Sheri Andrunyk is an author of three non-fiction books and the founder of I C Publishing; her company is committed to working with authors to help bridge the gap between traditional and self-publishing.
We recently checked in with Sheri to get her insight on what authors can do to ensure their success whether they’re working with a traditional publisher, self-publishing or something in between. Here’s what she had to say:
Tell us about Insightful Communications Publishing?
Insightful Communications (I C) Publishing bridges the gap between traditional and self-publishing. We cater to authors whose intent it is to share meaningful messages and teachings from their own personal or professional experiences to encourage, empower and enlighten the reader.
We have an inspiring cross-section of genres and titles represented including beautifully illustrated children’s books, health and wellness, memoirs, anthologies, poems and reflections, self-help, entrepreneurship, leadership, and business culture. We’re passionate about meeting the author where they’re at, helping them maintain their own voice in their writing while ensuring a quality end result for their audience and themselves, and providing the necessary support and services to help bring their book(s) to life.
What inspired you to start your business?
I had written and compiled my first book, an anthology called Hearts Linked by Courage, now a series. Although I knew a few people in the industry such as a cover designer, a VA for authors, and someone who could typeset professionally and print source for me, I often felt unsure, and sometimes even overwhelmed with the things I had to learn. I also didn’t fully comprehend the stages, how long they took, and the dos and don’ts in each. What I did know though, was that I had decided I didn’t want to pursue the traditional publishing route, mostly because I was very ready to begin this path, maintain creative control, publish my book and share it.
Shortly after I self-published Hearts Linked by Courage, several colleagues came to me in hopes I could help them do the same with books they wanted to write and publish. Initially, it seemed a very natural segue to add self-publishing support to my coaching and mentoring practice. Over the years I had done a lot of marketing, writing and editing under this umbrella. However, the universe seemed to have another plan. Every time I turned around, there was another person inquiring about the kind of assistance I could provide; better yet, could I simply “publish” for them? Thus, the concept of “partner” publishing quickly emerged.
I continued to explore the possibilities and do as much research as possible. Soon, I realized that this was going to be the next chapter of my career, coaching, mentoring and supporting authors. Even though I still provide individual mentoring to business owners and entrepreneurs on occasion (something I will always love), most of my time is spent hands-on with our author clients taking them through all the necessary steps and choices in the production and publishing process. I am grateful daily for the expert team that has evolved with me at I C Publishing. We are all so inspired, engaged and committed to bringing our clients’ work to life as it if were our own.
What is the current climate of the publishing industry for authors right now?
It is certainly very exciting, given all the choices available to authors at the moment. However, it is also extremely confusing, since like in any industry there are good and not-so-good business models. I see a lot of industry experts communicating a one-sided perspective on what an author should do or what they shouldn’t do. Granted, I believe most are well-intended. It’s just that one article, blog or social media post cannot give the full picture; and if you paint the industry with one brush, it contributes to the mass confusion that exists out there versus adding clarity to an author’s journey.
For those of us sharing our experience and knowledge, I believe it’s our responsibility to take a thoughtful and balanced approach to educating authors, so they can make the choice that most resonates with them.
It is almost too easy to push out a book these days, and there are many different reasons one might want to write and publish a book. As a result, it is vital that authors do their utmost to learn about and understand the path that is best for their genre, goals, and so on.
As you can imagine, it can be very satisfying if you garner the right support, terribly frustrating if not.
How easy is it for aspiring authors to publish today?
Extremely easy, as mentioned above – the hard part is figuring out which path to take to make it happen. Whether we’re talking about traditional, self or partner (also referred to as hybrid) publishing, one is not better than the other, assuming each provides a balanced and fair business model. It’s just understanding fully, as much as that’s possible, if/how each option aligns with you, your book/genre, your goals, timelines and budget, relatively speaking.
I would underscore too, that whichever direction one takes, quality content and an organized, polished and professionally proofed manuscript always has to be at the top of the list. I have seen authors take shortcuts. When you do, you have to then think about how you and your writing will be perceived and valued by your reader.
I C Publishing helps clients “bridge the gap between traditional and self-publishing.” What is the gap?
The gap is knowledge, professional support, creative flexibility and choice of timing.
When you self-publish, you have to do it all yourself; the research, the hiring of an editor, proofreader, cover designer, inside design, print sourcing, marketing, social media and so on. Going with a strictly self-publishing service provider can be OK as long as you are sure they are focused on producing a high-quality book for you in every way. For example, and I have heard this, if someone says your book doesn’t need editing or proofing, I would think twice about entering into that relationship. It’s been my experience that the best writers know the value a conscientious editor and proof-reader, and wouldn’t publish their book without either.
When you go the traditional route, you still need to hire an editor to ensure your manuscript is in the best condition it can be in before pitching to a traditional publishing house. Once you submit your manuscript, then you wait, not because your book is not good as a rule, but because slush piles are very high at most publishing houses and they are often looking for something very specific. Seeking assistance from a literary agent can be helpful, yet, they still have to make a pitch on your behalf. So you have to be patience. Should you get a deal, then a contract needs to be negotiated.
Neither one is a bad choice at all, and I’m just scratching the surface as far as explaining them. The purpose for doing so is to elaborate on the “gap.”
At I C Publishing, we can and have provided self-publishing support to authors who have the time and inclination to be more hands on with their project. However, most of our clients choose our partner publishing service which provides numerous added benefits and assistance such as:
- The author only pays for the services they need.
- They make more money on the sales of their books (similar to self-publishing, although potentially better due to our connections in the industry).
- Also, as a rule we don’t do Print on Demand, as volume digital or press printing offers excellent quality and typically better savings.
- And our business model is royalty-free.
- All the design files are the authors, as is the copyright of their book.
- I C Publishing takes a very collaborate approach to growing our platform and supporting our clients.
- As such, our authors are very supportive of one another too.
- The author is not alone in their endeavor, they have a trusted team to help them every step of the way.
What are best practices for ensuring a completed manuscript shines at final publication? Why should authors take the time to make sure their work is clean and professional?
There is a lot of competition out there today. It’s more critical than ever to ensure an author’s book is the best that it can be at the end of the day. This can include creative/writing coaching in the beginning (if/where needed), several stages of editing and proofreading, and thoughtful cover design that will speak to their audience (beyond those who already know them). Quality inside design (typesetting) and printing ensures the author’s book is well laid out and professional looking. We don’t want anything to hinder how competitive and impactful a book can be, not only given the climate today where so many people are publishing books, but to honor the author and their work as well. Then there are critical aspects of marketing and continuing the author’s story with consistent messaging and branding, in person and online where their audience is most likely to be.
What are the most common mistakes you see aspiring authors make?
Most authors do their utmost to understand what’s involved in the production, publishing, and promotional stages, and recognize the vital importance of their own role in that process, even though they may be hiring out for some of those services.
That said, often authors think/hope that just because their book is on a bookshelf, physical or virtual, or on their website or someone else’s, their book will/should sell, which is obviously not the case. Again, this is not because their book isn’t good, it’s more so due to the magnitude of choices and 24/7 media buzz out there trying to get the public’s attention for their stories, products, causes or needs.
A couple of other things that can slide quickly after launching their book is scheduling regular in-person events to share their book and their message, and remaining consistent in building their brand as an author, including on social media.
When an author is clear about their goals and what they need to, and has specific long-term strategies they’re committed to following, their success is much more likely.
What are the biggest challenges facing authors after their work has been published?
One of the biggest challenges facing authors after their work has been published is keeping their energy up around their book. As alluded to above, the more consistent an author can be in all the things that support that energy and stimulate audience interest and action, the better. This includes in-person events (keynotes, workshops, book signings, readings), media (TV, radio and written) interviews, blogging, social media engagement and so on.
What are your favorite marketing tools for books today?
This varies a little by genre, yet well-planned in-person events help connect the author and their message to the masses. Strategic and meaningful social media engagement is also significant, and continuing to promote and build one’s network here is beyond wise. Media interviews, beginning with your local TV and radio stations, are a good place to start (tip: be prepared ahead with your main message, and don’t try to cover too much).
Blogging, especially for writers (authors) provides a great platform for offering more depth, experience, and expertise sharing. E-newsletters are another way that allows the author to keep in touch with their audience with upcoming events, good news stories, author insights, and so on.
What tools don’t seem to work as well?
I wouldn’t call it tools. I would say it more a lack of planning, getting sidetracked with other projects (or life), or staying the course with one’s goals.
Putting all your efforts into one thing to promote your book rarely works, i.e. doing just book readings or just social media on their own are likely to be less effective. There may be exceptions here, however, the more you can strategically spread your efforts over several platforms and opportunities, the greater chances you have of increasing your audience and engaging them. And with that in mind, not knowing where your audience is can really hurt your cause, and waste your time, so it’s very important to ascertain this first.
When I think of things that don’t work or that might create a challenge, I’m always compelled to offer encouragement at the same time. Although it’s not the entire solution, and I recognize the learning curve many authors have to embrace to achieve the success they desire, I strongly suggest they prioritize the new things they need/want to initiate. Then decide if they need to hire someone to teach them or take care of that step for them or whether they can handle it, then proceed with that one strategy. When they’re ready, take the same approach with the next plan, etc.
What are best practices for authors in spreading the word about their work?
Don’t take shortcuts on quality or compromise your voice/message as an author. Know where your audience is; go there. Be brave. People want to know and meet you. Have goals. Take advantage of all that’s available to you today, including social media and blogging (it helps people get to know you). You will never know how many people you impact by sharing your story or teachings. The writing and production part of your path can be and should be very satisfying creatively, as well as tremendously exciting as your book comes to life. However, if you truly want to inspire, help, guide, educate, or entertain with your book, recognize that the true beginning of your journey as an author is once your book is published, and you need to stay the course and surround yourself with people who are passionate about helping you do just that.
What advice do you find yourself repeating to clients over and over?
Have goals, and revisit them. Know your audience. Plan ahead. Increase your online presence and social media following. Get out there with your book – you are the most important person in this journey, regardless of how your book has or is being published.
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