Interview with Author Ed Dugan

October 13, 2015

Ed Dugan, his self help books and "Help I Gotta"

Booksyeah author Ed Dugan shares his story about his self publishing goals and his new trademark "Help I Gotta" - the new brand for self-help books

My first book, Help-I Gotta Cook! was published in 2007 and has since gone through a number of revisions. That year it was named Cookbook of The Year by Books and Authors. It was also awarded the title of Notable Books by the Eric Hoffer International Foundation.

Those two happy events gave me my first lessons in how to publish a book. My publisher was Book Surge, later to become Create Space, and it was owned by Amazon. How could I lose – right? That brought me to my first revelation about books. I discovered that writing one is relatively easy compared to marketing a book.  Marketing is at least 95% of the process.

To make sure everyone is clear about this, I did not write my books to help make the world a better place to live in, I wrote them to make money!  During my efforts to do just that, I discovered there were a lot of sharks in the water just waiting to take my money but delivering nothing in return. The publishing sea is filled with them and they are very clever in hiding their true intentions, taking your money, while filling you with hope that your book will become a best-seller. Having fought that war for 8 years now, I thought I might use part of my webpage to help steer self-published authors in the right direction, with very specific recommendations based on my experiences.

Other than not being foolish enough to engage the services of a vanity press, which leaves the author with a garage full of books and a much smaller bank account, I have probably made every mistake a person could make.  That would entail choosing the right publisher, posting a good webpage, trying to market my books on my own, and thinking if I wrote a book the readers would follow. I should add that my wife has owned 6 successful retail bookstores, and if that had not been the case, I would have sold considerably fewer books.

The self-publishing business, known as the Indie Press in some circles, has fast overcome traditional publishing. In a few recent cases some large traditional publishers are beginning to offer self-publishing options. The reasons are plentiful but two are very important: you don’t need a literary agent and you keep all the rights to your book. What follows are the major issues in publishing a book and marketing a book, as well as maintaining your website, along with my recommendations for both new and experienced authors.

WRITING AND EDITING:

I can’t do anything about your writing ability but I can tell you that if your book is not professionally edited you will have a problem. If you’re trying to sell your car you don’t want to show it to a prospective buyer covered with mud and dirty inside. The same is true of your book. I’m fortunate in that my wife was once a magazine editor and even knows how to conjugate a verb, a skill that I still don’t possess. I’m not sure I even know what a verb is.

Before you start thinking of commas, semi-colons and the rest of that stuff, you need to read through your book at least 10 times. That’s right, I said 10 times, maybe even more. You’ll find that each reading prompts you to either change the book for the better, add something you forgot, or remove material that is really immaterial to your subject matter. Once you are able to say, “that’s the best I can do” you’re ready to start thinking about a publisher, and most publishing companies will offer an editing service. For a price, of course.

PUBLISHING:

There are many decent publishers that will help you publish your book, many that will take your money and leave you standing by the side of the road, and one or two really good ones. I highly recommend my publisher, CreateSpace (www.createspace.com) for a number of reasons.

·       It’s owned by Amazon and that connection can be helpful.

·       You can get your book in print and a copy in your hands for much less money than anywhere else. I have put most of my books out on Amazon for free! If you do need interior design, cover design or any other kind of help, their prices are very reasonable.

·       Create Space customer service can’t be beat. The company is headquartered in Charleston, S.C. and you either reach a rep there, in Costa Rica or in South Africa. All of the reps are extremely helpful, although the British accents in South Africa are sometimes quite “British.” For instance you might hear one say “firstly” rather than first.

·       Amazon also owns Kindle so getting your book out as an ebook is easy, and free. After dealing with three or four other very good publishers I came to the conclusion that Create Space gave me the biggest bang for my buck.

YOUR WEBPAGE:

There are many ways for you to set up a webpage for your book, (other than using ours) and thousands of companies and individuals waiting to help you. There are three issues you need to address: one, obtaining a domain name, two, choosing a hosting/server service, and three, designing your site. My hearty recommendation is to simply use Go Daddy (www.godaddy.com) for all hosting and design services and let them do the work, with  your approval of course. You will pay a little money for the design services but after spending a lot of time and money trying other services I have come back to Go Daddy and intend to stay there. Once again, one of the best reasons for using Go Daddy is the quality of their Customer Service. If you think you can put up a website and never have any issues with it you’re kidding yourself. Problems will come up and it’s comforting to know the solution is only a phone call away.

WEBPAGE MANAGEMENT:

Most authors choose to have a webpage. As a matter of fact, if you don’t have one, and are not hooked up with someone like this webpage, your book sales are going to falter. You can’t depend on Amazon alone to sell many books for you simply because of the incredible number of books on their site. You have to be able to drive potential buyers to your website, sell them on your book there, and then direct them to Amazon.

After making one mistake after another trying to get a website designed and operating, I finally got this site up. I hired a local person to help me design it, but the ideas were mine; and then I discovered I really needed a website manager to maintain it, as well as for security purposes. Although my domain name is registered with Go Daddy, once again I was looking for the least expensive but most effective way to get the site managed. I like Go Daddy’s Customer Service but I really wanted a more personal relationship with the owners of my website management company as well as my marketing company.  

After spending hours on the web researching one company after another I discovered Maintenance Wire (websitemaintenancewire.com) run by Mike Danna and his associates. Here was a guy I could talk to or email every time I had an issue or a question about maintaining my website, or even when the issue didn’t directly relate to his company and services. The most important thing is, I learned I could trust him. For instance, when I had a security problem, although his company had a program to fix it, he also recommended an entirely unrelated company for me to consider as well. That, to me, is the right way to do business! If you need website  maintenance you should talk to this guy.

WEBSITE  MARKETING:

As I said earlier, writing and selling your book is 5% writing and 95% marketing. If you don’t have a good marketing program, you might as well try to sell your book in the middle of an empty warehouse.

First, you need to keep in mind that there are only a limited number of ways to market your book on the internet. I’m sure you know about Google Ad Words and ads on Facebook as well as other media, and the fact is, there are only about a half-dozen more and that’s it. It isn’t so much WHERE you advertise your webpage, but HOW you do it that leads to success.

Second, putting up a website is one thing, getting it known around the web is something else. It usually takes about 3-4 months for a site to be recognized by what they call “crawlers”, sort of advance scouts for Google and other search engines.  So, my suggestion is to start a modest ad campaign for that period of time and then boost it up after that.

Once again, I was looking for a marketing company that was relatively small and personal. I also wanted one that didn’t make me go through a different person every time I wanted to discuss an issue. I found just the right company in Booksyeah (www.booksyeah.com) and its owner Alex Bjelica. Alex is always available to email or talk to directly and one of the best things about his service is that he’s a published author himself. He writes children’s books and knows what it’s like to try to get a book sold.

SUMMARY:

As I said, there are many ways for a self-published author to go when seeking partners that will help make his or her book a success. I’ve been down most of those roads and the three companies I have highlighted have always come through for me and at a reasonable price. In today’s business world, especially on the internet, I think that’s all anyone can ask for.

Ed Dugan