Lisa Ferland Consulting
February 2018 | Sofia Simeonidou
I was one of the beta-testers in Lisa’s Beginners Guide to Self-Publishing course (full of practical advice and step-by-step guidance). That’s how we met. Self-driven and full of energy, that was my first impression. Publishing a book sounds like a big scary plan for some but listening to Lisa talking about her journey makes it all real. And so, less stressful.
Tell me a bit about your career?
My original career and all of my academic training are in public health epidemiology and statistics. The transition to author/editor/publisher came later. I started consulting in Public Health (it’s also where my master’s degree is) when we moved from the US to Sweden. It was a career I could take with me wherever we moved.
So, your experience was in academic research and publishing?
Yes, I’m more experienced in academic publishing and publishing peer-reviewed journals, doing research, and synthesising. That’s the process I’m familiar with. There’s not much room for creativity because your data must support your findings.
Where are you based?
You wrote and published 2 books. Did you always want to write a book?
Yes, I’ve published two books in the Knocked Up Abroad series. I had this idea that I couldn’t let go of and I spent all of my time learning about the publishing process.
I think if I had just kind of kept it to myself and not shared the idea with anyone, it wouldn't have gone anywhere. Other peoples’ encouragement will help you move forward.
It doesn't sound like a life goal.
It was never an intentional goal to publish a book but once I had the idea, I had to do it. I think I fall into the category of “accidental entrepreneurs.”
How much work was it?
It was a lot of work. It’s a full-time effort. I hadn't realised all that was involved with it when I started. When you are a self-published author you do all the work yourself and you have to be a mini-expert for each step or hire someone to do it for you. I worked on the book before the kids woke up and after the kids went to sleep. I went for it 100% and if I made a mistake I quickly corrected it and figured out what went wrong and kept moving. Every entrepreneur has to be self-driven and there needs to be a passion that’s fuelling you because you’re the only one who really cares about your project.
Does it seem like everyone’s publishing a book lately?
It does, maybe. When you publish a book, you become the expert on whatever topic you’re writing about. Many entrepreneurs are putting their expertise into a book. There're a lot of people who have blogs and a lot of people who do podcasts but when you have to go through the book publishing process, it gives you another way to present your expertise and you can reach new people.
Is it also because of all the self-publishing possibilities available?
The technology is there to support the process and it’s getting easier. But there are a lot of self-published authors who don't understand the process or what makes a good book and unfortunately, it means that nobody will read their book. It’s very important for self-published authors to have high-quality content. There are so many books out there that you have to make sure your book stands out from the pack and that it’s professionally put together. Once you put your name on anything, it represents you and your work and you should want it to be the best it can be.
How long does it take to self-publish once you have the manuscript?
For the first book, and once the manuscript was finished, it was about 5 months to go through the whole process. For the second book, it took the same time but because there was fundraising involved. In terms of the process of formatting, cover design, going through the proofing process and all the editing is at least a 4 to 5 months’ effort. So, if you’re working part-time it could take up to a year, which is still a lot faster than the traditional publishing process. If you submit your book to a traditional publisher the fastest could be 2 to 3 years to get it out the door. If you have an idea that’s hot right now, waiting for 3 years could kill it. I’ve seen it happen time and time again. By the time the book comes out nobody cares about that topic anymore. Getting to market quickly is a competitive advantage when it comes to publishing.
Self-Publishing or a traditional publisher?
It depends. If you have a memoir, I’d suggest going to a traditional publisher. But if your idea is cutting edge and you already have an audience, I’d encourage self-publishing just for speed alone.
What’s the biggest advantage going with a publisher?
Publishers provide greater reach. They can get you in front of more eyes much faster. That said, you’re still responsible for your book’s marketing efforts. They can get your book into more hands but it’s your job to make it happen. For writers, there is extra validation involved with traditional publishing. It’s confirmation that your idea or your story was good enough to compete in the market.
And the biggest surprise you had during the self-publishing process?
I think the biggest surprise was that the editing process went faster than the interior formatting. Getting the text into a paperback format to look like a real book was a frustrating process. I chose to do the typesetting myself in Microsoft Word, but Word is not designed for that. So, I had to learn how to make Word do what I wanted and that was frustrating at times.
Do you go into publishing for the money?
If you do, you're going to be in for a surprise. Self-publishing still has the best royalties compared to a traditional publisher, but your potential reach is much smaller. Publish your book because it’s a professional goal or because you’re passionate about it and it will open up so many new opportunities for you.
What’s the advice you’d give to someone looking to publish a book?
Do all of your research, but at some point, start doing it even if you’re unsure. The best learning experience is to go through the process yourself, so go for it. What have you got to lose?
I'm rereading A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle.
What makes you happy?
Funny ladies: Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, and Amanda (AK) Turner and of course, fonts of inspiration like Oprah Winfrey and Shonda Rhimes.
Besides my Beginners Guide to Self-Publishing* course, I’ll be developing another course and services to help authors crowdfund their books. Authors can use crowdfunding as a potential marketing approach as well as fund the creation of the book. It can help create a sustainable plan for self-publishing one or more books. Eventually, I’ll write and self-publish more books because I really enjoy seeing a book come together from start to finish.
The Beginners Guide to Self-Publishing course link is an affiliate link.