Sep 16

Would you think it’s a great deal for a company to boast about charging you “just $19” to print a single copy of a book you could get printed elsewhere for $3.25?

What if they said that by paying “just $19” for a $3.25 product, you’d “save $60!”?

I wish that kind of pitch to authors were just a bad dream. But that nightmare offer about book printing came in an email to one of my staff at BelieversPress today. Here’s how it started:

“Maybe you just want to print one copy to see how good our printing is? Maybe you just want to know how good it feels to hold your own book in your hands? Maybe you just want a single copy for souvenir? Or a gift? Whatever the reason, printing a single copy of your book isn’t just a possibility, it’s an incredibly easy and –thanks to this special offer – an incredibly affordable one.
Through the end of December you can save $60 on printing a single copy of your book. Just use coupon code BOOKPREDATOR* when ordering and your cost for printing 1 copy is just $19.”

Whoever sent that predatory offer didn’t suspect he was sending it to someone who knew the facts about print on demand: Through 1Source company, your cost to print a single copy of a typical 200-page book in the popular 6×9 paperback format doesn’t cost $19. And certainly never $79.

Instead, printing it – with a full-color cover – costs $3.25.

An apples to apples comparison? Yes. Both require you to upload the .pdf files of your cover and pages through a simple website. Both give you flexibility in trim size, paper stock, and page count.

The big difference? Price! And the issue of whether you can trust a company that boasts about regularly charging $79 for a product another sells for $3.25.

I don’t want to be known for badmouthing the competition. But I hate to see people ripped-off by predators. That’s why, at BelieversPress, we work hard to educate potential clients about the realities of independent publishing.

If you’ve not already received a free copy of our booklet 20 Hidden Hazards of Self-Publishing, you can click here to download a copy. Then the next time you get a scam offer about publishing, you’ll be equipped with the facts.

* Identifying details changed to protect the guilty.

Sep 02

I recently read a blog post by agent extraordinaire Terry Burns, in which he discusses hybrid authors and why we see more of them each year. I agree with his assessment and want to add a few items from my perspective.

The hybrid author is on the rise primarily because most authors who publish traditionally have a lot more to say — more messages than traditional publishing channels can absorb. Terry, rightly so, will always recommend his authors first try to publish through the traditional model.

There are a couple of obvious reasons for this — and one perhaps not so obvious. First, Terry makes his living from traditional contracts. There’s nothing wrong with this. When it comes to traditional publishing, an experienced agent is by far the best publishing coach. Second, this is a model Terry knows well.

The less obvious but important reason he recommends traditional publishing is that he specializes in working with authors who fit the traditional model. But there are many good writers whose genre or platform are not the right fit for traditional publishers. These are not the authors most agents work with. These are the projects and authors that BelieversPress is designed to help. Authors who will do well with indie publishing fit in two categories:

  • Those who are gifted with promotion and marketing or are willing to make the effort to learn and implement their own marketing strategies.
  • Those who are willing to pay for a professional to market their books.

Either way, the indie author needs to invest in the process with both time and money. Terry says that an author should not make an indie publishing decision lightly. I couldn’t agree more. But I differ from Terry, who will tend to point to traditional publishing as the first choice. Instead, when deciding to publish a book traditionally or independently, an author needs to weigh factors such as these:

  • How much control does the author want?
  • Is there a publishing timeline that is too short for traditional publishers?
  • Will most books be sold outside the traditional retail market?

For many projects, the best route (and therefore the first choice) is indie publishing. There’s no doubt hybrid authorship is a growing trend. A recent study by Digital Book World shows that hybrid authors, as a group, are the “most successful” and “highest paid.” If you haven’t explored indie publishing options, we would love to share our knowledge with you.


Dave Sheets is the president of Christian Writers Guild, BelieversPress and BookPrintOnDemand, all services dedicated to helping authors. We believe at the core of every person is the need to tell a story, teach a lesson, make a difference.  Our purpose is to teach authors how to write well, craft a book, and get their message in front of people.

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Jul 29

Self-publishing is here to stay.

According to Kelly Gallagher, Vice President of Bowker Market Research: “What was once relegated to the outskirts of our industry—and even took on demeaning names like ‘vanity press’ — is now not only a viable alternative but what is driving the title growth of our industry today.” (source)

The landscape has changed, but rumors still abound about self-publishing. Here’s the truth about this rapidly evolving market.

Myth #1

Self-publishing isn’t mainstream. Estimates are that more than 400,000 titles are being self-published this year. If that isn’t mainstream enough, what would be? However accurate it may once have been to accuse indie publishing of being a fringe market, it just isn’t true anymore.

Myth #2

My product will be second class. If an author takes the time to work with competent editors, designers, etc., they can create a quality product—and publishing companies no longer have a corner on book design professionals. Beyond that, the writing is what matters: A well-written book can be successful, no matter how it is published.

An intriguing cover sells a book the first time, but quality writing and editing will sell it again and again.

Myth #3

I can’t get traditionally published if I self-publish. Quite the opposite, in fact: self-publishing can prove to traditional publishers that an author has what it takes to create a platform and sell books. As Jane Freidman, the former publisher of Writer’s Digest, says: “no agent, and no publisher, is going to turn away a project where they see potential to make money.”

Self-publishing, instead of being the nail in your career’s coffin, might actually boost it.

Did the book make an impact? Did it increase your tribe? Did it sell well, or gain the attention of other opinion leaders? If the author can quantify these questions, then so can publishers and marketers at the traditional publishing houses.

Myth #4

I can’t get my books into bookstores if I self-publish. National distribution is available for those who want it and can create the demand it takes for books to move through traditional retail stores. The bigger question is whether or not national distribution is right for you.

Myth #5

Self-publishing is too expensive. Compared to what you might give up with traditional publishing, self-publishing is not expensive or hard. It does have a learning curve, but there are resources available in abundance — and many are free.

For more information about how BelieversPress helps authors navigate the self-publishing world, visit


Dave Sheets is the president of Christian Writers Guild, BelieversPress and BookPrintOnDemand, all services dedicated to helping authors. We believe at the core of every person is the need to tell a story, teach a lesson, make a difference.  Our purpose is to teach authors how to write well, craft a book, and get their message in front of people.

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Jul 22

Authors often ask me, “Can you get my book into Barnes and Noble?”

They’re really asking if I can put their book on the shelves. The simple answer is no.

What distribution does for any author, whether published traditionally or independently, is provide access to retailers. For some traditional publishers, a sales team takes their book list straight to retailers. If they have a reputation for high quality, the books land on the retailer’s shelves.

Other publishers’ only method of getting books in front of retailers may be through catalog listings. Unless these publishers have a trusted brand, retailers may wait to order a title until consumers ask for it.

In every case, the author or publisher must create demand to pull a book through the retailer. Without demand, the book will not appear—or stay—on the shelf.

Most authors coming to BelieversPress want to publish their first or second book. I consistently ask about their platform. Where are they speaking? How many people follow them on social media? Do they have a following that will help create national demand? Without that demand, why pursue national distribution?

Still, if authors build their platform and brand recognition at the local and regional levels, retailers in these areas are more likely to take them seriously if their books can be sourced through a distributor. At Christian Writers Guild and BelieversPress, we coach authors through this process.

Seven Things to Assess Before National Distribution

  1. Do I have local demand for my book?
  2. If I don’t have local demand, how many local retailers can I work with?
  3. What local and regional organizations can I network with? Do these have national reach?
  4. Can I create other local and regional demand?
  5.  Can the local publicity opportunities lead to national exposure?
  6. Am I positioned to create national demand?
  7.  Should I even try to sell my book in stores?

For authors, selling books is essential. Some accomplish this through local retail. Others have a national platform and can sell on a larger scale. But for many, traditional retail is unnecessary. The challenge for each author is to look at their goals and match them with the right sales tools.

Dave Sheets is the president of Christian Writers Guild, BelieversPress and BookPrintOnDemand, all services dedicated to helping authors. We believe at the core of every person is the need to tell a story, teach a lesson, make a difference.  Our purpose is to teach authors how to write well, craft a book, and get their message in front of people.

Jul 15

In the past few weeks, BelieversPress has been contacted by authors who want or need to move their files from other publishing organizations. To save you time, we’ve listed some of our information here.

BelieversPress Distinctives:

  1. We offer a complete independent publishing service track, from teaching and training all the way through printing and retail distribution. All our services come a la carte — so authors pay only for what they need.
  2. We do not take a percentage of sales. We only charge for the services we provide.
  3. We do not own the content or the finished files. The author owns them.
  4. We do not mark up our print prices. We use strategic alliances to keep costs down for our author partners.

Our Services for Authors Switching Providers

With the recent downfall of Winepress, many authors have been left with unfinished projects. Whether you’re an author recovering from that, or are simply trying to find a better deal, BelieversPress can help.

  • Authors with a finished book but no print-ready files (because the book is old, or because of debacles with publishers) can send us a physical copy to be scanned. We can provide the book with a new ISBN and low cost, on-demand printing.
  • Authors with finished files can get a new ISBN and barcode positioned on their existing covers, along with modifications to the copyright page. These files can be loaded into our in-house Print-on-Demand service with a low cost per unit — but all file uploads are free.
  • Authors with files ready for long-run printing (500 units or more) can take advantage of our strategic alliance with Bethany Press, which prints for all of the major publishers in the Christian book industry.
  • Authors with inventory in a warehouse that cannot be accessed can use their print-ready files to print short runs of ‘gap’ stock. We also have retail distribution for any titles that need a warehouse, sales team, and shipping line.

Other Services

This is not an exhaustive list, but may help authors in the transition process.

  • Design – We provide a single package through our designers that include two comps and three rounds of changes. We provide barcodes and ISBNs as needed. Custom art or photos are additional. Illustrations are also available, but are bid separately.
  • eBook Conversion – We use a proprietary eBook conversion tool, which formats both EPUB and MOBI at the same time; real people direct and approve every step of the conversion process, including seeking author approval for layout.
  • eBook Distribution – We have an automated distribution system which places eBook files with 30+ global retailers (with more to come) and tracks the sales online. We do not keep a percentage of the revenue; 100% is delivered to the author/publisher.
  • Retail Distribution – Retailers want one box/one invoice/one return solutions. Our partner, Anchor Distribution, is one of the largest wholesalers in the Christian publishing industry. Coupled with the contract distribution services (publisher owned stock and third-party logistics), it makes a powerful combination serving authors and retailers.

If you find yourself with questions, please contact us at 866.794.8774, or email us at

Dave Sheets is the president of Christian Writers Guild, BelieversPress and BookPrintOnDemand, all services dedicated to helping authors. We exist because we believe at the core of every person is the need to tell a story, teach a lesson, make a difference.  Our purpose is to teach authors how to write well, craft a book, and get their message in front of people.

Jul 09

A week doesn’t go by when I don’t hear from an author who has been suckered into a poor self-publishing package. By the time I talk with them, they have spent thousands of dollars and are not happy with anything they have seen. The covers are amateurish, the editing is poor. Promises have been broken.

A few months ago, WinePress, a prominent self-publishing company, went out of business. Many authors were left with partial projects or finished projects and no files. Many other self-publishing companies stepped in with similar services — some legitimate, some less so.

Many of the former WinePress authors just wanted to get their books back in print and had no idea which service would meet their needs. I recently talked to an elderly author who was getting emails and phone calls from various self-publishing organizations claiming they could get her book back into print. Some might have been worthwhile; most were likely not a great choice for her.

If you are an author, whether or not you have worked with a self-publishing organization in the past, please be cautious about your publishing partners. Try these three tips for telling the legitimate self-publishing companies from the scams.

Ask Away.

A good company to work with has the patience to answer all your relevant questions. Ask:

  • What will it cost for you to possess all the files for your book?
  • Are you free to do as you please with those files?
  • Can you print your book with someone else, or are you locked into a print contract?
  • Can you sell your book through other online stores, including your own?
  • What will copies that you sell cost?
  • Who sets the retail price of your book?

Don’t Get Suckered.

Companies who paint a rosy picture but downplay hard questions are not serving you. Independent publishing is hard work. Not everyone should take on this challenge. Don’t get suckered into purchasing expensive self-publishing packages if you are not gifted in personally selling and marketing your own books. Especially beware the limited time offers. Many times these are bait-and-switch tactics which involve high costs on other services.

Watch Out for Spam.

If you’ve worked in any sort of office environment, you’ve probably been exposed to advertisements coming off the fax machine or via e-mail. Many self-publishing company’s packages include worthless marketing services that sound great, promising “Bookstore Marketing Blasts” or claiming “We’ll get your book in front of thousands of bookstore managers.” It’s safe to assume that those faxes will end up with the rest of the junk mail stores receive.

For additional hazards to watch out for, download our free guide to the hidden hazards of self-publishing.

Dave Sheets is the president of Christian Writers Guild, BelieversPress and BookPrintOnDemand, all services dedicated to helping authors. We exist because we believe at the core of every person is the need to tell a story, teach a lesson, make a difference.  Our purpose is to teach authors how to write well, craft a book, and get their message in front of people.

Mar 18

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my desire to be more consistent with communication. With the best intentions, I set a goal to talk about what we are doing as an organization and do it with regularity.

I have failed with both, primarily because we are experiencing a lot of business growth and opportunity. Success sometimes robs the very thing that helped get an organization to success: consistency.

In the past 18 years, I’ve had the tremendous opportunity to experience just about every part of the publishing industry. I started working with traditional publishing companies like Tyndale House Publishers and Multnomah Publishers. I then moved to STL Distribution, which put me into a unique spot between both publishers and retailers. In the past few years, my focus shifted again, to working with independent authors/publishers on the production side starting with print-on-demand technology (BookPrintOnDemand), and most recently by leading Christian Writers Guild and BelieversPress – serving authors through coaching, training, and quality author services.

It has been an amazing journey. During these years, however, I often looked back and wondered why I had experienced all the different companies, challenges, and even the perceived setbacks. It wasn’t until the summer of 2013 when I finally realized that the culmination of all this experience that I had gathered through the years was coming together as I served independent authors. I had been called to work with four different clients, all of whom were serving authors, and one by one, all of the pieces of a very unique authors services organization emerged.

In September 2013, I had to have the opportunity to take over a company called BelieversPress, a 10-year-old independent publishing company originally put together by Bethany Press. At the same time, I was helping Christian Writers Guild navigate new waters that included helping their authors with independent publishing. Talk soon turned from collaboration to merging operations. Both organizations have a desire to serve independent authors.

Jerry B. Jenkins (owner of Christian Writers Guild and author of the mega best-selling Left Behind series) and I decided to pull these companies together. We talked with Bethany Press and Anchor Distributors who became strategic partners, and an organization called 1Source was born.

1Source brings together the expertise of Christian Writers Guild, an organization that has been helping authors learn how to write and craft their projects for almost 50 years, using teaching, training, and mentoring; and BelieversPress, a 10-year-old independent publishing company that pulls together every service an independent author needs to compete in today’s publishing marketplace. We exist to help authors take their book content and craft a quality product.

Together, 1Source is the best source for authors, creating a service level that is unequaled in the independent publishing industry. Our distinctives:

  1. Authors own all of their work (and ours).
  2. Real print costs without the 2-3x markup of our competitors.
  3. Ala carte services to make sure authors only pay for what they need.

Our mission is to coach authors. This is especially true in book marketing. It would be very easy for our organization to create a laundry list of marketing ‘services’ and sell that to authors. Our competitors do this every day. Instead, we focus on coaching authors how to do their own marketing, which is far more effective and better for the author long-term.

If you are an author who wants to explore what 1Source can do for you, or if you know an author who has questions, please have them contact me directly ( or 952.905.0050952.905.0050.


Dave Sheets is the president of Christian Writers Guild, BelieversPress and BookPrintOnDemand, a printing service dedicated to serving authors. We exist because we believe at the core of every person is the need to tell a story, teach a lesson, make a difference.  Our purpose is to teach authors how: to learn to write, to craft a book, to get their message in front of people.

Feb 04

What happens when you don’t practice what you preach? You lose credibility.

As a sales and marketing professional, one of the things I preach to authors I work with is consistency. If they are trying to build a brand, they need to consistently put new information about themselves and their books on their online ‘home base.’ This is part of building a brand.

Unfortunately, as I look back over the last six or seven months, I have not practiced this same consistency on my own sites. I have hurt my own brand because I wasn’t practicing what I was preaching to my authors.  I was especially convicted of this after reading a blog article by a marketing professional colleague. He criticized his own lack of consistency and brand building on his blog and websites. He hadn’t updated his website in months and that’s one of the things that he had been preaching to his own clients. He had gotten so busy (in his case successful) that he stopped doing the things he had been telling his clients they needed to do.

I find myself in the same position and am criticizing my own efforts. I am making a commitment in this blog post to:

  1. Take the time to communicate with my clients and the authors I work with on a regular basis.
  2. Practice what I preach.

Success can kill consistency. I have been busy building an authors services organization, and haven’t written in this blog for months. There are pretty exciting things happening with this new business and over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing some exciting things with you.

This author services group is a culmination of all of my years of experience, along with partnering with some amazing organizations – all designed to build a complete service model for authors. My experience  in traditional publishing, coupled with working in book distribution and book printing, have culminated in 1Source.

1Source is unique services group for authors who need either complete end-to-end services to publish their book, or authors who need only a few services. If you have more questions, feel free to contact me and I will be happy to show you how we can serve you.

Mar 22

Writers need to read just as much as anyone else, and Mary Keeley, agent with Books & Such Literary Agency,  has compiled a great list of books for writers. What other books would you add to the list?

Mar 07

Retailer’s needs aren’t all that different from traditional publisher’s needs. Retailers rely on the author to have a platform and followers, or a tribe. What is a tribe? Seth Godin has written a powerful book about tribes and our affinity for them. These tribes define the way we think and interact, and more and more, how people buy. People want to connect so they join groups. You see this all the time with clubs, churches, charities, etc. A tribe is that group of people who are passionate about you. You belong on the same team. They are your blog followers. They are your workshop audience. They are your current readers. They are your Facebook and Twitter followers.

The power tribe: the power of 1000 true fans

According to a popular theory, a creator, such as an artist or author needs to acquire only 1,000 ‘true fans’ to make a living. A true fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive miles to see you sign a book or read a story. They will buy the box set even though they have individual books. They have a Google alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They are true fans.

How do you build a tribe?

First, you need to build your platform’s foundation. According to Brian Jud, author and consultant, a platform “is a series of career-long relationships with people who find it beneficial to communicate the word about your book, introduce you to influential people who can endorse your book, or get you on major media. As third-party references, these people give you more credibility among those in the larger segment of your platform. Platform building begins with cultivating relationships with a core selection of credible sources in at least five groups.

Good friends. They could be your classmates, fellow employees, relatives and neighbors. This is probably the weakest category in terms of their desire or ability to spread the word about your book.”

How can you find people who might promote your book?

  1. Centers of influence. Do you know people that can influence the purchasing decisions of large groups of your target readers?
  2. Professional associates. Are you writing to a specific group of people, and do you know people who have a following in that specific niche can spread the word among their constituents.
  3. People in your affinity groups. Find and participate in groups of people with similar interests or needs and who know you personally.
  4. Fans. These are people in your target audience who have read your previous material or have heard you speak on your topic. They believe that you know what you are talking about and are willing to put their reputations on the line by becoming your advocate.
  5. Network – you are only five people (six degrees of separation) away from just about anyone.
  • Associations
  • Presentations in front of various groups/tribes
  • Trade shows
  • Seminars
  • Social media
  • Publicity (free advertising)
  • Blogging
  • Write articles – become known as a subject expert

Encouragement for the journey:

  1. Building a tribe takes time – you have to be persistent
  2. Building a tribe may mean being ‘different’. Sometimes it is a completely unique or non-conforming idea that people are attracted to. It could mean that you have to be a little weird.
  3. Building a tribe takes effective communication – you are writer after all. Communicate well.
  4. Building a tribe takes passion – be sold out about your topic/niche/story.

Authors, what did I miss? More on this topic next week.


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