Friday, August 6, 2010

Writers as Sheeple

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by C. Patrick Schulze

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I ran across a new occupation this morning that made me smile. My face lit up because the market has called out for this career path, most of us need the services these entrepreneurs offer, and with today's book selling market, this enterprise makes so much sense.

After I opened my first business many decades ago, I became quite successful, over time. However, to build that success, I stumbled more times than I'll ever admit to a stranger. And these missteps cost me a ton of money, too.

I advertised in the wrong places, I ordered too much of the wrong merchandise, I hired the wrong people, etc., etc., etc. Once I learned how not to make these errors, my profits skyrocketed.

Another reason I find myself fascinated by what I learned today is because the last six years of my "working" career, I offered my services as a business coach to small and medium-sized businesses owners. I'd offered advice on marketing, sales, product selection, records-keeping, personnel and the thousand other aspects of business.

After all that, I guess you can see what this specific career of Book Shepherding caught my eye. (Now you understand the title, don't you?)

I see a book shepherd as your pre-publishing and even post-publishing business coach. By the way, in case you didn't know, if you are going to self-publish, you are a self-employed businessperson.

A book shepherd's goal is to guide you on your path to publication. Some book shepherds work as advisers only, whereas others do the work for you. Still others offer both options and allow you to choose the one that works best for you.

The services of a book shepherd might include how and where to secure your ISBN, LCCN, and P-CIP. They may locate cover designers, interior designers, video designers, editors and all those other people whose assistance you'll need to see your book into the marketplace. They also assist with marketing fundamentals like tag lines, blurbs, titles and skilled copy people.

Book shepherds typically charge by the hour and they're not cheap, but who is these days? So, unless your pockets have no bottom, consider if you might perform most of the actual work yourself with their guidance.

There are two secrets to hiring a book shepherd. The first is to find the one that fits. Do your due diligence, of course, and locate the one that suits your needs and personality. The other secret is pre-planning. If you plan to self-publish, you are self-employed. And, like any other business, planning is key to survival and success.

A high quality book shepherd will save you time and money. Of course, if you choose the one that's right for you, they'll reduce the stress in your life an untold amount, too.

Now, don't misunderstand. If you're going to vanity-publish, save your money. But if you are going to maneuver your way down the true self-publishing path, and you're new to the concept, consider a book shepherd.

Do I believe we're all sheeple if we utilize the services of a book shepherd? Not at all. It's just a title. In fact, I think hiring a book shepherd may be a wise business move for most authors new to self-publishing.

Now, how among my readers have utilized the services of a book shepherd? Would you care to share your experience with us?

Until we meet again, know I wish for you only best-sellers.

C. Patrick Schulze
Author of the emerging novel, "Born to be Brothers"

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