Three Principles for Self-Publishing Success

Forbes.com recently ran an article on Clint Greenleaf, founder of Greenleaf Book Group, a publisher and distributor specializing in the development of independent authors and the growth of small presses. Clint Greenleaf is another great self-publishing success story.

clintClint Greenleaf told his friends that writing a book wasn’t that hard. His friends called him on it. To meet the challenge, Clint wrote a 30-page book titled Attention to Detail: A Gentleman’s Guide to Appearance and self-published it. He posted a free ad for the book in Bottom Line/Personal magazine offering his book for $5.00. Within a few months, Clint was collecting a hundred orders daily for his book. This led to his decision to launch a publishing company. He started Greenleaf Publishing Group in his parent’s garage. Today the company has far outgrown its humble origins and boasts annual revenues around eight million dollars.

Clint Greenleaf’s first book never made it to the New York Times Bestseller list, so how did he manage to achieve his success?

I think Clint understood three basic principles that every self-published author needs to succeed.

1. Write a book to fill an ongoing need.

Every man wants to succeed. Most men understand that appearance is an important aspect of success whether it is in business or in personal relations. Few books have been written to address this issue for men. A handbook that tells men exactly what they need to do fills their need. Writing a book to fill a need is the first key to success in self-publishing. Remember, your chances for success decrease based on the number of competing titles on your subject matter.

2. Price your book right.

A $5.00 book is a bargain. Consumers love a bargain and can spot one a mile away. If Clint had priced his book at $8.00 or $10.00 he would not have received as many orders. People are willing to gamble a small amount of money on something they think they need and only a larger amount of money on something they know they need. Keep price in mind when self-publishing your book. Pricing your book at the sweet spot is the second key to success in self-publishing. Don’t price yourself out of the competition.

3. Know your target market.

Knowing your target market is key to success in marketing books. Clint knew his target audience. One well-placed ad for men brought him the sales he wanted. Research your target audience. Learn how best to reach them and use those methods to get the message about your book in front of your potential customers. Knowing and reaching your target audience is the third key to success in self-publishing.

Take a lesson from Clint Greenleaf’s success story. It could be yours if you follow his example.


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