Publishing the world’s first vegan marketing book – guest post
The book publishing journey is so much more than the design part of it. I can talk for hours about book design and I’m sharing my expertise with writers in many ways. Because I can’t say much about editing or marketing the book, I decided to give voice to experts in their fields. Let’s start with a story of how Sandra Nomoto self-published her second book. This is a great, step-by-step case study for anyone thinking about self-publishing a book!
Hi! I’m Sandra Nomoto, author of Vegan Marketing Success Stories. I’m extremely proud to have published this book in Fall 2022, but as with every book, there are things I would have done differently had I the gift of retrospect.
I conceived the idea for the book in Summer 2021. There was only one book about the vegan business world, Vegan Ventures. Author Katrina Fox included a few chapters related to marketing, and I wanted to take what she started and flesh that out into an entire book.
Here’s a timeline of what I did in the 14 months leading up to my launch date and beyond.
I created three Google forms for contributing businesses: One for companies, one for marketing/public relations agencies, and one for solopreneurs. Each form was similar, with slight variations in wording.
I signed up for The Vegan Publisher’s DIY program (now called Conscious Authors Alliance). The program had tons of tips and exercises on how to prepare, plan and get started on a book. Mitali Deypurkaystha made herself available on Slack and Zoom for specific questions.
I built my list of companies, agencies, and solopreneurs. I aimed for 50 stories, so I created a list of about 200 companies. The obvious big corporations selling plant-based products were on the list, but I also wanted to make sure I represented Vancouver and got a range of companies across industries. I also tried to reach companies in different areas of the world.
I sent out the first emails the last week of September and asked folks to submit their case studies by the end of October.
I got all 200 emails out by the end of the first week of October. The first case study I got was from Humane Wildlife Solutions, the owner of which I sent a comp copy when the book came out. I started the follow-ups in week two (you will need to follow up if you write this kind of book!)
Three-quarters of the folks who submitted case studies told thorough stories. A handful asked me if they could do video calls, so I did 10 by video. As the stories trickled in, I started on my introduction and conclusion and wrote bits around the case studies. I’m glad I did this instead of waiting the entire month to get all the case studies I wanted because this process took longer than I thought it would.
I added more companies to the list and extended the submission deadline to mid-November.
I reached the 30,000 word minimum for a book and kept adding companies to my list. I asked 276 companies in total to be in the book. By mid-November, there were some chapters that were going to be very thin because no one was using the tactics I talked about, so I merged the Advertising and Direct Marketing chapters together. I posted videos on social media to ask for more examples of companies using various tactics.
I needed to find examples online to fill in some of the thin sections, so I started researching. At the end of the month, I started sending out excerpts to all the companies whose examples I wanted to use.
By this time, I’d completed most sections of the book, even though some were still very thin. I was confident my book was going to be a success, even though I’d only reached 47 case studies, as I had another three dozen companies used as examples. Most companies whose examples I really wanted in the book approved them.
I finished the Introduction and Conclusion and filled out the Acknowledgements section.
I shared my manuscript with beta readers, others who asked to see their excerpts before publication, and sent out queries to potential endorsers. I gave just over three weeks for my beta readers (around 35) to provide feedback and hoped for at least 10 responses.
I worked on a media list, compiling local media and podcasts that I’d pitch to later. I also registered my three ISBNs and started an account on IngramSpark (a self-publishing service that distributes to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple and online & physical bookstores). I know Amazon prints on vegan ink, so I fired off an email to IngramSpark to make sure they did too. And someone responded: “We do not use vegan ink.”
So that was a deal breaker. (The Vegan Publisher is constantly in contact with IngramSpark about switching to vegan ink, so I’m hoping that’ll be in place by the time I work on my next book!)
I explored a few other print-on-demand services and found out Lulu used vegan ink. I found the user interface on Lulu much better than IngramSpark.
I got my first book endorsement. Eighteen people in total beta-read the book, but five readers gave the most amount of feedback. I left a week for changes between the end of beta reading and starting editing, which I used to get two more beta readers. I sent the manuscript to my vegan editor on February 16, a few days later than I expected.
I got my manuscript back just after the first day of spring and was happy with the job my editor did. She was meticulous in her edits and made me realize how much I (and contributors) used the words “just” and “really.”
I also got a fantastic endorsement from Victoria Moran that I decided would go on the front cover.
I started formatting my manuscript.
After changing my book title to Vegan Marketing Success Stories, I waited for a few more potential endorsements to come in and spent another seven hours on formatting.
I completed an agreement with my vegan cover designer. Since the cover wouldn’t be completed until the end of May, I followed up with a couple more potential endorsers and started the index.
I spent 14 hours on my index. I can confidently say that, like a website, you can always improve your index, but at some point, you just have to stop or else you will never finish the book.
I started on the ebook since my cover designer was getting close to completing the cover. She sent me the cover file and also made an interior title page for the book in black. I then completed the interior print and ebook files.
My potential selling price went from $18 to $22.25 USD. If I’d selected Lulu’s suggested minimum price, I would earn nothing on other platforms, so I had to raise it by less than a dollar just to earn a few pennies on each copy that sells outside of Lulu. This is the downside of using a platform most readers aren’t familiar with and creating a book with colour interior.
I ordered my first proof copy and contacted a few folks I considered hiring to help me with a marketing strategy in July.
I committed to hiring a narrator for my audiobook because I tested out narrating one section and made three mistakes in seven minutes that I had to edit out. No way I could narrate and edit my entire book on my own without losing my mind.
My proof copy arrived. I was happy with how the cover turned out, but my designer said she would make some space and colour adjustments. The page number and chapter header were way too close to the top page edge, so I added more breathing room. This change resulted in an increase in the number of pages.
I emailed all the Vancouver-based contributors to the book to ask if they had video footage I could use for my book trailer. I didn’t have the budget for a videographer but wanted to edit a trailer together using footage from local businesses and have that ready by the end of July.
My final page count was 258. I worked with Helen Siwak at EcoLuxLuv Communications (yes, she’s vegan too) to help me with a marketing strategy from August to the end of October. I also asked the Canadian contributors outside BC for video footage for my trailer.
I contacted a vegan artist I met through the Vancouver Vegans Facebook group to get his music file and added that to the trailer.
I loaded new book files and ordered my second proof. Because there were four extra pages than my first proof, the costs went up by another quarter or so. If I knew the page count would affect my book price, I probably would have had fewer photos and maybe even reduced the font size.
I created an online media kit and wrote my news release.
I hired the narrator for my audiobook and looked into how to upload an audiobook to Audible.
I received Helen’s 90-day marketing strategy and accompanying documents. She put so much work into it and gave me an idea of the posts I needed to schedule for August and beyond. Her strategy included recommendations for social media, blogs, newsletters, and e-blasts. I planned to post on five networks plus Instagram Stories daily. She also helped me beef up my email and media list.
I drafted five blog posts for August/September, three e-blasts/newsletters, and almost all the social posts for August. I also drafted most of my email pitch to media/podcasts and got on podcastguests.com.
I created a “share kit” and drafted emails to contributing companies in the book and family/friends/acquaintances.
My proof came in just in time to take photos, and it was near perfect—there were two small things I fixed before I ordered one more proof.
I released my book trailer in August:
I sent 75 pitches out to various media outlets and posted my release on social media (I continued to add to the media list post-book launch). I had two podcast interviews booked already.
About a day after I emailed my ebook to the editor of vegconomist, the world’s vegan business magazine, a review came out. I also followed up with the media I emailed the previous week.
In late August, I got the audio files back from my narrator. We both learned that narration is not the same as sound/audio engineering. She did some of that work for me, but you really need to hire a professional or a company to do that work.
After paying the distribution fee ($4.99 USD) on Lulu, my ebook went live.
What I learned about Lulu is that when you make the ebook live for global distribution, it does the same for the print book. So I found the paperback appeared online as well, which was not my intention.
I decided I’d continue to promote November 1st as the print launch date on Lulu. A colleague told me she bought my ebook on (Rakuten) Kobo. I found out that it sold for $2 less than retail (in Canada). Then I found out my ebook was in the Top 100 Kindle books for the Business > Skills > Communications category!
A vegan podcast host who had interviewed me and is an audio engineer helped me with my audio files. There were three issues with all the audio files I loaded, so I sent him the report to see if he could work his magic, and he did.
I sent one more news release leading up to World Vegan Day to announce the paperback and audio formats and booked more podcasts in November. In mid-October, I sent my audiobook for approval on ACX. It said if all looks good, it would publish the audiobook in 10 days.
The first batch of the 64 paperback copies I ordered from Lulu came on Wednesday, October 19th. I was missing 16 books and immediately contacted Lulu Support to see if there was a missing box, and the last “master” box arrived the next day. Whew!
My paperback went live on Lulu on October 31st.
November 2022: Paperback and Audio books launch
Just as I posted my launch video on World Vegan Day, I got an email that said my audiobook was live. The vegan gods were smiling down on me!
Remember, if you’re self-publishing, your print and ebook get launched first, and then your audiobook comes after. Your book needs to be on Amazon before ACX will accept your audio files.
The CEO of PlantX, which appears in my book, invited me to sell and sign my books at XMarket Squamish the day after my signing at Friend & Faux/Vegan Supply, so I had a two-day launch weekend.
My aunt also invited me to speak and sell my books at her church’s community event in November. I got invitations to speak at an online summit, the Kitsilano Business Leaders Meetup in December 2022, and to Main Street Vegan Academy in the spring of 2023.
I continued to promote my book via media and podcast interviews until May 2023 and even booked a few interviews after that date. I’ve appeared in over 60 media and podcasts to promote the book, including VEGWORLD, the Vegan Business Tribe podcast, B the Change Media, and Global BC. I also sold and signed books at the Nanaimo Veg Fest.
Thank you to Karolina for allowing me to share my story here! You can contact me for book services or marketing help anytime at sandranomoto.com.