4 Ways Publishing Businesses Succeed

The big challenge in my publishing business is “steady” income. Some months the business earns $12,000, other months it earns $1,200. How does it survive?

Through diversifying its income streams.

January through March and June through September are slow times for book sales. During these seven months I schedule new illustration projects which generate $48,000 in illustration income. (6 contracts x $8,000 per book = $48,000)

March through May and October through November are peak months for elementary school visits. I schedule 36 school events. 36 school visits generate $18,000 in speaking income. (36 events x $500 per event = $18,000)

On average, 10% of the students I meet buy a book. Meeting 36,000 students in elementary schools generates $36,000 in book income. (3,600 students x $10 per book = $36,000)

Five weekends a year I attend book festivals that have a minimum attendance of 10,000 readers. On average, 1% of the attendees buy a book. This generates $5,000 in book income. (100 attendees x 5 events x $10 per book = $5,000)

Illustrating, speaking, book sales, and festivals are four ways my business creates a six figure publishing income. A book is a product of publishing. A publishing business is the income streams around the product it creates. Learning this helped me overcome my biggest challenge—“steady” income.

—Mark Wayne Adams, Award-winning Illustrator & Publisher of Nicholas, that’s Ridiculous! A Story About Being a Boy

Advertisements

Illustrators Draw a Crowd!

“The only person who can sell a book better than the author is the illustrator.” —Mark Wayne Adams

Authors aren’t the illustrations a key selling point of picture books? So why is getting the illustrator to make public appearances so difficult? Money may be the main factor. Illustrators not making royalties usually don’t promote. Consider offering royalties when hiring and negotiating contracts with illustrators.

Having not only a talented illustrator, but also an entertaining illustrator can boost sales too! An entertaining illustrator’s presence literally “draws a crowd” at events. Why should the illustrator make appearances? They are like magicians transforming words into pictures worth a thousand words.

Illustrators participate in events if royalties are earned. The percentage may be small, however for every book sold around a $1.00 could be earned.  Helping authors and publishers sell 5,000 copies a year, is a $5,000 royalty check that year.  The longer it takes to sell the books, the longer a substantial royalty check takes to arrive. This fact is true for inactive authors too.

Authors and Illustrators can set the selling pace by becoming sales people. Focusing individual and combined energy in selling is rewarding in several areas.

  • Awards:  The benefits are recognition in local and national media, retail sales, speaking engagements, award money, and new contracts.
  • Book Festivals:  The benefits are quick retail sales and new contracts.
  • Book Signings:  The benefits are distributor sales and new contracts.

Most importantly the time spent selling together and individually will Draw a Crowd of readers faster with teamwork. Double one another’s following through association. Working together may also inspire additional books in the series. Making a win win for everyone involved!

How to Build an Author Platform in Schools

The short answer:  One event at a time! Establishing yourself as a speaker doesn’t happen through self proclamation. Here are three general rules I followed entering the children’s book market.

Be informative, entertaining, and professional.

These qualities set speakers apart from wannabes and mundane know-it-alls.

  • Informative enough that attendees leave empowered hearing your message.
  • Entertaining in a way that attendees share their experience others.
  • And professional in the execution of a quality message.

Speak with audiences.

Speak “with” audiences and you’ll communicate “with” everyone. Speaking “at” or “to” audiences creates a disconnect. Having connections leads to referrals and repeat attendance. Audiences who enjoyed your presentations bring new friends each time they hear you speak.

Connect with other professional speakers. 

Attend others events to watch the speaker and audience interactions. Take notes. How do they connect? Can their technique be applied to your public speaking? Most speakers are great mentors. Especially, when the mentee pays attention, asks valid questions, and applies techniques.

Reading Resources:

Schools a Niche Market for Authors by Jane R. Wood.

Mark Wayne Adams, Author & Illustrator of King for a Day, the Story of Stories

Southern Kentucky Book Fest: Kristie Lowry

I love attending book festivals. Readers, authors, travel, and most importantly hosts make an event! Southern Kentucky Book Fest (SoKY) is an invitational event hosting authors from New York Times best-sellers to local indies. The review process is selective, which makes this a professional event for anyone who attends. SoKY Book Fest is a favorite for this reason and one more.

The hosts determine the success of an event, and Kristie Lowry is one of my favorite hosts. I’ve come to know her very well through repeat participation at SoKY Book Fest. Underneath her pleasant smile and soft giggle, she is no average woman. When you realize the demands we authors place upon her, you quickly see her super power.

Since our first meeting I’ve been honored to know her. When she sent me this recommendation, I was speechless. Not only is Kristie a wonderful representative of Western Kentucky University and the SoKY Book Fest, but also a cherished friend. Thank you Kristie. Your kind words, patience, and professionalism don’t go unrecognized.

Recommendation:

“Mark Wayne Adams is an amazing illustrator, speaker, teacher, and administrator. I have seen him work with people of all ages, and his enthusiasm is infectious. His presentations to children captivate them, and he’s adept at handling groups of any size. Mark also presented at a writers conference that I organized for adults, and the reviews from those who attended were overwhelmingly positive. I sat in on that presentation, and although I’m not a children’s book illustrator or author, I learned a lot too! 

Mark’s publishing company produces quality products, and Mark’s illustrations are incredible. He’s also something of a marketing genius, and is consistently one of the top sellers at the book festival I coordinate. 

I can’t say enough good things about Mark Wayne Adams and his abilities. The awards speak for themselves, but a testimonial by someone who has seen him in action can’t hurt!”

—Kristie Lowry, Literary Outreach Coordinator at Western Kentucky University Libraries

Best Times to Schedule School Visits

“When is the best time to schedule a school visit?” A very popular question from authors planning who plan to speak in schools. I book school visits from one month to a year in advance. The reason for a wide range is that most schools have limited budgets and a variety of time frames for scheduling. The best time for me to schedule is six months ahead.  

When planning spring visits, send contact emails starting December 1st. The holidays are a rushed time. Many educators are planners and respond immediately. Follow up emails can start after January 15th. This gives the staff time to settle in after the new year. Non planners will find an urgent need to book an author visit.  

If planning fall visits, send contact emails before May 1st. Emails after this date educators are in holiday mode mindset and ignore the email.  I don’t start emailing educators until a week before school starts in the fall. 

Booking schools means planning life one year in advance. Middle and high schools may be different. No matter what age group, get your official fingerprint ID done. You can register at the county courthouse.

A great resource for scheduling is Jane R. Wood’s Schools: A Niche Market for Authors.

— Mark Wayne Adams, Illustrator of Jilli, That’s Silly!: A Story About Being a Girl

2 Ways to Earn $1,500 a Month Publishing

Recently, I was asked, “how do you create a steady $1,500.00 a month publishing books?” I laughed at first! Steady income and publishing haven’t always gone hand in hand. Book sales have been extremely unpredictable. I’ve had months where I earned $12,000.00, and months where I earned $1,200.00.

Book sales fluctuate like the weather. I find “steady income” by illustrating books and public speaking.

Illustration is one of my biggest income generators. I illustrate from January through March and June through September. I spend countless hours creating artwork. The dollar per hour isn’t the best, and finding good clients comes with challenges. 

Many of you are thinking, “I can’t draw!” So public speaking is my best suggestion as a “steady income” for authors. Here is a formula I use.

  • Charge a minimum of $500 per visit. Three speaking events per month yields $1,500.00. Schedule a total of 36 throughout the year. Seems daunting, right?
  • Sell books at the events. Some schools don’t collect book sales, however some do! On average 10% of students purchase a book. 1,000 students generally equals 100 books sold. Being conservative 5% would yield 50 book sales. If you make $5 a book, that’s $250 extra. Now only 2 speaking events are needed a month, or 24 per year.

School visits can be repeated monthly. Elementary schools generally bring authors in from February through late April and October through November. It’s a small window of time to schedule 24-36 events. Just remember this is about one month of “work.”

Illustrating and public speaking are two ways I create a “steady income” publishing books. By creating more products and being social, book sales will become more consistent.

 

— Mark Wayne Adams, Award-winning Illustrator of Jilli, That’s Silly! A Story About Being a Girl