The Entrepreneur Forum | Startups | Entrepreneurship | Starting a Business | Motivation | Success

Growing & Scaling a Self-Publishing Business

Accelerate wealth. Build a business that pays freedom. Join more than 70,000 entrepreneurs and register for the Fastlane Entrepreneur forum. Remove ads? Join the INSIDERS.

HPI

New Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Speedway Pass
Jul 2, 2017
5
10
24
35
United Arab Emirates
Hi everyone,

this is my first post. I wanted to share my story because :

- I hope it will help some of you.
- I would like to receive advices, if possible, about growing & scaling my self-publishing business.

First of all, I will try to introduce myself and explain shortly my entrepreneurship journey.

I'm a 35 years old dad, born in France (please forgive me for my English !).
I love to read since my childhood.
I have a master degree in advertising.

2010 : Directly after the obtention of my degree, I work during 2 years as a sales representative.
2 years of nightmare. At the end of those 2 years, I was fed up with (it is REALLY an euphemism) the lack of freedom and time to do what I really want (FTE).
2012 : I decide to try to work on Internet. Back in 2013, in France, it was considered as something really strange. Anyway, after 1 month of intense research, I earn my first customer as a Web Editor.
The new taste of freedom is delicious, but not enough. I want more.
2013 : I stumble upon the book of Tim Ferriss : The 4-Hour WorkWeek. I am hooked. I decide to create some information product. I learn to create a Wordpress website. Then I face my first problem : how to attract traffic. I decide to learn digital marketing. I fall in love with the discipline. I apply what I learn on my information product website. Result : Trafic. Sales. But No Productocracy.
2014 : I start a digital marketing agency (translation : I become a digital marketing freelance), in parallel of my info product business. 2nd mistake : Polygamy.
2015 :
I read the Fastlane Millionaire. Hooked again.
2015 - 2018 : I continue my info product business, my freelance business, I open a restaurant with 2 associates and I start several online businesses with a chasing money mindset, trying to fit every ideas with the Fastlane Methodology. Result : EACH IDEA FAILS BECAUSE I'M A POLYGAME WHO WANT ONLY ONE THING : MONEY. FAST. EASY.
2018 :
I read UNSCRIPTED . Hooked again. Back to earth. I'm fed up with my mindset (2nd FTE ?). I feel a urge need of purpose. I want from the bottom of my heart to give value, even if money doesn't come back in exchange. That is why I'm starting to write a non-fiction book in order to share my knowledge and help people of my community to be happier in life (it is a book about my religion, because I'm a student in theology since 15 years). Meanwhile, I close every businesses except my freelancing job as a digital marketer in order to pay my bills.
2019 : I learn to write a book. I learn to proof-read a book. I learn InDesign. I learn to create a book cover. I launch my book on KDP. After 1 month I earn 100€ on Amazon and 100€ with a library who found my book interesting. I'm hooked (that is, again, an euphemism). Even if my personal goal of writing a book is fulfilled, I fall in love with publishing, not writing. I shift my identity and decide to become a publisher. Indeed, I don't want to publish my own books, but to translate the books of scholars of the 8th century, from arabic to french, (their works are royalty free because they are from the public domain, and their quality are far above what I'm able to produce as a writer).
2020 : 1 year after. Results : My book is first in my niche. I have 9 translations. Results : 10 books with hundreds of reviews at 4,8/5. I earn 3000€/month but I know I'm onto something (Productocracy). I'm fulfilled with Purpose, Passion, Motivation, Ambition. I close my freelancing business because I earn enough to pay the bills. I become 100% focus on this business (Monogamy).
2021 : I break my profit record in April : 17000€ of pure profit. I have never earn this kind of money. I read The Great Rat Race Escape . I'm hooked.

Up until now, I was doing everything all alone. For the first time, I have hired a translator (freelance) in order to produce more books, to grow, to scale. This is the first time I delegate.However, I don't know if it is the right path. That is why I'm asking you advices : What do you think are the next steps for me in order to GROW & SCALE ?

NOTES : At this time My assets are :
A KDP account :
13 books : 70% of my revenue
15 clients in wholesale : Small-size libraries : 20% of my revenue
A membership website (access to all my books in digital format for 3,99€/month) : 50 members
An e-commerce website : 150€ per month (net profit)
An Amazon Ads account : ROI x6 in profit : I spent 1€ and earn 6€ of profit. Huge ROI but I'm reaching a ceiling, meaning it is hard for me to spend more (not enough volume available)
A blog : 10k visits/month
An email list : 10k leads, 1k customers


Capture d’écran 2021-07-17 à 17.38.18.png
 

MJ DeMarco

Administrator
Staff member
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
Jul 23, 2007
32,201
121,998
3,751
Fountain Hills, AZ
Exciting! $20K (USD) in revenue!? Awesome.

Are you publishing in French or English?
 

MTF

Never give up
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
May 1, 2011
4,425
21,844
4,304
Awesome story, thank you for sharing. I'm a fellow self-published author publishing my own books in English but I also have some translations in French. I once considered public domain as well.

I have some questions for you if you don't mind:

1. How do you find the public domain books and how do you choose which ones to publish?

2. How hard is it for you to translate these old books? I assume you need some understanding of old French/Arabic? You're bilingual in French and Arabic, right?

3. What's the price of each book? Do you keep it the same for all books or change it depending on the book/topic/length?

4. Do you publish ebooks only or also print and audio?

5. Is there any branding of your publishing company on the covers of your books (your company name, your name, a book series, similar cover design, etc.) or is everything different for each book? Do you list your real name as the translator?

6. How do you market these books? Just Amazon Ads?

7. Do you add any modern commentary to these books or publish them as they are without any additional content?

8. Are these books long or short and does length influence your decision whether to translate a book or not?

9. Are these books well-known by themselves and people are actively searching for them or are you publishing obscure books and people are still interested because of your marketing efforts?

10. Do you compete with other publishers so that a reader can choose from a few different translations of the same book?

Sorry for so many questions but it's a fascinating business model and I'd love to learn more. Feel free to PM me if you don't want to share any information publicly. I may be able to help in the English-speaking market.
 

HPI

New Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Speedway Pass
Jul 2, 2017
5
10
24
35
United Arab Emirates
Awesome story, thank you for sharing. I'm a fellow self-published author publishing my own books in English but I also have some translations in French. I once considered public domain as well.

Thank you very much ! I have read a lot of your threads. I found them very instructives. I take this occasion to thank you for being so generous in sharing.

I have some questions for you if you don't mind:

Yes, I'm glad to answer !

1. How do you find the public domain books and how do you choose which ones to publish?

The ancient manuscripts of those books have been preserved, edited, printed and published by arabic publishing houses from the public sector in arabic countries. Those countries published those works in order to make them available for everyone. The public organisms of those countries explain that, because there is no longer heirs of those ancient authors (from the 8th or 9th century for example), their work fell in the public domain. In other word, anybody can make a translation of those manuscripts for example.

I choose which one to publish based on my knowledge of the market (what the readers NEED, WANT and CRAVE to read, what will CHANGE their life). It is easy for me because, as Samantha in the Great Rat-Race Escape , I belong to this market. Secondly, I base my choice on my knowledge of those works (I read a lot of different books from that era for my studies, my pleasure and my self-development).

2. How hard is it for you to translate these old books? I assume you need some understanding of old French/Arabic? You're bilingual in French and Arabic, right?

It is relatively easy because I'm bilingual indeed, and I'm still a student in classical arabic and in theology. So I know not only the language, but also the terminology used by those authors. French is my native language. I have also studied it a lot during my schooling. But now, for the first time, I have just hired a professional translator who is far better than me in translation, in order to scale and to improve the quality of my books.

3. What's the price of each book? Do you keep it the same for all books or change it depending on the book/topic/length?

Paperback (90% of my sales on Amazon)
6,99$ for books between 75 and 100 pages
9,99$ for books between 100 and 150 pages.
All books have the same format : 5,06 po x 7,81 po
I have made several tests of length and prices, and it appears that 80% of my readers prefers the two format against all the other (shorter ones and longer ones).

Kindle (10% of my sales on Amazon)
2,99$ for books between 75 and 100 pages
4,99$ for books between 100 and 150 pages.

I have changed the price depending on the length only, not the topic nor the book. But now, I'm focusing on these two types of offers for each format (Paperback and Kindle).

4. Do you publish ebooks only or also print and audio?

I publish Paperback (90% of my sales on Amazon), Kindle (10% of my sales on Amazon), and my first Audiobook is currently in production.

5. Is there any branding of your publishing company on the covers of your books (your company name, your name, a book series, similar cover design, etc.) or is everything different for each book? Do you list your real name as the translator?

Yes, before anything else, I try to build a brand so yes on my book you can find my company name (I have opened a LLC after reaching enough money to pay my bills, one year after the beginning of this business), the name of the author (not my name because I'm not the author), the logo of my company. All books have similar cover design. It helps a LOT for brand recognition. I have also choose a positioning to distinct my books from my competitor (even from the same translation of the same book). I rarely list the name of the translator. It's a personal choice.

6. How do you market these books? Just Amazon Ads?

3 main business systems :
  • Online Advertising : Amazon Ads
  • Distributive marketing : Amazon SEO
  • Distributive marketing : Librairies
I found them by trial & failure (Facebook Ads, Blogging, Email marketing, Google Ads, SEO…)

7. Do you add any modern commentary to these books or publish them as they are without any additional content?

I only add footnotes mainly for bibliographic references. No additional modern commentary (or rarely).

8. Are these books long or short and does length influence your decision whether to translate a book or not?

Sometimes very long (500p A4 format), sometimes short (50p A4 format). Long or short, I format them to produce a book between 75 and 150p in the 5,06 po x 7,81 po format, because as I mentioned above, my readers love this offer (note : when I say "my reader love", I know that thanks to the informations given by good and bad reviews on Amazon, sales, and the feedback from the librairies).

So for the very long books for example, I divide them in several different shorter books, each book covering a precise subject. For example : I found a manuscript of 500p which treats about spirituality, behavior, rituals, relationships. I divide it in 4 shorter books, one about spirituality only, one about behavior only etc...

There is only one factor that influence my decision to translate a book or not : will this book change the life of my readers ? When I make this decision, I absolutely don't care about money, only about value. Not good value, not great value, but EXCEPTIONAL value. The quantity of books available is PHENOMENAL (centuries of writing about the subject), so I can allow myself to be extremely selectful.

I think the choice of the book is the most critical step. My Amazon reviews (almost 2000 at this time) talk almost only about the value (or sometimes the lack of value) these books had brought to them. Almost never about the price (and my price are far above the market), the cover, the quality of the translation (grammar, spelling...) or anything else.

9. Are these books well-known by themselves and people are actively searching for them or are you publishing obscure books and people are still interested because of your marketing efforts?

These books are well-known by themselves but not by the neophytes. But 80% of my market is composed by neophytes. So these are not obscure books but not known by my readers. Nevertheless, they are greatly interested thanks to my marketing efforts indeed.

10. Do you compete with other publishers so that a reader can choose from a few different translations of the same book?

Yes, I compete with a lot of other publishers for a few different translations of the same book and also for different books as well. There is a lot of offer, but my competitor are very very weak in marketing in general (branding, digital marketing, copywriting...). I have considered this lack of marketing skills as an opportunity and it appears that it was a good choice.

Sorry for so many questions but it's a fascinating business model and I'd love to learn more. Feel free to PM me if you don't want to share any information publicly. I may be able to help in the English-speaking market.

Don't be sorry, it's a pleasure. I indeed find this business model FASCINATING. In his last book, MJ DeMarco use it often for illustrating the several principles of the Great Rat Race Escape , it's was very useful for me !

I would be really happy to PM you. I will do it now ! Thanks for the proposition.

If everyone need more informations, please don't hesitate !
 

MTF

Never give up
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
May 1, 2011
4,425
21,844
4,304
Thanks for your detailed response, @HPI.

As for your main question:

Up until now, I was doing everything all alone. For the first time, I have hired a translator (freelance) in order to produce more books, to grow, to scale. This is the first time I delegate.However, I don't know if it is the right path. That is why I'm asking you advices : What do you think are the next steps for me in order to GROW & SCALE ?

Here are some ideas/thoughts:

1. Hiring a professional translator MIGHT be a good way to grow as long as they don't cost you more than you make on average per book and as long as they really care about quality. Translations can be very expensive and considering your background maybe you actually ARE the right person to translate them (instead of a professional translator).

I understand the appeal of delegation but in self-publishing it doesn't always work well. I could probably hire a professional ghostwriter to write books for me and maybe they would even have better writing skills. BUT they wouldn't care as much as I do, my readers could notice it, and it may affect their future purchasing decisions. That's something you need to be aware of when working with a contractor.

Even professional freelancers may cut corners compared to the way you work because for them it's just a gig. For you, it's your business and your own products, so you'll care more.

Also, readers may have gotten used to your translation style and may expect more books from you, not the new translator, even if on paper he or she may have better qualifications. It's sort of like @MJ DeMarco's problem with audiobook narration for the Unscripted . People liked his narration of the Millionaire Fastlane so much that they expected the same for his second book (even though theoretically a professional narrator should be a better choice).

2.
15 clients in wholesale : Small-size libraries : 20% of my revenue

This may be a potential unique way to scale, and definitely much safer than Amazon. If there's any way to grow it, I'd definitely do that as very few people probably have access to this.

Is there any other potential wholesale type of a client for these types of books? Colleges? Prisons? Religious organizations? Business organizations? Large corporations? Is there any way to get distributed in airport bookstores assuming there's some general appeal of the books even for a regular person?

3.
An Amazon Ads account : ROI x6 in profit : I spent 1€ and earn 6€ of profit. Huge ROI but I'm reaching a ceiling, meaning it is hard for me to spend more (not enough volume available)

Yeah that's the problem with Amazon Ads (volume). In the US the bids are crazy high and I no longer even advertise there. In Europe, Italy, Germany, and Spain still work well and are worth testing but of course in your case it wouldn't work unless you translated the works into these different languages.

But maybe try advertising the French translations in the UK? Do some people from France use Amazon.co.uk instead of .fr because there's more stuff to buy there?

4.
Paperback (90% of my sales on Amazon)

Consider publishing hardcover versions of the books as well if 90% of your sales are from paperbacks. Some people prefer the higher quality of hardbacks. Amazon is offering a beta version of hardbacks (not sure if also in France). You can also use IngramSpark.com.

Other ideas:
- large print (if you have old readers with bad eyesight),
- workbooks with exercises/prompts to use the advice from the books in real life (more creative but possibly worth exploring),
- illustrated books and/or coffee table books (artsy, nice big format, premium paper, sort of like a collector's edition).

5.
Kindle (10% of my sales on Amazon)

Have you ever bundled any of your books? Considering the length of some of your books, it won't necessarily work well for print but may increase your Kindle earnings. Just create a theme, say, "Spirituality from the Arabic masters of the 9th century" and include 5 full-length books as a collection for $9.99.

6.

and my first Audiobook is currently in production.

This can be an incredibly profitable path for you as I believe this niche should work well for audio so definitely test it with at least a few books. Bundles also work extremely well for audio.

7. As far as I understand, you only publish on Amazon. You can increase your income by at least a few percent, possibly more, by also publishing on Google Play, iTunes (through Draft2Digital.com is easier), and Kobo.
 
Mar 28, 2021
1
0
9
How do you get traffic to your blog ?
I am about to start similar journey (a blog would be my main asset I want to grow from 0) so would be nice to know some tactics and sources on how to get traffic to blog
 

HPI

New Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Speedway Pass
Jul 2, 2017
5
10
24
35
United Arab Emirates
How do you get traffic to your blog ?
I am about to start similar journey (a blog would be my main asset I want to grow from 0) so would be nice to know some tactics and sources on how to get traffic to blog
Simply through Google SEO. I select some chapters or sections of my books and I format them as blog articles. It takes me 10 minutes to do that. I publish 2 blog articles per week. I did nothing else and the traffic has increased very well since I started this.
 

Sponsored Offers

  • Sticky
MARKETPLACE NEW: The Best School for Going Fastlane (Now open for summer enrollment)
I made a new personal quiz system which I think is twice as good as the original... If you fill...
  • Sticky
MARKETPLACE Lex DeVille's - Advanced Freelance Udemy Courses!
Yo! In 24 hours my Udemy courses go bye bye.. (for real this time) Gotta make way for...
MARKETPLACE Fox Web School "Legend" Group Coaching Program 2021
Any update? Hey bud! When I can squeeze out the time to work, it's been going pretty well...
MARKETPLACE Not sure how to start? This free book will teach you how to build a successful web design business
Hi Fox. Starting the book and got through the introduction. Had a conversation with Andy Black...
  • Sticky
MARKETPLACE You Are One Call Away From Living Your Dream Life - LightHouse’s Accountability Program ⚡
Chris is super sharp and is aware of many facets of entrepreneurship and can help get your...
  • Sticky
MARKETPLACE Entrepreneur's Toolbox: Company Formation, Virtual Mailbox, Registered Agent, Remote Online Notary
Appreciating the transparency and lack of hidden fees. The website is very up-front and user...
Introducing MJ's Personal Unscripted Network, Join Now for FREE!
Any chance to make it available outside of US? It has been available outside of the US on...

Forum Sponsor

Learn Fastlane Business Skills & Get Profitable Within 30 Days...

Get Started Now

New Topics

Fastlane Insiders

View the forum AD FREE.
Private, unindexed content
Detailed process/execution threads
Ideas needing execution, more!

Join Fastlane Insiders.

Top Bottom