Mike Ellerkamp thought he had done everything right.
The life coach was fully prepared to publish his first book, The Simple Little Rule: The Golden Rule Rediscovered. Mike was ready to reintroduce the world to the power of God’s ancient wisdom to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” He partnered with a big self-publishing company and a big marketing company for big results.
But when the book was released, what he got was . . . big crickets.
Unfortunately, Mike’s outcome isn’t unique. Many self-published writers invest a lot of time and money into a quality message — with little to show but disappointment and disillusionment.
After that experience, Mike took a hard look at his assumptions about the book publishing industry. He regrouped. Now, as he prepares to publish his second book, the author candidly shares his three biggest lessons learned in hopes of helping others.
#1 A bigger company doesn’t necessarily mean a better process.
“My first mistake was assuming that giving a lot of money to a big publishing company was the safest route,” Mike explained. “As a new author, you don’t know who to trust. I bought into the sales pitch that a big company would know how to get this done.”
While not all big companies are problematic, Mike experienced several delays. “These large publishers are dealing with thousands of authors and agents,” he said.
Another issue was the growing cost. “I was assigned an ‘account coordinator’ who would ensure a ‘better experience,’” he said. “He did help during a couple of points in the process. But I now realize that he was mostly a sales person first. The company wasn’t unethical. It’s just that the mission of a larger publisher is to sell publishing services—lots of publishing services!”
#2 Bigger activity doesn’t necessarily mean bigger results.
Mike said his second mistake was his marketing plan. “My account coordinator suggested a bigger marketing campaign through ‘bigger and better’ contacts. He cast the bait, and I took it. Hook, line and sinker!”
The 3-month campaign involved a lot of activity. Reports showed that thousands had received his press release, and thousands more were reached through social media. It all looked dazzling. That is, until the sales report rolled in.
“I was excited to land a radio program. But other than that, there were no real results,” said Mike. “I spent a lot of money to speed the process, but it didn’t really enhance the process at all.”
Publicist Sandy Lawrence, the founder of Perceptive PR, said successful book marketing is less about money and more about time. “Most people don’t buy the first time they see. And so, because most first-time authors aren’t known, they first have to become known. Then they can begin to sell books. Naturally this process takes time and perseverance.”
#3 The experts aren’t necessarily smarter than your gut.
It’s critical to find a publisher you can trust. But even when you do, continue to pay attention to your instincts.
“I had done a massive amount of research before I began this new journey,” said Mike. “But I dropped all of that wisdom and listened to the folks at the publishing house instead. In hindsight, I think my money could have been spent in better ways.”
With this experience under his belt, Mike is applying his lessons learned to his forthcoming second book in The Simple Little Rule series. “I’m returning to my own research and following my own avenues to radio shows, newspapers and magazines,” he said, undeterred in his commitment. “I’ll continue to develop the brand the way I originally would have.”
And this time, Mike has a different plan for his resources. “I’m keeping the funding much closer to home and among people I know and trust.” He smiled, adding, “I know better now.”
Mike Ellerkamp is a life coach, inspirational speaker, and Houston chapter leader of the Nonfiction Authors Association. He is the author of The Simple Little Rule: The Golden Rule Rediscovered, in which he brings to life a profound tenet through five principles and shares his own spiritual, philosophical and historical journey along the way. Contact Mike for a book event or speaking engagement, or connect with him on his website, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Ella Ritchie is the founder of Stellar Communications Houston, a business communications and book publishing team that brings clarity, quality, and integrity to nonfiction authors, business leaders, nonprofit organizations, and federal government agencies. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Facebook, or the website for more information.