7 Questions You Need To Ask Before You Self-Publish Anything

We live in an amazing age. It’s the Information Age, version 2.0 – where anyone and everyone has unprecedented access to worldwide knowledge and the ability to contribute to that knowledge-base by creating their own media products.

How easy is it to self-publish your ideas?

Notwithstanding any monetization goals, it’s as easy as making a video with your phone and uploading it to YouTube, or saving any document as a PDF and posting it online. Either way, about three minutes work.

As important as that contribution to our collective knowledge may be, most people consider the act of “self-publishing” to be a commercial endeavor. Making your wisdom, know-how or expertise available to others – for payment.

Self publishing can take the form of physical goods, such as books, DVDs, CDs, etc., or it can be a digital experience, with ebooks, audio files, streaming videos, software, apps, and premium websites.

Regardless of its form, in order for your entrepreneurial venture to have real success and longevity in the marketplace, there are some very important questions you need to ask before you take the plunge.

Here are my seven imperative questions to ask yourself – or your publisher of choice – before you release your knowledge to the masses:

1. Will I get my customer’s contact info?

2. What will my revenue share and fees be for this SPECIFIC product?

3. When will I get paid and how often?

4. What are the content restrictions, if any?

5. How can I update my product if needed?

6. Can I include alternate forms of media?

7. Is there an easy way to gift my product to friends, reviewers, etc.?

Here are my thoughts and suggestions for each of those concerns…

1. Will I get my customer’s contact info?

When you make a sale, it is absolutely essential that the customer can be contacted in the future. At the very least, you need to be certain you will gain their email address so that you may provide support, updates and of course, continue to provide them value until you are ready to present them with another offer.

Many of the new economy publishing outlets, such as Kindle, the App Store and iBooks, do not provide you with customer’s email or contact info – as incredulous as that may be to believe. And of course, physical products being sold at retail outlets provide no customer information at all.

There is considerable expense that is inherent in acquiring a single customer. It requires a great deal of analytics to determine your CPA (Cost Per Acquisition), but suffice to say, each first-time customer is extremely expensive. The amount of marketing expense it takes to convince a prospect that your product is the one to invest in can quickly eat into your profit margin. In some cases, the first sale is actually a loss leader, with the strategic model being to profit from future purchases.

In fact, it is a known statistic that approximately 80% of your future sales will come from only 20% of your existing customers. And another analysis, from Lee Resource Inc., concluded:

‘Attracting new customers will cost your company 5 times more than keeping an existing customer.’

synced3d-400wIn my new book, Synced, I discuss strategic, engineered ways to capture your customer’s contact info, but in a value-based proposition that makes them want to give it to you. Here is an excerpt from chapter 4 that you can use immediately:

The first step is to create a highly valued, exclusive* companion digital product that complements the physical product. For example, if you were selling yoga mats, you might include a free, one hour yoga essentials video with each purchase. Or if you are selling a juicer, you might produce a dozen quick and easy juice recipes (as an enhanced video book) for a healthier lifestyle.

Another example would be a bonus training manual, showing some additional creative ways to use the physical product, such as “20 more things you can use your yoga mat for everyday”.

Whatever the incentive is, by getting your customers to redeem your free gift, you are accessing the most highly converting, least expensive marketing leads in the world – satisfied customers. 

And by providing this extra value, you just made them even more satisfied!

*Note: Make sure the gift is only available to buyers of the product. This exclusivity increases the perceived value of the offer, and if delivered on Revizzit, also creates a live-connected product that only customers can access, providing yet another marketing channel for deals and promotions.

 So, when it comes to making that sale, whether your product is on the shelf at Wal-Mart or on Amazon Kindle, ask yourself: How can I get that customer’s contact?

2. What will my revenue share and fees be for this SPECIFIC product?

Most businesses that sell physical products understand the process required to determine their product’s net profit margin. Though it varies greatly from business to business, dependent on a number of factors, the core calculation is fairly simple:

A – What is the retail price?

B – How much did it cost to produce the item?

C – What is the revenue share amount (wholesale or affiliate cost) per item?

D – What is the CPA, if any?

In this case, the formula is: A – (B + C + D) = Net Profit

Digital products may require a little more investigation to determine the net profit. Publishing platforms can have a range of royalty tiers, distribution expenses and even price adjusting that could serve up an unwelcome surprise.

I can cite my own naiveté when it came to publishing my book, Ukulele Jump Start, on Kindle. I worked for several
months to create a unique, interactive quiz-book, and had a price point in mind with an understanding that Amazon would get 30%.

When it came time to publish, however, I was caught off-guard in many instances. First of all, to get the 70/30 royalty tier, my book had to be priced between $2.99 and $9.99. I planned to include a $35 software package as part of the book, so I wanted a slightly higher price than that tier allowed. Nonetheless, 70% of $9.99 was a better option than 35% of $12.99.

But then, a hidden distribution fee snuck into the equation. The 70/30 tier has a delivery cost, which is calculated at $0.15/MB. Because my book was graphics heavy, and approx. 300 pages, it came out to about 48MB. That calculates to $7.20 in delivery costs alone. Seventy percent of $9.99 would only earn me $6.99 per book – a net loss of -$0.21 per book sold.

To eliminate the delivery cost, this meant that my book would instead require a royalty of only 35%, with Amazon keeping a whopping 65% of the sale.

Thus, my book is now listed at $16.99, of which I earn about $5.95.

The lesson here is that if your product is going to be unique in some way, make sure you also know how it affects the net profits.

3. When will I get paid and how often?

Most self-publishing platforms, such as Kindle, can pay royalties by EFT monthly, or by check if a commission tier has been reached. There will usually be a period of accrual before you get the first payment, however, usually 60 days following the end of the sales month.

Revizzit is unique in that you are running your own business on the platform, and get paid the full retail price directly from your customer at time of purchase. After 30 days, if no refund/deactivation was issued, Revizzit then debits your registered bank account for 10% of total sales. Any refunded purchases do not get charged the 10% transaction fee.

4. What are the content restrictions, if any?

Suffice to say, there is never any kind of illegal, copyright infringing or hate-based publications allowed on any platform.

Beyond that, many platforms will limit the extent to which you can grow your business inside your publications. Both Kindle and iBooks will not allow you to advertise or promote other products or events inside your eBooks. Kindle does not even allow Amazon Associate links, so if you were thinking about recommending other books and earning some affiliate commissions, you will not be allowed to do so anywhere but on your approved website.

Revizzit, again, sets out to differentiate itself from the industry by allowing any advertising and promotion inside your products. In fact, with the platform’s live-connected capabilities, it creates a very effective way to deliver and update offers to your most valuable contacts – paying customers.

The Revizzit philosophy is simple. If it helps you succeed in business, it’s a good thing and will be supported. Successful businesses make more money for everyone.

5. How can I update my product if needed?

On Kindle and iBooks, you can make updates subject to Amazon/Apples approval. Remember, they are retailers of your product and are liable for your content. Once they approve your changes, the customer will need to manually choose to update the content. Not exactly seamless, but possible.

On Revizzit, your product is live-connected to your customers. That means anything you want to change – add a page or chapter, place a link, insert a promotion, whatever – is automatically synced  and changes every copy in existence. Now THAT’S seamless!

 6. Can I include alternate forms of media?

Revizzit is a media publishing solution, as well as eBooks. You can create any kind of media product, or combination, and make live changes anytime. The media opens in-app, and the URL and source code is protected from view, enabling it to be monetizable.

Kindle and iBooks allow you to link to certain webpages that contain media, so long as it is not promotional in nature. The media will not open in the app itself, but rather launch a browser or play in a device-level player. Revizzit for iPad also opens media in the device player, as controlled by Apple.

7. Is there an easy way to gift my product to friends, reviewers, etc.?

I couldn’t find an easy way to accomplish this on iBooks after a rigorous search. They have recently created a way to send “gifted” books, but this requires a purchase of the book by the giver.

Kindle offers the ability to send free copies fairly easily.

Revizzit has a number of ways to gift products to others, from creating an exclusive free version using a whitelist to limit access, to creating a free “clone” version, to issuing a one-time use voucher redeemable at checkout for the full price of the product. The voucher can also be a powerful way to include a free digital product as part of a physical purchase – and cleverly gains you the customer’s email in the process.

If there were an eighth question, it might be:

What tools are in place to improve my sales?

This is where Revizzit leaves the other platforms in it’s dust. The list of marketing, packaging and value add-ons available creates the potential for some truly unique and engaging possibilities.

Some examples of Revizzit’s bonus features are:

1. Creating bundles: Packaging up your products (example) in multiple ways helps increase sales and save the customer money.

2. Dripped content: Releasing pages or chapters over time (for example, one chapter per week) increases engagement and retention of information, and can turn any infoproduct into an online course.

3. Recurring payments: The ability to deliver live-connected, instant updates can easily create a value capable of a monthly membership fee. Revizzit makes it easy to add monthly payments to any product.

4. Whitelisting: The whitelist feature restricts purchasing only to customers on the approved list. Perfect for exclusive content aimed at organizations and communities.

5. Modules: This feature gives the opportunity to have customized products – purchasing a bonus chapter or transforming the contents based on user input. An extremely powerful tool!

6. IP protection: Revizzit has a host of frictionless content protection features built in, including the ability to decide which pages are printable, no visible URLs or access to source code, and an invisible fingerprint feature to protect agains screen capture or recording.

It’s time that authors, filmmakers, online entrepreneurs and creators were able to take control of their digital property, and provide their customers with exceptional value that builds trust and future sales. With these questions, I hope you can make the best decision for where to publish your precious knowledge.

Welcome to the revolution.

P.S. Here’s the link in the graphic: http://get.revizzit.com/self-publish

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