Making a living off of your creativity, talents, or even hobbies is so much more doable now than it was a few years back. You no longer need to hit an artist’s version of the jackpot by being in the improbable right place at the right time to catch your big break – you can make it happen yourself. Today we’re talking about photographers who have a great opportunity to further distribute and earn money from their product. With the right strategy in mind as well as the help of some tools that are at our disposition, creating and selling your own photo book can be easy and well worth your time.
Choosing the Platform to Sell On
Once your photo book has been perfected, it’s time to start figuring out the business side of things so you can get rewarded for your hard work. Of course, it’s always an option to take the traditional route of going through a publishing company that would take care of all of this for you, but that almost always implies taking a huge cut on what you could be earning, as well as giving them the rights to your work. For this reason, self-publishing solutions are becoming increasingly popular. Some of these platforms, like Amazon, mainly serve as an already well-established space where your book can easily be found and purchased by the right audience, getting you paid. Others, like Blurb, cover a fuller range of aspects involved, from the actual production of your book, to distribution, to keeping financial matters in order.
Questions surrounding copyright concerns naturally come up very early in the process. The best way to ensure that your material is protected (in the U.S. at least) is to register it in the Library of Congress who goes through the United States Copyright Office. Although not mandatory for your content to be copyrighted (it belongs to you from the moment you create it), this is a smart thing to do to guarantee maximum protection in case anything questionable occurs.
Many wonder if selling their book through one of these platforms means handing some rights to the content over to them, and the answer is no. As far as everyone is concerned, you own 100% of the content rights, so this should never be a factor deterring you from considering selling your work on one of these types of platforms.
Gaining traction for a book is not much different from any new product or business. A good marketing strategy revolving around impactful online presence is required to create a buzz, meaning social media activity, press coverage, quality email marketing with regular newsletters, and some investing in advertising if the funds are available.
Another very important factor worth spending time and money on is SEO. The wording you choose to include in your listing title and description have a huge impact on the search algorithm and can make the difference between a product that appears when your potential audience is looking for it and one that doesn’t. Don’t hesitate to do your research on best SEO practices or even enlist the help of a professional.
Many consider choosing the price of their book to be the most stressful part of the process, especially if they haven’t done anything of the sort before. Pricing largely depends on two factors: the production costs and the fees the platform you sell it on charges. In the case of Blurb, no fees are charged, so all you have to consider is what it costs to make your book and after that any additional mark-up will be a pure profit margin. Amazon, on the other hand, takes $1.35 + 15% of the listing price of each copy you sell, which may seem like a lot compared to paying nothing, but it makes sense that the visibility and exposure that such a well-known platform brings comes with a price tag.
Consider this: the cheapest possible cost of producing a photo book with Blurb is $29.99 for a small-sized one with 20 pages (not taking any potential bulk discounts that may be available into account). When deciding what you will charge on top of the $29.99 to cover your costs, imagine that you’re a potential customer and ask yourself: what would be the maximum you’d be willing to pay for the product you’re offering? Are there comparable books on the market that cost more or less than that? Is what you’re selling an exclusive, one-of-a-kind product or are you one of many? These are a few questions to consider when starting out, but once you have a better feel for the demand, you’ll be able to modify and refine your pricing strategy as needed.
Selling photo books is a great way to turn a passion into a profitable product, and it is quite low-risk compared to many other business endeavors. Solutions like Amazon and Blurb give you total control over your product, unlike when going through traditional publishing companies. This means you’ll never be tied down to unfair ownership agreements, and you can bid farewell to the obligation to sacrifice hefty portions of your potential earnings and other general constraints. Considering how simple it is if you decide to use a self-publishing platform, there is not much to lose here, so why not give it a go?
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