Everybody has a book in them, right? Way down on at the bottom of some of your hopes and dreams, maybe. You're doing something to make yours: writing, rewriting, working with a coach, meeting with other writers in a group. The work is bubbling up, maybe nearing the surface.
When it's at the surface of your life, you want to get it higher, high enough for the world to see. There's plenty you can do to make a book rise up. Whether it's your own, or a friend's or a relative's, you need something special to get noticed, read, and yeah, published. You get MAD. That's Marketing, Advertising, and Distribution.
You might say, hey Amazon does that. They've even got a thing called CreateSpace. I write, they publish. Not so fast there. If your book doesn't come out of a publishing company -- and that's not Amazon, by the way -- you need to get MAD. Nobody will do it for you. It's okay, you can do a DIY on your MAD.
You need marketing for your book, like everything else needs it. You need reviews, even before the book comes out. You ask your friends to read your book before it's for sale. You send your book to bloggers. They're the book critics of today. You pay services to review your book. No guarantees there, of course. They're bound to say something helpful, though.
You need a mailing list for your marketing. A website too, just for you. Not your book. You are the product. You get people to the website through emails you send out. Website visitors sign up for your newsletter. You write one of those a couple of times a month.
The good news is the marketing doesn't cost too much. It's an investment in time, plus work to get a simple website up on its feet. Maybe a little to the review companies. You might need an emailing service. Okay, it's not free.
Then you need advertising. There's a few places that make sense. Facebook is popular, but you want clicks on your ad there to go to your website, not straight to Amazon. It's okay, Amazon gets a taste, too. You pay them when a prospective reader clicks on your book ad link. BookBub is another place to go. Advertising is the biggest nut to crack when you're paying. Once you get some traction, you can taper back the ads.
So that's M and A, but what about that D? Distribution is the places people buy your book. You want a big set of shelves to sell from. Amazon, sure. Also Nook, iBooks, Smashwords, Kobo. A company called Draft2Digital can help set all that up, for a taste of the sale. 10 percent, and for most people it's probably worth it. You want more than just ebook, though. You'll sell paper copies through Amazon. Down at the little bookstores, the indies. Big ones like BookPeople, too. They might take some on a consignment -- you only get paid when they sell — or you can get your book displayed down there on the tables. That's kind of an ad, too. A week or two. Get a reading set up with them for another fee.
Finally, and probably most important, you distribute your books out of your car. Yes, having a box in your car lets you sell them for the highest profit per book. You distribute at readings, too. Clubs, maybe as simple as a fantasy league meeting. I went to an agents conference not long ago and an author who had a big deal with Random House, Walt Gragg, still sold me a book out of his car. "I only take cash," he said. Good for him. Walt also had a healthy advance from his publisher.
You're the publisher when you self-publish. You can't say you're really published, though, unless you get MAD about your book. I like the sound of that. I'm MAD about my book. You can help an author by getting them reviewed, the M for Marketing in MAD. You buy ads because you invest in your book, the A. Finally you get distribution, from Amazon to bookstores to the back of your car. Have a release party, sure. But get more than just released, along with that Amazon listing and lot of hope. Get MAD, so you can get read -- and truly published.