First of all, we have to make this clear: the HOW-TO guides is not our best. It might sounds contradictory -or even off-putting- but we are writing this piece of information in order to help and “enlighten” other travellers who are thinking to write their first book, primarily, by having an accumulated experience of 5 years of travelling and 9 months as self-publishers.
To begin with, publishing a book is one of the easiest things in the world. This statement is a combination of positive thinking, past experience as well as a true fact. Do not listen to what the “experts” say and start working your travel writing project TODAY! However, there some things that you must take into consideration which are divided into two stages: the before starting & after finishing your travel book.
Before starting, it means that you have some decent travel experience along with some nice pictures to show. Of course, this is totally unrelated to the way you are travelling (car or motorbike or bicycle or backpack does not really matter), the length of your travels and the number of countries you have visited. You just need some interesting content to inspire you and of course inspire others. Plus talent and writing skills! Remember that you are a traveller, neither a professional author nor a photographer. This applies to the vast majority of seasonal or long term travellers who really want to write a book (a travel narrative or a practical guide) with their experiences, not professional travel writers & photographers whose job is fundamentally travel-related.
After finishing your project and assuming that it went through serious cover design & scrutinous context editing and proofreading, you have two options to make it available to your target audience. Self-publish it or find a publishing house to do it for you. The former is a lonely journey that you have to take along with some risk and capital investment. You need to pay everything out of your pocket (editors, graphic designers, printing store, to name a few) as well as organize every little detail and learn how the whole system works. On the other hand, you have full control of your asset. It means that you plan and implement your own marketing & promotion campaign (presentations, give-aways, public speeches, etc.), you know exactly your sales figures as well as your available stock and finally, all profits end up directly into your pocket.
If you choose to go for a publishing house, be prepared to send 100 (at least) applications, proposal & drafts and wait for their reply (not everybody gets back!). Most of them claim that they are looking for a book with a long-shelf life and obviously, this is hard to say for a new book. At least, they have more experience than us! In the best case scenario that a publisher will be interested, then you can consider it as a little success for your project that involves less stress but also lower revenues. In most cases, they do everything that is needed to bring your piece of art into life, so you can see it one day on the book stores’ shelves. The real catch, in this case, is that the publishing house will rarely tell you the exact number of books that they printed (we know at least one case that they said to the traveller they printed 1.000 copies but instead they printed and eventually sold 2.000). According to these figures, they will give to you your final share (which will barely be over 10% of the retail price), so they prefer not to tell you the whole truth. Assuming that your book is sold for 20 EUR (or USD) and the publisher throws into the market 2.000 copies, you can expect to get from 2.000 to 4.000 EUR/USD maximum. It is definitely not a bad figure but you have to remember that you must deal with an honest publisher to get these money. Besides that, do not expect from your publisher to make any investment on marketing. They already paid for the printing costs which means that you have to take over. Travels around the country (also overseas), press releases, public speeches & presentations must be organised primarily by you if you want to make people familiar with your book and boost your sales.
Both options have lovers & haters, pros & cons and it is a decision you have to take before starting writing. After all, having a big adventure around the world is as easy as it sounds and thousands of people are doing so. Secondly, create a decent reading is also feasible. Even if you have a nice story to tell but not the talent to write it, a more intellectual than you friend or even a professional editor, will help you make it happen.
However, if there is a difficult or even really hard to achieve goal in this type of project, is the publishing of your book and its growth in terms of publicity and of course sales. Why?
- Too much competition
- Demanding readers
- Too much FREE stuff on-line
- Different cultural background
- Need a proven and highly rated social media track record (No Facebook, Instagram & Twitter -like us- means very low sales!)
- Different market orientation/ diversity
- Media world is a mess and you need to know the right people to guide you through
Here is a real life example:
Recently, we self-published our first travel book and now it is available as a paperback as well as an eBook. The creation of the book took us about 4 months (since August 2016) and the editing took another 4 months. In April 2017, we self-published it as an eBook. This way, we managed to raise about 450 EUR out of nothing (publishing an eBook is easy, free and a great way to market yourself).
Having a momentum, we decided to raise money through a very popular crowd-funding platform. So, in June 2017, we launched our campaign in order to basically invite people to pre-order our book and so get the necessary funds for the printing. After a partially successful campaign, about 40 people believed in our project and generously contributed. This way, we managed to raise around 1200 EUR (net amount after taxes, fees and other charges). (If we were more open to the social media, our target of 3.000 EUR would be way more easier to be achieved but this is something that has been already discussed in some Traveliving Series articles like The Social Media Phrenitis, Decisions, Decisions, Decisions, etc.)
After all, the printing and binding did cost 2.150 EUR, so we paid 500 EUR out of our pocket for a potential 14.700 EUR NET PROFIT (we printed 700 copies and we sell them for 21 EUR each).
Having said that, think very thoroughly how you want to carry on and bring your little travel writing project into life. Collective thinking, passion for what we are doing and a great desire to share all our knowledge and past experience makes us your best friend. We would love to hear back & provide the future travel writer with advice, information and insight.
Information about TRAVELIVING, our first travel book, and how you can order it online, can be found here: https://thepinproject.eu/traveliving-a-romantic-practical-guide/