An Introduction to Self-Publishing Material
Any article, report or book which is bought or sold with
reproduction rights is generally referred to as self-publishing
material. Most commonly, this material consists of reports or
articles varying in length from 1 to 20 or more pages. This
material usually has a self-cover. In a self-cover, the same
weight of paper is used as in the text. Most books, on the
other hand, have covers which are of a heavier weight than the
text of the book.
The seller offers self-publishing material including the
reproduction right, at a price considerably higher than he would
offer the material when sold without reproduction rights.
Reproduction rights are granted when the holder of a copyright
grants reproduction rights to the buyer. These rights can be
unlimited, giving the buyer the option to re-sell reproduction
rights for the material also. Or, they may be limited. In this
case, the seller will generally allow the buyer to reproduce the
material as he wishes, but restricts right of resale. Since the
strongest demand is for material which grants full and unlimited
reproduction and resale rights, it would always be advantageous
to obtain the right to resell reproduction material.
There is a vast demand for this type of material, especially
from newcomers in the mail order field. Since the stream of
newcomers to this business is almost unlimited, it can be
extremely profitable to market self-publishing material. The
attractiveness of this material is due both to the high mark-up
potential and the ease of handling. Once you own the resale
rights to a given article, you can reproduce it for pennies and
sell it both individually for a few dollars. or including the
reproduction rights, for substantially higher.
Here's a typical example of purchasing and selling price. A
five or six page article may have a purchase price of anywhere
from $8.00 to $15.00. The same article, without reproduction
rights, would have a price range of $3.00 to $5.00. Once you
own the reproduction rights, you can have it reproduced for 20
to 50 cents a set, depending on how many copies you have made.
But let's use the high price of 50 cents and a selling price of
$4.00 without reproduction rights: profit $3.50 = 700%, or with
the reproduction rights of $9.00: profit $8.50 = 1700%. Not
shabby at all! It is especially impressive when you compare
that margin to buying a book from a supplier for $3.00 and
selling it for $9.00: profit $6.00 = 200%.
The other major advantage is the ease of handling of this
material. You are the prime source. You carry no inventory.
You reproduce in small quantities as you are selling the
material. The material is inexpensively shipped, generally via
First Class due to its light weight.
Supply and Demand
The supply and demand for this type of material is plentiful, but
that supply represents a small margin when compared to the
incredible demand. It is usually the newcomer to the mail order
filed who has to first establish his product line and supply who
is the buyer. The seller, on the other hand, is more seasoned
and has been in the business for a while.
If you are in the market and interested in acquiring
self-publishing material, you should have no problem locating
sources. You will see ads, mostly classifieds, throughout
business opportunity publications. Small and medium size
wholesalers and publishers in the mail order field also offer a
variety of material. Since they generally charge an "up-front"
distributor or dealership fee, the material they offer will
generally be at much reduced prices.
Most of material offered will be of an instructive nature and
this is also where the demand is. Articles or short manuals
which are instructive in how to start a business or how to
operate different facets of that business are in especially high
Unfortunately, since there is a great deal of sub-standard
material on the market, you should be careful in acquiring
articles and reports for resale. The material may lack in any
of these three areas:
1. The contents are incorrect, incomplete, etc., which is
generally the result of poor research and little effort by the
2. Use of language is incorrect; and
3. Reproduction quality is poor.
If you do not know the seller or his reputation, protect
yourself by buying just one article instead of several. If you
like the quality and contents, you can purchase several more.
Sellers of reproducible material will often not grant a money
back guarantee. If you become a seller of reproduction
material, it is strongly suggested that you consider adopting
such a policy yourself. Unfortunately, there are some customers
who will buy this material, reproduce it instantly and return it
within days for a refund.
Write Your Own Material
If you enjoy writing and some limited research, you could create
your own material and sell that in conjunction with the material
you have acquired from other sources. We are not talking about
the ability to produce literary works but just
information-oriented material that is a service to others. This
type of an effort can often be a joint effort. Your wife or
husband may be the writer and you may be the editor or vice
versa. There are also many qualified word processing services
available who can edit your writing for a reasonable fee. Once
you have created, it, you can generally sell it for many years
to come. So, whatever your start-up investment is,, it can be
recaptured many times over.
Material from the U.S. Government for Very Little Money
The U.S. Government, which is also the largest publisher in the
world by far, employs tens of thousands of researchers,
scientists, writers, etc., and puts out billions of new pages of
information each year. Much of it is of absolutely no interest
to almost anyone, a lot of it is boring, and even more of it is
useless. But - but - but a lot of it is not any of the above.
Almost all of the materials is also in the public domain, which
means you and I own it. We paid for it with our tax dollars.
It is not copyrighted and everyone can use it, reproduce it,
re-write it, etc. So since even foreign countries use this
unlimited pool of information, why don't you? For example, the
Government has a variety of useful publications that are
informative and instructive to someone who is starting out in a
new business. The best way to use Government publications is by
using the research information it provides - fact and figures.
You can rewrite it, of course, but not copyright it, and
therefore you cannot sell reproduction rights to it. However,
you can sell it without reproduction rights.
Write to: Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing
Office, Washington, DC 20402 and request a current listing of
publications for sale by the Government Printing Office.
There are U.S. Government bookstores in the following cities:
Birmingham, AL - Los Angeles, CA - San Francisco, CA - Denver,
CO - Pueblo, CO - Washington, DC - Jacksonville, FL - Atlanta,
GA - Chicago, IL - Laurel, MD - Boston, MA - Detroit, MI -
Kansas City, MO - New York, NY - Cleveland, OH - Columbus, OH -
Portland, Or - Philadelphia, PA - Pittsburgh, PA - Dallas, TX -
Houston, TX - Seattle, WA - Milwaukee, WI. Locations are listed
under U.S. Government - Bookstore.
Marketing Your Self-Publishing Material
You can market your material in several ways. One would be via
advertising and, at least for starters, this is the preferred
way. Another method would be via direct mail. This is
acceptable, but only if you are quite certain that the list you
are renting represents the interest group you are selling to and
is of recent vintage. Lastly, you can market your material as
an enclosure with other orders you are shipping. This is called
Advertising would be the most effective. It is suggested you
run a classified in any of the major monthly Business
Opportunity magazines. Here are the names of some of the best
known of such publications: Entrepreneur, Money Making
Opportunities, Income Opportunities, Business Startups,
Opportunity Magazine. These are just a very few of the many
large publications and there are even more smaller publications
Your ad may read something like the following:
INSTANT-PUBLISHING. Enormous Profits. Free details on
reproduction rights. or
SELF PUBLISHING. Over 1000% profit. Wide selection. Free
An ad such as the above or one similar will bring you inquiries.
It is your marketing task to turn as large a percentage as
possible into buyers. To be most effective and to outdo your
competitors, you must meet these criteria. Your product must be
priced properly. Your sales literature has to be appealing.
When pricing your product, first take a look at what the
competition does. You can find out by responding to similar
ads. In that way you will not only learn about pricing, but
also see a variety of presentations and selections. Don't be
greedy. Stay a little below the competition but allow yourself
a fair profit. Remember, your mark-up has to pay for
advertising, printing of your sales material, postage and
miscellaneous overhead cost, not to mention your time and effort.
Some of these products are sold at ridiculously low prices, and
on the other hand, some at extremely high prices. Neither is
effective. If you are too low, you will be suspect of offering
something sub-standard and, if you are too high, your material
will be trashed. The idea is to stay a little below the average
selling price. There is no quick fix in finding out what the
averages are. You simply have to take the time to write to as
many competing offers as possible. If you are buying material
from a publisher who provides you with sales material and
suggested retail prices, you may want to stay below the
suggested price. In this way, you do not have to redo the
promotions material. Also the public is attracted by perceived
If you product is priced correctly and your ad is in the right
magazine (under the right heading - general business
opportunities), the only thing left is your sales literature.
It is also the most important. Remember, in the mail order
business,, the customer cannot see, smell or feel the product
before buying it. It is therefore, absolutely of the utmost
importance that your material looks impeccable. This point
cannot be stressed enough. In my own testing over the years, I
have determined that the same product at the same price but
represented by an excellent looking package will outsell the
same product represented by a less than average package at
anywhere from double to triple the cost. And therein, can be
your success or failure. When you are relatively new to our
business, you will generally be charged with enthusiasm which is
great because it is the energy what will propel you to success.
But your impatience and enthusiasm has to be controlled, or you
will make costly mistakes and you may become discouraged. So,
take your time and be sure your material looks first class.
This is the wrong place to save a few bucks. Here are a few
suggestions to help you in achieving success with the
presentation of your piece:
1. Unless you are using a ready-made circular or brochure
which you received when buying your reproduction article and it
satisfies you in every respect, have your piece laid out by a
graphic designer or experienced desk-top publisher. In most
medium and large cities there is an ample supply of these
professionals. Many of them operate out of their residence and
charge reasonable prices. Before you select one, visit several
and look at what they have done for others. If you don't like
what you see, keep on looking. Remember, the person you choose
can make or break you. Prices for layout of a single page may
vary from $20 to $50. Since your promotional piece will
generally only consist of one or two pages, this is a small
price to pay for success.
2. Have the written word used in both your sales letter and
promotional piece checked by someone who is absolutely competent
in the use of the English language. Your best bet there is a
reputable word processing service that has been around for a
3. Have your sales literature printed by a professional
printer. Cheap copying jobs are fatal.
It must be obvious to you by now that I feel extremely strongly
about the subject of first class sales literature. When your
prospective customer pulls your material out of the envelope -
or, does he even open it - (experts tell us he does that
anywhere from 30 to 100 per week) and looks at your material
(again, experts tell us it is an 8 second look) before he
decides whether to trash you - boom there goes the whole damn
effort into a waste can in a split second - or look at you
further? So give yourself a break and do things the right way.
Make it look professional. Modern technology enables your
literature to look just as good as the literature from a large
The components of your sales piece should consist of the
1. The circular - brochure - flyer, etc. This can be from one
to several pages in length, depending on how many items you are
2. A sales letter. A good sales letter requires sweat equity
on your part. There is no easy way out. You cannot have
someone else do the work for you. They can help you, but not do
it completely. A good sales letter should be friendly in tone -
full of benefits for your prospective buyer - must have a good
headline - explain the features of your product - say as little
as possible about you. Your customer does not give a damn about
you, he wants to know what's in it for him. And lastly, every
sales letter must ask for the order.
3. An order form that can be separate or build into a
4. A return envelope. It is not necessary to use prepaid
envelopes. My own research indicates there is no difference in
conversion rates between prepaid and non-prepaid business return
5. Your mailing envelope.
If you should decide to choose direct mail for your
self-publishing material, your offer will require the same
components as shown above. It is, unfortunately, extremely
difficult to come up with just the right mailing list. The
broad description of "Opportunity Seeker" does not narrow down
your market enough. You are specifically interested in recent -
30 to 180 day - inquiries - or buyers of self-publishing or mail
order start-up packages. If you are confident you can come up
with such a list, you may give direct mail a try; a mailing of
1000 will give you a good indication. What you will save in
advertising will be spent in additional postage and printing.
One hundred inquiries of a classified ad may produce between six
and nine buyers. To come up with the same number of buyers on a
direct mail campaign, you will have to mail about 500 to 700
A Few More Profitable Suggestions
It is important to have an ample selection. The more a
prospective customer has to choose from, the better the chances
for a sale are and the higher the average order will be. I
would suggest that the combined articles or reports you are
offering will total about $100. Ideally, some would be
low-priced $7 to $10, some medium, $10 to $20 and some high
priced over $20. If your prospective customer would buy around
35% of the reports you offer, you should come up with an order
of at least $30 plus.
As you progress in your business, always be on the lookout for
new material to be offered to your previous customers. Stay in
touch with your previous buyers and inquirers. At least four
mailings a year are appropriate. In your follow-up mailings,
you should offer additional self-publishing material as well as
books. Non-buying inquiries should be dropped from your mailing
list after 12 to 15 months. Previous buyers should be dropped
within 18 months after their last purchase. As your mailing
list increases in size and you keep on a schedule of regular
mailings, your revenues and profits will dramatically increase.
Self-publishing products may be your start into the mail order
information business or they may increase the size of your
business if you have not previously offered this type of
material. Some of the most successful mail order entrepreneurs
have never sold anything but self-publishing products and have
made a great deal of money doing it.
Wishing you success and remember, before you can earn you must