so that I can make improvements where it is needed. It's wonderful because I feel joy as I watch things happen.
BPL: What do you think is the most difficult aspect of being in biz for yourself?
NM: It takes a lot of patience because business never blooms right away, and that's something that has to be kept in mind from the start. There are also many different aspects to think about, like taxes, book keeping, inventory and so on. So it's good to be prepared ahead of time with all of this thought through carefully. Also, you have to learn to not be too hard on yourself because you learn as you go along; hands-on is the best thing. Reward yourself for your accomplishments.
It's kind of hard because I also have a full-time job. Once writing is finished and the process of publishing has started, there are a lot of different things to learn. That means you don't have the time to do the things you usually do. You have to be devoted and make time to do the things you want to do.
Promotion is difficult. You don't want to spend your money in areas that you aren't sure about. I'm going in a different direction now and slowing down. I didn't have a professional editor, but have an editor now and plan on reprinting the book. I decided to get a professional editor because a few people mentioned mistakes they saw. I don't want to put it out there unless it's clean.
My first printing was 1,000 copies, and I am getting back some of the money that I spent. I figure I might as well try to invest in it, and so I'm going to go ahead and have it professionally edited.
BPL: If you were to do one thing differently in starting your own biz, what would it be?
NM: I would have used up more free publicity before spending so much on advertisements, which can be very expensive. Also, I wish I had gotten more information about the types of businesses that I could start. I first had a sole proprietorship and then later changed it to a Limited Liability Company. They both cost the same amount of money to process the paperwork, but I ended up paying twice.
BPL: What's the one most important piece of advice you would give someone else about starting a biz?
NM: Research! Research! And research some more! Be patient and keep the faith in whatever you do because most of the time hard work and patience pays off. Also, try to network with others in the same field as you so that you can always get good advice along the way. And be willing to help others when the time comes that you have information that you can share with someone else.
Find a book that's a guide. Even though people explain things to you, it's better if you can read and then have someone tell you.
You need to be able to ask others to help out. Support is important. Dedication is important. You can't just stop. When I started I really didn't know what I was doing. I had no experience. But I wanted to do this so I kept reading and kept looking. Along the way I needed encouragement. I knew I had to spend money and I knew I had to keep going.
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