Thinking About a Holiday Book Release? Let’s Talk Now!

As you lounge in the sun this summer, it may not feel like the holiday season yet. But if you’re thinking about releasing a book to be sold this holiday season, now is the time to start a conversation. Call or text us at 614-805-3982 or shoot us an email at info@columbuspublishinglab.com.

We can complete a full production package for most clients in about 6 weeks.  But there are a couple of really good reasons that now is the time to move.

Our phones start blowing up around September 1. The kids are back in school, and authors everywhere are suddenly remembering that eager gift givers will be ordering books soon. We always prioritize our authors first-come, first-serve, so production can take a little longer in the fall.

Secondly, when Black Friday hits, you want a well-built book profile that attracts potential buyers. You need your book to have a stack of good customer reviews on it. That doesn’t happen overnight. For most books, a September-October release is ideal. That gives you some time to pass the book off to reviewers, sell some initial copies, and generate good buzz before strangers start comparing your book to every other book they might give as a gift.

This is especially important for independent and small press books.  Sure, Dean Koontz or Danielle Steel can drop a book on Black Friday and it will fly off the shelves. Those are authors with existing readers. But for a new author and a book that doesn’t have quite the same scale of release, book buyers want to know that the book is good before they pick it up as a gift. It’s up to you to make sure that your reviews demonstrate who loves your book, before the holiday buying frenzy begins.

Many copies of your book that are gifted will be given by people who read your book, loved it, and think a friend or family member might like it too. That takes time to happen.

There’s another reason to start now. We can’t wait to work with you. We want to have the time to do things right, to help you understand the industry and make good choices, well prepared, without any extra stress. We pride ourselves on our ability to do great work, and to deliver it on time. But we also value our relationships with our authors, and if we can start on your book now, that gives us plenty of time to work together, think our decisions through as a team, and sometimes take a second look.

So let’s start a conversation. We’ll provide all of the services you need to ensure your book looks as good as the Nora Roberts novel next to it on the shelf, and if we time it right, you’ll have more reviews on Black Friday than she does. Give us a call or text us at 614-805-3982, or shoot us an email at info@columbuspublishinglab.com. We’re looking forward to hearing from you.

Don’t Waste Your Money – 3 Alternatives to Paid Book Blurbs That Really Work

I hate seeing authors waste time and money.

At Columbus Publishing Lab, we help authors self-publish books that are as good or better than the books coming out of large, traditional publishers. And we help them do it in a way that can be profitable. We don’t sell pipe dreams, we sell real services that work. And we help our authors avoid common pitfalls and false promises we see in the self-publishing industry.

Paid “trade review,” book blurb or book review services are a huge waste of time and money.  This is something we get questions about all the time. I hate seeing authors get sucked into these things.

I’m not going to drag any specific company’s names through the mud, but these are services which charge some amount of money (typically $200-$800) for a review and a praise blurb for the back of your book.

“Best book of the year.” – Bedirkus Reviews

And they usually offer some other goodies to sweeten the deal. Social media promotion, some kind of newsletter or catalog that goes out to libraries, etc.

Based on my decade of experience working with authors at every level of the publishing industry, I can tell you that the reality of these so-called “trade reviews” is that they just don’t work. They do little to no good for your book sales, and the price tag is way too high.

They all purport themselves to be honest reviews, but I’ve never seen anybody get a bad one. How is that possible? Typically, the provided long-form review will have a few counter-marks, to make it feel authentic. But you are paying someone to give you a positive review, and everyone in the industry knows it.

The reality for these services is that if they don’t provide generally positive reviews, they will cease to have value to authors. Self-published authors will pay $400 for a praise blurb for their book cover, but authors likely won’t gamble the same amount for the prospect of possibly receiving a good review.

There are four reasons that these reviews aren’t worth your money:

  1. No Credibility – Everyone in the industry knows the names of the companies which offer paid reviews. It’s not necessarily a bad mark, but it’s not going to give future agents, publishers, other reviewers, etc. the glowing impression you’re expecting, and it’s not going to pay off in credibility for you. You might as well put a praise quote from your mom on the cover.
  2. Long Timeline – These review services typically take weeks to provide reviews (4-6 weeks seems to be standard), unless, of course, you want to pay for “Expedited” service.
  3. Expensive – Most of our authors aren’t working with huge marketing budgets. Of all of the things you can spend your money on to promote your book, this isn’t anywhere close to the top of the list as far as bang for your buck.
  4. No Real Organic Reach – These services typically advertise that X number of bookstores and libraries read their reviews, or they may broadcast your book to X number of social media followers. I’m not accusing them of lying. I’m sure they send a catalog or an e-newsletter to that many outlets, but it doesn’t mean that anyone actually reads it or that it nets sales. In my experience, I have never seen any evidence, or even a single anecdotal account from real life, that indicates that an author received any kind of real publicity, sales, attention, etc. because of one of these paid reviews. As far as social media followings, have you ever purchased a book because you saw a paid review service promoting it on Facebook?

We didn’t just write this to rain on the parade. There are better alternatives, and they’re mostly free.

Before we embark on any objective, the first question to ask is “Why are we doing this?”  The most common answer I get for paid reviews is “Such and such from my writer’s group did it and got a great review.” Call me old fashioned, but everybody’s doing it, just isn’t enough for me.

So what’s the value in praise blurbs anyways? There are two big ways that they help: 1) Social Credibility – quotes for the book jacket, website, etc. prove that someone has actually read this book and liked it. When a reader picks up your book, having someone else’s positive opinion absolutely helps; and 2) Promotional Connections – when you put a praise blurb on your cover, you have more access to that reviewer’s contacts and network.

And of course, paid trade review services claim to offer these exact things. But at such a high cost and with such poor results. You can achieve more for much less money.

Here are three alternatives that really work:
1. Use your personal network (or find a personal network) – reach out to published authors you know for a praise blurb, no matter how small they are. It’s free to you, it’s shared publicity for them. Even if the author isn’t well known, or isn’t even any good, that praise blurb will carry at least as much credibility as one from Bedirkus Reviews, and you just saved $400. And you can probably get a review from a friend in less than two weeks.

You’ve also just incentivized a real person to push your book – on their blog, social media, to their friends – because their name is on the back of it. Their network is an audience that isn’t overburdened with constant spam of book recommendations, and their friends trust them to recommend good books.

Obviously better authors, and authors in your genre will have a better result. Reach as high as you can, but take what you can get. If they say yes, don’t forget to return the favor by pushing their book to your followers.

2. NetGalley – NetGalley is a service that connects your book to real reviewers. NetGalley makes your book available to thousands of professional book reviewers, who can get a copy of the book for free if they’re interested.

This is less valuable for praise blurbs, as it’s often a better fit after the book is released, but it’s a great way to get real reviews on Amazon and out on some book review blogs. These are real people, so they have followings – people who like their personality, their taste in books – and these fans trust and use their recommendations.

Be forewarned, these are real reviews in the wild, so you might get some bad ones, but that’s OK.  Even bad reviews can lend credibility, as it demonstrates a wider readership of the book. Unlike paid trade reviews, real reviewers are incentivized to leave honest reviews. If they’re not honest, they’ll lose credibility with their followers who trust their recommendations.

NetGalley can be a little bit expensive, but we work in volume, so if you come through Columbus Publishing Lab, we can give you a better deal than you can get if you go directly to NetGalley.com.  Most of our authors receive 3-10 reviews for about $200, which is a far better deal (and with far greater reach) than what you’ll pay for one review through a paid trade review service.

3. Ask for help! When you work with Columbus Publishing Lab, we want your book to succeed. That’s how we stay in business. Our authors get great results, and then they tell their friends “These guys can help you do it right.” So let us help you do it right.

You may not feel like you know a lot of authors, but we know a ton!  If you’re getting a comprehensive publishing package from us and you’re committed to publishing your best book, we’d be happy to connect you with some authors in your genre so that you can request a praise blurb. Not all will say yes, or they may want you to review their book in return, but that’s how new networks form, and that’s how we all move forward together. And you can’t beat the price!

Paid trade reviews aren’t a black mark on the book. They’re simply not worth the expense. They don’t net any effective exposure, lend any more credibility to your book than the name of an unknown author, and they take way too long to get.

There are better alternatives that make the most out of the money you have to invest in your book. You can spend a bunch of money, or you can make new friends. When you’re pushing a book with a small marketing budget, there is nothing that will help you more than friends in your corner.

Before you commit to trade reviews or anything else, let’s have a conversation. We want your book to be successful, that’s how we all win together. Give us a call or text today at 614-805-3982 or shoot us an email at info@columbuspublishinglab.com. Our initial consultation is free. We look forward to speaking with you.

Our 2017 Average Author Earnings – $1,530

There’s a lot of flashy showmanship and big promises within the self-publishing industry, but a lack of reasonable information and realistic expectations.

At Columbus Publishing Lab, we value long-term, mutually-beneficial relationships with our authors, based on trust.

As you consider self-publishing, we think it’s important that you base your decision on facts.  We’re committed to honesty and transparency, and our average author earnings is helpful information as you consider self-publishing with us.  When you make a confident choice with realistic expectations, we have a foundation for a successful relationship. And that’s good for everyone.

Of our royalty-receiving publishing clients, the average author received $933 in royalties in 2017.

A portion of our books have very limited sales—these books are family memoirs, books for a specific audience or event, or they’ve been on the market for a long time. In any case, the author isn’t pushing this book and doesn’t want or expect a lot of sales. When we adjust the same data set for these books by eliminating all of the authors who received less than $100 over the year, the average “active” author received $1,530 in royalties from us in 2017.

We encourage all of our authors to think about their book as a two-year investment. On that timeline, greater than 65% of our authors recover more money in royalties than they spent on production with us.  I think these numbers reflect that.  Most of our authors turn a profit, and these numbers don’t even include books sold directly by the authors, which we don’t track.

In addition to the royalties they receive from us, most of our authors directly sell books (which they can buy from us at the cost to print)—at events, festivals, through their website, on consignment at local bookstores, or through distribution channels they might have set up personally. Our average royalty listed above is only for book sales through conventional distribution methods like Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Kobo and iTunes which are administrated by us.  Most of our authors are making money with direct sales as well as the royalties they receive from Columbus Publishing Lab, which means that in reality, our average active author is making significantly more than the $1,530 we’re paying them.

Most of our competitors don’t release this kind of information. In fact, I’m not aware of any that do. I don’t blame them, as I suspect their data doesn’t look this good.  At Columbus Publishing Lab, we’re committed to producing books with excellence, and that’s evident in the results our authors achieve.

We encourage all of our authors to follow the step-by-step professional production plan Brad Pauquette, our CEO, created and outlined based on his years of industry experience as a publishing consultant. It works. And our authors who invest in their book and follow all of the plan are profitable more than 80% of the time. Join our mailing list by clicking here and we’ll send you a free copy of Brad’s book so that you can learn all about The Five Key Steps to Professionally Publish Your Book.

Self-publishing is a business. And it can be a profitable one. Contact us today at 614-805-3982 or email us at info@columbuspublishinglab.com to discuss how we can get your book to market with the best chance of success. We can’t wait to work with you and bring your book to life.

Social Media BOOM! – The Husband by Aaron Daniel Behr

Aaron Daniel Behr - AuthorAaron Daniel Behr asked us to help. He was toiling away at social media, but wasn’t gaining much ground—few new followers, no new book sales.

So over the month of April, we exploded Aaron’s social media with new, real followers who are interested in him and the books he’s selling.

We grew his Facebook audience from 82 individuals to 3,135 real followers.  Every new follower was carefully targeted because they’re interested in the topics that Aaron is talking about.

During the same time period, his Twitter audience grew from 38 followers to a crowd of 1,385 people. That’s more than a 3,500% increase on both platforms!

Thousands of people are now open, receptive, and interacting when he shares his message of hope, and discusses important topics like mental illness, bullying, Christianity, and divorce.

The Husband by Aaron Daniel BehrNot only did we increase the size of his permanent audience, but we also shared his message and his book with more than 975,000 individuals.  More than 70,000 people interacted with his content.  The Husband, a Christian memoir of his divorce and battle with mental illness, is receiving more attention than ever before.  Since his social media has blown up, Aaron has received offers to be featured in magazines, podcasts, and more.

Learn more about Aaron and his book on his website, www.AaronDanielBehr.com.  Find him on Facebook here, or on Twitter @AaronDanielBehr.

Before he came to us, Aaron worked hard to produce great content, but no one was responding, the pieces just weren’t coming together. Now when Aaron talks, people are listening. His content routinely gets 100+ interactions with no additional money spent. And when reviewers, agents, and producers find Aaron online, they see an author with an active, vibrant audience and a professional, robust web presence.

This is a game changer for Aaron’s platform as an author, and it will net real book sales as he moves forward, and big opportunities over the next few years. It takes the same amount of time and effort to talk to thousands of people on Facebook as it takes to talk to 82.  Working with Aaron, we’ve built a social media machine that leverages his time and energy. This is an asset that he will keep for the rest of his life.

Does your social media need a shot in the arm? Please contact us, we’d love to chat.

614-805-3982 | info@columbuspbulishinglab.com

Welcome to Doxieville – Children’s Book by Darrin Todd Martin

Todd and Trudi Martin came to us with a passion and an idea. They love their dachshunds at home, which they’ve bred for years, and they wrote a children’s book which celebrates the personality of each pup and brings them to the page.

As a first-time author, working with a first-time illustrator they’d met locally, they had a lot of questions—they were committed to publishing a great book. Our team was happy to answer questions, provide good advice, and coach them through the process to make sure that the results exceeded their expectations.

“The hardcover books just arrived, they are BEAUTIFUL! You guys did a great job!” – Trudi Martin, co-creator of Welcome to Doxieville.

The Columbus Publishing Lab team edited the manuscript, worked with the illustrations to lay out the interior of the book, proofread the book, and built a cover with the provided artwork. The resulting book is gorgeous, error-free, and an amazing representation of Todd and Trudi’s passion.

Welcome to Doxieville is now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Sony/Kobo in hardcover, paperback and digital formats, as well as available to brick-and-mortar bookstores around the world.

We also built a custom WordPress website at www.DoxievilleBooks.com, and provided guidance and consultation as they set out to market their book.

If you’re thinking about self-publishing, it’s OK that you don’t know how to complete every part of the publishing process. That’s why we’re here.  Our authors bring their passion to the table, and we fill in the gaps to ensure that their books are better than the books coming out of the big, traditional publishing houses.

Todd and Trudi could have taken this book to a traditional publishing house. But by working with Columbus Publishing Lab, they maintained creative control of their work, they produced a better book, and now they’re in a position to make more than 10x the royalties per book sold.

Do you have a passion that you’d like to see on the page? Let’s start a conversation. Contact us today.

The Truth About E-book Only Production

I have something shocking to tell you. There’s a lot of bad advice on the internet.

At Columbus Publishing Lab, we advise a 5-step publishing process for all books that we produce.  This process is based on founder Brad Pauquette’s industry experience, and our confidence is based on the results we’ve achieved. It’s not “cheap,” but it produces a book as good or better than what’s coming out of the Big 5 publishers. And it pays off.

In an effort to save money, and based on bad advice on the internet, many of our clients are interested in only producing an e-book. But, if you’re producing an excellent, professional book, e-book only distribution isn’t going to save you that much money.

Our 5 steps of the production process are 1) developmental editing, 2) copy editing, 3) interior design, 4) cover design and 5) proofreading.  Learn more about these 5 steps by grabbing a free copy of Brad Pauquette’s book, The Self-Publishing Handbook, here.

The first two steps are typically the most expensive, and that’s what improves the content of your book. Developmental editing and copy editing are the steps that make your book the best piece of literature it can be. These steps maximize positive reviews and sales.  Whether you’re producing an e-book, a print book, or both, these are really important steps.

Foregoing a print book will save you a little bit of money on the interior design and the cover design, but that’s it.  If you’re approaching your project as a professional, you still need professional editing and only producing an e-book will save you less than 15% of the total budget.

E-books account for approximately 40% of our total book sales. If you don’t produce a print book, you’re throwing 60% of your potential sales out the window. Are you willing to sacrifice 60% of your sales to save 15% on your production costs?

That bad “give it a try with an e-book only” advice comes from the days when big initial print runs were mandatory for print books.  Not only did a self-publishing author have to spend money on the production, but they would drop thousands of dollars on an initial offset print run to store in a warehouse.  If that was still the case today, then an e-book only plan would save thousands on that expense. But now, with print on demand technology, there’s no reason to print a bunch of books up front, and that expense doesn’t exist.

Photo credit: GoXanuReviews -creative commons

Using our unique distribution system, there’s no need to print any books up front if you don’t want to.  All we need to produce is outstanding source files, and then those books are printed only when a customer orders the book.  The print-run risk is completely mitigated for the publisher or author, and the customer receives the same prompt book delivery they expect from retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

The only way that producing only an e-book works out is if you also use it as an excuse to skip professional editing.  And that’s a bad idea.  There are some outliers—a few books that an author pushed out over the weekend which went on to hit major success—but these are exceptionally rare.  Readers care about editing quality, and readers care about the development of the narrative—plot holes, poorly developed characters and unrealistic dialog bother readers, a lot.

When it’s time to publish, when it’s time to take your first shot and step into the marketplace as a new author, you owe it to yourself to put your best foot forward. Contact us today by emailing us at info@columbuspublishinglab.com or calling 614-805-3982 to learn how we can help you to produce an outstanding book, distributed to all major markets, in print AND e-book.

We look forward to working with you.

Skeeters — Proving Press

Jeffrey Miller was mowing his lawn one day when he came under attack by a scourge of hungry mosquitoes. These skeeters are eaters! he thought as he did the mosquito slap and shuffle. That first rhyming line grew into a complete poem. For years, he held onto his Skeeters story.

When Jeffrey met Brandy he recited Skeeters and she encouraged him to turn this whimsical poem into a children’s book everyone could enjoy (and of course they fell in love!). Brandy and Jeffrey got married, and started the process of growing their family through adoption.

As the Millers discovered how limiting the cost of adoption can be, publishing Skeeters became more than a personal project. With the help of local illustrator Dale Herron and Columbus Publishing Lab, Skeeters would become not only a beautiful children’s book, but the perfect vehicle to help Jeffrey and Brandy raise funds to support their own journey, and other couples seeking adoptions.

“My wife Brandy and I have chosen to grow our family through adoption. Adoption can be an expensive undertaking. Many families have room in their heart for an adopted child, but the financial cost keeps them from fulfilling that desire. A portion of the proceeds from sales of Skeeters will be dedicated to support future adoptive families in their efforts.”

Our first role in publishing the Skeeters book was to help Jeffrey and Brandy get their Kickstarter campaign off the ground and gaining traction. We produced, shot and edited their Kickstarter video, answering questions about crowdfunding promotion along the way. By the time their campaign closed, Brandy and Jeffrey exceeded their goal and raised over $8,000 for their cause!

Check out the Millers’ archived Kickstarter campaign here, and watch them tell their story in their own words. 

After Brandy and Jeffrey’s campaign closed it was go-time. Kickstarter backers were expecting paperback, hardback and e-book versions of Skeeters, and Columbus Publishing Lab was ready to come through.

We worked with Dale, the Millers’ illustrator, to ensure the Skeeters files were up to spec for our printer, checking elements like bleed, spine and formatting. We also provided an ISBN and barcode for each version of the book, and created an e-book version from the provided print files.

As soon as the files were ready, we uploaded Skeeters to our printer. Jeffrey and Brandy were able to print book copies at a significant discount off the list price to fulfill their Kickstarter orders. Through our distribution services, the book is also available to all major online retailers in a seamless process that’s completely hands-off for Brandy and Jeff.

Learn more about printing and distribution through Columbus Publishing Lab here. 

Backyard mosquito champions all over the world can now easily find and purchase Skeeters and enjoy this beautifully-produced tale in their own home.

Check out the paperback, hardback and e-book versions of Skeeters on Amazon here. 

Throughout the entire publishing process Jeffrey and Brandy had a dedicated point of contact at Columbus Publishing Lab. We were there to answer questions, guide their illustrator, and provide them with the information and expertise they needed to stay in the loop about the Skeeters project.

Congratulations to Jeffrey and Brandy on the successful release of Skeeters!

We love supporting authors, especially when their work has a meaningful guiding force behind it. Isn’t it time your book became a reality? Contact us to learn more about publishing by clicking here. 

Do Book Trailers Work? No. Book Trailers Do Not Work.

We have this crazy rule at Columbus Publishing Lab: we won’t try to sell people things they don’t need, or things that won’t work.

Book trailers don’t sell books.  If your intent is to increase the sales of your book, trailers are a waste of time and money.

If you insist you want to throw away your money so you can be the coolest author on the block, we’ll do our best work and facilitate it. But let me be frank: your book trailer is not going to be the exception, even if it’s exceptional, and it’s not going to sell books.

We’ve experimented with book trailers. After all, everybody’s doing it–almost all of our competitors offer book trailers, and we get tons of requests for them.  We’ve made trailers with live actors and Hollywood-caliber production, top-notch stuff like the one below.  This thing is awesome, but trailers don’t sell books, and this one was no exception.

Any promotional effort will have a fractional conversion rate. Which is to say, of all of the people who are exposed to your marketing, a percentage will actually buy the product. As an example, only a small percentage of drivers who see the billboard about a McDonald’s at Exit 38 are hungry, and fewer still will want a Big Mac.  When it comes to marketing, a “conversion” is a person who is exposed to your marketing and takes the action you want them to take—i.e. buys a product, joins an email list, donates to an organization, watches a TV show, etc.

There’s a lot of variation based on type of promotion, but to generalize web marketing across all industries, a 1% conversion rate is good, .1% is fine (1 in 1,000 respond), and a 5% response rate is ungodly.  ***NB: A like/retweet/comment/etc. on social media is great, but it should never be the objective and it’s not a “conversion.”  An effective web marketing campaign should have a far higher response/interaction rate than 1%.

The goal of any book promotion (a “conversion”) is the sale of one book.  This means that if 1 out of every 100 people who see your promotion buy your book, you’re doing exceptionally well.

What happens in real life is that authors end up spending their time promoting their book trailer.  They promote the book trailer by graffiti-ing every social media platform with the link to YouTube.  On a good day, 1% of the people who see the link actually go and watch the thing. Then of those who watch it, 1% (best case scenario) actually go and purchase the book.  You’ve just fractionalized your fraction,  and now you’re pulling a .01% total conversion rate on the project. Not good.

Instead of promoting a book trailer to promote a book, just promote your book directly.  If our goal is to sell books, a well-crafted “Hey go watch my book trailer,” is about 1/100th as effective as a well-crafted “Hey go buy my book.”

And we haven’t even mentioned the fact that a really good book trailer will cost well over $1,000, if not far more.  Your conversion rate on most of the poorly-produced videos on YouTube is virtually 0.

There are some exceptions:

  1. The book trailer is so exceptional that a viewer just has to share it with everyone they know. This is extremely difficult. Book trailers are essentially commercials, and how many commercials do you see shared on Facebook? The average cost to produce a national-TV-quality commercial is $342,000, and even these are rarely shared.
  2. The book trailer is a second-hit. We have a rule in our promotions—nobody does anything they’re not told to do at least twice. If your book is already saturating the general population, a book trailer can be an effective follow-up to seal the deal.  As in, you were on Good Morning America this morning, and curious readers are now actively searching for materials about your book.
  3. If Crowdfunding is part of your strategy (i.e. Kickstarter or Indiegogo), a video works. Crowdfunding audiences are predisposed to watch videos, because it’s part of the culture of the platform.  The format of this type of video will be different from a “book trailer.”
  4. Other types of videos can work. If you’re an expert or you have something to offer, and you can make videos that do more than just promote the book—for instance, solve a problem, explain a concept, or make people laugh—something which is genuinely good, entertaining and helpful, you can promote your personal brand and sell books as an ancillary benefit. This is a far different approach from a book trailer, however.  In other words, not all videos are bad, just book trailers.

We believe that self-publishing works when it’s done right.  The fact is, our clients think videos are cool and I wish they worked—they can be a lot of fun to make, and it would be a cool service to offer.  But in good conscience, it’s not a service that we can stand behind.

At the end of the day, book trailers are more about the author’s vanity. And we don’t do vanity here. We do professional results and we do return on investment.

Take it from us, skip the book trailer and save your money. There are better ways to promote your book.

Have you ever purchased a book because you saw a book trailer? Let us know in the comments.

Every book is different.  While this blog post is about a marketing method that doesn’t work, we have a toolbox full of methods that DO work.  At Columbus Publishing Lab, we tailor a marketing plan specifically for your book, to meet your goals, using methods that are proven and effective. Contact us to discuss your book today.

Professional Results for Professional Authors – The Story of Brad and the Plumber

I’m a bit of a handyman.  I live in an old two-story farmhouse, and there’s always something to be fixed, updated or remodeled.  Most of the work I can do myself—in fact, there are very few times that I need to call in a “professional,” (a fact I’m very proud of). I save a lot of money by doing the work myself, and truthfully I enjoy it.

Roof Framing Brad Pauquette

My 7-year-old son and me framing in the roof tie-in.

But on the occasions that I do call someone in, I’m almost always impressed with the results.  The right home repair professional knows how to make everything come together just right, it always looks so clean and perfect when they’re done.

A professional does the exact same job as I would do, and follows the same functional steps, but they bring three important things to the table:

  1. They do this task everyday, so they’re practiced.
  2. The have exactly the right tools for the job.
  3. They know all of the tricks and all of the pitfalls, so it turns out just right.

My wife’s 90-year-old grandmother moved in with us this fall, so with only one bathroom upstairs we added a first floor bedroom and bathroom for her over the summer.  I ended up doing most of the work myself.

I had done each of the individual tasks involved in building an addition at least one time before here or there, but I don’t do any of them frequently and I’d never done all of the pieces at once.  I was out of practice.

Sometimes I would find myself reaching for the vice grips, instead of whatever specialty wrench the job required, because I didn’t want to drop $60 for a tool I was only going to use once. It worked, but the nut would end up with little scratches on it or something would be just a degree off-center.  Or I’d find myself trying to make a hole-saw work that wasn’t exactly the right size, because I didn’t want to run out to the hardware store again.

And sometimes, I’d get halfway through a job and think, “I wish I would have started on the other side of the room.”  I just didn’t have enough experience to recognize all of the ways to make the job perfect, or to see all of the areas which might be more difficult.

It was all little tiny things. Things you wouldn’t notice individually unless you knew what to look for. But taken as a total, there is a perceivably lesser quality to my handiwork than that of a professional.

I did hire a plumber to install the shower for me. He knew exactly what he was doing.  He did it in half the time I would have because he does that kind of thing every day.  He had exactly the right tools for every part of the job—$60 for a specialty wrench which will make the job quicker and better is well worth it, even if he only uses it a couple times each week.   And before he even got started, he looked over our framing and recognized a few potential areas that might interfere with the shower placement.  With his instruction I made a few adjustments so that everything would come together perfectly.

My work is good. But the professional plumber did it better, he did it quicker, and even though it cost far more than if I did it myself, it was worth every penny.

At Columbus Publishing Lab, we’re professional book producers.   Hats off to those of you do-it-yourself book producers who can complete all of the steps, but we believe that the quality of our books speaks for the value of hiring a professional.  And we know that the royalty checks our authors receive dwarf the royalties of their average DIY peers.  One big reason our authors make more is the professional quality of their finished book.

Just like your plumber or electrician, there are three things that make our results better: We practice this every day; we have all of the right tools (thousands of dollars in software and hardware); and we know all of the tricks and pitfalls.

And there’s another factor that makes our results truly professional: Producing a book isn’t just one job, it’s five unique skillsets, each of which takes years of daily practice to learn and perfect.  We have individuals in-house who are experienced professionals at every single step of the process—developmental editing, copy editing, interior design, proofreading and cover design. Even our methods of distribution and fulfillment took years to develop, let alone a comprehensive and effective marketing system.

I may know how to do a little plumbing, a bit of drywall and a lot of electrical.  But it would be inconceivable that as a hobbyist, I’m as good at every single job required to build a house as specialized professionals would be—excavating, cement pouring, block laying, framing, roofing, drywall, plumbing, electrical, flooring, siding, window installation, to name a few.

Some authors just want to do it themselves.  I get that.  I enjoy working on my house. Most of the time, even if it’s not quite as good, I’d rather be proud of my own work than pay someone else.

But there is a place for hiring professionals.  If you’re serious about creating a book that will compete in the marketplace with books coming out of the major publishing houses, you need a product that is built to the same quality standard.  You need all five steps of the publication process to be clean and perfect.

We’re here to help.  Whether you need all five steps of the publication process, or just a little bit of help, we’d love to work with you to make your book the best that it can be.  You’ve worked too hard to let a few hundred dollars stand between your manuscript and success.

-Brad Pauquette, CEO

Ready to publish? Let’s talk.  Email us at info@columbuspublishinglab.com.

Want to learn more about the “Five-Step Publication Process”?  Click here to snag a free copy of my book, The Self-Publishing Handbook, which outlines the full process.  It’s a great resource, whether you choose to publish through Columbus Publishing Lab or DIY.

Find more fun photos of our home addition project on my wife and I’s blog here.

Now Hiring: Digital Production Intern

We are hiring for an in-house position at our office in Zanesville, Ohio.

We have listed this position as an internship, however, applicants seeking full-time work are encouraged to apply.  Pay rate is negotiable for candidates with a developed skillset and experience.

JOB TITLE: Digital Production Intern

DESCRIPTION: The Digital Production Intern will assist the production team in the creation of e-books, audiobooks and website materials.

The intern should have a keen interest in book publication, with a willingness to learn new skills. The ideal candidate works well in an unsupervised environment, and understands the value of producing professional, consistent results. As an exceptional communicator, the intern should be open to constructive criticism, and have realistic expectations for a production environment.

The ideal candidate has a basic understanding of HTML code, as well as an impeccable sense of English spelling and grammar.

Self-taught and unconventional candidates are encouraged to apply.

The intern will learn to independently complete the following tasks:
Creation of e-books (HTML)
Creation of audiobooks
Website coding (HTML, PHP, JavaScript)
Social Media Marketing

COMPENSATION & COMMITMENT: $9 per hour, beginning at 10 hours per week.
Additional hours are available for interns who quickly demonstrate proficiency. There is strong potential to lead to full-time employment for the right candidate.

A higher pay rate is available for applicants who can demonstrate a developed HTML skillset.

We would like to fill this internship ASAP.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR APPLICATION: Interested candidates should email info@columbuspublishinglab.com with their name, contact information, an introductory letter, and resume.

Now Hiring Digital Production Intern