View Full Version : beginners projects

05-02-2007, 01:53 PM
Hi, I am a newbie, seeking for advice:

I've got some publishing ideas, but not any ideas of publishing.
To learn the trade I've got two projects in mind and I would like to ask you if one of these is a good beginners project.

In both books I would not write anything.

First project: a specialiced shopping guide to our metropolitan area (listings with adress, contact data etc. as well as adds)
Second: A specialized garden book for our area. Toghether with one of our gardenings clubs (I admit that I didn't ask them until now). This book would have an add part at the end.

For both books I would not have any concurrence. The second book idea seems to me much easier because I think it is a very difficult job selling adds as a newbie.

I tend to think that the garden book is the better project to begin, but I am not shure if any of these projects are suitable and /or have some return.
The next big city is more than thousand km away - we've got really a different climate so I assume that there is a need of a garden book for our region, however I don't know it.
How can I estimate if there is a demand for this book?
I have in mind making a written concept, a rough idea of the printing prices, taking this to one of the garden clubs and ask if they are intersted. Provided they will, we go on creating the book and at one stage we should sell the adds.
Do you think this is a way to go on? When should I/we begin to sell adds?
Is it possible to sell the adds in advance in order to get the printing paid beforehead?

Both books should befairly simple, perhaps a second colour the garden book rather for the shed than for the coffee table.

It would be great having some opinions!

05-02-2007, 05:30 PM
Books don't generally have ads in them.

Ask yourself what's in it for the people who will be providing the text and photographs. What are they getting out of it? That's what you need to know to convince them to participate. Why wouldn't they just do it themselves? What value are you adding to the project?

It is possible to publish your own books for a niche market, but generally the person creating the project is someone with expertise in the field. You've identified a niche -- the unique gardening environment -- but I don't know if that's enough. It would be different if, say, you routinely spoke to garden clubs about how to turn the local environment to the gardener's advantage, and then you could write the book and sell it at your speaking engagements. But you don't have what's known as a "platform" (in both the metaphorical and physical senses).

Perhaps a better project for you to consider is something you DO have expertise in, and can write yourself, and do it on a smaller, pamphlet-size scale to see how it goes w/o investing too much money.


05-02-2007, 06:20 PM
Hi, I am a newbie, seeking for advice:. . . as well as adds . . .
Ads? Advertising?

It seems to me that you are proposing some rather complicated projects, not at all suited to a beginner.

Here are a couple of suggestions:

1. Study one or both of the top books on self-publishing (Dan Poynter's or Tom & Marilyn Ross's).

2. Spend some time with www.score.org (http://www.score.org) to explore how business works. Consult a local SCORE office for guidance. (SCORE is Senior Corps of Retired Executives, a nonprofit organization that provides information and consultation to entrepreneurs). Likewise, attend local Chamber of Commerce meetings to familiarize yourself with local business. At some point you will need a business license and the rest that goes with that, so you have a lot to learn.

3. Look for a local independent/self-publishers group. Attend (or join) and learn from those with experience.

4. Do not proceed until you have a clear idea of how you would market your products. And for that matter, do not proceed until you have a clear understanding of the legal and financial implications. You will probably need to talk with an attorney and an accountant to even know what are the questions you should be asking in those areas.

5. Work on your spelling.

I'd concur with JanDarby's suggestion to start smaller.

Good luck.


05-03-2007, 04:52 AM
hi, thanks a lot for the answers, howver they are not especially encouraging!

Yes Dan, books don't have generally adds in them, but there are these local publications, i.e 100 years of red lions football league - they do have adds. The adds were meant to help finance the printing costs.

What are they (the gardening club) getting out of it? I thought, if we're able to sell the books, they will get half of the share.

Even if I am not a professional graphics I normally get those things right and I think I am able to deliver them a structured content, tables they only need to fill in, and my working time.

I like the idea of the garden book very much. Is it possible to downsize the idea first but later publish a "real" version?

I can imagine two ways of downsizing: one is to downsize it to the main part - the charts, printing it either very cheap or even photocopying it. Maybe laminated.
The other would be producing a small booklet/brochure, perhaps DIN A5, the charts, a bit of text, no adds, produced as above. However photocopying is quite expensive here.

I like the idea of downsizing and I feel very comfortable of starting small, very small. But isn't it harder to sell the product? It would be something between 3 -6 AUS$, I reckon.

Yes I will read the books recommended!

Score and the local self publishing group are both good ideas.

Normally I use the spelling correction of my word processing program - even in my mother language.

Both answers didn't mention the other idea: the specialized shopper - is this project even more demanding? (In my opinion yes)

Nevertheless: you didn't encourage me completely! And the main idea of downsizing the project is a really good one.

05-03-2007, 05:01 AM
I think you should drop the idea of ads until you know what kind of circulation you can deliver. When that is not reliably known the rate you could charge is pretty low and it does detract from appearance.

If the book is not obviously squeezing every possible profit in your direction people will give you the info you need more freely. So for the first effort why not just getting the info, write the book and take it from there?

If that does well you will be better established and have a basis for montising better latter.

p.s. for local endeavours I suggest giving a good proportion of profits to a relevant worthy cause, you'll sell a lot more copies and get a pile of free publicity.

05-03-2007, 05:49 AM
yes, like this I will do it!
No adds, sharing the benefits (if there are any).
Scaling it down. and give it local groups to sell in order that they can make their profit.

05-03-2007, 07:48 AM
I reviewed my contents. Perhaps I could break it down to 22 pages + cover.
Producing only a small amount, lets say 200 and selling it for 4-5 Aus $. If it's sold, adding a few more pages, raising the selling price only a little, producing other 200 and so on. This job could perhaps be done easy on a normal photocopier A 4 fold in a half and stapled in the middle. I won't gain more than a bit of pocket money, but that's not the point at the moment.

Anthony Ravenscroft
05-03-2007, 09:19 AM
Augh! koolin, damn yer eyes, I was just about to log off & go to bed, but now...

The advice you've gotten thus far is off-base, though well-intentioned. Yes, you can publish the sort of reference you're describing. It's done all the time. I've got 'em on my shelf for various publishers' groups & arts organisations. Some have paid adspace, some are just listings &/or articles.

I don't agree, though, that it's a "beginner project." Well, yes, it's done all the time by hackers, & since their clients &/or advertisers are often utterly clueless, everyone feels they got a decent deal.

Example: a few years back, someone tried to sell me a listing in an annual Minneapolis music guide. I asked for a copy of the one from the previous year, which they reluctantly tracked down & provided. I broke into laughter because all the companies & bands & bars that began with "The" were listed -- could you guess? -- under the "T" entries. Oh, yeh, & solo acts were alphabetised by first name. Hey, mistakes happen... except the salesguy didn't see what was wrong with it, & would only make a vague promise to "look into it." Naturally, I declined.

This is more a business project than one of self-pubbing. You need a business plan, you need to commit to a certain number of copies, you need to spell out the where & how & when of their distribution, whether (& why) you'll run off more copies, whether (& when) you'll restock outlets, & how you'll be able to provide some sort of validation for readers reached (not a problem if, say, you're going through every Chamber of Commerce withn 50 miles). You need to determine if you're selling straight adspace, or preorder of a certain number of copies (& how much you want up-front, & how the balance will be paid, & so do you need to have a written contract?), or some combination of the two.

Oddly, it's very simple to (a) pull numbers out of the air, & (b) get your advertisers to pay enough in deposits that your costs are covered & the rest is all profit to you -- if you can get your printer to extend you 30 days, all the better. However, you need to commit, you need to deliver, & you need to figure how to minimise your own risk in getting stuck.

You could do worse than reading THIS BOOK (http://www.amazon.com/Publish-Magazine-Guide-Weekly-Newspaper/dp/1591810035/ref=sr_1_1/103-3762333-1127860?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1178167487&sr=1-1) before thinking any further.

05-04-2007, 05:30 AM
hi Anthony, I have got exactly this book from the library. The problem is that things sounds too easy.

I decided: forget about the shopping guide - perhaps doing it in some years.
Making the gardening book making it nice small, cheap and regional.
Writing nearly everything and then going to the garden clubs.
Trying to publish maybe 200 -500 (for a metropolitan area of perhaps 2 Mio.).
Selling it through community gardens and environmental groups, which can make theirt (good) share.