Getting into the publishing business to fill local needs can be a great way to make a living. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Finding a Niche:
Just like with any business, the key to being successful in publishing may well be to zero in on a specific niche. If you are fortunate, you will be able to find a niche that resides within your areas of interest. When it comes to finding a niche in publishing, the idea is to fill a need. If, for instance, you have a burgeoning tourist industry in your area, but you feel there is a lack of guide books or similar informational material, you can start to strategize ways that you can fill that need.
To find success as a small publisher, you don’t just want to fill the need, however, you want to fill it as thoroughly as possible, and to put out quality products and content. Another big part of this success will be doing a little bit of research to make sure that your audience is large enough to potentially give you enough sales to turn a profit in your business.
One of the main reasons small businesses fail is that they don’t do enough research into what their costs will be. The first thing you might want to research in your small publishing business is your printing and binding costs. You can get bids from your local printer for the number of pages and copies you anticipate your publications will run, and set these costs against what the price might be for you to own your own machines and to do the work in-house.
Depending on the type of binding that you intend to do, you may well find that having your own machine cuts your costs dramatically. Thermal binding machines in particular (the kind of units that bind hardcover and softcover books) are quite inexpensive and surprisingly easy to use. You can literally bind a book in less than a minute using one of these machines, and there are many that cost less than $100.
In the example that we went with above, (a set of books or magazines about local tourist attractions), you may find that you can defray costs be selling advertising. You can either sell the space yourself, or if that’s just not your thing, find someone experienced that is willing to work for a commission. The price of the ads is up to you, but you will want to make sure that they at least cover all of your costs. You are not in this business to lose money, after all.
There may not necessarily be a need to hire a graphic designer, though that may be your plan. Layout software such as Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress are absolutely necessary, but you can probably learn how to operate them well enough for your purposes if you take a class or two. Not to downplay the awesome abilities of these programs and those who are true wizards at it, but putting a little time in to learn the software yourself can save you the cost of a hired gun or full time design and layout person.