IndieJourney: Michelle May

My top 10 reasons for publishing independently:

1. I had successfully published several books on my own so I understand the process and appreciate the benefits.

2. I believe that Eat What You Love has the potential for huge commercial success so while I initially considered seeking a traditional publisher, I recognized that finding an agent and/or a publisher in a very crowded genre could waste valuable time getting the book into the marketplace.

3. Eat What You Love is a major revision of my first book, Am I Hungry? What to Do When Diets Don’t Work, so I had a clear vision including content, organization, title, and cover design.

4. I had already done much of the hard work to create a platform and establish a market for the book (resulting in presales over 7000 copies before we went to press). Turning over the profits at that point didn’t make sense.

5. I speak professionally and conduct workshops based on the content of Eat What You Love so I want to have the freedom to use the book for marketing and back of the room sales.

6. My company, Am I Hungry?, also trains and licenses other people to facilitate these workshops. Therefore this book must be available indefinitely and affordably for resale to our licensees.

7. I have all the systems in place to market and sell my books and other products and services.

8. I love the creative process-not just the writing but managing the design process.

9. I enjoy the responsibility and satisfaction of seeing my book evolve.

10. Finally (at the risk of sounding melodramatic), this book represents my life’s work and purpose so I didn’t want to risk losing control of the outcome.

Lessons Learned

This was not my first independently published book and I am grateful for the lessons I learned and applied to Eat What You Love. I’ll share them here in hopes that they’ll help you too. Set high standards. It is important to conform to publishing standards by making your independently published books indistinguishable from those published traditionally-including impeccable editing (both text and context), professional layout, and cover design.

Trust your instincts. I did not love the cover of my first book. I should have trusted my instincts because although I sold over 14,000 copies, I think the cover limited its success. In retrospect I had caved in to the designer’s insistence on her somewhat abstract interpretation of the book’s content and her impatience with the process. This time around, although I respect and listen to the advice of my team of professionals, I didn’t settle for anything unless it was exactly what I wanted. (That would not have been an option with traditional publishing.)

Get distribution if your book has wide appeal. I didn’t have distribution for my first book (in part, perhaps because of the cover!). Eat What You Love has the potential to change millions of lives so distribution is a critical piece of the puzzle. Greenleaf Book Group (a book _____ and distribution company) accepted my book and worked closely with me to create a book that can compete with any of the diet/health books on the market (and there are many!).

Master marketing. I learned a lot about marketing with my earlier books and I continue to do a lot of marketing through speaking, social networking, and local media. However, this time around I’ve also hired a national publicist. I recognized that I didn’t have the time, expertise, or contacts to reach national media outlets-another necessary piece of the puzzle in order to reach the vast number of yo-yo dieters that I believe will benefit from Eat What You Love.

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